What in the world am I doing? Why am I starting up another story when I have some already going? Why?
Because this idea has been, more or less, in my head for a long time in some form or another, that's why. I watched "Darkwing Duck" growing up (along with shows like "Ducktales," "Talespin," "Bonkers," and other Disney cartoons from that time period… before the curse of "Hannah Montana" arrived on the channel). It finally wore me down and I am forced by my very stubborn imagination to write this up. And, yes, I know they've started up a comic series that continues from where the show ended, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. So humor me. I'm working off what showed up on television only.
This came from one particular episode: "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything." In that episode, we saw alternate versions of several, well-known characters. In addition to reversing key personality traits, everyone's Negaverse version was switched from good to evil (or vice versa if they started as a villain) with one key exception. NegaGosalyn might be a sweet, feminine, polite child instead of the spirited, tomboyish, impulsive Gosalyn from the normal one, but both seem to be definitely good. This is even more disturbing when you consider she would have been partially raised (if you consider him capable of raising a child…) by Negaduck until the Friendly Four took her and NegaTank in. The idea that she would be just as un-evil as the version that lives with a vigilante and his loyal sidekick seems kind of unbalanced. It would make more sense if one of them was evil or turned evil eventually. This would fix the whole "one evil, one good" pattern the others had.
Of course, this leads to the uncomfortable question of how Darkwing would respond if he had to face an enemy whose face was that of his daughter. In that particular episode, he couldn't even consider leaving Gos' doppelganger in such a horrible universe with Negaduck as a guardian without trying to make it better. She just looked too much like his Gos (even if they don't really act alike) that he couldn't leave her in trouble and if faced with an evil version of a certain red-head...
Thus, I had to write this very reflective piece (don't worry; there's some action later on too). And, for some reason, I decided I had to write it completely from Darkwing's viewpoint. This means I have work with his enormous ego and attention-seeking personality… Also, he tends to ramble on a bit (check out his self-narration in the show), but it does help set the scene and catch everyone up on events. I hope you enjoy the story.
Different as Night and Day
I should have seen it coming. The fact that I, Darkwing Duck, could be totally torpedoed by this tainting and terrible transforming truth tried the very limits of plausibility. But I have to admit that even my brilliant mind did not see this possibility until I was faced with it.
In hindsight, however, it seems far too obvious. I've observed the perplexing puzzle that pertains to the people who inhabit the Negaverse personally. Their personalities and, more importantly, their levels of good and evil were reversed so that familiar faces like Launchpad and the Muddlefoots became disturbing strangers who would rather kill me than help. And fierce enemies were helpful allies. To be honest, I tried to not think about that universe too deeply due to the unsettling nature of having friends become foes and vice versa, regardless of the fact that some individuals there recognize my awe-inspiring heroics in battling the vile Negaduck and they treated me as I should be. And I have crossed between the two universes several times over the years and even interacted with their inhabitants when I need to, but I still retain the unease of seeing my loyal sidekick as an aggressive minion or for Honker to be a mini-psycho. And, though I eventually described a few things of the Negaverse to Launchpad and Gosalyn, I've never taken them there or told them what their alternate selves were like. Some things are better off unknown.
All the evidence had been in front of me the moment I met my daughter's doppelganger, however. Just like every other member of the Negaverse, the Gosalyn I know and… NegaGos were clearly opposite in personality. My daughter was spirited, defiant, impulsive, stubbornly loyal, tomboyish, a smart-alec, and determined to follow in my footsteps in every way. The other red-headed girl was sweet, helpful, demur, obedient, thoughtful, feminine, and perfectly polite. The only real similarity between the two (besides them both having the same face and voice as each other) was the fact they were definitely not evil. That simple observation should have been a warning, but I couldn't, wouldn't, see it.
