It is now twenty or so years after the "Darkwing Duck" series took place. Much has changed, and is still changing ... for one character in particular ...
By Kim McFarland
It was a dark, but not stormy night in early Spring. Stars lit up the clear sky above St. Canard. They looked like handfuls of gems scattered on black velvet.
One of those gems was moving in relation to the others. Anyone with a telescope and nothing better to do on a clear night could have noticed that one of the "stars" was not a star at all, but a satellite.
The satellite had been in orbit around the planet for some time now, monitoring the broadcasts of the native life forms. It had recently made its choice based on what it had learned, and settled itself into a geosynchronous orbit above St. Canard. Now a section of the satellite detached itself and descended into a certain suburb of the city.
Richard Duckwell sat in his living room, making notes and looking over the myriad photographs covering a large table. He was up against a deadline, but he just could not make up his mind. So many fashion sins, so little time! How could he hold the "Worst Dressed" list down to just ten people? Compared to the task he had put off for last, the "Best Dressed" list had been a breeze.
He was so absorbed that he did not notice the odd sounds coming from just outside his house. A small spaceship shaped like a short cylinder had set down in his driveway. Its occupant guided it into a section of the house that already held one vehicle. Then, when it was carefully positioned, it collided loudly with the car.
Duckwell looked up. What could that have been? Someone vandalizing his car? In THIS neighborhood? He picked up a fireplace poker, cautiously stepped out into the front hall, and put his ear to the door connecting it to the garage.
He wasn't sure if he could hear anything. It might have been something brushing against the wall, and it might have been his imagination. He gathered his nerve, threw open the door, and stepped through, brandishing his weapon. Something light landed on his head-
Gort looked around. The host had come to investigate, just as planned. Bipeds were always insatiably curious. He closed the garage door, careful not to catch it on the shuttlecraft. Then he opened an outside panel on the craft and pressed a button which would signal the others that the initial contact had been successful, and that they should proceed with the next phase immediately.
That done, he went to his task. The host had been in the process of writing his fashion critiques, which would be broadcast over the planetary media on the next day. He was just in time! He sat at the couch, took a bite of the fireplace poker, and looked over the pictures. They all looked unfathomably bizarre - but one picture caught his eye. Being a Klorn himself, Gort was immediately attracted by this one picture, even though he knew that the "hat" was only a husk. He picked up the picture and examined it closer. His host's memory told him that this person was "fashion illiterate" - but on this planet one person's rags were another person's fashions. This would do perfectly!
The next night found Gosalyn Mallard watching television. It wasn't her choice of nocturnal activity - she'd MUCH rather be making the news as the Quiverwing Quack than watching it - but for the next four or five months she was just going to have to live with it.
This was bad for her morale. She was not used to sitting around, night after night, week after week! It had been less than a month since she had "gone on hiatus", and she was already going stir crazy. She did as much as she could to get out of the house when she felt well enough. She spent a lot of time at the gym - like heck she was going to let herself go soft during this forced vacation! - and she did some volunteer work around the St. Canard Orphanage for her own reasons, but the evenings seemed endless.
"I hate this." she grumbled out loud.
Honker handed her the remote control.
"Not that." she replied. "I'm bored. Bored, bored, bored."
She laughed in spite of herself. "If I'm like this after only a month, I'm going to be mean by the time Quiverwing's ready to take the reins again."
Honker didn't say anything. Gosalyn, who had always been a volatile person, was especially so now that her hormones were going at full force. He coped by not letting her moods bother him. No matter how upset she got, he knew that it would pass quickly.
She continued, "Who'd think being pregnant would be so hard?!"
"At least you're already halfway there."
"Yeah, there's that ... You know what, Honker? We've had this dialogue half a dozen times."
"Don't you get sick of it?"
He shrugged. "It doesn't bother me."
"It bores me, and I'm the one doing the talking!"
In lieu of an answer he put an arm around her and drew her close. She scooted over to him, quite ready to drop the line of conversation. She leaned her head on his shoulder. Mentally she sighed. It could be worse. At least St. Canard was still protected. Darkwing Duck had been quite willing to come out of retirement, once she had explained the situation. She hadn't even had to mention Gizmoduck. In fact, he had wanted to take over right then and there, even though she had not yet started showing. As if she was made of porcelain or something!
She focused back on the news. The announcer had gotten past the local and national events, and had gone on to the "human interest" stories. Duckwell had just announced his annual Best and Worst Dressed People in St. Canard lists. Gosalyn grinned. The one thing Darkwing had liked about retiring was that it had taken him off the "Worst Dressed" list. Duckwell had always hated his hat.
The scene switched to a duck in front of a bank of microphones. He was wearing a hat very much like the one Darkwing wore. That was strange. It took him some time to get through his "Worst Dressed" list, as he had to keep pausing while the audience laughed at his comments. When he finished Gosalyn commented, "I thought for sure he was going to rag on Dad. After all, he's wearing that hat."
Duckwell started on his Best Dressed list. Gosalyn looked around, then picked up the remote to change the channel. Honker said, "Wait!" in a tone of disbelief.
"What?" she asked. Then she saw what was on the screen. An image of Darkwing Duck! "What?!" she repeated, staring at the screen.
The screen cut back to Duckwell - but, a moment ago, it had displayed an image of Darkwing Duck. And Duckwell was now praising Darkwing's fashion sense as being "ahead of its time". "Last I heard, he was saying that this jacket had gone out of fashion forty years ago." she commented.
Duckwell continued by praising Darkwing's hat for its "rakish flair". By this point Gosalyn was just shaking her head. "He used to call it a steamrollered sombrero. Is it April first or something? There must be a punchline to this."
There was no punchline. The next day the lists were published in newspapers and tabloids, and they agreed with the list announced on the television the previous evening. Darkwing was, predictably, very pleased by this development.
"Don't you think it's just a little funny that someone who's hated your hat for the past twenty years is suddenly praising it to the skies?" Gosalyn asked.
"Gosalyn, Darkwing Duck has always been on the cutting edge of fashion. These people were just so far behind that they didn't know it." Drake replied in a tone almost cool enough to mask his glee.
"Oh, come on, Dad. People don't just change their minds like that."
"Gosalyn, you really need to get out more. Everyone is wearing them!"
"What? Since when?"
"Since ... this morning, actually." he admitted. "Looks like a lot more people take fashion advice from that Duckwell guy than I thought."
"That's really fishy." she mused.
He laughed. "Remember how you used to say I thought everything was a case? Go home and get some rest, Gos. You need it."
Her temper flared. "I've had nothing BUT rest! I've done nothing but sit on my tail feathers for the last month! I'm pregnant, not crippled!" she shouted.
