Chapter 12: A Clever Plan

It wasn’t much later that Agnus was kitted out and on the ice. Funny enough, she and Wildwing had found a set of clothing just her size folded up and waiting on the bench in the changing room. All the kids and their parents were seated in the stands, as were the Ducks. Agnus turned to face them.
“First, I’ll show you the Home-Run without a goalie at the net. So you can see how it works in practice. Then, with the assistance of my good friend Wildwing, I’ll show you how the Home-Run works in a game setting. Okay?” Agnus said.
“Yeah!” The kids replied in unison.
“Okay. Let’s do this, Ags,” Agnus said, more to herself than to her audience as she turned to skate towards the net.
“I can’t believe she’s actually on the ice,” Mallory said with a smile.
“Heh. Yeah. I mean, she’s been pretty adamant that she didn’t want to get back on, but now…,” Tanya replied.
“Shh. I wanna see this,” Nosedive said, leaning forward slightly to watch Aggie perform the Home-Run.
Agnus stopped just before the net, in the same position she would be in should she have a goalie in front of her. She glanced down at the puck which she was gently moving from side to side with her hockey stick. She sighed and then looked straight at the net, visualizing a goalie. She positioned the puck, pulled back her stick and then shot the puck off to the left of the net. It bounced off the boards.
“First base,” Aggie called, watching the puck.
It hit the board behind the net.
“Second base,” Aggie called again.
It hit the boards to the right of the net and came whizzing back towards Aggie.
“Third base,” she called, readying herself before whacking the puck into the back of the net and calling out, “Home!”
The kids and their parents clapped enthusiastically, the Ducks clapped too, but weren’t quite as impressed.
“Practical, no. Quirky, yes,” Aggie said with a smile, turning to face the audience after retrieving her puck. “Wildwing, you want to come help me out here?”
“Coming,” Wildwing replied, grabbing his hockey stick, which was propped up against his seat. He slipped his mask on as he hopped over the board onto the rink.
“My dad only ever really scored two goals using that trick,” Aggie said quietly to Wildwing as he came up to her.
“Yeah. Duke mentioned that he’d read about it and that it was only ever used when the other team’s defence was non-existent,” Wildwing replied.
“Yeah. Those were the two shots my dad got.”
Wildwing just smiled at her.
“Well, shall we do this?” Agnus asked.
“Let’s,” Wildwing replied, skating off towards the net.
Aggie smiled at him before turning to face the audience again.
“Don’t expect this to get past Wildwing.” Aggie paused, unsure if she should continue, “My… my dad only got two goals with this shot in his whole hockey career… and I scored once with it, but that was only because the goalie was young and inexperienced. He was distracted by my calling out the bases.”
The audience chuckled.
“Right,” Aggie said, more to herself, as she turned to face Wildwing who was now ready and waiting in the goal net.
She started to skate slowly towards Wildwing, gently making sure the puck stayed on course. Then she picked up speed. Wildwing braced himself. When Aggie was almost at her previous shooting spot, she sent the puck skittering off to the right of the net instead of the left.
“First base,” Aggie and the audience said in unison.
Behind the net.
“Second base.”
Left of the net and heading back to Aggie.
“Third base.”
The puck came back to Aggie and then, as she was about to send the puck haphazardly towards Wildwing, she spotted an opening. Almost instinctively she changed her trajectory angle and made the shot. Wildwing moved to close the spot he thought Agnus was going for, the space between his arm and knee, but then was surprised when the puck soared straight over his shoulder instead. Only just though. Had he raised his hand instead he would have caught it and prevented…
“GOAL!” the audience, bar the other Ducks, cheered.
Agnus just looked stunned as the puck wobbled to a stand still, as did Wildwing, who had turned to see if the puck had really gone in, being careful not to knock it in should it have been outside the net.
“Okay. That wasn’t expected,” Nosedive said.
“Wow. Nice one, Aggie,” Wildwing said, skating up to the still stunned girl.
“Uh… how? Did you let it through?” Aggie asked, looking up at the lead duck.
Wildwing just smiled and shook his head.
“I zigged when I should have zagged. I’m impressed, Ags. You caught me snoozing,” he said, patting her on the shoulder.
Aggie laughed slightly and shook her head.
“Lucky shot,” she said.
“I don’t think so,” Wildwing replied before skating off towards the stands and the other Ducks.
Aggie watched him before looking back at the now still puck; she couldn’t believe it. With that she began to skate back to the side of the rink to be met by the kids and their parents. The Ducks, meanwhile, were standing off to the side.
“That was awesome!” one little boy exclaimed.
Aggie just smiled at him.
“Do you do lessons?” a mom asked, taking Aggie by surprise.
“I’m afraid not,” she replied.
“Oh. That’s too bad.”
“You should really consider it though.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“You really should,” a voice said behind the crowd.
Everyone turned to see who the newcomer was.
“Uncle Phil?!” Aggie asked in surprise.
“Can I speak to you a moment, Ags?” Phil asked, hands in his pockets.
With that Aggie began to walk towards her Uncle.
