Quiverwing's Last Dance
By Charlie Stadele
Saint Canard University campus... Late Afternoon...
"Finally," muttered Gosalyn as she gathered up her belongings. As usual, the history lecture had been long and boring. Gosalyn glanced at her notebook before she put it away. More doodles than notes. Definitely not a good day.
"Now remember class, your next test is a week from Tuesday." In vain, the professor tired to make his voice heard over the students' clatter. "If you need any help, talk to me after class or during normal office hours."
Gosalyn shook her head and shouldered her backpack. "Like talking to you would make things any clearer..." Gosalyn got up, and absently elbowed the sleeping dog sitting next to her. "Hey slacker, class is over. Its safe to wake up now." The dog struggled to rouse himself while Gos got up and left the room.
While walking across campus, Gosalyn mentally reviewed the day's lecture. '...Stuff happened, people died. More stuff happened, more people died. Stuff stopped happening, people still died...' Gosalyn sighed. 'Man, history is pointless. What kind of idiot actually spends time on this stuff?' A picture of Tank Muddlefoot, who was actually majoring in History, sprang to Gosalyn's mind. 'Oh yeah. That kind of idiot.' Smiling to herself, Gosalyn continued across campus.
At length, Gosalyn came to Old Freebird Stadium. The stadium, named after the school mascot, had been built many years ago, when SCU was first founded. It consisted simply of a football field, flanked on either side by set of permanent stone bleachers. The bleachers were showing their age, and outcroppings of underbrush had sprouted up around the field's perimeter. Nobody particularly cared about all this, seeing as SCU had just built a new stadium across campus. However, Old Freebird was still functional, and a closer to the heart of campus, so it was still used as a practice field.
As she entered the stadium, Gosalyn noticed that the football team was still practicing. "Figures," she muttered. "Coach Shelldrake never finishes up on time..." Sighing, Gosalyn took a seat in the bleachers. She took out her notebook and began glancing through it.
"Its ironic," Gosalyn mused. "Of all the people I could have met in this place, I met a football player..." Gosalyn was referring to Alec DeDown, a friend she met in one of her classes. He, Gos, and a few others were assigned a group project to do together. Gosalyn pretty much ignored the rest of the group, but she and Alec hit it off, and became close friends. Alec was smart, but quiet and shy. He was a lot like Honker, really. Except Alec tried to play football.
"Operative word being 'tried,'" chuckled Gos. Alec played a wide receiver. On the practice team. Basically, he was a tackling dummy for the real defense. Gosalyn harassed him about getting thrown around so much, but Alec really didn't mind. He just seemed to be happy to be around the team.
Of course, spending time around Alec invariably meant spending time around other members of the team. To Gosalyn's surprise, most of them were reasonably civil to her. The few jerks who had tried to hit on her were quickly dissuaded by a series of choice words and threats. The only guy on the team who Gosalyn really didn't like was, or course, Tank.
On the field...
"Okay, folks, that's it for today. Hit the showers..."
At the coach's order, the team broke ranks and started milling about. A few kids headed straight to the showers, but most just hung around the field to chat for a bit.
Tank, one of the kids still on the field, took a look at the bleachers, then smiled to himself. "Hey, Kurt!" He called out. "Toss me a ball!"
Kurt, one of Tank's fellow linebackers, trotted up and handed Tank a football. "Man, you still doin' this?"
"'Course. Why wouldn't I?"
"Its your funeral..." Kurt walked off shaking his head.
Making sure he had a good grip on the ball, Tank looked toward the bleachers again. Smiling, he stepped up, and threw the ball as hard as he could. The ball slammed into seats just to the right of Gosalyn, then ricocheted into some nearby underbrush. "I love doing that," said Tank, as he waved cheerfully at Gosalyn. For her part, Gosalyn yelled out something inaudible and waved a few choice gestures at Tank. "I love you too, Squirt," Tank called out. Laughing to himself, Tank walked off to the locker rooms.
From the center of the field, Lance Mallard, the Freebirds' quarterback and team captain, and Tom Lefty, the team's currently injured star receiver, shook their heads at the antics of their team-mate. Then, Tom noticed one of the team's running backs jogging over to a patch of underbrush to retrieve the ball. With a worried look on his face, he quickly nudged Lance. "Heh, Lance! Over there!"
Lance followed Tom's gaze, and his eyes widened in horror. "Ramerez! Hold up!" The running back paused, and looked curiously at his captain. "Just... Just leave it there for now! We'll get it later..." The running back shrugged, then jogged off to the showers.
Lance and Tom exchanged worried glances. "That was close," muttered Tom. Lance nodded, and took a look around the field. By this time, most of the team had cleared out, with only a few minglers hanging about. Satisfied everything was safe, Lance and Tom slowly walked off the field, hoping nobody noticed the haunted expressions on their faces.
But unbeknownst to them, from the bleachers, somebody did...
Old Freebird Stadium... Nighttime...
Lance and Tom sat near the top of the bleachers, staring out over the field. Lance was holding a football, while Tom simply rubbed the cast that covered his right leg. "That was close, today," said Lance, almost absently.
"Yeah," replied Tom. He paused, listening to the faint echo of his voice. "How long are we gunna keep this up, Lance? That was the second close call we've had in a week. Sooner or later, someone's gunna catch on to us..."
"Or get hurt," added Lance. "Yeah, I know... I know... We've got to end this somehow... Soon! I just... Wish I knew how..."
