Third Time Lucky

Asteroth glanced around, then followed the small gnome into the alley.

"Did you bring the goods?" Asteroth hissed.

The gnome have him a rather insolent look, which he wouldn’t have dared once upon a time. "Did you bring the pay?"

Asteroth sighed, and brought out a handful of small jewels. The gnome’s eyes glittered, and he made as if to grab them. Asteroth was reproachful, and he wagged his finger in the gnome’s face. "Uh uh uh. Show me."

The small creature shrugged, and pulled out a small lead jar. The former wizard’s eyes smiled. He and the gnome swapped, and disappeared, never to see each other again. Or at least, until the next time Asteroth had jewels and the gnome had stolen spells or creatures.

It was black market magic. And it was a booming industry.


Everything was set up carefully. Asteroth wanted no mistakes. The room was rather threadbare, everything he had owned had been swapped for magic.

And the polymorph.

The moment Asteroth had heard about the magically-possible animal, he knew he had to have it. A creature that thrived on emotions! That would morph into shapes to bring out that emotion in his victims. Asteroth intended to use it to gain control oJadestar, still busy checking something else. The younger girl did so. "We’re clear."

Duke scratched his neck. "Look, Tan, it musta been a false alarm. I’m goin’ back ta bed."

Nosedive mooed his agreement. Wildwing relented. "There’s not much we can do here anyway."

Tanya looked at her watch. "It’s nearly morning anyway. I’ll stay here and try to f…fig… think things through."

Jadestar piped up. "I couldn’t go back to sleep if I tried. I’ll help, Tanya."

The others made their way back to their rooms wearily.


Mallory walked down the hallway, feeling a little uptight. An alarm had gone off, and to her way of thinking, it shouldn’t have gone off unless things weren’t right. Which meant things were not right. Too wound up, she headed off to the bathroom for a shower.

Five minutes later, she was washing her hair under the hot water, humming under her breath. When she was done, she grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself. Then she looked for her clothes. She couldn’t find them.

"Looking for these?"

Mallory jumped, and spun around. Nosedive was there, holding her clothes and grinning. "Nosedive?! WHAT THE PUCK ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT OF HERE!"

He leaped for the door. "Sure!"

And then he was gone. With her clothes.

Mallory stamped her foot in frustration. She was about to follow, towel and all, when she spied her comm by the door. Nosedive must have dropped it. She picked it up to call for female assistant.

It wasn’t working! The little idiot had broken it!

Seething, she tightened the towel around her and stormed out. She paused as she saw her pile of clothes outside the door. With her comm on top and Nosedive nowhere in sight.

She looked at the object in her hand. It suddenly glowed red hot, and she dropped it with a cry of pain. It fell onto her foot, burning her again. She cursed.

The hot comm folded in on itself. A suction cup of sorts on a thin tube suddenly shot up to connect with Mallory’s forehead. The polymorph sucked, greedily eating her anger.

She collapsed in a heap of wet hair and fluffy towel in the hallway.


Mallory blinked awake, not really surprised to find herself in the infirmary with six anxious faces peering at her. "Hello."

Tanya frowned at her. "What happened?"

Mallory shrugged. "I lost my anger."

Duke stared. "Come again?"

Jadestar leant forward, puzzled and worried. "Mal, you’re not making sense."

Grin sighed, and left them to it. He bent to pick up a small pinkish stone on the floor. He examined it. It was his favourite mediation stone. He smiled, and put it in his pocket.

Then he hesitated. Hadn’t he left this on Puckworld? He pulled it out for a closer look.

The polymorph ate Grin’s peace.


"I’m so nervous, what if it comes back?" Grin was worrying. Very well indeed. Had it been any other time or place, even Wildwing would have been impressed. But from what he’d pieced together from Mallory’s overly calm story and Grin’s nerve-racked mutterings, they had something that ate emotions in the Pond. Mallory had mentioned a comm and Nosedive, while Jadestar had confirmed Nosedive’s comment that he’d been nowhere near the showers. And Grin had been attacked by a jewel he didn’t have.

What a day. And it was only 7 o’clock.


