The Black Cat
Part Eleven: Tanya Vs. Lucretia
Spinning around on his heel when he heard the swooshing sound of Tanya’s door sliding open Duke’s heart jumped to his throat.
Stepping outside her doorway she stared at him skeptically. Her eyes focused on him and thin slits formed in place of her round, infuriated pupils. A soft breath escaped her beak, “A date?”
Nodding was the only response that Duke could force himself to give. This was so unlike him, fidgeting before a girl, and not just any girl---Tanya.
Shifting uneasily back and forth Tanya seemed to be contemplating the offer. Finally after a few seconds of intense deliberation--which felt like an eternity to poor Duke--she spoke, “Alright snitch, a date it is. But I want you to promise me it won’t wind up tomorrow’s hot conversation topic here at the Pond.” Tanya spoke with a hint of playfulness in her voice that suggested she wasn’t as peeved as the comment sounded.
“That all depends on how much fun we have.” Duke grinned, getting back into the swing of his old debonair behavior.
“You do set your expectations high.” Tanya laughed, “But don’t think this means I forgive you or anything pal, you’ve got a lot of kissing up to do before that happens.”
Duke drew nearer and placed an arm around her waist, “I’m countin’ on it sweetheart.”
Blushing slightly she pushed his arm away, “Pick me up at eight loverboy,” she gestured grandly as the door slid shut again, “you know the address.”
Wildwing sighed as he looked over at the two new avians standing across the room. Being leader was becoming a real pain in the tail feathers. “So, why don’t you two tell us a little about yourselves?”
Premnitia and Jazz exchanged looks before Jazz smirked and spoke up, “Well, after graduating from Puckworld University with a PhD in Astrophysics I decided to vacation in the grand resorts of Iceton before moving on in my career to-”
Nosedive was snickering, Mallory shook her head and rolled her eyes. Grin was, as always, impassive and Wildwing merely groaned, “Whew boy, they couldn’t have found someone a little less like Dive.”
Premnitia nudged Jazz, “Don’t make things so hard on the captain, Jazzy. It’s not like ol’ Lizard Lips is drilling us.”
“Sure spoil my fun,” Jazz grinned and turned offering a hand to Wing, “okay, let’s try this again. My name’s Jazz Billeres, I grew up in an orphanage and until recently I was a student at a high school not far from where the Saurians first struck. I have forty brothers and sisters, the kids from the orphanage being my only family for a while save for this one jerk who’s kinda been a big brother to me, and my parents were originally captured and relocated and told if they ever tried to find me the Saurians would have their spies off us all.”
Wildwing finished shaking her hand and eyed her suspiciously. “Honest.” Jazz insisted. “It’s cuz Prem and I are mutants. This was done way before the Saurians ever attacked and Tanya’s Pride members filled us in a while back.”
“It wouldn’t be the first major conspiracy on Puckworld that Dragonaus was involved in.” Mallory stated.
“And what’s your story?” Wildwing turned to Premnitia.
“I’m Premnitia Quackcast, it’s the same deal as far as my family goes, I grew up not far from Jazz with a piano teacher and studied Ti Quack Doe after school. I can tell from a quick mind read that you’ve been filled in on our Saurian training and the powers we have. Not to mention that little spout in the hallway. I don’t have any siblings, not even one like Jazz mentioned, I do have a cousin that I’m pretty close to, well, I was before the whole Dragonaus conspiracy thing kicked in. So, anything else ya wanna know?”
“I think we’re good.” Dive commented casually.
Tanya reentered the room a second later and stood a considerable ways away from Duke. There was no reason to go easy on him now, just because she’d agreed to go on a date with him.
“There’s one thing I’d like to know from you Tanya,” Mallory addressed her.
“What’s that?” Tanya inquired sensing that she’d be giving away some very personal information soon. And just when she’d thought her interrogation was over.
“Just how in the world did you know Lucretia Decoy when none of the rest of us did?” she asked.
“Whew boy, is that a long story!” Tanya exclaimed, “But it ya really wanna know I’ll tell ya.”
Mallory crossed her arms as if signaling her to go on.
Tanya drew in a breath, “Lucretia Decoy used to snoop around the lab where Ruby and I worked, she’d try to get information outta the guards and male scientists by using her not-so-natural charms.”
