It is now ten years after the "Darkwing Duck" TV series took place. A lot of things have changed, like... er... well, everyone's ten years older. Hence the title of this series,
Darkwing Duck In the Twenty-First Cen-tureee!
DUCKS, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
By Kim McFarland
Two motorcycles sped through the streets of St. Canard toward the same destination. It was past midnight, so they were free to roam the streets without having to deal with traffic or sound a siren to advertise their presence.
They arrived on opposite sides of the bank's facade. One, a slender young redheaded woman in a green cape and leotard costume with red gloves and cape lining, started up the steps. Darkwing dismounted and gestured urgently toward the side windows, then was exasperated when she shook her head and continued making her way stealthily up the steps. He glanced back at Launchpad and muttered, "Why am I not surprised?"
Launchpad shrugged. Darkwing hurried up the steps to avoid letting her make the first appearance.
She positioned herself beside the glass doors, out of sight of the bank's interior. Darkwing stood on the other side of the doors, drew his gas gun, paused a moment, then nodded. In a single motion, they both reached over and yanked on the door handles. The doors did not open.
"What the- I didn't see any open windows, and this is the only door." Darkwing peered through the glass. He saw movement in the bank's darkened interior. After watching for a minute he decided that they had not seen him. "Clever buggers. They locked the door behind themselves. Good thing they only hit the silent alarm."
At that moment an earsplitting clanging began. The shadows inside the bank began moving more rapidly, preparing for a quick escape. She backed away from the door, drew her bow, nocked an arrow, and shot it into the lock. It hit with a smart click. Darkwing tested the doors, then threw them open and shot a gas cartridge into the doorway. The two bank robbers saw a puff of smoke appear within the doorway. It quickly dissipated, revealing the figure within, who announced, "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the roadblock on the highway of crime! I am Darkwing Duck!" They could not hear him over the alarm, but they were familiar with his customary speech. At the beginning this had looked like a smooth heist, and now EVERYTHING was going wrong! Darkwing took advantage of their confusion to launch into an attack. The robbers split up. Darkwing went after one; the other made a break for the door.
He ran past Launchpad and the woman without seeing them and dashed for the getaway car. He saw something that looked like a small balloon on a stick fly past himself. It hit the car with a splat, spreading a thick, gummy substance on the driver's side. He tried to open the door; the sticky substance held it shut - and his hands were now firmly stuck in it as well.
Soon the wail of sirens and flashing blue lights heralded the arrival of two police cars. As if he had been waiting for his cue, Darkwing stepped out of the bank, dragging a barely-conscious criminal by the collar. "Another batch of burglarizing bandits bested by that bastion of bravery, Darkwing Duck." he announced at the top of his lungs, straining to outshout the alarm.
"And Quiverwing Quack." she added, calmly watching the other robber struggling to free himself.
Darkwing strutted down the steps and handed the robber to the nearest police officer. Quiverwing handcuffed her capture and poured a solvent on the glue, loosening it enough to pull his hands free.
"Hold it, Darkwing." an ursine officer said as Darkwing started toward the Ratcatcher. "You need to come to the station."
"Sorry, I'm not fond of red tape. Just arrest 'em." he replied.
"That was not a request. I have to take you to the station." The police officer stepped forward.
Darkwing was becoming annoyed. He hated getting dragged into police matters; they were too bogged down in paperwork and procedures to get anything done, in his opinion. "If you need witnesses," he peered at his badge, "Officer Bearat, your superiors know how to get in touch with me."
"We don't need you as a witness. I have a warrant for your arrest."
"You have a - WHAT?"
"I have a warrant for your arrest. There has been an APB out on you for several hours. I'm taking you in."
"An APB out on me?!" Darkwing sputtered angrily. "On what charge?!" Launchpad and Quiverwing stood behind him, alarmed.
"Robbery and vandalism. You have the-"
"Yeah, I know." Darkwing folded his arms and recited, "I have the right to remain silent. If I don't, anything I say can and probably will be used against me in a court of law. I have the right to have a lawyer present at questioning. If I can't afford one the court will appoint one for me. Yeah, I understand all this. So are you going to cuff me, or am I going to come along quietly?" He held out his wrists.
"Just get in the car."
Darkwing turned back to Quiverwing and Launchpad. "Don't worry, I'll be back as soon as I get this idiocy straightened out."
"We'll follow you, DW." Launchpad said.
"Get in the car." the officer still had the cuffs in his hand.
"Okay, okay! Sheesh. There'll still be doughnuts at the station when we get there." Darkwing muttered.
The station house doors burst open. Darkwing stomped in ahead of Officer Bearat. "All right, what's the deal? Don't you people have anything better to do than arrest honest citizens? Well, maybe not, since I'm cleaning the city of crime!" he announced.
"Dad, you're not winning any popularity points." Quiverwing stage whispered.
Darkwing heard and ignored her. He sauntered over to a desk and said, "Book me."
He watched as the clerk put a form into the typewriter. The clerk said, "State your name-"
"Duck comma Darkwing, no middle initial. Occupation: Terror That Flaps In The Night. Feathers: white. Eyes: blue. Age: fortyish. Height: three foot two. Sign: Taurus-" he continued with his recitation slightly faster than the clerk could type. He had been arrested enough times to have memorized the procedure. While the clerk struggled with his typewriter Darkwing picked up the ink pad and a blank card and said, "I can handle this part myself." Quickly and expertly he took his own fingerprints, then handed the card over. "Good likeness, don't you think?"
