"I may have lost," a semi-disgruntled Megavolt gloated, reaching for the one victory he had managed to scrape during his latest encounter with his enemy that very evening- by glorious fortune and coincidence, the greatest weapon he could ever possibly use against him, "but at least I know Darkwing Duck's secret identity! He's... Elmo Sputterspark!" He paused, searching his short-circuited mind; he knew it was not an utterly random name that had just surfaced, but at the moment he was quite unable to place its true owner. "No, that's not right; he's Hamm String... no, that was the big guy... oh, darn it!"
The name was on the tip of his brain. He just had to remember! He was so close to personal triumph over Dipwing, and yet so far! With his jealously-guarded secret exposed all over St. Canard, the duck would be completely vulnerable, nothing at all! But all he presently recalled learning about him earlier at their high-school reunion, when he had accidentally pulled his mask off during their fight, was that they had indeed been in the same year together- St. Canard High, 12th Grade, Class of '77. If only he could recall his blasted name! The instant his mask had came off, it had been a shock to all present, himself included. He had vaguely recognized his former classmate then, even after all those years- though not quite able to remember his name, not unlike now- but it was his old tormentors that had immediately identified him.
"Ohhh, it's not fair! Curse my stupid memory-block! Why me, why now, why, why, why?" he wailed, ramming his fists against the sides of his plug-shaped helmet, looking twice as pathetic as he sat covered in rubber cement.
Darkwing smirked, rolling his eyes. Megavolt didn't notice; he was too busy pouting and cursing, like a typical sore loser. "So, can we give you folks a lift somewhere?" he asked to Hamm and his former-girlfriend-now-wife, Preena, gesturing down towards where the ThunderQuack was parked. The Masked Mallard was relieved that he had managed to hypnotize them into forgetting his true identity, and was even more grateful- ego aside- that, right beforehand, they had both willingly and genuinely apologized for their long-time treatment of him. And it wasn't that he had altogether disbelieved them when they promised that his true identity would be safe with them, but it had mainly been an act of precaution. Besides, their newly-established respect and admiration for Drake Mallard might compel them to excitedly spread the word, especially String, who had always been a big-mouth.
"Well, since Megadolt- or whatever that freak calls himself- kinda messed up our high-school reunion," Hamm was saying, with a disappointed shrug ("yeah, not unlike our Senior Prom," Preena snidely piped up, with an icy glare at the electric rodent in question, who was muttering angrily to himself and trying to loosen himself from the sticky brown mess), "I guess we may as well head back to our hotel. We're staying at the Swan."
"Pretty swanky!" Launchpad whistled appreciatively.
"What about him, Darkwing? You handing him over to the police?" Hamm asked, looking at Megavolt.
"You can count on it!" Darkwing grabbed him by an arm, hauling him to his feet. "Come on, Sparky. You've reached the end of your rope." So saying, he grabbed the very ropes that Megavolt had used on his friends, and quickly tied him up.
"Sparky... Spark... Sputterspark..." Megavolt mumbled as though in a daze, his eyes distant and unfocused behind his goggles as he stared directly ahead of him.
Darkwing, Launchpad, and Gosalyn all exchanged confused glances, before shrugging. They knew that Megavolt was far from what one would call a well person.
A few moments later, the company had made it to the ThunderQuack, and were just about to climb aboard, when Megavolt suddenly yelled, "HOLD IT!"
Everybody started, glancing at him. "Now what?" Darkwing snapped.
"I demand satisfaction here! If I can't get my long-awaited revenge on these two, or even have the power of your precious secret identity to keep you at bay, then I should at least get an apology!"
Hamm and Preena gaped at him. "An APOLOGY? You want us to apologize to YOU? You're the one that tried to fry us, pal!"
Megavolt groaned loudly in exasperation. "Haven't you been listening to me rant?" he cried. "Are you fools so ignorant?"
"Look, all we know is that you're the same whack-job that crashed our Prom fifteen years ago today," Preena snapped.
"Just who are you anyway, and what's your problem?" Hamm added.
"MY PROBLEM? MY PROBLEM? You ask what my problem is?" Megavolt screeched, the prongs on his helmet sparking dangerously. "HA! That's a good one, String! In a word- YOU! YOU, WHO MADE ME WHAT I AM TODAY- WHAT I'VE BEEN EVER SINCE THAT FATEFUL DAY! Take a good look at this freak of nature, the monster you created! You KNOW who I am, pal... even if I can't quite remember at the moment."
