Yet another installment on the interminable saga of
By Kim McFarland
(With apologies to Ben Dunn and Rumiko Takahashi)
It was a dark and stormy night. The view was especially spectacular from Darkwing Tower. Lightning flashed outside, sometimes on the level of the windows. It was drawn to the lightning rod on top of the tower, thankfully for its inhabitants.
The mood inside the tower was hardly calmer. Gosalyn stood, her fists on her hips, and said, "I don't see why I have to be stuck back here while you go to China!"
"I've told you before, Gosalyn dear, that I'll be practicing the arcane art of Ramenjitsu. It's not for the, shall we say, fairer gender." Darkwing said in a patronizing tone of voice as he swung the bag containing his practice robe into the back seat of the Thunderquack.
"'Fairer gender'?! Is that anything like 'weaker sex'?!" she demanded.
"You said it, I didn't." he replied without looking back at her.
"And WHO won the last time we arm wrestled?!"
"You just got lucky." He climbed into the aircraft.
"That's what you say EVERY time you lose to me! I think you just can't handle being beaten by a woman!"
That got a reaction! He turned to face her. "Gosalyn, I am not going to argue this with you again. There are just some things that are for men only, not girls!"
"I am not a 'girl', remember? I voted in the last election! And just what the heck is your problem?! You're acting like you're still stuck back in the twentieth century! I don't need a Y chromosome to break a board!"
"Nonetheless, you are staying here, little missy, and that's final. Let's go, Launchpad." Without waiting, Darkwing punched the button that closed the aircraft's dome.
As the ship lifted off, Launchpad said, "She's pretty steamed."
"That girl needs to learn a few things. No female has ever mastered Ramenjitsu! It's a tradition! But try telling HER that. I swear, the older that girl gets the more stubborn she becomes."
Launchpad glanced back at the lightning rod atop Darkwing Tower. If only there was something like that between Darkwing and his daughter.
Halfway around the world, in Ramen, a rural province located some miles outside of Kung Pau city in China, it was a hot and sunny day. The sunlight reflected off the surface of the hot spring. The wind rippled its surface, and the ripples bounced of the many stepping stones in the water to form complex patterns. Darkwing appeared to be contemplating the water as he tied the black sash of his practice robe. In reality, he was wondering why Goose Lee, his Quack Fu master, had chosen this area for his training. It was miles from the city. There weren't even any roads leading here.
"Are you prepared, my pupil?" Goose Lee asked, interrupting Darkwing's train of thought.
"Yes, Master Lee."
"The rules of the test are simple. You must last five minutes in combat with me, without falling into the water."
Piece of cake, Darkwing thought to himself, but did not say it.
"You should know," Lee continued, "that this is the traditional grounds for the final test of a Ramenjitsu master. Legend speaks of a ghost who haunts these springs, and punishes those who are found unworthy. It is for that reason that this spring has not been used in hundreds of years."
"Well, that ghost is gonna have to wait a few more hundred years then." Darkwing replied confidently.
Goose Lee shrugged and stepped out to one of the stepping stones. Darkwing did likewise. "I won't go easy on you." Lee warned.
"That's just the way I like it." Darkwing answered.
They bowed formally, then proceeded to attack each other.
Launchpad watched anxiously. He did not fear for Darkwing's safety - he knew that Darkwing could defend himself, even against his old martial arts master. The mention of the ghost, however, made him nervous. It was easy to imagine wraithlike forms in the steam rising from the spring's surface.
Darkwing and Master Lee leapt and kicked at each other, always landing on the dry surfaces of the stones in the spring. It was a fairly even match. Darkwing was confident that he could easily last five minutes against Master Lee - but he wanted to win this match! He looked for an opening in Lee's defense, or any moment when he was off balance -
There! Darkwing lunged forward for the attack. But Lee had seen that competitive look in his old pupil's eyes, and knew what Darkwing had been thinking. He dodged onto another stone and countered Darkwing's attack, sending Darkwing spinning into the water.
Darkwing surfaced and glared at him. Master Lee folded his arms and said, "You were always too impatient, Grubworm."
"I told you never to call me that!" Darkwing sputtered.
In reply Lee bowed formally, signaling the end of the match. Darkwing climbed up onto the bank of the spring, clothes and feathers thoroughly soaked. "Whoever said duck feathers are waterproof had it dead wrong." Darkwing grumbled.
"DW?" Launchpad stepped forward to give him a hand out of the spring.
"Your voice sounds funny-" then he stopped and stared at Darkwing.
"What's wrong with you, Launchpad? Never seen a wet duck before?" Darkwing started to wring out the hem of the robe. Then Darkwing saw what had surprised Launchpad.
"MASTER LEE!" Darkwing screamed.
"Yes, Grubworm?" He turned back. Then he, too, stared.
"Just what EXACTLY was that legend again?!" Darkwing demanded.
Goose Lee drew in his breath. "Over one thousand years ago, a young woman drowned in this spring. It is said that her ghost has cursed this spring."
"And... whoever falls in will take a female form. It is a very old legend. I did not think anyone still believed it." Lee admitted.
"Well, I do!" Darkwing yelled in her new soprano voice.
"This explains why there are so few disciples of Ramenjitsu." Lee mused. "Not many have wanted to take this final test."
"DW-" Launchpad held out her cape. "I think maybe you wanna use this..."
Then Darkwing realized how short the robe was. She snatched the cape from Launchpad and wrapped it around her waist as a kilt. "All right, Master Lee, how does the legend say we get me back to normal?!"
"The legends do not speak of that."
"What the heck can I do about this!?"
Lee closed his eyes. "A true disciple of the martial arts has the wisdom to accept that which he cannot change."
"WHAT? What the heck does that have to do with me? What am I supposed to do now?!"
Lee shrugged. "Buy smaller clothes."
