Chapter Twelve


The warmth of summer sun kissed his skin and made his sleepy head even heavier. The scent of freshly cut grass rolled over him and his imagination conjured it as a green wind lazily twinkling in the light. Peaceful calm held him in it's palm and in the back of his mind he knew it would dissolve back into chaos before too long. But for now he was safe. He was hiding. No one knew to look for him here except for... the thought was interrupted by a dull ache in his head. Drake sucked in a hissing breath and raised a hand to massage his throbbing temples but stopped when the hand came into view. Curiously he turned it over in careful investigation, it was so small. Of course it was, said his brain, you're only seven. He tried to sit up but it seemed as if gravity had increased tenfold, pinning him down. Unable to sit up his eyes rolled around to his surroundings. He was deep in the woods, familiar woods, the sound of the creaking limbs and rustling leaves stirred a warmth in his chest. He knew this place, but he could not remember. With a bracing breath he tried to sit up again but the weight on him would not lift and pain shot through every inch of him. Phantom images of a jester with a knife and a needle in his chest flickered across his mind. The fight left him in a rush of agony. Sunlight glistened overhead through the thick canopy, as he swivelled his eyes around once more. He managed to angle his head just far enough to make out something in the distance. His eyes focused on a manor, it's appearance choppy through the thick trees but he had seen it before. It was the same mansion he'd hallucinated in that alleyway, it was his home. Bile and the foreign black substance bubbled in this throat at the sight of it, pain coiling around his brain like a barbed serpent. His eyes clamped shut as the wind ruffled his feathers.

It was a lovely sensation amid all this agony, and he could almost imagine it whispering his name. This place, maybe it was heaven? The idea made him shudder as a cloud passed over the sun bathing him in shadow. If this was heaven he would be dead, and he couldn't be dead. He couldn't be, not now. Not now that he'd failed so terribly to stop the true evil that crept through the darkness, through that mansion his brain added. The cloud started to release it's hold on the sun and the wind breathed his name again. If this was heaven it was entirely unwanted, it would have to wait, he couldn't give up now. No matter how desperately the wind now called his name and laced it's fingers through his hair. If this was heaven... why did it smell like garbage?

"Drake damn you, wake up!" Pleaded the wind and the hot hands in his hair removed themselves to glide across his chest to spark the sting of a forgotten wound. He cried out sharply as the puncture wound in his chest diffused the pain throughout his entire body. Tears sprang to his eyes and he cracked them open to see the green leaves shrivel into a ghastly brown and shed their leaves in a mere matter of seconds. The serene scene warped into a nightmarish mangle of dead trees and even the sky darkened to a blood red. This was not heaven. The pain in his chest suddenly was accented by a tingling numbness as his form was slowly flooded with pins and needles. He squeezed his hands into fists and another sickly gurgle of anguish escaped him, he could feel the individual fingers on the hot hands press into his skin and he blinked at the swirling red sky over head. The sun was there. It was still there how had he missed it. It's eyes were so green, he couldn't believe he'd missed it. Wait. The sun had eyes? He blinked and the dream faded as reality snuck back into focus. When his eyes opened in the actual world he had to squint and turn his sensitive eyes away from what he'd dreamed as the sun. Morgana was hunched over him, a streetlight blazing behind her as the haze of the city at night floated overhead. He lazily took in their surroundings to see Bushroot's leaf glider had deposited him in an open dumpster. The wind named Morgana spoke again.

"I don't know if I should kiss you or kill you Drake Mallard." Her voice cracked with relief despite her rage.

"I know-" The words scraped through his abused throat with the taste of blood. He could feel the strangulation bruises on his throat as he spoke.

"You promised us that you'd be more careful that's why we left-"

"You're right."

"And now look at you!" Something wet splashed on his face and he flinched instinctively. "I can't keep doing this. I can't keep letting you go off to destroy yourself and sweep in just in time to put you back together. It's not fair. I barely made it, you don't know how hard it was. I could feel it-" Another tear dripped on his face and his eyes finally focused on her face.

"I'm sorry."

