I didn't plan to be away this long. These last few months have been stressful. Here's the new chapter, hope you enjoy!

Chapter 3: Something there

Tyr'ahnee's right eye twitched as she felt the urge to drown her sorrows in a good bottle of finely aged whiskey. She felt a headache build up as the Council members spoke (more complained, actually)

Days like this made her ponder why she was queen.

X-2 knew there was something off about Duck Dodgers.

And he didn't mean generally speaking! The duck was a definite weirdo most of the time, sometimes crazy as well but this time... something didn't feel right.

As a Martian Commander, he prided himself on being able to see all the angles and come up with various contingency plans to avoid mass destruction in the Martian part. He thought he could read people extremely well.

That was until he met Dodgers. The seemingly greedy, apathetic duck who was so unpredictable in his plans, no one knew whether he was a genius or a moron. Perhaps he was both, a balance of the two and one side often tips further than the other. X-2 couldn't for the life of him figure out what was going on in that duck's head.

And the last few months was a prime example of how baffling this Earth duck really was.

Duck Dodgers had been working for the Galactic Protectorate for a good 8 years but had been Mars no. 1 nemesis for 7 years. If you compared Duck Dodgers Year 1 to Duck Dodgers current times, there was definitely something... off.

And X-2 could see it right before him.

Dodgers sat quietly on the bench across from him, head down and refusing to make eye contact with the Martian Commander, not even a small tease escaping the duck's mouth.

In all the times X-2 wished the duck would shut up, now that he's finally received his wish... he can't help but wish the duck would talk.

X-2 couldn't believe he was doing this. What he was about to do was against the very dynamic him and Dodgers had formed for the past 7 years.

He was about to make conversation.

" Zeke'elia managed to retrieve some data for his studies", X-2 mentioned.

For the first time since he got here, Dodgers actually looked him in the eye, and the first hint of emotions X-2 got was confusion, then concern. He was slightly baffled by the concern the duck showed but that was wiped away when Dodgers started speaking.

" ... Histh work... Isth it sthomethin' only a Martian-only kind of thing or...", Dodgers asked.

Strange. " The physical copies are only sold here in Mars", X-2 said," Though I do believe there is a PDF available on the universal web".

Dodgers nodded before moving uneasily," How...", how could he word this question," How far back... do those machines date?".

X-2 seemed surprised by this question but nevertheless answered," According to Zeke'elia, a lot of it dates back to the late 21st Century".

" Oh"

" But the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator-", a machine Dodgers strangely knew the name of immediately upon seeing it," -dated as far back as the mid-20th century".

" Almost 400 years ago...", Dodgers murmured quietly.

" Indeed. It's in a much better state than one would have thought", X-2 said, starting to get comfortable with this tiny conversation.

" 400 years ago...", Dodgers murmured quietly again before he shook his head," Eh, good for him. I'm glad he got something out of it".

X-2 raised a brow," Really?", he asked.

" Sure", Dodgers said as he played with his gloves," Kid sounded pretty enthusiastic 'bout his work".

X-2 nodded before it went silent again. Neither really knew what to say to the other anymore.

The door to Queen Tyr'ahnee's study opened and both men breathed a sigh of relief, no longer needing to be in an awkward silence.

" Come on, Dodgers, her Majesty awaits you", X-2 said getting up.

Dodgers sighed and breathed in deeply. He was seriously going to draw in a lot of his old acting skills for this and hope Tyr'ahnee doesn't notice.

But being the obvious simp Tyr'ahnee was for Duck Dodgers, she noticed immediately there was something wrong with him.

She noticed it ever since she first saw him enter the machinery room earlier with the Centurions. There was just something... off about the duck recently.

Hence why she's been holding off any invasions and conquests for the last couple of weeks.

Which led to today's confrontation with the Martian Council while busy with Zeke'elia and his research, who were visibly annoyed with the lack of action that's been occurring due to Tyr'ahnee holding off certain attacks and fleets from leaving the planet. Whatever Dodgers had to say to her had to pushed to a later stage, which is currently right now.

