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,
By Kim McFarland
It was a dark and stormy night. The policemen who had been summoned by the warehouse's alarm lit the scene with their flashlights; the building's lights had all been broken out. The flashlight beams revealed broken glass, both from the shattered light fixtures and the warehouse's stock of sheet glass.
The policemen finished looking the place over and compared notes. By the time they had arrived the vandals were long gone. There had been nothing of value inside beyond the warehouse's stock of glass; a call to the warehouse's management company had confirmed that. Who would want to steal sheet glass?
"It's just like all the other things going on now." said one, his note pad open to an empty sheet. "It doesn't make sense. Why would someone break all this glass? There's nothing to gain from it."
Another shone his light on the inside of the warehouse wall. A design was freshly spraypainted in red. "Gang related. Another doodle like the ones that are appearing all over St. Canard now."
"I've seen them." He studied the paint. "It could be just a tag. This looks like a fancy K."
"Kilroy was here." said the other.
"Something like that."
"Well, there's nothing else for us to do here but take our notes and photographs, and write up a report when we get back to the station. Come on."
The next morning at the police station roll call the routine announcements and assignments were given, as well as a warning that there was the possibility of a curfew for minors if the wave of vandalism continued. The policemen groaned aloud at that; curfews meant picking numerous teenagers off the street and ferrying them home. Which would clear the streets somewhat, but that would not stop the underlying problem. In the meantime, the policemen were instructed to make detailed reports about any kind of low-level crime; any detail, however seemingly insignificant, might link it to others and help establish a pattern. Copies of photographs of all the graffiti designs spraypainted at crime scenes had been compiled; a station clerk handed them out. While the rest of the instructions and discussion finished the clerk stood in the back of the room and examined the copy of the handout that he had kept.
At the end of the session the chief stepped away from the podium and said to the clerk, "Mr. Mallard, can I see you in my office?"
The clerk said, "Of course, sir." and followed him to his office.
When the door was shut they sat down. The chief gestured at the copy of the graffiti. "What do you think, Drake?"
Drake had already seen most of the patterns on the page; as a file clerk he had access to all current case files, and he kept himself familiar with them. He said, "As you said at roll-call, they seem to be gang tags. They have one large, stylized letter, followed by a smaller one. Normally I'd think that the large one would be for a gang, and the smaller for the gang member, but if that was true all the gangs would overlap."
"And street gangs are territorial. That can't be it, then."
"It seems - say, all the ones that came in last night had the same large letter. Do you have a scissors and some tape?"
He gave the tools to Drake, who spent some minutes cutting the symbols out, arranging them by date, and taping them down on other pieces of paper. When he was finished he said, "It starts out here, about a month ago, with just one or two a day, if any. It's gradually increased from there. Three weeks ago we were getting about three a night, two weeks ago it became five or six, last week it went up to ten, and this week it's gotten up to seventeen. It's roughly doubled each week."
"I know that. Any of the men on the streets knows that already."
"Yes... but the large letters correspond to when they were made. Look, all of the first week's tags seem to begin with an H or an N. Here's a group that look like a C or G. And these are Ds, Es, and Ks. Then back to the C/Gs." He peered at the scrawls carefully, as if that would reveal their significance.
"Any ideas about the smaller letters?"
"They aren't stylized like the larger ones are. They're easier to read. Individual initials, maybe." He put the sheets down. "I don't know if the graffiti is supposed to mean anything or not. It might just be something to throw us off. But even if it is, it can't be random. Not if it changes every so often, and the stylizations are similar. Something is coordinating it, and whatever it is, it's getting more active. But why now? St. Canard has seen so little crime since Posiduck appeared." He set the sheets of paper end-to-end, with the earliest at the top. "It's like a pyramid."
"Or the top of the iceberg."
"You're thinking that too? Yes. And it looks like more of it is emerging from the water every night. I just wonder how much can still be below the surface. I wish the undercover people could find out anything. Or that the ones that we've arrested knew anything."
"This may be the time for Posiduck to join the investigation."
Drake thought for a moment. "No, not just yet. That would just scare them into hiding. It'd be putting a bandage on the problem. As soon as we figure out what is actually going on, though, he'll be here. In the meantime, I'm going to study these case files some more."
In another part of town, someone else was going over reports of the same crimes, although from a different perspective. The reports were simpler than those done by the police; just a basic description of what had happened, written by a witness who was already in the "gang".
This scheme was foolproof, he thought. It had taken him a long time to invent a way to build a criminal organization in a city in which organized crime was unknown and a peaceful existence was the rule. He had had to discover where likely material could be found, and how to recruit it without too much danger to himself. Looking back now, though, the answer had been blindingly simple. Let other people do it for you! Of course, that left him vulnerable to betrayal - or it would have, if anyone had actually known who he was.
Only his earliest recruits would recognize "Grendel" by face, name, or voice. They, in turn, had each recruited several people, and their recruits had recruited others, and so on down the line, with each person only knowing the one who had recruited him, the ones he had recruited, and perhaps a few fellow recruits. Grendel could pass his orders down the chain easily and quickly. And it was ridiculously easy to keep undercover police investigators out; they were bound by law to tell you what they were if you asked!
A final test ensured that his recruits were serious. To prove himself, each person had to commit some crime and spraypaint a certain design at the scene. He changed the design every so often, to make sure that his orders were getting through channels and that the recruits were genuine. And the crimes ensured not only that they were serious enough - people with guts were scarce here - but that if anyone betrayed the few people he knew in the group, he would also have to confess to his own crime! That it also distracted the police was just an added perk. He would find that useful later on, when he started getting down to business. A few people were arrested each night, but that was fine with him. If they didn't know how to evade the police then he had no use for them anyway.
From the looks of things, it looked like he would be able to start the second phase - funding - soon. Once the quantity and quality of the recruits tapered off, he would start using the outer circle members to create disturbances to distract the police and spread them thin while the main team - himself and those he selected for the innermost circle - pulled off more profitable jobs.
At first he had hated this goody-goody city. But now he was enjoying himself. This was a challenge like he had never faced before! The heck with the Negaverse; after what he had been through the last time he had been there he never wanted to go back anyway. Building up a criminal empire in a place in which organized crime was unknown would be his greatest achievement yet!
Over the next few days the crimes in St. Canard followed the pattern that the police chief and Drake had expected. More vandalism, each time accompanied by enigmatic spraypainted designs. The design changed again, this time to a letter that now looked like a U. The number of incidents per night was still increasing too, enlarging the pyramid.
Although Drake tried not to bring his worries home with him, Morgana knew that it was weighing heavily on his mind. After a particularly discouraging evening news report in which ten o'clock curfew was announced, Drake said, "There is a way we can crack this!... I just wish I knew what that way was."
"That's the first you've said about it for days." Morgana spoke in a low voice because the duckling in her arms had just fallen asleep.
"I know. But I think that Posiduck may be needed now. These people know too well how to evade the police."
"The longer ya wait, the worse it'll get." Launchpad commented.
"I know." Drake nodded. "The problem is, what do I do? Cruise the streets? Listen for alarms? Posiduck's strength is that he can operate in tandem with the police, but he's not subject their regulations and procedures. In this case, what can I do that the police can't?"
"True..." Morgana mused. "Drake, do you suppose magic might be involved?"
"I don't have any reason to think so. But anything's worth checking. Can you scan for magical activity?"
"Yes. It's a simple spell. I can do it here." Gently she handed the child to Launchpad, then picked up the television remote control to turn it to an inactive channel. Traditionally witches used crystal balls or magic mirrors; a modern witch, however, could adapt her spells to other tools. She leaned forward, staring intently at the static flickering on the screen.
Launchpad and Drake each rested a hand on her shoulders. She was not casting a spell that was too costly in terms of mana, the power that fueled magic, but any help they could give her made it easier. She could only store so much magic power within herself; both Drake and Launchpad, though they had no other skill with magic, had learned to store power as well. By touching her they made it available to her. Launchpad sometimes joked that he felt like a human battery.
She stared at the television, concentrating, her lips moving as she cast the spell under her breath. Shapes began to appear in the snow, thin blue lines that symbolized the magical force lines in St. Canard. Familiar green shades represented Morgana and the spell she was currently casting. On one edge of the screen a small, intense red spot appeared.
"What's that?" Launchpad asked.
"A source." She concentrated. The point grew more clearer, turning into a red circle, shading to black in the middle. After another minute the shape did not take any more definition. She got up and brushed her hand across the screen, breaking the spell. The patterns and shapes dissolved back into the static.
"I thought magic always showed up blue or green." Drake said. "I've never seen it red and black."
"That wasn't a spell in use, it was a concentration of magic potential. It could be a sorcerer who does not have any spells in effect, or an enchanted object, or even someone who can store mana as you two do. But I haven't seen anything like that in a long time."
