Summary: Darkwing and the gang have scored some major victories as of late, and Negaduck is on the verge of defeat. But they know that until he actually is beaten, and his plans stopped, they are still in grave danger...
Author's Note: Huzzah! Finally got chpt. 82 finished at long last, drawing this storyarc to a close. Hopefully it'll satisfy you all. :)
Previously, on The New Adventures of Darkwing Duck...
"Is it just me, or does that thing look a lot like..."
"Yeah, it does."
"In fact, I think that's exactly what it is."
"No, that's impossible. Because I was going to say it looked a lot like a Jumpgate."
"And I say again. I think that's exactly what it is."
"Attention citizens of this fine country. For those of you who don't know me, you'll be getting to know me a whole lot better in future weeks. For I have finally succeeded in doing what I have sought to do for untold years. The city of St. Canard, in the state of Calisota, is now under my control. And that is just the beginning. Soon, I intend to conquer this entire planet!"
"What are you doing here, Mr. Vice President?"
"With St. Canard falling to Negaduck, someone with authority needed to be nearby to help survey the situation. I volunteered."
"Why don't you just magically unlock the door with some spell, just like you did to unlock the door that led us down here?"
"And why not?"
"Because there seems to be some kind of device in that room beyond that is actively shielding this door from the influences of magic. There is no magic spell I can use that will open this door."
"Because to avenge his death, I will have to kill the one who murdered him! Her!"
"Me? In that case, you've got the wrong person, I didn't kill Darkwarrior!"
Mia followed, but the moment she entered the room, her eyes was drawn to what the room sported, and only followed NegaGosalyn's lead numbly, and understandably so.
Mia got her first look at Negaduck's mysterious machine.
"You can't stay neutral forever, Gigs, not under these conditions. Eventually, you're going to have to take a side. I hope you'll be smart enough to pick ours."
NegaGosalyn frowned as she silently turned to leave. With each passing day she was finding herself liking Negaduck less and less.
And she wasn't sure yet if that was a good thing.
"Negarian, seeing that you found traces of that spell here, could you theoretically use those traces to track their path back to the mansion?"
"Theoretically, yes, but why?"
"Because if you follow their path, it may lead you straight to whatever means they've been using to get past that shield."
"You do realize that even if what you say is true, and that you truly aren't responsible for my father's death, this still doesn't change the fact that you would've done it if you had the chance."
"That's why we're so different. You just don't understand how we work in this universe. So let me tell you what you clearly don't understand about us."
Nanite Darkwing started to shudder, growing more and more weak, his one working eye flickering. Then, finally, almost anticlimactically, the robot went limp, his one eye going dark.
He was dead.
The bolt struck it and reflected right off it, bouncing back towards Negarian at the same rushing speed. There was just time enough for Negarian's eyes to go wide and for Percival to quickly take flight and into the air before the spell struck him.
"This is Negawing, calling everyone still loyal to Negaduck! The magic spell enslaving the citizens of this universe has somehow ceased working within SHUSH Headquarters if not further and they are now rebelling! If they are rebelling at your area, you are to fall back, repeat, fall back to Canard Tower!"
"So what happened back there? Why'd you tense up?"
"Because, I just remembered how I died."
"Seeing that the magical spell has all seemed to stop working at once, something must have happened to the magician who cast it. And going from that, I'd say it's safe to say that a certain Negarian is no longer in the land of the living."
"And it's thanks to you, Dark Avenger. If you hadn't acted and confronted Negarian..."
"The thanks belongs to you, Crimson, because you were the one that blocked the spell...in an attempt to save my life. For that, I suppose I am in your debt. Thank you."
"Face it, Negs, you've lost. Your reign on this city has ended."
"What's the machine supposed to do?"
"It's supposed to greatly enhance the power output of this."
"What is it?"
"This, is a charm. According to Negarian, magicians use them all the time to store spells for use. Any kind of spell."
"What kind of spell are we talking about here?"
"Negarian's mind-control spell. That's right, Techno. I am far from finished just yet."
"This is Fox-1, I have visual of the target destination, over."
"Fox-2 to Fox-1, we confirm visual of target. Estimated time to arrival at Saint Canard, fifteen minutes."
"This is Fox-4 checking in, we all ready gentlemen? We're likely to only get the one chance at this."
"This is Fox-3, I think I can speak for us all when I say we've been ready for this since we took off."
"That's a 10-4, Fox-3. Now remember our objectives, everyone. We move in, strike, pass over the city, then fly off. We are to escort Fox-5 in for landing within the city, and ensure safe passage. Repeat, Fox-5 is the priority. If she's shot down, then this will have all been in vain. We're approaching St. Canard's boundaries now, Maintain radio silence from here on out. Good luck gentlemen. Fox-1 out."
So as the sun rose over the eastern horizon that oddly silent day, five Loening M-8 fighter monoplanes sailed in from the sea towards their target destination. Four of the planes only carried one person, the pilot for said plane, but the fifth plane the other four surrounded in a protective formation carried a second person as passenger. It was this plane, along with it's passenger, that was to get safely into St. Canard. A feat they all knew would not be easy. Yet they knew they had to try it anyway, and flew on.
On into the ruins of the once proud city of St. Canard.
On their approach, they sighted their potential targets and aimed their weapons in their direction, waiting to both come into range and for the first shots to be fired until they acted. Hopefully, if things had gone according to plan, their arrival here would be unexpected, thereby giving them the advantage of surprise. And it seemed they had succeeded, because they were nearly over Audubon Bay before they started taking enemy fire. They came from manned turrets, two of which were located in one of the support towers for the Audubon Bay Bridge each and a third on the roof of a relatively intact ten story skyscraper.
The moment the shooting began, however, the aircraft started firing back with their own armaments, duel machine guns mounted on the plane's prow. Quickly, the turrets were being peppered with machine gun rounds, and one on the bridge was completely taken out. At this point, the four escorting aircraft broke ahead of the fifth they were protecting and started scrambling to keep the remaining turrets occupied while the fifth plane quickly worked to land on the bridge itself.
This was no easy task for the plane as the bridge, while technically intact, was still in poor shape, and was barely wide enough for fighter plane to land upon anyway. Furthermore, the Loening M-8 was under attack by the enemy that were trying to insure it did not land successfully. But land it did, albeit not smoothly. The plane had hardly come to a stop before it's passenger, the second person riding in the plane, jumped out armed with a variety of personal weapons herself, and hurried the rest of the across the bridge and onto the street it adjoined to, nearly buried in several years accumulation of debris.
Now everything was up to her.
At first, the going went well enough, with the only issues to be faced was wandering through the cluttered streets of rubble, and managed to get a fair way from the bridge, where the planes were still fighting. But it wasn't long before attackers arrived on foot to shoot at the intruding passenger. She quickly sought cover and returned fire with the Thompson submachine gun she had slung over one shoulder until she could make her way over to an abandoned vehicle sitting along side of the road. Hoping it would run, she quickly crank-started it, then threw herself into it and quickly drove off before the foot soldiers attacking her could get in their shots at her.
Soon she was speeding though the ruins of the city, dodging the worse of the rubble and debris that littered the ground, the vehicle bouncing crazily as she drove it, but managing well. Her attackers had been left behind for the moment, but she knew that wasn't going to stop them, and they probably knew exactly where she was heading, and would radio ahead. They would be waiting for her to arrive.
But then, that's where the challenge lay, and she would've been rather disappointed if there wasn't one.
Soon she arrived at city hall, which had seen better days itself. Looking ahead, she saw that she had been right to predict that her enemies would be awaiting her, as they had gathered at the building's entrance, weapons drawn, with another group standing by at their own vehicle to pursue her own vehicle should it come to that. But of course, it didn't. She knew what she was doing. Quickly ducking down so to put the vehicle's dashboard before her as a shield and keeping the vehicle going in as straight a direction as she could, she pressed the gas pedal as far down as it would go.
The car roared towards the building. The guards stationed at it opened fire at the vehicle, aiming for the driver's seat, but the vehicle's driver had stayed safe ducked down as she was. Soon it became clear what she was planning on doing, however, and they quickly started to move out of the way. The vehicle that was waiting to give chase and those within it, however, didn't get enough time to move, and the car was rather roughly bumped out of the way as her car brushed against it, the metal sides of the vehicles grinding together loudly for a brief moment.
Not long thereafter, the charging car slammed into the side of the building plowing through it's weakened walls and into the room beyond. By that point in time, the car had taken enough abuse, and died, slowing almost immediately to a halt. It's driver was now forced to vacate the vehicle and navigate the rest of the way through the building herself on foot. She moved quickly, shooting anyone who stood in her way, which were several, but her crashing her vehicle into the side of the building and caught them all off guard enough that they were being slow to get their act together properly. All of the opposing forces inside the building were being cut down, and due to the damage the building, those who had been waiting for her arrival outside were struggling to get back inside through the wreckage.
Quickly, she arrived in a large central room in the city hall building. It was heavily guarded, but due to all of the chaos of the past few minutes, it wasn't as heavily guarded as it normally would be, and were all unprepared for attack. A few moments of intense battling, and they were all shot down, with their mysterious attacker and one-person threat being victorious. Immediately upon securing the room, she got down to business and headed straight for the room's one major feature: a Darkwarrior-style portal generator.
Shouldering her tommy gun, she stepped up to the control panel and rapidly started entering in commands. Within moments, she had the device powered up, and a portal opened, casting a swirl of colored light into the otherwise dimly lit room. That done, she took a step back from the control panel and used her weapon to shoot it out, destroying it, then turned and started running for the portal's event horizon. She was three feet away from stepping into the portal when a voice stopped her.
Gosalyn stopped dead in her tracks, and sighed. Looking more annoyed than anything, she turned around to look at the person who had entered the room, weapon drawn and pointed it at her head. Like her, he did not seem happy at all, but for entirely different reasons.
"I swear to you, mate," Rowe growled, "You take one more step, I will kill you where you stand."
Gosalyn frowned, and let her hands fall to her sides, one hand probing at her pants pocket. "Took you long enough to get here," she commented, "Starting to loose your touch, hmm? Should it really take you so long to get your tail in gear and finally get your act together to stop one measly attacker?"
Rowe grumbled at this fact. "You got lucky," he stated, "But it was to no avail. Did you really think any of us was going to let you get away with this, to let you step through that portal?"
"Yes," Gosalyn replied mockingly, pulling something from her pocket and fiddling with it behind her back.
Rowe knew she was up to something, and decided to stop beating about the bush. "Well, guess again," he said, "I can't let you step through that portal, and seeing you thought ahead enough to destroy the controls for the generator and I can't just turn it off and cut off your escape route, I have to make sure you are incapable of making use of that portal." his finger squeezed the trigger of his weapon a little tighter, aim not wavering. "So, mate, you have any last words?"
"Yeah," Gosalyn replied, yanking the pin out of the object she was holding before chucking it towards Rowe, "Catch!"
And then, without waiting to see if the otter would indeed catch the object or not, she used the distraction to turn and fling herself through the portal. As it turned out though, Rowe did indeed catch the object she had thrown at him, and had just enough time to realize it was a hand grenade before it went off and exploded.
On the other side of the portal, Gosalyn was the first to emerge, but the blast from the grenade was quick to follow, bursting out of the portal in a loud bang of dust and debris, before the portal shut down as the sending generator gave out. Gosalyn hit the ramp that sat at the base of the portal and rolled down it, laughing hysterically until she reached the bottom. She did not react as the SHUSH commandos quickly surrounded her, pointing their weapon at her.
"Whoo-hoo-hoo, that was the most fun I've had in years," Gosalyn remarked as she unlatched the flight cap still strapped to her head and pulled it off to reveal her bob-cut red hair, before standing up to look around the spacious interior of sub-level five, "So, who's in charge here?"
"That would be me," an elderly and short owl commented coldly as he pushed his way past the commandos to face Gosalyn.
"Ah, Director Hooter, I presume," Gosalyn remarked, and quickly stood at attention, "Gosalyn Mallard of the Negawing Universe with a request to ask of you, sir."
"...report that military forces have successfully retaken control of the majority of the city of St. Canard in Calisota, have successfully secured those locations, rescued the one-third of the city's population that had been taken hostage, and are for the moment are holding their ground. However, the supervillain known as Negaduck, a well-known dopplegander to the vigilante Darkwing Duck and the person behind the unprovoked attack and invasion of the city in the first place has not been captured, and is still on the loose. Currently, military forces have bottled him up and what remains of his own forces in Canard Tower, a major skyscraper in St. Canard, and is managing to prevent any and all attempts to raid the building. Because Negaduck may soon resort to drastic measures to get what he wants, the populace of St. Canard is to remain evacuated out of the city until such time Negaduck is officially captured and/or defeated. Until such time, the city is presently under the control of the army as well as espionage organization, SHUSH, whose headquarters are located in St. Canard. Rumors indicate that those that have successfully fought Negaduck before are also assisting.
"When asked if there is still cause for alarm, Vice President Jonas Norrin, who is in the area and directly in charge of the operations taking place, assured the press that he feels the worse of the situation is now over, stating that Negaduck was only prolonging the evitable, and relayed confidence that Negaduck would be captured soon. He also asks the public to be patient, and assures them that they are working as hard as they can to sort things out. However, the director of SHUSH, J. Gander Hooter, who was among those who had been held hostage, had a different opinion, indicating that things would not be as easy as the vice president has suggested, stating that Negaduck is well known for turning the tables, and believes that Negaduck still has a few nasty tricks up his sleeve to try. He says that things are really still up in the air, and could go either way, and believes, quote, "Negaduck has treated this whole event as a war, thereby we should treat it as nothing less than that in return." However, he hopes that for the benefit of everyone that Negaduck is indeed defeated soon, with little more damage done than there already has been done.
"Negaduck himself is not very well known to the public except as a criminal and a terrorist, guilty of many crimes, even murder, and has attempted on more than one occasion to secure control of the city. Every attempt has resulted in a great deal of property damage and personal harm to those who are unfortunate enough to get in his way. He is described as being cunning and manipulative, but also very unstable, being very quick to anger and quite possibly insane, as he seems to take pleasure in the harm he creates. Psychologists who have analyzed Negaduck's behavior suggest that he is very mentally ill, and should be treated as..."
The news report on the TV was cut short very suddenly when Negaduck let out an enraged yell and whipped out his pistol and fired repeatedly at the television until the weapon ran out of ammo. The now very broken device teetered for a moment on it's stand before toppling over backwards and onto the floor with a clash. Breathing heavily and red in the face with anger, Negaduck stood there and glared at it.
The door to the office suddenly opened and Negawing poked his head inside and looked around, alarmed. Seeing what had truly happened, though, he just stared at the TV for a long moment before he finally made eye contact with Negaduck and managed a weak grin. "Yeah, I didn't particularly like that television either," he remarked jokingly, "Not very good quality."
The comment did nothing to cheer Negaduck up however, who only threw the empty weapon across the room before spinning back around on his heel to stare out the office window. Negawing watched his leader for a moment, then strolled over to join him, peering out the window himself. Outside, the many combined military forces that had infiltrated the city midway through the previous day surrounded Canard Tower, pretty much insuring that their enemies within would not be going anywhere.
"You know, they could try sniping at you from out there, and kill you," Negawing reasoned, pointing out the danger of doing this, "If you keep standing in windows like this, you'll be an easy target."
"It won't get them anything," Negaduck assured confidently, "Because there would still be you, General Mallard, his personal army, and my own Gosalyn to insure my work continues. And I would imagine such an attempt, successful or not, would only entice some kind of retaliation."
Negawing chuckled cruelly at the idea. "True," he agreed, "but still, I am worried. We're at a serious disadvantage here, Negs, they could try and level this whole building at any moment..."
"They wouldn't dare. We still have a fair number of their people prisoner and they know it. Any kind of direct attack like that would risk their well-being."
"They might decide that those lives would be mere collateral damage and choose to enact the greater good."
"No they won't. They don't think like we do, Negawing. They cherish the lives of their pathetic citizens more than a kid and their stuffed bear. They won't attempt a frontal attack like that for those very reasons."
"They still will try to attempt something."
"Let them try. All we have to do is hold them off long enough to get the machine upstairs finished. That is our key objective now, that is all we have left to work on." Negaduck let out a frustrated sigh, "At least I have that much to work with still."
"Wish I could help you more," Negawing remarked, "I even used that portal remote you gave me to radio home and request they rally together some troops to send over here, add to our numbers, but unfortunately, I don't have much I can spare at the moment. I have assets over there that need defending too."
"We all do," Negaduck agreed, "I gambled a bit myself attempting this plan, and it was going good until that stupid Darkwing and his gang of do-gooders interfered!" he slapped one fist against the window before him angrily with a loud thudding sound, then fumed for a moment before managing to get himself to calm down again. "But at least not all is lost just yet. They'll see. This little game of stratagems is only just beginning. Soon I'll play my final hand." he grinned, "They'll never know what hit them."
They were both silent for a moment. Then Negaduck heaved a sigh, and straightened his yellow jacket before speaking again. "What is everyone else doing at the moment?" he inquired.
"Well, the general and most of his forces are guarding either all the potential entrances, or our prisoners," Negawing replied, "A couple of them are upstairs, making sure Techno keeps working on the machine, holding him at gunpoint if they have to, but even that doesn't get him working on it very quickly."
"But he is working on it? Properly?"
"Apparently. I even checked. He hasn't tried sabotaging it. At least, not yet."
"What about Gosalyn?"