"Perhaps it would help it you told someone what was going on. Like me, maybe..." At the sound of this new voice, Tom nearly fell out of his seat in surprise, while Lance spun to face the speaker. Whoever he was expecting, it wasn't what he saw.
The speaker was sitting, rather nonchalantly, a few rows above Lance. From the voice, Lance assumed the speaker was a girl, but couldn't be sure because the was sitting in a shadow caused by the stadium's outdated lighting system. Through the shadows, Lance could make out several patches of green.
As Tom struggled to regain his balance, Lanced glared at the speaker. "...And you are?" Surprisingly, his voice didn't show any indication of how surprised he was.
"You mean you don't already know?" Asked the figure. "Sheesh, I ought to get a new PR man." She casually hopped over a few seats, into a pool of light. It was now clear that the figure was wearing a mask, green tights, with some red trim, and a utility belt strapped over her shoulder. "The name's Quiverwing Quack. Ring a bell?"
Tom, who by now had regained his balance, gaped at the figure. "Whoa..."
Lance gave the newcomer an appraising look. "Cute."
Quiverwing smirked. "Now as soon as you two are done gawking, perhaps you would like to explain what you were talking about earlier..."
"Look, its none of your--"
Lance put a calming hand on his friend's shoulder. "Calm down, bro. It just might be some of her business..."
"You sure?" Asked Tom.
Lance smirked. "No. But I'm not really sure about anything about this." Lance turned Quiverwing. "Alright. Take a seat. This will take a while." Quiverwing sat down, and waited for Lance to begin.
"Freebird Stadium has always been kind of run down. The crumbling masonry, the vines, and the underbrush have just been accepted as part of the stadium. Nobody tries to fix anything because they really don't need to. The stadium still works fine, and we have a better looking one do anything important in. Nothing around the stadium has ever caused a problem...
...Until about three weeks ago. About that time, the underbrush started changing. Some new vines started choking out the old ones. Only a few people noticed. Fewer cared. Why should they..."
Tom continued the thread. "I was one of the ones that noticed. I'm a Botany major. Plants are just... What I do. Anyway, one night, Lance and I were just hangin' around the field, like we are now, and we just decided to check out the new plants. So we went down and took a closer look..." Tom's voice cracked, and he rubbing his injured leg in earnest. "Those vines weren't normal... They're alive..."
Quiverwing rolled her eyes. "Reeeeaaalllly..."
"Quiv, he's serious. Those plants can move. And think!" Lance regarded Quiverwing's expression. She seemed genuinely intrigued. "Tom was walking through some of the brush, investigating. He broke off a piece of the vine to look at, and then the vines attacked him. They started wrapping around his legs, trying to drag him down. The one around his right legs started growing thorns! I had to drag him out of there. He barely got away..."
"That's how I broke my leg," added Tom. "The vines wrapped too tightly around it, and I put too much pressure on it, and it snapped. The thorns only added some abrasions. I told the coach I wiped out while biking off road. I just didn't know how to tell him I got injured by some underbrush..."
"We came back later," continued Lance, "with some poison. It didn't work. We even tried to burn them. That didn't work, and it made them mad. A few vines tried to reach out and attack us. Since then, we've tried to keep everyone else away from the vines. To keep them safe, while we figured out how to deal with things..."
"Well," commented Quiverwing, "I think you've just found your way to deal with it. You two just keep everyone else away for another week or so. I should be able to handle this by then." With that, Quiverwing confidently got up and began walking to the top of the stands.
"Wait a minute!" Called out Lance. "What do you mean 'handle it?' How do you even know what's going on?"
By that point, Quiverwing, had all but disappeared into the shadows. "I've dealt with things like this before. I'll handle it. Trust me on that..." There was the sound of something shooting through the air, and then Tom and Lance were once again alone in the field.
"Look Dad," began Gosalyn, for what felt like the millionth time, "I'm going to be fine! I'm just going up against Bushroot--"
"--One of the most powerful and unpredictable villains in Saint Canard!" Interjected Darkwing, almost angrily. "Listen Gos, he was one of the most dangerous foes I've ever gone up against!"
Gosalyn looked at her father calmly. "Emphasis on 'was,' Dad. That was a long time ago. Back before he got kicked out of the Fearsome Five. Ever since that happened, he hasn't put his heart into anything. All he's done is sit around in his greenhouses and sulk." Gosalyn smirked, then turned back to the computer files she was looking through. "His spirit is broken Dad. There won't be a 'fight,' just a confrontation. I'll tell him his plants got loose and are causing problems, and he'll take them back to his little hideout. Simple as that."
"And if things don't go like that?"
"That's why I'm looking through these." Gosalyn pointed to the computer screen. Currently displayed was a listing of all of Darkwing's cases involving Bushroot and other plant-related cases. On the console next to the screen were several canisters containing an assortment of chemicals. "If Bushroot doesn't comply voluntarily, I'll make him. He should know enough to back off once he's sees what I'm armed with. Face it Dad, I'm prepared for this." Gosalyn smiled sweetly. "Just like you've always trained me to be."
Darkwing stared at daughter, trying desperately to come up with a sound reason why she shouldn't go off to fight Bushroot. Unfortunately, no reasons were forthcoming.
Gosalyn began gathering up the canisters and depositing them in into a knapsack she had brought with her. "Besides Dad, I've handled myself around Bushroot even before I became Quiverwing. I survived then, I'll survive now." Satisfied, Gosalyn shouldered her sack, and walked away from the console.
Meanwhile, Darkwing finally managed to come up with a coherent sentence. "You do realize that even if you do succeed, you won't have accomplished anything. Bushroot will still be on the loose. And he'll still have his killer-vines."