"When have you seen anything like that?" Drake asked.
"Red and black are the colors of evil." she said reluctantly.
"Whoa! There's an evil sorcerer behind all of this?" Launchpad exclaimed. The duckling woke up and squirmed. Launchpad lowered his voice and rocked it gently. "I thought you were the only one in St. Canard."
"Morgana?" Drake asked.
"Maybe. It could just be an enchantment or curse."
"Do you know where it was?" Drake asked hopefully.
"No. But I can listen to the ether, and tell you when magic is in use. If it's a sorcerer he'll be near a force line, to power his spells."
"That's something. That may help a lot. Thanks, Morgana."
"Don't mention it." She smiled. She was always willing to help Drake out on a case. She was as dedicated to his cause as he and Launchpad were. In fact, that was the glue that had originally held their team together, before it had matured into a family.
Gosalyn said from the hallway, "I don't get it. Why don't you just go in and bash some heads?"
Drake sighed. "Because, Gosalyn, you can't fight crime with violence and expect to have a lasting effect. The way to fight it is with skill and knowledge."
"Skill and knowledge are sure doing you a lot of good right now." she pointed out. "What you need is someone to go undercover."
"The police have been doing that."
She rolled her eyes and snorted derisively. "Yeah, right. Dad, anyone knows that if you ask a policeman if he is one, he has to tell you, 'cause otherwise it's entrapment. They'll never get anywhere. What you need is for someone who's NOT police to go in." she turned to leave.
"Hold it, where are you going?" Drake called.
"Out." she replied without stopping.
"You're staying in. There's a ten o' clock curfew."
"Since when?! What did I do this time?!"
"Since today. You didn't do anything, it's city-wide. It was just on the news."
She said something rude and stalked back up the stairs. Morgana said sharply, "Gosalyn!"
"Sorry, I meant to say gosh darn it!" Gosalyn called back from the head of the stairs.
Drake shook his head. "Heaven help if she got mixed up in this."
Launchpad nodded sympathetically. Gosalyn had lost her original parents to a gang war, and they were not going to let the same thing happen to her! They had adopted her when she was nine years old, and in the ten years since she had not lost all of the conditioning she had received in her earlier years. At least, with three parental figures to keep watch over her, she did not get into trouble as often now as she used to.
Gosalyn went to her room and locked the door. Stupid curfew! As if that was going to stop anyone who wanted to go out! And as if she was going to get herself arrested again! She was smarter than that! But her parents would never get that through their thick skulls.
No use in talking to them. And like heck she was going to hang around the house all night. She turned on the radio loud enough to be heard outside her room without annoying them enough to tell her to turn it down. She pulled her short red hair back into a low ponytail and zipped her leather jacket closed. A red scarf in the left back pocket of her torn blue jeans completed the ensemble. She opened the window, climbed out and along the roof to the garage, and stepped down onto the car. She wheeled her motorcycle out of the garage and walked it down the driveway. They would not hear it if she started it a block down the street.
The Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster was still open, despite the curfew. That was no surprise. It was more of a hangout than anything. It certainly did not have a business license, to say nothing of a liquor license. It was well-hidden in an alley, its door camouflaged as a fire exit, so the wrong people had not found it yet.
Gosalyn tapped loudly on the door three times, then waited. There was no answer. She walked in. The man behind the desk that served as a bar saw her, and put something back into a drawer with a look of relief.
She walked over to him. "What's the problem? It's just me."
"Yeah, I know. The usual?"
He poured something from an unlabeled bottle. She took a sip, then said, "Gag! That's 'the usual' today? Tastes like battery acid."
"You get used to it." he grinned challengingly.
Deliberately she took another sip, then said, "What's up? You had a gun out when I came in. Never saw you do that before."
"You haven't been here in awhile. Well, we're keeping anyone we don't know on sight out now. Anyone we don't know has to be with someone we're sure of."
"'We.' Who's this 'we' anyway?"
"I thought you'd know." he said suspiciously.
"Sounds like this place is becoming exclusive. Like maybe it's involved with some people who have been giving the police fits."
"So what? I got nothing to do with it." he said with practiced indifference.
"Maybe you do, maybe you don't. I don't care. But I'm looking for a part of the action."
"Well, you might as well hang out here a while. You could get lucky."
"I thought so." She put the half-finished drink on the desktop with some money. "Pour that stuff back into the car battery you siphoned it out of and give me something fit for a lady."
She did not have to wait for long. Soon several people came in. The man at the desk pointed Gosalyn out to one of them. He walked over to her and said, "Guy over there says you're looking to join. He thinks you got potential."
"Yeah, I think so too. Now all I gotta do is find a way to use it." she answered.
"What do you know?"
"I happen to know a great deal about a lotta things." she said, folding her arms. "I came here to find out about this." With her finger she drew an approximation of a graffiti mark she had seen in the water on the table top.
"Are you a cop?" he asked directly.
She snorted. "This is Gosalyn you're talking to, you know, 'Pretty Poison'! No, I'm not a cop!"
"So, what do you want to know about it?" he asked, wiping the mark out with his hand.
"I know there's some action going on, and I want a piece of it."
He looked her over. Then he said, "Maybe. Let's see what you're made of first."
"Lead the way." she answered.
She followed his motorcycle through a network of alleyways. They finally stopped in low-class business district. When she pulled her motorcycle in alongside his he said, "How much do you want in?"
"I want in, OK? I'm willing to prove it. That's what all this is about, isn't it? So let's get on with it."
"You know so much, you tell me."
She looked around at the shops. "I'm supposed to mess a place up a little, tag it, and leave before the police get here. Anything else? Am I supposed to hit any particular place, or take anything?"
"Don't take anything. That's direct orders. You pick the spot to mess up. I'll just watch. Here-" he took out a scrap of paper and a spray paint can from an inside pocket in his jacket and handed them to her.
She looked at the paper. It contained a pencil drawing of a stylized A. "Paint that up, with my initial after it, huh? Already got the paint." She indicated a spray can in an inner pocket of her own jacket.
"Go for it." he said approvingly.
A fast-food place caught her attention immediately. She remembered getting ill because of something she had eaten at one of that chain's restaurants. That made it a worthy target. She found three-foot long section of discarded, rusty pipe. After looking up and down the street and seeing nobody else, she strode up to the plate-glass storefront.
The next morning, Drake started sorting through the new reports, preparing them for filing. As he had expected, most of them followed the same pattern. Vandalism and other profitless crimes, each tagged with the expected initials. The large letter had changed again, this time to an A. That brought the list of large letters to C/G, D, H/N, E, K, and A. Could that spell anything out?
He went to his computer terminal and wrote a short program in BASIC that would print out all the possible combinations of those letters, from six to twelve letters. He set it running and went back to the photographs. Maybe the small initials had some hidden significance? He started copying them onto a sheet of scratch paper. Then he shopped and stared in dismay.
Quickly he picked up the telephone and called home. Morgana answered. Drake said, "Is Gosalyn home?"
"No, why? Is something the matter?"
"Um - was she home last night? Do you know?" he said urgently.
"I think so. She was here early this morning. What's wrong?"
"Maybe nothing. I don't know. Morgana, I need you and Launchpad to keep an eye on her. Without her knowing, if possible. It may be nothing, but I need to be sure. I'll tell you about it later, all right?"
"Now you've got me worried."
"Morgana, hon, I hope it's nothing. If I find out anything I'll call back, okay?"
He went back to the photograph that had alarmed him. It was of a restaurant whose windows had been smashed in. Nothing inside had been harmed, except by the broken glass itself. There was no sign of entry. It fit the pattern all right, down to the graffiti tag in front. The one with the initial that resembled two Ps, back to back - the logo that Gosalyn used to use.
Meanwhile, the man who called himself Grendel was looking over the reports of the previous night's activity. There was the expected number of recruits, none of whom seemed exceptional. By this time he had already gotten to all of the real crooks; now he was gathering raw material. Those who, without the proper environment, might never realize their true potential as criminals. Which would be a shame indeed!
He glanced down the list of names. As usual, none caught his attention. He put down the list, then picked it up again, and looked at a particular name. After a moment it clicked why the name sounded familiar.
Of course! If this universe was an alternate version of the other two he had visited, then of course there would be analogues of the people he had known. He had taken it for granted. But if this one was a criminal analogue of his former ward... she could prove quite useful!
This was just too good an opportunity to miss! He would have to give this one personal attention.
When Drake returned home that evening Morgana told him that Gosalyn had been at home all day. It was a small relief; criminals were a nocturnal bunch. At least he could prevent her from leaving that night.