Negawing sighed at this. "I'm not really sure," he admitted, "she said she wanted to look something up, and has spent most of her time sorting through what few records we managed to keep a hold of after the events of yesterday, but she hasn't said what or why."
Negaduck rubbed at the tip of his beak as he considered this. "What is she up to, I wonder?"
The answer was that NegaGosalyn was looking for a very specific file.
But it was not easy. Negawing was right when he said that they only had a few files left. Most of them had been lost and captured when Negarian's death allowed the army to raid the city. But they still had many hard copies that had thankfully been moved into Canard Tower for easy access by Negaduck and others, and there was enough of those that it took NegaGosalyn a long time to sort through all of it.
She currently sat in a secluded, unused, office with piles of manilla folders and documents surrounding her. She had spent almost all of her free time since she had arrived here yesterday as the mind-control spell on the populace was broken and they all rebelled sorting through them, searching and hoping for one in particular. And with a cry of triumph, she finally found the file she was hoping to find. It was one of the SCPD's personnel files. For Detective Matthew Christofferson.
Opening up the file, she quickly skimmed through the file, starting from the beginning of Matthew's career and working her way down. There were several parts that were a refresher to her, reminding her briefly of various bits and pieces of lost memories that she had yet to remember, but she didn't dwell on these for long. She was looking for a very specific piece of information. And, close to the bottom, one of the last official entries into the file before the invasion, she found it. It read:
"On February 3rd, 2004, Detective Matthew was participating in an investigation to try and bring in supervillain Reginald Bushroot after observing him working seemingly nonstop in his greenhouse laboratory for three days when two more known villains, NegaCrimson and Rowe P.W. Lutra, arrived at the greenhouse. Seeing this as an excellent chance to bring them all in, Detective Matthew, working in conjunction with the Crimson Avenger and sidekick Techno to attempt a raid on the greenhouse. The raid went successfully, however one of Bushroot's experiments, a sentient mutant plant-duck of his own created dubbed "Daisy" reacted to the situation by producing a kind of drug and releasing it into the air that initially acted like a sedative, but then upon those effects wearing off induced fits of rage and made it hard for one to control their tempers, and would have ultimately to the demise of all infected. However, the matter was resolved, although Bushroot and Rowe alluded capture, and NegaCrimson was mistakenly shot and KIA by Detective Matthew during these events and as a result, underwent counseling due to suffering guilt from the matter, although it was nothing serious. All further details of this event was classified by SHUSH on February 7th, 2004."
NegaGosalyn's eyes narrowed as she read through the entry, knowing that every part of it was true, even though she still couldn't remember all of the events that took place on the day up until her temporary "death." But it did make one thing frightfully clear.
Negaduck had been lying to her.
At SHUSH Headquarters, there was a lot of clean up to be done. Not to say that Negaduck and his forces had been that messy during their occupation of the building, but they had rearranged things, moving them to undesirable locations, and occasionally things had been rearranged in ways that suited them, but not SHUSH. Furthermore, the building was also the site of more than one battle, and thereby required some repairs to be done. That, and managing to resume standard SHUSH operations within the presented timetable and also assist in trying to stop Negaduck once and for all left the organization very busy.
J. Gander Hooter didn't really mind, as it was better than the alternative. Better to be abnormally busy with irregular work than to be still captured and magicked by Negaduck's forces. A time which he thankfully could not remember. He couldn't even remember the start of the invasion due to the spell's residual effects. The last thing he could remember accurately was sitting in his office brewing over the aftermath of the disastrous mission into Gwendolyn's universe and the order to dismantle the SHUSH portal generator as an attempt to stop the invasion in the first place. After that, the next thing he remember was standing in a SHUSH briefing room, serving Negawing snacks on a tray.
At least at that point he got the chance to whack Negawing soundly across the head with said tray. The thought still made him smile.
At the moment he was wandering around the building, asking for updates on the various tasks that were taking place all throughout the building. It was slow going, but it was made even slower by the fact that many of the agents were still a little disoriented from the time they had spent being magicked. Normally Hooter wouldn't have asked so much of them so soon, but the work still needed to be done, and it seemed getting back into the routine of things seemed to help.
Having covered the rest of SHUSH Headquarters, Hooter now made his way down to sub-level five, where Dr. Bellum and her team were working on the SHUSH portal generator, making sure it was still in working order. Not that he had much cause for worry, Negaduck, having cause to put the device to use while it was under his control, kept it in decent shape. Still, it didn't hurt to double-check, particularly if anything had been done to sabotage the device.
Entering the room, he found it very busy with scientists wandering everywhere, doing their work as usual. It was like the invasion had never happened. Pleased with this sight, Hooter sought out Dr. Bellum, and found her standing near the base of the control tower, comparing notes with a fellow scientist. He waited until she was done before approaching her.
"Dr. Bellum," he greeted cheerfully, "I came to get an update on your progress."
"Ah yes, Director Hooter, if you'll follow me, I'll give you my report straight away," Bellum replied, leading the way on up into the control tower, "I think you'll be pleased with the report, director, we have found very little damage and/or tampering to the generators at all. Seems our first impressions were correct, and that Negaduck kept it in good shape."
"Well, that's certainly good to hear," Hooter remarked as they climbed the steps up and into the control room, "Now if only Negaduck had treated the rest of St. Canard with the same respect."
"Yes, if only," Bellum agreed as they entered the control room and she stepped over to where she had left her report lying on a keyboard, then handed it to Hooter, "Here you go, director, here's your..."
"Doctor, the generators are charging up, I think we've got an incoming portal!" one of the technicians working in the control room suddenly announced.
Bellum and Hooter exchanged alarmed looks before hurrying over to see for themselves. Bellum double-checked the readings, but it was almost unnecessary, as the hum of the generators warming up could be heard from here already.
"He's right!" she deduced quickly, "Someone is trying to dial in to our universe!"
"Who, and where from?" Hooter demanded.
Bellum only shook her head. "We won't know until the portal opens, sir."
Hooter grabbed at the microphone that was on the control panel and switched on the room's intercom. "Commandos, at the ready! Shoot anyone who steps through that portal without prior authorization! Otherwise, stand by and await further orders!"
The large squadron of SHUSH commandos that had been stationed at the portal generator since the recapture for this very reason quickly surged towards the ramp that would led up to the soon-to-be-opened portal and stationed themselves around it, weapons raised and ready to fire. Everyone else in the room quickly hurried to either head for their stations, seek shelter, or more preferably, altogether evacuate the room. The generators charged up slightly more, then without warning, the transdimensional portal flashed into existence as the usual ball of colored light.
Up in the control tower, Hooter and Bellum waited anxiously for any kind of signs of the origin of the incoming portal. A few moments passed like this, during which no one attempted to step through the portal. Instead, it just flashed and flickered normally, waiting to be put to use.
Finally, the technician in the control room spoke up. "We're receiving the sister universe's IDC," he reported, sounding notably relieved to see that it was allies who were dialing in, "They're requesting permission to send someone over."
Hooter sighed in relief as well. "Granted," he remarked, then turned to Bellum, "What superheroes do we currently have in the building?"
"The Crimson Avenger," Bellum replied without hesitation, "She's upstairs helping with repairs last I heard."
Hooter switched the intercom to cover the whole building then spoke into the adjoining microphone again. "Crimson Avenger to sub-level five, please, we have guests from the sister universe, repeat, Crimson Avenger to sub-level five, please."
"Director, sir," the technican spoke up again suddenly, "We're also receiving a text message as well, it's downloading now. It must contain more details."
Hooter nodded in understanding. "Very well, let me know when it's done down–"
"Whoa," Bellum suddenly remarked, her eyes on the portal.
Hooter turned to look, and saw Gosalyn Mallard step through the portal, wearing an old-fashioned flight suit, carrying an accompanying flight cap and a tommy gun. Noting her roguish appearance, the commandos guarding the ramp all tensed and readied to fire, sensing that she could be a potential threat. This universal double of Gosalyn didn't seem at all alarmed by this, and in fact seemed very bemused by it all.
"Should we have the commandos stand down, sir?" Bellum asked Hooter.
But Hooter, unfamiliar with this multiverse version of Gosalyn Mallard, wasn't sure how to respond, and, indecisive, gave no immediate response. Thankfully, it was then that Crimson chose to arrive in the room, stepping into the chamber, eyes at first focused on something else before turning to look at the portal, and coming to a sudden stop in her tracks. Like her double, she didn't really seem alarmed, or even that surprised, but she it was fairly clear that she wasn't expecting to see this double.
"It's you?" Crimson remarked aloud after a momentary pause, "Coming from the sister universe?"
"Didn't have the transdimensional coordinates to just come straight to your universe," her double replied with a simple shrug.
Around then the portal closed, with no one else other than this Gosalyn stepping through. The technician's console beeped suddenly to announce it had finished downloading the message that was transmitted as well, but did not bring it up. Bellum noticed it had finished, however, and quietly bent over to open it up on another screen. By this point in time, Crimson and started towards her double again.
"J. Gander, tell the commandos that they can stand down," she called as she walked, keeping her eyes on her double.
The commandos looked up at the tower for confirmation of the order.
"Stand down," Hooter stated into the intercom, trusting Crimson's word, but then added, "Who is our visitor, Ms. Avenger?"
"The me from the Negawing Universe," Crimson responded, stepping up the ramp to stand before her double.
"What, didn't you tell them about me?" Negawing Gosalyn asked flatly.
"Oh, I did, they just don't know you by sight so they couldn't recognize you," Crimson assured her double.
"Hmm, pity," Negawing Gosalyn remarked stepping around her double and on down the ramp, "It probably would've been wiser to have kept a threat like me a secret." At the bottom of the ramp, she stopped and looked around. The commandos stood gathered around her, their weapons lowered, but still not quite trusting her fully. "Anyway, I heard that Negawing is here in your universe," she continued suddenly as she continued to glance around.
"That's right," Crimson remarked, stepping down the ramp to join her, "Actually been part of a source of trouble we've been having as of late, but what does that have to do with you?"
"Well, isn't it obvious?" Negawing Gosalyn asked, running her hand along one of the generators, "Seeing that I went of all the trouble of coming here by first wandering deep into enemy territory in my universe, then jumping to what you called the sister universe so I could be rerouted here, why else would I be here except to deal with Negawing?"
"And by dealing with him, you mean..."
"Killing him." Negawing Gosalyn made it seem like it was nothing more than a run to the store to get milk.
By this point in time, Bellum had read the message they had received and shared it with Hooter. It basically had confirmed Negawing Gosalyn's tale about heading to the sister universe so she could be rerouted to the Posiverse by them, who had willingly done so. Now drawing from memory certain details Crimson had provided about her Negawing Universe double, Hooter spoke into the microphone to present a question.
"Forgive me for asking, but what's in it for you to kill Negawing?" he asked, "Why would you want to kill him?"
"Because," Negawing Gosalyn remarked a little indignantly, turning to look up at the control tower, "somebody needs to take care of him, so it might as well be me!" she rolled her eyes, "Sheesh, I thought it would've been obvious. So where is Negawing anyway?"
Crimson took her arm and led her towards the door. "Here, I'll show you," she told her double, "I'll also introduce you to someone along the way I think you can relate to."
On the rooftop landing pad on SHUSH Headquarters lay the Dark Avenger's hovercraft, still damaged from the events of the previous day. However, the Dark Avenger herself was currently working at trying to repair it. It was slow work, especially seeing that she was working on it all on her own, but she recognized the reasons why. First and foremost, she was the one that knew the technology, which was greatly advanced in comparison to that of the Posiverse's and there weren't many available who could understand it enough to any degree to be useful in helping make the repairs. Those that could, were already busy with other projects that had been deemed more important and couldn't be spared. Then, of course, there was the fact that nearly everyone still wasn't quite sure if the Dark Avenger could be trusted.
Hence why she worked while a SHUSH commando, Lieutenant Taylor, stood guard and watched her every move.
The Dark Avenger watched him back out of the corner of her eye, resenting his presence just as much as Taylor clearly resented hers. "You know, if I was going to try and hurt you, I would've done it by now," she grumbled while she worked.
"So you say," the pine marten responded, "Personally, I think it's a little too convenient that you just happen to decide to change sides exactly when Negaduck loses control of the city."
"I was never on Negaduck's side."
"You worked with him."
"To exploit the advantage that he would leave me more or less alone if I did. Besides, at the time, there was one goal we both shared, so it seemed logical," she grunted as she pulled a part loose from within the hovercraft, and started adjusting it's position within the craft before continuing, "It's not like you'd remember any of this, though. You were under the effects of the mind-control spell during all of this."
"And how do you know that?"
"Because I have never seen you before in my life before today. If you hadn't been under the influence of the mind-control spell I would have encountered you no doubt helping to try and defeat Negaduck before now."
Taylor frowned, unable to combat that logic. "All right, but I have learned the details about everything that happened during that time. So I am stating facts here. Thus, you cannot change the fact that you were our enemy. You were trying to kill, at the very least, Crimson."
"I do not deny it," the Dark Avenger agreed, "But circumstances have changed. Not that it matters anymore, as Negaduck now undoubtably considers me just as much an enemy as he does for you. We have a common foe."
"Still doesn't mean I trust you."
"Fine then, don't, I'm not going to make you," Crimson remarked hotly as she suddenly stepped out onto the roof, Negawing Gosalyn in tow, the latter of which getting a double-take from Taylor, "But I think it's a pity that you can't put your trust where it's clearly needed."
That said, she escorted Negawing Gosalyn across the roof to stand at the far edge. The Dark Avenger, curious, left what she was doing, and wandered over to join them. Taylor adjusted his position to keep all three in his line of sight.
Crimson pointed a finger out at Canard Tower, visible some blocks away. "That's where Negawing's at," she told Negawing Gosalyn.
Negawing Gosalyn studied the building for a moment. "I take it he's barricaded himself in there in such a way you can't just storm the building?" she inquired.
"Himself along with Negaduck, General Mallard, and their supporters," Crimson replied coldly.
"Huh, it figures. Not the first time that idiot tyrant has used that tactic. So what's the plan for getting at him?"
"At the moment, we don't have one. So unless you have an idea..."
"Why don't you just blow up the building, kill 'em all in one blow?"
"Ah, because they have hostages in there with them, including a good friend of mine."
"What difference does that make?"
This earned Negawing Gosalyn a glare from Crimson. "Here in the Posiverse, it's not every man for themselves. We want to rescue the prisoners. We just...haven't figured out how."
Negawing Gosalyn fell silent for a moment, brooding upon this while starting to pace. "I still say my idea would be quicker," she finally stated.
Crimson merely sighed. The Dark Avenger took this moment to chime in.
"So who are you, anyway?" she asked, looking Negawing Gosalyn up and down.
"Oh yeah, Darkwarrior me, meet Negawing me, and vice versa," Crimson quickly introduced, motioning at her doubles in turn.
The two looked each other up and down critically for a few moments.
"So am I the only one in the multiverse that has a decent scene of fashion?" Negawing Gosalyn finally commented, noting the Dark Avenger's militaristic but still fairly flamboyant costume.
"Debatable, particularly seeing that your fashion sense seems very out of date," the Dark Avenger countered without losing a beat, noting the double's own attire, "Early 1900's I believe, correct?"
"I personally fail to see how these styles ever went out of fashion. Still all the rage back home, at least when we're not busy using that rage to kill each other."
"Pleasant," the Dark Avenger paused for a moment, "So what's with the hair?"
Negawing Gosalyn ran a hand over her bob cut indignantly. "It's fashionable and functional," she argued, "I can't say the same for your ponytail, though. Doesn't that constantly get in your way?"
"Not where I come from. Why are you here anyway?"
"I'm here to kill Negawing."
"Funny. I'm here for similar reasons; to kill Negaduck."
"Well, at first I was here to kill Crimson, but later realized that wouldn't get me anything."
Negawing Gosalyn glanced at Crimson skeptically for a moment, then shrugged, "Well, whatever toots your horn, I suppose," she remarked.
Crimson stared at her incredulously for a moment, unsure what to make of that comment. A brief moment of silence fell between the trio of doubles as they all looked at one another. Then Taylor, who had still be watching them, broke the silence suddenly by suddenly letting out a frustrated moan and grabbing at his forehead painfully.
"This is starting to give me a headache," he groaned.
Crimson used the moment to change the subject. "Well, I'll leave you two to work it out on your own," she announced to her doubles, slipping past them and heading for the exit off the roof, "I have other things I need to be attending to." As she passed Taylor, she added, "Watch her very carefully."
"You mean watch both of them?" Taylor inquired.
"If you want," Crimson said, starting down the stairs leading back into the building,
"But you're going to want to watch Negawing Gos like a hawk. Never trust her for a second."
Taylor watched her head down the stairs for a moment, then turned back around only to jump in fright to see Negawing Gosalyn standing less than a foot in front of him, grinning maliciously.
"She's right, you know," Negawing Gosalyn remarked slyly, "because you never know when I might get tired of waiting for you guys to decide to do the obvious and do it anyway myself."
And with that, she walked off to peer intently at Canard Tower in the distance while the Dark Avenger went back to working on her hovercraft. Taylor eyed them both warily, then decided that the sooner this was all over and things went back to normal, the better.
537 Avian Way was a mess.
More than one window had been shattered, the furniture had been knocked out of place or tipped over, bullet holes riddled everything, the front door hung lopsidedly on it's hinges, and the door to the study as well as Launchpad's bedroom had both been knocked completely off their own hinges. And speaking of Launchpad's room, the entire back wall of the room had been blown away, leaving a gaping and unsightly hole. Worse still was that the house had been left in this state, exposed to the elements, for nearly a month now, and suffered even more damage from that, especially water damage from rain and the such. It was a very depressing sight.