Morgana's face twisted deeper in a mixture of relief and despair. The expression hurt him almost as a much as a physical blow. His body had finally regained some strength and his hands grabbed hold of her. Surprise dispersed the previous look on Morgana's face and he pulled her into a kiss. He kissed her desperately, his mind brought back all to clear what he was certain would have been his final thoughts had it not been for Bushroot's intervention. The inescapable sureness of knowing he'd never see her again, that he'd failed her and everyone else. Yet here she was giving him his second, third, fourth, hell, his hundredth chance. She didn't deserve this suffering just as much as he didn't deserve her constant aid. He loved this woman, and how had he courted her? With death and danger. Her arms snaked around him in this reckless embrace and he knew that they weren't even close to being out of these treacherous woods. Wolves were lurking behind every tree and he was suddenly aware of how crass his actions had been. The kiss was broken with a strangled sob as Morgana buried her face into the nook of his purpled neck.

"I'm sorry I sent you away." He whispered hoarsely and her response was a wet sniff. His hands slid down her silky hair. "I was wrong." Despite the pathetic heap he'd become he smiled dryly. "Don't expect to hear that too often."

"I'll mark the occasion." She croaked in his ear and he almost melted at the tone of amusement in her voice. Anything to replace this anguish was a godsend. "Today will be offically dubbed as 'The Day Drake Mallard Admitted He Was Wrong'. There may even be parades."


"D-did he do this to you?" Her fingertips danced along his throat and the tingling set to work on removing the unsightly hand prints.

"Actually," he sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I haven't even caught a glimpse of him since you left with-" A jolt of panic darted through him. "Gosalyn! Where-"

"Shh, she's safe." Her face hovered over him, her eyes calm. "If she was here though you'd probably have a few more black and blue marks to add to your collection for whatever stupid plan led you to this." Anger flickered across her features for a fleeting moment before she removed herself from his arms and continued to repair his ravaged body, the stab wound in his thigh flared in misery at her touch. "She's been worrying herself sick about you since the moment we left. We both have..."

"Morg," He tried to sit up but she firmly held him down.

"Don't move. Just let me heal you before you get yourself into anymore trouble." The magic penetrated the laceration and he grit his teeth with a groan. "Once you're able to stand we're going to see her. I promised her we'd both come get her. She needs to see you more than you can imagine but..." She flicked the white collar of the stolen shirt he wore. "Not in his blood splattered clothes. So we'll go to the tower get you changed, and then we'll pay her a visit. I don't want to hear any excuses."

"There won't be any. I can't wait to see her." The panic released it's grip on him as a smile absorbed his face. "Hey Morg?"

"Yes?" She eyed him quickly and the smallest of smiles infected her face as well.

"Thank you for ignoring me and coming back."

"Dark darling, I will ignore your stupidity forever. And-" Her eyes met his and the streetlight twinkled as if suddenly replaced with sparklers. "...I will always come back for you."

Two Eggmen struggled against the wind, their boots crunched up broken glass as they wrestled to cover the busted window with a plastic tarp. The gaping hole in the glass had the effect of turning the hallway into a wind tunnel. This not only made it more difficult for the pair of grunts to repair the issue but also made it highly amusing to watch. Steelbeak held his tie down to his chest to keep it from flapping around and fought to sober himself as the plastic sheet pummeled the grunts from every angle. It would have been ill advised to let out a chuckle in the presence of the stock still figure beside him.

"Ya don't really buy Reggie's bit a' fiction do ya Boss? He ain't da type ta git enthusiastic enough ta chuck a guy outta window jus' cuz." Steelbeak glanced at his superior in anticipation of an answer but all that came was a grunt. Unfazed he carried on. "Besides I tink we both know who spilled da beans on where he could find us. Not ta mention when you were off doin' yer ting and I was er... well while we both were out." The Boss didn't respond so he plowed ahead. "It's time ta git serious 'bout findin' dat Dendrin dame. I mean if she found Darkwing and blabbed to him who knows who else could be knockin' on da door with warrants or maybe flamet'rowers. Maybe we oughta tink about lockin' dis place down and relocatin' t' another facility quiet like?"

"My, my Steelbeak what has happened to your spine? Has it dribbled down your leg with the rest of your bodily fluids?" Negaduck growled and without a glance at the offending agent approached the lingering plant life that clung to the walls. He ripped a fist full of leaves off in unmasked rage. "Have Quackerjack and Megavolt turned up?"