That evening he avoided the topic. Gosalyn was kept occupied with watching Joey, a task which she always initially protested, then settled into anyway. When Morgana put the baby to bed in the late evening Gosalyn went up to her room. Soon afterwards she heard a knock at the door. Unlocking it, she called, "Come in."
Drake walked in. She said, "What's up?"
"Nothing in particular. I just wanted to ask you if there's anything you wanted to talk with me about."
"Anything, Gosalyn. Sometimes it looks like you've got something on your mind. Is there anything you might want to tell me?"
"Nope. Except that I hate that stupid curfew. That's all."
When it was obvious that she had nothing else to say he patted her on the shoulder and said, "Well, if anything comes up, don't be afraid, okay?"
"Afraid? I'm not afraid of anything!"
"Figure of speech. You know what I mean." He smiled at her and left the room.
He returned to his room. Morgana asked, "Anything?"
"No. I sure hope I'm wrong."
"Well, just in case, I've had Launchpad do me a favor." She said.
Gosalyn waited an hour. Then, leaving her radio on, she put on her jacket and scarf and made her way to the garage as she had last night. She led the motorcycle out the garage and down the street. When she was a safe distance away she started the engine. Or tried to, anyway.
"What the-" She tried to gun the motor. Nothing. The headlight would not even turn on. "Come on, I don't need this!" she said. She could not even tell if she was out of gas; the control panel was dead too.
She cursed the machine out. Then, with no better idea what to do, she started to wheel it back to the house.
Before she got there she saw that the light in the garage was now on. She considered trying to flee. Before she could, Drake and Launchpad walked toward her. She groaned.
"You've got some explaining to do." Drake said in a terse voice as Launchpad took the motorcycle and wheeled it back to the garage.
"What did you guys do? Wreck my bike?" she demanded.
"Disconnected the battery lines." Launchpad said, clearly not planning to reconnect them.
"Come inside, Gosalyn." Drake said firmly.
"What if I don't want to?"
"Listen to him, Gos." Launchpad said in a quiet warning.
She stared at them for a moment. Then, her lips moving in a silent curse, she stalked into the house.
When she was inside she said, "So I broke the stupid curfew! Sue me! What're you going to do, arrest me?"
"Don't shout, Gosalyn. And this isn't a joking matter. I want to know what you thought you were going to do tonight." Drake said.
"I was just going for a spin, okay? Is it a crime to want to ride around for awhile?"
"I want to show you something." He went to the living room and opened his briefcase. He brought an enlarged photocopy of a picture to her. "What do you know about this?"
"What makes you think I had anything to do with that?" she bluffed.
"This." He pointed to the graffiti. "This initial looks like two Ps, back to back. Which was your gang tag logo. I haven't seen it again, until now. How do you explain it?"
"Take off your jacket, Gosalyn." he said.
"Don't make me get Launchpad's help. Take the jacket off."
She glanced back. Launchpad was watching her steadily. He would take it off of her if Drake told him to, and she knew from experience that she was no match for someone who could probably bench-press a motorcycle. "I hate having two Dads!" she growled as she took the jacket off and threw it onto the table.
Drake picked up the jacket and took a can of spray paint out of an inner pocket. "It's the same color as the tag in the picture." he said. "All right, Gosalyn, you've got some serious explaining to do. You'd be better off telling me than the police."
"You'd turn me in?" she said in disbelief.
"Sit down." he gestured at a chair. They sat. Carefully controlling his voice, he began, "What do you think you're doing, Gosalyn? I know this is the kind of thing you used to do, but I thought you had the sense now to know better! Don't you understand that when you do this, it harms other people?"
"It's a big chain. They'll hardly notice." She shrugged.
"Don't be flip about this! I know that you know the difference between right and wrong! You've stayed out of trouble for years! Why are you starting again now?"
"No need to shout." she said.
"This is serious!" he said, holding his anger in check. "Gosalyn, you, of all people, should know how gang crime hurts people! You may think that pranks like this are fun, but when things become more serious people lose their lives! Some have lost their parents." he said, staring into her eyes. "And I won't lose my daughter." he finished, his voice cracking unexpectedly at the end.
An uncomfortable silence followed. Gosalyn broke it by saying, "That was a cheap shot."
"I don't care. Gos, I love you. And that means I'm not going to let you get tangled up in this again. Gosalyn, why?"
She looked away, then said, "Do you wanna get the lie detector?"
"Okay. Look, Dad, I haven't done anything besides that." She gestured at the picture. "I've been hanging out, but that's all. But last night you were talking about all the stuff that's been going on in the streets, and I swear, you don't have a clue! You don't have the faintest idea what's going on, and you can't find out why because of that law that makes you tell if you're with the police. I got mad."
"I don't know. I guess because you guys are going about it all backwards. So I went to get an inside view."
"You took this into your own hands? Don't you know how dangerous this is?"
She rolled her eyes. "I'm the one who used to live with the gangs. I still got contacts. So I talked to a few people, and I got in."
"In on what, exactly?"
"The gang scene around here. Y'know, it's different than I remember. You gotta do some crime to join - that's what all the stuff you have been worrying over is all about. They had me break a place up and spray paint that design."
"Were you forced?"
"Nope. Did it of my own free will an' skill." Before Drake could say anything else she continued, "That's not the strange part. I never found out who's running the show. Usually in a gang you do, but this time it was like a secret. I don't think the guy who signed me on knew. Nobody else I talked to had any idea. The only thing anyone knew was that he calls himself Grendel."
"Grendel... I'll check the files, but that doesn't ring a bell."
"Lots of street names never make it into the police department files. Anyway, they already knew me, so I got in easy. Your police department wouldn't've been able to do that!" She crossed her arms in satisfaction.
"What else did you find out?"
"Not a heck of a lot." she admitted. "I'm sure they're recruiting for something big. They're trying to get lots of people, I know that for sure, but only the types who're for real, not just punks who hang out and act like they're tough. That's what all the vandalism and stuff is for, I guess."
"Initiations." Drake mused. "And, if you try to go to the police, you'll have a crime to confess first. You can't break out again without admitting your own guilt." By the look on Gosalyn's face, this aspect had not occurred to her. "And, with each person only knowing a few others, anyone who went to the authorities could only betray a few people. It sounds like someone really knows what he's doing."
"Without me, you wouldn't have known that this was part of an organization." she said smugly.
"Organized crime?" Drake thought out loud. "Whoever heard of something like that?"
"So, you still going to turn me in?" she asked.
"I don't know just what I'm going to do. I do know that you are not going back there. I'm keeping you safe now!"
"Sorry, Dad, but I've gotta go back. If I don't, people will wonder... and you know how edgy gangs can get when they think someone's turned on 'em."
"I'll put you in protective custody then. It won't be the first time."
"Dad, I know my way around! And I don't gotta say I'm with the cops if someone asks me. Think about it."
After a moment of silence Drake looked at Launchpad, as if searching for ideas. Launchpad merely returned his worried glance. Drake said, "All right. But not behind our backs any more. And I'm going to be in contact with you-"
"You can't come with me! You'd blow my cover in a moment! And so would Launchpad."
"Maybe. But I can put a microphone on you. That way, if you get into trouble, I'll know."
She shrugged. "All right. IF you promise not to freak out at the least little thing. I'm not wearin' it if Posiduck's gonna swoop in the moment you hear about someone jaywalking."
"Okay. But you have to promise to be careful-"
"I WILL, Dad! It's MY hide, after all. Besides, I can be tried as an adult now. The heck I want that."
"All right. But it was still a foolish thing for you to do, getting involved with this in the first place."
"Fine. Whatever. Just wire me up and let's go."
It was a simple matter to go to Posiduck's tower in the Audubon Bay Bridge and place a small microphone behind one of the biker pins on Gosalyn's jacket. He wanted to trail her, but she pointed out that if anyone realized she was being followed she would be in danger. He was just being protective of her because she was his daughter, she insisted. Which was true, he admitted, but that didn't make it any easier. She was relieved when Launchpad reconnected the battery leads and she got away from her parents.
In the tower, Drake listened to the other end of the wire. On a hunch, he sent Launchpad to bring Morgana to the tower. In the meantime he changed into his Posiduck costume. He just might need it on short notice.
Morgana arrived in minutes. "Drake! Launchpad told me that Gosalyn is investigating this case?!"
"Yes. She was tangled up in it before I found out. I've wired her so I can listen in. This was the best I could do." he said in a flat voice. "I can't trail her without endangering her. I was hoping you could help in that department with your magic."
She sat beside him. "All right. I think I can. Yes, I know a spell that can help protect her if things get too rough."
"Thank goodness!" he said with heartfelt relief.
She put her arm around his shoulders. "Try not to worry too much, Drake. Gosalyn's always landed on her feet before. We'll make sure she does now."
"I know." He laid his hand on hers. "But it still scares me."