Mallory smirked to hear this, she’d always thought Ms. Perfect was 99% plastic. At least Wildwing hadn’t fallen for Decoy, that showed a bit of restraint and frankly, common sense, on his part.
“Eventually she found out that Ruby and I were the top inventors in the facility so she started pressing us for info. We wouldn’t talk so the snake went to extreme limits, namely, kidnapping. She snuck into Ruby’s apartment on the evening that the Saurians attacked Puckworld. Ruby was alone with her son Biren when Lucretia beamed her from behind and snatched the kid. When Ruby came to there was a note saying if she didn’t fork over the information of our weaponry and newest technological defense advances she’d never see her son alive again. There was a location and time written at the bottom so Ruby did the only thing she could.”
“She handed over the information?” Duke asked.
“No,” Tanya answered gravely, “she called me.”
Fires raged along the debris cluttered streets of Puckworld’s largest city. Screams of terror filled the air as gigantic Saurian robots ravaged the once peaceful planet. A lone figure stood atop one of the nearby buildings and surveyed the damage sullenly. After receiving a call from her best friend, who had obviously been frantic and in tears, she’d donned her black spandex and utility belt. Shifting into her cat-duck mutant form Tanya raced out up the railing of her apartment building and literally swung over to the location specified on the note Ruby had read aloud to her.
“Lucretia Decoy,” Tanya sneered as she glared across the street at the tall burning building where Lucretia undoubtedly held the young toddler prisoner, “I knew the Pride should’ve put you away when you first starting poking your bill into our business.”
While Lucretia was convinced that the Pride existed, despite the insistence of officers that it was an urban legend, she didn’t have any real idea of who the actual members might be. She was especially clueless to the fact that Tanya herself was the leader. Well, she’d soon know exactly what it was to tangle with a Pride member, and she’d be lucky to escape with her life after being taught such a deadly lesson.
A shadow passed before a window and the blaze within formed the silhouette of Lucretia holding a small child. “Gotcha.” Tanya remarked firing a grappling hook and swing across through the glass window.
Lucretia spun around and saw a dark figure crash through the window and roll through the fire only to came face to face with her upon standing. “Who are you?!”
“Your worst nightmare.” Tanya answered, she’d always wanted to say that.
“That voice…” Lucretia recognized it instantly. “…Tanya Vanderflock? Ha! You’re The Black Cat?! You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Hand over the kid or I’ll be slitting you.” Tanya (The Black Cat) threatened drawing the two silver swords from behind her back.
“I don’t think so.” Lucretia half chuckled as she drew her blaster and held in front of the confused boy in her arms. “Take another step and the kid dies. Now, since you’re here instead of your lab partner and you BOTH want the same thing, why don’t you just hand over those files and I’ll be on my way? It’s your choice Tanya.”
“That’s Black Cat.” Tanya corrected whipping her tail around Decoy’s ankles and yanking her legs out from under her.
“HEY!” Lucretia yelped as she hit the floor while Tanya snatched Biren from her arms. She tried to take aim at the pair but a quick kick from Tanya sent the blaster sliding over to the opposite side of the room.
Holding both blades in one claw while wrapping the other around the dazed little boy Tanya started backing towards the window.
“Not so fast!” Decoy shouted kicking a support beam over which sent half the flaming ceiling down between Tanya and the only available exit. “Hope you’ve got nine lives kitty cuz I’m about to use you for a punching bag! You may be The Black Cat, but you’re still just an overpaid science nerd that I’ve trapped in a burning building, and quite easily too.”
“You talk too much,” Tanya stated covering Biren’s eyes with one claw and swiping at Lucretia’s face with the other (her sharp claws drawn to their full length).
Lucretia took a direct hit and fell backwards, bloody beaked, into the far wall. If one thought the damage to Duke’s beak was bad they hadn’t seen a thing compared to the condition Lucretia’s was in. Blood flowed freely from the place where her smug little grin had once been and only vague remnants of orange remained as her lower jaw and back half of her upper bill hung nearly torn off by the force of Tanya’s sharp blow.
With her right claw still carefully, yet firmly placed over Biren’s eyes Tanya glared down at the defeated spy and spoke harshly, “If you ever touch an innocent or a member of my Pride again so help me I’ll kill you with the next blow!”
With that Tanya activated the heat shield on her suit, it would protect Biren too so long as she dove back first with her arms wrapped around him through the walls of fire and debris.