"No sign of 'em." Hopefully they got themselves maimed he thought mirthlessly.

One of the repairmen lost his grip on the tarp and the frigid December air ripped down the passage and sank it's teeth into his flesh. The rooster narrowed his eyes at the back of Negaduck's head, a thought that had been reoccurring and ongoing bloomed in his brain once more. He wondered if he'd be able to throw the little bastard out the window before he could retaliate. It was an empty thought, for now, the odds were not in his favor. But he knew the urge would rise again. Ever since this Darkwing idiot came around Negaduck had completely lost focus on what F.O.W.L. was meant for. If he was in high command, he mused, things would veer back to their usual missions. This organization wasn't meant to be used as a mere toy army for the whims of a madman. He nodded darkly to himself, yeah things would be great if only there were was a slight change in the food chain. The mutinous thoughts slipped away as Negaduck released the leaves from his grip and they tumbled past him and down the open elevator shaft. Steelbeak's gaze stayed with the gaping hole for a tantalizing moment before Negaduck spoke again.

"Tell someone to get the Liquidator up here."

"F-Flood?" He cursed the apprehension in his voice even as his chest tightened with a flash of fear. "Uh ya tink I should be around fer dat? I mean I did-"

"His wife?" The blue eyes snapped to him like a shot. "Before you had to clean up your mess and her brain plastered to the wall?" The dark voice sounded so smug, so amused but not even a hint of smile tainted the furious face. "You're just itching to add that to the list of excuses why you want to scamper away with your tail between your legs into hiding?"

"I. Ain't. Runnin'." He proclaimed sternly and his anger nearly boiled over as the sardonic voice continued.

"Don't shit your pants Rusty. I'm not going to throw you to the whirlpool. I've got a special mission for him. One for you too if you think you can pull yourself together and face a flabby old man without crawling under the nearest bed?"

"Want me ta kill him?" Steelbeak barked irritably. Hoping to change the arrogant little duck's sarcastic tone.

"No. Not yet. Just make sure he makes it back here with the use of his voice. I have some questions for him." Negs produced a card from his pocket with an address and a physical description. Steelbeak went to take the extended card but the mallard's grip stayed strong after he had tried to take it. Slowly he met the arctic eyes with his own. "Do not mess this up. If he does not end up in our custody-" Negaduck's eyes narrowed to slits. "Just make sure that doesn't happen. Or you'll have me to deal with."

The card was relinquished from it's death grip and slid effortlessly into the rooster's pocket. He was ashamed to realize he was afraid of failure. Somehow this little mallard was still able to terrify him, and it made him feel sick to his stomach.

"Take about thirty guys with you and whatever firepower and vehicles you want."

"Fer one old man?"

"Rumor has it he's in demand. I anticipate you needing a little more motivation to convince him to accompany you." Negaduck nodded to himself wryly. "Now get old drippy up here."

The Eggmen finally moved away from their work. The window was sealed. The outside world was back where it belonged but as he relayed the order over his communicator he couldn't help but think that it wouldn't stay there long.

A light crept through the slightly open door. Gosalyn, unable to sleep, noticed it immediately. Morgana had done it! She'd found Darkwing and now the were back at Avian way! She threw the blankets off, sending a familiar or two airborne. In the disturbed darkness she scrambled to pull socks on over her bare feet, Drake would have scolded her for sure if she didn't have any on in this dank chill. Everything was okay, she knew it would be! Her smile was so wide it hurt. Drake wouldn't die on her! No way! Though she was definitely going to give him an earful for making her worry so much. Her heart danced as she thought of how soon she'd be back at home and she started digging around for her suitcase to pack it back up. She wanted to get out of here as soon as possible, she wanted to get far away from the heartless old ghoul who hated her for his own prejudiced reasons. She wasn't even going to tell him that she was leaving. She didn't care. Her excitement made her wiggle happily as she crawled around in the dark trying to find the odds and ends she'd strewn about in her short stay here. Oh, she would give Drake the biggest hug he'd ever had. Grateful that she had him, grateful that he loved her, grateful that she didn't have a horrible father like Morgana. She'd tell him all about how terrible Moloculo was and maybe Morgana would live with them and they could make her forget about this stupid place. They'd make an awesome family. Together they could all mend from their broken pasts and forget the nightmares that always seemed to creep up on them. Hope welled up inside her and she suddenly didn't care about packing anymore she just wanted to see them both with her own eyes. She ran toward the propped open door breathlessly. Morgana and Drake would yell at her for sure to keeping it open but it seemed so perfect now. She would fling it open and smile at them and Drake would rush her and swoop her up in a hug and everything would be alright. Hopeful words flowed up to her mouth as if a song had erupted inside her as her hand had almost gripped the knob. Voices emerged through the opening and all the hopes and dreams she'd been enamored with suddenly died.

