"Dad, I swear! This wasn't my fault, not this time!" 14 year old Gosalyn Mallard looked up at her father. Drake Mallard was no where near his happy place, not right now. He'd finally gotten the money to buy an above ground pool for the house, something that Gosalyn had always wanted. Drake about two weeks ago, had finally given in, agreeing that this would be a good way to keep his child occupied during the warm months, and had gone to order the pool. A week later, it had arrived and was set up and the day after that, Gosalyn and her friend Honker Muddlefoot were wrecking havoc in the water, playing all kinds of pool games, racing each other on noodles, and leaving wet padded foot prints all over the house, which had driven Drake out of his mind. Never the less, he was happy to see that Gosalyn was so enthralled with the pool, and more to the point, it gave him some free time with Morgana.
So, six days and a little over $1000 later, Drake was a little more than stunned and angry when he saw the contents of said pool, that being the gallons upon gallons upon GALLONS of water, spilled out all over the back yard and a huge gaping hole in the far end of the pool. The $1000 pool. That was merely six days old.
Standing in front of him were his daughter and Honker Muddlefoot. He glared at both of them, more so Gosalyn and breathed out, "you have exactly one minute to explain this, young lady."
"Okay, Dad, this isn't what it looks like," Gosalyn pointed at the pool, "Honker and I were just sitting on our noodles and we decided to have a race so we started at that end of the pool and then I said go and I kicked and my foot hit the side of the pool and-" she extended her arms to gesture to the water in the backyard, "that what happened."
"You kicked the side of the pool."
Gosalyn nodded emphatically, the worried look that she was going to get in trouble still lingering in her eyes. "That's it, I swear, Dad. Cross my heart and hope to die!"
Drake was absolutely seething. His daughter had a penchant for getting into trouble and breaking numerous things, but pools? Now he was positive that he'd seen it all. He gazed at Gosalyn for a minute, as though wondering whether or not to believe her, but, in one second, he decided to take her word for it. He walked away and down the steps of the porch, surveying the now holy pool and water that was puddling at his feet. This was just ridiculous. It occurred to him that, when he had gone shopping for pools, he's simply looked at the pictures and gone ahead with what the salesman had told him. There were no models to look at, no materials to feel, and he figured that the tarps would have to be thick and strong enough to withstand about 1000 to 2000 gallons of water. This pool had seemed perfect, not to big, but big enough to fit about five to seven people comfortably.
Now, as Drake picked up the tarp and felt just how flimsy and thin it was and noting the tear that he could stick his whole hand through, he was fairly certain that perhaps he should have gone to a store that had this particular model to look at and feel.
"Gosalyn! Get cleaned up and get dressed, we're going back there!"
"Right now, get moving!"
Gosalyn knew better than to argue, and, after a quick goodbye to Honker, who wished the distraught duck good luck, hurried inside and shimmied out of her bathing suit and into her street clothes. Gone was the purple number one jersey that she always used to wear. Now, she was adorned in a simple tank top with blue jeans. She brushed her short, red hair, which fell to just below her shoulders in a small waves and scrubbed her face of the chlorine. She really had developed over the past five years into a very beautiful young woman. Her father had noticed as well and insisted that he accompany her on every single clothes shopping trip that she'd been on, just to ensure that she bought clothes that 'fit' properly.
Five minutes later, Drake and his daughter were in the car, a Polaroid picture of the pool in Gosalyn's hand as they headed into town. "Unbelievable. That pool cost me over a thousand dollars and it falls apart in under a week!" Drake was steaming mad as he made a right hand turn onto the main street of St. Canard. A couple of miles later, they were pulling into the pool warehouse and were standing at the customer service desk. Gosalyn was looking nervously back and forth, and she could see that some of the personnel were less than pleased than to have to be dealing with a very angry patron that day. Especially her father. Money was not easy to come by in their family, and though they were by no means poor, they certainly had no money tree in the back yard that they could go and pick from whenever they chose.
"Ah, Mr. Mallard!" Father and daughter turned to regard the sales manager. "I seem to remember selling you a pool two weeks ago. How did everything go? I see the little one has been taking some swim sessions-"
"The pool is broken," Drake said flatly, holding out the piece of tarp to the manager, "and there's about a thousand gallons of water in my back yard."
