Just another normal day for the crew of the Righteous Indignation: blasting down toads, stopping evil plans and having a heck of a time doing it. Especially for the ship’s gunman and former member of the Corsair Canards, Deadeye Duck. At the moment, however, all had been quiet and it was driving him up the wall.
“Come on, come on, where are them toads hiding?” He impatiently asked from his position at the ships’ cannon. “I’m just itching to blast their scaly hides inta space dust!”
“There’s no need to be so bloodthirsty, Deadeye.” Jenny, first mate and pilot of the Indignation, said to him.
“Aw, come on, Jenny, lass,” Deadeye said. “We both know that there’s nothin’ better than wipin’ out whole legions of storm toads!”
“I’m not disagreeing with you, Deadeye, but we mustn’t forget that the toads are under the mind control of KOMPLEX.”
“What does that matter? The toads are wastes of space. Always have been, always will.”
“But they never hurt anyone back then, Deadeye. If we forget that they are all victims, then we run the risk of fighting them just for the sake of it.”
“You can be compassionate if ya want, Jenny girl. I’ll just keep blasting.”
“I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” Jenny sighed as she left him.
‘Such a bleedin’ heart, ya are, lass…” Deadeye thought to himself. ‘Any reptile or amphibian would be more than willin’ to steal your money and stab ya in the back. The sooner ya realize that, the better.’
A few minutes later, Willie came over.
“Deadeye, Bucky needs you to come up. He’s heard about the latest toad plot.”
“All right, lad, I’m comin’.”
Deadeye got up and noticed a strange rectangular device with wires attached in Willie’s pocket.
“Say, Willie, what’s this here contraption?”
“Oh, it plays music. You can borrow it if you want.”
Willie handed the device to Deadeye, who looked it over curiously for a few moments before putting it in his pocket and following Willie up to the main deck where everyone else was waiting.
“I’ve just received word from Genus,” Bucky told them. “According to intel, a toad shuttle is carrying an experimental teleportation device capable of transporting objects to the other side of the Aniverse. We need to capture it.”
“Do we know where the shuttle is, Bucky?” Jenny asked.
“It’s on its way to the toad homeworld. If we move fast enough, we should be able to intercept it.”
The Righteous Indignation moved through space in search of the toad shuttle until a sensor went off and alerted Jenny.
“There it is, Bucky. The toad shuttle, dead ahead.” Jenny reported.
Sure enough, there was a large ugly toad-shaped ship cruising through space with half a dozen double bubbles guarding it.
“All right, here’s the plan,” Bucky said. “We’ll pull the ship up underneath the shuttle and cut a hole for our entry. Then we’ll push our way through until we find the teleporter. Once we’ve found it, we’ll grab it and get out.”
Slowly, the Righteous Indignation made its way under the shuttle from behind and hovered right underneath the shuttle’s underbelly. Bucky and the crew exited with their space helmets on and floated up to the underbelly where they all fired at a section of the ship, weakening it. They did this for several minutes and then let Bruiser tear the heated metal open. Then they all entered the shuttle.
“All right,” Bucky said. “We’ll split up and search for the teleporter. Willie, Bruiser, you’re with me, and Jenny, you’re with Deadeye. Use your communicators to let the others know if you’ve found the teleporter, but don’t hurt it! Who knows how badly the toads built it.”
With that, the two teams split up and began the search. It wasn’t long before Jenny and Deadeye ran into a group of storm toads and a shoot-out commenced.
“Come on, you stinking toadies! I’ll personally wipe out each and every one of ya!” Deadeye yelled, his four guns shooting anything he could see. Jenny gave him a disapproving look.
Deadeye and Jenny came out the victors, the hall littered with gunned down toads. With a grin, Deadeye put away his guns and strolled through the corpses. He picked a still conscious storm toad up off the floor and held him close to his face.
“Where’s the teleporter?” Deadeye growled.
“Through that door!” The toad whimpered, pointing straight ahead.
With that, one of Deadeye’s lower hands shot the toad in the gut and Deadeye tossed him away.