"Okay, okay!" Drake held his hands in front of himself. "I just meant, you don't have to worry about the city, it's in good hands." he said to placate her.
She stared at him for a few seconds, then said in a subdued voice, "I'm going to go nuts if I hear one more person tell me to give it a rest. I mean, sheesh! I haven't quite turned into a whale yet!" She paused again, then said, "But I'm hormonal as heck."
"That you are." Drake agreed, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Look, it is a little weird about the hats, but so what? Fashions come and go."
"Yeah..." she said. She was embarrassed by her outburst. "I think I'll go to the gym. That'll keep me busy for a little while, at least."
"That's the spirit. The way you've been working out, you'll be in better shape when you come back to your job than you were when you left."
She smiled halfheartedly. "There's that." she said, and left.
As she drove to the gymnasium she thought about it. Maybe she was really imagining things. So what if people suddenly developed a fascination for a certain kind of hat? It was a lot less silly than wearing your pants backwards, but she remembered when people had done that as well. She really was getting hormonal. She hoped that this stage would be over with soon; she hated to lose her temper and then feel foolish afterwards.
She pulled into the parking lot of the gymnasium, got out her gym bag, and went into the locker room. This time of day it was filled with housewives who, from the looks of them, needed to spend time here more than Gosalyn did. She changed into a sweatsuit - it looked awful, she thought, but she looked silly in a leotard now - and went in to the weights room.
She found a free machine and sat down. It was one of those fancy gimmicks that, basically, replaced the need for lying flat on your back with a spotter standing over you with a lot of gears and pulleys. She started with a lighter setting, pushing the weight upward with her legs. Then she switched it so that she could push the bars to the side inward with her arms, and started on that.
...and noticed that some people were wearing hats in the gym room. What the heck? Fashion was one thing, but since when did people wear hats in a gym? Were they wearing them in the sauna too? She didn't particularly want to find out.
She finished her exercises quickly and decided to leave before she got completely creeped out. When she was getting her clothes from the locker she noticed a woman across the room, one which she had seen wearing a hat in the weights room. She glanced up and saw Gosalyn. Gosalyn looked away.
Gosalyn finished dressing quickly. She didn't notice that, as she was leaving, the hat extended a tubelike limb from its underside and lifted the black band around its crown, revealing a pair of eyes.
"I don't think it's just me." she said after Honker got home from his job at SHUSH. "I saw people wearing those hats in the gym! Since when does anyone do that?"
"It is strange." he said. "I've seen a few in SHUSH too."
"Why in the world would people wear hats everywhere - and hats like Dad's, too? It just doesn't make sense!" She shook her head. "Ever get the feeling you're just missing one piece of the puzzle?"
"It could just be a particularly effective marketing campaign." he said, sounding none too convinced himself.
"Oh, come on. I've been watching a LOT of TV the past few weeks. I'd know if that was it!" she snorted. "It must be harmless. So why does it still seem so spooky?"
"I don't know." he had to answer.
"Huh. Well, I'm going to do some investigating." she decided.
"Chill out, Honker." she said with a grin. "I'm just gonna look around, like any curious citizen. There must be a lot more people wondering what's up. In fact," she continued, thinking out loud, "I imagine some of the local press would send out a reporter to do a story on 'the latest fashion craze'. How much danger could a reporter get into just by talking to a few hat store owners?"
Knowing Gosalyn, Honker thought, quite a bit. He did not say this out loud.
"Oh, relax." she said. "I know what you're thinking. I'll just stick to interviewing people. I won't even be wearing spandex under my clothes. OK?"
"When have you ever needed my permission?" he asked.
"Never." she answered with a smile. "One thing I love about you is that you realize that."
She was in good spirits the rest of that evening, and the next morning, because she now had something to look forward to doing. After Honker left for SHUSH - she knew that he avoided telling her to be careful because he knew it would annoy her - she set her mind to selecting an approach. What kind of interviewer should she be? A serious newspaper reporter might be taken as some kind of threat, if in fact there was more to this than fashion aberration. However, if she was a college newspaper reporter - no, at the moment she looked a bit too matronly to play that part. How about a trendy fashion reporter? She could do that. She had a baggy top that would camouflage her a bit. She thanked herself for that moment of weakness when she had given into the stereotypical feminine urge to comfort herself by buying clothes.
With the loose blouse she put on a pair of black leggings. Perfect! Well, actually, it looked silly to her, but it was the perfect outfit for the occasion. She supposed that she ought to rat her hair out to complete the effect, but there were limits to the sacrifices she would make for her profession. She compromised by pulling her hair back and braiding it.
An hour later, a redheaded woman carrying a clear plastic purse containing only a camera and a notepad walked into Liddsville, a small hat store in the main city. She looked around while chewing her gum. The racks held plenty of hats similar to Darkwing's, most of them grey, but some in other colors. There was a full-length mirror on the far wall.
"Can I help you, miss?" she heard.
An older man was standing at the register. He had slicked-back hair - and no hat! Gesturing at the racks, Gosalyn said, "I'm trying to find out what the craze with these hats is about. I've got a fashion article to write for my magazine, and no idea where to start."
"If you find out, tell me, would you?" he replied. "All I know is that someone stocked the store with 'em, and people can't get enough of 'em. They come in, looking like they're wondering what the big deal is, try one on, and buy it. Sometimes two or three! They sell like crazy."
"They sure do." Gosalyn agreed. "I'm seeing 'em everywhere."
"Thought I was going to run out of 'em, but when I looked in the storeroom I got more than I thought I'd need in a year. But the way they been goin' they'll last maybe a week."
"You're not wearing one, I notice. In a hat store, that looks a little strange."
With good humor he said, "Never could get used to having something sitting on my head. I can sell 'em, but not to myself."
She went to the St. Canard Mall next. Besides having a large hat shop, that would be a good spot to people-watch. She took a fresh stick of gum and walked into "The Hat Matter", looking around as if trying to decide what she wanted.
While browsing she watched someone who had come in just before she had. He selected a blue, wide-brimmed hat, tried it on, paused briefly, then looked at the mirror, apparently very pleased.
Gosalyn wondered about that pause. She thought she had seen the person's face go blank for a moment. If she could just rewind and watch that again!
While she was thinking about this, a sales clerk - wearing one of the ubiquitous broad-brimmed hats - said, "Can I help you find something?" a little too enthusiastically for her comfort.
"Uh, I'm just looking." she replied, momentarily off balance. "Actually, I'm trying to write a fashion article on these hats. I have to figure out why everyone's so crazy about them all of a sudden."
"That's an easy question to answer." he replied glibly. "What's NOT to love about them? They add a rakish touch of fashion to any ensemble. Try one on; you'll see."