"Ah..." the manager cleared his throat, clearly looking uncomfortable. He did the worst thing he could have done then, which was make a joke. "Well, at least you still have the pool!"
"The nerve of that guy!" Drake yelled, putting his mask on. Dusk had now fallen, and he and Launchpad were getting ready to go out on patrol. Gosalyn, as she was accustomed to on the weekends, was staying in the tower for the next to nights, and was now listening, as she had been listening for the past four hours, to her father rant and rave about the horrible service that they'd received at the warehouse. "At least you still have a pool in your yard? Hmph!" Drake, now fully in his Darkwing Duck garb glared at Launchpad who held up his hands in defense. "Hey, hey, DW, it wasn't my fault!" His friends face softened. "Yea, I know, LP. Just...ticks me off, that's all. I'm getting older every day, it's not like I've got money to throw around!"
"Dad, you're 34, and you're getting all your money back," Gosalyn remarked, lounging on her makeshift bed in the corner. From where she was, she could see the city lights beyond the window in front of her. It was her favorite perch. She could see anyone coming in from this point...from the window, the front door, the hatch in the floor, or the chairs that were parked in the middle of the room.
"I'm in my 30's, that's old," Darkwing said dramatically, putting a few items into the Thunderquack, "and you too will pass this way one day young missy. Just you remember that!"
Gosalyn rolled her eyes.
"Ya ready to go, LP?" Darkwing called. With a nod and a wave, Launchpad was in the Thunderquack and gunning her engines. Gosalyn got up from the bed and approached her father. "Be safe tonight, Dad," she said, as she always did, giving him a tight hug. Her father returned it. They always did this before he went out on patrol. "I will. I'll be back before morning." He patted his daughter on the head and turned, walking towards the Thunderquack. With one last wave, he leapt into the plane and they were off.
"Boy, I can't wait to go with you," Gos muttered, turning back to her bed and gathering some comic books together along with munchies. She settled in for a long night of waiting and hoping that her father and Launchpad would come back just as she'd seen them leave. In one piece.
"So, you got your money back, right DW?"
"Yea, but that's not the point, LP. The point is that I spent it in the first place and got something horrible for it in return. What if Gosalyn or Honker had been hurt when the side of the pool collapsed?" Darkwing shook his head. "I won't be getting another one of those anytime soon. We'll just have to settle for a membership to one of the community pools. It was nice though...for those six days, to see Gosalyn in that pool just having fun." He smiled at the thought. Contrary to popular belief, Gosalyn rarely got to simply unwind. She was always worried about something or other; him getting hurt during a patrol, Launchpad getting hurt during a patrol, neither of them coming back to her after a night of patrolling...
Patrol, patrol, patrol...
He and Gosalyn had been doing a lot of talking about that lately. More specifically, about her role in the grand scheme of things. Since she'd been adopted, Gosalyn had wanted to be part of the crime fighting club. She detested criminals, and there was no one with more right than Gosalyn to feel that way. She'd had her family taken away by them, and more than a few times, had almost lost either Launchpad or her father to them. Still, her drive was the same; she wanted to dawn the guise of Quiverwing Quack once more. Even though she was 14, she'd frequently told her father and LP that that was what she wanted to do with her life, no matter the consequence. Darkwing wasn't sure in the beginning that she fully understood what it was she wanted to do, but as the time went on, he figured out that she did get it, better than he gave her credit for.
"DW, we goin' or what?"
"Huh?" Darkwing snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Launchpad. "Go where?"
"Quackerjack's looting one of the toy stores again," his pilot summarized, "he wants you there, just like always." Darkwing nodded and fastened his safety belts tighter, knowing that flying with Launchpad sometimes was more dangerous than fighting criminals.
"Let's get dangerous."
"Woo hoo hoo! Oh, Mr. Banana Brain is having such a great time with all these new toys!" Quackerjack, St. Canards resident toy monster was dancing around the Ducky Do Fun Store. "What was that? You think that we could use these in our new weapons stock pile? I do too! Yes I do. Oh, Mr. Banana Brain, you come up with the best ideas!"
"I am the terror that flaps in the night!"
Quackerjack abruptly stopped, Mr. Banana Brain parallel to his head. Even the puppet seemed to take interest in the purple smoke that was now appearing before them.
"I am the play doll that won't stop crying!"