Darkwing ground her teeth, visibly restraining herself. Then she said, "Come on, Launchpad. Let's get outta here." She stalked towards the Thunderquack. Launchpad followed, giving the spring a wide berth.
"I don't believe this!" Darkwing said for the hundredth time as she glanced down the inside of her robe. "What a stupid place for a stupid test! He could've picked any old pond with a buncha rocks, but NO! He goes and throws me into a cursed stream!"
Launchpad did not speak. Darkwing looked over. "What's the matter, don't you have anything to say?"
"I don't know." Launchpad said.
"Jeez. How can I go back and fight crime like THIS?"
"Maybe you could borrow one of Gos's outfits-" Launchpad began hesitantly.
"I am NOT staying like this, Launchpad! I will not run around in one of her green leotards! It would clash with my hat! Besides," she pulled the sash tight, "we're not the same size. I can't believe this! I can't go out in public looking like this!"
"Why not? You're kinda cute."
"I could hurt you for that!" Darkwing snapped.
"No cuter than usual!" Launchpad hastily amended. Darkwing glared at him hard enough to burn holes. "Ah, uh, what I mean is... well, uh, how ya gonna get back to normal?"
"I don't know. I never had any talent with magic. Say, that's it! Morgana McCawber! Who else would I think of when I'm stuck with a curse?"
"Er... sure she'll be able to help ya?"
"Oh, I'm sure she can. I KNOW she's good with curses."
"That's what I'm afraid of." Launchpad murmured.
When the Thunderquack arrived in the tower Gosalyn was still there, practicing her sharpshooting. Darkwing groaned. She was the last person Darkwing wanted to have see her in this condition. But then again, everyone was the last person Darkwing wanted to have see her.
Gosalyn said as the Thunderquack's dome opened, "That was fast. How'd the training go?" She had calmed down while they had been away. She figured that there was no point in wasting energy being angry. Not when she could better spend that energy thinking of how to get even.
"Not so good." Launchpad said as he jumped out of the cockpit. Seeing Darkwing's hesitation, he went around to the ship's other side and offered her his hand to help her down.
Darkwing slapped Launchpad's hand aside. "Watch it, buster!" She jumped down. Just before she landed one of her feet tangled in her cape, and she sprawled forward on the floor.
"Say, Grace!" Gosalyn walked up to Darkwing. "What's with the cape? And why's your voice sound funny?"
"Oh - it's a long story." Darkwing said as she got up, putting off the inevitable.
"Hey, Dad, I always knew you were a master of disguise, but that's a really good one. Even the falsetto sounds real. I'd think you were your own sister if you had one. But why aren't you wearing a dress? The cape doesn't make it."
"Because it's not a disguise." Before she could speak again Darkwing said, "You tell her, Launchpad. I'm gonna go call up Morgana." She left the vicinity before the story began.
She dialed quickly. The line rang several times, then picked up. Darkwing began, "Morgana? Morgana, it's me, Dark-"
"Greetings. I'm so sorry I can't be here to take your call, but leave a message at the sound of the tone and one of my familiars will get back to you at the next full moon."
Muttering under her breath, Darkwing waited for the "tone", which came in the form of an unearthly scream. Then she spoke in a rush, "Morgana? It's me, Darkwing. Listen, I'm really in a fix-"
The line clicked. "Darkwing?" Her voice held pure surprise.
"I keep the machine on for the used scroll salesmen. Ever since my appointment to the Eldritch Academy they have been hounding me. Why are you calling me?"
Darkwing flinched inwardly. "Listen, Morgana, I need a favor. A really big one. And you're the only person who can help me out of this. Would you? Please?"
A sigh. "I suppose, for old times' sake. What happened to your voice?"
"Um, it'd be easier to tell you in person. Could I come see you now?"
"Thanks. I'll owe you one. In fact, if you can fix me I'll owe you a hundred!" She put the phone down.
Launchpad had explained the situation to Gosalyn. She said to Darkwing, "Gee, tough break. Think Morgana will be able to help?"
"Sure she will. She's gotta be the world's foremost experts on transformations. Heaven knows, she used to practice them on me every single time she got mad."
"Well, I hope so. But, if it doesn't work out, remember, you're still the same to me-"
"Thanks, honey. That means a lot."
"That's okay... Mom." then her reserve cracked, and she dissolved into a fit of laughter. "So much for your career as a Ramenjitsu master, mister macho man!"
"I might've known." Darkwing muttered, her fists on her hips. "Well, come on, Launchpad, we're flying to Morgana's."
"Uh, are you going like that?"
"What do you mean?! We're going to see her because I'm like this!"
"No, I mean, in that wet robe. You're still dripping all over."
"Oh, that." She looked down. The cape was soaked too, and she had just had it cleaned and pressed. There was no justice in this world.
The interview began with the now typical expression of surprise and another repetition of the story of the fight at spring. When the explanation was completed Morgana asked, "What on earth were you doing there in the first place?"
"I was training with my old master. He didn't tell me that this would happen if I fell in!"
She shook her head. Men could be so stupidly macho. And Dark had an especially heavy dose of that. It was one of the reasons they were no longer dating. "Well, that explains why your voice sounded funny over the phone. All right. It looks like a simple transformation. Another transformation ought to counteract that."
"So long as it has nothing to do with pudding." Darkwing said under her breath.
Morgana pinned her with an icy stare. "What did you say?"
"Er, uh, nothing. Just thinking about old times." Darkwing said with a nervous grin.
"Uh huh." Morgana held her glare for a moment longer, then snapped her fingers. A wooden podium bearing a book scuttled over to her. She opened the book. "Transformations. Transvestite, Transexual, Transylvania-" Darkwing saw her suppressing a grin. "Transformation. Stand here." Darkwing did as she directed. She recited a few magical words and waved a hand at Darkwing.