"Uh, I can't right now. I, uh, just sprayed my hair." she said, hoping that that excuse would ward him off.
"Are you sure? I think this red one would suit you perfectly." he enthused, holding out a hat.
It would if this was the Negaverse, she thought. "Really, I don't want to get wet hairspray on your hat." she said with a polite smile.
"Well - you said you were writing an article? Then at least allow me to give you this as a sample. If you like it, I'd appreciate it if you could mention where you got it." he smiled.
She could not logically refuse. "Thank you. I'll be sure to mention it." She took out her writing pad. "Mr...?"
"My name is Brak- ah, Buck. Buck Godot." he said.
She wrote that down, wondering what he had been about to say. She took the hat, thanked him again, then left. After the door closed behind her, unseen by anyone, the clerk opened the cash register, took out a small handful of pennies, and started eating them.
Gort watched that night's news. The petty provincial doings of the inhabitants of this planet did not interest him; he was looking for live camera feed, crowd scenes, whatever. He did not have to wait long - and, when he saw them, he was pleased. In the films taken recently in public places, many of the people were wearing hats!
He switched the television off and flipped open his communicator. "Gort reporting on Project Coverup. These bipeds are the perfect hosts for us. Approximately one-fourth have been taken, and the rest of the population suspects nothing! Taking over this planet will be child's play. And its mineral resources will be a boon to us as well." He paused to take a bite out of a quarter. "We are ready to proceed with phase two, total saturation, immediately."
When Honker returned, Gosalyn told him what she had learned - which, when she narrated it, really didn't sound like much. People were nuts about the hats. So what else was new?
"Actually," he said, pushing his glasses up his bill a little, "A lot of people at SHUSH had them. Nearly everyone in Research and Development, in fact. The funny thing is, it wasn't like that in the morning. It was as if someone had given them out during the day."
She shook her head. "I still have the feeling I'm not getting something." she said. "It's probably something right in front of me, and I'm just not seeing what."
"You said you got one of the hats at the second place you visited." Honker asked.
"Yeah, the guy gave it to me." she said. "I guess I left it in the car. You seen one of those hats, you've seen 'em all. Oh well, Maybe Dad's got some ideas."
She called him. Launchpad answered. "Oh, hi, Gos!"
"Hi, Launchpad. Is Dad there?"
"Sure is. I'll get him."
She waited for about half a minute, then Drake came to the screen. He was already in his Darkwing costume. "Can't wait to go on patrol, can you, Dad?" she grinned. "Remember when I asked you yesterday to keep an eye out when you were on patrol? Did you find anything out?"
"Nothing, kiddo." he replied. "All I saw was that most everyone was wearing a hat. Oh, there was one strange thing. When I went on patrol, only a few people were wearing hats. But by the time I finished in the morning, nearly everyone had one. But hat shops aren't open at night."
"And there was no crime at all last night. I might as well have stayed home."
"That's really weird! Usually I find lots to do."
He couldn't resist. "I guess that once the criminal element found out that Darkwing Duck was back on the job they decided to pack it in."
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, Dad, right, whatever you say."
"Seriously, sweetie - I don't know what's really going on, but until I do, I think you should let me handle this. Just in case it is dangerous. Okay?"
"Hold on. I'm trying to decide whether to burst into tears or tear your head off."
He said gently, "I'm serious, Gosalyn. You've got some precious cargo to take care of."
"If I wanted to hear this, I'd talk to Honker!"
"I'll tell you everything I find out. Just don't put yourself at risk. Not now."
She sighed noisily. "All right, Dad, whatever you say. You know, I don't think you ever forgave me for taking over as St. Canard's protector."
"You know how you feel right now? That's how I felt when I first retired. Only worse."
"It MUST have been worse, considering how much you griped. Hey, I'll come up to the tower. Maybe there's something useful I can do up there. Surveillance or research or something."
"Sure. I'll meet you there." Darkwing said, relieved. She would feel better if she was able to participate in some way.
She hung up the phone. "Honker." she called. No response. He must have stepped out. Oh well, he would know where to look for her. She sat in one of the blue chairs and pressed a switch on a nearby table.
Darkwing appeared in the other chair. Gosalyn was sitting there, looking ill. He asked, "Are you all right?"
"Just a little dizzy." she said, and swallowed hard. "That whirling ride."
She stood up unsteadily. "I'm all right now." she said. Then she sat back down.
"Maybe you ought to sit this one out, Gos. At least until your face isn't green."
"Yeah." she said.
"Want me to drive you back?" he said, concerned.
"No, I'll take the chairs. One more trip won't make me feel any sicker." she said.
"Wait! Gos-" He got up and walked over to her. He gave her one of his spare hats. "If there is something weird going on, you ought to have camouflage." he said.
She looked at the hat. "Yeah, I guess so." she said. She couldn't see herself wearing this in public, but she'd done sillier things in the name of fighting crime. "Thanks, Dad."
"See you, kiddo."
She punched the switch. A few seconds and one disorienting trip later she was back in her home. Thank goodness she had been right, and the trip had not made her feel any worse. If it had, she might be using the hat in a way that her father had not intended. While waiting for her stomach to settle she set the hat on her head, put her elbows on her knees, and rested her head on her hands.
She looked up. Honker's voice sounded odd. "Oh, you got it." she said, referring to the red hat he was now wearing.
"Yes. An excellent model; I had not expected to find an Earthling with such cranial capacity." he answered. From underneath the hat something like a thin tube with a sucker at the end reached out and moved the black band on the crown of the hat upwards, revealing a pair of eyes.
Gosalyn's eyes went wide with shock. The ... brain sucking alien hats were back?! The last time she had seen them was twenty years ago, when they had twice tried to take over the Earth! She had to think fast. If all the hats she had seen were really aliens, then they must be under some kind of orders not to reveal themselves by showing their eyes. She stood up - a tad unsteadily - and said sharply, "Cover your eyes! What if somebody saw you?!" She pointed at the open window.
"Aw, but it's HARD to see through this host!" he griped.
"Do you want it to be reported that our invasion of this planet was thwarted because you failed to cover up?! Put that band back!" she ordered.
It obeyed, grumbling "But this one's practically blind."
"That's why he wears glasses." she replied. "How close to ready to move are we?" she asked, by now warming to the role.
"We have nearly saturated the city. By tonight we will have captured every available host in the city. And then we will spread throughout this world, securing it for a launching point for our invasion of the Delphonic Nebula! And THEN we'll be able to take off these stupid bands!" He laughed loudly.
