The Star in the South
Part Four - The Wrong Beginning

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
Wildwing and his team were thrown backwards from the explosion. Jadestar had always carried the full-strength exploders, and the shed was totally blown apart. The large sheets of tin that had made up the shed lay in shreds around the ducks.

Wildwing groaned in pain as he came to. He lay blinking at the sky. The sun was setting, and he tried to figure out what had happened.

The gravity of the moment hit Wildwing like a ton of bricks. She’d killed herself. His innocent little sister had preferred death to Canard’s ‘affection’. He knew what Canard had been leading up to, and thought made him retch.

It wasn’t the fact that she was actually dead that bothered Wildwing. That was easily fixed. It was the fact that she’d actually had the mentality to do it. He’d worried more about Dive doing ‘it’ than Jadestar, and the fact that he hadn’t noticed that ability in her made him feel like a failure.

How coot;I hope so. I can’t believe what she did." Wildwing started toward the shed.

"What did she do? I couldn’t see a thing from behind Grin."

Wildwing winced as he started shifting through the rubble. "She blew herself and Canard up with an exploding puck."

"Whoa." Nosedive couldn’t think of anything else to say.

"I found Canard," Wildwing made a face. "Dead."

"Good." Nosedive said, totally sincere.

"Jade’s underneath him." Wildwing started pulling Canard’s body out of the way.

"Bad." Nosedive came and started to help.

They unburied Jadestar, and pulled her free of the wreckage. She was badly burned, and was cut basically everywhere.

"Guys." She gasped for air.

"Jade!" Wildwing almost dropped her.

Nosedive pulled her into his lap, and cradled her head against his chest. "That was a pretty stupid thing to do, Star-girl. Why?" he asked thickly.

"I couldn’t stand it." she said simply.

"Keep quiet. Save your breath. I’ll get Tanya over." Wildwing could see Tanya coming towards them, with Duke, Grin and Mallory close behind.

She coughed weakly. "Too late. Don’t worry, I’m not afraid to die."

"You aren’t going to!" Nosedive insisted.

"Yes I am. I can feel it. But I had to telluld I let her do it? I just stood there and watched. I didn’t even help her.

He slowly sat up and looked around. The other team of ducks were tending to a few of his, namely Grin and Mallory. Grin had a huge cut all along his arm, and Mallory seemed to have something wrong with her hand. Other than Mallory, he was the only duck that had been in the door of the shed that was conscious.

"Ah." Mallory gasped as the version of Tanya pressed on her palm. "That’s the spot." she squeaked.

Duke and Nosedive lay quietly, perhaps with a few bruises, but they’d escaped any major damage. Tanya lay the closest to him, and he checked her out. Just a bump on her head, mostly likely. He moved across to examine Duke and Nosedive. They were just coming round.

"Oh, heck." Nosedive groaned, putting his head in his lap.

"You can say that again." Duke mumbled, helping Nosedive to his feet.

"Are you guys OK?" Wildwing asked, concerned about the way they were holding their heads, and the way Nosedive seemed to be only leaning on one leg.

"I’m fine." Duke muttered, and went to try and wake up Tanya.

Nosedive tested his ankle. "I think it’s OK. I’m going to find Star."

"She has to be dead." Wildwing warned him.

"Probably, but I’m going to check. We can go back again and save her, right?"

&qu you something." Her voice was getting quieter and quieter. Wildwing hushed the four ducks that arrived. "This wasn’t the beginning."

"What?" Mallory asked.

"Make the beginning the end. This wasn’t the beginning."

"Did you know that all along?" Wildwing asked.


"Why didn’t you tell us?! Then you wouldn’t be dy..hurt."

"I wanted to kill Canard for what he did to Mum and Dad." Her eyes filled with tears. "OK, I’ll see you guys in about 50 years." She closed them and exhaled softly.

Nosedive hugged her tightly. "Bye Star." He looked up at the others. "OK, we can go rescue her now, right?"

"I guess," Wildwing felt helpless. "Do we go back to the alley, and start there?"

