Disclaimer: Disney's characters all belong to them and I am borrowing them to tell these adventures just for the satisfaction of giving them a new (and hopefully fun and interesting) voice with which to entertain you out here in cyberspace. Please respond with feedback in the form of reviews or private messages since this is all I receive in return for many hours of typing. Thanks and enjoy even if you can't review…just knowing other people read my plots is great!
Just outside of Duckburg, nestled in the surrounding heavily wooded lands that bordered the state and federal parklands was an extensive homestead that belonged to the Beagle clan. The matriarch of the clan was Granny Babalawo who had originally moved here from her homeland of West Africa almost forty-five years ago and aside from Ma Beagle her family seldom questioned anything she said or did. This was usually a good thing for all concerned since Granny was a arcane practitioner along the same lines as the Mage-born and Monster-kind that were becoming a bit more well known now thanks to high profile pioneers like Morgana Macabre.
That tall and exotic female who was now a minor celebrity in the tri state area had always been fairly open about her culture and its differences. Living as she did in a three-story, gothic-styled, spooky mansion that moved apparently randomly around St. Canard; and being publicly engaged to the city's resident crime fighter Darkwing Duck Granny knew it was unlikely that Morgana or her culture would have remained under the media's radar no matter what else happened. But after May of this year things had gotten very much out of hand and Granny wanted desperately to keep her family as low key as possible; especially since the magical side of things was heating up again and she had no idea how to protect her family from the consequences.
Not for the first time, Granny wished that she had had the courage to try and call a Kindred spirit to her, but as always…her own stubborn pride and the self-reliance that had been drilled into her by her own Grandma back in their village stopped her from even attempting to do anything that might be noticed by anyone else. Calling a kindred was in fact a very personal and private act, but magically broadcasting herself along the planes of power was something she just hadn't dared to do. It would mean not only admitting to her weaknesses, but admitting them to someone else and that was something she had never dared do.
Her family had remained outside the boundaries that the Monster Realm had established centuries ago to protect themselves from persecution, therefore, part of the price they had paid to flourish here in the Normal world was the ingrained need to remain unnoticed…at least magically. Of course, in her line, only one or two births per generation tended to have any kind of active talent and not all of those were Mage-like. So far, at least in this next batch of descendants; the only two of her great grandchildren who might need arcane knowledge were too young to be taught anything yet…but that didn't stop her from wishing for someone to share her knowledge and responsibilities with.
Ignoring the by now familiar twinge of loneliness in her heart and with the self discipline and experience of a lifetime she determinedly shut out the sensations of her many relatives in and around the house and moved back toward her work table. Ignoring the flutter of nerves in her belly, Granny stared at the wide flat dish that she used as a scrying mirror and then dumped the clear, clean water from the dish into the potted plant beside the workbench.
Very soon now her guests were going to arrive and if the Clan was going to survive then her preparations were going to have to be enough…. Those city slickers from St. Canard were nothing but trouble for certain, but it was time to be honest with herself. This was her own karma that was coming back to haunt her and it wasn't their fault that they were being bandied about by fate even though she wished she could blame them.
Liquidator swished his way through the system of storm drains and drainage canals that lined the highway on his way to Duckburg from Mousetown. He was humming to himself as he felt his energy peaking as it used to instead of feeling drained all the time as he had since the problems they had in May with that strange, dark plumed rooster Lafayette. The most unusual thing about this was that he didn't even realize he was humming until the vibrations from the various concrete and metal pathways reverberated back at him, usually he was aware and alert simply as an ordinary precaution.
Amused at himself he flowed up and out of what he considered to be his own personal travel system to flood discretely around the plants growing along his path. He kept his surface tension taunt to minimize his volume loss as he neared his destination Bud had a feeling that this wasn't going to be as easy as Liquidator assumed and he wanted as much energy available to them as possible. Granny Beagle wasn't anyone he wanted to fool around with, but…with Morgana Macabre being securely entrenched in the law abiding side of things now, Granny was his best hope for what he needed.