"Hmm." She looked at Darkwing critically. "Maybe it's under Gender." She turned back to her book and leafed through several pages.
Darkwing waited with forced patience. Morgana's spells were usually hit-and-miss - although her skill improved drastically when she was angry, as Darkwing had painfully learned - but, left to her devices, Morgana would sooner or later come to the right solution. At least Darkwing was no longer soaking wet.
Morgana found the spell that she had been looking for. She spoke several words of gibberish and touched Darkwing's forehead.
Again, nothing happened.
"Darn it!" Morgana exclaimed. She went back to turning pages.
At that moment the last of the water evaporated from Darkwing's feathers. He felt a strange sensation, and looked down. "Morgana! It worked!"
"It did?" She looked back, puzzled. "It did!"
"I guess the spell just had a delayed reaction! Thanks, Morgana, you're a lifesaver!"
"Yes, I know. Now... about that 'pudding' crack..." She raised her hands as if to cast another spell.
"NO! Morgana! I'm sorry!" He backed away.
She lowered her hands and smiled. It really wasn't nice of her to tease Dark like that. "I was just kidding. I've been over that for a long time. Although there was a time when I thought you were the man of my dreams..."
"Er, uh, yeah. Whew." Darkwing mimed exaggerated relief. "For a moment I thought you were still ticked at me."
"Life is too short to hold grudges, Dark. What's over is over. And now, if you don't mind, I have some work to do over at the Eldritch Academy-"
"Oh, yeah, of course, I'll let you go now. Thanks again, Morgue - er, Morgana." Darkwing backed gracelessly out of the room.
Morgana sighed and shook her head. In the years since they had been together he had changed little.
When Darkwing arrived at the tower Gosalyn was still practicing her sharpshooting. "Dad! you're back!"
"Yep. Was there ever any doubt?"
Gosalyn and Launchpad exchanged glances. Darkwing saw it. "Hey! Just because Morgana and I are no longer dating, doesn't mean - oh, skip it." He himself had not been sure that she would help him out of this predicament. "Anyway, that's over with. Let's go home-"
The alarm sounded.
"-or not." Gosalyn finished.
Darkwing rushed over to the alarm monitor and snatched the paper from the printer. "It's over at the St. Canard Water Department."
"We ain't waitin' on me." Gosalyn said.
Darkwing looked back. Gosalyn was already in her Quiverwing costume. "How do you manage to change so fast?"
"Funny thing for you to ask, Mom." She attached her cape to the shoulders of her costume.
"Ha ha. Last one at the scene of the crime has to do the dishes tonight."
They arrived at the Water Department. An official met them at the door. Darkwing asked, "Where's the break- in?"
"It was this morning. We thought it was a false alarm, because when we got in there was nobody there-"
"Well, what did you call us here for?"
"It's in the pump room." The official said as he led them. "The pipes are clogged solid-"
"Clogged pipes? You called me here for clogged pipes? You don't need Darkwing Duck, you need a plumber!"
"That's what we thought at first too." The official removed a section of pipe from the network. "Look what's inside."
Quiverwing peered at it. "This stuff looks like plastic."
Darkwing prodded it with a finger. It gave slightly. "Or rubber ... or hard water."
"Hard water?" The official asked.
"Yes. Hard water." Darkwing announced. "This could only be the work of that salesman supervillain, The Liquidator. He's done this once before, changing the city's water supply into this ... stuff, to force everyone to buy his own bottled water, at ridiculously high prices of course. And he could escape easily through any water pipe or drain. But he no longer has a bottled water company. Mark my words, any minute now he'll issue a message that he's holding our city's water supply hostage!"
"Only half of the pipes are blocked here, and none of the outgoing lines are. It hasn't stopped the water supply yet." the official supplied.
"He'll come back to finish the job. Until then, we'll stake this place out. Have any spare uniforms for a couple of workers?"
"I'll find some." The official left.
"Quiv, radio LP and fill him in."
"Sure. And I'll tell him to save the dishes for you." She grinned back at him.
"You would do that, wouldn't you." Darkwing muttered.
Some time later, they were still waiting for The Liquidator. Quiverwing grumbled, "I don't know how many times I can polish this pipe."
"Then polish another one." Darkwing retorted. "Nobody said that being a superhero is all glamorous."
"DUH. Say, Dad, maybe we ought to be out of sight. He could be waiting for us to leave, to do whatever it is he does without any witnesses."
"True... well, can't hurt to try. I'll hide back behind the main pump, you take the supply closet."
They then waited in those locations for some time. Quiverwing found this even less appealing, but she was not going to complain out loud about it. At least it meant they could change back into their costumes again. Under her breath she muttered, "After all this, SOMEBODY had better break in."
Then she heard a squeaking, grating sound, like metal scraping against metal. She opened the door a crack and searched with her eyes for the source. There - a valve wheel was turning by itself! She waved to Darkwing and pointed to the valve. He nodded exaggeratedly and held up a hand to signal her to wait.
The valve opened finally, and water began spilling out and onto the floor from a pipe that had previously been blocked. But instead of spreading in a puddle in the floor, the water formed itself into a roughly canine shape.
Darkwing mouthed "Bingo!" at Quiverwing and held up three fingers. Then he mouthed a brief countdown.
They both sprang into view simultaneously, Gas Gun and bow and arrow ready. "Freeze, felon!" Darkwing called.
"Just when you thought it was safe to commit crime!" The Liquidator exclaimed in annoyance.
"We're taking you in, Licky. It's the tank for you."
"Tanks, but no tanks." The Liquidator shot jets of water. One struck Darkwing, forcing him back.
Quiverwing dodged into the closet, then came back out with a mop. She ran at the Liquidator, brandishing the mop like a sword. "Soak on this!"