Gosalyn looked back with a huge grin on her face. "Are you saying you want me to try to apprehend Bushroot?"
Darkwing's eyes widened as he realized what he said. "Absolutely not! You will handle the situation at hand and that will be it, Little Missy!"
Gosalyn replied with a cheerful "Okay."
For a moment, Darkwing gazed at his daughter with a dumbfounded look on his face. Then, in a somewhat defeated tone, he said "I just authorized your mission, didn't I..."
Darkwing buried his face in his hands. "I hate it when I do that."
"I know you do." Gosalyn walked over and gave he dad a small kiss on the cheek. "Don't worry Dad. I'll be fine. And if anything does go wrong, I'll call you. 'Kay?"
"Okay, Gos." Darkwing gazed at his daughter for a moment. "You'll at least let me give you a ride back to campus, right?"
Gosalyn smiled. "Of course, Dad. Of course..."
Old Freebird Stadium... The next night...
Now in costume, Quiverwing approached the stadium cautiously. Despite her bravado the previous night, she was not taking this mission lightly. After all, it was her very first mission since she left home for college. She wanted to insure that things went perfectly smoothly. Not only for her dad's piece of mind, but for her own, as well.
The first thing Quiverwing had to do was to make sure that the plants did actually have some connection to Bushroot. While Bushroot was the most likely culprit, there was the possibility, albeit a small one, that the plants were a result of something or someone else. To determine this, Quiverwing planned on getting a sample of the plant, and comparing it to samples of Bushroot's other creations. In addition, the sample would help her determine what the plants were capable of, and how to get rid of them herself, should that prove necessary.
As she entered the stadium, Quiverwing looked up at the sky. There were few clouds, and all the stars and moon shone clearly. Gosalyn smiled, knowing she would have plenty of light to work with. Gosalyn also noted that the moon was just a crescent, nowhere near full. "At least I won't have to worry about were-vines," she chuckled.
Suddenly, a sound caught Quiverwing's attention. To avoid being spotted, she quickly ducked down next to a trash receptacle. As she listened closer, she determined that what she heard was actually a muffled, quiet voice. Peering out from her hiding spot, Quiverwing scanned the field, and quickly spotted a silhouette moving next to the far set of bleachers.
'Looks like I'm in luck,' thought Quiverwing. 'That almost has to be the person responsible for this.' Quiverwing slowly drew out one of her arrows. 'Now to make an entrance...'
The figure was crouching down, inspecting a bit of the underbrush. Suddenly, it perked up as it heard a 'thunk' from a dulled arrow hitting masonry. The tip of the arrow shattered, sending shards flying all around the figure. Almost instantly, these shards vaporized, leaving the figure surrounded by a cloud of dark green smoke.
Gosalyn dashed forward and was just about to start her trademark entrance catch phrase when the smoke abruptly dissipated. Gosalyn stopped short, and nearly fell down when she saw who the figure actually was. It was Morgana McCawber.
Morgana waved her hand in front of her face, grimacing at the smoke's smell. "Still using those fragmentation smoke arrows, I see..." Morgana glanced around irritably, and quickly spotted Gosalyn. "There you are. Listen Gos, I'm rather busy at the moment, so I'll make this brief. What do you want?"
Emotions ran rampant through Quiverwing, as she gawked at the villainess who had almost become part of her family. "Wha--What do I want..." She sputtered. "WHAT DO I WANT!?! For starters, I want an explanation! An explanation to why you betrayed the Justice Ducks! And explanation to why you attacked Neptunia! An explanation to why you ended up joining the FEARSOME FIVE!!!" By this point, Quiverwing was advancing toward Morgana and was practically raving.
Morgana sighed dismissively. "Look, Gosalyn, your father already knows why--"
"This isn't about my father!" Interrupted Quiverwing. "I don't care what went on between you and him! I don't even care why the two of you broke up. This is about me, and the rest of the Justice Ducks! You never told ANY of us what was going on! You owe US an explanation!"
Morgana looked coldly at Gosalyn's outburst. "Listen Gosalyn, it was nothing personal. Just some family business. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do."
Morgana started to turn away, but Quiverwing roughly grabbed her shoulder. "'Nothing personal?'" Spat out Quiverwing. "Well it was personal to me!" Quiverwing's voiced dropped to a whisper. "And I thought I was 'family.' I want an explanation... Now..."
"I don't have time for this," muttered Morgana.
Morgana cast a sideways glance at Quiverwing, then spoke a few words in a language Quiverwing didn't understand. In response, Quiverwing was hit by a gale force wind. The wind knocked her off her feat, and had driven her halfway across the field by the time she had regained her footing. Even then, the wind still prevented her from moving forward. "Stay out of this Gosalyn," came Morgana's hauntingly calm voice. "Its none of your concern."
"Wanna bet," muttered Quiverwing. Bracing herself against the wind, Quiverwing readied her bow, and pulled an arrow from her quiver. Quiverwing smiled coldly as she aimed the arrow. "Lets see if Morg has seen this little trick..." With her forefinger, Quiverwing flipped a switch at the base of the arrow, then let it fly.
After safely clearing the bow, the arrow's rocket kicked in, sending it screaming into the wind. The arrow struck the ground and detonated just in front of Morgana. The arrow sent up a shower of sparks, as bright as a signal flare. Morgana was forced to back away and shield her eyes from the light. In the process, her concentration broke, and the wind abruptly died. As soon as the wind died, Gosalyn sprinted towards her foe. Quiverwing reached Morgan before she had recovered from the flare, and sent her to the ground with a rough shoulder-block.