The clerk sighed and took the card. He had seen this same performance repeated with minor variations many times. There was no point in arguing with this duck.
"So, now will somebody PLEASE tell me what I'm under arrest for?" Darkwing demanded.
Officer Bearat guided him forcefully to his desk by the forearm, seated him, and said, "I will remind you, you have the right to have a lawyer present-"
"Hey, I know my Miranda rights. Lucky thing, or I'd be in a pickle by now. Want a doughnut?" he asked, producing a box from inside his cape.
"NO, I do NOT want a doughnut!"
"Hey, don't go bonkers, I just asked." Darkwing grinned and placed the box on the desk.
Willing himself to ignore the duck's needling, he continued, "We have you on charges of robbery and vandalism-"
"I know that."
"-Last night at 9:00 P.M. the safe at The St. Canard Center of the Arts was broken into and its contents, a large sum of money, were stolen. Several artworks were vandalized with spray paint. We have proof that you were the culprit."
"Proof? Really? What proof?" Darkwing scoffed.
"We have an eyewitness who saw you escaping from the building. And your fingerprints are on the safe and the spray paint can."
"That's impossible!" Darkwing burst out. "I was nowhere near there yesterday! Those can't be my
The officer handed Darkwing a transparency of a set of fingerprints. "These were taken at the scene of the crime." He held out the card that Darkwing had filled out minutes ago. "And these are yours." He held the transparency over the card. They matched exactly.
Darkwing snatched the card and transparency. He moved the transparency to align the other prints, one by one. They all matched! "This is impossible!" he repeated.
"Apparently it isn't." Bearat said with smug satisfaction.
"Well, I have an alibi. I was with several other people at the time. They can vouch for me." Darkwing insisted, not noticing that Quiverwing was shaking her head at him with an expression of alarm.
"Save it for the trial. Until then, will you make bail as usual?"
"Bail." Darkwing said calmly. He stood up, but before he left, he said "No hard feelings, officer. I know you're just doing your job." He held out his hand.
Somewhat confused by Darkwing's sudden change in attitude, he shook his hand out of reflex. "See you later."
"Oh, I'm sure I will." Darkwing grinned and left.
It was several minutes before the officer noticed that his hand was covered with still-wet fingerprint ink.
They headed back to the Audubon Bay Bridge Tower. While Darkwing scrubbed the ink off his hands Quiverwing idly shot arrows at a target on the wail. Launchpad began, "Maybe you shouldn't give the police a hard time, DW."
"Huh. They're all right, I suppose. But they need to keep out of my way. Me, a criminal! Hah!"
An arrow twanged from Quiverwing's bow and smacked into a well-ventilated target. "You keep making 'em mad, they'll just arrest you again."
"So what? They arrest me a few times every year. What's new about that? Nothing ever sticks."
"Except the traffic tickets." she grinned.
"And you get on my case when I borrow the car."
In an effort to avert a possible argument, Launchpad broke in. "Nice work with the arrows, Quiv. How'd you get the bank doors open?"
She drew an arrow out of her quiver. It was tipped, not with an arrowhead, but a lock pick. Not wanting to give up his grouchy mood, Darkwing insisted, "I could've just as easily picked the lock."
"But I can pick a lock from across a room." she said. "Say, Dad, don't I remember you saying my glue-bomb arrows were no use?"
"I said they're dangerous. Those things are likely to go off in your face."
"You're just saying that because one DID go off in your face."
"That's exactly what I mean!"
"I've never had any trouble."
"That doesn't mean you never will, kiddo-"
"STOP CALLING ME KIDDO! I'm nineteen!"
Launchpad sighed. Ever since Gosalyn had started her career as Quiverwing Quack in earnest she and Darkwing had been spending much of their free time arguing. Most of the time it wasn't anything to get bothered about - the cut and color scheme of her costume, her style and image, how much she was able to handle - and the quarrels were forgotten as soon as they finished, but when it went on too long the friction wore on Launchpad's nerves. He had learned the hard way not to step into their arguments, though, no matter what his own opinion was.
Darkwing saw the look on Launchpad's face, and decided that maybe the quibbling wasn't as necessary as he had thought. "Well, anyway, let's go home. We've done our bit for the night."
"Sure thing." She was as willing as Darkwing to drop the argument. "Um, but, one thing, Dad-"
"At the station, you said you had an alibi for when the arts center was robbed."
"I do. I was with you two, remember?"
"Drake Mallard was with us. You aren't going to tell the police you secret identity, are you?"
Darkwing stopped in his tracks. "And if I don't ... my fingerprints are all over the place!"
Launchpad asked, "How could someone put your fingerprints somewhere?"
"I don't know. But I'm going to investigate. Let's go to the arts center."
The place was still a mess from the vandalism and the fingerprint powder. Darkwing snapped photographs of the prints while Quiverwing tried to decipher the scrawly graffiti. Finally she said, "That writing isn't quite like yours. It's too, I don't know, sharp looking. And it slants backward, not forward, like yours does."