"So, why are we here again?"

"We're here to play a little game Spark-"

"What was that?"

"Uh, Megavolt. The doofus has to have something worth our while. We've just gotta sniff it out."

"Ohhh, like truffles?"

"No! Not like truffles you dimbulb!"

"Okay, okay. And-" there was a sudden spark of light that made her wince. "-who lives here?"

"Darkwing Duck! How many times do I have to tell you!" The speaker let out a frustrated sigh. "Oh for the-the digbat from the prison? The one you JUST tried to crunch in an elevator?"

"Oh right. Right."

Gosalyn held her breath and peeked through the crack. The dark upstairs hallway of her house greeted her. She could only make out a small slice of the downstairs and a light clicked on down there somewhere. She could see two elongated shadows moving around and she gripped the door so tight her fingers ached.

"You said he has a daughter?"

A familiar laugh made her shiver.

"Oh yes he does. Gosalyn. Maybe we'll find where he hid her too. Olly Olly Oxen free!" Quackerjack's voice cackled and she choked down a terrified peep.

"He has animals?"

"No, no it's just an expre-yeah sure. He has animals."

"This place is pretty neat considering it houses livestock."

"Megs? How about you look around upstairs? I'll snoop around down here."

"Do the oxen live upstairs?"

"Not as I recall."

There was a creak as someone started to ascend the staircase. She knew she ought to slam the door shut now but she hesitated. Maybe they'd talk about their plan. She already learned that Drake wasn't with them, that he was okay. Neither of them mentioned Morgana either. Her heart hammered in her chest, but how was Quackerjack here? Maybe this was a nightmare after all? Who was this other person he was so chummy with? She drew in a steadying breath and steeled her resolve. She would eavesdrop for just another minute. She might learn something important to tell Drake when he came to get her. A rat with rounded shoulders ambled into view and she eyed him carefully. He was wearing a prison jumpsuit that had dark red patches on it and she instantly knew that they were blood even though she wished she didn't. The tips of his hands and the fur that ran along his forearm were completely singed black and he had a metal cap on his head with two severed cables dangling languidly behind him. Every once in a while a spark would leap from the end of a wire and she would wince at it's brightness, the light reflecting off the lenses of the goggles he wore. This person, his name was Megavolt. She made a mental note for Drake although by the sound of their conversation he had already met this new villain. She noticed that he was humming as he moved around the upstairs mildly interested. She held her breath as he started to look in each room he came across. He was still four doors away, she still had time to listen.

"What should I be looking for?" Megavolt shouted as he lifted the edge of his cap to scratch his forehead distractedly.

An angry sigh issued from downstairs and with a terrible jingling a figure she had hoped would never greet her in the waking world again bounded into view. Quackerjack approached the rodent with a strained smile on his wretched face.

"Sparky ya gotta stay focused. The Boss has probably been called back to home base right now to referee the situation and we gotta get to business in here before he gets to siccing the hounds on us. I mean, you wouldn't wanna jump out before someone lost at hide and seek right? Then you gotta pay attention! We're looking for information about his secret hideout, or where he's stashed the girl."

"Which girl?"

Anger flashed in Quackerjack's fractured eyes but he laughed heartily.

"Good question! Both maybe. Gosalyn and prissy pants Ms. Dendrin. Oh if we found them both wouldn't that be fun?"

"Yeah, yeah, fun whatever. Can I take this?" Megavolt gingerly picked up a table lamp.

"No. You can come back for it later. For right now we're going to leave everything like it is."

