"Back in the Spotlight Again"
By Charlie Stadele.


"Well here we are at Saint Canard University," said Drake Mallard as his car approached the SCU campus. "Take a good look Gos. This will be your home for the next four years of your life."

"Four years? Ha! More like five or six years! If she's lucky." Came the reply from the back seat.

Gosalyn turned and glared at the speaker. "Y'know Tank, just because you're spending that long in college doesn't mean everybody does."

"Hey, I just happen to think choosing a profession is a very important decision." Tank replied angrily. "And its definitely not one that should be rushed."

"Oh yeah..." Said Launchpad as he looked back from the shotgun position. "Your parents did mention something about you finally choosing a major. What was it?"

"I'm glad you asked," said Tank, feigning the intellectual attitude his brother was known for. "After much debate, I have decided that it would be in my best interests to pursue a degree in History."

Gosalyn snorted incredulously. "Yeah right. What are you ever gonna do with a History degree? Teach?"

"Precisely." Tank dropped the preppy attitude and reverted to his normal self. "After all, every high school football coach in St. Canard teaches history. Its like an unwritten rule. Teaching history is part of the coach mentality!"

"Uh-huh." Drake sighed as he turned his attention back to the road. As usual, Tank's logic was shaky at best. Not wanting to dwell on that, he changed the subject. "So Gosalyn, where's your dorm building?"

"My dorm's in Ryder Hall."

"Yes, and where is Ryder Hall?" Drake waited for a reply. When one wasn't forthcoming, he asked again. "Come on Gosalyn. I'm sure they covered this in Orientation last week." After another silence, Drake sighed and said "You did go to Orientation, didn't you?"

"Well..." Gosalyn seemed reluctant to reply. "Its like this dad... When I got to campus I noticed that there was a volleyball game going on in front of the Student Center, and they were one player short. So I just, kinda joined in... And... Skipped Orientation."

For the third time in as many minutes, Drake sighed. "And how, prey-tell, are we going to move you into your dorm room if we don't even know where your dorm is?" Drake was doing his best to remain calm.

"Well..." Again, Gosalyn was reluctant to reply. "Tank's a Junior, so maybe, we could... Ask him." Gosalyn's last words were barely audible.

Tank began gloating. "Well, well, well. How the mighty have fallen. After all these years of jokes and taunts, the once mighty Gosalyn Mallard has to ask the despised Tank for help. How... Oh, what the word..."

"Tank..." Gosalyn knew she was being mocked and didn't like it.

"Please, just let me savor this moment."

In the driver's seat, Drake was running out of patience. "Remember Tank, we have your stuff in here too. We can unload it in the river just as easily as in your dorm."

Tank was instantly humbled. "Yes sir. Take a left here."

---------------

Later, in a car outside of Duckburg, a phone rang. Several times. It had been ringing for nearly a minute before Herb Muddlefoot finally found it.

"'Ellow? ...Oh hiya Drake! How'ya doin'? Did'ja get ol' Tank moved in? ...Great! I hope he and Gos didn't bicker too much... Mm... Ya we're still on the road. Right now we're looking for our turnoff--oh wait... Um, I think we just passed it. Honk, d'ya still have the map back there?"

"Yes sir." Came the muffled reply from the back seat. "According to this, we need to get off on exit 243."

"Oh wait, here's another exit coming up." Said Binkey excitedly. "Exit 244. Well, drat, we missed it. Now we'll probably need to circle 'round and come back."

"Maybe, Binkey. Hey Honk, why don't ya see if you can't...er, ya'know..."

"Plot an alternate course?" Honker suggested.

"Yeah, that's it! Do that! Listen Drakester, were kinda busy here. Why don't I call ya back later?"

From His home in St. Canard, Drake Mallard replied "Yeah sure thing Herb. And tell Honker 'congratulations.' Its not easy getting into the Duckburg Institute of Technology.... Yeah, you do that... Bye... Bye... Good bye Herb." Drake hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness that's over..."

---------------

Later that evening, Launchpad found Darkwing in the tower starring out over Audabon Bay. He was starring out at nothing in particular, with an expression that indicated his mind was elsewhere. "Your thinking of Gosalyn, aren't you." It was more of a statement than a question.

DW stole a glance at his sidekick. He wasn't trying to think about Gosalyn, but he was. However, he wasn't going to admit it. So instead used Launchpad's interruption to jump-start the train of thought he was trying to stay on. "No LP. Just thinking about this case we're on. It's--"

"We're on a case?" Launchpad wasn't expecting his friend to be thinking of business right now. "When did we get a case?"

"LP, I'm Darkwing Duck, I'm always on a case! This particular case has been building over the past few weeks. It involves a string of rather odd robberies."

"Don't they all?" Launchpad rolled his eyes. "Are you sure you don't want to take the night off? I mean, you've got a million things to think about right now, what with Gosalyn starting college and all..."

"Launchpad, crime waits for no duck. I'm always on the job, no matter what." DW paused and looked back at the bay. "And besides, the more I think about Gosalyn at college, the more I worry. And you know what happens when I worry."

"Ahhh." Launchpad finally caught on. "So what's being stolen? Lightbulbs? Fertilizer? Gold fillings?"

"Close LP. Very close..."

---------------

"Goldfish?!?" Launchpad exclaimed from the Ratcatcher sidecar. "Someone has been going around stealing goldfish?!? Why? Goldfish are cheap. They're even given out as carnival prizes!"

"That, LP, is exactly what this little excursion is meant to determine. Ah, here we are!"