“Was that really necessary, Deadeye?” Jenny asked.
“You bet.” He replied.
Deadeye went up to the door, opened it and jumped inside, much to the shock of the toad personnel working on the teleporter, a large crude machine hooked up to several large transport tubes.
“Name’s Deadeye Duck, the best shot in the whole aniverse!” He declared. “And I won’t rest till this war is over, even if it means turning every one of you toadies into space dust!”
With that, Deadeye opened fire on every toad in the room, worker and storm, until only one technician was left. The toad raised his arms in surrender.
“Don’t hurt me! Please don’t hurt me!” He pleaded.
Deadeye scoffed and raised his blasters. Jenny placed a hand on his arm.
“That’s enough, Deadeye.” She said. “You’ve more than filled your kill quota for today.” She turned to the toad.
“Don’t worry, we won’t hurt you.” Jenny told him. “Just move to the back and stay quiet.”
Suddenly, Jenny heard footsteps approaching. She turned towards the door and saw Bucky, Willie and Bruiser running towards her.
“All clear, Bucky.” She said.
Suddenly, Deadeye fired one of his guns at her. The blast flew past her head and hit the technician, who’d pulled a gun and had been about to shoot her.
“That’s what ya get fer trustin’ a toady, lass.” Deadeye said.
“All right, he was an exception but the rest of these toads would’ve surrendered, Deadeye. You didn’t need to slaughter them all!”
“The toads are the lowest form of slime there is, Jenny girl. They take everything that isn’t theirs and force everyone else to bow down.” Deadeye said dismissively. “They all deserve to get blasted.”
“Similar things are said about pirates, Deadeye.”
“Hey, don’t you even make that comparison, lass! My crew never hurt anyone who didn’t cross them!”
“No, they just robbed them. But they’re so not toads, so that makes it perfectly fine.”
“Watch it, lass…”
At that point, Bucky and the others made it to the teleporter lab.
“Good work, you two.” Bucky praised. “Are either of you hurt?”
“Just fine.” Deadeye growled, turning away from Jenny.
As he did, he noticed a fallen storm toad, grabbing his blaster and aiming at the unaware Jenny.
“Jenny, look out!” He yelled.
He fired one of his blasters at the toad, hitting him in the arm. The toad howled in pain as his aim was thrown off, the blast missing Jenny and hitting the teleporter, which began the spark and smoke.
“It’s gonna blow!” Bruiser cried.
The crew ran out of the lab in time before the teleporter exploded, but the energy blast enveloped Jenny and Deadeye, who both vanished. When Bucky, Willie, and Bruiser looked back inside, everything in the room was gone: machines, toads, and Jenny and Deadeye.
“They’re gone…” Willie whispered in shock.
“Oh, it’s brother Bruce all over again!” Bruiser sobbed.
“They could be anywhere in the Aniverse…” Bucky murmured fearfully. “And who knows what’ll happen to them.”
The next Deadeye remembered, he was falling. Surrounded by debris, he plummeted several feet down to hard rocky ground. He lay with his hands over his head until the metal stopped falling and then slowly got up.
“Ugh…damn toads and their cockamamie devices. Where in the name of Kanopis III am I?”
From where Deadeye was, all he could see were dark mountains and plateaus, set against an iron gray sky. Around him were debris and sparse foliage, but no sign of life.
“Jenny! Jenny, girl, where are ya? Answer me, lass!”
“Here! I’m over here!”
Deadeye followed her voice and found her lying on the ground with a large piece of metal lying on her leg.
“Thank the stars yer alright, lass!” Deadeye said as he lifted the debris up off of Jenny, allowing her to crawl away from it.
“It’s good to see you too, Deadeye. Leave it to a toad machine to act in such a way.”
Jenny tried to get up but then cried out in pain. Deadeye quickly dropped to his knees and examined her leg.
“Yer leg’s busted up pretty good, lass. Here, ol’ Deadeye’ll handle it.