Dodgers stepped inside with the Commander not far behind. Dodgers seemed relax, a stance quite rare with Protectorate agents when confronted in a room of Martians on Martian territory, but then again Dodgers didn't hold much grudges.

" Commander, you're excused", Tyr'ahnee said with a tone that allowed no room for protests.

X-2 paused slightly and glanced between his Queen and his... nemesis. He wasn't comfortable with leaving the two of them in the room together... alone. But he relented, not wanting to stoke her ire and quietly left.

When the door had shut, Tyr'ahnee turned her full attention to the duck of her affection, Captain Duck Dodgers.

" You wanted to speak with me?", Tyr'ahnee said calmly.

" Hmn", Dodgers looked in her direction, not quite paying attention to what was happening initially before the words she said caught up to him in his mind," Oh yeah! Yeah! I needed to speak with you about something".

He was nervous. Dodgers was hardly nervous around her. He actually displayed an aura of nonchalance rather than suspicion or perversity (though she wished sometimes he would be bold like those preverted idiots, if only to know if he was indeed attracted to her).

Another thing that had put her off was his smell. Martians may not have a very sensitive sense of smell, but they could smell something strong surrounded the duck. Sure, Duck Dodgers wasn't really the cleanest captain in the Protectorate, but this wasn't his usual sweaty, i-haven't-done-laundry-in-a-while stink.

This was something else. Something that made her throat dry up and feel the need to cough. It was that bad. And she had a hunch she knew what it was. She just needed to confirm it later after this meeting.

" So what is it that you wish to speak with me about that you had to come to Mars so abruptly?", Tyr'ahnee asked.

Dodgers was quiet and Tyr'ahnee felt her concern rise but she pushed it away, but to ask her question again before Dodgers began speaking.

" Have you ever felt that the life you've been thrown into... just wasn't made for you?", Dodgers asked suddenly.

Tyr'ahnee felt her heart pulse against her chest and she almost had to take a deep breath to calm herself. Was... was he opening up to her?! She had to grip the armrest of her chair to release her excitement elsewhere.

" That's... that's a deep question", Tyr'ahnee noted.

Dodgers hummed with a frown," Not really when you throw a whole lot of things into perspective. Things you tend to ignore because there were other brighter, flashier, exciting things that got to distract you from the real dark truth that's been festering inside of you all along", he said without pause," It's just a weird thing I picked up".

Tyr'ahnee blinked, was he discussing his own feelings with her? It was surreal. She felt tempted to do what Earthlings do and pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.

" Noticed where?", Tyr'ahnee asked carefully.

He looked up and this time his gaze bore into hers and- good creator, if Tyr'ahnee was standing, her legs would have given out underneath her, they felt like jelly. He was analyzing her completely, almost picking out her faults and weak spots like the genius she knew he was.

" Justh in certain individualsth", Dodgers said quietly before averting his gaze.

Tyr'ahnee looked at him and pondered on his question. It got her thinking, it really did. It was a question someone would ask on the darkest of nights, when one couldn't sleep and the mind wondered to unsettling places. She knew such places intimately.

" Tyr'ahnee"

She turned her attention to Dodgers who picked at the end of his gloves, but his gaze was on her.

" I need to asthk a huge favour from you", Dodgers said cryptically.

A favour? Tyr'ahnee wasn't usually one who was faced with people asking favours, and if someone were to ask her a favour, they'd meet the tip of her sword.

But this was Duck Dodgers, someone she was quite taken with and admired greatly...

" What sort of favour?", Tyr'ahnee asked, brow raised.

Dodgers tapped the table nervously. This was stupidly dangerous and selfish of him to ask this. For all he knew, his request might cause her to question him further. It was bad enough this woman knew more about him than his own Cadet.

" Remember the treaty? That one between Earth and Marsth from a few yearsth ago", Dodgers said nervously," How difficult would it be for it to be reinsthated?".

Tyr'ahnee's eyes widened," You want Earth and Mars... to form an alliance again", she said surprised.