The Ratcatcher pulled to a stop in front of what was, for the most part, a nondescript warehouse. Above the main entrance was a sign with some Japanese markings on it. Its only other distinguishing characteristic was a the ever-present sound of running water.

"Come on LP, lets go."

---------------

Inside the warehouse, a short, oriental duck was pacing by a pool. He was obviously quite agitated. Suddenly, a cloud of purple smoke appeared in front of him. Startled, the duck staggered back.

"Greetings citizen! I... Am Darkwing Duck!" The smoke cleared, revealing the shadowy figures of Darkwing and Launchpad.

The oriental duck quickly recovered. When he spoke, he did so with a slight, but unmistakable Japanese accent. "Zat is it? No long alliterations? Are you not known for fancy entrances?" He was clearly puzzled.

"Ordinarily yes, but try keep the really elaborate entrances for the villains. And your not a villain... Are you?" The other duck hastily shook his head. "Good. You are Go-Lin, I take it..."

"Yes, yes. Pleased to meet you. If you will follow me, I vill explain what happened." Go-Lin led Darkwing and Launchpad to a locked room at the back of the warehouse. "You see, I am a breeder of fanzy goldfish. As was my father. My father's father. And my father's father's father. Raising goldfish is... The family occupation." Go-Lin unlocked the door to an office. "We have, over the years specialized in breeding our own variety of Shubunkin."

"Shaboigen?" Repeated Launchpad. Like many big words, this one confused him.

"Shubunkin. It is a multi-color variety of goldfish." "Go-Lin walked over to a desk, pulled out some pictures, and handed them to Launchpad. "Before you ask, yes zose are goldfish. A somewhat exotic variety, but goldfish none the less. As I was zaying, my family has been breeding its on variety of Shubunkins, a green variety to be precise. However, two days ago, the entire batch was stolen. All fifteen of them."

"So, fifteen rare goldfish..." Darkwing mused as he looked the picture over. "That's worth what? A couple hundred dollars?"

Go-Lin balked. "Hardly. Ze entire school is worth well over a million!"

Launchpad rubbed his head thoughtfully. "Hmmm... A million yen... What's that worth in dollars these days?"

"I'm afraid you misunderstood." Said Go-Lin patiently. "Ze lost fish are worth over one million dollars."

"A million bucks!?!" Launchpad almost exploded. "That's ridiculous! I mean, they're just goldfish..."

Go-Lin was quick to counter. "And a Porsche is just a car. Ze Mona Lisa is just a painting. Ze price of zings always depends on ze buyer. And among certain buyers, rare goldfish are quite valuable indeed."

Darkwing's eyes narrowed. "So you lost a million dollars in merchandise... I assume you called the police. They did..."

"Nothing. Zey found no evidence to go on, and zey essentially gave up!"

"Hey! I guess they 'coped out!' Heh heh, get it?" This earned Launchpad a stern glance from Darkwing.

"No evidence, eh? No finger prints? No tracks? Nothing on the security cameras?" Go-Lin shook his head. Darkwing rubbed his beak thoughtfully. "Hmm... Looks like we're dealing with an experienced professional... Do you have a time-frame for the theft?"

"Yes. Ze robbery occurred between 2:05 and 2:10 yesterday morning. At 2:05 ze security cameras showed the fish safe in zier pond. On ze next pass, ze pond was completely empty!"

Launchpad looked impressed. "Whoa! This guy is fast!"

"That is the whole problem! It couldn't have happened zat quickly! It would take at least five minutes just to catch all fifteen fish. To capture and safely transport fifteen large goldfish would take huge amounts of time and equipment. Ze thief did not have the time, and there is no trace of the necessary equipment. Ze police have labeled this a fluke and have moved on..." Go-Lin sighed dejectedly.

"Actually its not a fluke." Darkwing produced a packet from his costume. "Over the past two weeks, the police have recorded a number of 'fluke crimes.' They failed to find the connection. I on the other hand, have." Darkwing hands the packet to Go-Lin. "This is a list of all relevant incidents in the past two weeks. Recognize any names?"

"Yes, I do. All of zem in fact!"

"You should. They are people like yourself. Collectors or breeders of exotic fish." Darkwing beamed proudly. "Now the main reason I contacted you is because I want to know who isn't on that list, who should be."

"Of course! That way we know who will be hit next!" Launchpad was slow, but he was able to point out the blatantly obvious.

"Precisely." Darkwing quipped. Nothing put him in a good mood like explaining his line of thought. "Now, Go-Lin, who will the next victim be?"

Go-Lin had finished reading the list, and looked quite sure of himself. "Not only can I tell you the next target, I can tell you who the perpetrator is. The next target will be Chodan Lee. The person behind all this is Sarah Temple! Zey are the only people not on the list, and Sarah is the only of the two who would do zis!"

The wheels in Launchpad's head were really moving tonight. "How do you know that Temple is the villain? Couldn't it just as easily be Lee? Or some outsider?"

"No! Its is definitely Sarah Temple! She is not a breeder, she is a collector! She only buys what others have created! She does not understand the fish she has! She has no love for the profession! All she does is--"

"Yeah, yeah, sure." Darkwing quickly cut of the near screaming Go-Lin. He had no desire to hear a professional fish breeder rant about the supposed values of his profession, or about someone who lacked the desired qualities. Besides, he had the information he was looking for. "Listen, we appreciate your help, but we really must be going."

"You vill tell me ven you find the culprit?"

"Of course." With that, Darkwing dropped a smoke bomb and disappeared.