"That won’t work." Tanya said quietly. "The only reason we could get through to the Underworld was because we were following the Prophecy. This is a dead end. There’s no way back after you’ve gone the wrong way. If we’d gone back to the Pond like we were meant to, then we wouldn’t have ever left there."

"So, we’re stuck on Puckworld? Why is this a bad thing?" Duke asked.

"Because Dragaunus is still on Earth. We haven’t finished there yet." Wildwing sighed.

"So…we can’t go back and save Jade again?" Nosedive asked, stumbling on the words.

"There has to be a way! Didn’t Chaos say she’d take us back?" Mallory was determined to get out of their mess.

Grin shook his head. "She dumped us when we followed Destiny."

The ducks heard a choking gasp from behind them. The other Nosedive was there, staring at Jadestar. "She’s dead." he said flatly. Nosedive hugged his sister tighter. "You killed her." the other him continued.

"He did not!" Mallory came to her Nosedive’s defense.

"Yeah, right. Jade’s gonna die?" Both Nosedives were getting distressed.

"Everyone dies." Grin pointed out.

"Not at seventeen they don’t. Jade!" The second Nosedive strode to where his sister stood, and he started dragging her away.

"What are you doing?" the Wildwing asked.

"Saving a life. See you guys when you come back to Puckworld." Nosedive kept walking ignoring his brothers protests.

Nosedive and Jadestar started to shimmer.

Wildwing saw them. "Oh NO! Nosedive, come back! You’ll both die!" he yelled after his ‘brother’.

"Get bent, future boy!" the duck called back, and he and his twin disappeared around a house. Gun shots were heard and the remaining set of twins blinked from existence all together.

"No!" Both Wildwings yelled. The other ran after his set, while Wildwing started to kick angrily at the rubble.

"Oh..." Wildwing started muttering every swear word he’d learnt off Nosedive, and few more that even Nosedive didn’t know. "Great. Just great. If I ever see Nosedive again, I’m gonna ground him for the rest of his *life*." Wildwing grumbled. He spun to face the others. "Now what do we do?! I can’t *believe* this."

Matthew picked his way through both sets of rubble to the later group of ducks. "What’s happened?"

Wildwing rubbed a hand on his forehead, feeling a migraine coming on. "Dive and Jade are dead. You needn’t worry about them though, we’ll get them back somehow."

Tanya suddenly realized that the other team of ducks didn’t know that. She tapped her leader’s shoulder. "Uh, Wildwing? The other you doesn’t know that we might be able to, uh, un-kill them. They’re probably pretty shook up. I know I wou…uh, am?"

"You’re right." Wildwing stared unseeing at her. He shook himself, and waved a hand to his friends. "OK, let’s go see if we can convince ourselves to believe us." That didn’t make as much sense as I wanted.

Wildwing led his team over to where the other batch of them stood around their dead twins. The other Wildwing was on his knees, not crying, just staring. Tanya was rubbing his neck, Mallory was sobbing onto Dukes shoulder, and Duke mumbled empty reassurance to the group at large.

Wildwing set his beak. "Wildwing, get up."

"Huh?" Wildwing almost took a step back at the desperation in *his* eyes, but continued.

"You can save them," Wildwing said. "You just have to follow the Prophecy."

His Tanya shook her head at him, and he leaned over to see what she had to say. "They can’t. Fire’s love? No way is that Nosedive! We’ve broken the chain! The rhyme doesn’t fit anymore. We’re all stuck here. I hate to say it, but I think Nosedive and Jadestar are stuck where ever they are too."

Wildwing immediately led his team away from the early version. "Least amount of contact as possible." he explained.

"What do we do? This is looking impossible!" Mallory grumbled.

Grin noted the spark in his leader's eye. "Nothing is impossible."

"Just improbable." Tanya gave a quick grin.

Duke stood to the side, staring vacantly. Wildwing walked over and stood behind him. Duke didn’t even notice, which was very strange for the former thief, usually he was very on-the-ball. Wildwing placed his hand on Duke’s shoulder, and the gray duck jumped.

"Oh man Wildwing, don’t do that!" he exclaimed, putting a hand to his heart. "You wanna give me a heart attack or something?"