Darkwing had seen it be a mess like this before, and had even seen it in an even worse state than this before...but there was something particularly more morbid about seeing it in such a state this time around. He suspected it was due to a mixture of things, such as the fact that this was the first time in days any member of the dysfunctional Mallard family had managed to come and visit the house in a month to even survey the damage...and that the damage it had received marked a very dark day that led to a series of events that still had yet to resolve.
Standing in the middle of the destruction, Darkwing sighed, rubbing at his beak, wondering not for the first time why he had come here anyway. He had been thinking to himself that he was going to gauge the damage and possibly try and start cleaning up, so to pass the time during this lull spot in the conflict with Negaduck...but it was now clear that just wasn't practical to do alone.
Of course he could've brought help. But it seemed everybody else was busy doing other things. Crimson and Launchpad were working at SHUSH, and all of the agents from there were busy monitoring Negaduck's movements in Canard Tower and trying to come up with a plan to stop him. Christine and Charlie had been available to help, as well as willing, but Darkwing had managed to convince her that they had both done their part in this matter, and asked the SCPD to see to it that they were taken back to Duckburg where the rest of the St. Canard refugees were staying until this all blew over. Assuming that it did blow over.
Then there was Morgana. She also offered to help, but Darkwing also knew she had her own home to look after, which wasn't in a much better state at the moment. Furthermore, Darkwing had purposely been limiting his interaction with Morgana, unsure still as to how he should cross whatever bridges they now both faced about each other. They had been in a relationship once, and even though that relationship officially ended more than two and a half years ago, they had still remained friendly. But Morgana had been through a lot lately, more than Darkwing, and had also lost her husband. Part of him felt he needed to back off and let Morgana work her way through those tragic events...
...but at the same time, Darkwing wondered if, despite it all, this might be his second chance for Morgana.
And if it was...he shouldn't pass it up. Should he?
Then there was the issue of Negaduck himself. Darkwing knew him; Negaduck had suffered a major blow, but that wasn't going to stop him. Negaduck would keep fighting until the bitter end, and Darkwing could only guess what new lows the villain would resort to trying to get his way. Then there was also the machine Darkwing knew Negaduck was building. He could only guess what it was supposed to do, but given what little they all knew about it, it had to be something big. And that worried Darkwing to no end. It made checking up on his house seem like a trivial matter in comparison.
Which was why, Darkwing realized with a start, he was here. It was so trivial, it was closer to what he considered to be normal life for him. He was here to try and escape reality. But he couldn't. There were simply too many unwanted reminders all around him.
"Ah, there you are, Wingy."
Speaking of unwanted reminders...
"Gizmoduck," Darkwing murmured, then turned around to look at the duck in the metallic supersuit standing outside the broken living room window and looking inside, "I heard you were still in the city. Hi."
"Hi," Gizmoduck greeted back in response a little weakly. Darkwing saw with a slight note of relief that he wasn't the only one feeling a little overwhelmed. "I, uh, heard you'd be here, so I just came over to...to talk."
"What about?" Darkwing asked.
Gizmoduck fidgeted nervously for a second. "Gee, where to start?" he muttered, "Um, I suppose I should start by, uh, thanking you for your help in freeing all of us magicked people from that mind control spell."
"You're welcome. It was really kind of accidental, to be honest."
"Yeah, so I heard. I mean, I don't remember much while I was magicked myself. Aw heck, who am I kidding, I don't remember anything at all. I don't even remember getting magicked in the first place."
"You went down fighting, I can tell you that much."
"So I've heard, but sadly that...just doesn't mean much to me. That is, er..." Gizmoduck trailed off for a second, trying to figure out what to say, "Look, what I really came here to say, Wingy, is actually about this house anyway. Because that's one thing I can remember about that day when this all began."
"Yeah, I kind of figured," Darkwing murmured, looking around at the house, "Though I will admit that I was kind of hoping you wouldn't remember."
"I can understand that," Gizmoduck said honestly, "Because, uh, now that I know where you live, I now know who you are, uh, behind the mask."
Darkwing sighed. "Yeah, no point in denying it, is there?" he stated, "Probably wasn't hard to figure out the identity of who lives here."
"Well...yes...but, uh, it was also because I've happened to have visited this house before," seeing Darkwing's surprised expression, Gizmoduck looked down at his thumbs, "In fact, we've both met before with the masks off...although neither of us realized this at the time. And...well...oh, here, see for yourself."
With that, Gizmoduck did something Darkwing couldn't recall him ever doing before, and that was lifting the visor that covered his eyes, exposing his whole face for Darkwing to see.
Darkwing squinted at the face for a long moment before he finally recognized it with a start. "Crackshell!" he exclaimed, "Fenton Crackshell! You're that accountant friend of Launchpad's!"
Gizmoduck chuckled a little. "Yeah, that's, uh, that's me, Drake-a-rooni," he replied.
Darkwing rolled his eyes. "I thought I told you to never call me that," he bemoaned.
They both chuckled a little, the whole situation feeling a little awkward to them both, unsure where to go from here.
"Tell you what," Gizmoduck finally said, replacing his visor over his eyes, "I'll keep this secret if you will, and then we can just pretend this didn't happen and life can go on as usual."
Darkwing grinned. "I will if you will, Giz," he said.
"Then it's a deal."
And with that, they shook on it, glad that they got that much out of the way.
"Something on your mind, Rowe?"
Rowe looked up from the floor he had been staring at for the past several minutes and at Bushroot, who had walked up beside him. The two of them, along with Quackerjack, were currently in a guest room at SHUSH Headquarters, waiting for when their assistance might be needed. Although they all wondered if they were even going to be given that chance because, save for Darkwing and company, everyone else was still treating them more like criminals they reluctantly were forced to work with, and were trying to get out that every chance they could. The guards that were stationed outside their room did not help improve this image.
That was not what was on Rowe's mind, however.
"Aye, but nothing important," the otter responded, "At least nothing that will be coming to be right now."
Bushroot got him to scoot over on the couch they sat upon and sat down beside him. "Dare I ask what?"
Rowe winced. "Probably not, mate, because I know what you'll say if I told you."
Bushroot sighed, and was silent for a moment. "It's Crimson, isn't it?"
Rowe nodded weakly. "Aye."
"Haven't we gone through this before? Nothing is ever going to happen between you two beyond the odd, professional encounter. This isn't getting you anything either, this...puppy love of yours."
Rowe gave the mutant plant-duck a skeptical look. "Puppy love?"
"What else can you call it?" Bushroot inquired, "I don't really think you truly have any kind of feelings for Crimson. Whatever the case, I can say for certain that she doesn't show the same for you."
Rowe was silent, not so sure of that.
"Look, why are we even bringing this subject back up?" Bushroot asked, "This isn't the time or the place for it. We all have bigger things to deal with than this little mess that you can't seem to leave alone. You need to drop it and move on, Rowe."
"I know, but...I can't figure out how."
Bushroot shrugged. "Well, I can't pretend to know any better than you," he admitted, remembering his own several failed attempts at love, "but if you really can't leave the subject alone until after this is all over, then I think you need to talk to Crimson about it, and get this all sorted out. Once and for all."
"Of course you're right mate," Rowe agreed, knowing that he couldn't let things go on like this, regardless of how he felt about it.
"Now there's something I've been thinking about that I want to talk about," Bushroot said, changing the subject, "and that's what we're going to do once this is all over."
Rowe frowned. "What do you mean, what are we going to do?" he asked, "Things just go back to normal."
"So you're just planning on sticking with the Fearsome Four, or whatever number it's at now?" Bushroot inquired.
"Three," Rowe determined, "But I see your point. Where do we stand on that matter?"
"Well, Quacky's all for the Fearsome Fou-er-Three idea, and I must admit that I'm leaning in that direction too. It's just...I don't know if we'll still be able to pursue that. I'm not entirely convinced SHUSH will let us go when this is all said and done."
"I'd doubt SHUSH would do that given the circumstances...but you're right, no matter how this all ends, things are going to be radically different from here on out," Rowe agreed. He stopped and thought about the matter for a few moments. "Maybe it's time we started thinking about doing something else, because I just can't see the Fearsome...anything... staying together anymore. The team's been slowly crumbling more and more as time goes by. First there was Liki, then Megs, then NegaGos. And whether or not Negaduck wins or loses, it's a safe bet that we aren't going to let him lead us anymore, not after what he's tried to do to us. That just leaves the three of us...and I don't think we can keep things running."
This surprised Bushroot. "Why not?"
"Well, we're going to need some kind of leader at the very least to keep things together."
"Well, Quacky certainly can't do that. And I'm more of a follower than a leader," Bushroot thought for a moment, rubbing at his beak, "Huh, I think I see your point." he glanced at Rowe. "Unless you think you can do it."
"Me? Be the leader?" Rowe sputtered, taken aback, then rapidly started shaking his head, "No, no, no, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. We haven't even decided if becoming the Fearsome Three is even on the table...or even if we want that. I mean...who's to say we have to go back to a life of crime? Times are changing all around us...so maybe the time is coming for us to change as well."
Bushroot was silent for a few moments as he digested this thought. "Maybe," he murmured, "But then I have to point out the fact that...well...I'm not sure we can change. Even if we wanted to. If so...what then?"
Rowe was silent for a moment, then sighed, staring at his feet. "Then I guess we just accept our fate."
Not for the first time, Detective Matthew spied Christine twisting around in her seat to look back at St. Canard, slowly shrinking away the further the police car drove away from it. This was nothing in comparison to the small duck that sat beside her, Charlie, who had yet to stop looking back at the currently empty city.
"It'll still be there when you two get to come back, I promise," Matthew stated suddenly, trying to reassure them.
"I don't doubt your word, detective," Christine remarked promptly, turning back around to face forward in the back of the car again, "No matter what happens, I don't think much more harm will come to St. Canard itself. It's the people that are still in it that I'm worried about." she sighed, and shot one more glance through the cruiser's back window at the receding city. "I can't help but feel like I'm abandoning my friends back there."
"To be honest, Miss Merriweather, I don't know what more you could do to help back there anyway," Officer Frank remarked, sitting in the passenger seat beside Matthew, "I mean, don't get me wrong, from what I've heard, you've done lots to help already, but there can't be that much more you could do to help."
"I keep telling myself that, yes," Christine agreed.
"Furthermore, Darkwing wanted you out of the city where it is, for the moment, safer," Matthew added, "He seems quite convinced that things aren't going to get better just yet."
"I know," Christine replied.
"What's Darkwing got to do with you two, anyway?" Frank asked, twisting in his seat to look back at their passengers, "I take it you two know each other a bit?"
Christine made a sheepish grin. "Um, a little bit more than just know, actually."
"Ah," Frank said, nodding as he understood, and thus did not press that subject further, "Well, whatever the case, you know Darkwing has the best intentions at heart by sending you away."
"I know," Christine murmured, "I'm just worried he might not still be there when I come back."
"We need to talk."
Negaduck looked up from the papers he had been half-heartedly sorting through to pass the time and at NegaGosalyn standing in the doorway of the office. He immediately decided he didn't like her expression, and knew that the wanted father/daughter talk was only going to bring more trouble for him at the moment, trouble he wasn't particularly in the mood to deal with at the moment.
"I'm not in the mood at the moment, Gosalyn, can this wait?" he grumbled, focusing his attention back on the papers before him.
"No," NegaGosalyn stated flatly, shutting the door behind her harshly, the strolling purposely over Negaduck's desk, "I've been doing some digging and found out something."
"Oh really?" Negaduck inquired, not looking up from what he was doing.
"You've been lying to me."
Negaduck paused, glancing up at her, then set down the paperwork and gave NegaGosalyn his full and undivided attention. "Have I now?"
"Don't be coy with me, you know what I'm talking about."
"Seeing that I have a bit of a reputation as being a liar, let's presume for a moment that I don't."
"My death. You lied about how I died."
"And how do you know that?"
"Because I did some digging through some paperwork about the event in question. And," NegaGosalyn sat down in a chair and folded her arms as she stared coldly at Negaduck, "I remembered dying."
Negaduck rested his elbows on the desktop and steepled his fingers together. "I thought we agreed it was better that you didn't try and remember that event?"
"Because you've been lying to me, trying to hide what really happened, isn't it? And I want to know why."
Negaduck was silent for a moment as he worked to think up an adequate answer. "First off, I probably should say it's not for the reasons you think."
"To heck with that. I only died because I was trying to keep others from dying. Crimson of all people, in fact."
"So how much do you remember, anyway?" Negaduck asked coolly.
"Just enough to know that you lied."
"Now enough of that! Maybe I did lie. But I did it to protect you. Because that day was a bad day for everyone. I didn't figure you needed that day haunting your memories all the time. I needed you focused on the tasks at hand."
"So...you lied about what happened."
"In an attempt to try and dissuade you from remembering the truth, yes. I figured if you already thought you knew what happened the day you died, you wouldn't have a need to try and remember what really happened."
"But you still lied. What really happened wasn't what you told me had happened."
"So I'm an opportunist. I also needed to make sure you were truly on my side. So I did, regrettably, take advantage of your little lapse of memory to insure that, and for which I apologize if it made you feel betrayed."
NegaGosalyn snorted at this. "So Crimson and the others weren't really responsible for my death, just as they had told me."
"Detective Matthew really did shoot you, but yes, it wasn't done intentionally. He, like the rest of you, were under the influence of a very nasty drug that clouded his judgement. Reportedly he felt immediate regret for what he did, being the weak-hearted goody-goody he is. Not that I care. But if anybody was to blame for what happened that day..."
"...it would be Daisy," NegaGosalyn finished, remembering the bloodthirsty creation of Bushroot's.
Negaduck nodded, being surprisingly solemn and open for a change. "And for that, I blame Bushroot, but for entirely different reasons. In fact, it was because of him that you were even over there to begin with. I had sent you over there to check up on him because he hadn't shown up at the hideout in three days. By coincidence, the detective, Crimson, and the rest turned up there by chance, trying to arrest the lot of you, so they were really just at the wrong place at the wrong time. In the end, we were kind of forced to team up just so to figure out a way to stop Daisy. Not that it made things much better, because at the end of the day, I had lost you, and both Bushroot and Rowe were off-and-on loopy for days while they tried to gradually wing themselves off that stupid drug. All in all, a really bad day. Nothing productive could be gained from reminding you of that day's events."
NegaGosalyn paused to review these details, seeing that they matched what she knew of the event to be fact. Furthermore, the review of these details sparked a few lost memories of the day to resurface that further confirmed this story. Negaduck was telling the truth.
"But you still lied," NegaGosalyn pressed despite all of this, "And because of that, you've damaged my trust in you."
Negaduck sighed, and looked away for a moment. "I know," he admitted, "So no more hiding the truth from you. Obviously more trouble than it's worth, and I've got enough trouble on my plate already."
"That you do," NegaGosalyn agreed, "So from here on out, you tell me the truth about everything." she looked at Negaduck hard. "That said, is there any other lies you need to rectify to me?"
Negaduck was silent for a moment. "No," he said, looking earnest about it.
NegaGosalyn nodded, and rose. "All right then," she said, heading for the door. Once there, she paused and looked back at Negaduck. "Thank you."
Negaduck glanced at her briefly before returning to his paperwork. "You're welcome."
NegaGosalyn then exited the room, paused to get her bearings, then wandered off. She was glad that she got the matter of her temporary death sorted out finally. But inwardly she felt very ill at ease, feeling that Negaduck was still hiding something from her.
And she knew that if she was right, then the memories that she still could not remember held the answers she wanted...
As Agent Mia wandered into the SHUSH workroom, she was slightly surprised to see it was only mildly busy, with only a smattering of workers being present in the room, all focusing on one project, and that was repairing the Thunderquack. A lot of the worse damage it had suffered during the course of Negaduck's invasion and siege of St. Canard had already been more or less repaired before now, but those repairs had been very makeshift and imperfect. Now that Negaduck's forces had retreated from SHUSH Headquarters, though, they had access to the resources to repair the jet properly.
Mia was just surprised there weren't more helping. Figuring there was a good explanation, though, Mia sought out someone she knew would know the answer.
"So, couldn't get more helping hands?" she commented as she moved to stand behind him as he leaned into the interior of the Thunderquack to work on it's insides.
Launchpad jumped in surprise, and in the process whacked his head on the open hood. Yelping, then pulling his head out from within the jet, rubbing at it, he turned to look back at Agent Mia.
"Oh, hi Mia," he greeted with a grin, "Um, I think I could've gotten more helping hands if I really felt like it, but most of the people are busy fixing up the rest of the SHUSH building," he leaned back over the mechanisms within the jet and continued working again, "I don't really think I need more people helping than this, anyway. How does that saying go? Too many social workers spoil the kid?"
Mia laughed. "Close enough," she said, "Anyway, I'm just here to check on the progress on the jet anyway. And by the looks of it, it seems like she'll fly again."
"She already was flying, just not under ideal circumstances. Because of everything that has happened as of late, we've all been asking a lot of her as of late even when she wasn't in the most ideal of conditions."
"That's been happening a lot lately," Mia agreed, "hopefully it'll all be over soon."
"Sounds like that's a good time to take a break from it all," Launchpad remarked, giving something inside the jet one last final tweak before withdrawing his oily hands, wiping them on a cloth, "Maybe we can go have some fun, just you and me. Go see a movie or something..."