---------------

Sarah Temple was arguably the most powerful person in St. Canard. She was unquestionably the richest. She owned several companies, including a very lucrative (re)construction company. She was at the top of the St. Canard social ladder, and carried herself with the air of royalty.

Usually. At the moment she was a nervous wreck. She was in her office trying to calm herself down. The police had just left. Their questioning was brief, but it had nerved her nonetheless. On top of that, the fact that someone had gotten into the Temple Complex, her main office building, had shattered her last illusion of security.

Then came the worst part. "I am the terror, that flaps in the night! I am the virus, that crashes your hard drive. I... Am Darkwing Duck!"

In spite of herself, Sarah yelped.

"Well, well, well. Aren't we the nervous one tonight..." Darkwing stepped out of the smoke cloud. "Just nervous, or do we have something to hide?" Darkwing's tone suggested that he suspected the latter.

"I--I'm sorry. You just... Just scared me, that's all." Darkwing raised his eyebrow incredulously. Slightly calmer now, Sarah continued, "You're quick, I'll give you that. I barely reported it an hour ago. The police just left... I guess there's a reason your reputation is as good as it is."

"Why thanks, I--reported what?" Darkwing's expression went from proud to blank.

"The crime, of course." Darkwing's expression remained blank. Sarah became a little concerned. "The robbery... Of the goldfish..."

"Oh! Of course! The... Goldfish theft..." Darkwing stalled, hoping Ms. Temple didn't realize that he had no idea what she was talking about. "Why don't you show me the scene of the crime... And explain--in your own words, of course--just what happened."

Sarah readily complied, hoping Darkwing didn't notice just how nervous she was. "Yes, of course... This way, please."

---------------

Meanwhile, in a warehouse not too far away...

In the warehouse office, three figures were standing around a small aquarium. Their conversation was earnest, yet hushed. Each was dressed in a traditional business suit, complete with briefcase. Additionally, each wore sunglasses and a fedora to hide their faces. It was obvious that none of them wished to be recognized.

Outside the office a fourth figure waited. Unlike the three in the office, this figure made no attempt to hide his identity. He was significantly larger than the figures in the office, and stood in a confidant manner. He was also blue, and transparent. He was the Liquidator!

Abruptly, the conversation in the office stopped, and one of the suited ducks approached the onlooker. When he spoke, he did so with a heavy Japanese accent. "I have spoken vith my associates. Once again, ve are pleased with your work."

"Of course you are! The Liquidator's work is always satisfaction guaranteed! Now... About payment. Remember, I only accept up front cash payment. No checks, credit cards, or installment plans." Liquidator held out his hand impatiently.

"Of course." The suited duck pulled a bundle of bills out of his suit and handed it to the Liquidator. Liquidator promptly began flipping though the bundle. "Don't worry, its all there..." Liquidator nodded, and the suited duck turned to leave. Under his breath he said "At last, we posses a Bengal Oranda! The only one in existence!"

"Actually, that's not quite true..."

"What?!?" The suited duck almost yelled as he spun around. "What do you mean this isn't the only one?!?"

"Well..." Said Liquidator, in a calm, businesslike fashion. "There were six fish in the tank that one came from. They looked very... Similar..."

"Va--Va-Zen vhy didn't you zteal the others?!?" The suited duck was become very agitated and his accent became even heavier.

"Because the work order only specified one fish. To bring back more would have been... Unbusinesslike." Liquidator began to pace and speak with feigned distress. "You might have only wanted one fish. Or you might not have had the facilities to house all six. Or..." A faint smile crept across Liquidator's face. "You might not have been able to afford all six of them."

"Don't be ridiculous! Money iz no option. Vhat is your price?"

"Oh, I'd say... Fifty thousand." The duck's face lit up, thinking he had a good deal. "Each." His face dropped.

"Vell, I think it can be arranged, but... I must consult vith my associates first..."

"Very well, but remember, this is a one time offer. Take it now or never." Liquidator confidently watched the duck walk off... And walk back.

"All right. We are agreed. Fifty thousand for each of the five fish."

"Done." Liquidator shook the duck's hand like a salesman sealing a deal. "Remember, I expect cash on delivery. No substitutions, extensions or refunds. Expect delivery in 24 hours." With the deal sealed, both parties quietly exited the warehouse.

---------------

The Temple Complex...

"Well, well, well, Ms. Temple. You've got quite a... Collection here."

"Why thank you." If there was a hint of irony in Darkwing's voice, Ms. Temple was too nervous to notice it. "I've been building my collection for almost five year's now. I like fish, they help me unwind... Currently I have the largest collection of rare and exotic fish in St. Canard. Within another few years, I hope to have the largest private collection in the world..."

Darkwing eyed Ms. Temple carefully. She was still very nervous, and it showed. Not only was she babbling, but she seemed very jumpy. Nothing at all like how she appeared in public.

"Ah, well. Here we are." Ms. Temple stopped at a very large and well decorated tank. "Until just now, this tank housed my most recent acquisition, a school of Bengal Orandas. They were the only Bengal Orandas in the world. I bought them from the Chung family a few months ago. They had been creating a new breed for almost seventy-five ye--."

"Ms. Temple, skip to the point."

"Yes, of course... The point is that yesterday there were six fish in this aquarium, and right now there are only five. We searched the aquarium and found no traces of a dead fish. Nor any signs that the fish jumped out. Security cameras saw nothing, and the guards have not reported any security breaches. The fish has essentially disappeared into thin air!" By the time she stopped, Ms. Temple was so exasperated she was almost screaming.