Gosalyn tried to join in, but she just couldn't muster the enthusiasm. The monster that had captured Honker didn't seem to notice. She had to get that thing off of him! Pepper had worked the last time. She went into the kitchen.
The pepper shaker was in the sink. It had been emptied down the drain, and so had the extra pepper in the cupboard. Honker came in behind her. "Don't worry, I've already destroyed all the pepper that this host possessed."
"Very good." she replied. "And now, I have a mission of my own. Carry on." she said, and hurried back to the chair. He watched her go, then began looking through the silverware drawer for tidbits.
"DAD!" Gosalyn shouted before the chair stopped spinning.
"Hey, what? I thought you were going to take a rest."
"Dad, take off your hat!"
"Gosalyn, what are you-"
She dropped into a Quack Fu starting position. "Take it off, NOW."
"Okay, okay, if it means that much to you." He removed his hat and placed it on a table.
She snatched it up, looked at its underside, then punched a hole through the crown.
"Boy, talk about your mood swings." Darkwing murmured to himself.
"Sorry about that, but I had to be sure." Gosalyn said as she handed it back to him. "Where's Launchpad?"
"Tinkering, as usual. LAUNCHPAD!"
Launchpad poked his head out from under the Thunderquack's hood. "Huh?"
"Come here, would you? And take off your flight cap." Darkwing said.
Launchpad obeyed. Gosalyn looked at the cap - already a bit embarassed at the scene she had made over Darkwing's hat - and then handed it back. "Guys, I found out what all the hats are. They're aliens! The same ones who nearly blew up the world when I was a kid!"
"Whoa, slow down, Gosalyn! How'd you find this out?" Darkwing asked.
"One of them got Honker!" she exclaimed.
Darkwing, hoping to avert another mood swing, said "Don't worry. We've defeated them twice before, and we can do it again. All we need is a lot of pepper."
"Not this time. He got rid of all the pepper. It must have been the first thing he did. They know about pepper, and they're getting rid of it before we can use it on them!"
"Whoa. That's pretty smart, for a hat." Launchpad said.
Gosalyn shot a glare at him.
Darkwing said, "Well, they can't have gotten all the pepper in the world. We'll just get some from another city! How tough can that be?"
Honker placed a call to Gort, his commander. Each invader was under order to report any exceptional hosts to the leader, so that he might have the optimum advantage in leading the invasion.
"Richard Duckwell here."
"Oh, sorry. I must have a wrong number. I was trying to call Gort." He started to hang up.
"No! That's the name of my host. What do you have to report?"
"Er, I have a host you might be interested in-"
"Excellent! Describe it to me."
"It's of average height as hosts go, and not too strong, and its vision is poor, but it has a cranial capacity unusual among this species-"
"Yes, yes, go on." Gort already sounded bored.
"Well, it works in a secret branch of this country's government. Its memories, in fact, contain locations of military bases and weaponry! And its last name is Muddlefoot."
"Muddlefoot? Honker Muddlefoot?! The one that humiliated our leader, Phlarg the terrible?"
"Excellent!" Gort shouted into the telephone. "Bring it to me for exchange immediately!"
In the tower, both Darkwing and Gosalyn were pacing. "We can assume that everyone with a hat like mine is possessed. Except for us." Darkwing said.
"And that all those hats in the stores are really aliens waiting to grab one of us." Gosalyn added.
"This job is a bit too big even for the both of us." Darkwing admitted. "Better call on SHUSH for backup."
They climbed the ladder to the computer platform. Darkwing gestured to the chair, and Gosalyn sat in it. She opened the direct connection to J. Gander Hooter's office. "Director Hooter-" The screen cleared to reveal an empty desk. "Aw, drat." she said.
"Did you say something?" Director Hooter walked into the screen range. He, too, was wearing a broad-brimmed hat.
Darkwing stepped back. This was something he hadn't been prepared for! Fortunately, Gosalyn had. "Just confirming that our agents have captured the more useful hosts. Over." she said, and closed the connection. When the camera went off she said, "Crud!"
"Double crud." Darkwing agreed.
"How are we going to fight this now? Without SHUSH-"
"We'll get SHUSH back. Starting with one person whose smarts we need. And for that we're going to need pepper. Gosalyn, I'll need your help on this. You and Launchpad go fly out on the Thunderquack and bring back some pepper from somewhere. I'll do what I can with my sneezing powder canisters in the meantime."
Gosalyn knew that this was part of a plot to get her the heck "out of harm's way" - but, it was probably the only useful thing she could do right now. She said "All right." without enthusiasm, and started walking towards the Thunderquack.
Launchpad started to follow her, then turned back towards Darkwing. "DW, you sure you don't need us around?"
"I'm sure. Now go get the pepper, and fast! I need that stuff." Darkwing said, making shooing motions at them.
After his rendez-vous with his new host, Gort headed to the SHUSH building. This host was perfect. Granted, it was nothing special physically, and its eyesight was abysmal, but its brain was a delight! Not only could he use its cognitive abilities, this host also had knowledge of a secret government agency! This would bring the invasion to completion early - and under budget, too! It was the icing on the cake that this would be fitting vengeance on the biped which had thwarted both of their earlier invasion attempts!
He arrived at the agency and was pleased to find that most of the staff were already wearing hats. He had brought along some more Klorn troopers; it was a simple thing to place them where they could take the remaining unsuspecting hosts. After doing that, he set about preparing a message for all of the city's invaders.
Darkwing, meanwhile, was at a loss. What could he do against a city full of invading hats? If it were a mere hundred or two, he could catch them all. But thousands, possibly millions?
Nuts. It was time to swallow his pride. The last two times they had dealt with this threat with the aid of other - what were they, anyway? Alien hats? Now he remembered; the Good Guys were the Gerdist revolutionaries. They had come just in time to mop up the last two times. Maybe if he sent a signal...
Several hours later, Darkwing had cobbled together something that would send a signal into the sky. The Gerdists were bound to know Morse code. He set the message, and pushed the repeat button. A satellite dish hidden in the masonry of the tower pointed upward and started sending pulses into the sky. As it was sent out, the message repeated across the screen. While that was going on, Darkwing gathered as many empty gas canisters as he could find, went to his chemistry lab, and started making up sneezing powder.
Gosalyn looked out the side of the Thunderquack. "This ought to be far enough. Let's try here."
"Yeah. They're so busy taking over the city, what're they going to mess with places like this for? Look, there's a store."
"And a Hamburger Hippo."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course. What else?"
He brought the Thunderquack down in the parking lot. The supermarket looked deserted. So did the Hamburger Hippo, which seemed really strange to Launchpad. The lights were on in the store, though. They walked in the automatic door. Launchpad looked around. "Where d'ya think they keep the pepper in here?"