Pressing hard against the blood gushing from her face Lucretia glared as The Black Cat and child disappeared through the blaze. ‘Just wait Tanya,’ she thought darkly, ‘now that I know your selfless little weakness I’ll destroy you through the closest allies you have!’
Once out of the inferno Tanya swung across the other fiery buildings and the robot ransacked streets until she spotted Ruby a short distance away, awaiting her in an alley with her husband frantically arguing with police on the street corner.
“Poor guy doesn’t realize the kid’s safe yet does he?” Tanya asked as she dropped in front of her friend and handed her back her son.
“I couldn’t tell him yet,” Ruby sighed, “about you, about the Pride, about…us being mutants.”
Tanya glanced out the alleyway’s entrance and noted the civilians’ racing past as the Saurians pursued them. “Things aren’t looking good for Puckworld right now Ruby. You’d better round up the Pride members and get them and their families to secure locations.”
“Those without families are always welcome at Felonia I suppose,” Ruby sighed, “but I doubt they’d go. This is our home, they’ll wanna stay and fight.” Biren yawned and laid his head upon his mother’s shoulder.
“Well at least he seems calm about all this.” Tanya grinned over at him. “The kid’s gonna make a heck of a Pride member one day. And thankfully, he doesn’t have the mutant genes, so he’ll never have to take up thievery.”
Ruby smiled and cradled her baby boy, “I’d better let his father know he’s okay. Those cops keep claiming to have more important matters to attend to right now with the invasion and all.”
Tanya shook her head, “No one cares about the little guys anymore. Guess chivalry really is dead.”
“No,” Ruby smiled at her friend, “some still keep it alive. Thank you so much for saving him Tanya. I knew if anyone could pull it off…it was gonna be you.”
After a quick embrace Ruby hurried off to meet her husband. Tanya made sure that the family got away safely before turning back to the battle, it was gonna be a long fight.
Seven astonished and horror-filled faces met Tanya’s gaze at the end of her tale. No one could find anything to say.
Suddenly heavy sobs came from the doorway. Phil held a handkerchief up to his nose and blew hard, “That’s the saddest story I’ve ever heard!” he blubbered.
Tanya frowned and shook her head.
“I always knew Lucretia was a rat.” Mallory spat.
“But threatening to kill an innocent kid,” Nosedive said in a whispering tone, “that’s lower than low man.”
“And you and Duke practically fell all over her.” Mallory scoffed to Dive.
“Oh really?” Jazz questioned with her hands on her hips.
Dive gulped, just when he was starting to make a good impression on this girl Mal had go and open her big beak! “Hey, I was just playing along to see if she was on the level.”
“Yeah right,” Mallory rolled her eyes. Jazz crossed her arms, boys.
“Yeah I figured she’d play you and Dive for saps.” Tanya sneered at Duke.
Duke gulped, if it wasn’t the vault thing it was this! The poor guy couldn’t win. “Sorry sweetheart, I ain’t perfect ya know.”
“Perfection is in the eye of the beholder,” Grin stated profoundly.
“Easy for you to say,” Duke commented, “you didn’t make any moves on her.”
Premnitia tossed Grin a smile, she was liking this guy more and more by the minute.
Jazz, on the other hand, felt like smacking Dive. Yet, it was obvious he felt bad about falling for someone as underhanded as Decoy. It was possible to overlook certain flaws, so long as her crush still had a conscience. And nice tail feathers. she smirked.
Mallory and Duke went on arguing about how shallow men like Duke were while Wildwing and Grin tried to get Phil to stop crying like a sissy. Tanya sighed and headed for the lab, the one place where she was almost always guaranteed peace and quiet.
Smiling as she left she thought to herself, At least this whole Decoy business will give Duke and I something to talk about on our date tonight. Man it was gonna be fun making him pay for ratting her out.
While Dive tried to convince Jazz that he was only ‘playing’ the fool for Decoy, Premnitia couldn’t help but sense a new presence nearby. Not just nearby as in the same city or building, but in the same room as the ducks. It wasn’t a Saurian, or avian, or human…no, this being was something or someone she’d never come in contact with before.
Oh great, she thought, just what my life’s story needs…ANOTHER plot twist!
*Thanks for reading, as always, and please review. I’m so close to the end of this story I can taste it! LOL, my sanity’s nearing an end too. O_o *
Part 12 (Coming Soon)