Disclaimer: I do not own Darkwing Duck™ or any character, location or event from that said show.
Last time on The Duck Knight Returns
- Grizzlikof seeks to uncover the mysteries surrounding R.A.B.B.I.T.
- Honker turns down Gosalyn offer for position of sidekick.
- S.H.U.S.H. expects trouble at the presentation for GizmoDuck.
Ch 9: 2.0
Bubba McDuck did not possess a superpower. 'Caveduck', (Bubba's superhero moniker) had great personal strength without being considered to have super-strength. Incredible endurance, sure. Not super-endurance. Bubba's best friend was a fully grown Triceratops. Not to say Bubba had any measurable super-powered influence over animals. Asked which ability qualified him as a super-hero Bubba would nominate his wilderness survival expertise demonstrated on his hit show, "Wild Vs Man," retaining the option of tasking Tootsie to smash anything which deserved it.
Urban survival, Bubba knew, was a whole other ball game. Nevertheless - it's a jungle out there. You may ask how being able to scrounge food from any environment or clothing material or ignitable fuel or navigating by stars qualified Bubba to take down a street thug holding a knife or firearm? The answer: it did not. Bubba was afraid of a knife wielding hood same as anyone. Why shouldn't he be?
No, the lesson Bubba learned evading sharp toothed, bird snacking, thunder lizards as an orphaned child; the lesson which gave Bubba the edge to achieve world record recognition for most junior woodchuck merit badges earned - be prepared.
So, as an aspiring Darkwing Duck had a date and her hero parents took snapshots, Caveduck studied sewer maps. Building schematics. Accounts of previous run ins with the Fearsome Five. Trying to get in to Negaduck's head – to BE Negaduck - and understand how he was likely to gate-crash.
Later tonight he would got out and actively hunt for vulnerabilities in the S.H.U.S.H. perimeter.
"… fought off Negaduck and shut down the gate. And then I killed him."
Bubba peered up from his notes. What was that he caught a snippet of? What did the television just say? Something, "Negaduck," something, "killed him."
Negaduck is dead?
He picked up the remote and moved around the table. The tail end of a news – no, special report broadcast. Miracle of modern telecommunications being what they are, television could be rewound.
Negaduck was fine. Negaduck was alive. What the interviewee Rooster claimed was much worse.
"At great personal risk, Darkwing infiltrated F.O.W.L. Fought off Negaduck and shut down the gate. And then I killed him."
"… I killed him."
"… I killed him."
"… I killed him."
"… I killed him."
Quackerjack sat ramrod straight on the rug in front of the T.V.
Negaduck, cheap as anyone will say he is, had the decency to spring for a decent Television for his movie-cave lair. And Quackerjack was rewinding the Spike Angle segment for the umpteenth time.
"Darkwing Duck – is dead?"
There is no news. Like bad news. Very, very bad – terrible, horrible, deliciously evil news.
"Darkwing Duck is dead!" Quackerjack announced gleefully. The commotion he caused attracted his Fearsome brothers.
"Darkwing's dead, Darkwing's dead, Darkwing's dead, Darkwing's dead…," The mad toymaker was behaving more like a kangaroo than a duck. Jumping up and down on the various furniture you'd wonder how the springs could do anything but buckle.
Liquidator was forced to splash the clown before he had a fit, "Water refreshes the mind."
"What set him off?" Megavolt scooped up the remote. Bushroot, removed from the others, chattered his teeth on a leafy palm.
"So Negaduck got Darkwing after all," Megs remarked, wistful. Sparring with Darkwing Duck since their college days. Recognised as the hero's arch-nemesis until Negaduck made his explosive appearance in St Canard. Once, Megavolt would have been devastated to not have roasted Darkwing personally. Years of S.H.U.S.H. captivity and torture recast the relatively benign Darkwing Duck in a more favourable light. At least in this rodents consciousness.
Others were less charitable to their fallen foe.
"Absolute satisfaction," Liqi said. "Rerun!"
Darkwing stumbled. He was down on one knee. Forehead and cheek flat against the control box. But he would not, could not, remain down.
The newcomer came forward. The top portion of his body became visible. The spine of his classy, white morning jacket. He approached Darkwing. Cautious. The 9mm in his outstretched arm. Bobbing his head, unsure if his opponent was truly subdued.