Quackerjack blinked. This was going to be so much fun!
"I am Darkwing Duck!" Out of the purple mist appeared Darkwing, gas gun ready for battle, and it was aimed directly at his enemy. "Quackerjack, this is getting to be old for you isn't it? I thought you would have graduated to banks by now."
"Oh, but you can't get toys at Banks, Dipwing!" Quackerjack answered. DW frowned. Normally Quackerjack would either be trying to A) escape or B) Blow him up with his latest toy invention. "And you can't get them jail, either, Quackerjack, which is exactly where you're going this time, no if's, and's, or but's about it!"
"Oh, I don't think so. Jail isn't really my place of fun. Now, an amusement park!" Quackerjack twirled around on one foot. "An amusement park is my kinda place! Toys to win, rides to ride, jokes and pranks to pull! It's a perfect place for me!" He stopped twirling and stood still, staring down Darkwing. The latter began to feel slightly uncomfortable. What was going on here? Quackerjack was never this confident, and he certainly didn't hang around this long without trying to attack or run.
"I love games," Quckerjack was saying. He had resumed his twirling and was now speaking to Mr. Banana Brain. Darkwing wasn't entirely sure of what to do with him at the moment. Something was just very, very off!
"Pin the tail on the donkey, horse-shoes, pinata, scavenger hunts..." He paused and looked at his puppet friend, "in fact, there's a scavenger hunt going on right now!" He glanced at Darkwing, and the caped-duck had a feeling that Quackerjack knew something that he didn't.
"Mr. Banana Brain, along with myself and Negaduck would like to invite you to a scavenger hunt, Mr. Darkwing Duck!"
"Negaduck and you?" This was getting more confusing by the moment. What in blazes was going on around here. "I don't have time for games, you confusing clown." It was here that Quackerjack left the lofty, happy tone of his voice behind and opted for a more sinister, much more dangerous edge to his words
"Oh, but you'll want time for this game, Darkwing Duck. The prize is being gathered as we speak!"
"There's no prize in the world that I would ever want to win from you," the hero answered, stepping forward. He was getting tired of dancing around the bush, and he wanted to end this quickly. There would be less of a chance for his adversary to pull something that way.
"Oh, I think you'll change your mind once you realize what you could win...or should I say, win back!" Hopping and jumping away from Darkwings grasp, Quackerjack landed on a display case showcasing the next edition of Wiffle Boy. "This prize looks just like a doll. In fact, she'll enrapture you with her beautiful green eyes and short red hair. And those soft, golden duckling feathers." Quackerjack took in his foe's face before him and smiled evilly. "They're just to die for!"
Gosalyn tossed one of her comic books aside, picked up the next one, and began flipping through it. Most of the comic books that were spread before her at the moment she'd already red, but there were key parts that she enjoyed going over and locking into her memory. It was great when she could out wit a lot of the comic book loving boys at her school. So engrossed was she in her reading that she didn't notice someone sneaking in through the large window that she so loved to look out of at the city.
She glanced at her watch. 1am. She'd head to the bathroom, brush her teeth, turn in early. That way, when she woke up, her father and Launchpad would already be back and they could go home for the day. She piled the comic books together and stacked them neatly on the floor by the foot of her bed and got up, heading towards the bathroom. She was opening the door when it suddenly slammed shut. The girl didn't have time to scream as the intruder clasped his hands around her beak and dragged her backward. Gosalyn though, was not going without a fight. She may have only been a young teenager, but her father was the Hero of St. Canard, and she'd been taught to defend herself since the day of her adoption. She elbowed her attacker in the stomach and stamped on his foot. She twisted out of his grasp and turned around, gazing at very familiar eyes.
"Negaduck!" She staggered back trying to put as much space between her and him as she could possibly get. The problem was the tower was a fortress, built to keep people out, and in some ways, built to keep them in. She could use the chairs, but that would lead Negaduck right back to her home, and she wasn't going to have any of that. Her choice was made for her though, within the blink of an eye. The next time she glanced at Negaduck, he held a pistol very solidly in his hand.