Darkwing was calmly starring at Ms. Temple with an arched eyebrow. His voice was dubious. "Let me get this straight. There are only six Bengal Orandas in existence, all of which were in this tank." Sarah nodded. "And sometime today, someone broke into this building, unnoticed, and stole only one of the fish. Leaving what I assume is a small fortune in the tank." Again, Sarah nodded.

"I'm going to let you in on a little secret. In the past two weeks, there has been a string of unsolved fish robberies. All cases involved very rare breeds. In all cases, the entire batch of fish were stolen. All of them... Except yours. Care to offer an explanation as to why you did not loose all six fish?"

"Well--I--I--but--"

"Why don't I offer an explanation." Darkwing began circling Sarah and speaking in his classic 'I'm explaining the plot' tone. "You collect fish. They have fish. They either wouldn't sell you their fish, or you just didn't want to pay for them. In any case, you begin stealing their fish and secretly add them to your collection! But, to throw suspicion away from you, you cleverly decide to 'rob' yourself. After all, nobody would suspect that a victim was the culprit! But that's where you slipped up. For whatever reason, you didn't have the heart to steal your entire collection. So, you steal just one fish. That way, your still a victim, but your collection is still intact! You expected everyone to ignore that culprit's sudden change of MO. Unfortunately, for you, Darkwing Duck is on the job! Now, come along quietly... Or suck gas!"

For a moment, Ms. Temple just gawked at the proud looking Darkwing. Eventually, she spoke. "Gee... I don't know where to begin... Actually I do. You're crazy."

Still confidant, Darkwing arched an eyebrow. "Oh? And what, prey-tell, makes you say that?"

"Well, first of all, there is a very good reason why only fish was stolen. This exhibit is not yet open to the public, and the outside world thinks there is only one Bengal Oranda in existence. Its possible that the thief only had the equipment to steal one fish. As for the me being the thief, that's ludicrous. You may not have heard, but this exhibit opens to the public in three months. Now, what kind of fool would I be if I displayed stolen, one-of-a-kind fish in my collection?"

For a moment, Darkwing was at a loss for words. "Uh, well, you wouldn't have to put them on display for the public! You could simply keep the stolen fish in a private collection. You public collection wou--"

Sarah almost exploded when she interrupted Darkwing. "Listen duck! I'm not spending several millions dollars on these fish for my own amusement! I do this to impress people. I am creating this display to show all the lowly peons out there just how much richer than them I am! McDuck has the Money Bin... Glomgold has the statues... And Temple will have the aquariums!"

For a moment, Temple and Darkwing just starred at each other. Finally, it was Darkwing who broke the silence. "Well... That was a disturbing outburst of honesty. So, assuming your innocent... And I'm not sure of that yet... Any idea who might have done this?"
Sarah turned away slowly. She was emotionally spent and physically exhausted. "No. I have no idea who stole the fish. It could have been any number of people... Look, I know I haven't been much help, and you've probably still have lots of questions... But I've had a really long day and if you could just leave... Maybe come back later..."

Sarah's voice trailed off. She turned to look at Darkwing, but saw only a dissipating cloud of purple smoke.

---------------

Launchpad was sitting in the sidecar of the Ratcatcher. He had just finished off his burger, and was considering heading back to Hamburger Hippo for another, when Darkwing arrived. "So how'd it go, DW? Learn anything important?"

"Two things. First, we are dealing with an exceptionally fast thief. Second, unless she is an incredible actor, Ms. Temple is not our thief."

"Mmm." Said Launchpad, while wiping his mouth with a napkin. "What makes you think that?"

Darkwing mounted the Ratcatcher and started the engine. "Earlier today, our fish crook struck again. His target was part of Ms. Temple's collection."

"Ooh, that's not good." Launchpad sounded concerned. "That means our last chance to catch this guy is when he hits the Lee place."

Darkwing was about to drive off, but he paused after LP's comment. "Actually LP, that isn't our only chance. For whatever reason, our fishnapper only took one of Ms. Temple's six fish. I'm positive he'll come back for the other five. The only question is when. He could try and finish the job quickly, or he could hit the Lee's place first, and hit Temple after things have calmed down."

Launchpad was genuinely confused. "So, what are we going to do?"

"Simple, Launchpad. There are two targets, and two of us. After a trip to Darkwing Tower for supplies..." Darkwing paused for emphasis. "We're going on a stakeout!"


---------------

Darkwing Tower...

"LP, this is a simple stakeout. Is all that equipment really necessary?" Darkwing looked on in dismay as Launchpad attached yet another gimmick grenade to belt. The belt, as well as the two Rambo-style chest straps were already overflowing with various bombs and gizmos. "I mean, what are the odds that you're really going to need any of that?"

"Hey, after that last incident with Quackerjack, I wanna be prepared for anything. And I am! Heh, I'm a veritable one man army."

"Well you're the one who has to carry all that around." Darkwing sighed dismissivly. "Just try not to cause too much property damage. And if the thief shows up, call me before doing anything stupid."

"Sure thing DW!" Launchpad jumped into the Thunderquack cockpit. "Nothing stupid till I call ya!"

Darkwing sighed as he climbed onto the Ratcatcher. "Remember, keep the Thunderquack inconspicuous. If our guy does hit the Temple Complex, we don't want him knowing we're there until its too late. Now..." Darkwing gunned the motor. "Lets get dangerous..."

---------------

The Temple Complex...

Once again, Launchpad surveyed the display room. Everything looked the same as it did the last dozen times, except a few fish had moved. He looked up the security cameras. Still nothing wrong with them. LP noticed one of the cameras was aimed at him. Reflexively, he waved at it. It didn't matter if he was on camera, since Darkwing had informed Ms. Temple of the stakeout beforehand.