Darkwing saw what she was doing, and grabbed the other mop from the closet. The Liquidator tried to dodge their combined attack. Each time they hit him they soaked up more of his water, shrinking him. Finally he escaped by flowing into a pipe that had previously been clogged with the congealed water.
Quiverwing ran to the pipe, and for lack of anything better to do prodded the mop handle into it. "Great. How do we chase him!?"
Darkwing's answer was a barely stifled scream. By the time Quiverwing reacted Darkwing had fled.
"What the -Darkwing!" she yelled, then ran after him.
Outside, she saw Darkwing's Ratcatcher pull away. He had even forgotten to put on his helmet! And he had his cape wrapped tightly around himself. She put her helmet on and started her own motorcycle.
She followed Darkwing to Audubon Bay Bridge, up the cable supports, back to the Tower. Launchpad, who had been working on the Thunderquack, watched as Quiverwing dismounted, stalked up to Darkwing, and demanded, "Excuse me, Mr. always-wear-your-helmet, but what the heck is your problem?"
"It's come back!" she answered with barely concealed rage.
"That - I can't BELIEVE this! Of all the -" she continued with a series of unprintable, yet highly imaginative phrases, while stomping in a tight circle, her cape held tightly closed.
When she finally calmed down Quiverwing asked, "Can I have that in writing? I'd like to preserve it for posterity."
"Oh, that's funny! How'd you like it if this happened to YOU?" she snarled.
Quiverwing looked down at herself. "I wouldn't mind. I'd be kinda cute as a woman, don't you think?"
That set Darkwing off on another barrage of invective at the universe in general. When the flow slowed again Launchpad said, "Ah, DW, that's not too, ah, ladylike."
Launchpad realized his mistake when Darkwing turned on him. "Ladylike? What the heck are you THINKING?! I am no lady!"
"Obviously." Quiverwing said. "Look, Mom, you can call on Morgana again. Maybe all it takes is a stronger spell."
"Yeah. Right." Darkwing growled.
"Anyway, it's not the end of the world, for Pete's sake! It could be worse. You coulda been turned into a slug or a yak or pudding. You've been willing to lay down your life before."
"My life, yes! Not my gender!"
"This ain't gonna kill you. In the morning we'll go talk to Morgana again. In the meantime, COPE WITH IT! Let's go home now." Quiverwing pulled a shirt on over her leotard top and sat in one of the transport chairs.
"Go home, like this?!"
"You got anywhere else to go?" She punched the transport switch and disappeared.
Darkwing looked at Launchpad helplessly. "I could never understand feminine logic."
"Well, she does got a point." Launchpad said. "Why don't'cha dry off and grab some sleep. It can't hurt." He patted Darkwing on the shoulder.
"All right, all right. But, Launchpad..."
"Get your hand off of me!"
Alone in her room, Drake contemplated her predicament. Okay, it wasn't the end of the world. She had been successfully operating under a double identity for years. But that was voluntary; this was not! And she had no idea when the changes would come. Last thing she remembered before she changed was The Liquidator's attack.
...What if she DID have to live out her life as a half female? After all, Morgana's magic was not infallible. She might not be able to overcome a curse a thousand years old. Maybe if she could figure out what caused the change she could avoid it from here on, or at least control it. She might have to create a new Secret Identity. But how to retire the Darkwing Duck identity?
Nuts. There had to be some way out of this.
She went to bed. Exhausted from her busy day, she drifted off to sleep. She did not notice when, minutes later, she changed back into her normal form.
The next morning Drake burst into the kitchen. Launchpad and Gosalyn were already there, decimating the Sunday newspaper. He shouted, "I'm me again!"
"So we see." Gosalyn replied. "What changed you back?"
"I have no idea, I was asleep at the time."
"Maybe it just wears off." Launchpad said, handing a cup of coffee to Drake.
"Thanks. Maybe. If Morgana can at least tell me what causes it in the first place I'll be set."
"I already talked to her." Gosalyn said. "It's got her curious too. She'll see you this morning."
"Thanks, Gos. I'll just take a shower and we'll be off." He scampered upstairs.
Gosalyn and Launchpad went back to reading the newspaper. They heard the shower turn on upstairs. A second later they heard Drake's scream of frustration.
They looked at each other. "Here we go again." Gosalyn said.
"- so now I'm a she again!"
Morgana looked at Drake critically. "The first time you changed, you had fallen into a spring. The next time, The Liquidator attacked you. The third time was in the shower. Mmm..." she hummed to herself. Then she snapped her fingers. A fire roared to life in the stone hearth. "Stand next to the fire." she directed.
Drake did not complain when it became uncomfortably hot. What was Morgana trying to do, toast her? Then she felt herself change again. Drake looked down. "I'm a man again! Thank heavens, I thought I was gonna have to live my life out as a woman!"
"Indeed." Morgana said drily. She gestured to a broom resting in the corner. It grew arms and walked out of the room. A minute later it returned with a bucket of water. Morgana took the bucket and doused Drake and the fireplace.
Drake sputtered "What the heck did you do that for?!" in soprano.
"Just making sure." Morgana replied a trifle too calmly. "Water changes you. You change back when you dry off completely."
"Great. So much for the beach." Drake grumbled.
"Dark, is there anything else about that spring you haven't told me? Anything at all?"
Reluctantly Drake told the story of the curse on the spring where he and Goose Lee had fought. When she was finished Morgana demanded, "Why didn't you tell me that part in the first place?"
Drake shrugged. "It sounded kinda silly, a curse and all..."
Morgana lectured, "There is nothing silly about supernatural forces! A curse is a difficult matter - it can only be cured by breaking or lifting it. Did Master Lee tell you how to do that?"
"No. He didn't believe in the legend himself until yesterday."
Morgana shook her head. "Laymen." she groaned. "Let's see what I have about that legend in my books."
