Bonded By Crime
“What happened? Why is the Raptor acting up now more than before? Because you IMBECILES messed up somehow!” Draguanus roared at his three minions. He blasted a Drone with a fireball, attacking anyone in his way. Chameleon, Wraith and Seige stayed as clear as they could.
“Lord Draguanus, we only did as you ordered. The ducks foiled your scheme.” Wraith tried to reason with his boss. Draguanus didn’t look convinced. Another Drone destroyed.
Duke stared at the roof of his room, going over his Dutchess problem. She used to listen to me. Before I “betrayed” her. Gah, could I have handled that any worse? But how do you tell your kid sister that she grew up with criminals and should now help put them behind bars? I can’t wait for Mal to find out Dutchess not only followed me in being a thief, but was the most dreaded hacker on Puckworld. The lectures I’ll hear then…. He sighed and sat up. Just like old times… can’t sleep when I’m worried about Dutchess.
Duke left his room to wander the hall. No one should be up right now….
Except for Tanya. Duke grinned to himself and turned towards Tanya’s lab. Probably should warn her. I helped design the protection system in the Pond, but I’ve yet to see Dutchess fail. If she wants in…
“Working late Tanya? Any particular reason?”
Tanya jumped at Duke’s voince, surprised that he was having problems sleeping. That’s the only reason he comes here at night….
“What’s up Duke?”
Duke shrugged. What was up with him? “How do you like Dutchess?”
Tanya looked at him in surprise. “Da, yer worried about what I think of her? Shouldn’t you ask Nosedive? She mostly spoke with him.”
“I wanna know what you think.”
“Well…she seems like a nice girl.”
“There’s a ‘but’ in there Tanya. I heard it.”
“Well, yeah. I don’t think she’s been entirely truthful with us Duke. Uh, she sounded as vague as Lucretia did.”
Great. If Tanya already figured it out, who else has? “She was. Dutchess is really good with electronics. She hasn’t told me how she got here but I think she transported herself. I know she did. And she probably planted that virus that destroyed whatever Draguanus was working on.” Looks like I’m trying to go for the ‘Benedict Arnold’ list.
“What? But- why tell me this stuff Duke?”
“I dunno. I’m not used to keeping secrets from you guys anymore. And Dutchess… Dutchess was a full-fledged member of the Brotherhood. Her skills were excellent. She cared more about hacking though. You ever hear of Wolfstar?”
“Well, yeah. Every computer programmer hoped to never run across that guy's work.” Tanya paused. “Except that Wolfstar isn’t a guy.”
Duke nodded. “Wolfstar is my little sister. And I only have one.”
Tanya thought this over. “I can understand why you wouldn’t tell Mal, but, uh, why tell me? Wolfstar messed with my stuff so much, it was almost pain.”
“Messed with? She said she destroyed it.”
Tanya shrugged. “Same diff.” So I know something about Dutchess that Duke doesn’t. Well, I know about Wolfstar, actually. The first few times that the hacker had made it through Tanya’s protection, Wolfstar had done as she had for everyone. But the more Tanya tried hiding her stuff, the more likely that Wolfstar had hidden the files in a different part of the system. It had been a game. And Wolfstar actually helped Tanya protect her ideas, because few other hackers could get into her system.
“If you say so. Look, I guess the real reason that I told you all of this is because I talked to Dutchess awhile ago. She’s willin’ to help fight the Saurians, but refuses to bring any other crooks in.”
“Because she was raised with the idea that the only good thief is one that is still a thief and follows the rules of the Brotherhood. She won’t betray criminals unless they give her a reason to, which they will soon enough. The ametuers alone will drive her crazy. But…I think she might run off and leave me with the choice of arresting her or leaving her alone. Neither of which I like.”
“Well, geez Duke. I mean, you vouched for her, saying that we can trust her.”
“To not pull Lucretia’s stunt, yeah. To never let anyone know about this place, defiantly. To stay on the right side of the law? Forget it. If she feels ready, she’ll be gone. She won’t even listen to me anymore. I’ve taken care of her since she was born, and she won’t give me a chance. It…hurts.”
Tanya placed a hand on her teammates arm. “Don’t worry about it Duke. She’ll come around. You did.”
“Yeah, she might. But what’s it gonna take?”
“I don’t know. But, uh, maybe it’ll be easier than you think.”
Duke’s good eye locked onto Tanya’s. Something felt different about tonight…almost right. She was pretty, without being overly stunning like the girls he’d known in the past. Sure the type attracted him, but looking at Tanya… he couldn’t figure out why. Hesitantly, he lowered his beak towards hers.
Dutchess leaned against the wall, listening to her brother tell practically her whole story to this female duck. He did betray me. Duke, how could you? While Duke and Tanya discussed trusting her, Dutchess grabbed her backpack, ready to try the streets again. She ran towards the only exit she knew of, the alarms blaring when she tried to leave. She quickly slipped out the door, hoping to get enough time to escape.
Tanya lifted her beak, knowing what Duke was going to do and feeling perfectly ok with it. Their beaks were only an inch apart when-
BEEP BEEP BEEP
Tanya pulled back, worried. “The alarm!” She rushed to her computer that was networked to Drake One. “Duke, Dutchess just left the building!”
Duke let loose a few choice words, a pain slicing through his heart as Tanya shut off the alarm. The others came rushing up.
“What’s the problem?” Wildwing asked. Tanya thought fast.
“I made the alarm system too sensitive on the last update. Sorry guys. I’ll fix it immediately.”
Wildwing nodded with a sigh. “You do that Tanya. Be more careful next time.” He and the other ducks turned and left. Once they were out of earshot, Tanya turned to Duke.
“Let’s go find your sister. Now.”