Author's Note: This is it, final chapter! I wasn't entirely satisfied with the way this one came out, so it's entirely possible I may go back later and do a little revising, but it's definitely pretty close to what I'd wanted and I really just wanted to get it up. Thanks to those of you who have read this far in my story, and a big thanks to all of you who've left reviews! You guys are one of the biggest reasons I'm able to push through those dry spells I seem to be be getting more and more frequently. So thank you, thank you! Oh, and in case I was a little too vague or its been too long since you've seen the show, the episodes referenced in this chapter are "A Revolution in Home Appliances" and "Time and Punishment".
Disclaimer: I do not own Darkwing Duck, Negaduck, Gosalyn, Megavolt, Quackerjack, the city of St. Canard, or any other associated settings or characters from the cartoon series "Darkwing Duck". All are used without permission for non-profit, entertainment purposes only. The storyline for "To Gain the World" and the dialogue within are my original works.
About a week before Negaduck's dog food scheme, the papers had been full of stories about how Megavolt tried to bring the city's appliances to life with the assistance of a live toaster, refrigerator, guitar, and hair dryer, and about how the plot had climaxed in a showdown between Darkwing Duck and said villains at the power plant. The story had dominated the headlines for a day or so, and then was bumped back to a two line mention on page eight before disappearing altogether.
Negaduck though, whose fingers never left the pulse of the criminal underworld, had heard rumors of something more, and had gotten a hold of the security footage. What he saw had been enlightening, and inspiring. He'd originally tucked the information away for possible use in the future, but now in his current situation, it was something that would suit his needs perfectly.
The mallard had vaguely recalled a conversation with Quackerjack and Megavolt after he'd grudgingly busted them out of jail for some failed stunt involving a trip to the future. In order to pacify his wrath before he went for his chainsaw, they had hurriedly tried to explain why they'd fainted on seeing Darkwing (he still couldn't believe that!), and they'd told him how Darkwing had turned into some sort of psychotic dictator, all because Gosalyn had disappeared from his life. While the significance of that experience had eluded those simpleton saps, they had unwittingly handed Negaduck a golden opportunity. If anything could get his nemesis to fall in his limited time span, that red-headed duckling would be the key. And as Negaduck watched the scene unfolding before him, his confidence in that conclusion grew in strength.
Inside the building, Gosalyn Mallard sat tied to an old chair, watching nervously as an agitated Megavolt paced in front of her. Darkwing had yet to arrive. If he hadn't gotten lost on the way, he was probably still trying to find where Megavolt was, though if he took much longer Negaduck was going to have to send him an engraved invitation. Honestly, the dock on the suburban side of Audubon Bay wasn't that hard to find, even for a puffed up airhead like Darkwing. A crumpled newspaper was clutched in Megavolt's hand as he paced, and if he strained his ears, Negaduck could just make out the words Megavolt was muttering to himself.
"…the power lines? Nah, too easy to spot. The electronics store? Nah, too many innocent bystanders. I wouldn't want a poor stereo or television to get hurt. Ooo, I could do the power plant. That has some artistic justice to it. No, that's not it," the rat said, pausing in his pacing to search out the right word. "Creative justice? No... Romantic justice? No… Antiseptic justice?"
Negaduck realized he was unconsciously grinding his teeth as he irritably watched the rodent. Couldn't that idiot focus for more than five minutes without getting distracted by some tangent? If it weren't for the rat's unusual electrical abilities and occasional moments of technological brilliance, Negaduck probably would have knocked off the pathetic knob a long time ago just for being such an annoying, empty-headed dolt.
"Neurotic justice?" Megavolt continued on, oblivious to the murderous thoughts being entertained by his boss a mere ten feet away. "No…"
Gosalyn spoke up from her chair. "Poetic justice?" she offered helpfully.
"That's it!" Megavolt exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "Poetic justice!"
Negaduck let out sigh, relieved that that little mental detour was over with. Time was of the essence, and he was beginning to think he was going to have do something himself to get the knob's brain through whatever glitch it was stuck in. Now though maybe the dolt could actually get down to business.
"But wait," Megavolt said, pausing again as a look of confusion spread on his face, "do I want poetic justice?"
Negaduck did a facepalm. You can't kill him. You can't kill him, he told himself as he struggled to contain his mounting exasperation.
Gosalyn though, emboldened by Megavolt's positive response to her earlier words, saved the mallard the trouble of doing something drastic by speaking up. "No no, you wanted lawful justice," she said, trying to appear casual. "You know, the kind where you don't break the law by hurting an innocent girl?"