"Oh, of course you'd use something like that to ask me out on a date."
"Well, why not? Seemed no better a time to bring the subject up, and I was just waiting for a chance to do so, so..."
Mia shook her head, still grinning. "Every cloud in your world really does have a silver lining, doesn't it?"
Launchpad looked blank at this. "DW's told me that before," he muttered more to himself than to Mia, unsure how he should react to the comment.
"You do have a point, though. A break is going to be nice, assuming we get this all sorted out in a timely manner. Although...I don't know about a date..."
"Oh c'mon, Mia, we've already been on a couple dates before, we both know we're interested in each other, so why are you so resistant?"
"I don't know Launchpad. I guess...I'm just hesitant about the idea, about how much of an impact it could make to my life and career."
Launchpad closed the hood to the Thunderquack and turned to face her. "I fail to see how any of those impacts could be a bad thing," he said, then motioned to himself, "I mean, it's me we're talking about here."
Mia grinned at this. "I suppose I can't argue that point," she admitted, then after a momentary paused, added, "and a movie does sound like fun. It would seem like something extraordinary to deal with for a change instead of all of this craziness."
Launchpad grinned back. "I fully agree," he said, then sighed, "I guess all that leaves now is figuring out how we are going to get all of this craziness to end."
"Well, it looks like Elementary Underground faired all of this not too badly," Agent Sandy remarked as she shined her flashlight around the dimly lit corridors while strolling down them, "Hardly any damage anywhere save for a few bulletholes and a few entrances that got blasted open. Really, the worse of the damage is a collapsed corridor and the power generator giving out, the latter of which is believed to not even be related to Negaduck's invasion. Could've been a lot worse, couldn't it?"
She glanced at Agent Todd who accompanied her with his own flashlight, but the canine didn't give her an audible response. Instead, he warily wandered down the hallways, ever alert for some hidden danger that probably wasn't even there. He was so on edge, though, that it was clear he was trying his hardest not to tremble, and his patch-colored fur stood on end.
"Todd, relax," she told him, "There's nothing down here that'll hurt you."
"I-I know, but the last time I was down here...heh...it was still in-in enemy hands, and there was danger ar-around every corner," Todd explained nervously, keeping a constant lookout for trouble.
"Todd, the commandos have already been down here and confirmed that the place is secure," Sandy pointed out, "We're not down here looking for trouble anyway."
"N-n-not necessarily, we're down here looking for possible and discreet ways to sneak people into C-C-Canard Tower in a possible attempt to raid N-Negaduck's forces within. I'd say that would be l-l-looking for tr-trouble. F-f-furthermore, it is incredibly creepy and quiet down here at the moment, and experience has told me during this past mon-month that such things usually signify trouble lurking somewhere." Todd managed a weak chuckle. "Besides, better safe than sorry, right?"
Sandy sighed, and gave Todd an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, you're right," she admitted, "I just...keep forgetting what terrible things you have been through that the rest of us conveniently don't remember. The last thing I remember before my memory goes blank was heading towards the edge of town to work at evacuating people on the night of the takeover. I don't remember anything after that until suddenly waking up on a cot at headquarters yesterday afternoon, after the worse was over. I have no frame of reference to use to even begin to understand what you've gone through, and just end up coming across as...ignorant." she sighed. "It makes me wish I hadn't gotten magicked at all, so I can better understand what happened."
At this Todd promptly stopped and, suddenly still and withdrawn, reached out with one hand and stopped Sandy. "No," he said sternly, "you don't. Trust me. It's a blessing you don't know just how bad this past month has been." Removing his hand, he now grinned reassuringly. "Just be glad it's over now. I am. It's good to have you back where you belong."
Sandy blushed a little at this. "Thank you, Todd," she replied, "It's good to be back."
"Right," Todd said, as they both started onward, then acting on a sudden afterthought added, "along with everyone else, of course."
Sandy grinned. "Of course." She shined her light around a little, then changed the subject. "Are we getting close to Canard Tower's location? Feels like we've been walking forever."
"I hope so," Todd replied, going back to looking uneasily around, "These tunnels all look alike. I feel like we've been walking around in circles."
Sandy suddenly stopped, eyes locking on the intersection in tunnels they were coming up on. "I think we are," she remarked, and turned to Todd, "Didn't we already step through this intersection?"
Todd hesitated. "I-I-I don't know," he confessed, "Like I said, these hallways all look the same to me."
Sandy took a few more steps forward, examining the intersection, then once within it, turned around and looked back the way she came. "Yeah, we've been through here before," she deduced, her brow furrowed, "We stepped through here earlier to get to the tunnels that would lead to Canard Tower."
Todd joined her, and realized it was true. "You're right," he said, paused, then amended, "Well, sort of," he pointed to the tunnel behind them, "that's the tunnel that's supposed to lead to Canard Tower."
Sandy glanced back at it, "Yeah, we went through that tunnel to get here the first time," she remarked, remembering, "It approached Canard Tower from an angle."
"Right, and here that tunnel branches out into two more," Todd said, motioning to the two tunnels that branched off the first at equal angles before dropping his hands again in frustration, "But neither one of those tunnels are going to lead us to Canard Tower. If anything, that tunnel," he pointed again to the tunnel behind them, "would get us there if it kept going straight instead of branching out into new tunnels, because Canard Tower should be straight ahead. But it doesn't do that, and none of these tunnels connects to one that will led to Canard Tower."
"Right, because we went down that tunnel," Sandy remarked, pointing to the tunnel that branched off to the left, "and ended up back here through that tunnel," she pointed to the tunnel than branched off to the right, the tunnel they had just exited to get back to this one intersection, "And I didn't see any tunnels that would lead in the right direction during all of that, nor any tunnels that would even lead to the surface. Did you?"
"No, I didn't," Todd admitted, and getting a thought, looked up and down the tunnels that branched off again, "In fact, it looks like these tunnels go completely around Canard Tower, completely avoiding making any connections with the building."
Sandy turned to look at him, shining her light on him. "Are you sure?"
"But...why would that be?"
"I don't know," Todd now turned to look at Sandy, "But I know where to find out."
Back at SHUSH Headquarters, Todd and Sandy a wireframe diagram of Elementary Underground with St. Canard sitting above it on the surface. Typing in commands, the diagram zoomed in on the wireframe model of Canard Tower in the center of the city, then panned the angle until the tunnels underneath could clearly be seen. Todd stopped moving the diagram and pointed.
"There, you see?" he asked his audience.
Darkwing and Hooter looked at the diagram, then jointly tilted their heads in opposite directions from each other, looking in puzzlement at what the diagram showed.
"None of the tunnels go under Canard Tower," Darkwing noted, "they all go around it," he shook his head, "I don't understand though, what's the big deal about this?"
"I must concur with Darkwing on this matter, Agent Todd," Hooter agreed, "It is curious that these tunnels do this, particularly seeing that the same restraint isn't always shown with other buildings, but I fail to see what this tells us other than the fact that we will not be able to go into Canard Tower that way."
"Yes, but, sir, while there are other tunnels that don't go under certain buildings, that only happens by pure chance," Sandy stated, "Here, it seems more like the tunnels were built to deliberately avoid going under Canard Tower. And this didn't make the least bit of sense. Canard Tower is positioned in the center of St. Canard, and seems like it'd be a great place for at least one set of tunnels to intersect under it."
"Okay, I'll give you guys that much," Darkwing admitted, nodding in agreement to Sandy's reasoning, "But we didn't build Elementary Underground, The Elements did. We just took it and made use of it after they left. So I still don't see what the big deal is."
"Well, I figured there had to be an explanation for why the tunnels of Elementary Underground deliberately avoided going under or connecting to Canard Tower, so I conducted a few scans," Todd said, tapping controls again, "And this is what I found."
The diagram on the screen flickered, and then a purple wireframe, rectangular, cube appeared in the empty space the tunnels avoided interacting with. Darkwing and Hooter regarded the shape for a moment, their expressions turning puzzled again.
"What are we looking at here?" Hooter asked.
"That's a good question, director," Todd said, "because I can't tell you what's in that space. But I can tell you what surrounds it. Some sort of electrical shielding that blocks all scans, and probably any and all attempts at forced entry to get past it. And it's like no shielding I've ever seen before. I don't think anything we have here at SHUSH can penetrate it. The tunnels don't intersect this space because they can't penetrate the shielding. And I have no way of knowing what's behind it."
Darkwing and Hooter glanced at Todd for a moment, then back at the diagram, now thoroughly intrigued.
"Now watch when Todd adds in the floor plan for Canard Tower," Sandy said, pleased she had the attention of her superiors, then nodded at Todd.
Todd typed in a few more commands into the computer, then more wireframe rectangular boxes appeared on the diagram in a neat stack, representing each individual floor in Canard Tower. The floors went on down two levels into the ground, and stopped just above the level the tunnels of Elementary Underground existed in. Consequently, right above the purple box that represented the dimensions of the shield Todd had discovered. So much so the two practically touched. More than that, the dimensions of the shield were identical in size and shape as the individual floors that sat above it.
It seemed like an interesting coincidence, until Darkwing realized what Todd and Sandy were implying. "Wait, are you suggesting that shielding you discovered is protecting another floor to Canard Tower?" he asked.
"A third sub-level in Canard Tower?" Hooter proclaimed, shocked by this announcement, "But there should only be two!"
"Look, director, we don't really know anything about what's within the shielding, but that's what the evidence seems to suggest," Sandy explained.
They all looked at the diagram in silence for a few moments.
"So I guess the question we should be asking now is why would there be a hidden level to Canard Tower that not even SHUSH knew about, and what's in it?" Darkwing reasoned finally.
"It has to be something important, otherwise why the extreme measures with the shielding?" Todd logically deduced.
"All right, so everybody try and come up with ideas as to what could be in there," Hooter requested.
"Hmm," Darkwing said, rubbing his beak as he started to pace, "Maybe Negs has something to do with this."
"That's what I was thinking," Sandy agreed, "I have to wonder if Negaduck for some reason discreetly built this level and is using it to build some kind of project."
"But Negs already has a project that he's working on, that machine he's building on the top floor of Canard Tower," Darkwing pointed out, "I wouldn't think he would have the time, or the resources, to work another at the same time, especially now."
"Darkwing is correct," Hooter agreed, "But it might still be possible that Negaduck is hiding something down there, perhaps something he brought with him from say...the Negaverse."
"Well then, the only thing I can think of would be a portal generator," Todd said, "But even that wouldn't make sense, because Negaduck had access to the SHUSH portal generator since the start of the invasion on up until yesterday afternoon."
"Maybe it's a back-up, in case his plans failed," Sandy reasoned.
"That still wouldn't make sense, because Negaduck would probably have loads of portal remotes, which would be more efficient and more practical for such an emergency anyway," Darkwing stated, "Maybe it's some kind of...ace in the hole for Negs to fall back to in case all else fails...something guaranteed to work in his advantage."
"Well, whatever the case, this is all cause enough to investigate this supposed secret floor," Hooter said, locking his eyes on the diagram again, "We need to get in there."
"But how?" Sandy asked, "You heard Todd. We can't penetrate the shielding."
"You sure, Todd?" Darkwing asked, turning to the canine, "There must be some way to get past those shields."
Todd thought about it for a moment. "I suppose one could theoretically use a burst of energy tuned to just the right frequency to do it, as I'd bet that energy could get past the shield, but that wouldn't do any good, because that would only allow the energy through, nothing like say a person or scanning waves. And a burst of energy on those kind of frequencies couldn't do any damage, nor weaken or disrupt the shielding any. It would just kind of...phase through it." he shrugged. "That's no good to us at all."
Then Darkwing suddenly got a wild idea. "Maybe not."
It took awhile to try and track him down, but once they had, Darkwing rallied together Crimson and Launchpad, as well as Agents Mia and Sandy, to go fetch him. He was currently in a presently abandoned, but not inaccessible, building on main street a few blocks down from the town square. He was caught up on working with various projects of his own creation, and was not immediately aware he had visitors. This gave them time to take positions around. Once they were, Darkwing announced their presence.
"Hello Gigavolt," he said calmly.
The electrical apparition given Megavolt's form reacted instantly, spinning away from his little project and unleashing a bolt of energy at Darkwing's head. Anticipating the action, however, Darkwing quickly ducked the bolt, and responded by firing the Teryx teleporter attachment on his gas gun at Gigavolt. The bolt struck him, doing nothing more than stunning Gigavolt for a spilt second, getting him to hold off on any more attacks for a moment. It was clear he wasn't happy to see his guests, though.
"Ah-ah!" Crimson remarked when Gigavolt started to recover and went to retaliate, threatening him with her gas gun, Darkwing doing likewise, Mia and Sandy drawing their own weapons despite the fact that they were pretty much useless against the likes of Gigavolt, "You know we can stop you when we bombard you with the energy shots from this weapon. We've done it before. Give us an excuse, and we'll do it again."
At this, Gigavolt grinned. "I'm sure you won't like the end results of what will happen if you do that," he stated, knowing what would happen.
"Oh, we already know what will happen, you'll be so overloaded with excess energy, you have to expel it all at once in an explosion, or at least that was SHUSH's theory," Darkwing commented coolly, "Whatever the case, there is one very important difference between this occasion from last time. Because last time, I'm not sure you remember, took place on my home turf, and yes, the resulting blast had devastating and lasting effects. But this time, should such a blast repeat itself, it would take place in here." Darkwing glanced around briefly. "And I do believe this would be your home turf, yes? Wonder what that blast would do to that little project I see you're working on there..."
Gigavolt glanced back at the project he was working on, and sighed. "All right, you've made your point," he stated, folding his arms, the aura of energy that perpetually surrounded him flickering as he relaxed a little, "What do you want?"
"We are in need of your services, so we want to strike an agreement," Mia explained curtly.
"Hmm," Gigavolt remarked, considering this, "I hope you realize that while my memory isn't the best, I do know that are not allies, and likely will never be allies."
"We acknowledge that we're likely to forever be foes," Darkwing stated, "But this doesn't have to do with that, this has to do with Negaduck. I mean, we've recaptured most of the city from his control, but he's not finished yet."
"I am aware," Gigavolt assured them.
"But are you aware of what effects whatever it is that Negaduck's planning could have on you?" Sandy asked, "He's building a machine that we are convinced is going to help him succeed at his goals, and if he does succeed, it will affect you, Gigavolt."
"Negaduck will always be my enemy," Gigavolt deduced.
"Exactly," Crimson said, "Christine told me they talked to you about this. Because Negaduck is an enemy to both of us, we share a common goal in beating him."
"I am not interested in beating Negaduck," Gigavolt said, "I merely wish to be left alone."
"Negaduck isn't going to leave you alone, you know," Launchpad pointed out.
"You won't leave me alone either."
"And no one is going to leave you alone Gigs unless you help us."
Gigavolt fell silent for a few moments.
"Look, we need your help, and if you do, we all might benefit from it," Darkwing reasoned to the energy being, "But we aren't going to find out unless you help us."
Gigavolt debated for a moment, then nodded. "Fine, I'll help," he said, "Just this once."
Gigavolt was escorted right to the location in Elementary Underground by the group, tagged along this time by a smattering of SHUSH commandos and Agent Todd. Gigavolt came willingly, and did nothing to resist or cause harm, but all eyes watched him carefully, unsure how he could respond to his situation at any given moment.
Todd motioned to the wall that presumably divided them from whatever was behind the shield. "The shielding should be right behind here," he said.
"Yes, I can sense it from here," Gigavolt responded, uninterested in what Todd had to say.
"You...you can?" Todd said, surprised, visibly fascinated by the idea.
"Think you can get through it, Gigs?" Darkwing asked quickly, keeping them on subject.
Gigavolt glanced back at him for a moment. "We'll see," he said.
And with that, he launched himself at the wall, reverting into his bolt form, and vanished into it, allowing the energies that made him spread across the metallic surface. Arches of electrical energy washed over the wall for several moments as Gigavolt sought a decent way to get past both the shield and into whatever was behind it. Finally, with a sudden flash of light at one end of the wall, all of the energy rapidly coalesced on that one point and vanished. Silence fell as all eyes watched the wall, waiting for Gigavolt to return.
"How long do you think it's going to take him to come back?" Darkwing asked Todd.
"Assuming he chooses to come back at all," Mia pointed out, "He could just choose to use this chance to flee."
"Well, I suppose that's possible, given Gigavolt's possibilities," Todd admitted, considering the possibility, "But to answer the question, it's hard to say. It really depends on what he finds in there. So it could be anywhere from an hour to maybe a few minutes to..."
There was another flash of light and Gigavolt suddenly emerged from the wall and landed before the group.
Todd blinked. "...right now."
"What did you see?" Crimson asked, stepping towards Gigavolt.
Gigavolt glanced at her. "You were correct, there is another level of rooms behind the shield," he announced, "It seems to be empty and uninhabited at the moment, but there are signs of recent activity in there. However, the most interesting feature was a large central room in the middle of the floor, sealed off with a locked door and another shield, this one of a different design than the first."
"Another shield?" Sandy repeated, surprised, "Just what was in there? Did you see?"
"I was able to circumvent the second shield and see, yes," Gigavolt replied, "As for what I saw..." he hesitated, "I am not entirely sure what it is. I don't think I've ever seen something quite like it before."
"Well, maybe we can figure it out," Todd suggested, "can you describe it, or draw a picture, or something?"