"Don't underestimate me, 'Mom!' I've changed a lot since you left. I'm more than a match for someone like you." Even as she spoke, Gosalyn grabbed a packet out one of her costume's pouches. Without hesitating, she threw the packet at Morgana. Mid-flight, the packet expanded into a net with weights at the edges. However, Morgana disappeared before the net pinned her to the ground.
Quiverwing instantly took up a defensive stance. Keeping in her stance, Gosalyn anxiously glanced around the field, trying to see where Morgana had reappeared. However, she was nowhere in sight. "Come on, Morg," mocked Quiverwing. "I know you didn't give up that easy. Why don't you show yourself..." The field remained empty. And quiet.
As her hearing adjusted to the silence, Quiverwing thought she heard the quiet murmur of someone chanting. Too late, Quiverwing realized a spell was coming. Hoping to avoid the spell, Quiverwing tried to dive away, but found she couldn't. As soon as she tried to move, an overpowering, irrational fear came over her. Quiverwing was literally paralyzed by fear.
The chanting stopped, and Morgana addressed Quiverwing in her normal voice. "Well, its done... I'm sorry it had to come to this Gosalyn, but you really didn't leave me much choice."
Quiverwing found she couldn't turn to face the sound of the voice. She could barely even speak. "What... What did you do to me?" She gasped.
Reappearing behind Quiverwing, Morgana heaved a sigh. "A simple spell, Gosalyn," she replied. "A variation of the one I used on Neptunia, actually. The spell acts on the subject's mind, creating a neural block that prevents the subject from acting on a specified thought or emotion."
"In English!" Cried out a near hysterical Quiverwing.
"You used to be so good at interpreting these things..." Muttered Morgana. "The spell keeps a person from doing something. In your case, it prevents you from engaging in your annoying heroics. Don't worry, the spell won't affect your day to day life. But whenever you try to do anything remotely heroic, it'll stop you."
"...Is it... Permanent?"
"Yes, Gosalyn. It is. I'm afraid your nights of running around as a costumed vigilante are at an end. I image this will come as a pleasant surprise to your father." Morgana chuckled at her own joke. "Now if you'll excuse me, I still have some business to attend to."
Still not able to move, Gosalyn listened to Morgana walk off. Her mind was racing furiously, but wasn't getting anywhere. The same fear that prevented her from moving was also keeping her from thinking clearly. No matter how hard she tried, all her thoughts ultimately descended into chaos.
Completely ignoring Quiverwing's condition, Morgana inspected some of the vines inhabiting the underbrush. "Hmm. Not good," she said to herself. "I don't think all these will be ready by the First Quarter. Maybe I'll be able to harvest a third of them, but the rest will have to be left here for another full cycle. Dad won't like that... But he should understand. You just can't force these things." With her work done, Morgana chanted a quick incantation, and disappeared.
Quiverwing immediately fell to the ground, breathing heavily. Things had not gone smoothly...
Ryder Hall... The next day...
With a blank expression on her face, Gosalyn stared at the ceiling of her dorm room. Gosalyn hadn't slept a wink since her encounter with Morgana. Not only had the spell unnerved her, but seeing Morgana again had brought back a slew of memories.
Memories of family...
Of the Justice Ducks...
It had started three years ago. After a long and at times tenuous relationship, Darkwing and Morgana broke up after a bitter falling out. Though Gosalyn wasn't sure, she suspected the falling out had to with priorities. Morgana had long made her family her first priority. Darkwing, however, put his job first. This fact had never sat well with Morgana. Looking back on it, the breakup was almost inevitable.
After they broke up, Darkwing and Morgana stopped speaking to each other. Morgana became disinterested in the Justice Ducks. Though she would still talk with Gizmoduck, she avoided meeting the team in person. At the time, this didn't concern anyone. The team just figured Morgana didn't want to see Darkwing again. In any case, the Fearsome Five was having roster problems of its own, so Justice Duck activities were rather sparse.
After six months of calm, everything hit the fan. Out of the blue, the Justice Ducks received an emergency communiqué from Neptunia. Neptunia reported that while she had been investigating an offshore expedition, Morgana suddenly showed up and attacked her. Neptunia could offer no explanation why she had been attacked. In the same message, Neptunia gave her resignation to the Justice Ducks. She offered no explanation for that either, and was not heard from since.
At the time, what happened to Neptunia had been an enigma. Neptunia simply would not talk about the incident. But now Gosalyn could guess what happened. Neptunia had come across Morgana while she was doing some work for her family. For whatever reason, Neptunia had interfered in Morgana's operation, and Morgana retaliated. Morgana cast a spell on Neptunia, the same type she used on Gosalyn, and literally made it impossible for Neptunia to stay on with the Justice Ducks.
At the time, however, these events left the rest of the Justice Ducks dazed and confused. However, this feeling was soon overwhelmed by rage. For quite possibly the only time ever, Darkwing and Gizmoduck agreed on what had to be done. Gosalyn and Stegmutt were told to 'stay out of the way,' while Darkwing and Gizmoduck hounded Morgana. While Gosalyn hadn't seen the encounter between those three, the expressions she had seen on her friends' faces beforehand told her the confrontation could not have been pretty.