Launchpad checked his watch. It was just after one. He yawned. 'It's going to be a long night...' He thought for the umpteenth time. Launchpad decided to amuse himself by walking to the other side of the room. Again...

When he was halfway across, he heard a sudden splashing sound. Over the past three hours, he had come to recognize the natural sounds of the room, and this wasn't one of them. He instantly ducked down behind a nearby tank.

As suddenly as it started, the sound stopped. During the silence, it hit Launchpad that he recognized this sound. Cautiously, Launchpad gazed out over his hiding spot.

Moments later, his suspicions were confirmed. When all the security cameras were turned away, a watery mass raised out of one aquarium and quickly entered another. Even in the dim light, LP could clearly make out the profile of the Liquidator!

Quickly, Launchpad ducked back down and pulled out his radio. "Psst, DW! Are you there?"

"Of course I am LP." Came the slightly drowsy reply. "Why, what's goi--"

"Its the Liquidator! He's our thief, and he's here in the Temple Complex!"

"Right! On my way! Now don't do anything stup--"

Launchpad didn't hear the rest of Darkwing's warning. By the time Darkwing got to the Temple Complex, Liquidator would be long gone. Since he was the only one around, it was up to Launchpad to stop, or at least delay the robbery. It never occurred to Launchpad that he was going one on one with one of the most unstoppable villains in the world. Without further ado, Launchpad stood up, grabbed a gimmick grenade from his belt, and in his most heroic voice yelled out "Halt, evil doer!"

Liquidator, who was halfway between aquariums at time, froze instantly. He was more surprised than anything else. He had been sure security hadn't noticed him! Then he saw who had spoken. "Launchpad..." He mumbled inaudibly. "Which means that Darkwing character can't be too far behind."

"All right Liquie. Hands up." Launchpad began making his way toward the Liquidator. He was moving slowly, since the low lighting and haphazard aquarium arrangement made haste impossible. Making sure too keep Liquidator in sight, he continued. "We can do this the easy way... Or the hard way."

Liquidator's surprise melted away into a cool confidence. "Ah, clich├ęs. The hallmark of all good heroes, adding style to otherwise dull encounters. You realize, of course, that I must choose the hard way. It would be bad form for me to simply surrender without a fight."

"Have it your way." With that, Launchpad threw a concussion grenade at Liquidator. His aim was good, and the bomb exploded right in front of the Liquidator, sending a blast of compressed air right into his face.

"Of course, I won't be surrendering with a fight either, since there's really nothing you can do to me." The blast hadn't even fazed the Liquidator, who now wore a smug expression on his face. "Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got a schedule to keep."

"D'oh!" Launchpad finally realized why the Liquidator was so hard to fight. Nothing hurt him! Launchpad rushed to the Bengal Oranda tank, hoping he could think up a plan on the way. More than a few times he ran into aquarium frames.

Since he had already been spotted, Liquidator no longer avoided the cameras. He advanced quickly on his target. However, Launchpad had started out nearer to the tank, and despite his bumbling, managed to get their first. He placed himself directly between Liquidator and the tank.

"Step aside, please. Supervillain coming though!" Instead of moving away, Launchpad drove his fist straight into Liquidator's chest. Liquidator looked down in dismay. "Y'know, you're pretty slow. Have you ever considered remedial education? Its more effective now than ever before." Having said that, Liquidator unceremoniously shoved Launchpad to the side. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some bus--"

At that point, the concussion grenade Launchpad left in Liquidator's chest exploded. The explosion tore apart Liquidator, sending parts of him flying all over the room.

Launchpad stood up and gazed proudly around the room. After a moment, he got out his radio again. "Hey DW! Guess what! I think I... Just... Beat..." Launchpad's voice trailed off as he watched the Liquidator slowly reform in front of him. "...Aw nuts."

Launchpad dropped the radio as a very angry Liquidator sent him flying across the room. After Launchpad landed, Liquidator shoved him up against the wall. In a menacing voice he said "Nine out ten doctors say ticking off a supervillain is hazardous to you health." Liquidator then threw him into the base of a aquarium.

---------------

The Liquidator's mind was racing furiously. 'This duck's head must be thicker than I thought. He just won't stay down!' He had been beating up on Launchpad for almost five minutes now. Whenever Launchpad looked finished, he came back with another grenade attack. Although the attacks didn't hurt the Liquidator, they did make it impossible to safely snatch the Orandas.

Then the moment Liquidator was dreading came. "I am terror, that flaps in the night. I am the leach, that sucks you dry! I... Am Darkwing Duck!" As Liquidator was distracted by Darkwing's trademark entrance, another of Launchpad's concussion grenades hit him, splattering him against the nearest wall.

"Nice work LP." Darkwing was genuinely impressed with his sidekick. "I think you finally got him!"

Launchpad meekly looked up. He was bruised, battered, and most of the extra gear he brought was shredded or missing entirely. "Not quite, DW. That only stuns him. He'll reform in a fe--there he is!" Launchpad pointed toward the wall Liquidator was blown against. Behind an aquarium, a watery form was beginning to rise.

"Suck gas evil doer!" Darkwing raised his gas gun and expertly launched a smoke bomb over the intervening aquariums. Smoke billowed up around the Liquidator and he was soon lost from sight.

---------------

"Hey... Where'd he go?" Moments later Darkwing and Launchpad found themselves alone in the display room. When the smoke had cleared, nothing remained of Liquidator. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air.

