"Mr. McDuck will see you now," Mrs. Featherby said with a friendly smile.
"Thanks," Launchpad said, smiling back. He stood up and walked into the office.
"I don't have a lot of time, Launchpad," Scrooge said crossly. "What did you want to see me about?"
"Well, I wanted to tell yah-" Launchpad began, then stalled.
He was suddenly nervous. He loved Mr. McD and the kids and he didn't know how any of them were going to react to his news.
"Well?" Scrooge asked impatiently. "What is it?"
Launchpad took a deep breath.
"I came to give you my two weeks notice. I've decided to leave Duckburg."
Scrooge stared at him in surprise for a few seconds, then said, "Leave Duckburg? Why?"
"I need a change. We haven't been on a real adventure in almost a year. Webby and the boys are older now and maybe that's part of the reason why, but I still need action. Flying you to meetings or transporting cargo just isn't enough."
"You need something different, more unpredictable?"
"Well, if that's the way you want it, Lad, I understand. But I'll miss you. We all will."
Launchpad smiled. Scrooge rarely showed affection or fondness towards anyone but Webby and the boys.
"I'll miss you guys, too."
Scrooge stood up and walked around the desk and they shook hands. Then he surprised Launchpad by giving him a hug. As he hugged Mr. McD back, he hoped the kids would take the news as well as he had.
"Have you told the kids yet?"
Launchpad shook his head.
"Well, come to dinner tonight and you can tell them then. When are you leaving?"
"Next month. I sold my house to your nephew, Gladstone."
"Where in the world did Gladstone Gander get enough money to buy a house?"
"He used his luck, of course. I told him what I was asking for it and he showed up with it the next day."
"Did he tell you how he got it?"
"Yeah, somehow it fell out of Flintheart Glomgold's limo when the driver stopped short so he wouldn't hit a rabbit. Gladstone said you could hear Glomgold screaming at the poor guy all the way down the street."
Scrooge laughed. He loved a story that made Flintheart look silly, especially if it cost Glomgold money because it meant he was no closer to being the richest duck in the world and Scrooge still held the title. Then he did a double take.
"Wait. What would he want with a studio on an air strip? He's no pilot."
"He wants to rent out the air strip to freelance pilots and turn the studio into a vending stand so the pilots can eat before they either take off again or go do whatever business they have in Duckburg."
Scrooge smiled proudly. "So," he said, impressed, "Maybe I have managed to teach him something about finances after all!"
The intercom buzzed.
"Yes, Mrs. Featherby?" Scrooge asked.
"Your three o'clock is here, Mr. McDuck."
"Dinner at seven?" he asked Launchpad.
"Ok, see you later."
"Oh, and Doofus will be there, too. I told the boys they could have a sleep over."
During dinner, Launchpad gave the kids his news.
"You're leaving?" All the kids asked at once.
"But why?" Dewey asked for all of them.
Launchpad explained his reasons, then waited as the kids thought it over. All of them, especially Doofus, looked as if they'd just lost their best friend.
"But where will you go?" Webby asked.
He took out a small scrapbook he'd been keeping and showed it to them. The scrapbook had a few articles featuring a city called Saint Canard, not too far from Duckburg, and a duck in a cape and a mask calling himself Darkwing Duck. He had become Launchpad's hero over the last year. He was even building a plane that looked like Darkwing. He called it the Thunderquack. He hoped to meet Darkwing someday and show the plane to him.
"Saint Canard?" Doofus asked. "What's there that you don't have in Duckburg?"
"Adventure. I just don't have that in Duckburg anymore."
"But, Launchpad, that city is full of crime," Mrs. Beakley said, looking concerned.
"Look at the guy in the articles, Mrs. B," Launchpad said. "He's a crime fighter. I'd love to meet him; that's one of the reasons I picked Saint Canard. Maybe if I meet him and I show him the Thunderquack he'll let me be his sidekick."
"Sidekick?" Doofus asked, surprised. "You're a hero, Launchpad! Why would you want to be anybody's sidekick?"
"Why do you wanna be my sidekick, little buddy?"
"Because you're my hero!"
"And Darkwing Duck is my hero. He helps a lot of people; he saves them from being hurt by the bad guys. I'm not helping anyone here, not in any way that counts, not anymore. I'm just a pilot now; I want to be more. If Darkwing Duck lets me be his sidekick, I can make a real difference. If he doesn't, I'll find some other way to help people in a big way, like I used to do with you guys."
"But this guy Darkwing hasn't done half the cool stuff you have!" Doofus said. "You've been in space, you've driven a submarine, you even saved me from the Beagle Boys and saved the Earth from a Martian bomb!"
"Yeah," Louie said, "And nobody else could have landed that blimp safely without anyone being hurt."
Launchpad smiled. It wasn't a pep talk he needed; it was a break in the routine he'd unintentionally established over the past year. But he appreciated their confidence and loyalty.
"We've done a lot together, I know, and it's been great."
"Isn't it still great?" Webby asked. "Did we do something to make you mad at us?"
"No," Launchpad said. Webby was closest to him and he pulled her into a one-armed hug. "This has nothing to do with you guys." He looked at Mr. McD for help.
"He's restless, kids," Scrooge said. "It's like when your Uncle Donald joined the navy. He wanted something more. Duckburg's given Launchpad all it has to offer, and I think we have, too. We'll always be his friends, but he needs to find his action and adventure somewhere else. By the way, Laddie, what's a Thunderquack and what does it have to do with you meeting this Darkwing Duck person?"
"It's a jet plane; I built it to look like him and customized it, with Gyro's help, for a super hero like him. I'll show it to yah before I leave."
He looked around the table.
"Hey, this won't be so bad," he said, faking cheerfulness. Webby and Bubba were crying and the other kids were close to it. "We can talk on the phone and I'll come and visit, and you can visit me in Saint Canard. It won't be so different."
"Launchpad's right," Scrooge said. "Saint Canard and Duckburg are neighboring cities, so he won't be that far away."
"You've made up your mind, haven't yah?" Huey asked sadly.
"Yeah," Launchpad said quietly. "I leave next month. Gladstone Gander bought my house."
"Yah promise we'll always be friends?" Webby asked.
"I promise," he said, tightening his arm around her.
"And you think you'll be happy in Saint Canard?" Mrs. Beakley asked.
"Yeah, I do."
"Then, you should go," Dewey said sadly, "Right guys?"
"Right," the rest of them said.
"They look the way they did when the search parties were looking for you after that race with Armstrong, the robot," Duckworth told Launchpad. "Cheer up, children. At least this time you know where he is and that he's safe."
"But who's gonna be our little league coach and Junior Woodchuck troop leader?" Doofus asked.
"Gladstone said he would," Launchpad said. "He's been looking for something new, too. I think this is gonna work out for all of us."