" Yesth"

" Why?"

" Well, didn't you and the Protectorate want thisth? Peace between two neighbouring planetsth", Dodgers said, hoping to dodge her questions.

" It was beneficial to Mars at the time-"

" But it isthn't now?"

" It still is, but why do you want there to be another treaty signing", Tyr'ahnee said as she stared him down," You sabotaged the last one".

Then something happened. He flinched. It was short, and barely there but Tyr'ahnee saw it.

Captain Duck Dodgers of the Galactic Protectorate, Mars no 1 enemy, and the duck of Tyr'ahnee's heart; flinched. As if someone had struck him.

There was an awkward silence in the air.

" I'll admit, that got more out of hand than I thought it would have", Dodgers said. He wasn't apologizing, but he noted it was his fault," But I swear I won't sabotage this one!".

" What will you get out of this?", Tyr'ahnee asked as she stared at him.

Dodgers rarely did anything that wasn't for his own benefit. She knew him, she knew him well. There's no way he wasn't doing this for anyone but him-

" Peace of mind"

" What?"

Dodgers swallowed and explained further," I want there to be peace between Earth and Marsth stho that I can be at peace with my mind", he said.

" You're asking me this to clear your guilty conscience?!", Tyr'ahnee said in disbelief.

" Basthically", Dodgers said shrugging.

Tyr'ahnee stared at him as if he had grown a second head. Something wasn't adding up in her brain.

She looked at him. She really looked at him. Not the mask he had managed to hold up for several years in the light; the mask that only slips on rare occasions. She noticed his exhaustion, the bags under his once bright, now dull eyes. His eyes, in fact, looked extremely raw. And the smell around, though fading, was still strong. The worst part about him: he wasn't smiling. There was no twinkle of mischief she had seen when they first met. His debonair, cheeky smile had lost itself. Looking at him, she almost had the urge to poke through his uniform, just to check if he hadn't lost weight.

Honest to creator, he looked like shit.

Like a shell... of his former self.

Something struck in Tyr'ahnee's heart. An emotion unlike any other. She felt... worried for the man before her. Could she even call him a man, he reminded her much of a doll at this. A doll, a being with lifeless eyes, whose only purpose is entertain. Something only to show and play with.

It didn't settle right with her.

" Why are you looking at me like that?", Dodgers asked.

" When was the last time you ate?", Tyr'ahnee asked.

Dodgers looked taken aback by the question," This afternoon?", he replied.

" And before then?", she asked.

" Sthkipped breakfast. Ate lasth night", he said staring her down," Why are you asthking?".

Tyr'ahnee ignored him and continued on," I'll consider addressing the idea of reinstating the peace treaty between Earth and Mars with the rest of the Martian Council on a certain condition", she said curtly.

" What condition?", he asked.

" A condition we'll address at a later stage", Tyr'ahnee said getting up from her seat," It is getting late and supper will be served soon. I can have the kitchen prepare another plate if you want to stay and continue talking over supper".

Dodgers shook his head," No, I'd rather not intrude", he said.

" You aren't intruding. I eat my supper alone most of the time", Tyr'ahnee said as she stood next to him.

" Sthill no. Cadet might be worried about me. I've been gone for a while", Dodgers said as he made a move to leave.

" Dodgers", Tyr'ahnee called him back.

He looked at her and before he could speak, Dodgers found himself engulfed in a hug.

Tyr'ahnee hugged him, face buried in his shoulder and neck. She would be lying if she said she had no idea what brought her to do this. She just wanted to hold him.

She was surprised he didn't fight to get out of her embrace. What surprised her even further was when she felt him snake his arms around her and return the hug.

And they stayed in that position for a while until the door opened.

Commander X-2 stepped into the room," Your highness, your dinner is read-", he paused and froze when he saw Dodgers and Tyr'ahnee. From an outsiders' perspective, it looked something close to a lover's embrace.

And X-2 felt his heart break at the sight.