Then things went from bad to worse. Morgana retaliated in a way nobody had expected. She took Bushroot's now-vacant spot on the Fearsome Five. The battles that had ensued were the most vicious and heated fights in the two organizations' history. Fortunately, this period lasted little more than nine months, ending when Negaduck was permanently incarcerated in the Tomb. Without Negaduck's presence, the Fearsome Five quickly dissipated as the members all went their separate ways. Even though it was over, the memories of this period still haunted Gosalyn...
Gosalyn was jolted back to reality when her phone rang. After taking a moment to collect her thoughts, Gosalyn answered it. "Hello..."
It was Alec. "Uh Gos? Are you all right?"
"Of course I am, Alec," Gosalyn drolly replied. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, its 6 o'clock, you weren't at practice, and according to one of your friends, you weren't at any of your classes either. ...Usually, that's an indication that something is wrong."
Gosalyn glanced at her clock. 6:08. "Oh," she mumbled. "Time sure flies when you forget about the world..."
"Oh, sorry, Alec. Um," Goslyn tried to think up an excuse for her absence. "I just had a really rough night last night... I had a lot of studying to do, so I took bit too much coffee... ...And I mixed it with some stuff I probably shouldn't have..."
"I'm just going to assume you're referring to cherry flavored Milk Duds, and then move on..." He paused as Gosalyn chuckled. Alec continued in a more somber tone. "Seriously though, if there's anything wrong..."
"I'll be fine, Alec. Its just been one of those days. I'll be fine tomorrow. Promise."
"Alright, Gos. See ya then."
Gosalyn sighed as she hung up the phone. "...Six o'clock. A whole day wasted..." Groaning, she got up for the first time that day. Absently, she glanced across the room at her roommate. "Torrie, why didn't you tell me I was missing class? You know I had classes today..."
As usual, Torrie was sitting on her bed, staring at some candles lit on her desk, meditating. "I know I should have, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. You were finally communing with your true self. Your first commune is something special. It shouldn't be interrupted by something as petty as school."
"Torrie, I wasn't communing," said Gosalyn flatly. "I was daydreaming. That can be interrupted."
Torrie looked away from the candles long enough to give Gosalyn a meaningful gaze. "Goslayn, I know true communing when I see it. Trust me."
"Whatever." Gosalyn shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. "I need food. I'm headed to the dining hall for some breakfast. Dinner. Whatever..."
"Another late night, tonight?" Asked Torrie.
"Yeah," replied Gosalyn as she walked out the door. "I'll see ya when I see ya..."
"Such is often the case," was Torrie's muffled response.
Later that night...
"Okay, Gos... You can do this..." Now out of costume, Gosalyn was standing on the roof of Fairchild Hall. Fairchild was a small, two story building in a lesser used part of campus. 'Lesser used' meaning 'all but abandoned' at night. It was flanked closely by several taller buildings, which kept it mostly out of sight from the rest of campus. In her hand was a small grappling hook launcher.
"Its just one small leap," she told herself. "You've been taking jumps like this since you were twelve. Its nothing to be afraid of..." Gosalyn raised the launcher, her hand trembling. "...I can do this..."
As she tried to pull the trigger, a chill swept over Gosalyn. She fell down to her knees, shivering. The feeling only stayed a moment, fading as quickly as it came about.
Gosalyn sighed in disgust. She stuffed the launcher in her pocket, and took a seat at the edge of the roof. "Who am I kidding?" She asked to no one in particular. "Morgana's spell has kept Neptunia out of action for over two years. How could I possibly expect to beat the spell in one night..."
Gosalyn slipped into a deep feeling of melancholy. "Maybe I can't beat it at all... Maybe Quiverwing is finished as a hero... Even if I'm not, I'm still over my head. I got beat this bad, and I don't even know what Morgana's plan is. I really should call Darkwing in on this..." Gosalyn trailed off, staring up at the sky.
Gosalyn's gaze eventually settled on the moon. It was still crescent shaped, but fuller than the previous night. For some reason, this observation struck Gosalyn as significant. Gosalyn pondered this for a moment, as echoes of the previous night slipped through her head. Then her face lit up with realization.
"Of course... That's what Morgana was talking about! The First Quarter phase of the Moon! Those vines must be somehow connected to the lunar cycle." Gosalyn paused as she studied the moon. Memories of various horror movies also floated through her thoughts. "Okay, the First Quarter is supposed to be when the moon is half-full. And from the looks of things, I'd say that should happen... Tomorrow night..."
Gosalyn paused again as she pondered her situation. "So, Morgana shows up tomorrow night. That gives me one day to beat this spell." Having figured things out gave Gosalyn a renewed confidence. Defiantly, she stared up at the sky. "Morgana, you gave me twenty four hours to stop you. You gave me twenty four hours too long. Quiverwing Quack may be gone, but Gosalyn Mallard is still on the job. And I will bring you down..."
With a determined glint in her eye, Gosalyn hopped down Fairchild's fire escape stairs.
The shadows below Fairchild...
Lance Mallard scurried along the sidewalk with a grim expression on his face. He had been walking home from a study session with some fellow football players, (or at least, what passed for a 'study session') when an odd silhouette caught had caught his eye. He had moved closer to investigate, and ended up overhearing most of Gosalyn's conversation with herself.
He had heard most of the conversation, but there was only one part of it he cared about. "So, the person responsible for Tom's leg will be back at the stadium tomorrow," he muttered. "Warned away or not, I'll be there. I'll be there... And I'll make them pay for what happened to Tom! I'll make them pay..."
Old Freebird Stadium... The next day...
Goslayn sat in the bleachers with her beak buried in her notebook. To a casual observer, it looked as though she was engrossed in studying her notes. However, in reality, she was wracking her mind, trying to figure out a way to beat Morgana. However, she wasn't getting anywhere, and her patience was running thin.