"I can do better than that," Gigavolt said, and he waved his hands in the air before him, creating a well of energy that started to form a holographic, three-dimensional, picture.
The group watched as the shape took form, unrecognizable at first, but once it was finished, it started to look more than a little familiar to some of them, albeit unexpectedly.
"No way," Agent Sandy commented, shocked.
Darkwing's beak opened slightly in surprise. "Is it just me, or does that thing look a lot like..."
"Yeah, it does," Launchpad agreed, nodding in agreement.
"In fact, I think that's exactly what it is," Crimson added.
"No, no, that's impossible," Darkwing persisted, "Because if it is what I think it is, then it shouldn't be here."
"And yet," Todd remarked, watching the object revolve as he motioned to it with one hand, "there it is."
Silently, they all looked at the object Gigavolt had seen locked in the hidden floor for several moments, not quite sure what to make of this incident.
"Keen gear," Crimson muttered to herself.
Hooter wasn't quite sure what to make of this development either. "Are you certain?" he asked Darkwing, glancing up from the report to look at vigilante standing in his office.
"As certain as I am of Gigavolt's word," Darkwing admitted, "I mean, he's the only one who's actually seen it as of yet."
"So he could be lying?" Agent Grant asked, also in the room, listening.
"Maybe," Darkwing said, "But I don't think so. He shouldn't know it exists, supervillain or not, and he himself said he didn't recognize it. Besides, why would he lie? What could he possibly stand to gain from that?"
"You raise a good point," Grant agreed, taking the report from Hooter and reviewing it again, "Because if this really is down there, then this could actually be of use to us."
"And of course, you know who can confirm whether or not this is for real," Darkwing added, looking at Hooter.
Hooter nodded, seeing what he was getting at. "Agent Grant, could please arrange a meeting with Vice President Norrin for me, as quickly as possible? The sooner the better. And don't let him try and weasel his way out of it, either."
Grant grinned at the prospect, setting down the report. "Right away, director," he said, and turned to leave.
"Now Darkwing, in the meantime, I'd like you to be brainstorming ideas that we could possibly use to take advantage of this little development," Hooter said.
"Already working on a few ideas," Darkwing said with a grin, "Grant's right. This could be a really big help to us."
The more NegaGosalyn thought about it, the more uneasy she became. After she had spoken to Negaduck earlier, she had gone back to her room and started pacing, wondering what to do now. Part of her wanted to take Negaduck at his word and trust what he was doing. But she knew that he had already lied to her before, more than once. So an ever growing part of her didn't want to trust him at all. That same part was telling her that she needed to get away from all of this before it was too late.
But she wasn't entirely sure why. Negaduck had attempted to hide the truth from her, yes, but had reasons why. His intents behind some of those reasons were less than honorable, but that was Negaduck. The rest all checked out as logically sound. Negaduck had lied to her in an attempt to protect her. And seeing that he was her adopted father, this made sense.
...Until you reminded yourself that this was Negaduck.
NegaGosalyn wasn't sure what bothered her more. Whether or not she could trust Negaduck, or the fact that Negaduck had actually admitted to caring for her, something he had never really been too open about before. It was a very...unusual move for him. Which was what disconcerted her. She had at first been flattered by the admission up until she realized it was so out of character for Negaduck and now was wondering if Negaduck had only told her that to reassure her, and didn't really mean it. Which meant he was still lying to her, now lying about things that would cut deep if truly false.
Then there was the subject of her memories. She was convinced all the answers she wanted was locked away in them, she just had to remember. But there was so much she had forgotten, and no matter how much she though about it, they wouldn't resurface just on demand. Something had to spark their resurfacing, like some kind of reminder. At least, that was how it had worked so far. But she had no idea what would do the trick, if anything at all.
And then there was what she could remember, and the more she recalled, the more she saw that something didn't add up about all of this. Something that felt off. Something about herself. She would look back at herself, and see things that didn't fit with her character as she understood it. Like the memory of her death. She died saving Crimson's life, or so it seemed. Someone she had thought was the enemy. And no one, not even herself, could quite explain why she had done that.
And there were other incidents as well that left equally, if not more, puzzled. NegaGosalyn wasn't quite sure who she was anymore, much less what side she was on. What she needed was answers, but she wasn't sure who she could turn to get them. If they were outside this building, then she wasn't sure she could ever get at them without getting into more trouble. And everyone in this building she either couldn't trust what they told her at face value, or just simply wouldn't know.
No, wait. That wasn't true. There was someone in this building who would know.
But the question was, would he help her? Would anyone even let him?
NegaGosalyn paused, and turned to look at the P90 she had set to one side, a wild and crazy idea coming to mind that she didn't really like, but she was becoming desperate, her mind so torn over things that she wasn't sure how much longer she could keep herself together, and she knew it could very well be her best, and only, option. And after a moment's hesitation, she surrendered to the promptings of the idea, scooped up the P90, and hurried out the door. She strode purposely through the hallways of Canard Tower, thankful that they were mostly empty, and when they were not, few gave her a second glance. Nor did she encounter Negaduck, but she knew she wouldn't be able to avoid him for long.
She stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the topmost floor it would go to. Nervously, she paced the small space of the elevator as it made it's seemingly slow trip to it's destination, the soft jazzy sound of the elevator music making the whole situation seem ridiculous and less serious than it really was. Finally, it arrived with a bing, and NegaGosalyn was forcing herself through the doors before they had even finished opening. She hurried down the hallway she found herself in, up a brief staircase to the next floor up from that, down a smaller hallway and straight to the door that separated her from Negaduck's machine. She quickly swiped her security card through the reader before carelessly throwing the card aside and throwing the door open, P90 raised.
There weren't many people in the room beyond, just two guards stationed at the door, who turned to look at NegaGosalyn in surprise when she entered so noisily, with two more standing near the machine itself, which was very close to being finished now. NegaGosalyn ignored all of the four guards, however, and headed straight to the one, and presently, only person working on the machine.
Techno sighed and looked up from his work and wearily at the ceiling when he heard NegaGosalyn's noisy entrance. "Look, Negs," he said, starting to turn, not realizing who was really approaching him, "Like I told you before, I am going as fast as I can. It would be faster if you'd..."
He trailed off when he finished his turn and saw that it was really NegaGosalyn approaching him, pointing a gun at his chest. Freezing, he slowly raised his hands into his air, clearly not sure what this was about. The guards, seeing that NegaGosalyn was threatening their valuable prisoner without cause or reason, also went for their own weapons, gearing up to act if need be, stepping closer, but like Techno, weren't sure what this was about and were unsure how to act, if they should act at all.
NegaGosalyn only focused on Techno however. "Tell me everything you know about me," she demanded, brandishing the P90 angrily at him, "Now!"
By the time one of the guards had radioed Negaduck and he had arrived on the top floor along with Negawing and General Mallard to investigate the situation, however, Techno still hadn't said anything, unsure if he should, and why he needed to. NegaGosalyn hadn't backed down though, still pointing the P90 at Techno, and seemed to have no intention at that time to do so.
"Gosalyn!" Negaduck exclaimed when he arrived, Negawing and the general putting their hands on their own weapons as a precaution, "What do think you're doing?"
"Stay back!" NegaGosalyn ordered as Negaduck started towards her, her eyes never leaving Techno, "This doesn't concern you!"
"It does when you're waving a gun around at people for no reason!" Negaduck snapped back, but kept his distance as requested, "Unless you can tell me what your reasons for this course of actions are!"
"I'm getting answers!"
"I think she wants me to tell her everything I know about her, apparently," Techno remarked, trying to figure it out himself, "I'm guessing this is about the memories I'm told she can't remember from before she died," he looked at NegaGosalyn optimistically
"Really?" Negaduck sighed, "Is that all? In that case, we can sort this out easily. Put the gun down, and come back with me, and I can explain everything you want to know."
"I don't want to hear it from you, I can't trust you!" NegaGosalyn countered, "That's what this is about!"
"So you went to Techno?"
"Hey!" Techno remarked, offended, "And what's wrong with me telling her?"
"Be quiet, Techno!" Negaduck remarked, and shirked answering the question, "You want to get shot?"
"Because you can't trust me to tell your version!" Techno realized, and allowed himself a snidely smile, "You're right, NegaGosalyn, you can't trust him, he's been lying to you."
"I know, I've already figured out one of his lies, confronted him about it," NegaGosalyn responded in a griping manner that reminded Techno of his own Gosalyn. Behind her, Techno could see Negaduck inwardly fuming, "So he sold out, and he told the truth about that matter, but I don't know what else he might be lying about, if anything at all."
"He might just be withholding information,"
"Techno!" Negaduck shouted warningly, "I don't need your help!"
"He's done that too," NegaGosalyn acknowledged, ignoring Negaduck, "He claims he did it for my protection."
"And I did!" Negaduck exclaimed, now sounding offended as he started again to approach NegaGosalyn, "Look Gos..."
"Ah-ah!" NegaGosalyn snapped warningly, shooting him a quick glance over her shoulder, "You keep back! I don't want you interfering! This is just between me and Techno!"
"Like Techno's really the better source to turn to!"
"Between me and whomever will tell me the truth, then!"
"And she knows she can get the truth from me!" Techno argued, glancing at Negaduck.
Negaduck sighed. "Look, Gos, I can see you don't trust me, and maybe that's for a good reason. But really, this is taking it too far!"
"You're only worried because Techno's a valuable resource to you, and nothing more!" NegaGosalyn snapped. "You think everything is only a valuable resource to you!" she paused. "Including me." her eyes narrowed. "So you tell me, Negs. Is this taking things too far?"
Negaduck hesitated. "I need him alive, Gos," he pressed, "And you know it, too. We have all come too far to have this plan fail simply because you decide you needed to use force to get some answers!" he watched her for a moment, hoping he was getting through to her, but it was pretty clear that he wasn't. "Darn it, Gos! We don't have time for this!"
"Oh, I dunno, I wasn't doing anything particularly important, take all the time you want, guys." Techno remarked snidely.
"Not! Helping! Techno!" Negaduck exclaimed with extra emphasis on each word, "Look, I know I lied to you Gos, and that I've hurt you, but I did it for a darn good reason! I've already told you as such! You have to believe me!"
"But that's just it!" NegaGosalyn exclaimed back. "I don't! And I can't believe you because you've already lied to me once! How many other times could you have lied to me that I don't know about? Can't you see? I can't take anything you say at face value! And I'm just sick of all of it! About the fact that everyone else is controlling my life, but not me! Shouldn't I be able to choose what I want to do for once?"
Negaduck was silent and gave no reply. NegaGosalyn couldn't tell because she still had her back turned to him, but Techno saw him look away from her. It was then he realized something.
"He's afraid that you just might," he remarked aloud, drawing NegaGosalyn's attention.
Negaduck also glanced his way. "Techno..." he growled warningly, already knowing where Techno was going to go with this.
Techno was unfazed by the threat. "In fact, you already did choose once," he continued commenting aloud, "And it wasn't a choice he wanted."
"I mean it, Techno!" Negaduck exclaimed again, "Don't do it!"
NegaGosalyn ignored him. "What did I choose?" she asked Techno softly.
Techno looked at her reassuringly. "Our side."
Negaduck suddenly had his pistol out and pointed at Techno in a flash, causing everyone else to tighten their grips on their own weapons. "Shut up Techno!" he barked. "You say one more word, and I swear, I will insure that you keep silent!"
A moment of silence fell as Techno hesitated due to the threat. NegaGosalyn, meanwhile, digested this information, the flickerings of lost memories starting to return to her. "I chose your side?" she repeated, seeming to be confused by this revelation.
Again, Techno hesitated to reply. "He's been lying to you, Gos," he said, "He's hidden the truth from you so to keep you from switching sides on him again."
"TECHNO!" Negaduck roared, starting to squeeze the trigger on his pistol, "I am so about to fill you up with so much lead..."
NegaGosalyn suddenly spun around and pointed her P90 at Negaduck. "You shoot him, then I'll shoot you!" she announced plainly, "You two-timing, lying, son of a...and to think I considered you a father figure!"
"Now that's below the belt!" Negaduck remarked.
"But it's true, isn't it?" Techno snapped. "You don't deserve that honor, and deep down, she knew it, too! That's why she can't trust you, and why she could trust me! You've done more than betray her–"
He was cut short when Negawing, not Negaduck, suddenly fired his weapon at Techno. He purposely missed, the fired bullet only gazing the side of Techno's helmet, but it served it's purpose in silencing Techno for the moment, the force of the graze enough to knock him over and stunning him into being quiet. NegaGosalyn glanced back at him briefly, then back at Negaduck, starting to look mad.
Negaduck leveled a stern gaze back at her. "Now let me just make one thing clear," he said. "If it hadn't taken you in, Gos, you would've ended up on the streets. The streets of my Negaverse. At the age you were at then, with the personality you sported then, you wouldn't have lasted the night. You would've been dead somewhere at the bottom of some ditch if not worse. So whether you believe it or not, I did you a favor when I accepted to care for you!"
"You only did it because you made a deal with my grandfather that you didn't want to back out of without making yourself look bad!" NegaGosalyn argued.
"Something I couldn't afford at the time, yes!" Negaduck admitted. "But I can assure you there was a heck of a lot better reason why I did it! I did it, because not even I could stand to see you just get pushed out of the way! I did it because..." at this, he trailed off for a moment, looking away for a split second again. When he glanced back, he spoke in a voice that suddenly sounded a lot more Darkwing than it did Negaduck. "...because I cared for you Gos."
The room was suddenly silent after this revelation. Techno, lying on the floor still and double checking to insure that he truly was unhurt, went wide-eyed at the fact that he had actually heard Negaduck confess something he thought he would never hear from the villain. This reaction was similar with everyone else in the room, including Negawing and General Mallard, who stared at Negaduck in complete surprise. Even NegaGosalyn was taken aback by this, and her aim started to waver slightly.
Negaduck took annoyance at their looks of surprise. "All right, I admit it!" he exclaimed, starting to sound like Negaduck again as he looked at all of them in turn, "The great and terrible Negaduck, public enemy number one, hater of all, actually cares for someone! I know what it looks like! You all probably think I've gone soft. I assure you it wasn't intentional! But..." he paused and glanced back at NegaGosalyn, "Gos, even I had to acknowledge that you were the closest thing I had to having my own, flesh and blood, offspring. It took me awhile to acknowledge it, but I realized you were my one and only heir. And I couldn't squander that chance. Gos, I have...big plans for you. Nothing would please me more to see you follow in my footsteps, and for awhile there, it looked like you were. But then, you made that one choice and rebelled against me. I should've done something then and there about it, but...I couldn't. Not even then. Then that blasted plant-wife of Bushroot's saw to it that you got killed, an ever bigger blow, because I had thought that you were lost forever now. Then I met Negarian, and we learned of your magical blood and used it to bring you back to life! It was like getting a second chance, Gos! And your inexplicable memory loss only added to that! Now admit, I exploited your lost memories to no end, manipulated you to keep you from making the same choices you did, but..." he looked at NegaGosalyn almost pleadingly. "I don't want to loose you again, to see you go down this path once more."
NegaGosalyn hesitated a moment and considered all of this, looking a little shaken by all of this. Her P90 started to lower, and for a moment, it seemed like she was going to give in, but then just as suddenly, it started to rise again.
"But that's not your choice to make," NegaGosalyn realized, and looked Negaduck in the eye coldly, "It's mine. And if you really cared about me, you would've let me."
She suddenly turned and fired her P90 at one of the room's ceiling-to-floor windows, shooting it out in a spray of shattered glass. With one hand, she promptly lifted techno back onto his feet to stand beside her. Then she jabbed her P90 at Negaduck again.
"The next time we meet Negaduck," she vowed, "it will not be on good terms."
And with that, she turned and ran for the broken window, pulling Techno along beside her, who quickly caught on. The gunman surrounding them were slow to react at first, startled as they were by all of this, but finally started shooting a few seconds too late as the pair reached the window and Techno activated his rocket boots and jetted out of it and into the empty sky outside. Everyone moved to the window to keep shooting at the escapees, hoping to get a better aim...except Negaduck, who didn't fire off a shot, and only stood there numbly. Finally, it became clear while no one could tell if any of their shots were hitting the rapidly escaping duo, it didn't seem to be slowing their escape any, and gave up, lowering their weapons. Slowly, they all turned to look back at Negaduck, unsure what to do now.
"What now, Negs?" Negawing inquired.
For a moment, Negaduck didn't reply. Then he suddenly hurled his unfired pistol across the room and turned his back on the group. "Finish the machine!" he barked, "All of you! Now! It's all I have left, and I am NOT about to let it get taken from me too!"
Agent Grant had finished radioing Vice President Norrin and requesting he pay SHUSH Headquarters for a visit and got him to agree none to willingly, when he heard another transmission beginning to come through.
"This is Techno, on route to SHUSH Headquarters, requesting permission to land on the rooftop pad," the transmission ran, "Be advised, I am starting to run low on fuel, so I hope you respond quickly, or I might just be forced to land anyway."
Agent Grant hesitated a split second, then patched himself into the transmission to send a response. "This is Agent Grant," he began, then paused for a moment. "Is this really you, Techno?"
A laugh. "Yes, it's really me, Agent Grant. I've got a guest here with me too that I think will be a big help to boot. Permission to land?"
Grant again hesitated a moment, too surprised to find the right words quickly enough. "Granted!" he exclaimed finally, then went to relay the news to everyone.