He shook his head wildly. "I was on the verge of graduating with honors, of taking my well-deserved place in the world of science. I had dreams to fulfill, the rest of my life ahead of me. But all that got terminated like a man suddenly down struck by lightning- BOOM- before he least expects it." He narrowed his eyes into hateful slits. "The afternoon the week before the Prom, in the science lab, remember? I was hard at work on my experiment on static electricity, minding my own business, and I had just made an incredible breakthrough that would have surely earned the brilliant seventeen-year-old a Nobel Prize... when YOU showed up, to ruin my life before it officially began. You turned my own experiment against me!" he hissed venomously, blue electricity radiating off all sides of him in his fury. "I was strapped to that damn treadmill for what seemed like forever, before the build-up of the static charge finally exploded me loose. A little magic touch of the door-knob later, and I soon found I had the power to absorb, control, and wield electricity at will! It runs in my very veins, as much my life-source as my own blood! From that moment on, all I knew was that I had to make you pay for doing this to me, make EVERYBODY who had ever tormented and humiliated me pay dearly! That was all that mattered to me."
He panted, his breath coming forth in slow, unsteady gales, glaring at the two perpetrators as though he mentally willed them into hell.
There was dead silence all around. Not even Darkwing had known the precise origins of his oldest arch-nemesis.
"Elmo Sputterspark?" Preena breathed.
"Ol' Sparky?" Hamm exclaimed in disbelief.
"DON'T- CALL- ME- SPARKY!" Megavolt screamed. He was but one mass of glowing blue energy now, like nothing any of them had ever seen, expanding and quivering.
"GET BACK!" Darkwing yelped to the others, and not one of them lost time in running for cover. If Megavolt lost all control of his electricity...
But instead of an explosion, there was only a loud *crackle-sizzle-pop*, as though a circuit had shorted out. Then there was the distinct sound of steam intensely rising, followed by the disgusting smell of burnt rubber. It seemed as though Megavolt's system had chosen that moment to shut down, before worst came to worst. So much energy had built up in him, in so little time, that he had literally burnt out.
Slowly, they crept back to the scene. Megavolt lay there in a heap, half-conscious, a smouldering wreck. His helmet lay a couple feet apart from him, exposing a short tuft of red hair, and his yellow rubber jumpsuit was torn in several places. Darkwing always figured that his outfit was specifically designed to resist the currents he gave off so as not to damage either it or himself, so it must have been one unhealthy volt he gave off.
Megavolt's glassy eyes turned up, coming into contact with the five individuals. "G-go away," he rasped, his voice a shaky whisper. He gave a cough. "Just leave me alone."
There was another long bout of silence, stretching further than the last. Finally, it was Gosalyn who broke the silence. "Ok, look, you!" she said in her spunky, assertive tone, looking him directly in the face, "Maybe they were responsible for the freak accident that changed you, even if indirectly... and sure, it stinks that it happened at all... and you're right, they should apologize to you, at least for always picking on you; I mean, why should anybody be treated like that? My best friend happens to be the biggest nerd in our school, so I can sorta imagine what you must have went through." She put her hands on her hips. "But as for the kind of person you turned out to be, that was totally your call! I mean, who says you still couldn't have led a successful life? You could have used your powers to make the world a better place, or you could have just ignored them altogether if you wanted. So, technically, Elmo Sputterspark, you ruined your own life and you made yourself an outcast... all because you chose to become a villain!"
Megavolt said nothing. But there was something very deep, very painful in the rodent's face that even one as young as her could not overlook. She couldn't believe it, but she suddenly found herself feeling very sad for him.
"Come on, everyone. Let's go," Darkwing said quietly. Was that sympathy Megavolt heard behind his enemy's voice? No way, it couldn't be...
But to his great surprise, he found himself being untied by him. "Aren't you going to take me/him to prison?" came the stunned chorus from Megavolt and Hamm.
"Well, I guess I should," Darkwing shrugged, looking squarely at Megavolt, with a shrug, "but I just don't have the heart." He gave a small chuckle. "Maybe I'm not the only one who doesn't believe in kicking a man when he's down."
Back at the lighthouse on Beaker's Point that was Megavolt's home, on the edge of the city, Megavolt's first act had been to re-charge his battery.
His second act had been to fry and destroy everything he owned, including every one of his beloved luminaries, in a fit of rage he had not experienced in fifteen years.
Finally, he noticed the mirror all that remained. He stared at himself for a full moment, taking everything in- the jumpsuit, goggles, battery, gloves, helmet.
He no longer recognized the man before him.
Snarling, he sent a great bolt of electricity at the glass, shattering it into hundreds of pieces, before collapsing weakly to his knees and pounding his fists into the floor.
A song suddenly popped into his head out of nowhere, a Michael Quackson classic:
'...I'm starting with the man in the mirror,
I'm asking if he'll change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If ya wanna make the world a better place,
Gotta look at yourself
And make a change...'
He heard the lyrics with such ringing clarity that it could have been playing on the radio. The entire song played over in his mind for an indefinite period before he finally fell asleep right there on the floor, amidst the many jagged shards.