"Well, let’s see. Who knows the most about weird creatures?"

Everyone looked at Tanya. Her eyes widened. "Uh..Nuh uh! I don’t know what it is!"

"What ever it is, it’s not normal. So someone must be after us."

Duke straightened. "Hey…I think I remember Borg telling me about these things… It’s some kinda magic, or somethin’… A creature that morphs into things you know about, and then eats the emotion it triggers." He glanced at Nosedive. "Were you there? I can’t remember…"

Nosedive frowned. "I think so…A poly? A polybird? Poly-wants-a-cracker?"

Duke clicked his fingers. "A polymorph! Yeah, that’s it."

Jadestar folded her arms and leaned against Drake One. "So what do we do?"

"What, I’m meant ta know everythin’?"

Nosedive grinned. "Let’s shoot it! Fun for the whole family!"

Mallory shook her head. "Maybe it’s misunderstood…"

Grin rocked back and forth in his chair. "What if it wants to kill us? What if it hurts us?"

Wildwing sighed. "Everyone get a gun."


Tanya and Duke ignored the half-hearted protests of Mallory and the frantic rambling of Grin as they strapped them down in the medibay. Duke shifted, bored.

"Great. Baby-sitting."

Tanya glanced up from sedating Grin. "Well, someone’s gotta, y’know, be here. And safety in numbers, after all."

The older duck wasn’t convinced. "We should all be out there findin’ this thin’!" He gestured to Mallory and Grin. "It’s not comin’ after them, it’s after us now."

Unbeknownst to the two, the polymorph slid under the door as a whiff of air. It circulated around for a minute before choosing it’s target.

Tanya screamed shrilly as a large monster with huge teeth suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It advanced on her and she stood rigid with shock and fright. Duke scrambled for his saber, and started trying to hack through it’s plated back, but a third hand appeared out of nowhere and flver Borg and the Kingdom Of Anaheim. But first, he wanted to test run it.

And he had just the ducks to test it on.

He snicked, loosened the lead jar’s lid, and called up the dimensional portal.


The alarm went off throughout the complex. And what an alarm! The whirring, whining noise seemed to go on forever.

Mallory slammed her fist down on the red button, silencing it. She received a round of applause from Duke and Nosedive, but she wasn’t interested. This was business.

"What is it, Tanya?" The question in everyone’s minds was voiced by Wildwing.

Tanya looked up at the screen, blinked, and checked what it was telling her. "A dimensional portal has, y’know, opened."

Nosedive groaned. "I bet it’s a former Saurian overlord with magic powers."

Duke shook his head. "Nah, kid, that’s Wednesdays. Today’s Saturday. Saturday is evil mechanical drone day."

Tanya shook her head at the same time. "There’s more. The portal opened here."

Mallory frowned. "Here as in where? Somewhere in Anaheim?"

Jadestar checked over a couple of things. "Um…Try here here." She pointed to the floor. Everyone looked down.

Grin shrugged. "It’s broken?"

Tanya was curious. "Unlikely."

Wildwing looked around them. "Run a check for intruders."

Tanya nodded to ung him up against the wall. He slid down it, groaning, semi-conscious.

The monster, which happened to be the one from Tanya’s nightmares as a child, reared above her, mouth open above her. Then it’s tongue turned into a suction cap, eating Tanya’s fear. She thudded to the floor, and the monster vanished into thin air, full for now, and disappeared under the door.

Duke shakily got to his feet, and staggered over to Tanya. He sighed, and opened his comm. "Wing? It got Tanya."

Wildwing groaned. "Great. We’ll come down." He looked Duke over. "Are you okay?"

"Never better. Just get down here. It ate her fear, and I dunno how that’s gonna leave her."


"Bring it on!" Tanya roared, struggling against the restraints. "I’m not scared of it! I’ll fight it, duck to polymorph!"

Wildwing rubbed his forehead wearily. "Tanya, you’re not thinking straight. Calm down and let us handle it."

"Does anyone else know how to sedate? I think she really needs it." Jadestar shuffled a little. The other two Flashblades shook their heads, and Duke didn’t bother replying.

