The Black Cat
Part Two: Challenging Lives
Ruby Dunshap stepped out onto the icy street in Puckworld. As usual, children were out playing hockey in front of the orphanage owned and run by Ms. Drakelot. It had taken a lot of persuasive talk to convince the elderly duck that Jazz Billeres needed to speak with her. Only Ruby knew the secret behind the young duck’s abilities. And the danger that awaited the poor girl was drawing nearer.
Soft piano music filled the air. The intoxicating melody came from the window of Ms. Featherfelt. Her young prodigy and foster child, Premnitia, was at the keyboard practicing. Ruby needed to speak with this teenager as well.
She made up her mind to take them both back to the Pride’s lair. They’d be safe there and could speak freely. No outsider had been permitted to enter that lair for over a year now. It was important to make an exception for these two though, mutants were always welcome.
“Mrs. Dunshap,” an elderly duck with gray feathers and white hair greeted the scientist, “come in dear. You must be chilled to the bone. Jazz is up in her room playing that electric guitar of hers. She’ll be down in a minute…if she doesn’t bring the roof down on us first.”
Ruby smiled and took a seat on the sofa, “Actually, I was hoping to take Jazz and her friend Premnitia out for a while. We could chat and go on a walk. I think it would make it easier for us to chat if we had some time alone. I’ll give you my cell phone number so you can call us should you need to.”
“Well,” Ms. Drakelot was the overprotective sort, but then again, Jazz was one to go off on her own anyway, “I suppose it’s alright. Just this once.”
“Understood,” Ruby nodded, “I have a young one of my own. I understand how much you must worry about these kids.”
“Jazz is in the house!” a young blonde duck announced as she slid down the banister.
Ms. Drakelot nodded, “I worry about SOME of my kids more than others.”
“Kids?” Jazz repeated, “Don’t tell me you still think of me as a kid?! I’m almost 18!”
“Act your age dear and I might treat you accordingly.” Ms. Drakelot answered.
Jazz just huffed and turned to Ruby, “And what’s your deal ma’am?”
“Ma’am?” Ruby repeated, “Now I do feel old. I’m here to take you and Premnitia out for a walk. I think I might have some information that you’d be interested in learning.”
“Really?” Jazz asked skeptically. “Then why can’t you tell me here?”
“It’s---private.” Ruby answered.
Jazz eyed the woman suspiciously for a moment, something about this strange woman was intriguing. Admittedly, she wanted to go with her. If only out of curiosity.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s go.” Jazz grabbed a jacket off the coat rack and followed Ruby out the door.
“By the way,” the red headed woman smiled, “my name’s Ruby Dunshap.”
“Jazz Billeres,” Jazz answered, “but you already knew that.”
Ruby smiled and knocked on the door of Ms. Featherfelt. “Now to collect your friend.”
“Hello? May I help you?” a young gray duck with black hair answered.
Ruby introduced herself and Jazz waved to her friend. “I’ll just go tell Ms. Featherfelt I’m going.” Premnitia said uneasily and went back inside.
A few minutes later she came back out and followed Ruby and her friend back to her vehicle.
Tanya was in her lab working on new plans for the Migrator. She was trying to figure out how to improve the weapons it already sported without creating another Monster Truck Rally incident. That had a few of the ducks steamed at her for a while. Sheesh, even scientists should be allowed to make mistakes!
The blueprints were coming along nicely when she heard a tap on the door.
“Come in,” she called carelessly.
Mallory McMallard, entered the room. She had become one of Tanya’s best friends during their mission to capture Dragonus. “Hey ya Tanya,” she said cheerfully, “how’ve ya been?”
“Busy,” Tanya answered without looking up, “but I think I’ve finally worked out the bugs.”
“That’s nice.” Mallory replied absently, machines weren’t really her thing.
“Phil isn’t up to more of his publicity stunts is he?” Tanya asked.
“Not yet,” Mallory laughed, “he’s been surprisingly quiet about that stuff lately…and that’s what worries me.”
Tanya chuckled as she finished the blueprints. “Well, all that’s left is to assemble the new weapons, install them on the Migrator, and try em out!”
“Just don’t let Duke or Nosedive be the ones to test run them.” Mallory joked, “You know those two. Always out to wreck something.”
“Yeah,” Tanya grinned, “they may be years apart, but sometimes they both act like children with a new toy.”
“Boys,” Mallory laughed, “what would they do without us?”
“Psh, do we really wanna know?” Tanya rolled up the blueprints and faced her friend, “So, got any plans for tonight? With Dragonus laying low patrolling really isn’t doing much good.”
“I’m taking Wildwing out shopping.”
Tanya laughed, “How’d ya get him to agree to that?”
“Hey! I have an excellent sense of style, and that guy needs some new clothes. Have you seen his evening wear?” Mallory responded.
“Just as long as it’s him and not me.” Tanya grinned.
“You just wait Tanya Vanderflock,” Mallory teased, “I’ll get you in a dress yet!”
“Umpth, yeah, sure.” Tanya snickered, “And Phil will win the lottery and retire RICH!”
Mallory shook her head and left the lab. Tanya was so stubborn sometimes. At least she had shopping with Wing to look forward to.
Once Mallory left Tanya turned back to cleaning up the supplies on her counter. She pulled out a supply drawer and felt a sudden twinge of pain shoot up her arm. Looking down she saw that her fingers had involuntarily curled.
“Oh no, not again. Not now!” she begged herself. But it was no use. A mutant could only suppress their powers for so long. And Tanya had been suppressing hers for over a year!
The pain continued into the other arm. Soon her legs were affected too. It was happening, and Tanya was powerless to stop it.
In a matter of seconds the transformation was complete. Tanya Vanderflock reluctantly staggered over to the freezer on the tips of her furry feet. Anguish filled her heart as she beheld her hybrid image. Half cat, half duck.
The black fur covered her hands and feet. Claws were now visible and fangs protruded from beneath her beak. She removed her glasses and stared at the thin slits which were her pupils as they glistened in the florescent light.
Her voice was a bit raspy but she knew that would change after a few minutes. Her black furry ears stuck out from the sides of her hair.
For a moment she could envision the black mask across her face and the black spandex that she’d worn on Puckworld. And in that brief moment she was once again…The Black Cat.
*Sorry it took so long for me to update this story. I’ll try to post for it more often. Please review, no flames. Thanks.*