My first wake-up call to the harsh reality of the situation was NegaMegavolt practically showing up on my doorstep with the most heartbroken expression I've ever seen on the electrically-charged rodent. In the years since I first stepped into the Negaverse, I'd been forced to cross between the two universes repeatedly either to stop Negaduck's latest diabolical scheme or to simply help make that universe a better place. It was hard enough to find a way to create a new portal after the one in the cake collapsed, but nothing is impossible for the indomitable will of Darkwing Duck. Besides, I knew it would only be a matter of time before my evil double found a way to return and for him to create or find a new portal of his own in order to make life in both universes unbearable. Of course, the Negaverse had its own group of heroes determined to undo the suffering Negaduck had caused. The good versions of most members of the Fearsome Five, the Friendly Four emulated me by fighting crime (which they did better at after I gave them a few lessons) and even took in NegaGos to raise. From my dealings with the group over the years, I could tell that all four super-powered defenders of justice cared deeply for the girl and the polite NegaTank they'd raised through childhood and the teenage years. So, having the leader of the Friendly Four show up abruptly, using the portal generator SHUSH invented accidentally years ago and I'd managed to "misplace" in my hideout (Don't look at me like that. It isn't stealing if it is for the greater good. Neither universe needs a bunch of people wandering between the two at random. Not everyone has as much caution and deep understanding about the balance of both universes as I do… And I'm the only one who is supposed to use it anyway, not the Friendly Four), with an expression somewhere between hurt, dread, and resignation across his features, I knew something was truly wrong.
I asked him.
He told me.
And the truth crashed down and hit me with more force than any blow a villain had ever struck me with. I wished it was a lie, but I could see from his face it wasn't. Somehow, it had all gone wrong.
It was too much too hope for that both versions of Gosalyn would remain good for their entire lives, it seemed. Their lives were too radically different from each other and one was bound to crack. One was raised by the masked hero who was not always the recipient of the public praise he deserved, but continued to fight evil in all the forms it took, and lived in the fairly positive atmosphere of St. Canard for most of her life. The other was under the care of Negaduck until the Friendly Four took her in and her home reality, while improving, was still less than the ideal place to raise a child. I really should have known one of them would end up evil. That's how the Negaverse works. But the idea of fighting against either of them, seeing the face of my daughter on my opponent, would be too painful, so I'd ignored the possibility until NegaMegavolt told me it had happened.
I couldn't tell Launchpad about this. If I was having difficulty with this possibility, my sidekick would be completely unable to function. It had been bad enough when Gos left for college in Duckburg. The pilot almost decided several times to fly there and check on her, claiming it was just a trip to check on Mr. McDuck and family instead. Honestly, I wanted to do the same sort of thing almost constantly, but she deserved the chance to be on her own. Going away to college (on a hockey scholarship, no less) offered her not only an opportunity to learn more book-smarts to back up anything else she's picked up over the years watching a true genius at work, but to also go to a new city she could fight crime in as the Quiverwing Quack without having her father hovering protectively over her. I taught her the skills required to battle evil when her conviction to be a hero never wavered as she grew, but being on her own would give her the opportunity to gain experience. And Duckburg didn't seem to have any truly dangerous villains she wouldn't be able to handle if that pile of scrap metal could protect it. Still, I wish I could depend on someone more useful than Gizmoduck to be close to help her if things went wrong. Maybe that's why I haven't watched the news properly in months and listen eagerly for her phone calls instead; I didn't want to see a report about Quiverwing's defeat by some ruthless villain across the television screen. But, if I'd watched the news and saw the signs ahead of time, maybe I wouldn't be as completely caught off guard by what had been transpiring under my own nose. Instead, I'd depended on weekly phone calls from her to reassure myself she was unharmed and missed everything until NegaMegavolt arrived.
He explained how he and the others became aware of the problem. He also explained that he wanted my help since this particular individual would be just as hard for the Friendly Four to face as it would be for me. Actually, I should stop referring to them as the Friendly Four. Fairly recently, with both NegaTank and NegaGos nearly grown, one of them joined the crime-fighting team and the other… didn't. Now, they were the Friendly Five. But, even though it would be difficult to face the familiar-looking red-haired girl for any of us, we needed to stop her. We had to stop the reign of terror she was causing.
"She's been using the portal to attack people in both universes," NegaMegavolt described, refusing to meet my eyes. "Obviously not in your St. Canard since that would get your attention, but she's been other locations causing problems. We've tried to catch up with her in the Negaverse a few times, but she's usually vanished by the time we get there. I guess she's seen our powers in use too much growing up and can guess our every move." He shrugged, "She's in your universe currently. Which is technically your crime-fighting jurisdiction, but considering who it is… we want to help."
Normally, I would immediately refuse the offer. Even after the entire "Justice Ducks" event, the idea of sharing credit with anyone for my achievements would be met with a laughing rejection. Darkwing Duck does not need a team or even assistance from anyone to save the day. Even Launchpad, my loyal sidekick, might occasionally be met with harsh refusal when he offered help.