"Uh, Morgue, before you do-"
"Yes?" she turned back to Drake.
"Could you relight that fire?"
"Oh." She waved her hand at the fireplace. The wet wood smoked fitfully, but only a few flames appeared. Drake looked at it, dismayed. Morgana said, "That's all I'll get until the wood dries."
Drake gritted her teeth and willed herself not to complain. Morgana was tempted to let Drake stand there, dripping wet. But that would be petty of her. She compromised by giving her a towel.
Morgana returned after some minutes with a dusty, hardbound book. Drake wondered fleetingly if she owned any books that were not dusty or hardbound. Her coffee table certainly was well populated. She put the book on the tripod stand that followed her around and leafed through the pages. "What did you say you were studying? Duck Fu?"
"I was taking my test of mastery in the art of Ramenjitsu."
"Right. Rabies... Ravens... Relativity... Ramenjitsu." She read silently for a few minutes. When she looked up again she said, "Now I know why that art has almost died out. Who would willingly take such a foolish test?!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know! So, can you do anything about this?"
"I'll need to research it. It will take some time. You might as well go on, I'll call you when I find anything out."
"Oh. Thanks." Drake was disappointed. She had been hoping that Morgana would be able to lift the curse now.
"Oh, Dark, it's not the end of the world. Just stay dry until we get rid of this curse."
"I'll try." she said halfheartedly.
"And, Drake - if you go to the beach, wear a royal blue or dark green one-piece bathing suit. It would look stunning on you." Morgana could not resist getting a parting shot in.
Drake left quickly. Morgana's laughter echoed after her.
"So that's the deal? Well, shoot, all you gotta do is-"
"-stay dry." Drake interrupted, speaking loudly over the noise of the blow dryer. "Fat chance of it on THIS case."
"Say, why don't you look for other people who've gotten the same curse?"
"Why? You think someone else has found a cure when Darkwing Duck hasn't?"
"Well, maybe. If not, you all could form a new crimefighting team. The Ex-Men!"
"Oh, you're a riot." Drake grumbled while Gosalyn giggled. "A regular Judy Loonuta."
She composed herself. "So, anyway, I'll take this case while you and Morgana get the curse removed."
"Oh, no you don't, little missy! You are not ready to go solo!" She squinted into the hot wind.
"Don't start that, Mom! What'cha gonna do, trade in your gas gun for a blow dryer? Remember how you turned tail and ran from The Liquidator last night?!"
"I DID NOT! He was already gone!"
"Well, you still cut and ran!"
"I can't let them see Darkwing Duck as a woman!" Drake cried.
"So let me handle this already!" Gosalyn shouted back.
"Or, you could let the police handle it." Launchpad said softly.
Both women turned to him with identical looks if disgust. Drake turned the blow dryer off. "Wash your mouth out!" she said in a low voice.
"If all you two're gonna do is fight you won't be able to stop him. And, DW, you can't just run away whenever you get wet. It makes you look like a coward." Launchpad said.
"I am NOT a coward!" Darkwing growled.
"You will be if it rains." Gosalyn ignored Darkwing's angry glare. "Maybe you could wear something that'll hide it if you change." she suggested.
"A longer cape that closes in front, or a longer coat?" Drake mused. "What would that do for Darkwing Duck's image?"
"You could wear a kilt." Launchpad said.
"You must have me mixed up with your old boss, Launchpad. Well, it looks like there's only one thing I can do. Gos, let me have one of your spare costumes."
"Okay. But we're not the same size." she said doubtfully.
"Never mind, this isn't the time to be fussy. You take it to the tower. I'll go buy some fabric dye." She put the dryer down.
Several hours later, Drake held up the leotard with rubber gloved hands. It was dripping with purple dye, which had turned the green leotard almost black. "Not quite the effect I was looking for." he murmured.
"I'm just glad the fabric's got a lot of stretch." Gosalyn said.
"Er, you gonna wear that under your coat? Just pull the coat off if you change?"
"I suppose so." He dipped the suit in cold water to wash off the excess dye. Then he said, "After I dry it it'll be ready to use." He wrung the excess water out of the suit, hung it over a ladder, and turned the blow dryer on it.
The crime monitor alarm chose that moment to go off.
Drake groaned. "Well, here goes nothing." He grabbed the damp suit and dashed behind a screen.
Launchpad looked at the paper unfolding from the printer. "The water works again. Another break-in."
Drake spoke from behind the screen. "Ask me if I'm surprised."
"Are you surprised?" Gosalyn asked.
"No. Not at all. Aargh! Gos, how do you WEAR this?!"
"Superbly, so I'm told. What's the matter?"
"Oh, never mind." She stepped out from behind the screen, her Darkwing cape draped around her.
"Let's see." Gosalyn said.
"No time for that. Hey! How did you change out here?" Gosalyn was already in her Quiverwing costume.
"Already had it on under my clothes. Figured I might need it on short notice, what with your situation."
"Right." Darkwing muttered.
Darkwing's cape slipped open when she jumped into the Thunderquack. Quiverwing, in the process of tying on her mask, laughed out loud. Darkwing glared at her. "Just what is so funny?" she demanded.
"Nothing ... Mom! You look so cute!" Quiverwing gasped between giggles.
"All right, fine. Have a good laugh while you can." Darkwing sighed. "Launchpad, stop it or your face will freeze that way."
"Ah, um, sorry. Um, who are you now, DW? I mean, you're not gonna say you're Darkwing Duck, are you?" Launchpad asked.
"Oh, heck - Darkwing's got a sister, okay? Don't bother me with details. Let's go." she said, tying her mask in place.
When they arrived at the Water Works the place was in chaos. Hard water was oozing out of the windows and doors of the building. Darkwing sighed happily. "Now this is more like it. Nothing like battling evil to take your mind off your troubles."