"I’ve been standing behind you for a minute."

"Oh. Well, er, don’t, OK?"

"It might help if you talk about it." Wildwing said gently, waving the other ducks away.

"About what? The kids? I should be asking you that question!"

"What’s the matter?" Wildwing ignored his last statement.

"It’s, well," Duke looked out on the street. He shivered, and turned away. "I feel like this is my fault."

"Huh?" Wildwing was honestly confused. "How could it be your fault?"

"She went in there to save me." Duke said, expressionless. Wildwing still looked confused, and Duke gave a sigh of irritation. "Nosedive told her that without her, I died at Nosedive’s hand. She went in there to make sure there was a her to save me. Don’t you get it? She was willing to lay down her life, and in a way she did."

"That wasn’t for you though."

"No, she knew we were stuck here. Maybe she wanted to make sure Canard wouldn’t be on our backs. Maybe she just panicked. But, my feelings aside Wildwing, you have to lead Puckworld now."

"Me!" Wildwing squeaked. "What? Why?"

"Cause Puckworld has no leader. We need to beat the gangs, and get Puckworld back on it’s feet. And you’re the duck for the job."

Wildwing gazed at the older duck’s face, searching his features. "I don’t want to rule Puckworld."

"It doesn’t matter what you want, it’s what you have to do. Talk to the others, they’ll agree with me."

"Duke, can’t you understand? I’m no ruler!"

"No time for that. We have to fight the gangs now if you’re gonna be head honcho…"

"Duke! You're not *listening*! Read my beak!" He started speaking very slowly and clearly. "I…am…not…being…king. Get it?"

"Wildwing, face it. We can’t go back to Earth. We have to get Puckworld on it’s feet before the Saurians get here. Because there’s nothing stopping them from getting their crystals now, and they’ll be here before you can say ‘Drake DuCaine’."

Wildwing heaved a sigh, and his shoulders drooped. "You’re right."

They stood in silence awkwardly.

"What I wouldn’t give to have Nosedive kill the tension with a dumb joke right not." Duke muttered. "I guess you never appreciate something until you don’t have it."

"We better talk to the others." Wildwing and Duke walked to the others to try and make a plan.


Mallory leaped behind a pillar as the shots rang out around them. "This is never going to work!" she yelled, firing constantly at a door.

"You can think of a better plan?" Duke called back, who was trying to take out some of the former king’s guards without hurting them too much.

"Keep at it!" Wildwing ordered, himself blocking shots aimed at Tanya as she set a small bomb near the door. Mallory held her fire.

"Finished!" the blond yelled, standing up. "We have to get out of here, like, now!"

She headed off. Wildwing stayed back, waiting for the other three to run past so he could guard their rear. They hid in an old dumpster, having forced the former occupant out before their attack on Canard’s palace.

The blast blew the door apart, and most of the front wall as well. "Opps." Tanya muttered as she saw the damage.

"Never mind, now it’s just very easy to get in." Wildwing jumped out of the bin. "You still got the necklace Grin?"

Grin nodded. They’d grabbed the small silver locket off Canard’s neck, as proof that they had been the assassins. Wildwing had had some doubts, but Duke told him that without proof, there was no chance of getting a look-in for throne. Of course, as it was, they still had to get in to the palace to actually show anyone…

The ducks headed cautiously into the palace. The place was suddenly deserted, and Wildwing felt his neck-feathers stand up.

"Something’s not right." Duke muttered in a sing-song tone, saber drawn, eyes darting around.

"Tell us something we don’t know." Tanya whispered back.

"Well now, that’s very hard in your case Tanya." Duke grinned, getting into his swash-buckling image with relish.

"Quiet." Grin told them. "This is not the place to argue."

Acting on a cue unseen by the ducks, they were suddenly surrounded by tough-looking ducks dressed totally in black. They were wearing sunglasses.

"Here come the Ducks in Black." Duke sang, knowing that there was no need for quiet now. His companions looked at him strangely and he defended himself. "I’m just saying what Nosedive or Jadestar would have said!"