But this time… it didn't matter. No amount of fame, glory, interviews with the press, pictures, or praise from the public would be enough to undo the guilt of facing her would cause. Her actions might be radically different than what I would expect from my daughter, but it would still look exactly like her. Fighting someone who looked exactly like the person you love most and acts like a monster is the sort of ingredient that nightmares are brewed from.
Still, I had to do it. I promised to fight crime and stop evil in all its forms. Even if it currently looked like a certain red-haired girl I watched grow up.
"Darkwing?" the Negaverse-version of my old classmate asked, reminding me that I haven't responded in a while.
I nodded, "Yes, you can help." I thought for a moment, trying to consider how to get around if I maintained my decision to keep Launchpad unaware of the problem. "I don't suppose the Negaverse Quackerjack has a giant, toy plane for traveling, does he?"
"Well, yeah, but why do you need to know?" he asked, surprised by my hypothesis of one of NegaQuackerjack's "interesting" toys and the question itself. "We don't know where she is in your universe."
"If she's in this universe, I can find her. I'm a brilliant detective, a highly-skilled and experienced hero, and I know what to look for if she's causing trouble," I explained, ensuring he understood how ideal my incredible abilities were for the task. "I'll worry about the 'where.' You just worry about how to get there without one of his gadgets trying to kill us."
With a salute befitting the amount of respect all the Friendly Fou-Friendly Five felt for me, NegaMegavolt headed back through the giant rows of file cabinets that conceal the portal generator from casual view by the few other individuals who are allowed into my base. I was left alone with my thoughts about the torturously traumatizing truth and how I was going to move the giant piece of equipment to a space large enough for NegaQuackerjack's plane.
The trip was, mercifully, subdued and short. Normally, I would have expected to deal with NegaLiquidator's salesman speech pattern and NegaQuackerjack insisting I talk to his puppet, Mr. Banana Brain, about what I think of his newest joke. And, unlike their evil counterparts, they aren't trying to be cruel, rude, or annoying. They want to be nice and helpful to me. They practically worship my awesome skills. Thus, I have to treat them with a smidgeon of respect and tolerant their quirks.
Tonight, however, we traveled in near silence. The colorful jester flew his oversized toy (complete with a wind-up key on the bottom… I tried not to consider what would happen if it needed rewinding in mid-flight) with only the rare question or comment. NegaBushroot simply sat still, looking positively like he was wilting as he watched the clouds move past the window. NegaLiquidator and NegaMegavolt, sitting opposite each other, stared blankly at the floor in front of them. Neither the electricity-controlling rodent nor the water-based dog tried to verbalize the shared dread of facing such a familiar face. After all, if it was difficult for me accepting her as an enemy, it would be just as difficult for them. They loved NegaGos as much as I love my daughter, and both girls look so much alike. It was hard to keep in mind they weren't the same person. Thus, this painful betrayal felt equally as personal for everyone on the plane.
The final member of the Friendly Five, as well as the youngest, sat in the corner closest to NegaBushroot silently. I tried not to look in that direction due to the unnerving contrast between this particular individual's two versions. Plus, the hero outfit chosen was extremely disturbing.
Landing the toy plane on one of the larger city rooftops with surprising subtlety, NegaQuackerjack turned to me with an inquiring expression.
"Give me five minutes before following," I explained. "I can find her faster on my own."
"Product testing proves those results to be reliable, money back guaranteed," nodded NegaLiquidator. "But will the customer make the sale final when the offer is made?"
"If things go wrong, will you be able to fight back against her," clarified NegaBushroot. "She's not likely to just surrender. Even to you, Darkwing."
"I'll be fine," I assured. "Nothing in either universe can beat me in a fight, not even her. I've been in the hero game longer than she's been walking on her own."
"But she was practically raised to battle criminals. She's got that unique experience and the training to be a real problem," pointed out NegaMegavolt. "And…"
"Don't worry about it," I interrupted, refusing to allow this conversation to continue. "Just follow my instructions and everything will turn out right in the end."
The plant/duck hybrid muttered sadly, "How can this turn out right?"
I didn't answer. What could I say to him? There was no answer that would work and admitting it would help no one. So I remained silent and vanished into the night.
As expected, I found her fairly quickly. I simply headed for the worst part of the city and listened for the sounds of a struggle. A dark alleyway, out of the way of anyone who might try to interfere, the red-haired girl I was looking for, young lady actually, was in the middle of attacking her target with extreme aggression.