"You got a weird way of looking at things, Mom." Quiverwing said.
"Don't call me that when anyone can hear you!"
The Thunderquack landed on the roof of the building. They went down the stairwell. Of course, the problem was in the main pump room again. When they finally managed to get in they could see that many of the pipes had burst, and were now oozing hard water.
Quiverwing asked, "Wasn't this stuff like rubber before? This is slimier."
"The Liquidator has command over water. If he can transform it into hard water, he can create this viscous variation." he said.
Quiverwing heard the change in Darkwing's voice. "DAD!"
"Oh, no!" He looked down. He had changed again! The dampness in the costume had evaporated. He ran over to a sink and turned the faucet handles. More hard water oozed out. "My kingdom for a squirt gun!" he cried.
"At least there's nobody here to see you." Quiverwing said.
"That turns out not to be the case."
They both turned to look at a corner of the room. A familiar figure flowed out of a pipe. The Liquidator did a double take when he saw Darkwing's costume, then burst out laughing. "Oh, Darkwing! It's the new you! The look for the new millennium!"
"Laugh while you can, you liquid loser! It's the last laugh you'll ever get!" Darkwing shot a gas cartridge at The Liquidator. It splashed through him and sailed out a window.
The Liquidator said, "You forget, your gases have no effect on the ultra-resistant Liquidator!" and shot a jet of water at Darkwing. Darkwing dodged out of the way. Quiverwing shot a number of sponge-tipped arrows at him. He paid them little attention; he was trying to hit Darkwing.
Darkwing dodged the water jets acrobatically. "Give it up, Licky. I'm way too fast for you!" he called out.
"You just keep going and going and going. But not even the stubbornest scum can resist the powerful cleansing action of The Liquidator!" He threw a wide spray of water across the room. Darkwing tried to block it with his cape, but some of it splashed on his legs and feet. She groaned.
The Liquidator saw Darkwing hesitate. Would he flee again, as he did the last time he got him wet? He did not see Quiverwing approach him from the back with a section of flat wood. She slapped it down on his head, splashing him into a puddle. "Good going, Quiverwing!" Darkwing called.
The puddle flowed to the opposite end of the room and resumed its shape. Darkwing leapt to kick at him - a double paddle-kick was very effective against someone made of water. But the water slumped into a puddle, allowing Darkwing to sail into the wall beyond. She rebounded and landed on her feet. And her cape fell open.
The Liquidator rose again. "I LOVE the new you! A complete makeover in minutes! No fuss, no muss!"
So the secret was out. Darkwing refused to run this time. "You'll find that, even in this state, I'm still more than you can handle!" She aimed another series of kicks at him. Quiverwing attacked with the mop. Again he splashed into a puddle. This time he flowed rapidly toward the pipes. Before they could stop him he liquefied the hard water and escaped.
"Why do I bother?" Darkwing asked nobody in particular.
"At least the pipes are unstuck." Quiverwing said.
They then heard an unpleasant sound.
"Er, there were a lot of burst pipes, weren't there." Quiverwing stated.
They both looked out the window. Water was now flooding out of the windows which had been broken by the hard water. Darkwing said, "This looks like a job for - a fleet of plumbers in scuba gear."
They came back to the roof. Launchpad was waiting for them. "Didja bag him?"
"Nope. Got rid of the hard water, though."
"I got a message for you from Morgana. She says she found out about the curse. We'll have to go back to the springs-"
"GREAT! Let's go then!" Darkwing said.
The Liquidator flowed through the pipes, following a route which he knew by heart. His original plan to take the city's water system hostage had suffered a setback, but after seeing what had happened to Darkwing he had a much better idea.
In his previous life as Bud Flood, the owner of the Pure Flood Water Company, he had been one of the world's leading authorities on spring water. It was inevitable that he had learned a good deal of the folklore that centered on certain bodies of water in the Orient. Such as the legend of a special spring in China. He had all but forgotten it, but Darkwing's transformation both times he had gotten wet brought it to mind.
It looked like this legend was fact! If so, it would provide a more effective and permanent way of holding the city's water hostage that his "hard water" could. He could advertise the threat of the water by showing in public what it had done to Darkwing Duck, and then threaten to release it into the city's water supply unless he was paid off sufficiently.
All he had to do was to get some of this spring water. That would pose no major difficulty.
They made it to McCawber Manor in record time. Upon seeing Darkwing she asked, "Female again?"
"Yeah. This is the wettest case I have EVER had."
"You have the same luck as ever." She pointed at a landscape picture in one of her books. "Is that where it happened?"
"Yeah! That's the place!"
She looked at the illustration. "A thousand years ago a woman tried to join the order that practiced the art of Ramenjitsu. She was denied the training because of her sex. She did not give up easily, though. Disguised as a man, she took the test and defeated the master. But when she revealed her true identity she was made to pay the price for her transgression at this spring." Morgana said grimly. "Ever since then, her ghost has taken its revenge on any man who has fallen into the waters that she haunts."
"You mean they drowned her for it?"
"No wonder she's held the grudge. Boy, heck hath no fury."
"That's right. And a dying curse is the most powerful kind."
"Yikes. So, can you break it?"
"This curse cannot be broken. Only the one who cast it can remove it." Morgana stated.
"What? But she's dead! That's how the curse started in the first place!" Darkwing cried.
"You forget." Morgana closed the book. "I'm a witch. Some of my best friends are metabolically challenged."
As soon as Morgana packed the magical tools, equipment, and books that she would need, they set off in the Thunderquack for China. They did not know that, at nearly the same time, a disguised Liquidator had boarded a flight bound for the same destination.
