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To Prove His Worth

By Jadestar

 

Marshall knocked nervously on his leader's door, wishing that it wasn't his job that he was doing.

"Come in," she called, and he entered. Duke was there, and they were both looking at a bunch of papers. "Finances," Leila grumbled when Marshall tried to see them. "What's the problem?"

"It's Shockwave. He's back."

Leila's expression changed to one of something Marshall couldn't identify... annoyance? "Where is he?"

"His room."

"What's he saying?"

"Not much."

"Not even to you?"

"No. I think something's happened."

"Thank you. I'll be there as soon as possible."

Marshall left in a hurry, worrying about his friend's fate.

Leila sat back in her chair and groaned. "This is all I need right now." she sighed.

"Who's Shockwave?"

"Shockwave Featherstone. Let me tell you a story. Most of this I heard from Marshall - Marshall knows more about him than any of us.

"Shockwave's only a junior. It's not that he can't make it past that, he just doesn't seem to have the ambition. Right now he must be..." Leila thought for a minute. "Well, I'm told he was thirteen when Dragaunus came, so he must be about sixteen now. He has a few talents. He's smart, and he's pretty good with machines and electronics. His hair is the strangest thing I've ever seen. It's practically live with static electricity. He whips a comb through that thing, he can shut of security systems, Holo-Vs go on the blink, radios get a lot of static, and I'm told it had a pretty good effect on drones too.

"Anyway, using his comb and hair he tried to escape from his compound when the Saurians were here. They caught him, and put him in a cell. One of ours was in the cell next door, Marshall in fact. They got friendly, and when we busted Marshall out - someone'd botched the mission, it hadn't been his fault he was in there - we got him out too. He headed off, apparently to join the Resistance. They wouldn't take him, because of his age. He met Marshall somewhere, and Marshall brought him back here. Shockwave's heart isn't into thieving, but we couldn't turn him away. He helped fight at the old HQ, and he came with me afterwards. Then, about a month before you and the rest of the strike force got back, he just disappeared. No one had any idea why, though Marshall said that he'd most likely gone to find his parents."

"You looked for him?"

"Of course! He knew where we were. The search party drew a blank, and there seemed little point in continuing. I figured that if he'd sold us out, he'd have done it by then."

"And now he's back."

"Yes. Now he's back. Come on." Leila strode out the door, and Duke followed.

*****

Leila entered Shockwave's room without knocking. She found him lying on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. He didn't look over to the two intruders, or act as it he'd seen them at all.

"Where have you been?" Leila demanded angrily. He didn't respond.
"Shockwave, when I ask a question, you answer. Where have you been?" He still didn't move, and she grabbed his beak in her hand, forcing him to look at her. "I'm going to ask one more time before I really lose my temper. Where have you been?"

Shockwave blinked at her. "I went to find them," he muttered.

"Find who? Your parents?"

"Yes." He licked his beak. "My parents."

"Did you find them?" Shockwave returned to observing the ceiling. Leila sighed. "Do you realize what you've done?"

"I looked for my parents?"

Leila grunted with exasperation. "It's not that simple. Why do you think we don't let people leave like that? It's so this place stays a secret!"

"I didn't tell anyone."

"That's not the point! People have been killed for less! Don't you at least care about that?"

Shockwave closed his eyes. "No. Why should I?"

Leila stared. Duke grabbed her arm and walked her out of the room. "Leila," he said softly. "You have one very mixed up young duck in there. Yelling at him wont do any good."

"I'm not yelling at him!"

Duke winced. "OK, OK, you're not. Just--"

"Duke, he broke the Law. He has to explain himself. He could've given away our secrets!"

"You said yourself that the cops would be here by now."

"Duke! He left us!" Leila stormed back into the room. "I want answers, and I want them now." she told Shockwave firmly.

Duke suddenly pulled her back. "I'll handle this."

"Excuse me, I'm perfectly capable of..."

"Go on, out you go." Duke tried to shove her out the door, but she retaliated by almost kicking him over. "Hey!"

"Then let me do my job!"

"You're not handling this right! Scare tactics aren't the only tactics!" Duke waved his arms wildly as he talked.

The two suddenly became away of a small snickering noise coming from the bed. They both turned, and saw Shockwave sitting up, laughing quietly.