Ignoring his nerves, he and Liquidator moved towards the house and paused as they felt the energy of what he now knew were Granny's magical wards. After having been enslaved by the Dark adept, he was exceedingly sensitive to magical emanations but other than a general idea of the sort of energy that had been laid out and activated he hadn't a clue what to expect. Deciding to pause and see what the tingling meant if he could; after all a good sales campaign started with appropriate research and a little more knowledge couldn't hurt their position he and Liquidator shifted quietly and submerged themselves out of sight.
Despite this, Bud and Liquidator were almost caught off guard as a small group of Beagles rushed past clearly on the alert and Liquidator's trademark smirk made an appearance as he slid past the group unnoticed and continued on into the house. Hiding behind the door he waited and then ducked into the front parlor where he could sense Granny was since her energy was strongest there. Granny looked up from her charms as the watery villain made his entrance, careful not to show surprise and as he became his recognizable Canid shape she released her protective warding charm. This temporarily trapped the Liquidator inside a faintly glowing circle.
Seemingly unconcerned by this, Liquidator crossed his arms and perked his ears up smiling at the older female as he offered, "Greetings! I have a business proposition that I hope you will consider."
Granny watched her visitor through her wine colored mask, careful not to show him just how much of her power was being channeled to keep him contained. Taking a slightly deeper breath Granny waited for the infamous villain to continue. Impressed by his strength and deturmination; even though she hadn't expected to be, Babalawo shifted her power a little feeling the strain as Liquidator surged inside the circle. Briefly she paused to wonder at the fact that Morgana seemed to regularly interact with these sorts of people and from what she heard…the young female did so without straining her power much although the rumors HAD also said that Morgana tended to have trouble with her results and her aim.
Irritated at the twinge of…envy that she felt at the thought of so young a witch having that much Power at her command so young, Granny sternly focused on her visitor and what he wanted. After all, if she wanted to avoid being karmatically indebted when she died and was brought to judgment then fixing what she could was the least that she had to do.
Granny didn't like to admit it of course, but even at the height of her power and youth she hadn't had nearly as much raw power or ability as Morgana Macabre was rumored to have at her fingertips but that wasn't going to keep her from protecting the family…. She was just going to have to try and keep this encounter as short as possible so her Power wouldn't run out while the Normals were here.
Besides, from what little she had been allowed to see, Morgana was going to need all her talent and ability if she was going to keep up with her mate and children. Being bonded to someone who understood the needs of a mage was hard enough much less being bonded to a Normal-born Guardian; however comical and clownish he appeared. Granted, according to what she had heard from Arian and Davu Morgana had a plethora of other mage-born, Monster-kind and Sensitives as blood kin and allies to help her to teach him and Guardians weren't exactly magical nulls even though they seldom had the ability to tap into their Power themselves….
Still dealing with someone like Darkwing was something she was glad to have avoided. Gizmoduck was bad enough after all and he hadn't been born a hero even though he had embraced the call and was unmistakably Duckburg's protector.
Granny Babalawo glared at the Liquidator and said, "I'm a very busy female and you aren't even kin. Why should I listen to you?"
Bud nodded and said in an agreeable tone, "Our market research supports your claim, but…surely you could use someone of my considerable talents? What I have in mind is a sort of limited partnership. And The Liquidator understands the value of skills and talents that are unique."
Gesturing rather arrogantly towards his own unmistakably unique body and continuing his sales pitch he said, "I intend for us both to profit in this enterprise and that's the bottom line."
Narrowing her eyes Granny Babalawo looked both unsympathetic and unimpressed and abruptly the confident, and somewhat overbearing super villain was replaced by a miserable canid named Bud. Quietly he began explaining about his reactions to the beauteous Gretchen and also his idea that given how he had been forcibly attuned to magical energy he hoped that magic would be able to supply him with the solution to his difficulties.
Before she could say anything though he added, showing a surprising amount of sense, that he understood that even if his plan worked and his old flesh and blood form was restored it wouldn't guarantee success, but all he wanted was a chance. At this, Granny KNEW she had to at least try and help him. Giving this canid the chance to find love and a life mate would go a long way toward balancing her debt to him since she had known he was enslaved by a mage and had done nothing to free or heal him.
Gesturing to the large window of the parlor she said, "I don't have the time to try and accomplish what you want right now Bud. More of your kind…."