Or, as it were, into thin water. In the confusion, Liquidator had moved away from Darkwing, and hidden in a nearby aquarium. Now, immersed in water, he was completely invisible.

'Whew! I'm safe. I can stay here as long as I need to.' He thought. 'Of course, staying here won't get me those fish...' Liquidator paused. He needed the Orandas, and he needed them healthy. He also needed to make a clean getaway. He wouldn't get his money if he arrived with dead fish, or if Darkwing followed him and arrested his employers.

'I knew this was a risky idea when I started. But... No pain, no gain. The bigger the risk, the bigger the profit. I never could have gotten fifty thousand for these fish if I just showed up with them.' Liquidator made a mental sigh. 'Oh well. Too late to dwell on that now. What I need is a plan! A plan to get those two goofs away... From...' Liquidator's train of thought trailed off as a fish swam through his line of sight.

The noise of the fight had woken the fish, and some of them were becoming active. The fish in Liquidator's tank were becoming quite active. Liquidator grinned as he recognized the inhabitants of his tank. 'I believe my plan has just made itself...'

---------------

Moments later, Darkwing saw a watery form rise out from one of the aquariums. Immediately he got out his gas gun. "Suck gas, evil doer!" Even as he pulled the trigger, Liquidator bolted for the door. Liquidator moved quickly and the gas cartridge landed harmlessly behind him. Sensing his prey was escaping, Darkwing called to Launchpad. "Quick LP! He's getting away!"

Liquidator reached the door, broke it open, and disappeared into the corridor beyond. Darkwing and Launchpad sprinted towards the door. They leapt threw the wreckage and were halfway down the hall before Darkwing realized they were no longer following the Liquidator. He stopped, and was promptly bowled over by Launchpad.

Darkwing got to his knees and looked back at the doorway. Sure enough, leaning against the wall beside the busted door was Liquidator, who grinned and waved at Darkwing. Darkwing started to get to his feet, but before he could, some pipes in the ceiling exploded and began filling the hallway with water.

Darkwing began backing up frantically until he noticed the water was not acting normally. Instead of spreading out over the bottom of the hall, the water stopped short, as if contained by invisible walls. As more water rushed out of the pipes, the water level just kept rising until it reached the ceiling. In effect, Liquidator has just turned a six foot expanse of hallway into a wall of water.

'Of course!' Thought DW. 'He's using in control of water to block off--' Darkwing's train of thought was interrupted by Launchpad getting up.

"Whoa! That coulda gone better." Launchpad noticed the column of water blocking the corridor. "Whaaaa! How'd that get there!?!" Launchpad then proceeded to poke at the wall quizzitively.

Darkwing gave an annoyed glance to his dimwitted companion. He then turned his attention back to the Liquidator and began speaking in his most patronizing tone. "Oooh, a wall of water. Very impressive Liquie. That will stop us for sure... Unless we decide to swim through it."

Liquidator's response was muffled by the water, but its smugness was unmistakable. "That why I brought these along." At that point, Liquidator reached out and stuck his hand into the water. Six small fish, who had previously been swimming around in liquidator's body, quickly swan trough his arm into the wall.

Darkwing was unimpressed. "And I suppose those little things are going to stop us from swimming through this wall?" Darkwing arched his eyebrow mockingly. "Don't make me laugh." Darkwing took a deep breath and dove into the wall.

As soon as Darkwing was in the water, the fish started attacking him. Darkwing tried to turn around, and after several seconds of violently thrashing around, he managed to get out of the water. He leaned against a wall, a real wall, and tried to steady his breathing. His bill was cut in several places, and his costume was severely lacerated.

"Ah, Piranhas..." Liquidator sounded quite pleased with himself. "They're small, quick, efficient, and best of all, they come inconvenient packs of six. Well, I'd love so stick around and exchange gratuitous insults, but I've got a delivery to make." Having said that, Liquidator stepped through the door and out of view.

After Liquidator left, Launchpad turned to Darkwing. "Gee, DW, how long do ya think this wall will hold up?"

Still panting, Darkwing replied. "I dunno. Depends on how strong Liquie's control of water is... But we can't wait around to find out." Almost recovered now, Darkwing began running down the corridor, away from the block of water. "Come on LP! He hasn't won yet." Darkwing dashed into another hallway, and was soon followed by Launchpad. "If we can't go through Liquie's little road block, we'll just go around it!"

After rounding a few more corners, the two crimefighters found themselves back in the display room. Launchpad rushed over to the Oranda tank, and found it empty. "Aw man! We're too late! He's gone already... And he's got the fish!"

Darkwing replied with only a tinge of frustration in his voice. "Not quite, LP. He may have the fish, but he still needs to get them out of the buildi--Ah-Ha!" Darkwing triumphantly pointed to a trail of water going from the tank to a maintenance door. "This way, LP!"

Darkwing and Launchpad followed the trail through the door and down a flight of stairs. As they descended, Darkwing began explaining his plan to Launchpad. "All right, LP, all we have to do is follow this trial until we find..." Darkwing's voice trailed off as he opened the door at the bottom. Before him loomed a vast maze of pipes, tanks, and drains. "Why me?" He uttered, as he slumped against the wall.

"Will ya look at all these pipes? This must be the filtration equipment... Who'da thunk that maintaining a couple of hundred aquariums would be so much work?" Launchpad noticed his glum companion. "Uh, what's wrong, DW?"