"Oh, so there is someone in there," Duke commented, releasing Leila. "I'm Duke."

"I know."

"Do you have a nickname?"

"Sparky."

Duke looked at the boy's head. "I can see why. You want to talk about where you've been?"

Shockwave's face closed as suddenly as it had opened. "No."

"You're going to have to. Otherwise we're going to have to punish you. If you tell us your side of the story, maybe we won't have to."

Shockwave sighed, and pulled his knees up to his chest, curling into a ball. "OK." Duke smirked at Leila, but she ignored him. "I went to see where Mom and Dad were. I looked everywhere, but I couldn't find them."

"We looked for you too, where were you looking?"

Shockwave shook his head. "All over. Anywhere, for ages away. You might have seen me, but I got some dirt and coal and I blackened my hair. Without my hair," Shockwave shrugged. "I don't stand out. I looked everywhere. But they're gone." Shockwave looked like he was going to cry, but he didn't. "So, since my old house has 'disappeared', I decided to come back here. I had no where else to go."

"This isn't a place where you can come and go as you please. This is a team, and you work for your position." Leila folded her arms, though not un-sympathetic.

Shockwave looked up suddenly. "Oh, I won't leave again. I just had to know for sure..." He looked down again. "I'm sorry."

Leila eyed him critically. "No you're not." she commented, and left.

"Phew," Duke pretended to wipe sweat of his forehead as he sat down on the bed next to Shockwave. "She's gone."

"She'll be back."

"You have a thing about using short sentences, don't you?"

"Only when I have nothing to say."

"You don't want to talk to me?"

"I don't want to talk to you when you just want extra information to prove that your way was better than Leila's."

Duke stared at him for a second, then laughed. "OK, so you saw through me. Gonna turn me in?"

"Nope. No reason to."

"You can smile, you know." Shockwave forced a smile. Duke sniffed, un-impressed. "No, not like that! A real smile. The kind that involves your eyes."

Shockwave tried again. "Am I doing it?"

Duke grinned. For all his height, Shockwave was incredibly childish inside, and Duke found that slightly amusing. "Nah. Maybe my jokes aren't funny. Let's try something else." Duke suddenly tickled Shockwave, and the boy giggled.

"Stop!"

"What did you say?" Duke pretended not to understand.

"I said STOP!"

"OK, OK, no need to yell, I'm not deaf you know." Duke stopped, and Shockwave moved away. Duke looked confused, but got up. "Well, guess I better leave. Leila might think I gave you ideas if you take off before she gets back."

"I'm not going to leave. Why doesn't anyone believe me?"

Duke paused at the door. "Look, kid, it's kinda hard to. You left once, you could leave again. It's punishable. Listen, a word in your ear, you're going to have to come up with a good reason to make Leila not punish you. But I never said that." Duke winked, and left.

Shockwave reached for his most prized possession, and started fiddling with it. He ran the red comb through his short hair, and listened to the comforting crackle-crackle that always resulted. "Maybe if I prove myself again... I've got nothing to lose..."

*****

The young, would-be thief gazed hopelessly at the glass cabinet. Pressure sensors, motion detectors, laser beams...the metropolitan museum had really gone all out on this item.

The Mask of Drake DuCaine was almost invisible behind all the security, and Shockwave wondered how anyone actually got to see the famous object. He looked at it a moment longer, then headed off for the offices. "There's more than one way to skin a Saurian." he muttered.

He had no problem with the alarm on the curator's office, it was laughable just how much they concentrated on one side of the coin and not the other. He switched on the computer, hacked his way past the security without too much difficulty, and turned off as many of the defenses he could, which ended up being most of them. He went back to the case, waited until the guard had strolled past, lifted up the lid, and grabbed the Mask. "This was too easy."

He stepped back and activated an alarm in the floorboards. "Huh....? Oh MAN!" He shoved the Mask on his face and ran, glad that he'd taken the time to die his hair a browny color using food coloring earlier on.

Reaching the entrance, he realized that it was locked. It was strong glass, the strongest there was. "It's times like these that I need a saber." he panted, turning to see how far behind the guards were. Since Shockwave was a decent runner, he'd kept ahead, but they were closing in fast. "Drake, why doesn't this thing have a built in weapon?!" he called to the long-dead leader. "Oh for..." Remembering the small device he'd brought, he shoved it roughly into the key hole. He pressed a button on the end of the metal tube, and the end in the hole expanded as far as it could inside the lock. He turned the ëkey' and sprinted off down the street, in the opposite direction of the Brotherhood HQ. He raced around a street corner, and hid in the doorway of a building as his perusers ran by.