“Uh, Phil…,” Nosedive said.
Phil just nodded at the young drake before turning his attention back to his niece.
“Head on through to my office. I’ll be there in a sec,” he said with a gentle smile.
Aggie just nodded before continuing on her way, while Phil walked up to the Ducks.
“Don’t worry. I’m not leaving you alone. I brought in some extra help,” he said, nodding towards the rink.
The Ducks looked and were happily surprised to see Tatiana and Shiga standing there. The pair waved to them.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to speak with my niece,” Phil said, turning and taking his leave.
As Phil disappeared around the corner, Tatiana approached the Ducks while Shiga…
“Okay. So, who’s ready for cake?!” Shiga asked enthusiastically.
There was a cheer from the kids. Shiga just smiled at them and then began to lead them out.
“Did she say ‘cake’?” Nosedive asked.
“You stay right where you are, Nosedive,” Mallory said, warningly.
Tatiana couldn’t help but giggle at Nosedive’s apparent sweet tooth.
“I think it may be best if we do keep up with them,” Tatiana said.
“Okay. Go on, Nosedive, we’ll catch up with you,” Wildwing said.
“Thanks, big bro,” Nosedive replied, before disappearing after the group.
The Ducks couldn’t help but shake their heads at Nosedive.
“Shall we?” Tatiana asked, gesturing for them to begin walking.
“I suppose so. Lead the way, Tatiana,” Wildwing replied, gesturing for her to go first.
Tatiana just smiled and nodded before taking the lead.

Over in the Raptor, Chameleon, Wraith and Siege patiently awaited their leader’s arrival and his next order.
“Anyone want to guess what the boss will have us swipe next?” Chameleon asked, breaking the silence.
“Something equally bizarre to his previous requests. I’m certain of it,” Wraith replied.
“Hey! The only reason Dragaunus is doing this is to keep those pesky Ducks from figuring out what we’re up to,” Siege added, not liking how the others were almost disrespecting their leader.
“Oh! Has he revealed his plan for these eclectic ingredients to you?” Wraith asked.
“Uh… no.”
“Mmhmm. I see.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The door hissed open and Dragaunus briskly walked through.
“Wraith, Siege. I need you two to intercept a goods transport truck. It will be at these coordinates in less than fifteen minutes. Go, set up an ambush and take the whole load,” Dragaunus said, his talking speed matching his walking speed as he pressed a button on the main computer’s console.
“Yes, sir,” Siege replied quickly.
With that Wraith and Siege disappeared in a sparkly green cloud of teleportation energy, leaving Dragaunus and Chameleon in the Raptor.
“So… uh… how’s about letting me in on the secret, boss?” Chameleon asked cautiously.
“Not just yet,” Dragaunus replied, turning to look at his little green henchman, “I have a special mission for you.”
Chameleon felt a knot form in his stomach. He hated it when Dragaunus looked at him like that.

Later that afternoon, back at the Pond, the Ducks, Tatiana and Shiga were saying goodbye to the kids and their parents.
“I hope you had a good time, Tina,” Wildwing said, going down onto one knee to see the little girl eye-to-eye.
“Yeah. Thanks, Wildwing,” Tina replied, giving the lead duck a hug.
The others couldn’t help but smile at the scene before them.
“Uh… do you think Aggie will come say goodbye?” Tina asked, releasing Wildwing from her grip.
“I don’t know. It all depends on if she’s still talking to her uncle,” Wildwing replied.
“Oh… I see.”
“I’m sorry, but…”
Just then Wildwing heard a familiar noise. Looking up, he found Agnus skating out from the front doors of the Pond. She had changed out of her hockey clothes and was in some of her casual attire.
“Aggie!” Tina exclaimed in delight.
“Hey,” Agnus said with a smile.
“Uh… c-could you sign my magazine before we go?”
Tina grinned happily before dashing off to fetch her magazine and a pen.
Wildwing stood up, smiling at the young lady before him.
“Yes?” Agnus asked, sensing him looking at her.
“Sweet of you to sign Tina’s magazine… considering you’re not into hockey anymore.”
“Two little letters, Wildwing, ‘P’ ‘R’.”
Wildwing just smiled to himself, his gut feeling on the situation was that this wasn’t just about public relations. At that moment Tina arrived back, magazine and pen in hand.
“What do you want me to write? Just my name or…,” Agnus asked, going down onto one knee and laying the mag across her knee; she held the pen poised to write.
“Just ‘Agnus Teak’ please,” Tina replied.
With that Aggie signed the mag and handed it back to Tina.
Tina beamed as she looked at the signature and then looked up at Aggie saying, “I’ll treasure this always.”
Agnus just smiled and handed Tina back her pen.
“Means a lot to hear you say that, Tina,” she said, standing up.
Tina smiled up at her heroine.
“Tina,” her mom called from the car.
“Oh! Gotta go! See ya, Aggie!” Tina called over her shoulder as she ran to catch up with her mom.
“See ya, Tina,” Aggie called after her.
Once Tina and her mom had left, the Ducks, Tatiana and Shiga gathered around Aggie.