With strips of his shirt and several pieces of metal, Deadeye fashioned a crude splint for Jenny. He then picked her up and began carrying her across the barren plain.
“This really isn’t necessary, Deadeye.” Jenny said, blushing slightly.
“We gotta find shelter, lass, and I don’t want ya walking around on that bum leg of yours.”
There was a pregnant pause before Jenny spoke up again.
“Do you have any idea where we are?”
“Not a one, lass. That crackpot device coulda sent us anywhere in the aniverse. Our best hope is ta contact Bucky or find civilization.”
Suddenly, dark clouds began rolling in. Thunder rumbled and rain began to fall.
“Aw, perfect.” Deadeye griped.
He broke into a run, holding onto Jenny tightly, until he spotted a cave at the foot of a hill. The two headed towards it. Once inside, Deadeye set Jenny down and looked outside.
“This’ll keep us dry, at least.” Deadeye said. “Here’s hopin’ that our communicators weren’t busted when we fell or that someone lives on this rock. If not, we’ll be here for quite a while.”
“We can’t think like that, Deadeye.” Jenny said. “We’ve been through far worse than this. We’ll get back to the others, I’m sure of it.”
Jenny brushed her long flowing pink hair out of her eyes. Deadeye couldn’t help but become captivated.
“Oh, and Deadeye? Thank you for what you did for me.” She said.
“Don’t mention it, lass.” He said, quickly looking away so that Jenny wouldn’t see his burning face. “Just shipmates looking out for each other.”
Later, as Deadeye slept, Jenny used her psychic powers to heal her leg. Once that was done, she removed the splint and attempted to contact the sisterhood back on Aldebaran. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get through.
‘It’s so strange,’ she thought. ‘Why can’t I contact them? It’s almost like something’s blocking my telepathy. But what and how?’
Jenny gave a defeated sigh and looked over at Deadeye. As she did, she realized she didn’t know much about him. All she knew was that he’d been a member of the Corsair Canards before joining with Bucky. Granted, she hadn’t told him her origins (or anyone else, for that matter) but that was mostly due to the secrecy of the artificers. But given the circumstances the two were under, they’d have to depend on each other to keep their spirits up while waiting for rescue.
However, Jenny thought as she lay down to sleep, that’s something that’ll be easier said than done.
When morning came, Deadeye was suspicious at how Jenny’s leg had healed so quickly but he didn’t probe. The two had bigger things to worry about. Their communicators had been broken by their falls, so their only hope was to find civilization. For several days, the two crossed the barren landscape, eating the rations they had on them and whatever plants they could find, water they came across, and sleeping in caves. As time went on, their spirits became more downtrodden as it began to seem that the planet was uninhabited.
One night, when Jenny and Deadeye were seated around their campfire, Jenny noticed Willie’s device in Deadeye’s pocket.
“What’s that, Deadeye?” She asked.
“Oh, it’s Willie’s music-playing thing.” He said, taking it out.
“It plays music?” Jenny looked over the thin square curiously.
“That’s what the lad said. Haven’t tried it yet.”
Deadeye took it back and began fumbling with it. Eventually, he hit the right thing and music began to play.
There's such a sad love/Deep in your eyes./A kind of pale jewel/Open and closed/Within your eyes./I'll place the sky/Within your eyes.
There's such a fooled heart/Beatin' so fast/In search of new dreams./A love that will last/Within your heart./I'll place the moon/Within your heart.
As the pain sweeps through,/Makes no sense for you./Every thrill is gone./Wasn't too much fun at all,/But I'll be there for you-ou-ou/As the world falls down.
Falling./Falling down./Falling in love.
“This song-!” Jenny gasped. “It’s gorgeous!”
She got up and began dancing and twirling around the fire, her long pink hair swaying and the firelight making her white fur glow. Her eyes were closed, completely lost in the music and forgetting her surroundings.
I'll paint you mornings of gold./I'll spin you Valentine evenings./Though we're strangers 'til now,/We're choosing the path/Between the stars./I'll leave my love/Between the stars.