Liquidator surged to the forefront of the conversation then, angry at being rejected and the two of them broke out of the ward as he exclaimed, "But wait! Operators are standing by, act NOW or face severe penalties!"
As he reached for Granny, desperate to make her help him, she gestured and the next thing Liquidator knew, he and Bud were peering out at Granny from a large, sealed Quackerware bowl that had sucked him in and was now securely enthroned on her workbench.
Apparently undisturbed by his outburst, and the fact that he was now encased in the plastic prison, Granny Beagle finished her sentence saying, "More of your Clan are coming here and they are in a far worse case than you. In fact I am not sure whether they will live to see moonrise but I give you my word that I will do my best for all of you."
Both Bud and liquidator took hope from the glimmer of what he thought might be sympathy in her tone as she turned to face the doorway and he saw none other than a thoroughly beaten and enraged Negaduck come staggering into the room. He was carrying another masked bleeding duck, this one an unconscious female with blood smeared platinum blonde hair and from the copious amounts of blood on her torso, Bud doubted that she was going to wake up.
Granny made another gesture and the door to the parlor room swung shut behind Negaduck. Seemingly unimpressed by both his injured condition and by his frantic fury, Granny waited while he placed the female on the couch and then pushed him prone too saying, "Well, well I thought there was something different about you city boy."
Her mage senses went on full alert as she slid a cautious finger over the loop of Spell Chain around his neck and her eyes narrowed still more as she saw a deliberate twinkle from the identical length of metal around the other duck's neck. Rather shockingly, Granny felt a warning tingle that signaled that she was in deep trouble if she tried to interfere with the artifact either of them wore and even though she could feel the remnants of her old charms somewhere in the swirling Power gathering itself in the parlor; it was clear that the spells involved didn't welcome her.
Negaduck jerked and hissed as the motion jarred his torso and the cacophony of injuries there but the motion had the desired effect of pulling the loop of Spell Chain out of her reach and before her eyes the Chains both disappeared from her mage senses and then her physical eyes. If it hadn't been for the charms that had apparently been absorbed into the metal she would have sworn that the artifacts had disappeared, at least until the twosome now on her sofa died or got better.
Negaduck started to say something, she could tell it was going to be a plea disguised as a threat but before he could get anything to come out of his beak, the Chain surged taking the duck into a healing trance and forcing him unconscious. The female beside him never woke from her own slumber but Granny was quick to notice that her grip on the villain's body tightened as they healed. And to her chagrin, she also saw for a brief instant that this duck was apparently a sort of living Power well similar to a guardian born and it was his energy that had split the Chain and formed the bond between himself and the female he had also claimed as his own.
Snorting to herself as her Mage senses told her more than she wanted to know about the twosome since it wasn't likely he understood even a tenth of what was happening between himself and the surprisingly ordinary female he was wrapped around. All she could hope for now was that whoever had forged the artifact he had likely stolen would realize that she and her Clan hadn't been involved in the theft, but given the sheer rarity of that Chain…that wasn't likely.
Granny suppressed a sigh as her wards detected the arrival of someone so powerful he was likely a council member. This day just kept getting better and better, but at least it wasn't likely that whoever this was intended her or her kin harm. Especially since whoever it was, was waiting politely outside her boundaries but it was best not to keep him waiting too long. Explaining that she hadn't stolen that Chain wasn't going to be pleasant even if she submitted to a truth spell but that would spare her family.
After exchanging greetings and explaining the situation here as best she could, Granny was relieved to know that Mintaka Spellbinder Macabre was apparently not only willing to help her with the transformation spell that should enable Bud and Liquidator to regain their flesh and blood state; but he was also apparently already prepared to take on the two ducks on her couch as well. His quiet dignity precluded any opportunity for her to be too nosey, but at least this complicated situation wasn't solely her responsibility now.
Glancing at his preliminary work, Granny had to admit that he was far more experienced and his Kindred spirit allowed him far more flexibility and depth than she had ever considered. From the comments that he made to the huge cat, Granny was glad to surmise that he wasn't entirely sure exactly how the spell was going to work any more than she was. It was a small sop to her pride that he also seemed to have decided that her initial approach was the most likely to succeed and although they couldn't be certain what the repercussions would be; but it was the best way they had come up with to give the canid back control of his life and choices but the days surprises weren't quite over yet.