Movement. The Gas Gun was out. Rising.
The T.V. exploded!
The least fearsome four members of the Fearsome Five gang dove for cover.
Negaduck stood over his compatriots. The Gas Gun, signature weapon of his foe, the weapon he welded to great effect in the Rabbit base raid, still held level at the wreck of a T.V. set.
"Why would you not mention you killed Darkwing Duck, Mr Negaduck? Sir?"
This from Mr Banana Brain. Poking his stuffed chin out from under the coffee table where Quackerjack had taken cover.
Megavolt, standing in as Mr Banana Brain since the breakout, found the demands of performing the roll of the split-minded villain's puppet tiresome. If they were going to make progress on Negaduck's designs for a Negagate he had to be more than one half of a ventriloquist act and had petitioned Negs for a dangerous trek in to the public sphere to acquire a new doll.
"Don't believe everything you hear on T.V.," Negs warned. "Final planning session. Now."
The duck's gathered compatriots gathered around the planning bench.
"Everyone clear on their assignments?"
All nodded conformity.
"Pirate code. Fall behind, you get left behind," Negaduck squared his famed fedora and selected an AK-47 from his pirate stock. Cocking the weapon. "Even me."
Pride of place for GizmoDuck's presentation and they were running late! Morgana scolded Launchpad for his ill-considered chilli-dog stop, but what could he do? He missed lunch and they were already behind schedule thanks to Morg's excessive make up. Sun protection value 130 plus! We are talking about a women who does not care for a single beam of sunlight to blemish a fair feather. Parking would be a nightmare this late in the game. Unfortunate S.H.U.S.H. had warned Launchpad unauthorised air activity would be considered hostile. He could have taken the Thunderquack then, landed on a high rise rooftop. Parking hassles be darned.
Of course the Justice Ducks were expected to make an appearance! They were a family and Fenton the glue whom stuck them together kicking and screaming. For their part, Launchpad and Morg were delighted to lend Fenton support whether it be a celebration or in the midst of battle. Or simply as his very good friend.
Having said such, no member of the Justice Ducks doubted an appearance from St Canard's special inter-dimensional guest. Every member of the team, Gizmo included, argued for delaying this event on the basis it established an all too tempting target for Negaduck. The duck was daring, fearless and harboured a pathologically hatred of joy. Nevertheless, J. Gander insisted and the Justice Ducks relented. The celebration would go ahead. Negaduck would crop up like a stray nail. S.H.U.S.H. would hammer him down.
J. Gander deserved their trust. He would never put lives in harm's way needlessly. Which did not prevent Fenton, Morg and Launchpad holding serious reservations on using the unwitting, innocent public as catnip for Negaduck.
Police patrolled the outer, outer perimeter. Officer's Pickles and Rabbit, leaning against their squad car, gave a wave of recognition. Regardless of the time, Launchpad pulled up for a friendly chat. Launchpad bore no resentment against these officers who, these two in particular, arrested his angel and directed her home on a regular basis. No, Launchpad was grateful for their patience with his duckling angel and appreciated the nights Gosalyn was under his roof.
"Morning officers," Launchpad greeted them warmly. "Change in pace."
"Hello Officer Pickles. Officer Rabbit," Morgana offered. Sharing Launchpad's high opinion of the police officers even if a little more formal and distant in her relations than Launch was. Blame criminal/witch mentality in dealing with lawmen.
"Morning Morgana. Launchpad. Will our favourite troublemaker be entering via the security gate or will she be making other arrangements?" Pickle, of course, asked in good cheer and not as an interrogation. Suggestion of Gosalyn as a troublemaker, accurate though it was, Morgana did not find to be horribly amusing. Least of all from the troublemaker catcher.
"Gosalyn is not a morning person," Morg advised them. "She's dead to the world before 4pm."
"Sleeping off her big dinner and dancing date," Launch added, the proud papa bear.
"I take it all back. This Negaduck scare - I'm nostalgic for Gosalyn and Tankard Muddlefoot. They kept the chase fun."
"Things must be hectic down at the station."
Truth. Pickle related to them how the Negaduck scare held the entire station in a vice grip. Big, secret, S.H.U.S.H. base is raided. Now they experienced the surreal aftermath as the first blow had been landed but before the second is thrown. Everyone at the station, in the municipal office, on the street – everyone – was going about their usual business holding their breath. Lull between missile launch and impact.