As the pain sweeps through,/Makes no sense for you./Every thrill is gone./Wasn't too much fun at all,/But I'll be there for you-ou-ou/As the world falls down.
Falling/As the world falls down./Falling/As the world falls down./Falling./Falling./Falling./Falling in love/As the world falls down.
Deadeye sat completely awestruck. When the song ended, Jenny stopped dancing and realized what she’d done.
“Oh! I’m sorry, Deadeye, I shouldn’t have gotten carried away like that.” She said, sitting back down, embarrassed.
“Don’t be, lass. Ye were phenomenal! You done that a lot?”
“Well…I used to. But then…other things got in the way, such as joining in the war, and, well…that’s the first time I’ve ever danced in a long while.”
“That’s a pity. Yer a true vision, lass.”
Jenny was not sure what to take from that, so she didn’t reply. The two sat in silence again.
“Y’know, I was pretty directionless when I was a lad.” Deadeye suddenly said. “Spent some time with the ninjas with my friend Kamikaze Kamo for a while and then left to join the Corsair Canards. But it didn’t satisfy me for long. Neither seemed to be what I wanted ta do with me life. But then I met Bucky and he let me sign on with him. I’ve never told anyone about this before, lass, but being with you guys is the most satisfying thing I’ve done for a real long time.”
Jenny was surprised. She never knew that Deadeye had felt so insecure about his place in life. Maybe that’s why he was the more enthusiastic members of the crew. She wanted to tell him about her feelings too, but a lot of it involved the artificers and saying anything would break their secrecy.
“I never knew you felt that way, Deadeye.” She said.
“Eh, well, it’s not like I made it clear.” He said with a shrug of all four shoulders. “Hey, Jenny, can I ask you something personal?”
Jenny tensed. “What is it?”
“Is there anything going on between you and Bucky?”
“It’s…complicated, Deadeye. Bucky has so many admirable characteristics but he’s just so fixated on the war…”
“Well, war is something to take seriously, lass.”
“I know that! But has he ever stopped to think that one day our luck may run out? Doesn’t he think that it’d be best to spend whatever time we have with someone we love instead of ignoring those feelings and locking them away?”
Jenny’s outburst stunned Deadeye. She’d always been a secretive girl but who could’ve guessed she’d been having secrets like that?
Neither felt like talking anymore, so they put out the fire and went to sleep. The next morning, Deadeye woke to find that Jenny was gone. He got up to look for her and came across a roaring waterfall. Excited, for he had not bathed in several days, he stripped and chucked his clothes aside, completely missing another pile of clothes. Under the pounding surge of the fall, Deadeye scrubbed at his grungy feathers and heard a sound that was nearly completely drowned out by the roar of the falls.
Deadeye followed the sound to the other end of the falls where a familiar silhouette was also scrubbing herself down: a soaking wet white cat, singing to herself with her long pink hair clinging to her body.
‘Jenny?’ Deadeye thought in alarm. ‘Oh, screw me with a lizard’s sword. I gotta get out of here!’
Deadeye attempted to quietly leave, only to slip on a rock and fall on his back. Jenny stopped singing and slowly approached to see what the noise was.
‘This is gonna be fun.’ Deadeye internally moaned, knowing how Jenny was going to interpret the scene. It also didn’t help that a certain part of him was standing at attention, encouraged by Jenny’s singing and form. Speaking of whom…
“Deadeye?” Jenny shrieked when she saw him, wrapping her arms over herself. All Deadeye could do was give her a sheepish wave and grin, while trying to cover himself.
“What in the name of Genus do you think you’re doing?” She yelled.
“Hey, hey, I didn’t know you was here, lass!” Deadeye protested.
“Get out of here!” Jenny yelled again as she began hurling rocks at him.
“Okay! Okay!” Deadeye retorted as he got up and fled. “It’s not like I had anything nasty in mind! Unless, of course, ya wanted ta fool around…”
A rock came dangerously close to hitting Deadeye’s head.