Darkwing glanced up. "It's not that far off. My handwriting looks like that when I write with my left hand, almost." He was ambidextrous, although he did favor one hand.
"Good thing you use your right most of the time, then. This's harder to read than your signature."
"Hmm." He tried to read the smeared writing. When he finally succeeded he said indignantly, "Well, I'd NEVER say THAT!"
"What about that time you dropped a cup of hot coffee into your lap?"
"ANYWAY, maybe we can figure out something from these." He studied the fingerprints on the safe. Many were clustered into handprints.
"Most of them are left hands." Quiverwing commented.
"The print on the handle is a left hand too. That means the crook's left handed. Well, that's SOMETHING to go on. I guess."
The next day they developed the photographs. An hour of close scrutiny revealed nothing new, Darkwing fed the snapshots into his computer. While he tapped his fingers, impatiently waiting for the machine to analyze the data, Launchpad startled. "DW!"
"What is it? 'Pelican's Island: The Next Generation'?"
"The news - look!" He turned the television to face Darkwing.
Darkwing saw a grainy image of the street in front of the police headquarters. A shadowy figure was darting from police car to police car. "So what? It looks like a bad home video."
Launchpad started, "Didja hear what they said -"
Then the cars burst into flame in rapid succession. Darkwing jumped up. "A case! Just what I need to take my mind off all this! Let's go!"
"DW! Wait!" Launchpad cried.
Darkwing glanced back in time to see the end of the videotape. The figure turned its face toward the camera. It was himself!
"Dad?" Gosalyn said.
Launchpad said, "They say you blew up half the police squad cars last night, after you got arrested. They have lots of eyewitnesses this time, including some of the police, and this videotape!"
Darkwing slapped his hand to his forehead. "Someone's framing me!"
"Again!" Launchpad added.
"And doing a good job of it, too." Gosalyn said. She tore the paper from the computer printer. "Even the computer says you did it."
"Well, what does that piece of junk know?"
"Um, d'you think maybe you oughtta not go on patrol tonight? I mean, the cops'll just nail you again, and I don't think they'll be too nice this time." Launchpad said.
Darkwing started to protest, then looked back at the television. The newsman was announcing a reward for Darkwing Duck's capture. "I guess I have no choice." he said unhappily.
"Don't worry, Dad. They aren't on the lookout for Quiverwing Quack! Me and Launchpad'll solve this case!"
"This is a little out of your league, Miss Pinfeathers!" Darkwing started angrily.
"Look, Darkwing, every time we're on a REAL case you hog the fun and stick me in the background. Well, this time it's my turn!" She slung her quiver over her shoulder and stalked to her motorcycle.
Launchpad looked back at Darkwing, then said, "I'll go too."
The two motorcycles sped out of the tower, down the bridge cable supports. Darkwing knew that Launchpad would keep Gosalyn from any harm. He shook his head. She was just starting out in her career as a crimefighter, and already she wanted to take on the world.
Over the next few days things went from bad to worse. More special reports on Darkwing Duck's crime spree appeared on the news, each crime crueller and better documented than the one before. The reward for his capture increased with every report. Quiverwing and Launchpad were having absolutely no luck with their investigation; every time one of "Darkwing's" crimes occurred they were miles away. The only clues they had were those that they could glean from television news and the papers, and that wasn't much.
After several days of this Drake Mallard had to fight back an urge to heave a brick at the television screen. "I can't believe this! 'Darkwing Duck: Menace or Fiend'?! I haven't done anything!" he cried, jumping up from the couch. He paced in front of the TV set, obstructing Gosalyn's and Launchpad's view. "I haven't done a single thing but twiddle my thumbs for three days while this joker trashes my rep. Well, I've had it with laying low. I'm going to get to the bottom of this, Darkwing Duck style!"
Gosalyn said, "Wait - the police will just drag you in, if someone doesn't get you for the reward money first."
He sat in one of the transporter chairs. "Darkwing Duck has, during his illustrious career as the protector of St. Canard, incarcerated the megalomaniac miscreant Moliarty, driven the fiendish F.O.W.L.'s branch office from the city, thrice bested Taurus Bulba, and fractured the Fearsome Five more times that I care to count! Darkwing Duck has not swept the streets of crime for twenty years to be forced into retirement by some FRAME ARTIST!-" His speech was cut short by a signal from the Darkwing Remote Alarm Terminal. Drake dashed over to it. "All right, a case!"
He yanked the printout paper out and read it, then said, "Someone set off the alarm at the First Canardian Bank! This case is mine!" He ran back to the chair.
"Wait for us, DW!" Launchpad said.
"No way. I've been a civilian for the past three days while you two chase muggers. If I don't get some action - and some positive publicity - soon I'm going to go out of my mind!" He punched the transporter switch with his fist.
Darkwing arrived on the scene in minutes. Even though the alarm was echoing up and down the street, the police had not arrived yet. Good! He could collar the criminals and be well away before they showed up to hassle him. He burst through the door in a cloud of blue smoke and announced, "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am... speaking to an empty room." He looked around. They must be in the back. He prepared another gas cartridge and went looking for them.