"Draw the short straw?" Launchpad chatted casually. No heed to the time. Or parking. Or the line of cars behind him. "You won't see the show from all the way back here."
"No donut swirling cop inside my perimeter!"
Officer Rabbit puffed his chest and performed his best impersonation of Agent Donkey. Good enough Morg and Launch knew who he was quoting without further explanation. Rabbit being a terrible actor.
Donkey would gladly have turned out the, "super freaks," he made clear. If J. Gander had not personally intervened. It was a Justice Duck who was the star attraction and the recipient of a S.H.U.S.H. commendation for services for golly sake! And they say Grizzlikof is a ball-buster. Donkey had succeeded thus far in keeping the team of Super heroes in the dark on security arrangements. He could prevent the Justice Ducks from partaking in an official capacity but the Ducks remained private citizens. Capable of attending public functions.
Morg commented on their regal pain in the behind, "Left to Agent Donkey, solely Agent Donkey would occupy space. The rest of us would be crammed in to one corner so tight as to have the mass of a black hole."
The officers laughed for Morgana's assessment. Even if one or both did not comprehend the physics.
"Careful," Pickle advised, "you don't step on Donkey's ego whilst enjoying the presentation. It's everywhere in there."
Before Launchpad could pull away and re-join traffic, "Do you…? Have donuts?"
"You just ate drive through!" Morg criticised.
"On the run!"
"Just rabbit food. Wife's orders."
Past the checkpoint, settling behind several cars waiting to be directed to a park, Launchpad indulged in some thoughtful assessment.
"Pickle has it right. The between stage when the engines cuts out and your still flying. We're driving toward the crash like an outing."
"No one crashes like you Launchpad," Morg teased. On a deeper level she supposed she agreed with him. Marvelled at the notion, two lifelong friends out for a daytime drive and thwarting super villains at 10:30. "Thank goodness Gosalyn has her mind distracted. If she knew the Justice Ducks were out in force today..."
"We can't stop her forever, Morgana. I know the risks but I would rather her stand shoulder to shoulder with the Justice Ducks than seek out Negaduck on her own."
"If we get Negaduck today, it won't be an issue."
S.H.U.S.H. command had been re-tasked since the disastrous aborted op that morning. Focus now for the agency was St Canard Square and the historic council municipal building in the island cities heart. Everything which occurred in on the island, S.H.U.S.H. saw. Everything S.H.U.S.H. saw, Donkey saw.
The Lord of St Canard stood over the shoulders of his operators scanning the numerous monitors relying information from cameras situated across the square. Picturing the day in which the entire world would be under his stern watch. A day whose dawn was closer than many suspected.
His right hand, Dog, stood at Donkey's side. "No sign of him yet sir."
"He'll wait until for the festival to reach its climax so don't be getting engrossed on the drama on stage. Keep your eyes off the stage and peeled to your assigned sectors." He spoke into a mike keyed to all agents so his order would be known by every woman and man under his command.
"We have Launchpad McQuack and Morgana McCawber passing through the outer perimeter. All Justice Ducks present and accounted for, sir."
"Good to have the Justice Ducks as support in the event of a Negaduck attack, wouldn't you say?" The ill-considered words of a junior agent recently promoted to the heart of S.H.U.S.H. control and command. Yet to be educated in Donkey's harsh view towards the freak shows and the new company hard line toward vigilantes.
He got a swift education by Donkey placing a strong hoof on the junior's chair and toppling him over.
"Pass the word down the ranks," Donkey spoke. "We are the law in St Canard. Not the carnival freaks."
The junior deposited on the floor uttered no words in protest. Rather, keeping his head down and opinions decidedly to himself, he retook his place at his workstation. None of his co-workers were so foolish as to help him up. Donkey continued to glare icicles at the boy's hated neck until he shivered from the frosty atmosphere.
Satisfied the point had been made, Donkey felt the urge to leave this confining space. Dog stood aside. Vigilant door guards unfastened the rear hatch. Dog trailed him into the midday heat of St Canard Square.