Gosalyn arrived at the Gargleblaster. Inside was her contact of the night before. He walked over to her quickly. "You're late."
"Yeah. Had to gas up the 'cycle. So what's up? And who's that guy?" She glanced at an older duck wearing a long coat and a wide-brimmed black hat who was watching her intently from a dark corner of the room. "He gives me the creeps."
"He's Macavity. From higher up. He wanted to meet you."
"Oh, a talent scout. Cool." She did not really want to meet him - his cold stare made her uneasy - but she knew it would be unwise to avoid him. So she walked directly over and said, "Hey. You're Macavity?"
"You can call me that." the duck replied in a low voice.
"Funny." She folded her arms and regarded him carefully. "I can't see you too well in this light, but you look more like a duck than a cat."
"Does this help?" he asked, lifting the brim of his hat to let the light strike his face.
The startled look on her face was the answer he had been hoping for. "Come with me." He lowered his hat again and gestured toward the door.
She followed him outside. He had a motorcycle as well, a big gaudily colored brute of a machine with odd modifications. He said, "Follow me. Follow close."
"Okay. Lead the way."
Posiduck and Morgana had heard the pause in the conversation. Morgana spoke their shared thought. "What did he look like?"
"I don't know."
She started chanting a spell. Posiduck said, "Wait. Don't cast it yet!"
She paused in her casting. "I won't. I'm just preparing it so I can cast it quickly."
They arrived at their destination. He led her into a disused building. Flicking the lights on, he removed his motorcycle helmet and said, "Gosalyn. You have no idea how pleased you've joined our little family."
"It doesn't look little, if it's been responsible for all the stuff that's been going on in St. Canard." she replied.
"True." He nodded. "Now tell me why you were surprised when you saw my face."
"Oh, uh, you look like someone I know."
"Do I." He took off his coat. Underneath, he was wearing a bright yellow double-breasted jacket with a red turtleneck shirt and a red-lined black cape.
"Eek. All you need is green shoes and you'd look like a traffic light." she commented, hiding her surprise at seeing the familiar cut of his clothes.
"I recognized you, Gosalyn. I picked you out of all of my recruits because I think you have special potential." he said in a low voice.
"Yeah? Why's that?"
"I think you can do something unique for us. Help us come out into the open. Tell me, who do you think I am?"
"I don't know. Grendel, maybe."
To her surprise he smiled, narrow eyed, and touched the end of his bill. "Got it on the first try. So, Gosalyn, what do you think of everything?"
"Well, I don't know. All I know is that you're recruiting a lotta people. Beats me what for."
He gestured her toward a window. Opening it and pointing out, he asked, "What do you see?"
"Nothing much. Buildings. Streetlamps."
"Streetlamps. And the darkness between them. Like the good and the bad sides of life." He took a pistol out, aimed it at arm's length, and neatly shot out one of the streetlamps. "Remove the light, and darkness takes over." He closed the window. "When I first came here, this city was nearly free of crime. The citizens were like sheep, grazing complacently. But there will always be the potential for some of the sheep to become wolves. That's what I've been doing - separating the wolves from the sheep."
"Oh, I get it. A big gang?"
"That's what seems like, doesn't it. This city has no idea that we might be stronger than that. All they've ever seen is street gangs and the occasional real criminal. It's as if organized crime had never been invented!"
"Well, you gotta admit, it is pretty farfetched." she laughed.
"Is it?" He looked into her eyes. Involuntarily she took a step back. "Not when someone who has a lot of experience is heading it."
He stepped forward. "So, Gosalyn Waddlemeyer, do you have any questions?"
Waddlemeyer? How did he know her original last name?! "Who are you?"
He laughed. "That's the question I was waiting for! I am best known as-" he took out a red, wide-brimmed hat and placed it on his head with a flourish. "-Negaduck."
"That's right. The evil opposite if Posiduck. I'm not so well known here, in the Posiverse. Yet. I came from St. Canard, but one in a parallel universe. In that St. Canard I was the ruler. I fought my way up from the street once, when I was your age. I know how it's done. And this city is just ripe for us. They'll never know what hit 'em."
Oh great, he was out of his head. Better just bluff it along. "So where do I fit into this?"
"Maybe just sentimental reasons. Back in the Negaverse, I had a ward named Gosalyn Waddlemeyer."
"And she looked just like me." she guessed.
"Right. There are three parallel universes. What's in one will be in all of 'em. Which should explain to you EXACTLY who I am."
This was starting to make a dangerous amount of sense to Gosalyn. He continued, "I've heard all about this 'Posiduck' since I landed here, but he hasn't shown his face yet. I'm beginning to think he's just a sham. But, just in case, I want to get him out of the way. And you can help me with that."
"All right. You want me to take him out for you?"
"No." He shook his head. "I'll do that myself!"
"So, what's the big deal about Posiduck anyway? If he hasn't bothered you yet, why d'you even care about him?"
"Because." He looked out of the window. "Let's say I have a bad time with alternate universe copies of myself. I was undefeated in my home, the Negaverse - until Darkwing Duck destroyed my dimensional gate. If it hadn't been for him I could have taken over his St. Canard. There was nobody else who could stop me! Though it hardly looks like anything in this little utopia could stand up to me, still, why take chances?" he finished with a wicked grin.
"Makes sense." She shrugged. "So, once you get rid of him, what are you going to do?"
"Take out the police, of course. And any other government offices that get in my way. Then just take over and sweep up the mess."
"A criminal in the government? Are you kidding?" Gosalyn asked.
Negaduck looked back at her. She was actually serious. He rolled his eyes heavenward. "Oy vey."
Posiduck shook his head. This 'Negaduck' is out of his mind! He actually thinks he can take over the city? Other universes?"
"I don't think so." Morgana said. "At the Eldritch Academy, we've made contact with other worlds very much like our own."
"You have?" He looked at her, surprised. "Do you think he got here by magic, then?"
"I don't know how else he could have. But if he did, he's stranded here now. It takes a tremendous amount of power to open a portal between the universes, and if he's what I sensed earlier he does not have enough power to do it again. He would drain himself completely trying to cast the spell, leaving himself vulnerable. Which may be why he's determined to try to take over St. Canard. He knows he's stranded here."
"But, still - a criminal uprising? Incredible. But... it looks like it's true. I have my work cut out for me. I guess I'd better start working up a plan with the police." He shook his head unhappily.
Gosalyn rode directly up the supports of the Audubon Bay Bridge into Posiduck's tower. When she dismounted she said, "Hey, Dad! You're in your Posiduck outfit. Nice to know you're finally taking this seriously."
He jumped up from his computer terminal and rushed to give her a hug. Startled, she said, "Hey! What's that for?"
"I was worried sick! I'm just glad you're safe."
His sincerity embarrassed her. She said, "Uh, yeah, Dad. Well, you heard it all, right?"
"Yes. I wouldn't have believed it. I don't know what we're going to do about him."
"He's the brains of the outfit, all right. I wish you coulda seen him, Dad. He looks just like you, a little older though, and acts the opposite. Anyhow, he thinks I've joined up with him. Now you can feed him info through me."
"Wait a minute! You've risked your life twice already! I'm not letting you do it a third time!" he objected.
"Now YOU wait a minute!" She stood, her fists on her hips. "I am not a kid anymore! And I know what I'm doing here! Are you gonna blow a good plan just to keep 'your little girl' safe and sound? I don't see you flinching at putting your own tail feathers on the line when you wear that silly costume!"
"This is different!-"
"Yeah? I don't see it that way. If it's me you're worried about, I'd rather worry about my own self than wonder if I'm gonna be orphaned again by some maniac from another universe!" she shouted back.
"Stop it." Morgana said firmly. "This is getting us nowhere. Gosalyn, is there anything else you can remember? Did you see anything magical?"
"Magic? Nah. He shot a street lamp out. If he was a sorcerer he'd have 'zapped' it out or something, right?" Gosalyn answered.
"Not necessarily. He may be conserving his power."
"Well, anyway, he's a vicious little s- er, so-and-so. And he has one heck of a grudge against a 'Darkwing Duck'."
"Yeah. I heard." Posiduck said.
"I wish you'd seen his face. He looked like he'd kill him if he ever got his hands on him."
"If he could defeat this Negaduck, I wish we could get him on our side." Posiduck mused. "If he knows how to deal with Negaduck he would sure tip the scales in our favor."
"Maybe!" Morgana said suddenly. "If Negaduck can come from another universe, I can create a link to Darkwing's universe."
"Do you think so? I could go through, find Darkwing Duck, and ask him to come help us!" Posiduck exclaimed.
"It would take a great amount of power, but, yes, I could." Morgana said. "I'll need to do some research first." She clapped her hands together and disappeared.