"Quit reminding us of them!" Mallory growled at him.

Duke took a step back. "Sure thing sweetheart."

Wildwing hushed his team as a duck stepped out of the shadows. This duck was exactly like the others, except he wore no sunglasses. "Don’t try to escape, you don’t stand a chance." the duck growled. "Who are you, what do you want, and why are you attacking us?"

Wildwing stepped forward, out of the shadows. The Mask glittered on his face. "We’re the strike force that followed Dragaunus." he said simply. "As you can see, we can prove ourselves. This is the Mask of Drake DuCaine." He gestured to the object.

"What do you want?" the duck asked again, expressionless.

"We’d like to speak with your leader." Wildwing was surprised that the mention of the strike force had not gained a reaction, and he picked his words carefully.

"If you mean King Canard, he’s not available right now."

"We know. We killed him." Wildwing was blunt. "Who’s the King now?"

The duck gave an awful smile. "That," he said quietly. "Would be me."

Wildwing turned to his friend. "You see Duke? I told…"

"SILENCE!" the duck roared suddenly. The ducks stared at him. "The problem is, how do I know you won’t kill me too. If you didn’t like Canard, why should you like his right hand duck?"

Wildwing had no answer. Mallory pushed her way to the front, and she stood directly in front. The duck looked her up and down, and made a sound of appreciation. "Nice." he murmured. Duke glared at him, but held his tongue.

"Who are you?" she narrowed her eyes at his attentions.

"If you’re the strike team, you won't know me. My name is Menta." he clicked his fingers, and ducks were grabbed by the suited ones. "Take them to the cells."


The ducks were roughly thrust into a dark room with no windows and one door. The door slammed shut, and they found themselves in total darkness. Duke felt his way to the outline of the door. There was no inside handle, but he found a light switch. He flicked it, and a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling lit the room, sputtering.

"This place has gone downhill." Duke observed.

"What did it use to be?" Tanya asked.

"Hyde Pond. I’d say we’re in one of the old storage rooms."

Having nothing better to do, the ducks settled on the floor to try and get some sleep. Tanya slept immediately, and Duke and Mallory curled up together in a corner. Wildwing sat watching for about ten minutes, sleep not coming easily. He saw that Grin was still awake, and he moved over to him. "Can I have the locket?"

Grin handed it to him. "I’m going to try and sleep. Not the best beds though." Grin tried to lie down comfortably, but fidgeted. "Wildwing? Can I take off my shoulder covers? They aren’t good for sleeping."

"Sure, but keep them close by." Grin took them off and lay down, seeming more happy.

Wildwing turned the locket over and over in his hands. The silver metal caught the little light there was, and it glinted occasionally.

"It wasn’t your Canard." Grin said suddenly.

"I know." Wildwing answered, but Grin was asleep.

Wildwing fiddled with the small piece of jewelry. It’s charm was heart-shaped. Wildwing saw that it could open, and he did so. Inside was a tiny picture of Jadestar, looking more worn and with less sparkle in her eyes than Wildwing was used to, but wearing an expression that he’d seen so often only on his sister. A small feather was caught in the other side, and Wildwing removed it. It was also Jadestar's.

"You had feelings too." Wildwing started to murmur to himself. "You loved her. You were probably scared when you were knocked out of your world. But you went for revenge. We could have been none the wiser if you’d acted differently."

Canard, Nikita, Nosedive, Jadestar. They were all gone now. He had to admit it, he missed his brother more than his sister. He knew he could live without her. But Dive…he’d always had Dive. Always. He’d managed without the other two, he could manage without his brother. He'd never felt so guilty. It was a tiny little extra love, but he’d never be able to face Jadestar again.

He laughed bitterly. He didn’t have to.

Why does this always happen to us? he thought to his siblings. Are we cursed or something?

He suddenly realized; it wasn’t that he loved Nosedive better. He'd loved them with everything he had. It was just that he’d always had one of them to love. Who could he love now?

There’s still the team. I won't let them go too.

Wildwing pulled his legs up to his chest and sobbed bitterly into his knees.