Wildwing forced himself to be firm. "Right. That’s it. We stick together from now on."

Three hours later, Jadestar fidgeted. "Wing, I gotta go…"

"Go where?"

"No, I *gotta go*."

"Oh." Wildwing looked around. "Well…okay. But hurry." Jadestar nodded, and ran off.


The girl washed her hands in the sink, and started back out towards the infirmary. She paused when she passed the door to her and Nosedive’s room. "I’ll just get Dive a comic…" she muttered, remembering the way her twin had been getting bored. She palmed open the door, and went in, looking for the pile he’d gotten the day before.

She was about to leave with the comic when she saw something colourful on the floor near Nosedive’s bed. She squatted and picked it up. It was a hand-made birthday card, the one she’d made for him when they turned ten. "I can’t believe he kept it…" She put it on the table, and started to go. Then stopped when she saw the photo of Nosedive and herself from the paper, years ago. She remembered the way that Wildwing and fussed that day, and when he got mad at the reporters for trying to make her wear a dress. He always looked out for her. Wildwing was like that.

The clipping started to change, and too late Jadestar tried to drop it. Moments later, a battle for her loyalty began, and unfortunately she lost.


Wildwing, Duke and Nosedive hurried into the Ready Room, to find Jadestar deactivating the teleportation shields. Wildwing was shocked. "What are you doing?!"

Jadestar turned, glaring. "Doing what I should have done a long time ago. Letting the Saurians come and destroy you flock of ducklings."

There was a slight pause. Finally, Nosedive chirped up. "Hey, hands up who saw that one coming…"

Duke sighed as he saw on a security monitor that Tanya had nearly chewed through one of her straps. "I’d better get down there."

Wildwing looked up from trying to get hold of Jadestar without being bitten. "Alone?"

Duke shrugged. "I’ll be okay." He headed off without awaiting an answer.

Nosedive snorted, and tried to get hold of one of Jadestar’s arms. "His ego just gets bigger and bigger…"


Duke hurried down the corridor, and pulled up short when he saw Mallory there. "I thought you…"

She shook her head. "It wore off, but so did the effects of the polymorph. It must be only temporary."

"Really? That’s great! Jade’s gone nuts, so I left Wing and Dive to deal with that while I came to check on you three…"

Mallory’s eyes shone. "All by yourself? Wow, that’s pretty brave."

Duke was surprised. Compliments from Mallory were few and far between generally. "Ah, thanks…"

She smiled. "Anytime. You deserve a few good words, don’t you think?"

"Uh…sure. Yeah, I guess I do…"

Mallory reached out and took his hand. "Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?" She winked.

Duke grinned, and his ego rose to it’s highest level in the past three years.

‘Mallory’ moved closer, put her hands on her shoulders, split her head in half and sent out a suction cup that connected neatly to Duke’s vanity.


Wildwing and Nosedive had caught sight of the whole thing on the screens, but by the time they got there it was too late. With the sullen Jadestar in tow, the two brothers helped Duke to his feet.

Duke shifted uncomfortably. "Need flares…" he mumbled.

Nosedive leaned closer. "What?"

Duke burped. "Need flared pants…and my lucky thermos…" He sighed deeply. "Not that I deserve them. I’m scum…A nothing…A nobody."

The two remaining right-minded ducks exchanged glances. "Weiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiird."


Wildwing sat glumly on a chair in the infirmary as Duke snivelled and shivered next to Grin. They’d only managed to get him there after letting him change into an anorak. He was getting dandruff all over the place too…

"This is my fault."

Nosedive looked up from trying to reason Jadestar into pointing her pucklauncher away from Mallory’s face, while Mallory seemed to be unconcerned. "No it’s not. Whoever sent the polymorph, it’s their fault."

But Wildwing’s little inner voice was telling him otherwise. Very insistently. It was his fault, she should have been there, he was a disgrace, letting them down like that…

Guilty, guilty, guilty.

The dust-sized polymorph sitting on Wildwing shoulder whispering into his ear had a field-day.


"That’s it!" Nosedive had had it, and on top of that it all seemed to be down to him. "Come and get me!" He headed into the corridor, slowly turning around and around, pucklauncher ready, getting away from the others. "I’m the only one left! You have to get me!"