Darkwing snapped. "What's wrong? What's wrong!?! I'll tell you what's wrong! There are hundreds of pipes in here and the Liquidator could be in any one of them!" Darkwing slumped down again, and continued in a dejected tone. "We'll never find him now. He's gotten away."

For once, Launchpad offered a truly useful insight. "Not really DW. If Liquidator has the fish in him, he can't go through any pipe smaller than the fish. So all we have to do is--"

"Launchpad! That's it! You're a genius!" Darkwing leapt up and sprinted across the room, leaving a befuddled Launchpad scratching his chin.

"I am? Gee DW, thanks! I... Uh, DW... Uh hey! Wait for me!"

---------------

Liquidator nervously looked behind him. 'Still no heroes. Good.' He was doing his best to hurry, but moving quickly with 5 goldfish swimming in him was difficult. He had stolen as many as twenty fish this way, but he didn't have a masked lunatic on his tail then.

Suddenly, he heard the sound of someone running behind him. Liquidator didn't even bother checking to see who it was, he simply ran. He turned down a corridor and saw there was an exit at the end. Once outside the Temple Complex, he could easily elude Darkwing.

Liquidator was a mere ten feet from safety when a gas cartridge sailed of him and bounced off the door. He winced as green smoke engulfed him. Still, it was just smoke. "Nice try, Dorkwing, but I am out'a here!" Liquidator tossed off the one-liner and then disappeared into the outside world.

---------------

When Launchpad finally caught up with Darkwing, he was standing by the Ratcatcher putting on his spare cape. While gasping for air, Launchpad asked "Now that we're done running... And Liquidator has gotten away again... Would you mind explaining to me what just happened?"

"Gladly, LP. Gladly." Darkwing began using his 'I'm explaining the plot' voice. "After hearing your surprisingly intelligent observation, several things dawned on me. First, it wasn't a matter of Liquidator getting the fish through the pipes, it was a matter of him getting the fish into the pipes. There is simply no way to stick a goldfish through a nozzle. Not unless you want to end up with goldfish pulp. If Liquie wanted the fish alive, he would have to use a door just like everyone else. Since there was only one other exit from the basement, I picked up his trail there. While I was chasing him through the basement corridors, a second thing occurred to me. If we stop Liquie now, there's nothing preventing him from simply trying again. In order to stop this crime spree, we need to know why Liquidator is stealing fish."

Launchpad made his second brilliant observation of the night. "Huh. For the money, probably."

"That much is obvious, LP. The important question is 'how does he get the money?' If we catch whoever is buying these fish, we will not only have stopped the spree, but we will have also found all the missing fish."

Launchpad opened his mouth as if to say something, but Darkwing beat him to it. "Let me finish LP. I think I know what you're going to ask. 'How do find the buyer?' The answer is simple. Before Liquie got away, I hit him with some Tracker Gas." Darkwing saw the confused look on his sidekick's face, and explained. "Its a new type gas that contains a slightly radioactive isotope. The isotope clings to anything the gas touches, and begins emitting low-level radiation. Its perfectly harmless and impossible to detect." Darkwing patted a screen on the Ratcatcher. "Unless you've got some specialized scanning equipment, in which case it stands out like a searchlight! But only for a few hours. After that the effect wears off." Darkwing put on his helmet and got onto the Ratcatcher. "Now, hop in, LP. We've got some fishnappers to fry!"

Launchpad eagerly hopped into the sidecar. "Yes sir, DW!" Then he suddenly became apprehensive. "Just one thing... Liquidator hasn't worked solo for a long time. What do we do if the rest of the Fearsome Five shows up?"

"Then we do what we always do LP. We fight." Darkwing gunned the engine and took off. Under his breath he added "...And hope we come out on top."

---------------

The warehouse... A few hours later...

Liquidator axiously awaited the arival of his buyers. The five Orandas were swimming quietly in a tank in the center of the room. He was leaning against a support column, scanning the room, and trying to look calmer than he actually was. Although he was sure he had ditched Darkwing, Liquidator couldn't shake the feeling that he had been followed.

Liquidator's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening. Liquidator slyly looked glanced at where the sound was coming from. Fortunately, it was just his three contacts, dressed in their trademark suits. Liquidator smiled when he noticed one of them was carrying a rather large briefcase.

For the benefit of his buyers, Liquidator put on his usual salesman act. "Ah, welcome friends. As promised, I have with me five Bengal Orandas. Please feel free to inspect them at you leisure." Liquidator took a few steps back to give the ducks some privacy.

After a few moments, a spokesman approached Liquidator with the briefcase. "Ah, Liquidator. As always, your work is satisfactory. Here is your money. You may inspect it, if you wish." The duck was in the process of handing the briefcase to Liquidator when it happened.

"I am the terror, the flaps in the night! I am the bank error, that wipes out your account! I... Am Darkwing Duck!"

Liquidator and the three ducks starred in abject horror at the cloud of purple smoke that had appeared in front of them. 'No! It can't be possible--I ditched him! I--I know I did!'

Darkwing calmly stepped out of the cloud, gas gun at the ready. "Well, well, well, what have we here? Looks to me like a flock of felonious fishnappers!" Darkwing paused as he looked the villains over. In a calm voice he continued. "Now the police are on their way, so I want you all to stay put until they get here."

At the mention of 'police' the ducks panicked. Two began drawing guns from their suits, while the third one dropped briefcase and bolted for the door. Darkwing instantly shot a gas cartridge at the two armed ducks. They managed to get off one wild shot before the knock out gas overcame them.

The fleeing duck fared no better. When he got to the door, he threw it open, and ran straight into Launchpad. "Gooooood night!" It took one punch to send the small duck to la-la land.

