The Star in the South
Part Two - Travelers

Where are the answers to these troubled days?
Can we find a better way to live? No one listens to what you say.
Does it matter anyway, if your innocence gets blown away?

'Children of the Western World' - Steve Grace
Mallory spun to face the others. Wildwing and Nosedive looked stricken, and Tanya and Grin were stunned. She heard a gasp from behind her and she turned again. Matthew and Mary entered the shed, and seeing their ‘daughter’ on the ground rushed over. Mary sobbed as she bent over the child, and her husband tried half heartedly to comfort her. Mallory could feel a strong emotion coming on, and she tried to hide it. Tanya saw her face.

"Let it out Mal." she said quietly. Mallory’s face stiffened for a second, then broke down into tears. She collapsed onto the floor and buried her face in her hands.

"He said he’d never leave." she moaned into her lap. Tanya rubbed her back, and tried to assess the damage. Jadestar was obviously dead, in both times. Duke must have been saved by Jadestar somewhere along the line, so he too had consequently vanished. She tried to look at the losses scientifically. Jadestar was the most expendable membrse. A whole bunch of stuff happened, and then Jadestar turned up. You see, we weren’t really meant to barge in just now. We went back in time to get to now. You two were actually meant to be the ones who died. Yeah. Anyway, cut a really long story short, we came back to save Puckworld from King Canard, and now we’ve REALLY stuffed up." Wildwing was too deep in his black mood to bother about making much sense. He could see that the Fiveirons didn’t understand, but he just didn’t care. He’d lost his sister for the second time in a bit over a year, and he’d also lost his current closest friend in the process.

Nosedive suddenly jumped up, his excitement forcing even Mallory to watch him. "Bro! What if we try and get that Chaos chick to turn back time or something! We could do it right!"

Tanya snorted. "Somehow I think she planned this. I don’t think she wanted to help us."

Suddenly a tall skinny duck all dressed in black leather burst in. "King Canard, what’s taking so…," he caught sight of his leader on the ground. "Oh." He looked up at the ducks in their armor. "You killed Canard?"

"Yes." Wildwing was automatically on his guard.

"Wow! This is great! Wait till I tell the rest of the gangs! I better hurry and declare myself ruler before Teddy does!" The duck rushed out as fast as he had come in.

Wildwing stood, and helped Mallory up. "We have to go. We don’t belong here, and we have to try to get home."

"We understand," Matthew put a hand on Wildwing’s shoulder, lying. "Good luck."

Mary hugged Nosedive. "Good-bye Nosedive. I love you. Take care of Wildwing."

"I will. I love you too Mum." Nosedive hugged her back, and the ducks left the small tin shed, leaving the two old ducks behind.


Wildwing and the remainder of his team walked down the street. They were almost back to where they’d arrived when they were surprised by a sudden burst of gunfire. They hit the ground, and watched as ducks on one side of the road shot at a group on the other.

"We’re telling you, Canard said we’d be in charge!" the ducks on the left screamed.

"No way! He said we would!" the others yelled back.

Before the Mighty Ducks could do anything, another gang of ducks shot at both groups from the rooftop. "You’re both wrong! We’re running the planet now!"

Wildwing slammed his fist into his other hand. "Damn! That’s what Canard meant! He told them all that they’d replace him, so civil war would break out on his death!"

"You know, I never thought I’d say this, but I actually like our Canard better than another duck. This is getting creepy." Nosedive watched the fight intently.

"Show a bit of gratitude. He saved your life." Grin poked the teenagers back.

Nosedive shrugged him off. "Yeah, well, a real leader would have ripped off a chair and thrown that at the worm."

Tanya was about to join the argument when Wildwing hushed them all. "Quiet! We don’t want to fight our own country-ducks, and if they see us we’ll have to. Let’s get back around the corner into that alley we were in earlier."

The ducks ran quickly into the aforementioned place.