After the Thunderquack arrived at its destination they had to wait while Morgana set up a network of candles and some other magical items. She did this carefully, pausing often to consult her books. In the meantime the sun dried Darkwing's clothes and feathers. Quiverwing noticed as soon as the change took place. She nudged him and said, "Gonna change back?"
"With all this water around, how can I avoid it?"
"No, I mean put on your Darkwing coat."
"Why bother?" he said, earning a dark glance from Morgana.
He did put his coat on over the leotard. Even though it was hot, and nobody else was there to see him, he still felt ridiculous wearing Quiverwing's costume.
Finally Morgana completed her preparations. She said, "Dark, come over here." He did. She incised a circle on the ground with a small, rune-decorated knife, and added a number of symbols around its edge. "No matter what you see or hear, don't step out of this circle. The ghost may be not be very friendly." she instructed.
"Be sure you don't." she said firmly. Darkwing refrained from replying; when Morgana got into one of her bossy moods it never paid to answer back. "Gosalyn, Launchpad, it would be better for you two to stay back. This could get messy."
"No problem-o!" Launchpad said with feeling.
Morgana gathered a handful of white rice and threw it into the air. Her red dress flashed with light. When the glare faded from Darkwing's eyes he saw that Morgana was now wearing a white robe with an obi sash. Smiling at his look of surprise, she picked up a wand that ended in several white paper streamers and said, "When in Rome."
"Um, I don't mean to backseat drive, Morgue..."
"Yes?" she said with an edge in her voice.
"This is China. Isn't that a Japanese kimono?"
"It was a Japanese woman that was drowned."
That made sense. He supposed, anyway. He shut up.
She began chanting and waving the wand over the surface of the spring. Darkwing could not make out her words. He had seen her cast spells before, but this was different.
Gosalyn watched from the Thunderquack. At length she said to Launchpad without taking her eyes from the action, "Weird. Even for Morgana."
"You said it, kiddo." he said apprehensively.
After some minutes Quiverwing began looking around. Then she said, "Hey! Who's that?"
"Who's what?" Launchpad asked.
"There." She pointed at the far end of the spring. While they had been watching Morgana, someone wearing a long coat, a hat and gloves had come to the other edge of the pool and filling a container. When he saw them staring at him he stopped, as if deciding what to do.
"That doesn't look like a ghost." Launchpad said.
"Duh. Whoever he is, he's acting funny." Gosalyn said. "And who would wear that heavy coat on a hot day like this? Let's check it out."
Morgana's voice rose. She began casting handfuls of beans into the spring water and shouting out unintelligible but commanding phrases. The fog above the spring started to congeal into a vaporous form. Fighting an urge to flee, Darkwing watched as it took on the shape of a young woman.
Morgana ceased chanting. She bowed formally to the ghost, who watched without reacting. "Greetings, Akiru Moroboshi." she named the ghost.
The ghost took its time in replying. "Why have you brought me back to this world, after so long?"
"I have summoned you here so that you can remove your curse from this man." She indicated Darkwing.
The ghost looked dispassionately at Darkwing. Then it began to sink back into the spring. Morgana threw another handful of beans into the water. The ghost rose again with a look of annoyance. Morgana repeated, "I have called you back so that you can remove your curse!"
"Curse?" the ghost asked, as if searching its memory.
"The curse caused by your drowning in this pool." Morgana prompted. "It has been a thousand years, and it's time that it was brought to an end. It has harmed an innocent person."
The ghost looked at Darkwing. "At least he didn't drown."
Somehow, this was not what Darkwing had anticipated of an exorcism. While Morgana debated with the ghost his attention wandered. Some movement on the other end of the spring, beyond the ghost, caught his attention. Launchpad and Quiverwing, and someone else - the steam thinned briefly, and he saw clearly that his friends were attacking it. And that one of Quiverwing's arrows passed through the figure, which only splashed.
Darkwing said hastily, "Sorry, Morgue - gotta take care of something." and dashed away.
"Darkwing!" Morgana called after her, infuriated. "How am I supposed to uncurse you if you won't stand still!"
The Liquidator had not been expecting to find them here. He stood calmly by while the arrows splashed through him, waiting for Darkwing to catch up to the rest.
Darkwing ran in front of Launchpad and Quiverwing and struck a pose. "End of the line, Liquidator! You're washed up now!"
"On the contrary - you are!" The Liquidator called up a huge wave from the pool.
"Look out!" Darkwing called, his voice sliding from tenor to soprano in mid-sentence.
"Too late, DW." an alto voice coughed.
Darkwing glanced back, then did a double take. Oh well, at least Launchpad's flight jacket camouflaged the change. Darkwing looked at her daughter. She, at least, was unaffected by the curse. To The Liquidator she said, "It'll take more that a little wave to save you this time, Licky!"
"Then wave goodbye to The Liquidator!" he answered and dove into the spring.
"Dang! He's a slippery sucker!" Quiverwing said. "If I'd known he'd be here I woulda brought something we could use against him!"
Meanwhile, Morgana was almost at the limits of her patience with the ghost. She had been prepared to ward off an attack from the spirit, or to offer it placation, but not for complete apathy! The ghost obviously did not care at all about the affairs of the living; they simply were not its problem. The distraction of the fight at the other end of the pool did not help. Morgana was beginning to wonder if simply exorcising the ghost would affect the curse when The Liquidator burst from the water several feet away from her, a container in his hands.
Darkwing, Launchpad, and Quiverwing made it around the spring several minutes later. Darkwing panted, "He's got some of the water-"
Morgana caught Darkwing by the cape, halting her. "First things first! I am going to get this curse lifted if I have to tie you down to do it!"
"MORGANA!" Darkwing shouted, "This can wait! The Liquidator has some of the water! He'll put it in St. Canard's water supply!"
"A whole town with just women - I used to daydream 'bout stuff like that. Doesn't sound so hot anymore." Launchpad commented.