"Huh?" he looked at Gosalyn.
She looked back at him - from under a broad-brimmed hat. "The pepper from this distribution center has already been dumped into the bay!"
Launchpad gulped. One of those hat things must have been poised above the door, ready to land on whoever walked in next! She took a deep breath to shout. Before she could, he grabbed her in a hammerlock and clamped a hand over her bill. She struggled as he dragged her out of the store.
What could he do now? He couldn't hurt Gos! He couldn't even try to pull the thing off of her head; if he let go of her bill she'd call all the other hat things down on him!
He glanced at the Hamburger Hippo, and got an idea. It was a long shot, but - "OW!" She had found a way to bite his hand. He adjusted his grip to shut her bill more firmly.
He dragged her into the fast food stand. There, over at the condiments area-! He had to release her bill to free her hand. While she shouted for reinforcements he fumbled one-handed with some paper packets. He succeeded in tearing one open. He sprinkled it across her bill. Her eyes opened wide. She fought it briefly, then gave in to a sneezing fit. The hat blew off of her head. Launchpad grabbed it when it fell back down.
Gosalyn wiped her bill with a napkin. "Thanks, Launchpad. Good thing they had pepper here. Wonder why they didn't get rid of it here too?"
"I dunno. We were just lucky, I guess." Launchpad said.
Gosalyn scooped pepper packets out of the bin. Launchpad commented, "That ain't gonna be enough."
"I know." she answered. "But it'll keep US safe until we do get enough." She handed him a double handful.
"Gotcha." He stored the pepper in a pocket on the inside of his jacket.
"And as for you-" she shook the hat in her hands. She considered various things involving the cooking equipment behind the counter, then decided against it. Instead she threw it into the trash cabinet and wedged the flap shut with some rolled-up napkins.
Gort was more and more pleased. This local government agency had access to more resources than even his host had known! Not only could they take control of this continent's defense system, they could also access the media. Even if they had not already infiltrated the local television stations, it would have been a simple matter to commandeer the facilities.
Absently Gort chewed on a nail file as he wrote on a piece of paper. He would send out a message to the Klorns who had taken over, and command them to take the next step in the invasion. The few free hosts who heard would panic, but that would make them that much easier to seize.
He erased a line, and rewrote it, phrasing it slightly differently. He had to make sure that his speech sounded good to the Grand High Klorn. Why couldn't one of the hosts captured in this studio be a speechwriter?
Another Klorn looked in. "Fifteen minutes to air time!"
"Right." He skimmed through his speech one more time, and decided it was good enough. If it struck fear into the hearts of the natives here, and set the soldiers on their way, who would care if there was a dangling participle or two?
Darkwing, hearing a burst of static, looked at the computer. The screen was filling with gibberish.
He snarled to himself, "This is NOT the time for technical difficulties!" and went to try to debug the problem. What was wrong with the blasted thing?! All it was supposed to do was repeat the message he had typed! He shut the transmitter off.
The garbage continued to cover the screen.
"What the-?!" He had stopped the message! The gibberish couldn't be coming from his computer! He turned the dials. The interference was coming in on a broad band of frequencies, not just the one on which he had been transmitting. Had they discovered his signal and started jamming it?
The frequency he was using was just below the lowest frequency that TV signals used. Could that be the source of the interference? He turned on the television.
He was rewarded by a "stand by" signal. No, that couldn't be it. He had just picked up the remote control to switch it off when the snow sound was replaced with a voice. "Commander Gort to the Klorn forces. Commander Gort to the Klorn forces. This city is as good as ours. Total saturation will be achieved before the day is through. Send the full forces down for the next phase!"
Darkwing growled, "Not while Darkwing Duck is still in St Canard, you don't!"
The problem was, what was he planning on doing about it?
"Launchpad! I have an idea!" Gosalyn exclaimed suddenly from the Thunderquack's passenger seat.
"Well, no matter how much pepper we get, we still may run out, or they could take it away from us. But what if we used something BESIDES pepper?"
"Like what?" Launchpad asked.
"Can you fly to Africa?"
"We've got to go to Africa, okay? The Sahara. I know what we can use as our superweapon, and where it is!"
"Can do!" He had no idea what her idea was, but he had faith in her. "Strap in, this is gonna be rough."
She did. He pulled a switch on the control panel. A valve opened, spilling an extra chemical into the Thunderquack's fuel.
The airship surged forward.
In the television station, Gort was busy conferring with his confederates. "Distribution! What do you have to report?"
A host who had, in his previous life, been a courier replied, "The invasion of this city worked so well, there is no need to change tactics. We will simply slip in under their noses by shipping our soldiers to their hat stores and replacing the husks. Those who have hosts will assist in the capture of others."
"Excellent! And the military capabilities of this planet?" he asked another, who had been the highest ranking official in SHUSH.
"Unfortunately, this host's memories indicate that the capabilities are centered only on the planet itself. They wouldn't even be able to defend themselves from one of their own neighbor planets."
Gort shook his head in disgust. "We must build this planet into a more powerful base! I will not be the commander of a primitive mudball!"
"Yes, sir. This host's memories also indicate that the technology is available; it has just been turned towards projects on the planet's surface."
Gort was so appalled he did not comment. What was there to say? Any species with so little ambition deserved to be used as hosts. In fact, it was practically a favor to let them participate in the glory of their own conquest!
Another spoke up. "High Commander - I have heard of a certain substance which ..."
"Yes, yes, I know, I watched those old tri-D broadcasts too." Gort cut in. "Pepper. It is a plant-derived substance. We will destroy the refined product, and extinct the plant to secure our grip on this planet. And, once that last 'threat' has been disposed of, nothing will stand in our way!"
Darkwing heard a sound outside the tower. It was as if something was scraping against the masonry above his hideout. He went out on the ledge and looked up.
A small, familiar looking cylindrical spaceship had landed beside the satellite antenna. More invaders! He drew his gas gun - then belatedly wondered what charge would affect a hat. The top turned and lifted off of the vehicle several inches. A pair of eyes looked out. Then the ship lifted off again and lowered itself down to the level of the ledge Darkwing was standing on. In the side of the ship a door dilated, and a platform with another alien hat extruded itself. Without waiting Darkwing snatched the hat and took it into the tower. His first prisoner! He could interrogate it, find out its plans!
Darkwing placed the crownlike creature on a table, turned on the desk lamp directly above it, and asked, "All right, what are your plans? Spill 'em and I won't have you re-blocked!"
The hat blinked mutely at him.
Gosalyn directed Launchpad, with the aid of a map and some guesswork, to the vicinity she suspected. It was just at the border of the desert and some mountains ... and a small thread of dense greenery, maybe a few square miles in area. "Launchpad! That's what we want!"