Jadestar opened her eyes with a start, and stared at her surroundings. Or lack of. All she could see was black. She wasn’t standing on anything, and there was nothing around her that she could see. Just her and the nothingness.

"OK, don’t panic," she started to talk herself into calmness. "First things first. I’m okay. That’s good. I’m not falling, I’m sort of floating I guess, that’s good too. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m in *deep*." She started to call for help. "Help! Anyone here? Nosedive? Wildwing? Tanya? Mallory? Duke? Grin? Answer!"

"Present. Should I be insulted at being 5th?" Duke's dry voice wafted through the empty space.

"Sorry. Where are we?" Jadestar could feel her voice moving into it’s high-pitched squeak mode.

"Without being too prophetic, I think we’re dead." er of the team; Duke was a hard set back though. Oh, who am I kidding? she thought to herself. They were both part of the team.

Grin looked at his leader. Wildwing was staring at the dead girl, obviously in the past. Nosedive was trying to comfort his foster mother.

"I’m sorry. I’m sorry." he kept saying. Grin closed his eyes.

"Excuse me," The old man spoke up. "I think this situation might become a whole lot clearer if we talk this out." He motioned to the floor, looking at the ducks still standing. "Claim a piece of floor."

The ducks obediently sat down.

"Now then. Which one of you is the leader? Maybe he or she can explain this." Matthew looked around.

Wildwing paid attention. "I am."

"Well, maybe you should introduce your team." Matthew encouraged.

Wildwing took a deep breath. "This is Grin, Tanya and Mallory. The gray duck in purple who was here before," he waved a hand at his sister. "That, was Duke L’Orange. You heard of the team that went to fight Draganus?"

Mary suddenly looked up. "That was you?" she asked, slightly in wonder.

"Yes. Canard, *our* Canard was the leader. He threw himself into Dimensional Limbo to save us, which must have knocked this Canard," he motioned to the other dead duck. "Into Puckworld. Anyway, we got sent to another unive

"Are you sure?"


They floated for awhile, and Jadestar thought she heard Duke sigh. "OK, dead or not, we can’t do anything while we’re separated. I can’t see you, can you see me?"

"No. I can only see me." Jadestar called back.

"Ah. OK, let’s try and, er, swim towards each other. Follow my voice."

They both did so, and suddenly they caught sight of each other when they were a metre apart.

"Oh!" Jadestar cried as they floated by. "Stop!"

"I’m *trying*." Duke sounded like his patience was at an end. He flipped onto his back and managed to grab the girl’s ankle. He pulled her over, and they quickly latched onto each other. Duke made a noise of annoyance.

"What’s wrong? Apart from the obvious." Jadestar questioned.

"Your hair is floating in my face." Her head was on his chest, and he was having trouble talking without getting a beakful of blond locks.

"Sorry. It’s either that or my feet."

"I pick the former."

"Well, it shouldn’t smell, I washed it yesterday." Jadestar wanted to keep talking to break the silence. Duke seemed to have other plans, and the quiet hammered through the air.


"OK, anyone have any suggestions?" Wildwing looked around at the other four.

Mallory clenched her fists. "I say we find a way to get Duke and Jadestar back."

"With ya Mal!" Nosedive cheered. "All we gotta do is go back in time! Easy!"

Tanya sighed. "Not really. We’re relying on that element to even get us back to our own time. We have absolutely no say in the matter."

"Well, we gotta do something!" Nosedive tried desperately to stay optimistic.


Chance smiled sadly at the ducks. "Well, young one, here’s your opportunity to put all that school work to use." She waved her hand, and a piece of paper appeared. She brought her palm up to her face, and blew.


Nosedive jumped as a piece of paper blew against his face. He grabbed it, and the wind died down as suddenly as it had started.

"More weird weather. Great." He looked at the paper. "This is some kinda poemy thing written in Hevantoll."

Wildwing looked over his shoulder. "What does it say? It’s been a long time since I’ve read Hevantoll."