The vault door was open. He stepped in and looked around. Whoever had broken in must have started opening the safety deposit boxes, and then left in a panic when the alarm went off. It did not look as if much had been taken-
The dark room was suddenly flooded with light. He looked back. He was not alone after all. Several of St. Canard's Finest were at the door, their weapons drawn and aimed at him.
Several hours later, the phone rang. Gosalyn picked it up. "Hello?"
"Hi, Gos. Put LP on the line, would you?"
"Sure thing, Dad." She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and shouted, "LAUNCHPAD! PHONE!"
She started to hang the phone up after she heard him pick up the line upstairs. Then she thought better of it and, keeping the mouthpiece covered, tapped on the release button.
After the click Launchpad said, "What's up? Need backup?"
"No. Where I am, I won't need backup."
"Where are you?"
"In the police station. That bank robbery - it was a trap! And I walked right into it. The alarm screaming bloody murder, but no robbers, just yours truly in a room full of open safety-deposit boxes. The police show up a minute after I do, and now they have me red-handed for breaking into the bank!"
"But you DIDN'T do it!"
"Try telling THEM that!"
"Well, how much is the bail?"
"No bail. They aren't letting me go this time." A rueful laugh. "As of right now I'm Public Enemy Number Three. It looks like this might stick, with all the evidence they have on me."
"Quiverwing and me, we'll find out who's framing you-"
"NO. If someone can trap ME, think what they could do to her if she got their attention! Keep her out of it."
Softly, "She ain't bad, DW. You shoulda seen her the past few days. You'd'a been proud."
"I know... but this is out of her league. Being good won't keep her alive if she's not good ENOUGH."
"She's not a little girl any more..."
"She has potential. BUT she's not experienced enough for this. Look, LP, if I don't get out of this, you take good care of her-"
"You'll get outta this! You're innocent!" Launchpad insisted.
"LP, wake up and smell the coffee! The best hope I have is that whoever set me up doesn't know I'm in the pokey, and will fake another crime. That'll prove it never was me. I don't know what else will."
"Until I'm a free mallard again, you take care of Gos. Don't let her take on something she obviously is not ready for. Got that, LP?"
Reluctantly, "Got it, DW."
"Good. And take care of yourself too. I'll see you at the trial. 'Bye."
Gosalyn hung the telephone up and looked at the staircase. When Launchpad came downstairs less than a minute later she said, "So where's Dad?"
"Oh, he's okay..." Launchpad hedged.
She stood, fists on her hips. "He's in jail. He stuck his big webbed foot into a trap, and now it's up to us to prove he's innocent!"
"Were you listening, Gos?" he asked reproachfully.
"You bet. So, 'Pad, are you gonna try and stop me or are you gonna come along and help?"
Launchpad said reasonably, "Look, Gos, this is-"
"'Out of my league'." she quoted impatiently. "Taurus Bulba was out of Dad's league ten years ago. If Dad had his way I'd spend all my time busting jaywalkers instead of getting on a REAL case. Well, I'm not gonna let Dad rot in jail. You in or out?"
"What CAN we do, Gos?"
"Well..." She thought for a moment. "I don't know." she finally admitted. "I guess I AM pretty green at this. Dad would know... hey!" Her face lit up. "That's it!"
"Just phone the station and set up a visit, as soon as possible." She ran up the stairs.
He grinned after her as he picked up the telephone. The kid was bright.
The guard brought Gosalyn and Launchpad to Darkwing's cell. Darkwing looked up in surprise, then glowered at Launchpad. Didn't he have any sense at all? Bringing Gosalyn here!
The guard unlocked the cell, then relocked it with them inside. Darkwing's glare was making Launchpad nervous. Gosalyn said, "Don't give 'Pad a hard time, Darkwing. Do you think you're gonna keep this a secret from me? It's probably already in the papers."
"I didn't want you to come here!" Darkwing was still looking harshly at Launchpad.
Gosalyn gabbed the rim of Darkwing's bill and forced him to face her. "Well, I'm here! And maybe you're right, I can't solve this case by myself-"
"LAUNCHPAD! Did you tell her EVERYTHING?"
"-So we're getting someone who CAN!" she finished in a hissing whisper and released his bill.
"Who? Not those SHUSH bozos."
Chagrined, Gosalyn paused. Calling on SHUSH had not even occurred to her. She put a finger in front of her lips and whispered, "You." At her nod, Launchpad produced Drake's shirt and sweater-vest from inside his flight jacket.
Darkwing said nothing. She continued, "I have a lock pick. You change and just walk out as Drake Mallard. Set your costume so it looks like you're asleep with your hat over your face, and then me and 'Pad'll leave. By the time anyone realizes what happened it'll be too late."
"Gosalyn, you planned a jail break?" Darkwing whispered in disbelief. "Do you know just how illegal that is?"
"Yes... Well, they're holding you here for something you didn't do, and the only way you can prove it is to go out and find who did! You said yourself that justice is more important than following a rulebook." she said, nervously justifying herself
"They grow up so fast!" She found herself on the receiving end of a sincere hug. Launchpad heaved a sigh of relief. When Darkwing released her he said, "Turn around so I can change." She looked up and down the hall for guards, saw none, and went to work on the lock.
When she turned back Drake was punching the pillow and blanket into the shape of a sleeping duck. "Good thing I wear a cape and hat." he muttered, arranging his cape as a blanket. "I liked this hat."