A sour set of chords tore through Morgana's room as the ancient grandfather clock at the top of the Macabre's staircase announced the time. Gosalyn froze in absolute horror as the clock continued to warble it's little dirge for the hour. She stared at the two men in the hallway before her as they looked around in confusion. Her brain screamed at her to move but fear nailed her down and a new wave of terror crashed upon her when Quackerjack's eyes landed on her. A gut wrenching smile curled on his bill.

"Well I'll be, lookie who we have here."

Finally, Gosalyn regained her wits and slammed the door. It would have closed with a blessed thump, had it not been for the shoe that still remained wedged in the opening and sent the door bouncing back at her. She kicked the sneaker away and went to shut it again but a foot stopped it from closing. A startled trembling scream spilled from her as she pushed on the door as hard as she could, the decaying stench of Quackerjack oozed through the crack like a precursor extension of himself.

"Now is this anyway to treat your old departed best friend little Waddle-Mallard?" Giggled the jester as his hand worked it's way around to grip the edge of the door. Numbly she saw the bloodied bandage that covered the slightly greened feathers. Images of zombies flitted across her mind and with a small flare of satisfaction she somehow knew Drake had been the one to stab the monster. The thought of him helped her regain some of her senses and she pushed with all her might against the door. If only she could get it closed the portal would break and they'd be sealed away on the other side of the globe. The wool of her socks slid across the cold cobbles as Quackerjack began to pry the door open. It was no use. She wasn't strong enough and she suddenly was smashed in the head as the result of a violent shove from the creature on the other side. Before she realized it she was falling over backwards and her back hit the cool floor harshly. She gaped in wide eyed horror as the door lazily swung open the rest of the way and Quackerjack stepped into the room like a boogeyman from primordial darkness. His awful eyes were locked on her with unblinking interest, she squirmed away toward the bed as Megavolt ambled in looking around perplexed.

"This is an odd closet." He stated airily.

"Long time no see precious." Quackerjack grinned at her as she continued to worm away. "I hope you haven't replaced me with a new playmate since we've been apart. I was surprised that I didn't even get a postcard while I was away. I thought about you a lot I wondered if you told your dear old dad what little secrets we shared back at my funhouse?"

"Stay away from me you creeps!" She croaked feebly as she finally managed to get to her feet.

"No can dosville baby doll. It's time we got to playing a new game and this time I think the winner will be different."The clown crooned darkly as he continued to stride toward her.

Without hesitation she spun around and started a mad sprint toward the door to the castle. She started to plot, she'd race through the halls down the stairs and out the front door, she just have to keep moving. If she kept running they couldn't catch her. She had barely cleared two long paces before a strong cold hand caught her wrist. Gosalyn struggled madly as Quackerjack started to pull her into his clutches. Her foot collided with the random debris she'd deposited around the room and recognized the wooden clunk instantly. She suddenly had a new plan.

"Don't be difficult now," Quackerjack cooed. "Or you won't be allowed to participate."

She jabbed her fingers into the wound on the hand that held her and the clown let out a yelp of pain as he released her. Gosalyn dropped to her knees and swept the hockey stick out from under the bed. Like a barbarian warrior she rose back to her feet brandishing the implement like a broadsword.

"Okay!" She roared. "No one touches me again or I'll knock his block off!"

Megavolt finally looked at her and she felt her skin crawl but it was Quackerjack's laugh that interrupted the standstill. The grim laughter caused her muscles to spring to life and she took a fierce swing at his skull. The tails of his hat tinkled merrily as he easily dodged and the flat head of the hockey stick was caught and halted by a single charred hand. Megavolt kept his unblinking eyes on her as bright blue volts sprang from his fingers like angry vipers. Her breath caught in her chest as she watched the impossible grip send the dancing electricity along the wooden surface burning the smooth surface with angry black lashes. She tried to pull it out of his grip but only felt her feet slide uselessly against the floor. The unnatural display had held her attention so completely that she shrieked when she felt Quackerjack pry her away from her only defense. She screamed bloody murder as she pummeled him relentlessly but he just fixed his grip on her arm and steadily started dragging her toward the door to St. Canard. Determination set in and she was not going to be kidnapped without a fight this time. Her hands grabbed fistfuls of the curtains and it took a few tugs from her abductor before the ancient fabric ripped free in her hands. Her hands grasped a fixture on the wall her fingers crying in agony as the iron bit into her flesh, her knuckles going white with effort. Quackerjack was grumbling something to Megavolt and she suddenly felt the rodent grab her as well. The combined effort of the two of them pulled the fixture off the wall and the candle it had been holding clattered to the floor splaying wax across the ground like a blood splatter. Her screams spewed from her with new found urgency and she tried to fight to free herself from these impossible predators. It was no use. Megavolt and Quackerjack had nearly pulled her back through the door. They were going to do it again, just like Morgana had warned her. They were going to use her as bait to kill her father. Tears mixed with her howling as she continued to struggle.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Rumbled an eerie voice.