Her idea backfired. "Innocent?" Megavolt spat, his face darkening as his mind finally latched back onto the desire for revenge burning inside him. He waved the crumpled newspaper under her beak. "Innocent? It was you who destroyed my appliance friends! You who turned them against me! And you who ruined my plans! You call that innocent? Boy, am I glad you got on the wrong bus today, or else you might have gotten away with this heinousness, but now, you get to receive the full punishment for your inhuman acts!"
Negaduck nodded approvingly as the girl shrank back in her chair, away from the angry, menacing glare in front of her and the angry sparks unconsciously forming at her captor's fingertips. Finally. Now all he needed was for Darkwing to show up.
As if on cue, a blue cloud suddenly billowed into existence ten feet away from the pair. "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the guard dog you didn't know was there! I am Darkwing Duck!" The cloud dissipated to reveal the form of Darkwing Duck, his body poised for action and his gas gun aimed directly at Megavolt. Negaduck couldn't help but shake his head. Even with Gosalyn in danger, he had to do his tagline. "Let her go, Megavolt," Darkwing said, his voice tense.
"Why should I?" Megavolt asked, beginning to sound a little desperate. Even desperate though, he had to presence of mind to position himself so Gosalyn was between him and the crime fighter. "It was her fault! It's only fair I get revenge for such shocking acts!" The rat let an arch of electricity dance between his fingers, so close to Gosalyn's face that it nearly singed her feathers.
"Megavolt…" Darkwing warned, a dangerous edge in his tone. Negaduck could see his double's finger tighten ever so slightly on the gas gun's trigger.
"Careful," Megavolt said, quickly grabbing something from his utility belt. "You wouldn't want your precious city to get hurt, would you? If I press let go of this button," he said, holding up a small box, a single button depressed by his finger, "the whole city will explode."
"You're bluffing," Darkwing replied confidently. "That's Negaduck's turf, not yours."
"Who do you think had me wire the city?" Megavolt sneered. "He was going to use it for some scheme of his, but now I have a better way to use it."
Negaduck's eyes narrowed. If I hadn't planned it this way, that rat would be dog chow for disobeying me like that, he thought, angered at Megavolt's gall.
"So I guess you have a choice, Dorkwing," Megavolt continued, "watch your little friend die, or sacrifice the entire city to save her?"
There it was, the ultimatum, laid out almost as perfectly as Negaduck could have hoped for. Negaduck watched with joyful anticipation as his double waged an internal battle, obviously torn between his saving his daughter and saving his city. Neglect his duty as a father, or neglect his duty as a hero by allowing thousands to die. It was the choice most people hoped never to face even in their nightmares, and yet here it was being thrust on him, very real, and very urgent. Negaduck couldn't help but grin when he remembered his part (albeit very small and indirect) in putting his nemesis in this position.
Gosalyn's eyes were locked fearfully on her dad, the battle that was tearing Darkwing apart reflecting clearly in her face. He saw the pair lock eyes, and watched as some sort of understanding passed between the two. Negaduck almost thought he could see an apology in Darkwing's face. If he hadn't been so wrapped up in the suspense that permeated the situation, Negaduck would have gagged at the tenderness of the moment.
Megavolt though, was not going to be kept waiting. "I guess it's your little friend then," he said cheerfully, turning towards the duckling as balls of blue electricity gathered around his hands. He took a step back and raised his arms to fire the energy at the wide-eyed girl.
"NO!" Darkwing cried, simultaneously firing his gas gun and leaping at the rodent. Whatever plan Negaduck had seen forming in his double's mind was gone now in the panic that overtook him at seeing his daughter about to be killed. The two hit the ground in a jumble of arms and legs, but were quickly hidden from view by the gas cloud that had been fired from Darkwing's weapon. For a moment, all that was visible of the scuffle was a stray limb or two as it was pulled back to deliver a blow, but then, a single object came flying out of the cloud and clattered onto the cement floor.
For a moment, the room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop as everyone realized what had just happened. Then a huge explosion rocked the building, throwing Negaduck and the three inside to the ground as a deafening roar filled their ears. The windows blew out as the shockwave hit the building, shards of glass flying everywhere as the lights flickered out and the walls moaned in protest. Their world rumbled and shook for what seemed to be an eternity before beginning to die down, only to be replaced by the sharp clattering of debris raining down on the tin roof, echoing through the building like thunder. As soon as the ground was steady again, Negaduck climbed back to his feet and looked toward the city. And then he laughed, a laugh of pure, unbridled glee.