"Sand? That won't make 'em sneeze, will it?"
"No! If I'm right, it's in that forest. Set the ship down just outside it, 'Pad."
He did. When they had landed - cushioned by the sand - Gosalyn tied on her Quiverwing mask. Seeing his questioning look, she said "Just trust me, okay?!"
"What's down here, Gos?" he asked as he pressed the canopy button.
"It's not a what, it's a who. I've had a little suspicion ever since I read about this area in a magazine. Now that I see it, I'm almost sure. And I'm Quiverwing now."
She turned on him. "Either call me Quiverwing or I'm going in alone!" she said in a low, firm voice.
"Uh, sorry. Quiverwing." he said apologetically. Darkwing would never forgive him if anything happened to her. Launchpad would never forgive himself either. He had to stay with her.
"Good." She beckoned him in. "Don't step on anything like flowers, OK?"
Actually, that was a bit of a problem. The undergrowth was dense enough that he could not avoid occasionally treading on something. Since Gosalyn was picking her steps with care, he did too.
"Notice anything strange, Launchpad?" she asked in a low voice.
"Um ... like what?"
"It's quiet. TOO quiet. There ought to be birds, or at least insects. Nothing. No animals live in here." She grinned. He obviously did not see her point. She said, "Let's put my theory to the test." She took out of the pack the had been carrying a small hatchet, stepped up to a medium-sized tree, and swung it back.
The tree dropped its branches down. Vines snatched her up. Some bushes lower down snatched the hatchet out of her grip. Launchpad dived for the hatchet, intending to cut Gosalyn down to save her. She shouted, "NO, Launchpad! Leave it alone!"
She said, remarkably calmly for someone who was wrapped tightly by vines and dangling ten feet off the ground, "Relax, Launchpad. This is all part of the plan. Just sit tight." Louder, she said "Take me to your leader!"
"Aw, sheesh! I just got started here! Why can't you just leave me alone?!" complained a voice from nearby. Launchpad turned, surprised. The owner of the voice pushed through the undergrowth. In fact, Launchpad had a hard time telling the difference between the speaker and the undergrowth. "Of all the - hey, you're not loggers." said the surprised mutant plant-duck.
Quiverwing said a line which she had been rehearsing in her head ever since she had come up with this idea: "Doctor Bushroot, I presume?"
"Well, yeah. Who wants to know?" he asked defensively.
"Don't you recognize me, Reggie?" she asked. "I got the note you left for me."
"My ... note?" he gestured. The vine lowered her so he could look at her closer. "Say, why are you wearing a mask?"
"Maybe you'd recognize me if I was wearing a cape and holding my bow."
He stared at her. "Quiverwing?"
"Yep." she grinned.
"Guys! This is Quiverwing Quack! She's all right. Let her go!" The vine settled her gently to the ground and unwrapped itself. A shrub nudged Bushroot and held out the hatchet.
Bushroot looked questioningly at her. She said, "You've been in hiding for so long, I had to make sure I could get your attention. It worked, didn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess it did." he admitted.
"Anyway, the reason I came all this way is because we need your help, Bushroot. St. Canard needs you."
"Really?" he said skeptically.
"Yes, really. It's a long, rather silly story. Let me tell you on the way back in the Thunderquack."
"Wait!" he held up his hands. "I can't go back there. If anyone finds out I'm alive - if the police don't get me, Negaduck will!"
She shook her head. "No way. We'll keep you a secret, I promise. I've done it this long, remember?"
"Well, yeah ... oh, what the heck, okay." He suddenly seemed a lot more cheerful.
"Great!" she said, and beckoned to him and Launchpad.
"Say, why aren't you wearing your costume? I thought you vigilantes always did. Uh..."
The way his glance wandered downward showed that he had already guessed the reason. She said, "Where do you think little superheroes come from, the stork?" and winked.
Darkwing was still interrogating the alien when the Thunderquack arrived in the tower. Darkwing, by now tired and frustrated, looked up. His vision was bleary from the bright light.
"Darkwing, what the heck are you doing?" Quiverwing asked as she climbed out of the Thunderquack.
"Trying to pull some answers out of this invader." he answered in a slightly hoarse voice. "It hasn't cracked - yet."
She walked up to the table. A very tired-looking crown was sitting under the hot desk lamp. "Dad, they can't talk without someone to talk through."
"They must have some way to talk." he insisted, glaring at his subject. "I'll find out what it is."
"What the heck is that?"
Darkwing looked up. Through the afterimages the light bulb left in his eyes he saw a strange-looking, green figure with purple hair. He jumped up and took out his gun. "Bushroot! So you're behind it all!"
Bushroot jumped behind Launchpad. Quiverwing said, "Hold it, chill out! Bushroot's got nothing to do with alien hats. He's the plant guy, remember?"
"Then just what are you doing, bringing him here? Say, isn't he supposed to be dead?"
"I'll explain it all later. For now, just take my word that I have a plan, okay?"
"All right." Darkwing said grudgingly, lowering his weapon. After the hours of frustration he had spent fruitlessly interrogating the hat, he had actually been looking forward to a good, invigorating battle.
"Say, that hat looks different from the others. Don't all the others look like your hat?" she looked closely at it. It returned her gaze wearily.
"G - uh, Quiverwing, don't get too close! It might grab you!"
"I don't think so. It could've just run off while you were threatening Bushroot. It could have even tried to take one of us then. I don't think this is one of the bad guys." She took the pepper packets out of her pockets.
"That's all you got?" Darkwing asked, dismayed.
"I brought something better. But for now, I got a hunch. Launchpad, hold me so I can't get away." She put her arms behind herself. "Dad, put it on me."
"Ah, you sure about this, Quiv?" Launchpad asked. He could see where this was headed.
"YES, I'm sure!! You got pepper in case I'm wrong, don't you? It won't hurt to borrow my brain for a few minutes!" she shouted, exasperated.
'Okay, okay, okay!" Darkwing said. Launchpad gripped her wrists gently but firmly. Darkwing set the hat on her head.
Quiverwing breathed deeply and said, "Thank you for allowing me to speak. I am Koozebane, leader of the Gerdist Alliance. We have just learned of the invasion of your planet. We had known that the Klorn were planning an offensive, but we did not know just where until we received your signal. Our forces are now in geosynchronous orbit above this city, ready to recapture the Klorn invaders." Quiverwing interrupted, "See?"
"Uh ..." This development had taken Darkwing completely off guard.
"Together, we can rid your people of these hordes." Koozebane continued. "Using this planet's best defense, pepper-"
"They already know about that." Darkwing interrupted. "There's not a speck to be had anywhere. Well, almost none." he corrected himself, glancing at the packets on the table.