'Come on Gos, think! There's got to be some way to beat Morgana without being a hero. Some way to stop the scheme without triggering her spell. There HAS to be!'
Gosalyn had spent the entire day thinking about this same problem. Unfortunately, she still had no reasonable solution to it. She couldn't get directly involved, yet anything that didn't include her direct involvement would have no chance of success. This conclusion had frustrated Gosalyn all day, and by now that frustration was beginning to take its toll on her.
"Hey, Squirt! Heads up!"
Gosalyn's thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a call from the field. Gosalyn's head jerked up, and she found herself staring at a football flying straight towards her head. With only a fraction of a second to react, Gosalyn's hand shot out and caught the ball inches away from her face.
"Nice catch, Gos! Maybe you're not so hopeless after all." Laughing, Tank walked of the field.
Gosalyn didn't hear Tank's taunts. In fact, Gosalyn didn't notice anything around her. All she could do was gape in awe at the football she was holding in her hand. "I... I caught that," she sputtered. "But how... I should have froze up. Morgana's spell should have stopped me. Unless..." Gosalyn trailed off, unsure of what she was thinking.
Eventually, Gosalyn's reverie was broken by Alec's arrival. "Hey, Gos! Gos!" Gosalyn shook her head, recollecting her thoughts. "Welcome back to the world of the living," quipped Alec. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah... Yeah I am." Gosalyn smirked, then tossed the ball back onto the field. "Lets go."
As Gosalyn and Alec walked away from the field, Gosalyn allowed herself to forget about her case for a time. First, she found it hard to concentrate on her problems with all of Alec's lighthearted banter. Second, Goslayn could only concentrate on the same topic for so long before burning out on it...
Since Gosalyn still hadn't fully collected her thoughts, she let Alec direct the conversation. As he often did, Alec started off talking about the football team. "...It just seems that ever since Tom broke his leg, Lance just hasn't seemed the same. I know it must be hard for a QB to operate with his favorite target on the sidelines, but still... It seems like he's taking personal responsibility for Tom's injury. Like its was his fault... Like he's worried about loosing another one of his players..."
'So much for getting my mind off the case...' Thought Gosalyn as Alec continued talking.
"...Someone really should talk to him about it. If he starts worrying too much, it could start affecting his performance. ...Problem is, if anyone on the team talks to him, he'll deny things to keep us from worrying. What he needs is someone outside the team. Someone who doesn't look to him for leadership." Alec cast a baited glance as Gosalyn. "Someone like his cousin..."
Gosalyn took the bait. "I am not his cousin!" Cried Gosalyn. Alec chuckled as Gosalyn launched into her usual tirade. "First off, I'm adopted! Even if I weren't, he still isn't related to my dad! I've checked. Its just pure coincidence that we happen to share a last name."
Alec rolled his eyes condescendingly. "Suuuuuure..."
Gosalyn scowled, then decided it was Alec's turn to be on the hot seat. "Speaking of the football team," began Gosalyn, "I heard from someone in the stands that you and Tank had a little encounter yesterday. Care to elaborate?"
Gosalyn sighed. "Look Alec, I appreciate the thought, but I really don't need you standing up to Tank for me. He's a jerk, I hate him, he hates me, we both accepted that a long time ago. You standing up to him isn't going to change anything."
"Yeah, I know," said Alec. "But he still shouldn't harp on you... I just, had to at least try to get him to stop."
"'Get him to stop?' Alec, the girl in the stands said you threatened to deck him on the spot!"
"Well..." There wasn't much Alec could say at that point.
"You threatened Tank Muddlefoot..." Gosalyn chuckled. "Alec, he outweighs you by a good hundred pounds, plus is in better shape than you. And you threatened to beat him up? Are you insane?"
"No! Its just..." Alec paused, searching for the right words. "When you get out on the field, you get into a whole different mindset. You do and say things out there you would never do off the field. You know how that goes..."
This statement stopped Gosalyn dead in her tracks. Alec abruptly halted an looked back. "Uh Gos, you coming? Or did History finally fry your brain, like you said it would?"
Gosalyn shook her head, then grinned. "Almost. But not quite. Give it another month." Both chuckled, then continued walking.
After another moment, Gosalyn spoke up. "Hey Alec, my dad is having some family over for dinner tonight and--"
"Ooh, a victory party for Lance?"
Gosalyn gave Alec a dirty look, then continued. "Anyway, my dad is having some family over for dinner, and wanted me join them. Can I get a ride from you a bit later?"
Alec smiled mockingly. "Sure. No problem. I always knew you'd take me home to meet 'Daddy' one of these days."
Gosalyn shook her head and sighed.
315 Avian Way...
"'Ello..." Called Gosalyn as she unlocked the front door. "Anyone here?" There was no response. "Good. At least I don't have to try to explain any of this to Dad. At least not yet..."
Gosalyn quickly climbed the stairs to her room. Once there, she sat down at her desk and promptly began staring out the window. She always did her best philosophizing like this. As she gazed out into space, she verbally thought through her situation.
"Mindsets. That's gotta be the key to all this. Morgana said her spell was triggered by certain mental impulses. No impulse, no spell. All I need to do is find a mindset that doesn't allow the impulse that triggers the spell." Gosalyn put her hand on her forehead and sighed. "Oh yeah... Like that'll be easy..."