"That was cute," he commented, sneering, "but it wasn't good enough, Toots. Now, why don't you come along with me? Trust me, we'll be seein' your Darkwing soon enough. Quackerjack is already informing him of your little trip, and we wouldn't want to disappoint him when he comes all the way to find you and comes away empty handed." He let out a harsh laugh, gesturing for her to come to him with the gun. It took Gosalyn a few seconds to comply, which instantly frustrated Negaduck. "Either come over here now, or you can lose the ability to walk for the rest of your life."
Gosalyn swallowed. There was no way out of this. She'd seen Negaduck use a gun before, and knew that he was incredibly good with it, either in shooting it or using it for other methods. She stiffly and slowly walked forward until she stood a foot in front of him, her hands clenched at her sides. She was rewarded with a sharp tug at her shirt pulling her towards a duck that she could very well have lived the rest of her life happily without ever touching, and marched towards the windows ledge.
"Don't worry, Toots," Negaduck breathed, nudging her forward with the gun, "you'll be seeing good old Darkwing soon." He took something out of his pocket and rested it on the ledge. "Now. Grab the rope and climb down. And no funny business either. I'd hate to have to shoot you before my good old friend finds you!"
Darkwing had been up and out of the toy store only seconds after Quackerjack had given him the description of his daughter. Sure, they knew that Gosalyn was seen with him on numerous times through out cases, but they didn't know that she was at the tower every weekend. Or did they? If that was true, had they made the connection between her and him? Did they know the bond they shared outside of the crime fighting business?
"LP, punch it, back to the tower!"
Launchpad knew better than to ask questions at this moment, and decided to wait until they were up in the air and racing back to the tower. When this was accomplished, he finally asked his questions. Darkwing stopped him in mid sentence. "Gosalyn's in trouble. They're trying to kidnap her!"
Launchpad, without being asked tried to give as much power to the engines as he could. Though Drake Mallard/Darkwing Duck was Gosalyn's official and legal father, Launchpad looked at the girl as his own too.
The flight back was one of the longest in all of Darkwings life, though in truth it was only about five minutes. When the Thunderquack was set down, DW was out of the plane in a flash, looking around frantically for his daughter. "Gosalyn! Gosalyn, where are you!" He raced over to the bed and found the comic books stacked neatly by the foot of it, one of the covers slightly skewed, as though she'd been heading to bed early. "Gosalyn!" He and Launchpad called out her name for several minutes, until they both realized that she was no where to be found.
They were to late.
"Hey, DW, look at this," Launchpad called from the window. In his hand was a rock. An ordinary rock. There was no note attached to it, nothing written on it. It simply was there. And then again, it wasn't simply there. It had been put there.
"Negaduck's calling card...or rock, I should say," he continued, handing it over to Darkwing. "There's nothing on it though, how are we supposed to figure out where he took her?"
"He want's me there as soon as possible," Darkwing muttered, disregarding his side kicks question and walking over to the lab area that he'd set up in his tower. "LP, get on the police bands, report Gosalyn Mallard missing and give them a description. This is going to take some time."
"What the hell do you want from me?" Gosalyn hadn't stopped asking that question since she was taken from the tower. It was now mid early morning and she was sitting in the back of a van, her hands and feet tied together behind her. She was lying on her side, on the cold surface and she was shivering. It was like she was still wearing her jeans or anything like that, she'd changed into a night shirt earlier in the night. And only a night shirt, so, naturally, she was a little worried that there were a couple of ducks that were taking some liberties with their eyes at the moment.
"If you don't shut up, I'm gonna give you a reason to keep screaming, ya here me?" Negaduck called back. His hostage shut her mouth for the time being and laid her head down on the hard surface. She'd been kidnaped by Negaduck and all the other guys before, but this time was different. They were all calm. They were cool, collected, sure of themselves. Negaduck was in more control than he had been in the past, and everyone had executed their part of this grand plan with style and grace. No screw ups. Definitely not a trademark of the Fearsome Five.
Suddenly, she felt the van stop and heard Negaduck and his cronies get out. When the doors to the back were opened, Gosalyn could see not only Negaduck, but Quackerjack as well. "Where's the rest of your psychotic party?" she muttered as she was pulled from the van roughly. The doors slammed behind her and she jumped slightly, not just from the sound but from the chill in the wind. She was slung over Quackerjacks back and carried over to what seemed like the edge of a cliff. Oh God, they're going to kill me! she realized, and she began to struggle.