The teen headed into the Ready Room, waiting. He cycled his puck setting nervously, not sure which puck was the standard one for polymorphs. "Here, kitty kitty kitty…" This wasn’t the most dangerous thing he’d done… And it always worked out okay other times… Hopefully, he’d get lucky again.

The polymorph appeared in the form of a staff-less Wraith. Nosedive inwardly cheered. Wraith wasn’t so hard, especially without his staff. Well, what the polymorph doesn’t know won’t hurt it…He started shooting pucks at it, and amazingly, Wraith fell to the ground.

Nosedive walked over. "Ah, I knew it! The Divester hits a home run again, thank Drake. Nothing beats puck power!"

Wraith rolled over and ate Nosedive’s optimism. Nosedive backed off as Wraith turned into Dragaunus. "This is veryveryvery bad." Nosedive was about to curl into a little ball and cry for his mother when two bolts of energy speed towards him and the polymorph. Nosedive looked over to see the other ducks. Tanya’s pucklauncher was smoking slightly.

"Heat seeking missiles," she said happily. "Yee ha!"

The polymorph searched it’s memory for something with no heat. It turned into a lamppost. The bolts hovered for a second, then started towards Nosedive.

Nosedive ran around the Ready Room yelling for help as the bolts chased him. Jadestar looked satisfied.

"Good. He had it coming."

Nosedive raced for the elevator and made it open. He was about to jump in when the bolts streaked towards him. He ducked, they went past him, and he quickly closed the door on them. The two bolts wizzed around in the elevator, and Nosedive turned to the others. "We’re doomed."


Mallory watched the ruckus calmly, sitting in a chair as the others argued and cowered respectively . She felt much better since she’d lost that aggressive armour, and was very happy in her new ‘Give Quiche A Chance’ shirt and flower power skirt. She cleared her throat a little. "I hope you don’t feel that I’m taking over by calling this meeting. But I feel we should have an input session to find the best way to get rid of this polymorph."

Wildwing glared at her. "We feed you to it."

Mallory nodded. "I’ll write that down." She glanced at the others.

Nosedive sat glumly on the floor. "Run."

Duke clutched his thermos tighter. "I’ll give myself up. I don’t deserve any better."

Tanya punched her fist into the wall. "We can strap a nuclear missile to my face and I’ll head-butt it back to Puckworld!" She demonstrated by ramming her head instead of her fist into the wall.

Grin’s eyes darted around nervously. "Maybe it’ll go away by itself?" he asked hopefully.

Jadestar cast a disgusted look at the general company. "You’re all pathetic. I ought to hand you over to it for the benefit of duckkind."

Duke nodded hard. "I like that idea!" He shrank back. "Not that my opinion matters…"

Mallory leaned forward earnestly. "I’m thinking of something else. First, we make fliers presenting the dangers of eating emotions. We make petitions, and if that’s not enough, the t-shirts!" She looked almost annoyed. "They can say things like ‘Mutant Emotion-Stealers? No Thanks!’ and ‘Equal Rights For Ducks’. And if *that’s* not enough then, by golly, we’ll sit it down and talk it over!" She leaned back again, hoping she hadn’t been too radical…

"We need bait," Wildwing growled. "Someone who hasn’t had their main emotion stolen." He suddenly smirked, and rubbed his hands together. "And I know just the guy for the job."


"Boobies? You WANT me to visit on a weekend?!"" Phil stared into his comm, very surprised.

The currently nicest, calmest, most friendly duck smiled. "Sure! We really need to get to know you better Phil. Spend some quality time." Mallory didn’t really like the whole idea of using Phil. After all, he may have been annoying sometimes, but she was sure that deep down he was a nice person.

The others disagreed.

"Well, okay." Phil was doubtful, but relented. "We can talk about Monday’s photo shoot." He signed off.


The moment Phillip Pomfeather walked into the Ready Room, Tanya and Wildwing grabbed his arms and started tying him up. "What…?"

"We need bait for a shape-shifting magic creature that eats emotions," Wildwing grunted. "Congratulations. You got the job."