Morgana's research took her to the Eldritch Academy. While she was there Posiduck worked at a terminal that was linked to the Police Department's supercomputer, plotting out all of the crime scenes, correlating data, and generally trying to detect the pattern. He did not believe that there would be one, but it was better than pacing the floor.
When Morgana reappeared, some hours later, she was carrying a particularly large and battered book and a collection of magical items. "I can cast the spell." she announced with satisfaction. "It will take a lot of power, but I can manage it. There are only three known universes, and from their descriptions I can guess which one Negaduck came from. Darkwing must be from the other. I'll project you into that universe, and when you've found him I'll pull you both back here."
"Wonderful!" Posiduck exclaimed.
"There is a limit, Drake. I can only hold on to you for an hour. I don't have enough power to maintain the link any longer than that. You'll have to find him quickly."
"If that's what it takes." Posiduck said. "He's an alternate version of myself and Negaduck both - that means I can hopefully locate him based on similarities between us..."
"Take your time planning, Drake. I'll need some time to gather the energy and prepare the spell. I'll have to go to the casting grounds for this - I'll need the extra power."
"How much time will you need?"
"Oh - an hour or two. Launchpad can help me, if Gosalyn will watch Joey."
"Yeah, yeah, babysitting. Jeez." she grumbled.
"Gosalyn-" Posiduck began warningly.
"All right, I'm going." She took one of the transport chairs.
Morgana appeared at her casting ground. It was a fairly ordinary looking vacant lot. Only another sorcerer would have recognized that it was at the intersection of three magical force lines - two in the ground, and one in the sky. She could draw on these sources to fuel more powerful spells than she would have been able to cast otherwise.
She spent some time preparing for the spell, copying runes from the book onto the ground, setting up candles, and the like. Launchpad waited, using the time to absorb power from the force lines for Morgana's use.
Drake arrived. Morgana opened her eyes and nodded at him, then closed her eyes again. She was busy charging her batteries. He waited patiently for her to finish.
Finally she relaxed. "Drake? You're not going there as Posiduck?"
"No. I don't want to risk any interference. I have my costume in case I need it, though."
"Good." She pointed with a dull-bladed knife. Drake moved to stand where she had indicated. "I'll need some feathers from you, to help maintain the link across the universes."
"No problem." He pulled a few loose feathers and gave them to her.
She handed him a chain with an odd pendant. "Wear this. It's also to keep the link."
"All right." He put it on and tucked it under his shirt.
"We're ready. Remember, I can only hold the gate for an hour. If you take that pendant off, I could lose my grip on you."
"I won't." He knew that she was restating the obvious because she was worried. He took her hand. "Don't worry, Morgana. We've never failed before. Just do it."
She smiled. He was the eternal optimist, but then again he was usually right. She incised a circle around him in the ground, and copied from memory the pendant's symbols on the north, south, east and west of it. Then, with a final glance at the book, she began casting.
Drake watched her. After a minute the world began to look vague. He blinked his eyes. That did not help bring things into focus. The world became blurrier, then faded entirely.
Morgana clutched the feathers in her hand. Then she closed her eyes. Launchpad moved closer and put an arm around her shoulders. The gesture was partially to help her draw on the magical reserve he had stored up - and partially to comfort her.
Drake found himself inside a dark building. His eyes, adjusted to bright sunlight, made nothing of the dim interior. He found a door. The next room had an open window. Outside, there were several familiar buildings. Morgana had succeeded!
He had appeared inside someone's home; he had to get out before he was discovered. He climbed out the window. When his foot touched the ground outside a sudden thunderstorm started. Startled, he shielded his eyes from the rain and ran for the gate. As soon as he exited the rain stopped.
He looked back. The clouds were still there, hovering over what he could now see as an ancient-looking Victorian house. This must be the home of a powerful sorcerer. It would take a tremendous amount of power to generate a thunderstorm like that. It was a wasteful spell.
Well, now that he was here, where would he begin to look for this 'Darkwing Duck'?
The police station was the logical choice. A crimefighter would, of course, work closely with the city's law enforcement branch. Since Darkwing was an alternate version of himself he might have a job there!
Luckily, the police station was in exactly the same place as it was in his universe. As with the city, it looked similar and different at the same time. It must be the smoggy air, he decided. Not dangerous, but decidedly unpleasant. He walked into the station and asked the man at the desk, "Excuse me, I'm looking for someone. Could you help me?"
The man looked up, then did a double take. "Mr. Mallard? Drake Mallard?"
"Yes. I'm looking for Darkwing Duck."
The man at the desk gave him a very odd look, then got up. "Wait here, just a minute."
He walked into an office. "Officer Bearat? Do you remember Drake Mallard?"
"Yeah. He was the one helping Negaduck frame Darkwing Duck a few months ago. Made us all look like idiots. What about him?"
"He just walked in." He jerked a thumb toward the front desk. "I thought you'd want to take this one."
"Indeed I do." He put his doughnut down and went to the front desk. Sure enough, the little creep had returned to the scene of the crime! "Mr. Mallard?"
Officer Bearat drew his gun. "You're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent-"
"What? I'm under arrest for what?" Drake cried, startled.
"For conspiracy to frame Darkwing Duck. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.-"
Drake made a dash out the door, with Bearat in hot pursuit. He ran into a crowd. Fortunately, most people here were taller than he was, so they camouflaged him. He managed to blend in with the crowd long enough to make his way to an alley and dart into it.
What in the world was happening? This universe's Drake Mallard was a criminal, wanted for framing Darkwing Duck? Had Morgana sent him to the wrong universe? At least Darkwing Duck was known in this universe, so hopefully he would be around here somewhere. Where?
He might operate out of the tower in the Audubon Bay Bridge. It was certainly the most logical choice for a home base. But unannounced visitors there would probably be greeted by a security system of some kind. The only other thing Drake could think of was his home. Where would that be?
Would he live in the same area in this universe that Drake did in his own? It was a stab in the dark, but it was the best hope he had.
He hailed a taxi and instructed the driver to take him to 537 Avian Way.
When he arrived he remarked with relief that the house was almost exactly like his own, if painted a different color. Fighting back his misgivings, he walked up and pressed the doorbell.
After a minute the door opened and a familiar face looked out. "DW! Since when d'you knock? And how'd'ja get here from the tower so fast?"
DW? That must mean Darkwing! Drake suppressed a whoop of relief. "Launchpad, I have to get to the tower immediately."
"Sure thing, DW." Launchpad said with a puzzled expression. "Is that a new shirt and vest? I thought you didn't like blue."
"I'll explain later. How do you get to the tower?" Drake asked.
Launchpad looked at him strangely, then laughed. "Quit pullin' my leg, DW! You know it's the transport chairs!"
"Thanks, Launchpad." He walked into the living room. There were two similar chairs, in the right place. He sat in one, then looked for the trigger. The mouse statuette on the table between the chairs? It was a different mouse, but that was close enough. He looked for a switch on it somewhere.
Launchpad sat in the other chair and tapped the mouse's head. It clicked inward.
A second later they were in the tower. Drake jumped up and looked around. Perfect! There was even an airship similar to his own here! He heard a voice call, "Launchpad! Is that you?"
"Uh, yeah, DW... is that you?" Launchpad was mystified.
"LP, what the heck are you..." Darkwing Duck appeared at the edge of the computer platform. "Who is THAT?!" he yelled, pointing at Drake.
"I need your help-" Drake began.
Darkwing leapt down from the platform. "Stand back, Launchpad, so you don't get Negaduck splattered all over you!"
"NO! WAIT!" Drake cried, holding out his hands.
Darkwing did not wait for an explanation. He launched himself into an attack, using his best martial techniques. Drake countered each move expertly, defending himself without harming Darkwing. "Stop it! Just listen for a moment!"
"No way, Negs! You've made your final mistake!" Darkwing replied, kicking out furiously at Drake's chest.
Drake twisted to the side to preserve the integrity of his rib cage. "Please LISTEN TO ME!" He caught Darkwing's arm, twisted it around his back, and grabbed his smallest finger. He forced Darkwing to his knees. "I need your help!"
"What you need is to let me out of this pinkie lock!" Darkwing growled from between gritted teeth.
"DW, if this was Negaduck wouldn't he be usin' a gun?" Launchpad ventured.
Drake released Darkwing. "I need your help because of Negaduck! He has crossed into my universe. You are the only one who has defeated him."
"Well, yeah..." Darkwing began. "Wait, who the heck are you?"
There was no logical reason for him to keep his identity secret, Drake supposed. "I'm Posiduck."
Darkwing stopped and stared. "Posiduck?!" Drake nodded. "Then you must be from the Posiverse."
"Posiduck, Negaduck - it makes sense." Darkwing said to himself. "If there's an evil world, there's a good one somewhere to balance it out. Yep, yep, yep. My fame has obviously spread, even to other universes." He flicked his cape back smugly. "Shame this happened after by autobiography was published, though. Oh well, it'll be in the next edition."