"No problem." Quiverwing said. Like I said, I brought something better. Hay fever!"
"Yes..." Koozebane said, considering the idea that it read in Quiverwing's mind. "That will be much more effective."
"Can you do it, Bushroot? Give the whole city hay fever?" Quiverwing asked.
"Well, I, uh ... sure." he answered.
"We have to move fast, though!" Darkwing said. "I just intercepted a message calling for more invaders, for whatever the next part of the invasion is!"
"Then I will call down our troops as well." The hat leapt off of Quiverwing's head and scuttled out the window. Darkwing followed it. It returned to its small spaceship. The ship extruded an antenna and started blipping.
A moment later the crown returned. Quiverwing picked it up and put it on. Koozebane said, "Our troops will be down immediately. We must remove the Klorn leaders, if at all possible."
"I know where they'll be!" Darkwing declared. "At the TV studio! That's where the call for their troops came from! It was on TV frequencies! Let's go!"
"Before we do so, I should take another host. This one is not currently suited for possible combat situations."
"HEYY!" Quiverwing exclaimed, irritated.
Darkwing laughed. "Face it, kiddo, you're outvoted."
"I'm voting for two!"
Launchpad took off his flight cap. "Would I do?"
"Yes, very well." Quiverwing, still grumbling, took the hat off and put it on Launchpad's head.
"Quiverwing, you stay here." Darkwing said. "You guide Bushroot."
She shot Darkwing a nasty look, but could not think of a good objection. Not one that her father would listen to, anyway.
Throughout the city, television sets were switching on. Not that any one show was popular enough to gain the attention of the entire city; it had been a part of the invasion plan that each day, at a specific time, all Klorns would attend the lowest frequency channel of the most prevalent media channel.
In the television station Gort was rereading his script one more time, fiddling with the phrasing. He wasn't completely satisfied with it, but they still hadn't found a host who was a decent scriptwriter.
He put the papers down in annoyance. What was keeping the camera crew?! It was only a few minutes until he was to command his troops, and they were still fiddling with the machines as if they didn't know what they were doing!
In the tower, Quiverwing watched the Thunderquack land by the television station. It hadn't crashed and alerted the aliens. Good. Darkwing and Launchpad had entered; there was nothing more to see there. She refrained from contacting them on the communicators; at the wrong time that could blow their cover disastrously.
Even through the telescope she could not see if anything was happening to the foliage outside the studio. She looked at Bushroot. "How are you doing?"
"OK." he answered in a strained voice. "It's a good thing I've been practicing a lot in the forest."
"Yeah." She had supposed it would be quite a task to bring a whole city full of flowers to bloom; she had not known if even Bushroot could do that. She left him alone so he could concentrate and went back to her surveillance.
Darkwing and Launchpad/Koozebane had had only one minor problem infiltrating the television station: Launchpad needed a hat, but Koozebane would have been too recognizable and Launchpad's regular flight cap would not do. For once, Darkwing did not have a spare hat with him. They had solved the problem, at Koozebane's suggestion, by painting eyes in the goggles of Launchpad's flight cap and positioning them forward. Launchpad carried Koozebane inside one of Darkwing's spare coats.
While looking for the broadcast studio, they found the storage room instead. It was filled with tapes and films of all descriptions. They had just stepped out when a short woman wearing a yellow, broad-brimmed hat said, "You there! What's the holdup? We're waiting in the film!"
"Er, uh, film?" Darkwing said.
"Yes, the film! The mighty Gort will not be pleased if he finds that he's made his announcement to an empty camera!"
"Oh, THAT film! We were just getting it." Darkwing said, and pulled Launchpad back onto the storage room by his scarf. He shut the door, then opened the box and whispered to Koozebane and Launchpad, "Perfect. We'll delay them as long as possible until I get the chance to make my move."
Several minutes later, Gort was pacing around the studio. He had driven all of the staff out, with orders not to return again, upon pain of re-blocking, until someone who knew how to load a camera appeared. Theoretically, since the broadcast was live, he could have done it without film - but this was for posterity!
Darkwing and Launchpad entered, carrying several boxes and film canisters. Gort turned on them. "Finally! Hurry up!"
"Yessir!" They scrambled to the camera. While Darkwing went to a control panel and unobtrusively flipped a few crucial switches, Launchpad tried to thread film from the top canister through the camera. Gort watched impatiently. "What is taking so long?!"
"Ah - just making sure I got it right." Launchpad answered.
Gort stepped up behind Launchpad and watched impatiently. Then he shouted, "Are you as ignorant as your host?! That film is obviously not intended for this recording device!"
"It isn't?" Launchpad looked at the length of film in his hands.
"No, it isn't!" Gort snatched the film and held it up to the light. "This is a prerecorded film, as well!" he exclaimed angrily.
"Uh, whoops, sorry." Launchpad said. "Lessee... I think it's this one, then." He lifted another canister. "Can't read the label with all this dust." he commented, and blew the dust off - right at Gort.
He sneezed violently. Darkwing, who had been watching, snatched him up and shoved him in an empty box. He took a dazed Honker by the shoulders and shook him. "You all right?"
"What is it with me and evil alien hats?" he murmured distractedly.
"We all got our fans. Snap out of it, Honker!"
"Okay. I'm okay now." he said, rapidly recovering.
"Listen, we have a plan-" Darkwing began.
Several minutes later, Darkwing had outlined their plan. Honker and Koozebane had added their own elaborations. Then Koozebane went back to Launchpad, Honker took Darkwing's hat, and Darkwing took control of the camera. Honker scratched quickly at Gort's speech, making some additions and deletions, then signaled Darkwing to start the camera.
"My Klorn troops, the moment of our victory is at hand!" Honker announced in a fair imitation of Gort. "Tonight we will begin the distribution of our armies to other centers of population and political power, and this world will be ours!" He laughed maniacally - or tried to, anyway. Darkwing winced. Honker went on, "The Gerdist faction, which has come to liberate the natives of this planet from us, is even now landing outside, but they are too late. We are entrenched; without Human hosts they pose no threat. I order you to go out, as soon as this announcement is over, and capture them. Take a sack - a pillowcase will do - put the invader inside it, and tie it shut. But beware; they might have brought pepper. Don't let them make you sneeze, or you will be blown off your host and they will capture you.
"Now carry out your orders!"
Quiverwing, who had been watching the broadcast and grinning, said, "Now, Bushroot!"