Nosedive grumbled. "Well, I don’t exactly take lessons anymore either. Anyone got a piece of paper and a pen?"

The other ducks were interested too now, and Tanya gave him what he required. "OK, here’s how it goes." Nosedive read the paper.

"Tujuh itik pa hak rah
Lemur mimi babum pa kon lena
Dua itik gon, pa du itik-itik tefel
Du swilt kaba untuk kamu

Pa kino dive star dan yani kasi
Lemur du flan pa du san
Benar du hockey, lota du dery
Dran fan du malam schnabel

Lena du kindlet, eir du faka pamed
Lota duat Hevan dan kamu hart-hart
Dan hewop kamu hukjih mav kamu backin du
Zuquag du kilsej du bolke"

"Uh, OK. What’s it mean?" Mallory asked.

Nosedive shrugged. "Give me a minute. Huh, school might actually be useful for once."

He ummed and erred for about 5 minutes, scribbling on the second piece of paper. He finally cleared his throat. "OK, here ‘tis.

‘Seven ducks to kill a leader
Follow their hearts to be true
Two ducks down, to the ducks left
These directions are for you

To find earth’s hope and fire’s love
Follow the star to the south
Save the free, pick the key
Go into the darkness’s mouth.

Follow the spark, not the thick mist
Pick between Puckworld and your friends
And when you know where your loyalty lies
Make the beginning the end’"

"Clear as mud." Wildwing commented.

"No, clearer. Don’t you see? It’s a kind of puzzle. And it’s talking about us." Tanya took the translated poem off Nosedive. "See? ‘Seven ducks to kill a leader’? And the rest? These are instructions!"

Mallory frowned. "When it’s translated, it sounds kinda familiar. Hey, isn’t this The Prophecy?"

"The Prophecy?" Wildwing raised an eyebrow.

"The Prophecy has been passed down from duck generation to duck generation, and is taught in the compulsory Hevantoll classes." Grin told him.

Wildwing shrugged. "Maybe I was away that day."

"Anyway, if this is talking about us, we have to follow what it says. Anyone got any ideas on the first line?"

Nosedive scoffed. "I know that one. Earth’s hope, fire’s love? Dive means earth, and star means hope in Hevantoll. That’s me and Jade. Fire’s love is obviously Mal and Duke."

"This is gonna tell us how to find them? They aren’t dead?" Mallory grabbed the sheet. "Let me see that." She scanned the writing. "Follow the star to the south? Are they talking about Jadestar again?"

"Hey babe, I don’t know everything!" Nosedive held his hands up in submission.

"Let’s assume it is talking about Jade. This poem is being pretty cryptic, I wonder if south is really south." Wildwing settled himself on the ground, preparing for a long wait.

"I’ve always liked this sort of thing," Tanya smiled. "Let’s see. South…down south…down…down under…under…below…" The ducks got a first hand look at Tanya’s thought processes.

"It looks like they’re dead, right?" Grin asked. "Where do dead people go?"

Mallory snapped her fingers. "They go down! The underworld!" She suddenly realized what that meant. "Oh boy."

Nosedive’s eyes widened, and he was about to comment, when the ground beneath them suddenly vanished. They fell into a kind of corridor, and the earth closed over their heads.

"Well done," a voice echoed, sounding female. "Continue."

Wildwing stood carefully, surprised he wasn’t hurt. "Is it just me, or are we really not in control here?"

Nosedive set his beak. "You’re not alone there bro. Left or right?"

Tanya flicked something on her omnitool. "Left. Left is south. Lucky I had this compass installed, huh?"

Wildwing started walking. "Well, let’s go."


Jadestar had had enough silence. She hoped more than ever that she and Duke weren’t dead, because he was not the most interesting person to spend eternity with.

"If you don’t want to talk, can I? I’m bored, and I can’t stand silence."

"I guess." The reply was short.

"Great. Feel free to comment anytime. Really. Uh, OK. I can’t think of anything to say now. I hate that."