"Like you don't have half a dozen spares, Dad. Meet'cha outside."
"Yeah." He opened the door cautiously, checked for guards, and slipped out.
He made it as far as the lobby, acting as nonchalant as possible, before someone stopped him.
"Drake Mallard!" one of the officers called.
Drake froze. Then he turned around. It was the same officer that had arrested him the first time! Of all the luck!
He clapped a hand on Drake's shoulder. "You certainly got here quickly."
"I, uh... well-" How did this man know him? Drake had never been to the police station outside of his Darkwing persona!
"It happened just as you said it would. How did you know which bank Darkwing Duck would rob next, and when?"
"Er - trade secret." Drake said, by now thoroughly baffled.
"Well, on behalf of the entire department, I want to thank you. Darkwing Duck has been a dangerous menace, clever enough to hide his true nature under his hero image until now. We have him in a holding cell right down the hall - do you want to see him?"
"No, no, I don't think so. I'm quite confident that you have him locked safely away, Officer Bearat." Drake ad- libbed.
"Since when are we so formal, Drake? Call me Chris. We'll be able to send him up for life, thanks to all the evidence you supplied. Although how you managed to get all of his crimes on videotape I'll never know."
"Oh, well, heh heh, that's a trade secret too." he winked conspiratorially.
"Of course, we'll need you to testify at the trial."
"That's fine. I'll be in touch. I must be leaving now." Drake made a beeline for the door.
Outside, Gosalyn and Launchpad were waiting by the car. "What took you so long?"
"I don't have the faintest." Drake said with a mystified expression.
The leading story of that evening's news program was the disappearance of Darkwing Duck, who was to be assumed armed and dangerous. Drake snorted in disgust. "All my years of selfless service to this city's citizenry, and people BELIEVE this! I'll bet this never happened to Gizmoduck."
"So prove it isn't you already!" Gosalyn said.
"I'm not rushing into yet another trap. I have to devise a plan..."
"Someone's impersonating you; that's obvious. Maybe you could set HIM up, then unmask him." Gosalyn suggested.
"It would be hard to trap someone so fiendishly clever. It's almost like there's a clone of me out there! It must be the work of a master criminal with either a vengeance motive or a plan to ransack the city once Darkwing Duck is gone."
"That doesn't narrow it down much." Launchpad mused.
"If you lay low for awhile-" Gosalyn began.
"NO! I am NOT going to sit by while some scum trashes our fair city, not to mention my reputation!" Drake shouted.
"You'd rather end up in prison?!" Gosalyn shouted back.
"I'm not foolish enough to walk into the same trap twice. I'll be on my guard this time."
"Then you'll walk into a DIFFERENT one. The police aren't looking for me and 'Pad. We-"
"Oh, no you don't. This is too big for you, little missy!"
Gosalyn stood up. She was several inches taller than he was. "WHO'S little? As I've been trying to say, you have some walkie-talkie doohickeys. I can do legwork on the ground with you and 'Pad up in the Thunderquack."
"No way. You're not ready for something like this even with Launchpad, let alone solo."
"So we'll take the Thunderquack instead of the Ratcatchers! What can they do, shoot us down?"
"Maybe we'll see something from the air that we missed from the ground." Launchpad suggested.
"All right. I can't let you two go on patrol alone. Who knows what you'll drag Launchpad into. But we'll wait until the night."
They then promptly changed their plans in order to visit the scene of "Darkwing's most recent crime", which had occurred barely an hour after the news of his jailbreak had been broadcast. Darkwing was determined to examine it as soon as he could to search for clues, despite Gosalyn's insistence that he was walking into another trap.
The Thunderquack set down behind St. Canard Tower. "Darkwing" had issued a bomb threat there in person. After he got away they had found a particularly vicious time bomb in the basement, and fortunately had defused it safely. If it had exploded, though, it would have weakened the skyscraper's foundation enough to send it toppling onto the city below. Disaster had been averted, but as of that moment Darkwing Duck had earned the title of "Public Enemy Number One."
At his insistence, Darkwing entered the building alone. Quiverwing trailed him, at her insistence. Drake had anticipated this, and had directed Launchpad beforehand to trail her at a safe distance. She realized with annoyance that Launchpad was following her - did they think that she was incapable of doing ANYTHING by herself'?
The bomb was gone, of course. The place, which had been used as a storage area, was a mess due to the ransacking it had endured from the criminal, the police, and the dogs which had sniffed the bomb out. It did not look promising, but the police have missed something. He caught a glimpse of movement out of the comer of his eye. "Come on in, Quiverwing. Help me look through this disaster area. Launchpad, you keep a lookout."
Surprised, she stepped into the room. She had not thought he would see her.
They found plenty of boxes, with plenty of papers in them. Nothing interesting there. After half an hour of searching Quiverwing said, "There're no clues here."
"There's got to be SOMETHING. There always is. Keep looking." Darkwing replied.
She grimaced and moved a box to look at the one behind it. She saw the gleam of metal, and bent to pick it up. "Here's a key."
"DON'T TOUCH IT!" Darkwing barked.