Currently Crimson was helping agents collect and dispose of debris in a SHUSH issued incinerator. Just down the hall from where she worked, just out of sight, Rowe paced nervously, muttering to himself as he sought the right words for what he wanted to say to her well in advance before he actually said them.
"Okay Crimson," he said to himself, "I know now probably isn't a good time, but we need to talk. What about? About where you and I stand on...things. I know what you're going to say about that, but no matter what you tell me, it doesn't seem to change my mind about...about how I feel about...things. So I need to know, and tell me truthfully, do you have any feelings back about...these things?"
The otter shook his head, not liking how that sounded, but wasn't coming up with anything better, so he was just about to gather up as much nerve as he could to go confront Crimson when Crimson suddenly came running down the corridor towards him.
"Crimson!" he exclaimed, "Hey, uh, hi, uh, um..."
"Sorry, I can't talk now, Rowe, I'm needed on the roof!" she explained to him quickly as she hurried past him, continuing on running down the hallway.
Rowe hesitated a moment, then hurried after her, curious about what was going on. As they ran, they were joined by others, such as Darkwing, Launchpad, even Director Hooter himself, and a multitude of SHUSH agents. Whatever was happening, it had everyone in some kind of excited buzz. Finally they arrived on the roof as one large disjointed mass, Rowe purposely lagging behind in the back. Already on the roof was Lieutenant Taylor and the two Crimson universal doubles, Negawing Crimson and the Dark Avenger. Once there, everyone turned to look skyward as if to look for something. Keeping to standing in the doorway leading onto the roof, Rowe followed everyone's gaze, wondering what they were supposed to be looking for.
"There they are!" someone in the group suddenly exclaimed, and pointed their finger up into the sky.
Everyone turned to look. Rowe peered up at the sky, and at first still saw nothing, but then finally spied it and saw why it was so hard to see. It was incredibly small, no bigger than a person, but it was rapidly approaching the building. Once it got closer, Rowe saw that it was person, flying with what appeared to be rocket boots. Now coming closer still, Rowe was surprised to see that it was Techno, and then was even more surprised to notice that he carried NegaCrimson in his arms. This was apparently good news, because everyone started to cheer and applaud as Techno came in for a smooth landing on the roof.
Once he was safely on the ground and had released NegaCrimson who stepped to one side, Rowe started forward to give his support for this event, but froze again when he saw Crimson suddenly lunge forward and grab Techno, pulling him in for a kiss. There was some playful oohs from the group at this sight, and Rowe heard Darkwing make an inaudible shout of protest, but his attention was focused on Crimson and Techno. He watched as the kiss continued for a moment, then switched to a hug as Crimson pulled Techno in a relieved and overjoyed embrace, an embrace Techno only needed a second to begin returning in full.
Rowe watched this continue for a few moments, then silently turned and walked back off the roof and into the building, mixed feelings starting to bubble up within him, but at least he knew one thing now.
His question for Crimson had been answered.
"What are you doing here?" Crimson exclaimed at Techno gratefully, "I mean, don't get me wrong, it's great to see you here again, but..."
"I know, I'm kind of surprised myself, but I am not about to complain!" Techno replied.
"How did you manage to escape?" Darkwing asked puzzled.
"Well, we have NegaGos here to thank for that," Techno said, his cheerfulness fading a little as he motioned to the universal double.
Crimson pulled away from Techno and faced her double. "So..."she began, "I take it you remember a few things now that you had forgotten."
NegaGosalyn nodded solemnly. "I do," she admitted, "And it left me in a place to make a very undesirable choice. I didn't like having to make it, but..." she managed a weak grin. "I think I made the right one."
"No longer on his side, so I say let's bring him down, the sooner the better."
"Join the club," the Dark Avenger remarked as she strolled up. "Seems everybody wants their chance at Negaduck."
"Not me," Negawing Gosalyn remarked, also joining them, "I'm just here for Negawing."
NegaGosalyn looked at the pair critically for a moment, then pointed at Negawing Gosalyn. "I like your hair," she remarked slowly, the first thing that came to mind she could comment on.
"Thank you Gosalyn of the Negaverse," Negawing Gosalyn remarked proudly, then turned to the Dark Avenger and slapped her shoulder. "See? My hairstyle is a heck of a lot better than yours."
"Oh, would you two stop fighting over that?" Crimson pleaded in dismay.
"Yes, please!" Taylor spoke up, having been watching the four despite his better judgement, "It's giving me a headache!"
A ripple of laughter went through the crowd at this.
"NegaCrimson," Hooter said, entering the conversation suddenly, "I know you just got here and all, but if you really have switched sides, then you will need to be debriefed."
"Yes. Yes, absolutely, right away," NegaGosalyn remarked, instantly agreeing and remembering why she was here, exchanging a knowing glance with Techno, the only other one present who knew what she was thinking about, "Because you need to know what Negaduck is planning."
"Negaduck is building a machine," NegaGosalyn began explaining later, once she, Techno, Crimson, Darkwing, Launchpad, and Hooter had relocated to a briefing room. She pointed at the top floor of a diagram of Canard Tower. "Here, on this floor. All of his resources now are going to be dedicated on finishing this project."
"We already know all of this," Darkwing said, working to speed up the briefing, "Agent Mia discovered that project nearly a week ago."
"We figured as much," Techno said, standing on the other side of the diagram, "But we're willing to bet that you haven't figured out what it's supposed to do."
"So what is it?" Launchpad asked.
"It is, put simply, Negaduck's guarantee of success," NegaGosalyn explained, "The very centerpiece of his plans."
"The device is, in short, an energy amplifier," Techno said, "and as it's powered by a sub-electron amplifier that Negaduck had obtained from the Negaverse, it has enough power to cover the whole globe with a sphere of energy in a matter of minutes."
"What kind of energy are we talking about here?" Hooter asked, sounding worried.
"At the moment, this device is calibrated to relay magical energy," NegaGosalyn replied.
"Magical energy?" Crimson repeated, "But with Negarian dead and you here, NegaGos, then Negaduck doesn't have access to any kind of magical energy anymore."
"Ah, but Negs was prepared for that," Techno explained. "Before Negarian died, he managed to create a charm for Negaduck, a simple object that contains a magical spell sealed inside it that can be used once, by anyone. In this case, it's a large emerald, and has already been placed inside the machine."
"Dare I ask what the spell it is?" Darkwing asked.
"Negarian's mind control spell," NegaGosalyn replied instantly, "And coupled with this machine, Negaduck can use it on the entire world all at once in mere moments upon activated this device."
"If Negaduck gets to activate this device before we can stop him, then it's all over for us," Techno promised. "Because the only person the device is set up to ignore is Negaduck himself."
NegaGosalyn blinked in surprise at this. "Are you sure?" she asked Techno.
"Very, I saw the codes," Techno replied, puzzled by NegaGosalyn's puzzlement, "Why?"
"Because that wasn't what Negaduck told the others. He told them that Canard Tower would be shielded, protecting all within from the effects of the spell. He assured his own doubles that they would be safe."
"Then he lied!" Crimson exclaimed, shocked at this new low of Negaduck's. "He had no intention of sparing them from the spell! He wants them all under his control!"
"Because then he gets at least partial control of their universes too!" Darkwing exclaimed, understanding Negaduck's plan.
"The more under his control, then, the better," Techno concluded darkly.
A morbid moment of silence fell in the room.
"So...now what?" Launchpad inquired.
Techno and NegaGosalyn exchanged glances. "Now we stop Negaduck, probably by raiding the building and taking control of the machine before he has the chance to activate it." Techno responded.
"We were kind of hoping you guys would have a idea how to do that by now," NegaGosalyn added.
Darkwing and Hooter exchanged looks, grinning slightly. "Oh yeah, we've got a plan all right," Darkwing assured them.
"Vice President Norrin to see you, sir," Agent Grant announced as he opened the door to let forever neutral feline in.
Norrin stepped into Hooter's office and glanced at both Hooter and Darkwing. "I presume there is an important reason why you two have pulled me here?" he asked curtly, getting right to the point as he sat down before Hooter's desk.
"You bet there is," Darkwing said, "In fact, we think we might have a good plan about attacking and stopping Negaduck."
"Very well," Norrin remarked, looking as pleased as he ever does by anything by this news, "But why did I have to come here to hear this?"
"Because we needed to ask you a few questions first, and needed you here where you couldn't shirk them," Hooter replied, leveling his eyes with Norrin's.
Norrin mirrored the look, but did not object to the statement. "What are your questions, then?"
"Well, first, we need to tell you a few things about what we've been doing around here as of late," Darkwing explained. "See, recently, we were poking around in Elementary Underground to see if it could provide any means of accessing Canard Tower from within so to stage an attack on Negaduck. While doing so, we discovered that none of the tunnels in Elementary Underground, curiously enough, do not go under Canard Tower at all, but instead avoid it."
"We of course investigated possible reasons why this was so," Hooter said, picking up on the story. "And it was then that we discovered that there is, curiously enough, a secret, hidden, sub-level to Canard Tower no one knew about. Except, we think, for you, Mr. Vice President."
Norrin glanced at them both, his face impossible to read as always. "I know nothing of an extra, hidden, sub-level to Canard Tower," he stated plainly.
"Which is possible," Darkwing admitted, pulling out a manilla folder and opening it, "But we don't think so, because inside this hidden floor, we found this."
He dropped the open folder before Norrin so the feline could see the picture inside. Norrin picked it up and glanced at it for a long moment. Hooter and Darkwing waited patiently for a response.
"You must be mistaken," Norrin finally stated, "Nothing like this is located below Canard Tower. It's impossible."
"Our eyewitness of that device says otherwise," Hooter pressed.
"And we have no reason to doubt his word at the moment," Darkwing added.
"Well, I doubt your word," Norrin stated plainly. "You could not have gotten an eyewitness down there if the whole floor is shielded."
Hooter and Darkwing's only response to that was to exchange looks of victory.
Norrin looked puzzled. "What?" he inquired.
"We never said that the level in question was shielded by anything," Darkwing remarked.
"Thus, if you were unaware of this floor's existence, how could you have known about something we did not tell you about?" Hooter inquired with a smirk.
Norrin only gave them both a sour look in response.
"Gotcha," Hooter remarked.
"I take it then that it's really down there, then, hmm?" Darkwing prompted.
Norrin dropped the folder on Hooter's desk in annoyance. "It is," he confessed, "We found it there. We presume it had crashed there sometime in the distance past and had gotten buried. It was only uncovered when the foundations were being set for Canard Tower. Instead of relocating it, The Agency opted to leave it there, to use in the event of an emergency."
"Well, I think this qualifies as an emergency," Darkwing said, then explained, "Negaduck's got a machine almost ready that upon his use will enable him to conquer our world. Using this will help us stop him by being able to get in Canard Tower. And you can help. Heck, The Agency itself can help. How often do we let you do that?"
"Not often enough," Norrin was forced to admit. "I suppose I can make the necessary arrangements. But if this idea fails, Darkwing, I will be holding you personally responsible."
"So what else is new?" Darkwing asked, unsurprised, "But it doesn't matter. If this doesn't work, we'll have all lost anyway."
It was long after midnight before the final preparations were made, but it was clear that the combined forces of the army, SHUSH, the SCPD, and Darkwing and company, as well as a few universal doubles of the latter, were coming to Canard Tower, surrounding it entirely and even more tightly than before.
And Negaduck was painfully aware of it.
And so was everyone else in the tower.
"They're coming for us," General Mallard remarked, staring out the window at the masses of people gathering around the tower.
"And they are going to get us if we don't finish this machine," Negaduck snapped, who was hard at work at trying to finishing the machine, and was coming very close.
"What if we don't finish it in time?" the general asked, not moving. "Even with my personal army still in our command, we won't be able to fight them off for long."
"Hopefully it won't come to that, especially if you get over here and help get this machine ready!"
"Not to argue with you, but wouldn't a better idea be to rally our forces and get them ready for a fight, just in case?"
"Are you trying to get out of this work?" Negaduck barked at General Mallard, twisting around to glare at him. They looked at each other for a moment, then Negaduck suddenly shook his head and looked away. "No wait, wait, never mind, you're right! So go, go, go! Get those forces ready to fight! They might just have to buy me the time I need to finish this."
The general nodded and moved to exit the floor, but as he did, Negawing appeared in the room and crossed paths with him.
"Hold it!" he said, stopping the general and leading him back to Negaduck, "You might want to stick around for this. Negaduck, I have bad news."
"So what else is new?" Negaduck replied grumpily. "What's the bad news?"
"There some curious power fluctuations occurring on the lower floors, and I'm pretty sure it's originating from that third sub-level we found to this building," Negawing replied.
Negaduck looked up from his work suddenly to look at him, surprised.
Negawing nodded in agreement. "I think there's someone down there."
"Who?" General Mallard asked.
"And why would anyone be down there?" Negaduck asked.
"To get in here," Negawing stated plainly. "It could be the start of an invading force."
"They can't be allowed to get up here, then," Negaduck turned back to his work. "Stop them from doing that. Whatever the cost."
"What if we can't keep them back?"
"Buy me enough time to finish this, then it won't matter."
Negawing and General Mallard exchanged glances, then nodded, and both departed to take care of the orders, leaving Negaduck alone in the room, working on the machine, very close to completing it enough for it to operate.
"No matter what happens now," he told himself as he worked, "it all ends tonight."
As General Mallard and Negawing headed down to the sub-level in question, rallying half of their forces to come with them and sending the rest to defend as much of the rest of the building as possible, the general kept glancing out windows to watch the gathering forces surrounding the building.
"There's certainly a lot of them," he muttered to himself, "I'm not sure we can win this."
"If we can't, I'm not sticking around to see it happen," Negawing promised.
This caught the general by surprise. "You aren't?" he repeated, "But what about your agreement to stand by Negaduck's side as he carries out his plans, to commit yourself and your resources to his cause, regardless of the circumstance?"
"No point it doing all of that if Negaduck's just going to loose without succeeding at anything," Negawing remarked. "You have to keep in mind who I am, general. I am an opportunist, only seeking to better my circumstances, and only commit my efforts to such a cause. I, like I'm sure you were, was quite enthused by Negaduck's plans and his promise of success in the beginning, but it's pretty clear now that victory isn't going to come as easily as we had first thought, if at all. If no fruit is going to come from it, then I will not waste precious resources fighting for something that will never become a reality. I have too many operations back home to work on instead that hold more promise than that."
"Well, okay, but what if you underestimate us, and end up selling yourself short? We haven't lost yet, you know."
"Then I will forever tear myself apart over missing out on the goods. But then I'll just vent my frustrations on a few naughty citizens back home for awhile. It's just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, after all. Not like I haven't missed others before. I'd get over it. But I can assure you general, I won't leave until I'm certain."
"Good, because I will probably going to use your help to fight to the bitter end...or at least as close to that as you're willing to get."
"Looking forward to it, general."
They took who they had gathered and headed down into the third and hidden basement level in skyscraper via the stairs, as the elevator did not go down that far. Once inside, they fanned out and searched the fairly empty and quiet floor. A quick search of the floor they had already opened and explored revealed nothing out of the ordinary.
"You...sure there's somebody down here?" the general asked.
"It might be possible I was mistaken," Negawing admitted, "It was just a hunch. But it was one I felt was carrying a lot of weight, so I'd rather not be mistaken."
"But we've searched the whole floor," General Mallard objected, walking past a door, then suddenly stopping and turning back to do a double-take. "Except through here."
Negawing shined his flashlight on the closed and locked door. "You mean that door Negarian couldn't open?" he asked.
"Right, because he said it blocked his magic somehow. He couldn't magically open it."
"Not with magic, no," Negawing admitted, approaching the door, "But I did suggest one tactic once that I know he never tried."
General Mallard nodded, and opened a pocket on the tactical vest he wore at the moment. "Way ahead of you," he said, pulling out a small amount of plastic explosive and plastering it to the door.
That done, the group all quickly ducked back down the hallway, out of range of the blast, before the general triggered the explosive. In a quick plume of fire and smoke, the door was heard being knocked off it's hinges, clearing the path. Moving rapidly, the group all hurried back to the door and pounded into the fairly sizable room beyond the door they had blasted open and, guns raised, searched the room for intruders.
The room proved to be surprisingly sparse. In fact, it was entirely empty, save for a row of three, old-fashioned, computers sitting against one of the far walls, exposed electrical wiring for both the computers as well as the lights, and a large and intricate device none of them were familiar that sat in the center of the room.
Standing next to it, finishing the rewiring he was doing on the centerpiece device of the room, was Gigavolt.
The moment the intruders in the room saw him, they pointed their weapons at him and fired. As always with Gigavolt, the fired shots did absolutely nothing to him. But unlike the usual course of action Gigavolt typically took in such a situation, which was to fight back, living energy being saw that he wasn't welcome and quickly turned and left the room the same way he came in, by channeling himself through the walls and shields in place around the room, leaving his attackers behind, puzzled.
Gigavolt meanwhile promptly reappeared in the tunnels surrounding the hidden floor in Elementary Underground. Once fully reformed back into his usual state, he turned to Agents Todd and Sandy, who were waiting for him.
"They have gained entrance to the room," he reported simply.
"Right," Agent Todd replied as they all turned and hurried to exit the tunnels while pulling out a radio and switching it on. "Darkwing, this is Todd, they've gained access to the room, if we're going to do this, it needs to be now."
Darkwing, standing up on the surface with the others surrounding Canard Tower, nodded and switched frequencies on the radio. "Vice President Norrin," he said into it, "The time is now."