He stepped down from the S.H.U.S.H. control vehicle with Dog at his heel. A large trailer with no windows and all the monitoring conveniences of home. Parked in a roped off corner of the square, here with the throng of St Canard citizens. Commanding from S.H.U.S.H. central control operations room, located in the safety of S.H.U.S.H. H.Q., could be argued to be more efficient. The information nerve centre from which S.H.U.S.H. could observe every detail of his op. If Donkey did appreciate one lesson from his former instructor, Grizzlikof, there are instances where a S.H.U.S.H. agent must be in the centre of the action where he is to utilise his instincts correctly, lead effectively and command respect. Demands on a commanders time dictated most situations were handed off to a capable subordinate. In this case Donkey trusted none above himself so he opted to head the action in person.
The midday sun shone over the numerous skyscrapers into the square and added warmth to the occasion. The large volume of people gave it noise. The small number of authorised food stalls gave it smell. The every-present and conspicuous S.H.U.S.H. agents gave it control.
Donkey observed his people direct parking and scold litter bugs. He scanned the high rooftops for the snipers he did not spot but knew to be present. He breathed in the city. Solely Dog was in earshot as he uttered, "I am the law, St Canard."
The outer S.H.U.S.H. checkpoint was an intimidating show of force.
"I didn't know SHUSH had access to that kind of equipment. You'd think they were a National Guard detachment!"
Water cannon equipped fighting vehicles. Armoured checkpoint guards. Retractable spikes should any vehicle not stop. Had the event been mistaken for a World Trade Organisation summit.
"Hooter successfully argued to Congress SHUSH is underequipped to deal with modern criminals," Villains being increasingly equipped with high tech gear of their own design.
"Spies in tanks. Not subtle. Seems somewhat overkill for one duck. Even if we are talking about Negaduck."
"You may be right. But with the numbers turning out to see GizmoDuck…? I fear all Negaduck need to is cause harm to a few innocent bystanders and he's underlined his fact he can strike anywhere. Remember, carnage is all he truly desires."
Carnage, misery, violence, fear. No reasoning beyond sick self-gratification. Nonetheless, seven years – a witch had to wonder. Was there something more behind his return?
Fearsome S.H.U.S.H. security and fear of an attack kept the crowd numbers relatively low. Others would brave a sandstorm to be here, such was the immense popularity of the star attraction. Central city S.H.U.S.H. modified to become their primary operations zone with the general public locked out. Without extensive documentation as to your identity zealous guards held no qualms for turning families away. Officials and dignitaries present by S.H.U.S.H. invitation could not evade the random cavity search. Concerned with the super villain situation as they were, city councillors were questioning, quietly, amongst themselves, who was running St Canard anyway?
"They tried to turn me back at the gate assuming I was a beast. They called animal control to relocate me to the wild," Stegmutt related his tale of security checkpoint woe. "I couldn't get by without a rabbis shot."
"Aye, I'd have never gotten Tootsie in," Bubba referred to his pet Triceratops.
"That may be for the best," Morgana advised. Overzealous security, triceratops, villain mayhem and crowds - a winning combination.
Launchpad asked, "You guys seen Camille?" As a villain presented to the Justice Ducks to complete her community service, the group felt more comfortable with Camille in sight. Shape shifters were notoriously difficult to maintain a track of.
"Agent Donkey said he had an assignment for her," said Stegmutt.
"SHUSH business," Bubba remarked, grimly. And he appeared uncomfortable broaching another topic. "Did you catch the Spike Angle special report last night?"
"Not as such." Morgana spent the afternoon and well in to the evening with Gosalyn. The first quality time shared – it had been a long time. And once they had Gosalyn inside that stunning dress the first thing Morg did was call Launchpad and demand he get to Tank's flat on the double with his camera and as much film as he could carry. Even if they had less to spare for dear Fenton today. There were going to be plenty of photographers to cover GizmoDuck, Morgana was sure.
After which the long-time friends slipped home. Owing to their Justice Duck obligations each had taken a leave of absence from their respective businesses. There were details for the next day's events to work out. Instead, they talked in to the night. Communicating their mutual relief to see Honker and Gosalyn mend fences and sharing their troubles with Gosayln's sudden Darkwing revival and relating their crazy adventures whilst sitting comfortably 'uncomfortably' close on the couch until Launchpad rolled his head back and nodded off. The poor daylight creature awake past his bedtime. So Morg had supported his head under a pillow, reposing herself against her best friend and bid the sand man grant her some zzz.