Startled, she stopped. He slipped a pencil through the ring's loop and put it on a piece of paper. "Watch and learn from the master." He shook fingerprint powder over the key and its label ring. Several prints showed up clearly. He pressed his left hand on a plastic report cover, then shook the powder over that. After comparing the prints briefly he announced, "They match. Whoever dropped this key is the one who framed me! Furthermore, that same person has a room in the top floor of this very building." He pocketed the key, sauntered over to the freight elevator, and punched the button. It opened immediately. Gesturing for Quiverwing to follow, he said, "The chase is on!"
The doors closed before Launchpad got to the elevator. Briefly he considered taking the staircase - but this was St. Canard Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the city. He watched the display at the top of the doors, and punched the button after it reached the top floor.
Darkwing and Quiverwing prowled the hallway, alert for any sign of a trap. They found none. When they found the door that the key belonged to he drew his gas gun. Taking her cue from him, she nocked an arrow with a large - and heavily weighted - boxing glove on the end.
Darkwing silently slid the key into the lock, turned it soundlessly, and was rewarded with a loud snap of the lock opening that echoed down the hallway. He flinched, then threw the door open and shot a gas canister in. He sprang into the middle of the cloud - Quiverwing took her place beside him - and announced, "I am the terror the flaps in the night! I am the milk in the cereal bowl of justice! I am Darkwing Duck!!"
As the cloud faded he found himself, once more, in an empty room. He lowered his gun, annoyed. "This is getting tiresome."
"Yeah." Quiverwing yawned. "Literally."
"What-" He yawned. He heard a sound behind himself, and turned to see a duck in a gas mask looking back at him. The duck shut the door and waved one hand at him. "Nighty-night." it said in a voice muffled by the mask.
Darkwing took one step toward it, then collapsed. Quiverwing's arrow shot harmlessly to one side of the duck. Then she fell, unconscious, on top of her bow.
The duck grinned behind his mask. He reached up above the door and shut the valve of the tank that had been flooding the room with knockout gas since the door had opened. He dragged Darkwing into the room beyond and tied him to a chair, then considered Quiverwing. He had not really thought about what to do with her. He tied her to a chair beside the door for future reference. Then he opened up the windows to clear the air.
When Darkwing regained consciousness he found himself securely tied down in an empty room. He began struggling to free himself, then had a chilling thought. He called out, "Quiverwing!"
"I wouldn't worry about her if I were you." said the masked duck, walking into the room. "I'd worry more about myself."
Darkwing drew in a breath to speak. The duck removed the gas mask to reveal a familiar, black masked face, then reached behind himself and put on his red hat. "Hello, Darkwing, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again." he said with a smug grin.
"I could never forget a scourge as foul as you!" Darkwing blustered.
Negaduck leaned against the doorframe. "You know, of all your endearing qualities, I'd have to say that your skill with prose is not one of them. Say, are you serious about that kid? She's as bad a sidekick as your klutzy pilot."
"She is not! I mean, yes, I am!"
"These crummy sidekicks will get you killed someday. But, hey, it's your life." Negaduck shrugged. "At first I thought she might screw things up for me - but she fell for it just like you. Of course, I'm the one behind the scheme to defame you."
"I might have known!" Darkwing sputtered.
"You might have - but you didn't." Negaduck said. "Otherwise you would've tipped the police off the minute I started ruining your oh-so-carefully-cultivated heroic image. Didn't it even occur to you?"
"Well ... Of course I figured out your evil scheme!-"
"Oh, really? You sure have me right where I want you, don't you?" Negaduck mocked, then shook his head. "It's unbelievable that my alternate self is so stupid!"
"Well, release me then, Negaduck, and we'll see who's the brighter! Or don't you think you can stand up to me?" Darkwing goaded.
Negaduck regarded him scornfully. "It's not only unbelievable, it's embarrassing! Look at you! You pride yourself on being a hero. As if you could put a dent in the criminal world!" He gestured out the window. "St. Canard is just as crime-ridden as it was ten years ago, when I first saw this miserable place. And you have the nerve to call yourself a crimefighter?"
He stared out the window for a moment, looking at the night cityscape. Then he turned back to Darkwing, who was glowering angrily at him. "If you had an ounce of brainpower you'd realize that you'll never make any difference in this city because you have no power!"
The elevator seemed to take forever to come back down to the basement and then carry Launchpad to the top floor. When he arrived and stepped out into the hallway he realized that he had no idea which room the key had belonged to.
He began walking down the hall and testing the doorknobs.
Negaduck held up a clenched fist. "If you seized control of this city, you could write and enforce any laws you pleased. It could have been YOUR city, where you would be master, not just some barely tolerated freak!" He grinned wickedly. "Isn't it a tempting thought? To control this city, with no more interference from police, from politicians, from citizens who squeak about their 'rights'?"
"Not in the least, Negaduck. Unlike you, I fight for the ideal of justice, not power." Darkwing said proudly.
"Oh, really? You're not so pure as you act, Darkwing. Isn't breaking out of jail illegal? If you were as squeaky- clean as you pretend you wouldn't need this, now would you?" Negaduck hooked one finger under Darkwing's mask as if to pull it off. Darkwing turned his head sharply, slapping Negaduck's hand aside with his bill. Negaduck looked amused. "What are you afraid of, that I'll find out what you look like? I already know!" He laughed out loud and pulled off his own mask. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall!"