Downtown St. Canard was gone. Completely obliterated. Billows of thick black smoke poured from all that remained of the burning ruin, and huge tongues of fire reached up toward the sky where Canard's skyscrapers used to be, casting a fiery orange glow on the impenetrable backdrop of smoke. Screams could be distantly heard from across the bay, screams of pain, screams for help, and screams of fear.
He did it. I can't believe he actually did it! Negaduck thought, continuing to stare at the devastation in exhilarated awe. This was all so much better than he had ever hoped! Negaduck himself had only dreamed of creating this volume of pure destruction, and now his double, who had proclaimed himself the protector of the city, had just blown it to smithereens, and all to save a single girl. Darkwing was damned now for sure!
Remembering the vigilante, Negaduck turned back and had to grin when he saw the mallard's expression. The complete desolation and misery written across his face was like the fulfillment of Negaduck's life work. His arms were wrapped around Gosalyn standing at his side, who looked the picture of guilt as she stood awed at the ruins. Even Megavolt looked to be shocked at the sheer magnitude of what had just happened. It was absolutely beautiful!
Just then a harsh, disembodied voice whispered in his ear. "Time's up." Suddenly his surroundings began to fade away, disappearing into the heavy black shroud that Negaduck knew all too well. "No, no, NO!" Negaduck cried in disbelieving anger. He couldn't have just got everything he wanted so perfectly only to have it taken before he could savor it, again! But the ruined city, the building, and even Darkwing continued to unmercilessly melt away, until once again Negaduck was enveloped in that suffocating darkness.
All disorientation of that transition vanished into pure rage though when those crimson eyes appeared again. It was just blowing off all the hard work he'd done? Nobody did that to Negaduck and got away with it! Only the fact that he was dealing with a demon, whose abilities in the spiritual realm undoubtedly surpassed his own, kept him from losing his temper.. "You'd better have one heck of a reason for bringing me back here and not Darkwing!" Negaduck growled, his seemingly level tone belied by barely contained anger.
"Do I need one?" the spirit replied.
"I just cured cancer and saved millions, no, billions of lives! And what did Darkwing do? He just caused an entire city to explode, and all to save one little girl! If anyone deserves to be here, it's him! And if anyone doesn't deserve to be here, it's me!"
To Negaduck's infuriation, the spirit didn't reply, but continued to stare at him as if waiting for him to say more. "We had a deal!" Negaduck cried, unnerved by the silence.
"And you believed me?" the demon replied, his words laced with amusement.
Negaduck felt gut-kicked. All of his anger deflated as the horrific implications of that sentence washed over him like a bucket of cold water. So the whole thing, all the work and aggravation, these entire past two days were just a farce? Some great cosmic joke?
"You of all people should know to never make a deal with the devil," the demon continued with a touch of mirth. "But even if I'd meant it, did you honestly think you could earn your way to Heaven? Not even all your double's good deeds over his years of crime-fighting would be enough to get him out of here, much less your pathetic half-attempts."
Negaduck's head snapped up at that. "What would you have me do?" he snarled, his feelings of gullibility beginning to transform into anger towards the one who tricked him. "Kiss up to some self-righteous sap of a demon and try to bribe my way in?"
The crimson eyes hardened at that. "I already told you what had to be done," the now icy voice answered. "Your double made a contract with Another, One who claims to love him and forgives his many mistakes. Perhaps if you'd gotten over your massive ego and tried to use those brains you claim you have, then you'd have realized just how puny and useless you are by yourself, and just how much help you needed. I mean, did you really think that orchestrating everything behind the scenes, the tip to the newspaper, making sure Elmo got a paper, and messing with the bus signs, instead of being on the front lines would leave you guiltless? You truly are delusional!"
Negaduck lunged at the shadow. He had no clue if he could even touch a spirit, much less give it a piece of his mind, but all his anger, all his rage at being played for a fool was coursing mightily through his veins, and he'd be darned if he was going to take this kind of abuse and not do something about it!
With his fingers only inches from the soulless eyes though, he was hit with a wave of pain so hard that it actually knocked him back in the air. He hit the ground as the fiery torment he'd hoped never to feel again overwhelmed him, wracking his body a thousand times more intensely than before. His body spasmed uncontrollably under the invisible flames, forcing tears from his eyes and making him grind his teeth together even as he fought to hold in the screams that threatened to escape his throat. Just as before though, despite the overwhelming pain, Negaduck's mind was terribly clear, clear enough for him to recognize the smug satisfaction in the demon eyes staring down at him.
It won't even allow me the dignity of one final say? Negaduck thought loathingly, his mind wishing desperately to throw a string of insults at the spirit but his beak refusing to obey.
The demon chuckled, as if in response to his thought.
"Welcome to Hell, Negaduck."