Blissfully unaware of news concerning the missing member of their ad hoc family unit.
Word had not reached their ears, Bubba understood. Recalling the claim made by the guest of Spike Angle,
"Darkwing Duck was dispatched to shut down the F.O.W.L. gate…. And then I killed him."
He only replayed the clip a dozen times. He could remember the villains final words for Spike as if the secret guest were, in person, speaking to him now.
"I need to talk with both of you. Can we step somewhere private for a moment? I promise, it can't wait." He did not want to agitate his allies on the verge of what everyone was predicting to be a big fight. Nor could he risk the Negaduck crushing his teammates with this knowledge at an inopportune moment. This event, it was a summarily unsuitable place to break devastating news.
"Sure thing," Launchpad agreed. Morg was a little more concerned about the timing. But this was Caveduck. If he said the matter could not wait….
"Lead on, Caveduck."
"Stegmutt, hold the fort will you?" Bubba asked his dino-pal. He knew a secluded area, in the backroom of a café within the cordon zone.
The more senior Justice Ducks out of view, Stegmutt turned to the nearest passer-by. A mallard in a sleeveless green sweater overtop a pink shirt. Asking the stunned fellow, "Excuse me, are you a supervillain?"
"Here he is! Your - GizmoDuck!"
The mayor did a good job whipping the crowd into a frenzy, Morgana decided. Deafening roar, hands waving in the air. Strategically placed confetti raining down. It was the middle of the day but they launched fireworks anyway. GizmoDuck deserved fireworks. The mayor introduced the hero of day outlining a select few of Gizmo's nail biting recues and audacious arrests. Topped off by his charity work. Expertly timed to build expectation without dragging on to impatience.
The citizens did love a hero in shining armour. Do-good duck with a chest of steel. But speak to him on a personal level, one on one, most agree it was GizmoDuck's humility which is striking. That his image was carefully manicured by a Scrooge McDuck funded public relations manager did not harm his saintly standing within society - Morgana did not know if the general public could name the remaining roster of the Justice Ducks.
Counting down said roster, Stegmutt stalked the crowd, nosing for trouble but causing most to be had. And there remained no sign of Camille. Morgana, Launchpad and Caveduck should have been found backstage in support of Gizmo. Instead, Caveduck ushered his colleagues away from the activity. Past idling patrons of a central city located cafe serving caffeine to agents and or others who choose to witness history in relative comfort. Past the bar and kitchen staff.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall! Donkey nixed any ideas of committing a fly cam to monitor the Justice Duck deviation from his explicit instruction. The witch's companion pets kept consuming them and those micro-bots cost cred disproportionate to their size! It was against the strong stated view of Donkey the 'freak show' had been admitted. Rare defiance of authority for Fenton Crackshell, rolling up to the mule and rolling out his demands. Donkey has been notified should his friends be told to walk, Gizmo would walk. Then Agent Donkey could enter stage left and boost the morale of the city and, oh yeah, volunteer his hind quarter to Negaduck as tempting S.H.U.S.H. bait.
Donkey welcomed the Justice Ducks to the event. Via a terse memo.
"Presenting to GizmoDuck today. The Presidential Citizens Medal," the major punctuated his speech with pauses to underline his dramatic announcement, "I welcome to the stage. James Hooter!"
Seated amongst select dozen special guests on the left wing of the stage, Hooter rose to attended the podium as figures around him politely clapped. They could be recognised as representatives for various St Canard institutions. The morning edition newspaper named a handful of councillors and a police commissioner flown in from Duckburg to give thanks from the home town. Earlier, Bubba noted to his teammates the absence of a representative of McDuck's organisation. The Caveduck gave the impression of feeling snubbed for his uncle. Conspicuous when you consider McDuck Industries funded the Gizmo-suit and GizmoDuck's on-going crime prevention efforts.
Shaking the hand of the mayor, thanking him for his introduction and repeating the gesture with GizmoDuck, whom extended a third gadget hand from his chest to wow the crowd, Director J. Gander Hooter took his place at the podium atop a strategically placed box.