Darkwing, startled, looked back at a copy of Drake Mallard's face. But it was not quite identical to his own, he could see - Negaduck seemed older. The years of rage and hatred had left their mark. Still, the resemblance was eerie.
Negaduck refastened his mask. "I suppose I could get thrown out of the Supervillain's Union for that - you wouldn't tell on me, would you, Darkwing?"
Quiverwing had regained consciousness to the sound of Negaduck's voice. She had been nervously trying to think of a plan, but so far it had seemed hopeless. She could not escape from the ropes to do anything! There seemed to be nothing in the room that could help her either, no convenient sharp edges to use to cut her ropes. If she could reach the videocamera on the mantelpiece she could at least record Negaduck's speech - if he revealed his plans as villains always did she could use the tape to clear Darkwing - but she couldn't.
The door scraped open. Launchpad looked in, then saw her and began to say something. She hissed, "Ssh!" and jerked her head in the direction of the room beyond. He could see Darkwing through the open door, and recognized the voice speaking to him.
He looked back at Quiverwing for guidance. She glanced in the direction of the videocamera. "Tape 'em!" she whispered.
Launchpad pointed the camera toward them and pressed the record button. "Check." he whispered back.
Negaduck's spoke in a low voice. "Do you know just why I hate you, Darkwing?" he asked.
"I'm the hero, you're the villain. I've thwarted every one of your evil schemes, Negadope. What's to wonder?" Darkwing shot back.
"It goes far beyond that. You stranded me here."
Negaduck's eyes burned with long-cherished hatred. "Back in the Negaverse, St. Canard was my city. MY CITY! But you - you destroyed the dimensional portal between here and the Negaverse and left me stranded in this forsaken namby-pamby universe, in this feeble imitation of the REAL St. Canard! You took my St. Canard from me ten years ago. And now I can finally take a suitable revenge on the cheap ripoff of myself that did it to me!" He snapped Darkwing's bill.
Launchpad was untying Gosalyn as quietly as he could. Darkwing had seen him, and was shaking his head at him in alarm. Launchpad knew that Darkwing wanted him to get Quiverwing to safety - but Launchpad wasn't going to leave Darkwing to Negaduck's tender mercies.
He continued, more calmly, "Tomorrow the truth will be revealed. The world will learn that Darkwing's crime spree was really Negaduck's. Every bit of evidence was faked, from the videotapes to the personal appearances, and carefully fed to the police force and the media by a so-called 'concerned citizen' - in retrospect I'm sure you can guess who THAT actually was, can't you? I had to revive an old identity that I'd given up twenty years ago for that part. Anyway, Darkwing Duck will be vindicated at last. But, unfortunately, Darkwing won't be able to bring Negaduck to justice, because he - Negaduck, that is - will have perished in the climactic battle between good and evil." In mock sorrow he took off his hat and, eyes closed, held it over his heart. Then, with a vicious grin, he took Darkwing's grey hat from his head and replaced it with his own. "Get the picture?"
Darkwing shook the red hat off his head. "It'd never work. They'd never mistake you for me!"
"Oh, really? How'll they tell? Fingerprint me?"
"You couldn't keep up the act for long. Sooner or later they'd figure out you weren't me."
"Maybe." Negaduck nodded. "But who'd want to pretend to be YOU forever! By the time they figure it out it'll be too late. I'll have conquered St. Canard from within!" He clenched a fist.
"You oughtta learn a new gesture, Negs." Darkwing wisecracked. He had to keep Negaduck's attention. He had seen Launchpad free Quiverwing and set up the camera. Now she seemed to be tying something to the back of a peculiar-looking arrow. Silently he prayed that, whatever it was, it would cut his bonds.
"Tch. Criticizing my acting? You have worse things to worry about. Like what kind of corpse the authorities are going to find in the morning - recognizable or non."
"Well, how're you going to switch our costumes? It'll be kind of hard with me tied up like this!" he said, stalling for time. Hurry UP, Quiverwing!
"Oh, that." Negaduck shrugged. "I guess I'll just have to beat you senseless first."
Quiverwing nocked the arrow and aimed carefully. It would be a tricky shot through the doorway Darkwing could not tell what kind of arrow she was going to use, but it was aimed directly at his face. She let it fly. He dodged hard to one side, tipping the chair over. Negaduck looked back in time to see the boomerang arrow fly through the door, just missing his shoulder. "What-" he was cut short as the arrow circled around him, trailing a thin rope. Quiverwing yanked on the cord, pulling it tight around his throat, choking him. In the moments Negaduck used to free himself she shot several sharp-tipped arrows at the knots in Darkwing's ropes.
Negaduck threw the arrow to the floor and started toward Quiverwing. "But before Negaduck goes, it looks like he'll take the Darkwing Duck fan club with him!" He pulled a large, heavy gun out.
She reached behind herself for an arrow. He said, "Think you can fire it off before I squeeze the trigger? Feel lucky?"
Beyond Negaduck, Quiverwing saw that Darkwing had almost freed himself from the ropes. Stalling, she said, "I guess not... can I have one last wish?"
Surprised, he lowered his gun. "That's it? You're giving up? No blustering, no BS about how justice will triumph in the end? Darkwing, did you train this one?"