Gosalyn paused for a moment, thinking. "When I was Quiverwing Quack, I triggered the spell. When I was on the roof, I triggered the spell. When I was at Freebird Stadium, I didn't trigger the spell. What was I doing different when I was at the stadium?" Gosalyn thought about this for a moment. "When I was at the stadium, I was ticked off... No, I wasn't... I was... Nothing. I was so emotionally drained at that point, I didn't feel anything..."
A huge grin formed on Gosalyn's face. "That's it! I didn't care! I was so emotionally detached that the spell couldn't pick up the heroic impulse!" The grin abruptly faded from Gosalyn's face. In order to be a hero, Gosalyn had to stay emotionally detached. Emotional detachment had never been one Gosalyn's strong points.
"So how do I stay detached?" Gosalyn finally continued. "First off, I have to ditch the Quiverwing Quack identity. That name and mindset are too deeply ingrained for me to even try to change them. So I need a new identity... A new look..."
Gosalyn's gaze slowly wandered around her room, searching for inspiration. At length, he gaze fell upon an old modified goalie mask sitting on her dresser. Thinking she might be on to something, Gosalyn walked over and picked up the mask. She spent a moment looking the mask over. For a some reason she could no longer recall, the mask was painted black with some red trim on it. At length, Gosalyn put the mask on and looked into the mirror. A dark shadow of a face looked back at her. Beneath the mask, Gosalyn smiled. "I think I just found my look."
Moments later, Gosalyn stood in her room with her complete costume. The costume consisted of her red letter jacket, black pants, dark gloves, and a red baseball cap worn backwards underneath the mask. Of course, the colors didn't match exactly, but Gosalyn didn't have the time to care about that.
"Well, I've got the costume. Now I just need a name. ...And a fighting style," Gosalyn added reluctantly. "If I'm cutting all ties with Quiverwing, the bow and arrows have to go." Gosalyn looked at her costume again. "Besides, the colors would clash...
"So how do I find a new gimmick in one night..." Gosalyn broke off chuckling. "Why, the attic of course." Still chuckling quietly, Gosalyn left her room and made her way to the attic.
It didn't take Gosalyn long to find what she was looking for. After a brief search, she found a box labeled 'DW Techno.' Several years ago, Gosalyn's father went through his mid-life crisis. During the crisis, Darkwing had felt the need to 'update' his image to make himself appear more hip. He redesigned his costume several times during this phase, and created a slew of new gadgets to go with each change. Of course, the crisis eventually ended, and Darkwing reverted to his traditional garb. He kept a few of his new gadgets, but most were packed away and put into storage, 'just in case...'
During his 'Techo' phase, Darkwing tried to replace his smoke-entrance with a lightshow-entrance. To achieve this effect, he devised a device that was, in effect, a miniaturized strobe light. The devices looked like metallic tennis balls, and were very durable.
Gosalyn found the balls at the bottom of the box. A quick checked showed the balls were still functioning. Gosalyn grinned to herself and stuffed the balls in her jacket pocket. She was about to leave the attic, when a stack of boxes caught her eye. But it wasn't just any stack of boxes. It was her stack of boxes.
"My old costumes," said Gosalyn, almost in a trance. A smile crossed her face as she looked over the boxes. As Gosalyn had grown, her father had insisted she keep her old costumes. 'For sentimental reasons,' he had said. Thought Gosalyn didn't quiet understand that then, she did now. Each box held memories from a part of Gosalyn's life. Gosalyn's smile faded as she realized that she would soon add another box to the pile, and the memories that box would hold would not be pleasant.
Gosalyn's gaze lingered to the bottom of the stack. Her first costume... The label on the box was almost worn away, but didn't have to read it to know what it said. Suddenly, something clicked inside Gosalyn's head. She looked down at her costume, then at the box label, then at her costume. The smile reformed on her face.
"What'd'ya know... After all these years, the Crimson Quackette is back in business!"
Freebird Stadium... Nighttime...
Morgana materialized on the ill-lit field. Irritably, she glanced around, noticing that most of the stadium lights were inexplicably turned off. "What shoddy lighting. This place really is a dump." Morgana picked up the sack she brought with her and made her way to some underbrush growing next to the stands. "Of all the places I could have planted these, this junk heap was the only one with the proper conditions. Sad..."
"Hey, don't dis the field! Some of the best games I've seen were played here."
Morgana whirled to find a figure standing almost right next to her. He was standing next to a patch of shadow, where he had apparently been hiding before Morgana arrived. The figure was doing his best to look intimidating. Morgana wasn't impressed. "And you are..."
"I'm Batduck," replied the figure in an unnaturally deep voice.
Morgana rolled her eyes at the forced pun. A fraction of a second later, her instincts kicked in and she fell backwards, just as a baseball bat careened through the space her head had just been. Morgana staggered back, trying to regain her balance.
"Actually, I'm just a duck with a bat," mocked the figure. "But you get the idea." The figure swung again, forcing Morgana to fall back even more.
"Are you nuts?!" Demanded Morgana as she evaded another swing. "What are you doing?"
"I represent the campus groundskeepers," mocked the figure. "They don't like it when people start re-landscaping without their approval." The figure swung again. As he passed through a patch of light, Morgana caught her first glimpse of the figure's face. She didn't recognize him, but the look on his face told her all she needed to know. This guy was furious. "Especially, when the plants you add start ATTACKING PEOPLE!"
At this point, the figure lunged at Morgana. However, her initial shock had worn off, and Morgana was able to easily avoid the attack. The figure hit the ground hard, and struggled to get up. But before he could, Morgana cast a quick spell, and the figure suddenly found a net holding him down.