"Um, yeah. Will you come back with me, to help bring him under control?" Drake asked urgently.
"You have some sort of dimensional gate hidden away somewhere?"
"Not exactly - will you come back with me?" Then the world began to go blurry. Quickly he grabbed onto Darkwing's arm. Surprised, Darkwing started to pull away.
Then the world faded from both of them.
Launchpad and Morgana saw Drake reappear with another duck - who was wearing a costume similar to Posiduck's, but in different colors. Launchpad called out, "It worked!"
Darkwing looked around. "Hey! Where am I?!"
"The Posiverse." Drake said and released him. "I'm sorry I had to do that, but Morgana could only hold the spell so long."
"Morgana?" Darkwing looked at her. It was Morgana all right - but her long black hair hung around her shoulders, and she was wearing a flowing blue dress.
Darkwing realized he was staring when Drake cleared his throat and said, "Darkwing Duck, meet Launchpad and Morgana, the rest of my team."
"Oh, er, hi." He had just noticed the wedding ring on Morgana's finger.
Morgana was looking curiously at Darkwing. After a moment she asked, "Are you a sorcerer?"
"What? Me?" Darkwing asked, puzzled by her question. "No. I can do some mean card tricks, though."
"You have a magical aura..." She looked at him, her eyes slipping out of focus. Then she looked at Drake the same way. "You do too. Darkwing's universe must have more mana than ours. You absorbed it just by being there."
"That would account for the red blip on the screen." Drake said. "It was Negaduck's magic."
"Negaduck? Magic? Negaduck doesn't know any more magic than I do." Darkwing said.
"That's a relief!" Drake said. "We've been worrying that we might have an evil sorcerer on our hands."
"I wouldn't be too relieved. He's a handful, even for me! What's he done so far? Blown up any dams? Destroyed the city?"
Drake laughed. "Don't be silly. He's been causing a rise in crime in here by organizing people on the street. We just recently found out that it was organized at all, and that he was at the center of it. We have to stop him before he makes things any worse."
"That's ALL?" Darkwing exclaimed in disbelief.
"Isn't that enough?!"
Darkwing shook his head. "Poor old Negs is losing his touch. He's nearly destroyed my St. Canard several times. Twice he wrecked the Audubon Bay Bridge. And I won't mention all the times he's tried to kill me and Gosalyn."
"Are you serious?" Drake said.
"You think I'm kidding? I can't believe that Negaduck would settle for petty stuff like organizing the street gangs... unless he was planning on something bigger."
Drake and Morgana looked at each other. "Looks like we got you here just in time." Drake said.
Drake took Darkwing to his tower hideout. While Drake changed costume Darkwing looked around. "Kinda bare in here."
"It is, compared to your tower. I didn't understand what all those things you had in there were." Drake called back.
"Oh, top secret SHUSH weapons, crime detection equipment, supercomputers to analyze evidence. You know, the usual crimefighting stuff. Where do you keep yours?"
"I don't have those things. What's a SHUSH weapon?"
"What's a - you mean you don't have the government agency SHUSH in this universe? How do you combat international espionage and - stuff?" Darkwing exclaimed.
"Yeah. You know, to keep other countries from getting an edge up on us if a war should break out!"
Posiduck walked out. "In your universe, there are wars between nations?" He shook his head in sad disbelief.
"Oh, brother. Never mind." Darkwing rolled his eyes. "What about supercomputers? Every crimefighter needs one."
"My terminal is linked to the one at the police station."
"Of course. I work there. Not as Posiduck - as Drake Mallard I'm a clerk there. It gives me access to all their files and information."
"Hold up there." Darkwing put a hand over his eyes. "This is making my head hurt. You have A JOB? With the police?"
"Of course! Even if I didn't need to make a living, I couldn't run around in a cape and mask all the time, could I?" Posiduck looked amused.
"Well, how else are you supposed to fight crime efficiently?" Darkwing retorted. "Leave it to the police?"
"That's their job, isn't it? I'm only needed for the toughest cases, when someone who can operate just outside the rules is needed. 'I am the sword in the hand of justice', so to speak."
"Well, at least there's some similarity after all." Darkwing muttered. "Let me see if I understand this. The police can handle most of the crime here. You don't make a career of being Posiduck. This world is war-free. And you went across a universe to get me for someone who's just bossing a street gang? This has got to be the tamest place in the universe."
"Right... wait a minute, it makes sense now. This place has never had a supervillain, has it?" Darkwing said.
"Oh, we have, occasionally."
"Anyone I know? The Liquidator? Quackerjack? F.O.W.L.? Tuskernini? Bushroot?"
"Quackerjack is the mascot of a toymaking corporation. Tuskernini - he's a film director, I think. Dr. Bushroot is a famous botanist, but he's not in St. Canard. Last I heard, he was living in the Sahara Rainforest. I haven't heard of the others."
"What about Megavolt, the living battery?"
"Your universe has more magical energy than ours." Posiduck said slowly. "It must give rise to more... unusual beings than ours does."
"Is that so. Then who was the last supervillain you fought?"
I suppose that would be Doctor Bellum-"
"Dr. Bellum? Dr. Sara Bellum?"
"Yes. Is she a supervillain in your universe too?"
"No. Just a kook. Well, now I see why you called me here! You people have never learned to deal with real supervillains! I can't see why Negaduck hasn't already blown the place off the face of the planet!"
"Why on Earth would anyone want to do that?" Posiduck asked.
"I'll be he would. He looked like it." Gosalyn said.
"Gosalyn? I didn't know you were here! I told you to go home and watch Joey!" Posiduck scolded.
"You told me to take care of Joey. You didn't say where!" she responded.
"Joey?" Darkwing said.
Posiduck walked over to where Gosalyn was sitting and watching television. He returned carrying a small, redheaded child. "Our newest addition. Looks like his mother, doesn't he?"
Darkwing glanced back at Gosalyn. Posiduck followed his glance, then said, "No! Morgana." with a laugh.
"Oh. Yeah, I see the resemblance now." Red hair? But - never mind.
"Anyway, Gos, if Morgana knew you brought him up here she wouldn't be too happy." Posiduck said.
"Then don't tell her. You'll need me to go back again."
"You've put yourself in enough danger already." Posiduck said.
"This sounds familiar." Darkwing muttered.
Posiduck said to him, "She managed to infiltrate the group - without mentioning to ME what she was doing - and found out a good bit about its internal structure."
"What Dad means is, I'm the one who found out about Negaduck. He'd never have gotten the clue otherwise." Gosalyn insisted.
"Negaduck." Darkwing mused out loud, hoping to avert a family squabble. "He's my - our - alter ego from The Negaverse. If you think MY universe is rough, you should see that place! I've battled him in my universe for over ten years. Then, a few months ago, he vanished. Now I find out that he's up to his old tricks here."
"What can you tell us about him? His modus operandii, skills and weaknesses?" Posiduck said, handing Joey to Gosalyn.
Before Darkwing could begin, he heard the whirring of the transport chairs. Morgana and Launchpad had arrived. She began, "Drake, Gosalyn and Joey aren't-"
"Here we are, Mom." Gosalyn said.
"I've spoken to her." Posiduck said. "You two arrived at the right moment." He beckoned them over. Turning to Darkwing, he said, "You were saying."
"Um, Negaduck's M.O. Well, he uses a lot of weapons. You wouldn't believe the artillery he can carry around with himself. He's a mean little, er, so-and-so. To give you an example, some years ago he found that another supervillain had edged him out of his place as Public Enemy Number one, so he tried to kill my Gosalyn just to get his title back." He was not surprised at the aghast expressions on their faces. Even Gosalyn looked shocked. "His motivations are mainly greed and revenge, with liberal doses of wanton destruction in there for flavor."
"All the senseless vandalism." Launchpad said.
"That fits." Darkwing agreed. "As for greed - he was the ruler of St. Canard in The Negaverse, simply because he was the one strong enough to seize control. He tried to do that in my universe, and dang near succeeded more than once. And now it looks like he's trying to take over here as well. I can't figure how he hasn't succeeded yet, though, since you are obviously unprepared for someone like him."
Posiduck ignored the obvious, if unintentional, slight. "Perhaps it's taken him this long to get a grip. Remember, if he's trying to build an organization based on criminal activities, he's short on the raw materials."
"That explains the recruiting. It looked like everyone was in on it." Gosalyn added.
"All right. That means that we have to stop him now, before he gets any more firmly entrenched. You'd better leave him to me, PD." he said to Posiduck.
"I don't think so." Posiduck said, standing up. "We need to work together. You have the experience in dealing with Negaduck. I probably have most of the skills that you have, Morgana has her magic, and Launchpad is an invaluable backup for both of us. And we know THIS St. Canard."