Because even when facing the last person I'd ever anticipated, I must fulfill the expectations for my entrances. I can't just arrive on the scene. I have to appear. It's a requirement for proper heroes.
"I am the terror that flaps in the night," I shouted, causing both figures to freeze in mid-struggle. "I am the overprotective father who follows his daughter on her first date." Blue smoke appeared at the alleyway entrance and I stood inside it with my cape spread out behind me. "I am Darkwing Duck!"
She looked at me, stunned at first by my presence, but quickly got past the shock. Flipping her longer red hair over her shoulder, she met my green-eyed gaze firmly. Every shred of parentalness in my body wanted to give in and let her go. My sense of justice, however, kept my determination strong.
"Hello, Darkwing," she greeted, adopting a weak smile. "Welcome to Duckburg."
With extreme effort, I answered softly, "Quiverwing, we need to talk."
My daughter, the spirited little girl I'd watch grow into this young lady, shook her head at me, "Give me a minute or two. I need to teach this creep a lesson. A swimming lesson."
Her costume, updated from the one she made and wore as a child, still retained the "Robin Hood" style to it and a cape, but she'd replaced everything green with a deep shade of purple and the earlier purple pieces of the costume were now a dark red. She'd discarded the feather in her hat and the "Q" across her chest, but retained her bow and quiver full of specialized arrows. Her hair was worn at shoulder length loose and her deep purple mask stretched across the upper portion of her face. But I could still recognize my Gosalyn, not NegaGos, for who she was, even though something was definitely wrong with her. Her green eyes didn't sparkle with that spirited mischief I knew so well, but something darker and crueler.
Lying on the ground, absolutely terrified of both of us, was one of the Beagle Boys. I'd never faced any of these similarly-faced bank-robbing criminals since they never came to St. Canard, but Launchpad had described this large family of crooks to me before. Over all, they'd never sounded like that big of a threat. Especially if the likes of Gizmoduck could handle them. One of Quiverwing's trick arrows had tied him up in a rope to the point he was practically cocooned with only his head free. This was the point where she should turn them over to the authorities, but her words and what NegaMegavolt told me earlier suggested she had other plans.
"Quiverwing, I've been hearing a few things. Three petty thieves have been pulled from the river, tied up and nearly drowned. Another was left dangling off a skyscraper with a broken arm and cracked rib," I described, relating a couple of the news reports I'd found while waiting for the Friendly Five to arrive with the toy plane. "And that one guy with the black eye for trespassing at an empty warehouse who was left in a locked clothes trunk on a street corner? Please tell me that none of these were your doing and I'll believe you. Just tell me it wasn't you."
"He wouldn't have gotten the black eye if he'd stopped shouting when I said to," she muttered, sounding vaguely annoyed as if Honker had suggested they should do their homework before playing the newest Whiffle Boy video game.
"And you've been sneaking into the hideout, using the portal generator, and attacking people in the Negaverse, haven't you?" I asked slowly, any shred of hope I had that this was all a mistake shattered.
"Fighting criminals," corrected the red-haired girl. "Almost everyone there is evil anyway. Wait, how did you know about that?"
"You dropped a jaywalker off a two story building and broke his legs. What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking about how I could fix things. How to make it all better."
"Make what better?"
"Everything," she shouted, forgetting about the tied up Beagle Boy at her feet. "I watched you fight and defeat the same exact villains year after year. You would turn them over to the police and then… something would happen. If they aren't released because of a stupidly brainless legal loophole that doesn't even make sense, they simply broke out of jail without trying. The first villain I saw you face, Taurus Bulba," she shuddered slightly at the name, "was working from inside the prison just fine. How many birthdays, games, movie nights, and holidays did you have to miss because the criminal you just locked up a week ago was back out again and trying to… I don't know, turn town hall into a giant banana or steal the light bulbs from the back of everyone's fridge?"
I cringed at the memory of the numerous times I missed out on important events in Gos' life growing up because of the conflict between my parental duties and my crime-fighting responsibilities, "I'm sorry. You know I…"
"I don't blame you, Dad," she interrupted. "I never blamed you. You did everything for me and the city. You couldn't even marry Morgana because your life was too frantic and busy with the same criminals showing up like clockwork. You deserved a happy ending more than anyone, but you never got it."