All over St. Canard, Klorn-controlled hosts stepped out of their houses, carrying sacks and pillowcases, ready to do battle with the Gerdists and the pitifully small androids they used as hosts. As soon as they were outside they found themselves in the midst of a fine yellow haze. At first it did not bother them - but after a few breaths they began to feel a disruption in their hosts' respiratory systems. Some were more susceptible than others, but as more and more flowers bloomed and released their pollen into the air everyone succumbed to violent sneezing fits, dislodging the Klorn invaders. The Gerdists, whose android hosts did not have respiratory systems, captured them - often with the help of the original host, who had heard the hidden instructions in Honker's speech.
Darkwing rushed outside, ready to join in the fray. But, before he took ten steps outside, he too succumbed to a sneezing fit. At first he tried to ignore it, but he was soon as incapacitated as the rest of St. Canard. He got back inside and gasped into his communicator, "Quiverwing, tell Bushroot to cut it out!"
Within an hour all of the Klorn invaders had been rounded up and brought to the Gerdist ship to be transported to a penal colony. Pollen was still drifting in the air - and would be for the next few days, or until the next good rain. Darkwing had managed to locate a gas mask, but by then most of the action was over and the Gerdist mother ship had landed and taken the Klorn back to stand trial. Darkwing grumbled about being left out of the Climactic Battle Between Good and Evil. The one good thing about it, Darkwing thought, was that they were all already in the television studio, so the media could not possibly overlook him. Knowing that her spirits could use the boost, Darkwing had put in a call to Quiverwing to come down to the station. That left Bushroot alone up there - but, he had to tell himself, after the help he had given them, he really didn't believe the mutant would double-cross them.
Quiverwing arrived at the station, wearing her mask and a dark trench coat. Darkwing couldn't stifle a laugh when he saw it. She shot him a look and whispered, "Are you going to share it with the rest of us?"
"Oh, it's nothing, Carmen Sanfrancisco." he replied. Launchpad grinned too.
She considered getting annoyed, decided it wasn't worth it, and said, "You, Darkwing Duck, do not know fashion when it bites you."
Still grinning, he beckoned her down the hall. "Well, hustle, they're about to start on our segment. Live!"
"Live? Wow!" She hurried up.
Up in the tower Bushroot watched the news as he rested from his effort. "This is Canard Copy, and I'm Conure Chung. The top news story tonight: Once again, St. Canard was invaded by aliens. With us are St. Canard's own superheroes, Darkwing Duck and Quiverwing Quack." She turned to them; the camera switched to another angle. "Tell us how you managed to defeat these invaders."
Darkwing began almost before she had finished. "Those creatures were overconfident. They didn't know that they were dealing with Darkwing Duck! And Quiverwing Quack. Once we made our move, they were putty in our hands."
Quiverwing showed admirable restraint in not rolling her eyes. "We have seen these aliens before, so we knew their weakness. If we make their victims sneeze, it blows them away. Before, we used pepper. That wouldn't work on a city-wide scale, but a hay fever attack would!"
Conure asked the next logical question. "And just how did you arrange that unseasonable bloom?"
Darkwing paused. Quiverwing leaned forward, winked at the camera, and said "Trade secret."
Bushroot sighed with relief. For a moment he had been afraid that she would blow his cover. He was happier if nobody knew he was around; they left him alone. But, he chided himself, he should have known that she would keep his secret. She had for this long.
Onscreen, Quiverwing was saying, "You know, the credit really should go to the one who gave everyone the alert right under the aliens' noses - er, brims. Honker Muddlefoot." She beckoned to someone off-camera.
"Yes, please do tell us where you got your brilliant idea." Conure urged him.
A nervous-looking goose stepped reluctantly into camera range and sat in the vacant seat next to Quiverwing. He stammered, "Well, I, um, I just mentioned their weakness, making it sound like a warning to be careful. Since you can still think when they have you, you just can't act, I knew that people would be able to catch them if they knew their weakness. That's all."
"Ladies and gentleman, the man who engineered St. Canard's escape from under the domination of the alien masterminds." Conure Chung said, gesturing at Honker. He looked flustered. Quiverwing grinned. Darkwing's scowl, thankfully, was out of camera range.
Bushroot decided he liked that guy. He didn't go nuts taking credit for everything like some people he could name.
Conure finished the segment by running some footage of the alien hats being captured by other alien hats on robots, and then a commercial for hay fever remedies came on. Bushroot pressed the stop button on the VCR remote control. They had not asked him to record the broadcast, but he guessed that they would want him to.
Less than a half hour later the tower platform lowered, then returned bearing The Thunderquack. Quiverwing said as the dome opened, "Did you see the news?"
"Yep. I taped it, in case you wanted a copy."
"Oh, whoopee." Darkwing muttered.
"Thanks, Bushroot. I still think you shoulda taken some of the credit. I mean, without you we would be crop dusting with pepper now. And, you know, the statutes of limitations on all your old crimes are up."
"No, thanks." He shook his head. "I'm happier when I'm alone with my people - plants, that is. You guys can have the fame."
"Well, if you insist."
"Speaking of which, I ought to get back. They must miss me."
"All right. Launchpad, let's go."
"Ah, Quiverwing, why don't you go home and get some rest. I don't think Bushroot needs an escort." Darkwing said.
"Darkwing-" she began in a warning tone.
"Um, not like a mutant-plant-duck would know, but maybe you ought to." Bushroot said diplomatically.
"You're all against me." she groaned in resignation. "All right. I'll go home and take my nap like a good girl. Satisfied?"
"Yep." Darkwing answered.
She said to Bushroot, "Thanks again for helping us out there. I owe you one."
He shook his head. "Nahh. You remember, I owed you one from years ago. We're even."
"Oh, yeah." That had slipped her mind. "Well, anyway, good luck with your project."
"Good luck with yours." he said.
"Huh? Oh." She grinned. "Well, I hate long goodbyes, but what the heck. Goooooooooooodbyyyyyyyye!" She winked, walked over to one of the chairs, and sat in it. It whirled around. When it stopped, she wasn't there.
"Good exit." Bushroot commented.
The next morning, Drake opened his paper to find that, as he had expected, the alien invasion had made the front page. Below the crease. What could have been important enough to be put above the news of alien invasion? He turned it over, and saw a picture of himself.
He had almost finished cutting the article out for his scrapbook when he finally read the headline: "DUCKWELL'S TEN BEST AND WORST DRESSED COLUMNS FORGED! New 'Worst Dressed' List Announced."
When Launchpad came downstairs to investigate the noise, he found the paper in pieces - and Drake was in the bathroom, angrily brushing printer's ink off his teeth.
All characters in this story are copyright © Disney. This story is copyright © Kim McFarland. Permission is given by the author to copy this story for personal use only, provided no changes are made to the story or the credits.
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