Dodgers pushed himself away and cleared his throat hurriedly," Well then, I sthould get going. Cadet'sth probably a minute away from calling a sthearch and resthcue team!", he said chuckling awkwardly.

" Dodgers-"

" BYE!", and the duck was gone, teleported back to his ship in one flash, leaving the commander and the queen alone.

X-2 looked at his queen, who looked torn and confused. He felt his concern overcome his heartbreak and feeling of betrayal (despite the fact they hadn't had a romantic relationship in years).

" Your highness?"

Whatever daze Tyr'ahnee was in, she was snapped out of it by the commander's call. She straightened up and looked at her loyal companion.

" Thank you for the warning, commander", she said, back to her queen behaviour," I'll be in the dining hall if you need me".

" Of course, your majesty", X-2 said obediently.

" And commander?", Tyr'ahnee said, pausing at the door," Cut out a part of the fabric from the chair Dodgers sat in and send it to the lab".

" Of course, your highness. But may I be so bold and ask why?", he asked curiously.

" There's something wrong with our mortal enemy and I intend to find out what it is", Tyr'ahnee said, eyes shifting into a glare," I want the smell sample compared to all universal cigar companies in this part of the galaxy. Have the results sent to me as soon as it's complete".

" Of course, my queen. Anything else?", X-2 asked.

" That'll be all, commander... thank you", Tyr'ahnee said before she eventually left to the dining hall.

Cadet watched as his captain teleported into the ship, looking disoriented and bothered.

" E-e-evening c-captain Dodgers", Cadet said respectfully," I-I-I hope your visit to M-Mars was g-g-g-go-helpful".

" Sthure was- now I'm headin' to bed", Dodgers said as he spedwalked out of the room.

" B-B-But C-c-cap'n Dodgers, what about din-"

" I'm sthkippin' tonight, Cadet!", was the last thing Cadet heard before he heard a door slam shut.

Seems like he was eating alone again.

Dodgers laid on his bed, hugging his pillow, eyes staring straight ahead. Same position as this morning. Like he hadn't left his bed at all.

His mind was racing and he hated it. He hated Martians. He hated their pretty queen who saw through him like he was some window in a mall. She was... despicable. She was a despicable woman who made him have despicable thoughts that only cause him more pain.

He should've never had gone to Mars.

Now he can't stop thinking about her. And when he thinks about her, his mind leads happier things and happier things leads to... them.

He didn't want to think about them.

He'd rather not think about anything at all.

He buried his face in his pillow, groaning in exasperation as he felt warmer and colder all at the same time. Cigars won't help this time. He's going to need something much stronger. Much, much stronger.

Geez Daff, what is it with you and your attraction to women who could kill you-He heard that in the amused, teasing tone of... Bugs Bunny.

Yep, he was definitely going to need something much stronger than cigars from now on.

Tyr'ahnee sat in her bed chambers, staring at the file in front of her.

The labs had come back with the test result. And the results had shown the smell was akin to that of cigar smoke. More specifically: Arturo Fuente Anejo cigars, which Tyr'ahnee remembered correctly, was a strong cigar brand that if you smoke it, it would be like smoking an extra pack of cigarettes. Something that didn't sit well with Tyr'ahnee.

Besides the sample test results, Tyr'ahnee also had with her the bi-monthly vitals check recordings the Protectorate has to ensure their agents were at top shape. Of course, Dodgers' health was much lower than others but he still passed the minimum by more than what you'd think he'd pass.

However, she noticed something when she compared the recent health check and the previous one and saw something that made her feel ill all of a sudden.

There was a sudden decline in his health. He almost barely passed his check. A lump was stuck in her throat as she read on. The doctor's note didn't help, a small, barely eligible scrawl was written there, stating Dodgers had 'breathing trouble' (from the cigars he's been inhaling like oxygen, Tyr'ahnee added mentally in her mind).

Why was he doing this to himself? What drove him to do this? Tyr'ahnee needed answers and was quite desperate for it.

There was a knock on her bedroom door and she called for whoever it is to enter. Her door opened and in stepped in Commander X-2, who peeked in curiously.