“So…,” Duke said, leaning on Aggie’s shoulder.
“Yes?” Agnus asked, looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
“You wanna fill us in on anything?”
“If you’re referring to Uncle Phil, there are a couple of things.”
“Like?” Tanya asked.
“Firstly… he’s the one who left that hockey kit in the changing rooms. I have this sneaking suspicion that he also knew that Tina was a fan of mine.”
“How could he have known?” Duke asked.
“I don’t know, but… I’ll find out one way… or another,” Agnus replied, looking over at her two friends, who both put their hands up in front of their chests.
“Don’t look at us,” Shiga said.
“Yes. We know nothing about this,” Tatiana added.
“R-igh-t,” Agnus replied, not completely convinced.
“Anything else?” Wildwing asked.
“Yeah, he’s informed me that he’s arranged for you guys to be guests of honour at the upcoming Superhero Festival,” Agnus replied.
“Superhero Festival?” the Ducks asked in unison.
“Yeah,” Shiga replied, moving with Tatiana to stand by Agnus, “It’s sponsored by the mall and hosted by Captain Comics.”
“Thrash and Mook haven’t ever mentioned it to me,” Nosedive said.
“Probably just slipped their minds,” Tatiana replied.
“Anyway,” Aggie said, gaining the group’s attention, “Uncle Phil’s made the arrangements, but, don’t worry, you don’t have to wear costumes.”
With that Agnus began to skate off in the general direction of the mall.
“Costumes?” Duke asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Shiga replied with a smile.
“Everyone who attends generally wears a costume,” Tatiana added.
The Ducks just nodded, unsure of what to make of this newest predicament they had gotten themselves into.
“Um… where are you headed, Aggie?” Wildwing asked, noticing Aggie turning back to continue on her way to the mall, seeing as Shiga and Tatiana had things under control.
“I’m just heading through to the mall,” Aggie replied, spinning around to face the group again, “Uncle Phil wants me to pick up a bag of hockey pucks for him.”
“Hockey pucks?” the Ducks asked in unison.
“Yeah. Get your writing hands warmed up, guys; you’ll be autographing them all,” Aggie replied, slowly turning to continue on her way.
There was a groan from a majority of the Ducks’ team, except Wildwing.
“Mind if I come with you?” he asked.
Aggie looked at him a little surprised, but then smiled and nodded.
“Sure,” she replied.
Wildwing smiled before pressing a button on his COM to activate his inline skates.
“I’ll see you guys later,” he said to his team before turning his attention to Shiga and Tatiana, “Thanks for your help, girls, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
With that he began to skate off after Agnus.
“No problem, Wildwing,” Shiga replied with a smile, watching the lead drake go.
“It was our pleasure,” Tatiana added.
Wildwing smiled back at them once more before focusing his attention on Aggie and their current task.
The remaining group couldn’t help but smile at the pair as they watched them go.
“It’s good to see Aggie being friendly again,” Tatiana said.
“No doubt,” Shiga added.
“You mean… we’re starting to see some of the real Agnus Teak?” Duke asked.
“Oh yeah,” Shiga replied with a smile.
“And I think we have you Ducks to thank. Thank you, each and every one of you,” Tatiana said with a smile, looking at the group of Ducks.
“No sweat,” Nosedive replied with a smile.
“From what we’ve been hearing from Phil, you and Wildwing are doing the most work, Duke,” Shiga said.
“I’ve been tryin’, but… Ags doesn’t trust me too much anymore. Sure she’s friendly and all, but… I can see she’s more comfortable around the others,” Duke replied.
“We heard about that too,” Shiga said, “But it’s good that you don’t give up.”
Duke just smiled at the more spunky of the two girls; they were just as nice as Agnus and it was a pity that they didn’t get to spend more time with them.
Just then Grin sensed something, he looked back over his shoulder, but saw nothing but a group of trashcans. He glared at them for a moment, but left it at that.
“Well, nothing more for us to do out ‘ere,” Duke said.
“Yeah. We had better get going too. It was great seeing you guys again,” Shiga said, holding a hand out for the Ducks to shake in turn.
“It was great seeing you girls again too,” Nosedive said, shaking Shiga’s hand.
“We’ll have to see if we can do it again some time,” Tatiana said, shaking Grin’s hand.
“Yeah, but… can we minus the children’s birthday party?” Mallory asked, shaking Tatiana’s hand as soon as Grin had released it.
“Sure,” the two girls replied in unison with a slight giggle in their voices.
“See ya,” they said together, as they took their leave of the Ducks, having shaken each of their hands.
“See ya,” the Ducks replied, waving goodbye to their friends.
“Let’s head in,” Duke said once Tatiana and Shiga had crossed the road.
The other Ducks nodded in agreement before following Duke’s lead back into the Pond.
Meanwhile, by the trashcans Grin had been checking earlier, Chameleon peaked over to see what was going on.
“A Superhero Festival, huh? Perfect,” he said with a wicked smile, while his twisted mind began to come up with a scheme to get what Dragaunus had sent him out to fetch.