"Just think then."

Jadestar tilted her head up, to try and see her companions face. She could only see his beak. "Hey Duke, how’d ya get that chip in your beak?"

Duke almost chuckled. "Nothing very exciting I’m afraid. I’d just started out working with sabers and swords, and I was trying to do something fancy when I accidentally caught my beak. Hurt like hell, I can tell you that. Thought I got it in a fight, didn’t you?"

Jadestar shrugged, which wasn’t easy since they were hugging so tight. "I didn’t really know."

They lapsed into silence again, but the silence was less intimidating.



"What happens when our arms get tired?"

Duke was quiet for a moment. "I promise I won't let go."

"But what if…?"

"Flash, I just promised. Don’t worry about it."


The other five ducks arrived at a circled out dead end. There were 5 doors. The strange fact that they could see well without a light source had ceased to bother the ducks. There wasn’t much they could do about it anyway.

"Now what?" Nosedive turned to the others.

"It must be the next line. ‘Save the free, pick the key’." Mallory read out.

"Save the free? There’s no one here but us!" Tanya pointed out.

"It probably just means Jade and Duke. I dunno how it figures they’re free." Wildwing looked around helplessly.

"Free of life." Grin said.

"Well, whatever it means, we have to pick a key." Tanya took the paper that Mallory offered.

"A key can’t help us," Mallory was inspecting one of the doors. "These doors don’t even have handles, let alone keyholes."

"There aren’t any keys to pick from anyway." Wildwing observed.

"Maybe it’s a different kind of key, like it was a different kind of south," Tanya said thoughtfully. "What other keys are there?"

The ducks raked their brains for ideas.

"Isn’t there some kind of harbor that’s a key?" Mallory asked.

"I think that’s spelt different." Wildwing told her.

"There are keys in music," Nosedive suggested. "You know, the key of G minor, the key of C, etc."

"I don’t know, I’m not musical." Wildwing said helplessly.

The overhead voice suddenly boomed. "Young one, you are right. To open the right door, choose the key of F minor from the five I play."

"Do I have a choice?" Nosedive called, spinning around.

"No. Be warned, you will not be told if you choose the wrong key. A door will still open. What happens if you pass through that door is out of my control."

"That doesn’t sound good. Let’s hope you’re as good at music as you claim. But we’re behind you." Wildwing put his hand on his brothers shoulder.

"Play, spirit." Nosedive took the challenge.

Mallory smirked. " ‘Play spirit’?"

Nosedive shrugged. "Sounds appropriate. I should be able to pick this, F minor was, is, Jadestar’s favorite key."

Five scales played, and the ducks watched the boy closely. His face was expressionless for the first. Something flickered across his countenance during the second, but during the fourth and fifth, he seemed to slump slightly.

"What will it be, young one? Which do you pick?"

Nosedive licked his lips. "The second. I choose the second."

The second door seemed to fade away. "Well done, young one. Proceed."

The other ducks, started for the door, but Nosedive held up his hand. "I’ll go first. Just in case, you know."

Wildwing stopped him. "We’ll go together. I’m sure you got it right. I trust you."

Nosedive winced. "Wing, I had to guess. I choose number two cause it’s part of Jade’s favorite number. I figured that it’s centered around her so far…"

"Dive, don’t worry. We’ll be fine."

The ducks went through the door.


Duke and Jadestar were losing hope rapidly. They’d carried out some tests, and they couldn’t feel pain. They didn’t seem to tire, or need to eat, or sleep, or use the non-existent toilet.

"We’re just going to float here forever." Jadestar sobbed, her tears making Duke’s jumpsuit wet.

"Hey there, don’t cry! Where’s my Flash who never gives up?"

"She’s lying somewhere two feet under." Jadestar cried.

"Look, the others know what’s happened. They aren’t gonna leave us here. Have a little faith, Jade." Duke patted her back, comfortingly. He slowly uncrossed his fingers.