Norrin, also in the group, but standing apart from it, more towards the back where he was to help command the forces, nodded, then also switched frequencies on his radio. "Radio Avalon," he stated into the receiver, "They are to begin the attack immediately."
So now the radio transmission was directed out into deep space, where three small craft hovered near another intricate device, waiting for the word to be given. Inside the lead ship, the transmission was received and listened to by the person operating those systems.
"They've given the word," Dr. Robert McDonald announced to the person that sat beside him at the ship's controls, "the attack starts now."
"Good," Lieutenant Colonel Jack Pepper said as he handled the controls. "Let's get this show on the road. Dial the second Jumpgate."
And that second Jumpgate currently sat in the bottommost floor of Canard Tower.
However, for the moment, Negawing, General Mallard, and the rest of their forces that stood in the room with the device did not know this just yet.
"Negawing to Negaduck, come in please," Negawing said, speaking into his radio, pacing back and forth beside the Jumpgate, "Negawing to Negaduck, come in please." But all he got in response was static, so he eventually gave up. "Darn it, the shielding around this room must be blocking the transmissions."
"So what do you think this thing is, anyway?" General Mallard asked, having stepped up close to the device and was examining it.
"I'm wondering more about why Gigavolt was down here messing with it," Negawing replied as he debated his options.
"Okay, and why do you think he was doing that?"
"I don't know, but nothing but trouble can possibly come from this. I'm willing to bet our goody-goody foes got him to come down here."
"But...how did they find out this was even down here?"
"We'll worry about that later. Right now, we need to decide what we're going to do about this device, and whether or not we need to worry about any potential threats it might create."
"Well, good thing that it seems to be deactivated for the moment then, hmm?"
But no sooner had the general said that did the Jumpgate suddenly start to hum. Surprised, everyone backed away from it, training their weapons on it.
"You just had to say it, didn't you?" Negawing grumbled.
"It was a mistake the moment I said it," General Mallard agreed as they all watched the device, wondering what it would do next.
Whatever they were expecting, it wasn't what they got, because with a suddenly flash of light, a jumper shot through the Jumpgate suddenly and quickly slowed to a halt before it ran into a wall. It was quickly followed by two more that did the same as the first, reorienting themselves to position themselves around the room. One by one they all landed and opened their rear hatches to allow their armed troops within to spill out, immediately engaging the enemy forces. Quickly matched in numbers and being overwhelmed due to being caught so off guard, Negawing ordered a hasty retreat. The reinforcements that the jumpers had provided quickly followed them.
"Okay, the way's been cleared," Pepper remarked to McDonald as he fired up their jumper again, "Time for us to go upstairs."
"Yeah, I've got the jumper's cloaking device converted into a shield about...now," McDonald reported. "The other jumpers are reporting the same."
"Here we go then," Pepper remarked as he gunned the little ship for the far wall, the other two following their lead.
Under normal circumstances, the ships should've crashed, but shielded as they were with highly advanced alien technology, the walls promptly gave way as the ships collided with them, enabling the ships to literally drill their way through the earth until they burst out suddenly into the midst of buildings that was St. Canard. Several people within the group surrounding Canard Tower of course saw the jumpers take to the sky.
"There they are!" Darkwing exclaimed, pointing at the craft as the reoriented themselves to face the skyscraper, "Everyone, charge!"
The group all surged towards Canard Tower and engaged the enemy, with the intent to keep fighting until they either won or lost.
Up on the top floor all by himself, Negaduck felt the impacts as the jumpers burst free from the earth, quickly followed by the sudden charging of the enemy forces surrounding the building and the ratatats of their weaponry discharging. He pulled a face, realizing that he was running out of time, and moved to work faster. But it was almost unnecessary, because he quickly realized with a start that the machine was ready.
Grinning to himself, Negaduck quickly hurried over to one corner of the room and grabbed the black case he had left sitting there and brought it over to the machine. Opening it, he very delicately pulled out Negarian's emerald charm, glowing faintly in his hands. Carefully, he lifted it up above the machine, and positioned it over a circular device built in it's top. The device immediately began to glow as the charm was moved into place. Once Negaduck was insured it was, he released the charm. The crystal hovered there in midair, starting to spin slightly, ready to feed the machine the magical energy it contained on demand.
Negaduck stood there and watched it for a moment, starting to feel the excitement of inevitable success begin to well up inside of him, before the sound of gunfire several floors below him reminded him that he didn't have time to reminisce. Quickly, he turned around and hurried over to the machine's primary control panel and started pressing buttons, transferring power to the machine, activating it and charging it up. Even with the sub-electron amplifier powering it in it's center, it was going to take it a few moments for it to be fully charged. Negaduck waited impatiently for it to do so.
"C'mon..." he muttered aloud to himself, knowing that he didn't have all the time in the world.
It was then he heard the low drone of a craft approaching the floor from outside it's windows. Glancing at the reflection showing on the control panel's screen out of the corner of his eye, Negaduck watched in frustration without turning around as the Thunderquack suddenly decloaked right outside the room and hovered near the window that had been broken earlier that day long enough for someone to jump from the jet and into the room itself before the jet, really unable to do anything more, flew off again. With it still being very dark outside and it dark in the room, it was hard to tell with certainty who it was, but Negaduck didn't need to even turn around to see. He already knew.
"Gos," he greeted, pushing his hands off the control panel slowly, "I didn't think we'd meet up again so soon."
NegaGosalyn pointed her P90 at him. "You have some crimes to answer for in case you forgot," she reminded him. "So who better to take you down, than me?"
"Oh no, I'm not complaining," Negaduck said quickly, slowly reaching with one hand for his pistol, "In fact, I'm all for a little family reunion..."
And with that, he suddenly whipped out his pistol, spun around, and fired.
Downstairs several floors in Canard Tower, the battle was in full swing now. Caught off guard by the sudden attack, Negaduck's forces were slow to react immediately to the offensive assault on their ranks, and that blow hurt them. Furthermore, the sudden revelation that it was a two-front battle, made clear when General Mallard and Negawing returned from the third sub-level with a large group of enemy fighters on their tails, further lowered their odds of success. General Mallard had been correct in his assessment of the situation. The forces of him, his personal army, Negawing, and even Negaduck if he were down here fighting as well, were simply not enough to turn back the tide of opposing attackers they now faced.
However, General Mallard didn't let this stop him. True to his promise, he planned to fight to the bitter end, knowing that regardless of how badly the battle was going, he only needed to delay a complete and total loss long enough for Negaduck to finish the machine and activate it. Then, assuming everything about the machine worked out as planned, odds would no longer matter, because there would longer be need to fight. They would've won. So he kept fighting, and planned to fight to the bitter end.
Negawing, however, had already made it clear where he stood on the matter. He liked Negaduck's plan, and Negaduck himself, and had up until now enjoyed getting the chance to work with someone like Negaduck, someone who so resoundingly shared the same values as he had, but even he had to see when things were a lost cause. Given the odds, he seriously was finding it harder and harder to believe that this was a battle that could be won by the likes of them, the villains. And where he came from, the idea of running and hiding so to live to fight another day was a undesirable but accepted axiom and tactic in situations like this.
So, once he saw that they were losing men much faster than they were taking down men from the opposing force, he did a quick estimate of how long it would take before they lost and compared it to how long he estimated it would take for Negaduck to finish and activate the machine, and determined that they would all be defeated before Negaduck could finish, thus it was pointless to keep fighting. Doing so would only insure his capture and defeat as well, and he didn't plan that.
Negawing quickly turned tail and ran, then, slipping out of the fight taking place all over the lower floors of the tower, and went for the quickest means of escape. He had a portal remote, but figured trying to open it in the middle of a battle in full sight of everyone else wasn't advisable. He instead planned to get away from Canard Tower and St. Canard altogether to someplace safe and secluded enough to then create the portal and escape properly back to his universe.
And he knew just how to do that.
Heading up a few floors, he headed straight for where the Negaquack was parked.
When Negaduck spun around and fired, NegaGosalyn was already in motion, quickly diving to one side of the room. Helped by the fact that Negaduck had purposely aimed to disable but not kill, she was able to just barely dodge the bullet. Hitting the floor on her side and sliding about a foot on the smooth tile floor, she raised her P90 and returned fire. Negaduck quickly ducked behind the control panel he had been standing at, listening as the shots pinged off the metal frame.
The moment they stopped, Negaduck poked his head out and fired off another shot in NegaGosalyn's direction. But she had already moved again, ducking behind another control panel herself. Negaduck still tried to get a shot in on her, but upon missing, had to duck away himself in order to dodge the return fire NegaGosalyn gave in response. Negaduck realized that of the two, NegaGosalyn was the one who was better armed, as the P90 packed more power, and was capable of firing more shots per second. In comparison to Negaduck's simple 9mm pistol, she stood the better odds.
No wonder she loved that gun so much.
However, after the exchange of fire went back and forth a few times, Negaduck noticed that whenever NegaGosalyn wasn't shooting, she was examining the control panel she was hiding behind. It was then that he realized that the return fire she was providing was being done more to keep him preoccupied while she sought a way to stop the machine. She was trying to buy herself, and probably the rest of the goody-goody gang downstairs, more time to succeed in defeating him.
Negaduck wasn't going to let that happen.
Quickly adjusting his aim, he fired repeatedly at NegaGosalyn's control panel, destroying it in a spray of sparks. The move cost Negaduck a clip of ammo that he now had to stop and replace while still hiding behind his own control panel, but he felt it was a good move nonetheless, and it also got NegaGosaly to pause in her attacks to warily survey the damage, seeing it there was anything salvable. There was it. Negaduck heard her curse.
"Ha!" he laughed, "Serves you right for turning your back on me for a second time!"
"You brought that down on yourself!" NegaGosalyn countered, ducking back behind her ruined control panel, considering her options. "You're the one who's going down the path that I can't follow down!"
"Yes, you can follow me down it!" Negaduck argued, "Anyone can follow me! You just choose to not too!"
"Exactly what makes me different from you!" NegaGosalyn replied. "I chose to be who I am! And I chose to not be like you!"
"And so that means you have to stop me, hmm?" Negaduck inquired.
"More or less. I don't want to have to stop you, but I will with I must."
"Stop me, eh? You think you really think a goody-traitor like you can do that now?"
"Certainly," NegaGosalyn pulled out something from her pocket, "Just not in your typical style."
She then took the item she had pulled out and rolled it across the floor towards Negaduck. Negaduck watched it, unable to identify the object, until it had rolled to him. Upon doing so, he realized it was a grenade, and quickly jumped up and spun around to run away from it. He got no further than a couple paces before it finally did.
As it turned out, Negawing wasn't the only one who got the idea to run, because when he arrived on the floor that had been cleared for parking aircraft like the Negaquack and a couple of helicopters, there were several other people, mostly lowly members from General Mallard's personal army, that were trying to fire up two of the helicopters. They left the Negaquack alone because they all knew only authorized people were allowed at it (namely Negaduck and NegaGosalyn) and because it was locked anyway, and they didn't have the time to try and unlock it to use it.
When Negawing entered, many of them stopped and turned to look at him, worried he was going to tell them off and tell them to get back to defending the building instead of trying to flee. But Negawing did no such thing, and more or less ignored the group as he made his way straight for the Negaquack. When it became clear that he had no intention of stopping him, they all hurriedly went back to what they were doing, knowing that if they weren't quick, they would be stopped by their attackers.
Negawing jumped carelessly into the Negaquack and started prepping it for takeoff. Looking ahead of him, he saw the window paneling that sealed the room off from the outside room, the only space large enough for aircraft to come and go. Negaduck had ordered that the glass paneling be rigged so that they could be removed long enough for aircraft to depart, then returned to their original position, and the order had been carried out, meaning this could be done. In fact, there were a couple of people already in the process of attempting to move the paneling to clear the way for the would-be fleeing aircraft.
But then Negawing heard a commotion behind him, and saw a party of SHUSH commandos storm into the room, and saw he couldn't wait. Quickly, he gunned the Negaquack's throttle, and the jet lurched forward, thrusting itself off the ground in a quick burst of downward thrust, then shot forward and out the window paneling that blocked his way with a shatter. He was now outside the building, but in doing so, drew the attention of the other aircraft that circled the building. He watched as the three jumpers swooped down on a helicopter that followed the Negaquack out of Canard Tower and was quickly shot down, and saw the Thunderquack zooming his way.
Quickly, Negawing turned the Negaquack around and sped off for the city border, but he didn't get far before the Thunderquack was pounding away at it's sister plane's rear with it's machine guns. Cursing under his breath, and seeing that he was going to have to fight his way out, Negawing spun the jet around once again to confront the enemy, returning fire. It did little good, the Thunderquack having been fully repaired, withstood the onslaught as well as she had originally had. The maneuvering of her pilot, Launchpad, aided to minimize the damage.
As a result the attack quickly turned into a game of chase, occasionally turning into one of cat and mouse at odd intervals, as they zoomed through St. Canard, firing potshots at each other, both hoping to strike a deciding blow here soon. It was around then that the three jumpers, having been preoccupied back at Canard Tower dealing with the other craft attempting to escape, returned and helped the Thunderquack gang up on the Negaquack. The Negaquack attempted to dodged the attacks at first, then, seeing she was outgunned, made another attempt to flee.
It was then that Pepper and McDonald's jumper fired their lucky shot, striking a hard blow to the Negaquack's side that jostled Negawing within, shorting out some of the controls, and cracking the windshield. As the jet limped along, it gave Launchpad in the Thunderquack the clear shot he needed, and fired off a missile that struck the sister jet right in the tailfin, crippling the craft, and making it drop out of the air like a stone, all of it's systems failing.
Negawing fought hard to keep the jet airborne, but it was to no avail. It skimmed off the roof of one building, sending it spiraling out of control before it crashed, hard, to the street below and flipped and rolled, rendering the jet severe damage that insured she would likely never fly again, before it finally skidded to a halt in front of a building, not far from where the battle was taking place still at Canard Tower.
Miraculously, Negawing survived the attack, and was conscious, but only just barely. Injured himself, he fought to maintain consciousness and struggled to free himself from his seat. The seatbelt was jammed, however, and wouldn't unlatch. Knowing he couldn't stay here or risk capture, he tried to grab his walking stick from where he had left it in the empty passenger seat beside him, with the idea of using the sword contained within, but it had been knocked out of his reach. He sought some other way to cut the straps that held him and escape when he saw her coming.
Strolling up to the crashed jet idly, calmly loading her Thompson submachine gun as she went, Negawing Gosalyn glanced at the villain trapped within the jet and gave him a cruel grin.
"I don't know if you remember me, Negawing," she remarked coldly. "But I remember you. You recruited me to your forces once, not that long ago. Thought I was an excellent gunman. Observed that I never missed. Thought I would be a big help to you indeed. But as you later found out, I had, and have, no interest in your plans, your goals, or you. As I see it, you're a hindrance. Kept the people of our universe stuck in an endless circle of violence where we're all trying to obtain dominance. And I'm bored of that. So, I thought to myself, why not correct that, and to do that, all I needed to do was get close to you."
She placed one foot on the jet's nose and raised the machine gun to point at Negawing. "You got lucky, and I missed my chance once before. That's when our ways parted, and they did not cross again...until now. And now, I will be taking the chance to meet my goals."
Negawing started clawing for his walking stick again, seeing where this was going, and became even more desperate to escape, but the seatbelt held him tightly there, and the walking stick remained out of his reach.
Negawing Gosalyn wrapped a finger around the trigger of her weapon. "And as you know," she concluded finally, "I never miss."
And she fired, once. Because one shot was all she needed.
The grenade proved to merely be a simply stun grenade, and produced a loud bang and a brief flash of light, but that was all that was needed. Due to his close proximity to the blast, Negaduck promptly lost his hearing for the moment, and his vision, overloaded, vanished in a sea of afterimages left on his retinas as a result of the flash and was momentarily blinded. He fumbled around blindly, trying to determine where he was, and where NegaGosalyn was in relation to himself, fully expecting to be attacked suddenly at any moment by her while he was so vulnerable and no doubt an easy target.
But the attack never came. And Negaduck couldn't figure out why, until his vision returned enough that he realized NegaGosalyn had instead went for the machine while he was blinded, and was tampering with it, trying to figure out how to disable it. She was in the process of removing the cover that was placed over the sub-electron amplifier when Negaduck tackled her from behind, knocking her down to the ground.
"You don't touch that machine!" he yelled angrily as he wrestled with her.
NegaGosalyn responded with some kind of verbal retort that probably would've stung, but Negaduck's hearing still hadn't returned yet, so he didn't get to hear it and instead focused on trying to win this now hand-to-hand fight, their weapons dropped and forgotten now. They rolled and rolled back and forth across the floor, dealing punches and kicks back and forth to each other in the process.
After a few moments of this, Negaduck's hearing slowly started to return finally, starting out softly, but rapidly growing louder again as it returned to somewhere near normal levels. And with the return of his hearing, Negaduck was pleased to hear a shrill beeping noise from the machine's third control panel, the only one still left intact. The rapid beeping was annoying as all heck, but for Negaduck it was good news because it meant that the machine was now fully changed and ready to fire.
It was just waiting for the final command.
"Time's up!" Negaduck exclaimed, and planted both feet into NegaGosalyn's front and pushed her off of him and into one corner of the room.
He then jumped up onto his feet and raced for the control panel. He heard NegaGosalyn quickly get back up on her feet and chase after him, but he knew there was no way she could catch up to him in time. He reached the control panel first, and promptly slapped his hand down on the red button that fired the machine.