Morgana looked down at the still-struggling figure disdainfully. "Well, that was an unnecessary and utterly pointless interruption. Now, if you will kindly stay put, maybe I can get some work done." Morgana was walking away when another, more haunting voice was heard.
"Look up, look up..."
Instinctively, and with a scowl on her face, Morgana did. For a moment, she thought she saw the silhouette of a baseball in the sky. Abruptly, a flash illuminated the sky, blinding both Morgana and the figure.
"...'Cause you're going down!"
Morgana blinked her eyes furiously, trying to regain her eyesight. "This was supposed to be an easy operation," she muttered. "Just come in, collect the plants, and get out. Was that so much to ask?"
"Yes," replied the new voice. The reply was accompanied by a swift kick to Morgana's gut.
Morgana staggered back, but had the presence of mind to shower the area in front of her with sparks, preventing her attacker from following her. Morgana used this break to cast a spell to clear her eyesight. When the spell was completed, Morgana found herself staring down a young woman dressed in red and black and wearing a hockey mask. It only took Morgana a moment to figure out who this girl was.
"Gosalyn?" Cried Morgana. "What are you doing here? H--How are you here?"
"Morg, you're not dealing with 'Gosalyn.'" The voice was clearly Gosalyn's, yet it seemed unfamiliar. It was completely monotone, with no vocal inflections whatsoever. Considering how much emotion Gosalyn normally spoke with, Morgana found this fact quite disturbing. "You are dealing... With the Crimson Quackette."
"But, but how..." Morgana trailed off, not fully able to comprehend what was going on. "Didn't the spell..."
The Quackette moved in, her expressionless mask glaring at Morgana. "Oh, your spell worked fine," said the Quackette in her monotone voice. "It did in Quiverwing, just like you wanted it to. But... It didn't get rid of me."
At that point, the conversation was cut off by a guttural roar. The figure had escaped from the net, and was now charging towards Morgana. Morgana was able to sidestep his attack, but that action brought her too close to the Quackette. Morgana received a punch to the jaw before she was able to get out of range.
While still reeling from the Quackette's blow, Morgana was forced to evade the figure again. She was barely able to regain her balance in time to avoid the Quackette's second attack. She tried to ready a spell, but her concentration was broken by the figure knocking her to the ground. Faced with a two-on-one situation, Morgana quickly decided that discretion was the better part of valor.
"I don't know how you did it, Gos," said Morgana as she rolled to her feet. "But you've won this round. But trust me, if there is a next time, it won't end like this..." With a puff of brimstone smelling smoke, Morgana disappeared.
The Quackette stared at the space Morgana had been. "You're right, Morg. It won't end like this. You won't get away. You will pay for what you've done..." The Quackette's reverie was broken by the figure grunting. With the threat gone, Gosalyn dropped her 'Quackette voice.' "Lance, where'd you come from? I didn't see you here when I was setting up..."
"I didn't see you either," replied Lance, still trying to clear his eyes. "Mater of fact, I still don't..."
"I guess we were both a little pre-occupied. But even still, I told you to stay out of this. Why'd you even show up?"
Lance cast a meaningful glance at where he thought the Quackette was standing. "I had some inside information saying that this Morgana character would be back at the field tonight. I also heard that 'Quiverwing' wouldn't be able to make it. Turns out they were right on both counts," added Lance as an aside. "Anyway, I decided to get involved personally. After all, those vines hurt someone on my team. That makes it personal."
Beneath her mask, Gosalyn wore a worried look on her face. "'Inside information?' Um, you wouldn't care to tell me where you got that information, would you?"
"I overheard someone some loon talking to herself on a roof. She mentioned her name, but it escapes me at the moment..."
Gosalyn chuckled nervously. "Uh, in the off chance that you actually do recall her name, could I ask you not to not to mention that name to anyone else?"
"Maybe," replied Lance, slyly. "As long as it never gets out that the captain of the football team needed a girl to bail him out of a fight."
"Agreed," replied Gosalyn, eagerly.
"Good..." Lance looked around the field, his vision finally clearing. "Um, so... Any idea what we do about these vines?"
"I've got that covered," answered Gosalyn. She produced several chemical filled vials from knapsack she had stashed near the battle scene. "If these chemicals don't get rid of the vines, nothing will."
"All right... You take care of the vines, I'll get the lights so you can see a bit better."
"So that's your doing?" Gosalyn pointed to the stadium lights, of which only a fourth were turned on.
"Yeah. I figured I'd have a better chance of winning with fewer lights on. You know, get the element of surprise, and that stuff..." Lance turned and started walking to the stadium control room. "By the way, nice costume," he added. "But if you're trying to keep your identity secret, you probably shouldn't wear your letter jacket into a fight..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Gosalyn mumbled. As Lance walked away, Gosalyn thought about her performance in the fight. She had almost froze up twice, but both times she managed to stay detached. Fighting that way was tough, but with some practice, Gosalyn would manage.
"Well," mused Gosalyn. "After one mission, I've got a new costume, a new identity, a spell that I'll have to fight off at all times, and to top it all off, someone else knows who I really am... The weren't kidding when they said college would change my life..."
End. Roll credits to the tune of 'Mary Jane's Last Dance.'
Disclaimer: Darkwing Duck, and all its official characters are copyright Disney. This is just a fanfic, and is not meant as an infringement on this copyright. This story, and all the Deviations characters and events are copyright me. Please send any comments and criticisms to Charlie 'Crash' Stadele at firstname.lastname@example.org.