"What?-" Negaduck turned back almost in time to see Darkwing's patented web-kick before it struck his face.
Quiverwing dodged to the side as Negaduck slammed into the wall beyond her. The kick was not enough to knock him out, however - and the gun was still in his grip. He speculated briefly but colorfully on the personal habits of Darkwing's immediate ancestors as he regained his balance. Darkwing replied casually, "I don't think the parallel runs quite THAT far, Negs. My family life was nowhere NEAR that interesting."
Infuriated, Negaduck swatted with the gun barrel at Darkwing, who dodged nimbly out of the way. Negaduck maneuvered him into a comer, then trained the gun on him again. "Unrecognizable it is." he muttered darkly.
Quiverwing aimed another arrow quickly. She let it fly just as his finger was tightening on the trigger. It met its mark - his trigger hand. The gun jerked to one side as it fired, missing Darkwing by inches. Negaduck snarled with pain, spun and aimed the gun at her. He found that he could not squeeze the trigger. The arrow had been tipped with a lead weight, which had struck hard enough to injure his hand. Glaring at them, he growled, "There's something that you should know - I am not left handed!" He switched the gun to his other hand.
"You - both of you! Oh, what I'm going to do to you!" Negaduck backed up against a wall so neither Darkwing nor Quiverwing could attack him from behind. "I'm gonna hit you, and you're gonna fall." He began shooting. Darkwing saw that the gun was wavering - he must be more used to aiming with his left hand. "And I'm gonna look down on you, and I'm gonna laugh!" Negaduck finished with a manic grin. Darkwing dove out of the line of gunfire and drew his gas gun. Before he could fire he saw something strike the gun barrel.
Negaduck glanced at the arrow that had slammed into the barrel. He shook the gun, but it did not fall out. Steadying the gun on his left forearm, he aimed it at Darkwing's face and grinned. "Say goodbye to all of this, and hello to oblivion!" he said and pulled the trigger. And the gun exploded.
Without pausing Quiverwing shot several more arrows into the smoke cloud. Darkwing got to his feet, loaded a tear gas cartridge into his gun, and trained it on the fading smoke cloud.
The smoke soon cleared, revealing a dazed, glue spattered duck. The gun was stuck to his hands but it was no longer much use, since it now consisted of only a handle. He looked down at the remains of his gun in surprise and hoarsely whispered, "Rosebud?" Then he collapsed, unconscious.
From there it was a relatively simple matter to bind him securely. Quiverwing commented, "Glue arrows are no good, eh?"
"Well, OK, maybe they are. Occasionally." Darkwing admitted wryly.
"Didja get all that, 'Pad?" she asked.
He glanced at the camera. "Yep."
Darkwing turned on him. "Where were you? She could've been killed, and you're making home movies! You should've been protecting her!"
"But she didn't need me to." Launchpad had been ready to step in at any moment - but he had held back, to give Quiverwing the opportunity to prove herself.
"At least Launchpad trusts me!" she said indignantly.
"All right, all right... Sorry, kiddo, I just worry about you."
It was as close as he would get to admitting he had been wrong. Launchpad took the tape out of the videocamera. "We got it all on tape, including his 'confession'. That oughtta clear you. It was Quiv's idea."
"That was sharp thinking!" He patted her on the back. "Now let's get this maladjusted miscreant to the authorities." Darkwing started to pick Negaduck up - and promptly got his hands stuck in the glue. He struggled to pull his hands away, then glowered at the videocamera. "Is that thing still on?"
The next day's news was dominated by the story of Negaduck's attempt to turn Darkwing into a criminal in the eyes of the public. Every step of Negaduck's scheme to conquer St. Canard was exposed, from his faking evidence and planting fingerprints to his attempt to murder Darkwing and take his place. There had been enough evidence in the rooms in St. Canard Tower to outline his plan even without the videotape - but they ended the report with footage of the final battle in which Negaduck had finally been defeated by Darkwing Duck - and Quiverwing Quack.
"Well, kiddo, how's it feel to be a hero?" Drake asked when the TV news story ended.
"So cool I'm not gonna say anything about you calling me 'kiddo'- this time." she grinned back.
"I gotta admit, I had my misgivings, but I think we'll make a good team."
"Yeah. Not a bad beginning for a crimefighting career, huh?"
"Yeah." He looked back at the television. "But there's one thing I haven't figured out. Why did Negaduck's gun blow up in his hand like that? You shot an arrow into its barrel, but that shouldn't have done much."
"Oh, that." She picked up her quiver. "I used one of these." She took out another of the lead-tipped arrows. "It plugged the gun up and jammed it, just like a bad bullet."
"Nice going, Gos." Launchpad commented.
"So, whatcha think the headlines will read? 'Quiverwing Quack and Darkwing Duck Negate Negaduck'."
Drake winced. "You'd better leave the poetry to me. And you have the billing backwards. 'Darkwing Duck and Quiverwing-"'
"Hey! Who saved your tail feathers when you were tied up? And who finally knocked him out?" Gosalyn pointed out.
"Darkwing Duck's apprentice, Quiver-" he began with a grin.
She interrupted, "APPRENTICE? The heck!"
The argument continued. Launchpad shrugged mentally. Some things would never change.
All characters copyright © Disney. Story 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, the credits, or Gosalyn's age.
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