The ducks figured Dive must have chosen the right ‘key’, because nothing too bad had happened to them yet, and when they had first entered, it had been very dark. The strange glow returned after awhile, but before it did, it was a matter of feeling their way through the tunnel by running their hands along a wall.

It was about ten minutes after the light had returned, and the ducks had been walking in silence. Wildwing was walking in front, and he suddenly stopped. Grin had been walking right behind him, and they collided, Wildwing coming off worse.

"Sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going." Grin explained.

"That’s all right. Look everyone, the tunnel splits."

"Great. Now what?" Nosedive grumbled.

"Now we follow our directions again." Tanya studied the script. "We need to follow a spark, not a mist."

"There isn’t either of those." Mallory stated the blatantly obvious.

A floating light appeared in one of the tunnels, and a thick cloud gathered in the other. Mallory snorted with disgust.

"I bet they were just waiting for me to say that."


Duke and Jadestar had fallen into quiet contemplation, when a bright light appeared in front of them. Duke instinctively shielded his eyes, and almost lost his grip on the younger duck.

"What in Puckworld?" Duke muttered. Jadestar said nothing, but almost squeezed Duke to death. "Hey, kiddo, air." he reminded.

The light suddenly disappeared, and another female duck with black hair hovered before them. She looked just like Chaos, except she had pin-pricks of light for eyes. "Do you know why you are her?" she asked the two, in a gentle but commanding voice.

"Because we’re dead?" Jadestar asked bluntly.

"Hey, who are you?" Duke demanded.

"My name is Past. You are not dead, or not yet anyway. You have been brought here to forfil an old prophecy. You may or may not die after your friends have completed their journey. It all depends on the choice they make."

"Are they OK?" Jadestar asked. "Don’t you know if we will die or not?"

"No, I don’t. That’s not my department. I’m sorry."

"Is death better than this?" Duke asked wearily.

"I don’t know that either, I’ve never asked her."

"Hey, why am I here?" Duke questioned the element.

"I told you, to carry out the prophecy."

"No, why me?"

"Because you’re the one."

Past vanished with a shimmer.

"What are they making the others do?" Jadestar wondered aloud.

"Well, whatever it is, they’re probably having more fun than us." grumbled Duke.


Wildwing approached the basketball sized sphere of light. "Where do we go?"

The light and the mist both turned into black haired females, the cloud was obviously Chaos. The other duck was the same, except her eyes were yellow.

"You’re going to trust her?" Chaos shrieked. "She’s Destiny, she’s the one who got you into this mess in the first place! The whole thing would have been fine if she hadn’t had to make a certain rhyme a few hundred years ago." Chaos folded her arms.

Destiny snorted. "Oh yeah, and if you hadn’t tried to cheat on your bet, they wouldn’t be down two ducks! Come on ducks, follow me. It’s this way." Destiny started off down her tunnel. Wildwing shrugged, and followed. Nosedive was at the back, and he waved a cheery good-bye to the furious Chaos.

"Well, good luck!" Chaos called after them sarcastically. "With her, you’re gonna need it!" She disappeared in a huff.

"Destiny? Where are we going?" Mallory asked from behind Wildwing.

"We’re going to somewhere we can sort this out," Destiny smiled. "I’m sure you have a lot of questions?"

"Are Duke and…?" Tanya started to ask, but Destiny interrupted.

"All will be explained when we get there." She strode ahead quickly.

The ducks were disappointed, but they held their tongues.


The tunnel came to a halt, a door barring the way through. Destiny waved her hand, and it swung open. Once the ducks were through, it closed automatically.

They were in a kind of room, and it was extremely different from the places they’d been so far. It was a site not unlike the area around Drake One, with huge screens covering the walls, and chairs around a large computer.

"Take a seat." Destiny offered. They sat in a lop-sided circle, going Wildwing, Nosedive, Mallory, Grin and Tanya. "OK, ask away."