"Oh, Daaaad, aren't you forgetting the one of us who has connections to the gang?"
"Gosalyn, not now." Posiduck said.
"PD, if she's anything like my Gosalyn she might actually be a big help." he said to Gosalyn, "You look like you could handle yourself around him for a little while, as long as you don't let it slip whose side you're really on. Matter of fact, if the thought he could use you to get to us he'd keep you safe for a long while."
"See, I told you, Dad!" Gosalyn said.
"Has he threatened you yet, Posiduck?" Darkwing asked.
"Not directly, no. But he told Gosalyn that he would eliminate me."
"Okay, here's the plan. You can challenge him. Tell him to meet you at dawn tomorrow. You'll catch him before he's ready, but he's too bloody proud to pass it up. What he won't know is that his old adversary, Darkwing Duck, will be ready to take him down!"
"A showdown at dawn? That's such a cliché." Posiduck said.
"PD, clichés are what supervillains do best." He threw his cape back dramatically.
"Issue a challenge... There's one problem with that. If he knows that I know about him, he'll wonder how I found out, and that will lead him to Gosalyn." Posiduck said.
"How's about I tell him that you'll be searching for him, and where, so he'll think he's ambushing you." Gosalyn suggested.
"That'll work." Darkwing said. Posiduck nodded in agreement.
"Then we'd best start preparing. Morgana, can you be at full power by dawn?"
"With a little help. If I can draw from the highest magical source available." She looked at Darkwing.
Darkwing said, "Hey, I'm no magician."
"No. But you carry with you the mana from your dimension. It is much more concentrated there than it is here." she said.
"Don't worry, it's no big thing. She does that to us all the time. If you're not a witch, you'll never miss it." Launchpad said.
"Well, all right. I guess." Darkwing shrugged uneasily.
She laid one hand on his shoulder and closed her eyes to concentrate.
That night Gosalyn returned to the Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster. As she expected, Negaduck was there. She went over to him and said without preamble, "I got some info for you."
"Not here." He motioned her out the door.
They went back to his hideout. When they were inside Negaduck said, "What have you got for me?"
"Posiduck's going to be looking for you, around a vacant lot on the north side of town. He has the idea that you'll be working around there." she said.
"Really." he said. "I wonder why."
Gosalyn shrugged. "Beats me. I didn't ask."
"I wonder why it's taken him this long to come looking for me." Negaduck said, as if to himself.
Gosalyn shrugged again. "I don't know."
"The timing is convenient, isn't it." he stated, looking at her carefully.
"So? Just lucky, that's all."
"No. It's more than chance." He reached forward and yanked at one of her pins. When he opened his hand she saw that he had removed the microphone from her jacket. "Rule number one of spying. Don't let your 'bug' slip out of place!"
She stared at it, feigning surprise. "He wired me! I can't believe it!"
"Oh, really?" Negaduck spoke directly into the microphone. "I'll believe that when Posiduck tells me so, face to face. I'll be at that lot at dawn. And if Posiduck values Gosalyn's health, he'll be there too, without the police!" Then he laid the microphone on the cement floor and smashed a brick on top of it.
Posiduck looked at Darkwing. The color had drained from his face. "I knew I shouldn't have let her go back." he groaned.
"Hold up." Darkwing said. "He won't hurt her - much - if he can use her to get to you. This just means that he's accepted our challenge."
Posiduck looked at Darkwing. "How can you be so blasé about this?!"
"I've learned. My daughter used to do the same kind of thing to me. If your Gosalyn is anything like mine, she can hang tough until we save her." Darkwing said. "And, remember, we still have our secret weapon. Me."
"I hope it's enough." Posiduck said.
Several hours later, the sky began to lighten, illuminating a duck in a yellow double-breasted jacket and a red hat. As the sky brightened, the streetlamps began to shut off.
Negaduck murmured, "Burnt out ends of smoky days, the stale cold smell of morning... a streetlamp dies, another night is over, another day is dawning."
"Uh, yeah." Gosalyn said. "For Pete's sake, can't you take these cuffs off of me? I told you, I'm on your side!"
"Shut up. I didn't get where I am by trusting people." was his reply.
Soon he saw a puff of white fog. A duck in a light blue jacket and hat stepped out of the cloud. "I am the dove that flies in the light. I am the sword in the hand of justice. I am Posiduck!"
Negaduck looked him up and down, then clapped his hands slowly. "So he finally puts in an appearance." he said. "I was beginning to think that you were a myth."
"Release Gosalyn. This is between you and me." Posiduck commanded.
Negaduck looked at Gosalyn and said, "No, I don't think so. You see, if I have her you can't do anything to me." He took a gun out of his pocket and clicked the safety off. "I like having the advantage."
"What are you going to do with that advantage?" Posiduck asked. "I thought you wanted to have it out with me, one on one. Have you changed your mind, once you saw what you're going to have to deal with?"
Negaduck laughed. "Oh, please! Spare me! If I wanted this kind of BS I'd fight Darkwing Duck!"
"Did I hear my cue?" A cloud of blue smoke appeared nearby.
"Aw, NO!" Negaduck exclaimed.
"I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the CB radio whose broadcasts screw up your TV reception! I am DARKWING DUCK!"
"You - where did you come from?" Negaduck shouted.
"Another universe, same as you." Darkwing replied smugly. "No matter where you go, you can't hide from the Mighty Masked Mallard!"
"Neither can you!" Negaduck replied and leapt to the attack.
The two of them battled using a combination of martial arts training and street brawling techniques. Posiduck did not join in; he would more likely confuse the fight than aid in it. He made his way towards Gosalyn, drawing something out of his coat as he did.
Negaduck saw him, and broke away from Darkwing with one sharp kick. He pointed the gun at Gosalyn and said, "Oh, no you don't! Drop it!"
Posiduck stopped in his tracks. He showed Negaduck what he had in his hands - a handcuff key. Negaduck repeated, "Drop it!" Posiduck obeyed.
Negaduck shook his head. "I can't believe it. It's too easy. I didn't even have to bring out my heavy artillery. I should be glad Darkwing showed up, just to make the battle interesting!"
"I'll make it interesting for you, all right!" Darkwing said, having recovered from Negaduck's kick. "Suck gas, evil doer!" He fired his gas gun.
The canister struck Negaduck squarely in the back, knocking him down. It rolled away, spewing a dirty brown gas.
Posiduck saw the canister roll towards Gosalyn. "No!" he cried, springing forward to rescue her.
"Hey! What're you doing?" Darkwing exclaimed as Posiduck ran into the cloud. He stumbled and fell after taking one breath of the gas.
"Idiots!" Negaduck exclaimed. He walked into the gas cloud and dragged a sick-looking Gosalyn out.
The gas was thinning. When Posiduck stopped coughing he asked, "What was that?"
"Smog." Darkwing said. "I forgot that Negaduck's used to it."
Negaduck took a deep breath. "Just like home."
Posiduck saw Morgana and Launchpad appear on the other side of the lot, behind Negaduck. She began casting a spell. Posiduck mouthed to Darkwing, "Stall!" Darkwing looked at him strangely, not understanding what he meant. "Let her go, Negaduck! You can't harm her!" Posiduck said, recovering rapidly.
"You amaze me. I can't harm her? Wanna watch me?" Negaduck said, resting the gun barrel on Gosalyn's temple. "Oh, just in case there's any doubt-" He pointed the gun upwards and fired a shot into the air. "I don't use gas guns."
"All right, Negaduck. You've got us." Darkwing laid his gas gun down. At his glance, so did Posiduck.
"Finally! Now, we're getting somewhere!-" Negaduck started.
Gosalyn had understood Posiduck's instruction to stall for time. Obviously Darkwing had not. She glanced down, saw that Negaduck was standing close behind her, drew her foot up, and rammed her booted heel down on his instep. He let out a surprised yelp of pain. She pushed back and knocked him over, falling on top of him.
Darkwing grabbed his gas gun again. He reached for the gun in Negaduck's hand; a just-barely-misaimed shot discouraged him. Negaduck struggled briefly with Gosalyn. When he saw an opportunity he gave the back of Gosalyn's head a sharp blow with the gun butt. He sat up, grabbed the dazed girl in a hammerlock, and pointed the gun at her head. "That's it! You had your chance!"
Darkwing saw Morgana and Launchpad beyond Gosalyn and Negaduck. Morgana was obviously casting some sort of spell, but why was Launchpad just standing there? "Launchpad! Get him!"
Posiduck groaned. Was Darkwing determined to wreck their plan?
Negaduck glared slyly at Darkwing. "That's the oldest trick in the book! You're not going to get me to look away!" He tightened his hold on Gosalyn.