After taking care of the two armed ducks, Darkwing glanced at the door the third duck had run towards. He afforded himself a small smile when he saw Launchpad there giving him the thumbs up sign. "Good work LP! Now stay here and secure these three. I'm going after the Liquidator!"

In the confusion, Liquidator had grabbed the briefcase and ran. "When the ship starts sinking, the smart rats start swimming." He mumbled to himself. "And the really smart rats swim away with the money!" Liquidator spotted a door and dashed through it.

"Drat! Just an office! Not even a window..." Liquidator started to double back, but he found the doorway blocked by the shadowy figure of Darkwing Duck.

"Speaking of rats, Liquie, you seem to be trapped like one." Liquidator began backing away, and all too quickly found himself in the corner. "Still tying to get away huh? Look, the gig is up. I've already foiled your plan and captured your associates. Catching you is just academic at this point. Face the facts, Liquie, it's over!"

Liquidator slowly put down the briefcase, crossed his arms, and glared at Darkwing. Despite the circumstances, he managed to look very intimidating. "I don't think so. You should know by now that when the Liquidator is involved, it's never over! I'm back in the spotlight now, and I intend to stay there!"

The intensity of Liquidator's voice made Darkwing stand back a little. Then something began to happen. Right before Darkwing's eyes, the Liquidator began to loose cohesion. He wavered for a moment, then began to narrow. After several seconds, he was just a vertical blue line. Then suddenly, the line vanished all together.

For a moment, Darkwing's brain had problems registering what had just happened. It had looked like Liquidator had just winked out like an old TV set. His reverie was shaken when he heard a muffled "So long, sucker..." Darkwing glanced down and his eyes widened as he noticed the small drain the Liquidator had been standing over.

"He went down the drain!?! Not fair! He can't just give up!" Darkwing was about to yell an idle threat into the drain, but he thought the better of it. "Well, I beat him. No use crying over minor setbacks." Darkwing sighed and retrieved the fallen briefcase.

As he walked out the door, he started chuckling to himself. "Hmm, no tantrum... I must be mellowing in my old age..."

----------------

Launchpad finished tying up the last duck when he saw Darkwing came back. "So, did ya catch him?"

"Well, not exactly... But I think I showed him who's the boss. He won't be back for a while." Darkwing put the briefcase beside one of the unconscious ducks. "So, is everything ready here?"

"Yup. The baddies are secure, the evidence is all here, and the cops are on their way. We can leave anytime you want."

Darkwing gave one last look around. "In that case, LP, let us return to the shadows from whence we came..." Darkwing dropped a smoke bomb and the duo disappeared.

---------------

The next morning found Drake Mallard relaxing in his home. He was sitting on his couch, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. Launchpad was fixing some pancakes in the kitchen. Drake sighed blissfully. "Ah, silence. I could learn to enjoy this."

"Aaaaaaaahh! Fire! Fire!" Drake didn't even look up as Launchpad rushed out of the kitchen, dove into the closet, and rushed back with a fire extinguisher. Moments later, a slightly singed Launchpad walked out of the kitchen. "Uh, DW, breakfast is going to be a little late today."

"Don't worry about it LP. I wasn't too hungry anyway." Drake folded the newspaper up, put it on the table, and pointed to the headline. "We made the news. Front page headline. It's going in the scrapbook."

This piqued Launchpad's interest. "Oooh! What's the story?"

Drake leaned back and began explaining. "As it turns out, the three ducks we nabbed are the top agents of a big Japanese crime syndicate. The police have the aliases the ducks have been working under, and are in the process of tracing their recent actions. They've already found the other Oranda, all of Go-Lin's fish, and several others. In a few days, they should find everything!" Drake leaned back and put his feet on the coffee table. "Don't you love it when the loose ends tie themselves?"

Launchpad looked confused. "But, what about the Liquidator? Isn't he still a loose end?"

Drake grinned in a self-assured manner. "Yes, but he'll be tied up the next time he tries something."

Launchpad still looked confused. "Yeah, maybe... But I'm sure there was something else... I just can't remember what it was..."

"Don't worry about it LP. Whatever it is, it'll work out soon enough."

Launchpad shrugged dismissively. "Ah, well. I guess your right."

---------------

Late that night...

"No, no. Binkie. The blue lines are rivers. The highways are those double green lines." Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot were standing under a pavilion at a highway rest station. Both were hovering over a book of roadmaps. Despite the circumstances, Herb's voice retained the same happy-go-lucky tone he always had.

"Well, then what are these lines here? Some of them are green." Binkie sounded confused, but not worried.

"Those are county lines, Dear. The different colors represent different counties."

"Oops, sorry. I guess, we're lost now, aren't we?"

"Oh, don't worry about it Binkums." Herb sauntered over to the large state map on the wall. "We'll just find the 'you are here' sign on this here map, and map our way home from there."

Binkie walked up behind Herb and started comparing the large map to the one in her hands. "Oh, wait a minute Herb. That map's a different shape than the one we've been looking at."

"Oh, we've probably just wandered into another state..." Herb continued looking at the map. "Just flip through the book until you find one that matches.

"Oh. Arighty then..."

---------------

The End. Roll credits to the tune of 'Back in the Spotlight Again.'

Disclaimer: All official Darkwing Duck characters are copyright Disney. The minor characters are technically copyright me... But really, who cares about them? I certainly don't. The story is mine. Please do not mangle or repost it without permission. Please send questions, comments, and flames to me, 'Crash' at cas5879@ksu.edu.