As the Master craft-mage continued to work out the spells they needed to try and restore Bud's physical body they kept running into a problem that neither of them had anticipated. Finally Grimm offered cautiously, 'I have an idea Chosen, but…it's very risky even if he agrees to allow it.'
Mintaka set aside the remnants of glass he had again overfilled with Power and asked tiredly, "what idea is that Grimm?"
Mintaka paled as Grimm spoke and then leaned heavily on the workbench before deliberately moving to check on the still unconscious Avians who were now entirely healed and to his surprise clean; although the rips and tears in their clothes testified to just how serious their injuries had been. Undaunted Grimm continued to present his case and Mintaka decided to let Granny know what Grimm's idea was before deciding.
After all, she was involved in this too and the backlash was likely to be uglier for her than it was for them. If felt like a bit of a cop out, but she was the one who had left Bud and Quackerjack to suffer and it was she who was going to have to front the debt for the watery villain and for the other duck that had been possessed and crippled. Not that he minded being responsible for teaching and succoring Drake and Dirk, they were intelligent, and Drake was bound to his niece after all. But since he was Power bound to help the twins he was selfishly grateful that he and the Macabre's weren't going to have to take on the rest of Dirk's clan directly.
He swallowed hard and reminded himself that senior council members didn't faint on the job as Grimm admitted in their mindscape, 'not yet anyway.'
Sighing and turning from the couch he stated as calmly as possible, "its going to have to be a curse. That way his body can flux between states. Otherwise there isn't a way to keep him physically healthy and mentally stable."
Granny Babalawo paled and nearly fell into her chair but realizing the truth she nodded and added, "but only if he willingly agrees to it, I can't risk an unwilling curse. My family depends on me whether they know it or not and I am the only one who can protect them unless one of my great, great grandchildren comes up Talented."
Nodding Mintaka offered, "we are having to adapt to the rest of the world or face extinction…all the signs and portents say so. You have other options for your kin and knowledge of how to blend in that can be used to your advantage, but its best if we speak of this privately. Release your prisoner and after we have done our best we will speak of this again."
Bud and Liquidator wanted to agree right away, but he was too cagey to let his eagerness overpower his caution so he restrained himself as Mintaka outlined what they wanted to do. Pausing, Mintaka and Granny watched as the clear surface of Bud/Liquidator flowed with his emotions while he thought. But the more they considered the offer the better it seemed since both sides of him were reluctant to become entirely flesh and blood. Being able to switch states would mean he could maintain both his identity as Bud Flood and his career as The Liquidator; IF it worked the only catch was that the mages were bound to put some sort of price on the spell and he wanted to know what they wanted in return.
A short time later, Bud was shivering in an oversized red shirt, brown pants and a small black burglar styled mask as he contemplated his fingernails for the first time in almost two years. Taking a deep breath he glanced from under his dark brown eyebrows at the couch as the Avian Mage Mintaka tucked a pillow under Negaduck's head and finished spooning some sort of dark red syrup into both of the unconscious, masked duck's beaks.
As the Mage sat in a chair beside a low ottoman and pulled a steaming cup of tea from thin air, Bud finally felt as though his legs were steady enough to hold him up and crossed the room to get a closer look at his boss and his mystery companion. Ordinarily, even as the fairly unstoppable and comparatively invulnerable Liquidator Negaduck inspired more than a little fear in him, why he wasn't sure…but the opportunity to indulge in his curiosity without fear of reprisal from the duck who he had to admit was a compelling enigma was too much for him to resist.
As he approached, Bud found himself carefully reconsidering the profit margin in the this idea and debating on heading directly for the door since the huge tiger-like creature that so far had ignored him entirely was now watching his approach with a distinctly predatory gleam in his piercing, light blue eyes.
Mintaka gestured and he heard the distinctive click of deadbolts sliding into place on both the windows and the door. Gesturing calmly to the seat beside him the mage offered, "sit down Bud, I need to explain some of the particulars of the curse to you before you go and they will not awaken for at least a day. Don't worry, I have no intentions of keeping you here once we finish our little chat, and Granny Babalawo Beagle isn't going to leave you twisting on the gallows of fate either."