"YO! POLYMORPH THING! COME OUT HERE AND FIGHT, YOU WIMP!" Tanya yelled for the magic beast as the ducks stood ready to destroy it. Again, they’d chosen the Ready Room, for space reasons.

Tanya, Jadestar and Wildwing were all for a fight. Mallory held up her sign that said ‘Polymorphs Have Feelings Too’, quite content. Duke, Nosedive and Grin were more interested in hiding under the nearest couch. Phil was inclined to agree with them. He laughed nervously. "Wing, boobie, babe, c’mon, I’m your lovable manager! You can’t let it do anything to me!"

"Shut up," Jadestar growled. "Or I’ll shut it for you."

A large wad of money appeared on the console next to Phil. He beamed and reached our for it.

And got a nasty surprise when Tanya started shooting flame pucks at it. "Burn, burn!" she crowed, ignoring the fact that Drake One was not fire-proof. The pile of money turned into Tanya’s monster, towering over them.

Jadestar stalked towards the polymorph-monster. "I’m going to side with the polymorph. It’s way tougher than you guys."

Mallory smiled, and nodded. "That’s the way! It just needs a friend!"

Phil groaned. "Kid, no!"

Grin quivered, scared. "I’m going to hide!" He slammed his fist on the call for the elevator. The two heat-seeking pucks shot out into the room. The ducks and Phil leapt for cover, and they homed in on the hottest, largest thing in the room. The polymorph.

It wasn’t as disgusting as you’d think. The polymorph simply vanished in a small puff of steam. The ducks immediately regained their lost emotions, and while they were disoriented, they were okay.

Wildwing patted Phil’s shoulder. "I’m sorry, Phil. I should never have decided to use you as bait."

Phil brushed him off. "Do it again, and I’ll sue."

"Sounds fair."

Jadestar hung her head. "I can’t believe I was going to betray you guys!"

Duke shrugged, and cast his thermos into a corner. "Eh, we all did things we weren’t proud of."

Mallory nodded. "For instance, I wore this daggy t-shirt with a skirt the same age as Dragaunus."

Nosedive shuddered as he looked at Duke. "At least you’re not wearing your pants backwards."

Duke looked down. "Oh, NOW he tells me…"

Tanya glanced at Grin. "Did you mean to let those pucks out of the elevator?"

Grin paused, then nodded. "It was all part of my plan."

Wildwing looked around. "Well, plan or no plan, Tanya needs to go to the medibay, Jade needs more counselling, Nosedive needs less sedatives, Duke and Mallory need to get changed, and Grin needs to…What do you need, Grin?"

Grin thought that over. "A house in the Bahamas."

Duke laughed. "What ever happened to your material things theory?"

"I’ll think about it in the Bahamas."

Nosedive linked his arms into Mallory’s and Duke’s. "What I want to know is where you two got such geeky clothes from! Is there something you guys need to tell us?"

Mallory frowned. "Now that you mention it…"

Nosedive’s eyes widened. "Mallory’s shirt is another polymorph!" Mallory pulled it off hurriedly, and they all shot at it.

Jadestar looked at the rather burnt piece of material full of holes on the ground, and poked it with her foot. "Hey, wow. Get this-Mallory’s shirt is just a shirt."

Nosedive hmmd. "Okay. The shirt is NOT a polymorph."

Duke suddenly grinned. "Now, the SKIRT is a different matter..."

Mallory grumbled, and gathered the remains of the t-shirt to her chest. "Thank you guys."

"Ah, anytime girly…"

"No prob, sweetheart…"

"Go jump."

Nosedive and Duke exchanged glances. Duke shook his head. "Nah, that one’s too easy…"


Asteroth screamed in frustration as the tracker he’d placed on the polymorph disappeared. He broke things, and started to laugh insanely. "I’ll get you! I’ll get you ducks yet! Duck l’orange! Roast duck! Duck kebabs! You wait! YOU WAIT!"

Story Copyright Rachel Baker ’99. All characters except Jadestar Copyright Disney and used without permission. Jadestar Copyright Rachel Baker ’99.