"That sounds funny, coming from you now." Darkwing replied.
"What - oh, yeah." Launchpad looked down. "Boy, do I got some thinkin' to do."
The ghost spoke softly. "He will use my water to do this?"
Morgana turned back. "Yes. He is going to use it for his own evil aim."
"Nobody will use my water that way!" The ghost said indignantly. It began to rise above the spring, as if buoyed by the steam.
"The only way to stop him now is to uncurse the water." Morgana pointed out.
The ghost did not reply. Instead, it rose higher. The spring water bubbled, then suddenly geysered upward, obliterating the ghost from view. Morgana, Darkwing, Launchpad and Quiverwing tried to shield themselves when the water splattered back down, drenching them.
Morgana looked up after the water had finished raining back down. "She excorcised herself!"
Darkwing said, "Did she HAVE to be so messy about it?"
"Dad! Your voice!" Quiverwing exclaimed.
"What?" Darkwing said, then realized what she meant. His voice was back to normal! "Hey! I'm me again!"
"Me too!" Launchpad said.
"This kimono will never be the same, though." Morgana commented. "Oh well." She clapped her hands above her head, and the drenched clothes were replaced by her usual red dress.
"So, does this mean that Dad is permanently Dad again?" Quiverwing asked.
"Yes, it does. The ghost is gone, I can feel it. The spring water is now safe again." Morgana answered.
"I don't get it. She wouldn't lift the curse to save me, but she sacrificed herself to keep The Liquidator from using the water?"
Morgana answered, "If you'd been haunting something for hundreds of years you'd be possessive of it too. She didn't sacrifice herself, she simply uncursed the stream, which severed her tie to this world. She went the way of all spirits."
"Um... yeah. Morgana, I, uh, don't know how to thank you-" Darkwing began.
"Now, Dark, it was in the line of duty. We may not be dating, but we are on the same side." she answered.
While Darkwing was digesting that Quiverwing said, "Well, thanks, Morgana. I was getting confused about whether to call him 'Mom' or 'Dad'. Let's go back."
"I don't need a ride, thanks." Morgana gestured. She began to shimmer. Soon she, and all of her magical tools, had faded from sight.
"I never did get used to her doing that." Darkwing said softly as he boarded the Thunderquack.
The Liquidator had already made his first move by the time Darkwing and company arrived back in St. Canard. The Liquidator had issued a public challenge to Darkwing, designed to get the attention of the media as well. The Liquidator would add a "secret ingredient" to the city's water supply at a certain time, unless he was paid off or Darkwing stopped him. He obviously thought he had an ace in the hole on Darkwing. Darkwing knew otherwise, and could turn this to his advantage.
Darkwing and Quiverwing appeared on the scene in The Thunderquack. As expected, the media was there, hoping for a news segment that would boost their ratings. Well, they would get it, Darkwing thought with anticipation.
When the Thunderquack landed The Liquidator was waiting for them. Darkwing leapt out at an angle that he knew from experience would look spectacular to the news cameras and shouted, "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the rust in the pipes of crime! I am DARKWING DUCK!"
The Liquidator addressed the cameras with a nasty grin. "Friends, you wouldn't want this to happen to you!" He then sprayed a water jet at Darkwing, drenching him.
Darkwing shook the water out of his hat. "True, I wouldn't. Everyone knows the wet look is out!"
"You - what?!" Darkwing was supposed to change in front of the cameras, to illustrate The Liquidator's threat. What had gone wrong?! He took the container of spring water and threw part of it at Darkwing.
"Licky, they're gonna kick you out of the Villain's Union if you can't think of something better than that." Darkwing folded his arms and grinned. "Quiverwing, Launchpad, let 'er rip!"
On Darkwing's cue Quiverwing pointed a vacuum hose at The Liquidator. Launchpad flipped a switch in the Thunderquack. Before The Liquidator could flee he was sucked into a holding tank. Darkwing sauntered to the airship, removed and stoppered the glass tank, and held it up for all to see. "Another washed-up villain, brought to justice through the courtesy of Darkwing Duck."
That night Drake Mallard videotaped the news. As he watch the playback Gosalyn commented, "Not a bad ending for this case."
"After this case, any ending is a good one." Drake answered.
"Aw, what's the matter? I thought you-"
"DON'T say that I looked 'cute'!" Drake interrupted. "If I hear that one more time I'll scream!"
"I wasn't going to say that." Gosalyn said with feigned innocence.
"What were you going to say then?"
"Just that you would've made a good mother." she grinned.
Drake appealed to Launchpad. "Do I deserve this?"
Launchpad shrugged, trying unsuccessfully to hide his amusement. "I think teenagers are supposed to be like that."
"She's nineteen. Does that mean she'll cut it out in one more year?"
"Aw, relax, Dad. I'm glad that all this got finished before we all got too confused which pronoun to use too. Although..." she let her sentence trail off, obviously waiting for someone to ask her to complete her sentence.
Drake sighed. "Go ahead, get it out of your system."
"Well, for the first time since I was a little kid I had both a mother and a father again. They just happened to be the same person, but why be choosy?"
Drake leveled a finger at her. "Just wait, little missy, until you have kids of your own!"
"If I do, at least they won't be dyed light purple."
"What? Light purple?"
Gosalyn giggled. "That costume of mine you dyed. You didn't wash the dye out completely. It colored you light purple. Didn't you see?"
"WHAT?!" He looked down. Sure enough, the feathers that had been underneath the damp costume were now lavender.
"Don't worry, Dad, it didn't show up on the news. I watched for it." she said.
"Huh. Well, I'm gonna get this stuff off of me." He got up and started to leave the living room.
"DW, where you going? That's the laundry room, not the shower." Launchpad said.
Drake did not reply. A minute later he trudged back into the living room and then up the stairs, carrying a bottle of bleach.
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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