" Have you gotten what you needed, your highness", X-2 asked curiously.

" I have, the lab and the hackers were rather efficient this time around", Tyr'ahnee said with a satisfied hum.

X-2 nodded and looked at the file on her lap with a contemplative gaze.

" He's been smoking, and quite often if the smell has stuck to him for so long. And I'm not quite sure what else he had been doing, but it's causing his health to decline at rapid speeds", Tyr'ahnee explained as X-2 listened half-heartedly.

Was it petty that he was still rather sour about what he walked in on earlier? The sight of Dodgers being in such close proximity with his queen nauseated him. No matter how much he's gone through with the duck, and even with earlier today's events where they talked, his blood still boiled at the idea of the two of them together. He still wanted to keep Dodgers away from his beloved queen.

Which was the easier part. The harder part was keeping Tyr'ahnee away from Duck Dodgers.

The queen's infatuation with Dodgers had grown despite all her vehement denials. He couldn't tell if Dodgers had felt anything for his queen, but today had shown that the duck did have a softer side for the Queen of Mars, something that frightened and threatened X-2. The possibility that the duck had feelings for his queen drove him into a defensive, perhaps... possessive territory.

If something were to bring them together, X-2 would have to get rid of it. He had already done it before, though he's now rotten with guilt over it.

" I'll be sending in one of our spies... to keep an eye on him and keep data on his daily routines. And if possible, find the source behind what's been happening lately and remove it", Tyr'ahnee said determined.

" Your majesty, isn't that rather excessive?", X-2 asked.

" Hardly. The Protectorate is hardly even looking into what's wrong with him", she scoffed.

He was sure the Galactic Protectorate were busy with other things in order for them to not pay attention to their one captain.

" But your majesty, Duck Dodgers isn't our problem! He is our enemy. If he expires, then Mars will have an increased chance of winning over the Galactic Protectorate", X-2 reasoned.

The moment he mentioned the possibility of Dodgers dying, he saw something ignite in his queen. An anger she would only lay onto the dimmest of souls who crossed her vengeful path. And for a short moment, he felt a tiny bit of fear.

But then she deflated, conflict of emotions quite visible in her eyes. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, gripping the files on her lap tightly.

" Kindly leave, commander", Tyr'ahnee said quietly.

" Your highness-"

" Now", she hissed.

The commander left quickly and guilt-ridden. Tyr'ahnee looked ready for the genocide of the century but instead fell back on her pillows knowing... that the commander was right.

Duck Dodgers was an enemy of Mars, an adversary that would greatly benefit Mars if he were to expire. Mars would have a greater chance at defeating Earth if they took Dodgers out of the equation.

But, there was something else in Tyr'ahnee. A sort of something that caused butterflies to flutter in her stomach when she saw him straight after a battle. The way her skin felt hot when he smiled and winked her way.

The way everything felt in place, the first time he made her laugh.

Duck Dodgers was a formidable foe, a force that blocked Mars from accessing Earth through a takeover. It would be a benefit to Mars if he were to... die.

But it wouldn't be a benefit to her heart and mind. She was in far too deep.

Tyr'ahnee tucked the files in her nightstand drawer and locked it up. She then grew comfortable under the covers as she looked out towards the stars, wondering if she were looking at Duck Dodgers right now as she stared out the high windows before she fell asleep, leaving the future's plan to be tomorrow's problem

End of Chapter 3

Duck Dodgers x Queen Tyr'ahnee, everybody.

Gosh, the urge to write a Duck Dodgers 404 Baffy fanfic grows. Learning to have better impulse control so that I don't end up with too many main stories (which is basically what happened already).

(I ship Baffy, okay. I'm okay with a lot of ships. That Duck Dodgers 404 thing I was talking about above, that would have been romantic Baffy. What I Lost is brothers!Baffy.

Not sure when the next chapter is coming out because I have exams coming up. But I'll see you all then. Remember to review and I hope you have a lovely day/night.