The interruption must have confused her captors because they halted. She could barely breathe over her sudden bout of fright. Her terrified eyes locked on him. In the dying candlelight the long limbed ghoul's red eye seemed to illuminate the entire room like a pit of fire. Moloculo stood in the maw of the open door, his castle spanning out behind him like a haunted battlefield.

"Go back to bed old timer." Quackerjack's vile voice threatened with only a trace of amusement.

"Normals." Hissed Moloculo distastefully.

"Help!" Gosalyn breathed pleadingly, tears spilling out of her eyes. Her skin prickled as she came under the old ghoul's crimson gaze. She was dead. He wanted her gone and now he would finally have his wish. Oh god yes. She'd be gone. Gone for good. He would lock up every room in this tomb and never think about her again. Or maybe he'd get a few laughs thinking about what this demented duo would do to her. The old eyes narrowed with fury.

"That girl has been left in my care. Unhand her or I will make you wish you had never set foot in my castle." Moloculo's voice was like the roll of distant thunder. Sure and terrible. It was so uncaring and hard a statement but she wanted to hug him.

"Oh yeah? You hear that Megs? Well don't you worry your little top hat gramps we're the babysitters come to take away the little whippersnappers so you can go back to slurping your applesauce and watching your stories."

The spluttering candle finally went out bathing the scene in darkness. All Gosalyn could focus on was the ghoul's hand as it slowly started to flex it's taloned fingers. Her eyes darted to the shadows as they started to stir. She gasped as she caught glimpses of demonic forms with rows and rows of razor sharp teeth.

"Gosalyn do not be afraid." She nearly jumped out of her skin at the alien sound of her name spoken in Moloculo's voice. "I will not let them take you."

The shadows came alive.

Isabella walked purposefully down the exorbitantly decorated hallway of the hotel and pulled her hair out of it's tight ponytail. The stark white hair slithered over her shoulders and she tossed her head. She could barely hear the S.H.U.S.H. agents behind her keeping a watchful eye on every nook and cranny of the space. Or maybe just her form from behind she thought coldly. She hated that she had to leave so crucial a step in her plan to other people but there was no way she could carry on. Her eyes ached from lack of sleep and her brain was practically fried. There was no avoiding the inevitable and this meant that she had to sleep. At least for an hour or two. As she neared her room she hoped that she could at least get that with out Richard fussing over her. The hopeless fool could be so infuriating.

"Do you want us to go in first ma'am?" One agent inquired keenly.

"That will not be necessary." She shrugged him off irritably. All she needed was for Richard to see an agent after almost twenty four hours apart. He probably would assume she had been kidapped like a child or murdered or probably even stubbing her toe in the lobby would cause him to fly into cardiac distress. No, he needed to see her walk through that door perfectly fine and that was what she was going to give him. She fixed her cold eyes on the two agents who straightened their spines instinctively. "Just stay out here. If we need you we'll come get you."

The suited men fell back with a nod and she slid the card into the door lock. As the little green light came on she wondered what silly thing her fiancee was going to regale her with this time as she tried to sleep. Maybe she would tell one of the agents to take him to the park to tire him out like a puppy. With light smile she opened the door.

The first step she took into the room was greeted with a soggy squish. Her eyes fell to the carpet to see pools collecting on the surface of the saturated fabric. The water seeped into the toe of her suede shoe with a frosty bite and her temper flared. The idiot must have left the bath running. She closed the door harshly. S.H.U.S.H. could foot this bill she was not putting a penny into this. She took a few more splashing steps into the heart of the suite and froze when she laid eyes on what awaited her.