"Ah-HA!" he crowed victoriously.
Downstairs several floors in Canard Tower, the fight was pretty much over. Overwhelmed, General Mallard and what remained of his forces all quickly fell until there was only a smattering left free to fight, not enough against the odds they were facing. Having no place to run, the general was given one last chance to surrender before the forces he opposed overran him. He took that chance.
"But I'll have you know that this changes nothing," General Mallard assured Darkwing as he personally placed his dopplegander in handcuffs, "Your victory will be short lived."
"Oh, well, we'll see about that," Darkwing replied as he started escorting the general out of the building along with the rest of his captured forces.
Right about then, the lights in the building started to flicker ominously. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look up at them.
"That doesn't seem good," Agent Grant remarked from nearby Darkwing where he was helping arrest the surrendered members of the army.
Darkwing's radio suddenly clicked on, and although the transmissions were all filled with static and rapidly degrading further into nothingness, the messages that were relayed were clear.
"We're getting power fluctuations all over the city!"
"The jumpers! They're losing power! They're making emergency landings all over the city!"
"Something weird's going on up on that top floor of Canard Tower, guys!"
"DW! This is Launchpad! The Thunderquack is also losing power, but I think they're right! And NegaGos is up there, I helped her get up there at the start of the fight!"
Darkwing pulled out his radio. "Crimson!" he said into the device, "Are you near that floor yet?"
"Me, Lieutenant Taylor, and a party of commandos are already on our way up there, Darkwing!" Crimson managed to report back before the radio burst into static and transmitted no more, "We'll stop Negaduck's machine!"
General Mallard snorted at this. "You're already too late."
Darkwing stared at him, wondering if he was right.
Outside, an eerie green glow started to be generated from within that top floor, visible even from the ground. Then, metallic arms that were part of the machine burst out of the sides of the pyramid structure that sat on Canard Tower's roof and extended themselves to their full length. Sparkling green energy gathered at their tips, then shot towards the building's lightning rod spire in bright beams to collect in a large ball of energy, getting ready to discharge in one burst that could cover the planet. The machine drawing power wherever it could, all of St. Canard quickly went dark as the energy was robbed to feed the power-hungry device that was just moments away from firing.
And all the onlookers gathered around could do was watch and wait, hoping against hope that something would save them.
That person, was NegaGosalyn.
Catching up with Negaduck just moments after he pressed the button to fire the weapon, she grabbed him by the shoulder and slammed his head into the control panel before him with a thud. Yowling in pain, Negaduck retorted by reaching around to grab her, trying to throw her off, but NegaGosalyn only used his attempts to fight back as leverage to grab hold of him and to toss him overtop the control panel and down to the floor.
Behind them, the machine started sending a steady current of energy through the magical charm that hovered over it, casting a green glow in the dark room.
Negaduck grabbed his pistol from where he had left it on the floor and fired it at NegaGosalyn, but she was already moving, hurrying to recover her own fallen weapon. Scooping up the P90 in her arms, she started to raise it, but Negaduck promptly threw himself on her, trying to stop her. She quickly threw him off her again, and without hesitation, she raised the P90 and took aim.
And fired at the machine's sub-electron amplifier.
"No!" Negaduck exclaimed, quickly grabbing at NegaGosalyn's weapon as it discharged, throwing off her aim.
But he wasn't quick enough, and a barrage of bullets slammed into the hourglass-shaped crystal, cracking it. The cracks grew more and more, until it shattered, and literally exploded, creating a massive blast wave of pent-up energy that bowled both NegaGosalyn and Negaduck over and onto the floor.
The blast burst out every window on the top floor of Canard Tower, shattering every one of them in a spray of glass that rained back down on the crowded streets below. The machine hummed for a few moments longer, the ball of energy it had created still shimmering for a moment on the tower's lightning rod, but then the ball suddenly blinked out of existence and an explosion ripped through one of the metal arms that had extended, rendering the device useless.
Inside the floor, the machine sparked as it's hum died away. Negaduck picked himself off the floor in time to see it fail completely and to watch in dismay as the mechanism that kept the vital magical charm afloat give out, letting the emerald crystal fall to the ground. It shattered on impact, the unused magical spell caught inside being allowed to dissipate harmlessly into the air.
Negaduck stared ludicrously at the spot the crystal had hovered at. "No..." he murmured, "No..." He started to turn around to face NegaGosalyn, looking to a be a mixture of shocked, offended, and angry, probably with the intent of retaliating upon her.
She didn't give him the chance, promptly kicking the feet out from under him, knocking him back down to the ground and then pinning him to the ground with one foot, pointing her P90 at him.
"You are defeated," NegaGosalyn announced needlessly.
Negaduck stared at her for a long moment, the statement sounding strange to him, someone who had managed to avoid such an outcome for so long now, but finally closed his eyes and dropped his head on the ground in defeat. "I suppose I am," he admitted, then chuckled, glancing back up at his once adopted daughter. "So here it ends. Funny, I never imagined I'd go out this way, by the hand of the very person that had once been my daughter."
NegaGosalyn stared back at him for a moment. "Then you're right."
And with that, she promptly flipped the P90 around in a blink of an eye and clubbed Negaduck with it's butt end, knocking him out cold. Breathing heavily, she then sighed, and relaxed, dropping the weapon as she looked around at the destruction that surrounded her, glad it was now all over.
A moment after that, Crimson, Taylor, and the accompanying party of SHUSH commandos burst into the room and surveyed the situation.
"NegaGos!" Crimson exclaimed, and hurried over to her. She spied Negaduck lying unconscious at her double's feet and stared at him in amazement. "Does this mean...?"
NegaGosalyn nodded as Taylor and the commandos promptly hauled Negaduck's limp body to it's feet to arrest him. "Negaduck's reign of terror has indeed ended."
Outside Canard Tower, everyone else gathered at the building's entrance, staring up at the top floor warily. A long silence fell, as everyone was unsure what exactly had happened and what it meant. Slowly, power flickered back on all across the city.
"Well," Agent Todd remarked aloud finally, "We're all still here, so..."
Darkwing pulled out his radio again. "Crimson, this is Darkwing," he said slowly into the device, "Can you give me a status report?"
A long paused followed as the radio relayed back nothing but static for a long moment. Then a response finally came.
"Darkwing, this is Crimson, I'm happy to report the machine has been safely disabled, and Negaduck is in custody."
The tension immediately broke. A few laughs of relief murmured through the group. Darkwing, feeling overwhelmed with relief, could only grin happily, unable to find words for a long moment.
"Negaduck's defeated," he finally repeated to himself.
Hooter, stepping up to him, nodded in agreement. "And some thanks is to be given to everyone," he agreed, "But mostly to you."
Darkwing looked at him in surprised. "Me?"
"Well, Crimson, Launchpad, and Techno included as well, but it was really the combined efforts of all of you who made this possible," Hooter explained brightly. "So...thank you."
Darkwing was silent for a moment. "You're welcome," he replied.
A moment of silence fell within the group. Then, suddenly, the Dark Avenger started applauding. She was quickly joined by Negawing Gosalyn, who stood nearby. Hooter caught on, and he joined in as well. All of SHUSH promptly followed their director's lead. The SCPD quickly followed suit. In fact, everyone did, even a reluctant but willing Vice President Norrin, until the air around the gather reverberated with the applause.
All for Darkwing and company.
However, there was a few who did not applaud, but instead watched with interest at the entrance of street alley towards one side of the crowd. Solemnly, Rowe watched the proceedings, thinking inwardly about what he was going to do next, and deciding then and there, it truly was what he wanted to do.
Standing near him was Bushroot. "A penny for your thoughts, Rowe." the mutant plant-duck remarked.
Rowe sighed. "Do me a favor and find Quackerjack," he instructed. "We're leaving."
"Leaving? What for?"
"Because we won't be the Fearsome Three for long if we don't get out of here while we have the chance."
Hearing the applause from where she was, Crimson wandered over to the broken windows on the top floor and looked outside. Scooping up her hat from where it had fallen in the fight, NegaGosalyn joined her. They watched the applause continue, while meanwhile, directly ahead on the horizon, dawn broke, chasing away the darkness of night as a new day began.
"I suppose this changes things, now," Crimson remarked aloud finally. "Forever."
NegaGosalyn nodded. "Things are going to change. But for the better."
And with that final thought, they stood there and, while listening to the applause continue, watched the sun rise over the newly liberated city of Saint Canard...
Fun Facts: Before we begin, I wish to announce that I got The Duck Knight Returns from BOOM! Comics for Christmas, so I've now read it, and finally know what's going on at that side of the DW franchise. :) And I have to admit, it was a great comic. Also succeeded in something NADWD has not always done, and that's stay true to the silly, cartoony, side of DW, so I admire BOOM! Comics for pulling that off so seamlessly.
As usual, like in past chapters, the introduction to this chapter was partly meant for dramatic effect, and partly to throw the readers off the trail of what was happening. Hopefully you didn't figure out this was taking place in the Negawing Universe straight away. Although, I did drop some pretty obvious clues straight away. For example, Loening M-8 fighter planes were real monoplanes developed by the US military in around the 1920s. They were very experimental, and never really saw active service (due to the end of WWI occurring reduced the need for such planes), though. The navy, if memory serves, ordered a bunch and hand them on hand for several years, though, so they did get use, just not in the field. Other examples of hints include the fact that St. Canard is in ruins in of itself (it's one that kind of bounces both ways), the Thompson machine gun (tommy-gun), the fact that the car required crank-starting, the fact that Canard Tower is NEVER mentioned (remember, it doesn't exist in the Negawing Universe), then finally the Darkwarrior-style portal generator standing in city hall. If you hadn't figured it out that this was the Negawing Universe by that point, then, well, obviously I succeeded at my intentions better than I had hoped, but I'd doubt I was THAT successful. :P
It occurred to me that I had wanted to reveal what the media of the NADWD world knew of Negaduck's invasion and the events that sparked from it as far back as chpt. 76, "A Time Of Darkness," but it never really did come up until now. It also helped to briefly summarize past events and set the scene for the rest of the chapter. That, and establish that Negs is at his wits end about how bad things were starting to go for him by this point.
Negawing Gos actually ended up playing a much smaller role in this chapter than I had anticipated, but it was great to find an excuse to bring her back again even if briefly, and this time let her bounce off various Posiverse characters. I also love the fact how she is quite frank with all of them about her intentions, especially the fact that even though she's there to, technically, help, she wasn't to be trusted, an idea she fully supports.
Lieut. Taylor reappears for the first time since his debut chapter, in "Negaduck's Army," and will likely reappear more frequently from here on out, as NADWD has needed a major, reoccurring character from the ranks of the SHUSH commandos for awhile now.
Like Negawing Gos, the Dark Avenger also ended up playing a far smaller role than anticipated, but this didn't surprise me as much. Don't really have anywhere else to go with the character for now.
When I started NADWD, one of the natural things it seemed to do was to get DW and Gizmoduck together, and have each other figure out each other identities, as even from a canonical standpoint, the two had already come pretty close to figuring it out already (it was just Giz's naivety and DW's ego that was really stopping them), but admittedly, this wasn't really the way I wanted to do it. But as I needed the memory loss aftereffects from the mind control spell needed to be very specific, there was no way I could justify Giz not remembering where DW lived in my mind (remember, he found that out in chpt. 75, but didn't comment much on it at the time as they had bigger things to worry about) so I relented. The awkward conversation between the two wasn't really intended, but in a way, it's kind of fitting considering the interactions between those two, and it was kind of awkward for me to write, making it even further fitting in a weird way.
It seemed like a really bad time to bring the subject of Crimson/Rowe again, but I needed to bring the subject up again at some point anyway, not so much for this chapter, but for later chapters, so I did. That issue also interconnects with the idea of a Fearsome Three, hence why both subjects are brought up in a row.
I felt Christine and Charlie had served their purpose for this story arc, so rather than continue to include them and have them be underused, I had them relocated for the rest of the chapter. In doing so, it also gave me the chance to do something with Detective Matt and Officer Frank, who I likewise feared would end up being underused in this chapter (and proved to be correct) when they deserved acknowledgment in SOME fashion.
Since it seemed to be a bit of a theme to update the status quos of all the major characters, I added in a blurb about Mia/Launchpad, partly because that subject had actually gone a bit cold for awhile. Also helped to fit in the fact that the Thunderquack is getting decently repaired now, too. However, had the need come up to cut out material for space (which it surprisingly did not), this scene probably would've been one of the first to go.
And Agent Sandy and Agent Todd's conversation in Elementary Underground...I could comment on this, but I think I'll hold back for now, partly out of curiosity to see if any of you readers catch on to my very discreet intents behind that.
See, I told you that you needed to remember that door Negarian couldn't open from chpt. 78, "Neutral Opinions." ;)
Finally managed to fit Gigs back into the mix of things, and pulled it off fairly well, all things considered. :)
Given DW and company's initial comments about it upon discovering it, it probably was fairly obvious what was hidden down in that third sub-level of Canard Tower, particularly seeing that conversation referred back to a similar one in chpt. 49. :P
And yes! Negaduck confessed that he has a soft spot for NegaGos! I actually had mixed feelings about having him admit that in this chapter at first, but it ultimately gave the whole situation a much needed bittersweet edge to it, particularly later in the chapter, so no regrets. :)
Again touched the subject of Crimson/Rowe with Techno and NegaGos's arrival at SHUSH, while also touching the subject of Crimson/Techno while Rowe looks on. That scene is actually a very pivotal scene, and will be referred to again, probably repeatedly, in future chapters.
I think this is the first time I've put so many Crimson universal doubles in one spot before, so Taylor's reported headache over that is probably understandable. :P
And I finally come clean and reveal the full purpose of Negaduck's machine. Actually didn't take as long as I had expected.
I figured if anyone on Negaduck's side was going to bail on him due to unfavorable odds, it would be Negawing. Not because there was any bad blood between him and Negs (quite the opposite in fact, I see Negawing as being the closest thing Negs has to a best friend), but because he wanted to insure he didn't get captured and risk losing things he had worked hard to gain as a result.
As I usually do when I revisit the Jumpgate and it's associated members that work with it, I always hope the chance comes up to introduce new characters. But like before, it just didn't prove to be practical. Furthermore, the jumpers ended up playing a smaller role than first anticipated, partly because how I had planned to end this storyarc had changed along the way, and thus didn't necessitate them as much (in an earlier version of this chapter, Negaduck still possessed full (or at least major part of it) control of St. Canard had thus had a small air force he could use. Had that idea stayed true, the jumpers would've been there to support the Thunderquack in stopping them).
This final battle with Negs and company actually proved to be a lot less than I had anticipating, and I think it's partly because the only major characters that it focuses upon throughout it was Negaduck, NegaGos, and, oddly enough, Negawing. The others are hardly mentioned, because there wasn't really anything left TO mention that hadn't already been made clear, and thus just would've been repetitious. But while the focus on Negawing wasn't really intended, for Negaduck and NegaGos, it was, because the fight had really boiled down to just between them, and to be quite honest, the two were overdue for a rough and tough fight like this for them for awhile. They had really been trying to avoid it before now, really, but I figured it finally came to a point that it couldn't be avoided any longer.
Looking back, I think I could've put more dialogue in between Negaduck and NegaGos during that end fight, but that would've meant making the chapter longer, which would've been undesirable, because even now, it's literally only a sentence away from exceeding the limit of 49 pages, and had that been broken, it would've meant other material needed to be cut. And anyway, I suppose the major jist of what needed to be said did get said anyway, so I guess that extra dialogue could be done without.
Yeah, I'm done with Negawing, so I killed him off. No regrets about that whatsoever, and I think it'll actually be of benefit later in NADWD, so...yeah.
Regardless of whatever flaws this chapter might bear, however, it's tale ending worked out exactly how I had hoped it would. Epically, and almost poetically, with Negs beat, DW and company getting a well-deserved applause (started by the Dark Avengie surprisingly, and was infectious enough that even Norrin joined in :o), a pretty sunrise to watch, and the acute observation that things in the NADWD universe are indeed going to be changing quite a bit in the future. But of course, I also put in that blurb with Rowe and Bushroot to point out that it all didn't end happily ever after...;)
Whew. Anyway, glad to have that storyarc and all of that out of the way now. Now to answer the questions of "what now?" that I've been getting asked. While this chapter does seem like it'd be a great place to end it all (and I will admit it was considered), this is not the end for NADWD, and it officially isn't going to be ending anytime soon. However, despite me feeling anxious to move on to the next chapter and get back into the normal flow of NADWD and unveal some of these "changes" I have in store, I think I will follow through on what I had said just three chapters ago in chpt. 79's fun facts after my last hiatus that chpt. 82 (this chapter) would mark another hiatus. And that's for a whole number of reasons, some of them similar to the reasons behind the last hiatus (which sadly enough wasn't nearly long enough ago), but there are also some new ones, like school and the such, but also the fact that writing NADWD has become very time consuming and there are other projects that I want to work on. Other fanfics, and other writings that have got squat to do with fanfiction, and so on. And upon considering everything else, I just can't do all of that AND continue NADWD too, so once again, it's going on hiatus again. For how long, I won't bother to say. It'll just end when it ends, I guess. So keep an eye on my profile for when that end might come, and maybe watch for other fanfics I could soon write and post.
But in the meantime, farewell to all, and to all a good night. Or day, depending on where in the world you're at. Not that it matters that much.
Ciao! Until next time, everybody! :)