So he thought it was a bluff? Darkwing called, more loudly, "Launchpad! Hurry up!"
"You're really starting to bug me." Negaduck took the gun from Gosalyn's head and aimed it at Darkwing.
Morgana paused in her chanting and nodded to Launchpad. He drew her arms back as if to restrain her, but with obvious gentleness. She finished chanting her spell, then sagged forward. Launchpad supported her.
Negaduck suddenly stopped and looked around himself. Then he put down his gun and began searching his jacket pockets. Darkwing grabbed his gas gun and loaded another cartridge.
Posiduck grabbed the gun. "No! Don't shoot!"
Darkwing tried to pull his gun away. "It's only tear gas!"
Morgana shook her head and looked about herself, confused. Then she saw Negaduck find the key in the inside pocket of his jacket and unlock Gosalyn's handcuffs. Morgana screamed in rage and tried to run forward. Launchpad tightened his grip, holding her arms firmly behind her back.
Darkwing glanced up and saw Morgana struggling against Launchpad. "What the heck?"
Posiduck said, "Weakness can be a strength." with an odd smile.
Darkwing watched in bewilderment as Negaduck gave the handcuffs and key to Posiduck and calmly allowed Posiduck to cuff his hands behind his back. Seeing this, Morgana screamed out several particularly virulent phrases and began kicking at Launchpad. Launchpad easily evaded her clumsy attempts to free herself.
Negaduck glanced back at her. "Leg shackles won't be necessary. This foot is sprained, if not broken." he told Posiduck.
"All right. Darkwing, hold him tightly." Posiduck instructed.
Darkwing obeyed, saying, "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
No sooner had he finished speaking than Negaduck went limp. Surprised, Darkwing let him fall to the ground. After a moment Negaduck looked up again. He glowered at Posiduck in outrage. "That... that was cheap!"
Darkwing planted one foot in the middle of Negaduck's back and announced, "Once again, the guardians of good defeat the devilish Negaduck. Now, someone tell me HOW!"
Posiduck began, "We supposed that Negaduck would not surrender to us willingly, and this was the only way to capture him alive without risking terrible harm to Gosalyn."
"I possessed him." Morgana said, walking over. "Just long enough to let Posiduck capture him."
"And he couldn't fight Launchpad because of Morgana's body. 'Weakness can be a strength.' Pretty clever." Darkwing admitted. "A little too humane for the likes of Negaduck, but effective. Now all we have to do is bring him to justice." Then he suddenly realized something. "Er, you CAN send us back to my universe, right?"
"Of course." Morgana answered. "It's an expensive spell in terms of power, but I have a source I can draw off of right here." she said, looking at Negaduck.
"Hear that, Negaduck? Soon you'll be back in your natural habitat - jail!" Darkwing said. Negaduck replied with an inarticulate growl.
Morgana began casting the spell. Posiduck said in a low voice, "He'll be sent to a jail?"
"If he's lucky. If he isn't... well, he won't bother anyone, ever again."
Posiduck went pale. "What good will that do?"
Darkwing looked at Posiduck as if he were insane. "It'll keep him from pointing guns at anyone else's daughter!"
"I mean, won't there be at least an attempt to cure him?"
"CURE him? Sorry, the only cure for Negaduck involves a frontal lobotomy."
"Darkwing, I think we ought to keep him here. We can help him-"
"Whoa. HELP him?! He doesn't deserve help! A fair trial is what he's going to get."
Negaduck had been listening. At first he had been offended that Posiduck would assume that Negaduck would submit to any 'cure'. But then he had realized that he might to be able to turn this to his advantage. At the moment, Negaduck was holding a busted flush - and that was when he did his best bluffing. He broke in with, "HELP me?! I don't want any bloody help from you!-"
"That's right. This guy is evil incarnate." Darkwing said.
"There's no such thing. Every person has free will." Posiduck asserted. Pointing down at Negaduck, he said, "That could have been you, or me!"
"Will you get your foot off my back! I can stand up! What do you think I'm going to do, chained up like this and with a smashed foot, run away?" Negaduck snarled.
Posiduck spoke to Darkwing. "At least let him stand."
Darkwing grumbled, "Okay. But I'm holding you, so don't make any funny moves!"
Negaduck growled, "Just hurry up with the spell so we can get on with it. Or better yet, forget all that crud about the trial and let's get it over with now!" He jerked his head in the direction of his gun, which was lying on the ground.
"What, and take away all the fun? No, you're going to get what you deserve!" Darkwing said.
"You know it's what I'm going to get in the end anyway. And you know what, I don't care any more! It's a lousy life. Give me the gun and I'll do it myself so you don't have to get your hands dirty!" Negaduck cried.
Posiduck said, "This duck is insane! You can't put him on trial. We can help him!" To Negaduck he said, "Don't you want to be helped?"
Sullenly Negaduck looked him in the eyes for a long moment, then looked down at the ground. He did not answer.
Posiduck continued softly, "Every person has free will. If you want to change, you can."
"I don't know." Negaduck said in a low voice, watching Posiduck out of the corner of his eye.
"You can't want to live out the rest of your life in a jail... or worse." Posiduck said.
Darkwing said, "Wait a minute! What the heck is going on here! This guy just threatened to kill your daughter!"
Posiduck threw an annoyed glance at Darkwing. He said to Negaduck, "You have a choice."
The air in front of them began to shimmer. The gate opened in front of them. Negaduck looked into the interdimensional tunnel, then back at Posiduck. Slowly he said, "I guess... there's only one thing I can say."
"SUCKER!" Negaduck spun and kicked Darkwing in the solar plexus as hard as he could with the heel of his injured foot, then leapt into the gate. It snapped shut behind him. Morgana cried out and collapsed. Launchpad caught her before she hit the ground.
"Oh, GREAT!" Darkwing exclaimed. "Now I have to chase him down again! Open the gate!"
"Morgana can't." Posiduck said. "That spell takes a lot of power. She was drawing off of Negaduck. Without him to fuel it... it'll take awhile."
"You OK?" Launchpad said to her as she looked up dizzily. She nodded weakly.
"He'll get away!" Darkwing objected.
"Morgana is in no shape to cast that spell, can't you see!" Posiduck turned on him. "When he went through the gate he drained her!"
"He didn't get away." Morgana said.
"What? Where is he, then?" Darkwing said.
She shook her head slowly. "The gate was not complete. He escaped from here, but he has nowhere to go."
"So he's just caught in there? Great!" Darkwing exclaimed, relieved.
"No." she said. "He collapsed the gate, with himself inside. He went nowhere."
She nodded grimly.
"Yikes." Darkwing shuddered.
Negaduck was not quite aware of when he regained consciousness. Even after he did he was not quite sure, because of his surroundings. It was dark, and hot.
He stood. Below him was sooty rock. He looked up. There were no stars. He must be somewhere underground then. And, he realized, his hands were free and his foot no longer hurt.
A voice behind him startled him. "You're here early. That ain't something I see often."
Negaduck looked back. The voice came from a dusky figure. Its hooves and walking stick clicked on the bare rock as it walked toward him. "You just don't have any luck with those dimensional gates, do ya?"
"Oh, yeah." Now he remembered. "So where the heck am I now? And who are you?"
"You could say I'm the deus ex machina." It held out its walking staff. Flames spewed out the trident end, revealing a reddish, caped goat. "We meet again." it grinned.
"...oh, yeah." Negaduck looked around. Well, if that was who he thought it was, then... "Oh well, I knew I'd end up here sooner or later." He shrugged and started walking towards the red glow in the distance.
The goat said, "Whoa there! Hold it!" and shot a gout of flame across Negaduck's path. "You're not supposed to be here." He produced a clipboard and flipped some pages. "Nope. You ain't due in for years yet."
"What am I supposed to do? Sit in a waiting room?" Negaduck said impatiently.
"Nope, it's full. Guess what, I'm gonna do you a favor. I'm gonna throw you back. You get another chance up above."
"In exchange for what?" Negaduck said suspiciously. "My soul?"
"Nahh." The goat laughed. "I already got that. Remember, I told you you're one of my best field agents. You just go topside and do what comes naturally. But be careful around those dimensional gates, willya? This is the second time I've pulled you outta one when it collapsed."
"The second time?... oh yeah."
The goat threw a fireball against the wall of a cavern. The flames spread out in a ring, revealing a dimensional gate in the middle. "Don't worry, you'll be back. And I still got that job waitin' for ya when you do."
Negaduck looked back at the goat. "Be seeing you."
"You know it." the goat replied with a grin.
Negaduck stepped through the gate.
All characters copyright © Disney, except possibly for the denizens of the Posiverse household, which might be copyright © Kim McFarland, and Joey McCawber, who is definitely copyright © Kim McFarland. 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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