Richard was drowning. But not in a conventional way. The lanky mallard was in the grip of a canine who to her eyes was nothing more than a sculpted mass of water. The impossible creature was dangling him in the air with a massive sphere of water covering his head like a reverse diving helmet. There were only a few tiny bubbles trickling from Richard's mouth as her eyes slid to the canine's face. It was staring at her.

"I'm the one you want." She announced. "Can't you tell the difference between a male and a female? Are you really as brainless as you appear?"

"Every young lady should know that appearances are deceiving!" Chirped the creature's bubbly voice with a touch of reproachfulness. The dog nodded as if giving a command and the soaked carpet beneath her feet lurched.

Isabella stumbled to stay standing in the sudden bobbing and ebbing of the floor beneath her. Her eyes flicked back to the canine to see a watery appendage whip toward her. She ducked and heard a destructive smash and the tinkle of broken glass.

"Hard water! It's a killer!"

A scowl set on her face as she ran full throttle at the beast and another geyser shot out at her. Unperturbed, she crouched beneath the blast and flung herself at the pair infront of her. Her shoulder caught Richard in the abdomen in a tackle with enough force to knock him free of the watery prison that held him. The two ducks collided with the side of the king sized bed and she received an accidental elbow to the ribs. With a hiss of pain she grabbed the hacking Richard by his soaked shirt collar and hauled him onto the bed his dead weight nearly toppling them both into a useless heap on the floor. Once she managed to get him safely on the dry tangled sheets she shot a quick glance around the room to where the dog was grinning at her like a cat with a particularly spunky mouse.

"Ah-ah!" He wagged an admonishing finger at her. "With the Liquidator on the case escape is never an option! Eradication is a guaranteed!" He spread his arms open wide like a rapt conductor basking in his orchestra's crescendo. The surface of the dog's chest began to distort into a rolling boil. Isabella crawled across the bed (and Richard) to the bedside table, her hands ripped open the little drawer as the Liquidator cackled. They were going to be boiled alive like overgrown lobsters and as if that wasn't bad enough she observed he was spewing forth another annoying quip. "Never was there a story of greater woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo!"

Her grasping hand hit home and she whirled around triumphant.

"Shut the hell up!" She snarled and pulled the trigger. The stun gun's tazer bolt sailed right through her target but the voltage carried through the water all the same. The canine screamed and the sound echoed around the room and was quickly multiplied as if every droplet of water in the room was shrieking with him. Isabella covered her ears and the dog exploded into a spray of droplets that disappeared into the collected water that covered the ruined rug. She let the weapon slip from her fingers onto the bed and stared suspiciously to where the Liquidator had stood.

"Is-Issy" croaked a voice behind her. "You saved me!"

Her eyes tore themselves away from the empty air to the drenched mallard who grinned at her despite his soggy brown hair dripping into his eyes. Something inside her twisted at the way he looked at her and she roughly slicked the sopping hair way from his face.

"You're no good to me dead Richard."

"How long have you had that thing next to our bed?"

She rolled her eyes and carefully tested the ground, it didn't move. There was still no sign of the creature composing itself. She was on her feet with a squelch and she seized one of his hands to help him to his feet. The soaked Richard wobbled as he joined her in standing and it aggravated her to no end.

"I always keep one on me when I'm forced to stay in rat traps like this. Now pull yourself together you're embarrassing yourself."

Richard had other priorities in mind and he threw his arms around her in a crushing hug. She shivered as whatever dryness she'd been able to maintain left her immediately in his clutches.

"Thank you so much darling." He proclaimed hoarsely and her eyes darted to movement in the far corner. A puddle was growing out of the carpet sluggishly trying to regain some sort of shape. She pried herself out of his arms.

"It's waking up we have to go."

Richard turned and stared at the small mass of water and recoiled at it's activity. Her hand grasped his bicep and led him toward the door which opened to find two agents at the ready.

"I've taken care of it." She barked at them. "Let's get the hell out of here."

As she pushed past the dazed agents she felt Richard trot up beside her matching her furious stride.

"What was that thing?" He asked like a curious child.

"Who cares."



"I love you."

"Yes I know."