Shockwave headed cautiously out of town, resolving to stay away from the Brotherhood until the next night. Just in case.

*****

"He didn't even say hello!" Nylessa complained as she and Lyric strolled down the corridor. "I mean, he just took off again."

"Why are you so upset about it? It's not like you were close or anything." Lyric pointed out.

"It's the principle of the thing. Hardly anyone knew he was back before he did another runner."

"Maybe he really is selling us out," Lyric suggested.

"Maybe. Maybe Leila should have dealt with him when she had the chance..."

Lyric shrugged. "Not much we can do anyway."

Not expecting to ever see Shockwave again, they were infinitely surprised when he walked around the corner. Nylessa immediately had him up against the wall, saber drawn and ready. "Don't even try to move, you little so and so. What's the excuse this time? Claustrophobic?"

Shockwave glowered at here. "Hello to you too."

"What is wrong with you?" his captor asked. "Have you completely lost your senses?"

He frowned. "Actually, I was pulling the heist of the century. Do you mind?" He pointed to her hand, but she didn't let him go.

"Heist of the century? Someone's gotten cocky," Lyric commented.

Shockwave dug in his hip bag. "Ladies, I give you the Mask. Protector of Puckworld, and my ticket back into the Brotherhood." He shoved it in front of Nylessa's face, and she let go of him. He smirked smugly, and continued down the corridor.

"The Metropolitan Museum doesn't take it's treasures lightly, kid!" Nylessa yelled out after him.

"And after this they won't take me lightly either," he called back, and kept going.

*****

"Leila!" Shockwave burst into Leila's room without knocking. She hadn't locked the door, and Shockwave glanced curiously at her and Duke's flushed expressions. He didn't pay much attention to the fact however, and simply brought out the Mask for him them to see, looking proud. Their expressions of shock and disbelief further gratified him, and he grinned happily. "Does this mean I can stay in the Brotherhood? I would have told you where I was going, only I wanted it to be a surprise." His face bore evidence of delight as he hoped for their upcoming approval.

"Where did you find it?" Leila asked quietly after a moment.

"Museum."

"You stole that? Without getting caught?"

"Yeah." Shockwave's smile was huge.

"How?"

"I turned the alarms off." Shockwave was practically jumping from leg to leg with excitement.

Leila took the Mask from him, and he gave it up readily. She turned it over in her hand, admiring it. Then she remembered the consequences of stealing something that important, and she hurriedly shoved it back into Shockwave's hand. "Very good."

Shockwave's happiness dropped a notch. He'd been hoping for something more than that.

Duke had been staring at it, and he shook himself free of his reverie. "You gotta take it back."

"What?" Shockwave frowned. This wasn't going according to plan... "Give it back?"

"Yeah. That Mask is important security for Puckworld. Besides, kid, do you have any idea how long you'd be serving a sentence if they caught you?"

Shockwave shook his head numbly.

"Life." Leila supplied.

"Oh." The boy's sprits deflated with a silent wheeze. "Does this mean you're kicking me out?"

"No, it means we're kicking the Mask out, for security reasons."

"So I can stay?" He looked hopefully from one face to the next.

"I guess so. You obviously have some talent, and stealing the Mask was a big risk for you. Congratulations. But no more leaving, got it?" Leila eyed him sternly.

"You bet!" Shockwave was over the moon. He threw himself on both Leila and Duke, giving them each a quick hug before almost skipping his way out of the room.

"That kid has more mood swings than Nosedive has comics." Duke said, staring after him. Leila nodded. Duke suddenly grinned, and looked at her. "Shall we continue from where we left off?" he asked, snaking an arm around her waist. She smiled, and nodded.

A week later the museum curator leaned back in his chair with a sigh, looking at the pile of mail on his desk. A package caught his eye, and he pulled it over and opened it. Inside was the missing Mask, and a folded piece of paper. He gasped as he checked the Mask over for any signs of damage. Finding none, he looked at the note. Written there, in childish scrawl, were two words. Thank you.

 

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