Once more, I cringed at the memory. My busy, crime-fighting life wasn't the only reason that I never married the lovely, magical woman. Her family never really approved of our relationship due to me being "normal" (though Gos had often pointed out how the word "normal" is very rarely applied to a vigilante who spent his nights running around the city to fight super-powered villains). Considering the unpredictability of my work, raising a rambunctious child who had a talent for trouble, and the fact Morgana's family would likely make my entire married life a series of unpleasant shape shifts into odd creatures and various curses, we decided to post-pone anything more formal than dating until things calmed down. Since we still weren't married, it appeared that life would never become ideal enough for us to have a wedding. She understood that, as much as I love her, protecting the city would always be too important to me. That didn't stop me for wishing that things could have been different.
"You try so hard to make the world a better place, but the justice system made certain that all your hard work would always be undone. For every criminal you caught, they let another go free. The police were next to useless, the jails were practically pointless at containing someone, and you were forced to keep working harder because of it. Criminals didn't stop or change their ways out of fear of prison or the cops. The only thing they would worry about at all was you. You weren't enough to stop them, however. They knew that, in the end, you would turn them over to the police and they could go right back to crime," she described, becoming more and more frustrated with every word. "The only way to stop the cycle is to remove the relief offered by the weak link. If they receive real punishment instead of that joke the justice system offers, we can make a difference. Instead of flimsy jail sentences, criminals will truly suffer for what they've done. No one will try to repeating their crimes again. Just think about it, Dad. We would be making a real difference and wouldn't have to deal with the same villains again and again. And I'm not just talking about these small-time crooks. Putting a permanent stop to Megavolt? Bushroot? Negaduck? Of course, they need a more serious punishment than just a broken leg or the unsuccessful drowning."
"Like what, putting them six feet under? Are you listening to what you're saying?" I asked, my temper rising as my volume increased. "You're crossing a line. You're supposed to help catch criminals the police can't, not act like judge and jury while dishing out whatever punishment you see fit. And your ideas of fair punishment are completely overkill."
"No, they're perfectly effective," she shouted back, her face as stubborn and unmovable as any of the thousands of times I'd ordered her to clean her room.
"Dropping jaywalkers off buildings is not a suitable punishment by any stretch of the imagination."
"He'll never jaywalk again."
"He's luck to ever walk again."
"Um… maybe you could let me go so you can continue this conversation in private?" suggested her bound victim meekly, speaking up for the first time since I arrived.
"I could let you go in the river," my costumed daughter suggested, glaring at the Beagle Boy. "Do you like night swimming?"
Before the whimpering victim could respond, a large jet of water smashed into her and knocked the red-haired girl against the wall of eh alleyway. The puddle of liquid swiftly reformed into the more canine shape of NegaLiquidator. He fixed her with a firm, but apologetic stare. After all, she might be my Gos, but she still looked like their Gos too.
"Please accept this limited time offer and surrender," NegaLiquidator suggested. "And if you apply now, we'll throw in, free of charge, a complimentary chance of forgiveness."
Bouncing in on a pogo stick, NegaQuackerjack joined his teammate. With a flick of the wrist, the colorfully-dressed jester tossed a number of wind-up chattering teeth at the tied-up Beagle Boy. The toys swiftly chewed through the bindings and freed him. Not willing to remain on instant longer, the terrified criminal ran out of the alleyway and vanished into the night. None of us followed. We had bigger concerns.
"You teamed up with the Fearsome Five to stop me?" she asked incredulously. "Sheesh, I knew you'd take me being more effective pretty badly, but isn't siding with villains out of jealousy a little extreme?"
"Friendly, not Fearsome," corrected NegaMegavolt. He arrived on the scene by sliding along the overhead power lines before dropping down to ground level. Not as impressive as my trademark puff of smoke arrival, but still effective. "And you're in big trouble, Gosalyn. None of us can let you continue this."
"Okay, time-out," she snapped, forming a "T" with her hands. "You picked up these guys from the Negaverse and you reveal my secret identity?" She gestured to her Quiverwing outfit. "There's a reason I'm wearing this, you know."
"Don't blame me about that one. They already know since they know your Negaverse self," I defended. "In fact, they practically raised NegaGos."
"And yet you never told me anything about her… me… her until now?" she asked. "I'll bet she's some kind of evil monster who tries to follow in Negaduck's footsteps."