"Now, now, no need to struggle, little miss," Quackerjack assured her, "we're not gonna have fun until Darkwing Duck gets here!" Never the less, the teen continued her struggled all the way to the stopping point. When she was vaulted off of Quackerjack and onto the ground, she found a pistol staring her in the face. "If you want to see Darkwing, you'll stay still. Otherwise, when he get's here, he'll find his prize dead!" Gosalyn took the hint and, after the ropes around her ankles had been cut, curled her legs underneath her in an effort to keep warm. She looked out over the edge and saw a log perched on the edge of it, with most of its trunk on the rock side to keep it from falling over. It seemed sturdy enough. Negaduck looked at Quackerjack.
"Got it! I've got it! She's at the Canard Mountainside Park!" Darkwing hopped off of his stool from where he'd been sitting in front of the computer. Launchpad furrowed his brow. "How's you figure that out?"
"The minerals in this rock are rare, there's only one area that has them, and that's the Park," his boss answered hurriedly. "Get the Thunderquack ready for take off, LP! This is the last time he takes my little girl away from me!"
Gosalyn was literally hanging by a moment. The log was sturdy enough to hold it and herself, but she was definitely more than a little uncomfortable with the situation. To begin with, she was hanging by a rope and log about 10,000 feet above a rocky gorge. Secondly, her attire was not conducive to warmth or coverage. While her night clothes were by no means scandalous, her shirt was being pushed up by not only her arms hanging, but by the wind that was constantly blowing. She was literally freezing, and she wasn't sure how long she would last hanging around like this.
"Mr. Banana Brain would like to know how you're doing down there!"
Gosalyn looked up, blinking away tears that the wind was causing by blowing in her face. "SHOVE IT!" She heard Quackerjack tisking her. "Now, now, that wasn't nice-"
"Quackerjack! Get back to camp. Get everything ready. I want to go as soon as I return. Once Dipwing Dork is gone, we can start controlling St. Canard." Gosalyn looked up to see Quackerjack disappear and Negaduck appear in his place. "You know, every time you try to pull your 'take over the world' stunts, Darkwing gets in your way, and every time he does, he beats you. What makes you think this time will be different?"
"Because I'm going to give him a choice, Red," Negaduck got on his stomach and grinned at her. "And there's going to be an offer that he can't refuse."
"Stealthy or no?"
"Forget stealth, he knows we're coming. I want to get Gosalyn and get home. No heroics, I don't even care about stopping his plan this time. I want Gosalyn in home and in bed like she's supposed to be."
Launchpad flew the plane in low and with the strong lights and sensors, they could make out two life signs. He could feel some of the tension leave his companion beside him. Gosalyn was alive. That was a start. "Open the canopy, LP."
Launchpad just looked at him. "You're no good to her if you break your legs down there, DW."
"Open it." He nodded reassuringly at his partner and LP did as he asked, though with an obviously heavy heart. The wind was powerful, but somehow, maybe with the heart of a father who's daughter's life was hanging in the balance, he made the leap and landed on the ground feet down relatively unscathed. As the pilot watched the landing of his friend on the cliff, his gaze caught something else. He opened a communication.
"DW, she's hanging from a log over the edge of a cliff," Launchpad transmitted, already dipping the plane and closing the canopy.
"Get her out of there, LP. Keep hovering until this is finished."
"How will I know it's finished?"
"Ah, the guest of honor!" Negaduck greeted Darkwing, his arch nemesis with a scathing look. "I was so hoping you'd show up."
"Let her go, Negaduck. This isn't about her. This is about you and me." Darkwing tried to keep the tone of pleading and begging out of his voice, but it was difficult. His baby was hanging over a ledge thousands of feet above death that was just waiting to claim her.
"Oh, but this is about her. It's all about her," Negaduck assured him, "in fact, she's the bargaining chip in this little scheme." He pulled out his pistol and waved it around gallantly. He was enjoying this, and Darkwing knew it. "You see, I had an epiphany. There are so many times that this chick is around when you are. I thought, 'my...I wonder why that is?' I haven't found out why, but, after the end of my speech, it really won't matter. Either one or both of you will be dead, and that sidekick of yours will be taken care of soon after that, so, really, I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart..." he paused as if considering his words. "Actually, no, I'm doing this because I know that there is no way that you'd be able to refuse this offer, this generous gift that I'm about to give you."