Shocked at the feeling of dread this turn of phrase invoked and the unfamiliar sensation of having his stomach drop out from under him that he hadn't felt in so long as his physical body reacted to his nervousness, Bud fell onto the ottoman. To his surprise, the Avian caught and balanced him while he regained his equilibrium.
Bud found that he was unable to look away or interrupt as Mintaka quietly continued to expound while his huge cat settled beside the sofa and laying his head on Negaduck seemed to fall asleep. "As we first discussed, your body will not remain flesh and blood all the time, you will have to use your other form at least part of the time or you will transform automatically when the geas becomes too strong. And I wouldn't try to escape the moral and ethical clauses either."
Bud flinched and nodded as he recited, "I can't kill people or directly harm them using either my Liquid powers or while in my Liquidator form. Also, I am in my flesh and blood body, I have to conform to the limitations of flesh…like breathing." he sighed a little and muttered, "That's going to take some getting used to. "
Speaking softly and glancing worriedly at the ducks on the sofa, he continued, "Also while there is a certain amount of wiggle room in the timeframe of my being either Liquidator or Bud, once I change I have to remain in the alternate form for at least twelve hours and while in either form I should minimize my karmic debt even when I am earning my living."
At this Mintaka winced and added quietly, "I can't dictate your choices Bud, but I would recommend minimizing your involvement in criminal acts as much as you can. After all, you have your successful business to fall back on…I Do understand your being obligated to him."
Mintaka gestured to Negaduck and continued, "and I know that traditionally after death debts aren't considered something most Normals worry about, but… I can assure you the penalties are real and quite severe."
Bud sighed and admitted, "it's not as if I can gainsay you… but I am pretty certain that the business world isn't really enough of a challenge anymore."
Bud flinched as Negaduck moved slightly and to his surprise Mintaka winced as well and offered, "It may be best if you go now, Dir…I mean your Clan member there is becoming disturbed and I need to concentrate on these two. We will talk again after I have made arrangements for them to finish their healing and explain things to…the others involved in this situation."
Nodding hurriedly Bud admitted, "I need to update my wardrobe and make a few more arrangements to continue my campaign."
His expression turned salacious and more than a bit sly at that but Mintaka made no verbal comments. He just smiled a little and tossed a mixture of white and gold sparkling dust on Bud as Grimm flicked both his ears and before Bud could blink he realized his clothing had changed.
He was now dressed in a custom tailored Parisian suit who's dark chocolate pinstriped coat and pants were accented by a pale pink, silk shirt and a slightly darker rose striped tie. Startled, he adjusted the platinum cuff links and tie pin and felt in the coat pocket to find that he now had an I-phone and that the other rectangle in the breast pocket was a wallet that as he opened it he found contained a drivers license, several credit cards, and several thousand dollars in cash.
Mintaka offered, "I can hardly ask you to confine yourself to your Bud Flood identity without giving you your entire identity back."
On Friday night he waited in his midnight blue, LS Jaguar coupe. He had arrived at The Aviary just before eight and now all that was missing was his Lady. To his delight Gretchen Growler appeared, stepping regally out of her company limo. She was dressed in her trademark dark red hooded cape and a short black dress that showed off her delightfully pert tail and strong muscular legs. As he pulled up and tossed the keys to the waiting valet, he saw that she also had on the token he had made for her and taking this as a sign that she was receptive to him; he took her hand.
Kissing the back of it he offered a suave smile and said, "I hope you find my appearance and wardrobe acceptable."
Gretchen for her part was stunned as she realized that the tall, flesh and blood canid she had almost cold cocked for daring to touch her unasked was actually her date! Completely surprised since she hadn't thought he could be anything other than the watery, villainous shape she had met before she remained silent as they were escorted to the Ursa room of the restaurant…. A few hours later found Bud whistling as he adjusted his tie and continued on into his rented offices. Granted, this was only the opening salvo of his campaign but it HAD gone well….
Alrighty, I realize this has been a LONG time in coming, but here it is the end of the line for this fic. I AM open to suggestions and I am perfectly willing to put a bit more into this IF I get any requests or questions that need answering. Please enjoy and review if you can. Your friend Irual