"Actually, she's a rather sweet individual," corrected NegaBushroot. Compared to his teammates' arrivals, his was extremely subdued. The plant/duck hybrid simply walked over carrying a daisy in a flower pot. Just like the others, he didn't want to meet her gaze directly. He knew he would see the little girl in an adorable dress, just like I still see the rambunctious one who used to play hockey in the house. But she wasn't acting like herself anymore. And I don't know when I lost her, which is terrifying to consider. "And she loves the color pink."
She shuddered, "Sounds like I'm a wimp in that universe."
"She isn't," glared NegaMegavolt. "Listen, we're given you a chance. You're Darkwing's kid. You can't be completely evil."
"I'm not evil. I'm fighting evil. None of you are willing to go far enough, that's all. If you aren't tough of criminals, nothing will ever change. You watch. I've got the right idea," she stated firmly and turned to walk away.
"Gos, we can't let you go like this. You're hurting people," I explained. "And if you don't agree to stop on your own… we'll have to make you."
She smirked slightly, "You can't even make me clean my room, Dad. How are you going to stop me from being the Quiverwing Quack?"
"Unfortunately… with force," answered NegaBushroot. His delicate potted plant sprang into action, rapidly expanding in size until the daisy gained an almost vine-like quality. Pointing at the red-haired girl, he instructed, "Restrain her… gently."
The fast-growing flower obeyed his instructions, striking towards her like an attacking snake. My daughter, however, moved around the questing vine with trained agility. She bounced off the brick walls, leapt over the trailing piece of greenery, and rolled clear of each attempt by the plant to ensnare her. On one level, I was proud of her displayed skill since I'd helped her develop them. On the other, I wished NegaBushroot had succeeded.
Seeing his teammate's difficulty, NegaQuackerjack pulled out a dense, bright red cylinder approximately the size of his fist. Twisting it clockwise, he was able to expand it to nearly my height while he still handled it like it barely weighed anything. It looked like a woven tube with thin sides. After a moment, I identified it as a giant Chinese finger trap.
As NegaQuackerjack had been pulling out his newest toy, a certain red-haired girl had actually managed to tie the plant into knots with her dodging. This development led to Gos to smirk below her mask and for NegaBushroot to start bemoaning the fate of his poor daisy. The harlequin jester took advantage of her distraction to put the giant finger trap into action.
"It's playtime," he shouted, throwing the toy in the air towards her.
Rather than becoming trapped inside the large tube or even simply dodging it, she fired one of her larger trick arrows at it. The strike altered the finger trap's flight path and it slipped over NegaBushroot. Without missing a beat, she selected another arrow and cocooned NegaQuackerjack in a manner similar how the Beagle Boy was earlier.
"Well, this is a fine mess," he muttered in his "Mr. Banana Brain" voice, the puppet pinned to his side. Switching to his normal voice, he answered himself, "You win some and lose some."
"Really, you guys don't stand a chance. I grew up watching Darkwing defeat the evil versions of you," she pointed out.
"Well, try this on for size," shouted NegaMegavolt, throwing a handful of electricity at the dumpster behind her. After the large, metallic container absorbed the power, her quiver of specialized (and often, metallic) arrows was yanked off her backs and slammed into the side. "Temporary electro-magnet. Limited range, but useful."
"Better, but not good enough," she replied. "Maybe you're just not as tough as your other version, Sparky."
The electricity-controlling rodent narrowed his eyes sharply, behind his thick goggles. For a moment, it looked like he would forget about the fact she looked exactly like the child he helped raise and simply electrocute her for that comment. I was about to warn him that she was trying to tick him off, but she was already moving on to her next step.
Turning behind her, she shouted, "But you're still better than that washed-up puddle of water you call a team mate. The best he can do is splash around a little."
NegaLiquidator might not be the most hot-headed individual on the team (likely due to being composed of cool water) but few people enjoy being accused of being useless by someone barely older than a kid. I, of course, would never have responded to such an obvious and childish attempt to goad me into an attack (regardless of what anyone might say about me falling for nearly identical tricks in the past). The living water canine reformed into a wave and rushed straight for her.
The red-haired girl waited for the perfect moment before leaping clear of the surge of water, allowing it to smash into a fully-charged NegaMegavolt. And, in the grand tradition of water and electricity meeting, the results weren't pretty. Both members of the Friendly Five gave a shout of shock and pain as the previously-controlled electricity discharged immediately and randomly through the liquid conductor. The painful shock affected both the electrocution-resistant rodent and the water-based canine equally, leaving the pair stunned on the ground and smoking slightly.