"It is my privilege to be here today. To acknowledge a hero. A hero who has safeguarded our community for nearly a decade. The tin man with a heart."
The mayor offered Hooter a rectangular jewellery box by which Hooter accepted and, facing it toward the crowd, he did open the box to demonstrate the medallion disc within. You could not make out the detail from the cheap seats though it was known GizmoDuck was to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal, ordained with the iconic eagle. Before the crowd, Hooter removed the medallion from its protective box, handing the box back to the attending Mr mayor and suspending the medallion in the light of day on its dark blue with a light blue central stripe and white edge ribbon.
He beckoned GizmoDuck.
GizmoDuck rolled forward and bowed his head. It was fortunate Hooter was standing atop that box because Director Hooter is actually a rather short bird whereas the Gizmo armour doubles the height of Fenton Crackshell and it is most difficult to buckle at the knees or waist in his gear.
Over GizmoDuck's dipped head, Hooter placed the Presidential Citizens Medal around the hero's neck to the applause of every being present.
At his station in the mobile command centre Agent Donkey only had the time of day to sneer and get back to monitoring facial recognition systems turned on the crowd, look in to the interrogation of suspects quietly lifted from the crowd and demand updates from all stations. Ensuring they were alert and watching their zones, not the show.
Gizmo shook the hand of J. Gander once again and stood tall, holding the medal high for others to see. Understanding the metal disk may be a squint and a speck for those in the back, Gizmo deployed his largest gadget magnifying glass. Further evidence of his considerate nature. When he was sure everyone had an opportunity for a glimpse he posed for the crowd in a heroic mould. Hands against his hips. Left shoulder forward.
Agent Dog momentarily forgot himself. "He's really enjoying himself out there. No one deserves it more."
"Eyes off the show!" Donkey chastised his subordinate.
"In conjunction…," Hooter spoke in to the podium mike, the applause slowly dying to allow his voice to be heard. "To help GizmoDuck better protect the city, as per my powers under the PARROT Act, I hereby officially deputise GizmoDuck as an agent of SHUSH, with all lawful powers and responsibilities, and charge him to watch over St Canard."
Meaning he answered to James Gander Hooter alone. Invited guest, the Chief of St Canard Police, was gruff but clapped all the same. The superheroes and the spies rarely sought his input into goings on in his city. Only put it over him to clean up the mess. There had been talk amongst commentators of a mysterious extra surprise from Hooter leading up the ceremony. As if this honour was not enough….
"To commemorate new ties I gift to you, GizmoDuck, to symbolise our collaboration," Hooter spoke as if to GizmoDuck. His words were for the masses. "The very latest in armour warfare and urban pacification technology."
Behind the stage, on a pre-arranged cue. The grunting of an engine coupled with hydraulic motivators. The crane which helped cobble together this stage a day previous now hoisting an impressively massive box.
"What's that?" Now, unlike Agent Dog's renewed vigour, Stegmutt's vigilance took a nosedive with the kick-off of the grand show. You could not fault sweet Stegmutt. He was younger than many realise, undergoing his transformation from duck to dinosaur very early. He never received basic education before Caveduck took a keen interest. Stegmutt held the same low attention span as your baby brother who happened to be large enough to trample an elephant. He beheld the Hooter's mystery box, it could only be described as a vault, with childlike curiosity as it swung overhead.
"Oh, boy! A surprise!" the lovable dinosaur squealed.
The vault set down gently, still with a thud. It was evident why a crane was necessary. A hand cart would not budge it. A tank shell may scratch the paint.
Heavy bolts and gears unwound. Hooter's mystery box opened to a unseen command. In fact the command was given by a remote in the director's hand. Worthy theatrical timing all the same. "The Gizmo suit 2.0."
It was a beast. Robo-Cop meets the Abrams Tank. Rippling with power. S.H.U.S.H. colours, navy blue with grey lines. Increased armour - a skint lizard would be mistaken as a professional quarterback wearing those shoulder pads. The signature GizmoDuck drive system was out in favour of tried and true two feet. The pilot's face and neck were to be fully enclosed giving the armour a look somewhere between samurai and soulless robot.
Hidden in plain sight. A face in the crowd. A ferociously feathered fiend.
His devious mind divined now as the time to strike.
"Dorothy is home. Now to see about a witch."