"What’s happened to Duke and Jadestar?" Mallory asked immediately.

"Your fatalities? Past is taking care of them until you make your decision."

"Are they dead?" Nosedive asked tensely.

"Technically, but not wholly. They’re in a kind of waiting."

"Can you explain why Duke disappeared too?" Wildwing.

"I’m afraid that you won’t be very pleased with the explanation. Especially you." she said, looking to Nosedive.

"Huh?" He was confused.

"Remember when Chaos was around Mallory and Duke when they were on the ice?" she asked with a slight smile.

Mallory slapped Nosedive. "You were spying on us? Nosedive…" Mallory waved her fist in his face.

"Whoa, cool it Mal. We were bored!"

"*We*?" Mallory’s voice was getting lower and lower.

"Well, uh, Jadestar was with me, of course." Nosedive said, trying to move his face away from her fist.

"You should be glad that she was," Destiny intervened. "Without Jadestar, Nosedive would have fired on Chaos, not hurting her a bit, but accidentally killing Duke." Destiny let that sink in for a minute. "Always think before you shoot." she admonished the startled Nosedive.

"Sorry." he muttered. Wildwing put his arm around his brother. "It’s my fault he’s dead?"

Destiny looked away.

Mallory had decided that there was no point in getting mad with the younger duck, she let it past. "How can we get them back? Just go back in time again?"

Destiny shook her head. "It’s more complicated than that. You may have ended up losing two if your team-mates, but you did end up achieving what you set out to do. You killed Puckworld’s dictator. If you go back, then that won’t happen."

"Pick between Puckworld and your friends." muttered Wildwing. Now he had no idea what to do. Their whole point of fighting was to protect Puckworld. Could they throw that away to save the ones they loved?

He turned to the others, and he could see they were facing the same thoughts.

"What’s happening on Puckworld without Canard?" Tanya asked.

"I can show you." Destiny pressed a button, and one of the screens lit up with a picture of what was obviously fighting in Puckworld. Ducks were fighting each other on the streets.

"At least with Canard the streets were quiet." Grin was regretting what they’d done.

"You mean dead." Nosedive snorted, but his eyes looked aghast.

"What about Duke and Jadestar? Can you show us them?" Mallory wanted to know.

Destiny looked slightly more dubious. "I guess." she muttered, pressing a few buttons this time.

On another screen, the image of the two ducks floating together in the black nothingness appeared. They could see Duke’s beak moving.

"What’s he saying?" Wildwing asked.

Destiny turned up the volume, and they could hear what was happening.

"…You know they won’t give up Jade. Past said they were just carrying out something, that’s all."

"But it feels like we’ve been here forever." moaned Jadestar.

"Hey, no whining. They may take awhile, and we should try to get on."

"Sorry. I just feel…you know."

"Yeah, I know." Duke turned his head so he was looking directly at the ducks watching on the screen.

"Can he see us?" Mallory asked quickly.

Destiny shook her head. "No. The only things they can see are each other."

Mallory suddenly hoped that Jadestar didn’t have a crush on Duke.

"Look Jade, I told you before, they aren’t gonna leave us here." Duke continued.

Destiny hit a button, and the sound vanished. "I shouldn’t have let you hear that," she said guilty. "Don’t let it effect your judgment."

"What happens to them if we choose not to change what we did?"

"Then they die." Destiny said simply.


Past appeared in front of Duke and Jadestar. "The ducks are discussing what to do as we speak. You should be leaving here soon, though I can’t say where you’ll be headed."

"Anywhere must be better than this." Duke told her.

"Not true." she said, and disappeared.

"Well, at least we’re getting updates." Jadestar looked on the bright side again.

"Maybe. But I think we either live or die, each at a cost."

"What happened to ‘they’ll rescue us’?" Jadestar asked, annoyed.

"I said they wouldn’t leave us here, I didn’t say they were going to keep us alive."

"Gee, thanks for making my possibly last hours so free of worry."