Turning towards me slightly, my daughter asked, "I think I've learned quite a lot if I can take all of them by myself, don't you? I might even be as good as you, Dad. You're not going to try and best me now, are you?"
I should have already tried to disarm and capture her. There were plenty of opportunities while she was fighting the others. But even though I, Darkwing Duck, would fight against any and all dangerous opponents I might encounter, I just couldn't attack Gos. I'd rather face thousands of crazy, super-powered villains than run the risk of harming her. The Friendly Five could manage, barely, by reminding themselves that it wasn't really their Gosalyn, but she really was mine. I couldn't fight her. That was why NegaMegavolt wanted to help so badly; he knew how hard it would end up being for me to even consider facing her. Besides, she knew almost everyone of my moves and strategies. Anything I might try would be familiar to her.
"Gos, can't you see what you're doing? What you're saying? What happened to you? What made you change into… this person? Please, just give up," I pleaded.
"I never give us. You should know that," she answered coldly. "And I know exactly what I'm doing." She turned away, "You won't fight me. You can't stop me. I'll make a real difference to the world, Dad, and you'll see I'm right someday."
A pink ribbon whipped out of the darkness and wrapped around her wrist, the attack accompanied by a sweet and familiar voice, "You should listen to your parent with more respect. He only wants what's best for you."
Stepping into view was a pink-clad figure. The outfit was similar to what a gymnast would wear, but a delicate tiara was perched on her red curls and a light lavender utility belt encircled her waist. A light lavender mask was perched on her face and her hand held the other end of the ribbon. From the tiara to the pink outfit to the touches of lavender across the costume, there was a sparkling quality to it. She looked like a princess doll, covered in glitter, which had been denied a dress and went with the next best thing. Even in this extremely unsettling get-up, she looked exactly like the startled Quiverwing.
"Gos, meet NegaGos," I explained, indicating the final member of the Friendly Five. "Or, you can call her Dazzling Duck. She's your Negaverse double."
Trying to pull the pink streamer loose, my daughter snapped, "Figures I end up as a girly ballerina who plays with ribbons."
Her doppelganger smiled sweetly and replied in solemn tone, "And you're someone who has lost her grip on reality. My dad is Negaduck, so I know when someone is crazy. You're going to keep hurting people if you aren't stopped."
"Don't compare me to that whack-job," Gos growled, ripping the ribbon loose. "He's evil."
"And you aren't?" asked NegaGos.
The pink-clad figure twirled around and wielded the long streamer like a whip. My daughter jerked out of the way and dove for her quiver still stuck to the dumpster. Rather than helping either girl in the fight (and facing the nightmarish scenario of facing Gos myself… no matter how necessary it might be), I ran over to where a struggling NegaBushroot in a finger trap and NegaQuackerjack in his rope cocoon lay. As I began to loosen the bindings, Gos was forced to abandon her stuck quiver as NegaGos brought another ribbon into play. She whirled them around her like a professional dancer before causing them to lash out at the caped girl. Quiverwing jerked and twisted out of the streamers' path, trying to move into position to gain the upper hand. Both girls were different versions of the same individual, but they were still as radically different as night and day. I trained Gos personally, meaning nearly every fighting move she knew was a copy of mine, though slightly adapted to her personality and history with contact sports. Even her dodging was slightly more aggressive. Dazzling Duck, raised by four very different heroes with very different styles, had developed her own way to handle an opponent that retained a fluid and smooth series of movements that could only be described as graceful and beautiful. It was very much the style I would expect the sweet girl I met years ago to adopt if she was forced to fight. But it was also one Gos had never seen in action before and was finding difficult to counter properly.
"Stop with… the ribbon dancing," the caped girl panted, dodging another whip-like lash of the pink streamer. "You're like some… demented ballerina."
"She always liked to dance," commented NegaQuackerjack as I tried to untie him. "But she never got to do ballet."
"It took a while for our city to get back into a state where any teachers could be found, let alone a dance teacher," shrugged NegaBushroot, still in an oversized finger trap.
Gos rolled her eyes slightly, "I didn't ask for her life story. So keep it down over there."
"Don't be rude to Uncle Bushroot," NegaGos stated, spinning into another strike. "He was just trying to help."
