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The Blade


Prologue


The ice cold wind blew across the deserted Puckoda desert. Small columns of snow hung from the deteriorated cacti plants that littered the vast landscape. The weather in Puckoda had been like this for 2 years now blistering in the daylight, freezing at night.
Because of Puckoda's weather patterns scientists from all across PuckWorld would gather here to study the animals and now frozen sand dunes. No one could solve the mysterious weather enigma. Some said it was atmospheric, other said it was from below the ground. In reality no scientist really knew what made the weather change so rapidly in the evening hours.

As far as Jericho LeDrake was concerned, no scientist ever would. However, Jericho knew. After all he had helped to make it happen.

Jericho pulled his thick, fur blanket tighter around him and spat into the Frozen wind. He hated the cold almost as much as he hated PuckWorld. As he huddled further into his makeshift shelter of snow he cursed Dragonis. "Stupid saurian bastard," he sneered "the little icy gift you made me leave on puck world is going to give me pneumonia!" Though it was true that he had helped Dragonis set up the weather-matoniser, 10,000 feet from there surface of PuckWorld, there were times he wished he had told that useless lizard to shove a fresh puck up his ass.

Jericho shook his head violently, "no" he told himself firmly, "no regrets."

"Who are you talking to?" Asked a muffled voice from deeper inside the cave.

Jericho sighed, "Nobody Dagger, now go back to sleep... we have a long day tomorrow."

"whatever" muttered Dagger from the back of the cave.

Within seconds Jericho heard Daggers soft, rhythmic breathing. He smacked his head against the hard snow wall of the shelter. He was enduring this hell for her, he was seeking out the Blade for her, he was going to kill for her. His eyes drooped as sleep over came him. Damn her for needing his help, and damn him for loving her.

****

Shaddow eyed the large room with extreme boredom. She was sick of the way things always seemed the same. Sure it was a different place with different gems and different escape routes, but the feeling was the way it had always been. There was no rush anymore, no little twinge of fear that came before the heist. She would do what she had always done, pull her sword, swing down into the main holding room, snatch all the loot she wanted, escape, and move on. That's what would happen, that's what always happened.

She sighed deeply to herself as she trammed down from the ceiling and into the darkness. She had never been caught, and deep down she knew that she probably never would be. As she landed soundlessly she rationalized, that's what happens when you are trained by the best, and Duke L'Orange was by far the best.

With no effort she worked around every alarm system and security measure the small museum had to offer. When she was done loading up her small pouch she glanced around the room. Her gaze fell on a abstract painting of PuckWorld legend, Drake Ducaine. As she continued to look at the brightly colored work an expression of mischief crossed her normally serious face.

Trance-like, Shaddow strode across the museum and grabbed the painting off the wall with no thought to the alarm. She then tucked it under her arm and walked across the hallway. She wondered what Duke would have said about her nabbing a worthless painting. Something like' 'that ain't even worth your time, sweetheart,' she guessed.

Quickly she opened up the heavy door, strolled down the stairs and out into the street. The alarm rang out noisily behind her, as she scampered far into the darkness. The sirens of the oncoming police cruisers began to grow closer. Effortlessly she hopped a nearby fence and jogged to her sleek black car. As she got in, a smile played at her beak, this was a lot more interesting then a silent robbery.

****

2 miles below the busy streets of New Ducaine Central, lay Oz Carrington. He was sprawled and debilitated, across the large sofa in Blade Head Quarters. His beak moved rhythmic but no sound came out as he watched his big screen television. The news report played out before his unblinking blue eyes.

"...The police have no leads thus far in this odd robbery, but Sergeant McDrake is organizing a city wide man hunt." The female news reporter droned on gesturing towards 'Ducaine Center museum' "Several priceless gems and a $10,00.00 painting of Drake Ducaine were among the stolen items..."

There on the screen was the target that Shaddow had gone to hit. The buildings barred doors were covered by security officials, and the whole of the structure was surrounded by police and news teams.

'Had she tripped an alarm?' Oz wondered nervously. 'No way,' he though, 'this was Shaddow, she did not just trip alarms' He continued to stare at the screen smoothing his brown feathers repetitively.

When he could no longer handle the stress of his teammates actions he proceed to get of the couch and pace around the room muttering curse words to himself. He hated it when Shaddow went on robbery rampages. She could go for days with out checking in with a Blade member.

Quickly, Oz reached into his pocket and pulled out his bottle of Pepto-bismal. He undid the cap, brought it to his mouth and began to chug it down.

"Damn, leader-man, you gotta cut down."

Oz spit his Pepto all over the main rooms carpeting. As he coughed he turned around and glared at Cole, the Blade's resident smart-ass. "What do you want, Cole?" Oz questioned, wiping off his beak, and replacing the pepto in his jacket.

"Just to tell you that Shaddow is back, that's all" Cole said smirking. "Figured you'd wanna talk to her or something'."

Oz's eyes narrowed to slits. He stormed through the door pushing Cole out of his way.

Cole gathered himself, the smirk never leaving his gray face. "Remember your blood pressure, leader-man!" Cole yelled after Oz.

****

Duke gazed up at the stars from his vantage point on the grass. He was having a bout of homesickness again, not that he would ever tell the others that. As he lay there, outside of the Pond, his mind drifted to thoughts of Puckworld, of the Brotherhood, and everything else he had left behind. He imagined his friends and his team of thieves, training and laughing at all the jokes only they knew. He thought of his Quarters, and his weapons, but mostly he thought of his son, Cole. Where was he, what was he doing? Those are things he had longed to know since years before he left PuckWorld. He wondered if he had become a cop, like he had always wanted to be. Quickly Duke shook his head, "not now" he said aloud, "I'm not gonna do this now."

He rolled over and fiddled with the small blades of grass, forcing himself to think of what was happening here, on Earth. Duke and the others had a lot more free time on their hands now that they had imprisoned Dragonis. Duke spent most of that time playing hockey and thinking about home.

He constantly wondered If the brotherhood was alright, and who they had put in charge. He also thought about going back to stealing and doing small heists to consume more of his free time until they went home. For the most part Grin had made him see that was a bad idea, especially here on Earth. Duke smiled to himself, back on PuckWorld though, that would be different. He would get his old career back, and the Brotherhood of the Blade, that made him feel all good inside.

Duke's revelry was interrupted by the sound of a cat in a nearby tree. Feeling the need for a bathroom break he left his spot on the grass and prepared to head indoors. Slowly he smiled to himself, at least Tanya had the AreoWing prepped for deep space travel. Soon enough they could all go home, then he would be able to find the answers to all his questions...



...(O.K. kiddies now on to part 1 of "The Blade"....)