Darkwing waited. There was nothing else he could do. He engaged himself a little further into the cliff, so that he could clearly see Negaduck in the early morning light, or lack there of. He could tell that Negaduck wanted him to ask what this grand offer was, and so he did.
"I thought you'd never ask," the duck responded wryly. "I usually love to go into detail, but you know what? Tonight, I just can't wait to know which one you'd choose. Here's the deal. I'll let her go." Darkwing raised an eyebrow. "Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"And in return?"
Negaduck smiled, a look that would remain in DW's mind for the rest of his days. "In return, all you need to do, is die. Die tonight, by this pistol. Calmly, no fighting, no defense tactics. Just kneel before me and die, and she goes free." Darkwing swallowed. "And if I don't?"
"Oh, if you don't?" Negaduck shook his head and stepped back towards the edge near the log, aiming his gun down to where Darkwing knew his daughter to be hanging. "If you don't, she dies, and you get to live with the knowledge that you could have saved her...now, how long you'll live I can't say. But it won't be long." He shrugged his shoulders and kept his gun trained on the young one below.
"What'll it be, duck!" He called. "Your life, or hers?
Very suddenly, a duck shaped plane flew just over Negaduck and took a dive into the gorge below. "What the-?"
Darkwing took that moment to act. He sprung on Negaduck, with a fury that he'd never felt before until tonight. The pistol was knocked out of his hand and over the edge, never to bother anyone again. Darkwing pulled Negaduck up and delivered a swift punch to his face. "This is the last time you threaten my family, Negaduck," he growled, grabbing his enemies collar and throwing him to the ground.
Meanwhile, Gosalyn knowing that there was a fight above ground and realizing that she wasn't going to get a better chance at this, grasped the ropes that bound her tightly and, with strength that she didn't know, but had hoped that she'd possessed, began to make her way, half pulling, half climbing using the rock beside her, back up to the top of the cliff. She looked down once and saw the Thunderquack, LP looking anxiously up at her as the canopy was opening, but she continued her ascent. She was going to help her father, no matter the consequence that she was dealt.
When she reached the top, she saw her father and Negaduck locked in a battle of arms and legs, Darkwings fancy martial arts moves colliding with Negaduck's rougher, more streetwise fighting style. She swung her legs up and wrapped them around the log. Using her momentum and every ounce of energy that she had left she turned her self from underneath the log to atop the log. There was nothing else she could do now. She simply set to trying to free herself, while desperately making sure that her father was still alive and fighting. Unfortunately, she was noticed sitting on the log. Negaduck took that opportunity to break away from his fight and once again, threaten Gosalyn. He was by her in a flash, the gun at her head, and she was frozen in fear.
"Darkwing, I thought you loved her more than that!" He yelled. Now he was angry. This plan was supposed to have gone off without a hitch, but it hadn't. No matter. He now held all the cards in his hands. The only card that mattered was being held at gun point. "The deals out the window, Darkwing. Now, I'm just gonna kill both of you. Who wants to go first!" His eyes glanced at Gosalyn and he grinned. "My mother taught me right, toots. Always let the ladies go ahead of the guys." He pulled out a switchblade and opened it.
Gosalyn swallowed and closed her eyes.
And there was a whoosh of wind behind them that neither was expecting. The Thunderquack was now hovering beside them, and Launchpad was shaking his head at Negaduck. With him distracted, Gosalyn took her chance. With all her might, she kicked her kidnaper with both legs. She couldn't hear anything, but she could definitely see Negaduck's face as he went over the edge, his mouth was open, his eyes full of surprise but showing no fear as he sailed out and over. The last she saw of him was his feet as he plunged thousands of feet down to his death below. She closed her eyes.
It was over.
He was dead. Dead and gone. He wouldn't be able to come back.
She vaguely noticed Darkwing running up to her, taking off his cape and bundling her in it. He picked her up. She thought she heard him saying something about shock, but she wasn't sure. All she was sure of was that Negaduck was gone forever.
"Take us home, LP," Darkwing ordered, holding his daughter close as they settled into the Thunderquack. He looked down at her; she appeared to be asleep. No small wonder, after the hell she'd just been through. He brushed back her hair, smiling in spite of the situation. He sighed and rested his own head against hers, clutching her tightly.