"Did you just call him 'Uncle Bushroot'?" asked Gosalyn, using her bow to block the ribbon. The pink streamer wrapped around the curved wood and the Negaverse girl used it to yank the bow out of her counterpart's hand. Gos glared slightly before adding, "That's just wrong."
"They're my family and I love them. Why shouldn't I treat them like it? They were all so kind and wonderful to Tank and I growing up," NegaGos answered.
"And 'Tank'? The Negaverse is one messed up place. I know I was doing it a favor now," grumbled my daughter, diving for her quiver once more.
"Maybe it isn't the best, but it is my home. And you won't do anything else to hurt anyone there," the pink-clad girl replied.
NegaGos whipped both ribbons with extreme speed. One caught the caped girl's legs and the other wrapped around her torso, pinning her arms against her sides. Gosalyn tumbled to the ground, helplessly bound and struggling angrily. I pulled the last rope off of NegaQuackerjack just as she was finally stopped. The colorful jester proceeded to undo his finger trap from NegaBushroot.
"Let me go, let me go, you crazy clone. You're all just helping criminals by doing this. I'm trying to put a real end to crime. I'm trying to make a real difference and you're just helping them. That makes you just as bad as them. That makes all of you criminals too," snarled the tied-up red-haired girl. "Even in the Negaverse, you're nothing but a pack of low-life villains. I should have known that everyone who says they want to help is blind to the truth. You want to leave things in this pathetic cycle of crime so you'll always have purpose by fighting it, don't you? You want them to keep returning so you can keep tossing them in jail. You're all as corrupt as the rest of them. Let me go, you stupid criminals. Dad, help me."
My daughter was asking for my help and, for the first time, I had to refuse. I simply stood there as she fought against the pink binding, watching her. Her frustration and fury had transformed her from the girl I raised into a nearly unrecognizable wild-eyed woman. The now-freed NegaBushroot and NegaQuackerjack proceeded to help their stunned companions to their feet. None of the four wanted to meet the gaze of the angry Gos, incapable of looking at someone so familiar-looking in such crazed anger and unable to fix it.
I kept my eyes on her, trying to remember what one mistake or missed symptom marked the point I lost her. When was the point of no return when she became… this? Was it something I said or didn't say to her? Did those nights where I brought her along or she followed me into a dangerous situation that destroyed her sense of right and wrong? Did one of my fights where I came off slightly less than absolutely victorious (since I never actually "lose") that caused her to believe that something drastic had to be done and this was the answer? Was it the fact I eventually allowed her to take up crime-fighting herself? Had there been some type of evidence or sign that something wasn't right with her I didn't notice or pay attention to? Did she make some odd comment I ignored and wrote off as her simply being excited for college that would have pointed to her plans? For someone who could see so much and deduce a villains every move by observing the smallest detail, how could I have been so blind to the change in my own daughter? Could I have said something, done something, changed one little event and prevented this from happening to her? Did this twisted idea that she could stop crime by skipping the entire concept of the justice system by delivering her own form of punishment on them directly appear after she already left for college? When I was training her to fight crime? The first time she realized that I was fighting a villain I had faced before? When did I lose my little girl?
"You can't just take her to jail, Darkwing," NegaMegavolt pointed out, coming over beside me. "You'd have to tell them she's the one who's been doing all of this since no one she's attacked in this universe has identified her. And if they know she's Quiverwing and Gosalyn, they'll figure out your identity too."
"Wait, jail?" gasped the tied-up girl. "You can't be serious. Not only is jail almost pointless for keeping anyone contained, you can't just treat me like some criminal. Don't you realize that I'm just trying to help make everything better? Jail doesn't reduce crime. Action does. You're going to imprison me for trying to make the world a better place? Come on, Dad, tell them they're crazy."
"We can take her to the Negaverse and imprison her there. No one would know who she is or be able to draw the connection to you," suggested NegaBushroot uneasily, moving closer to Dazzling Duck as if to reassure himself that she wasn't the girl glaring at them from the ground.
Gosalyn sent me a pleading look, "Dad, please don't let them do this. I'm not some evil villain. I'm your daughter. You wouldn't do that to me. You know I wouldn't do anything that bad and that I'm really sorry. Please don't let them take me away." Her words hurt, but her tone was the far-too-innocent one she would use when trying to get out of being grounded or to avoid being identified as the perpetrator of some form of trouble at school. Her apology was empty; she still didn't see what she'd done wrong. And the fact she truly believed that attacking innocent people was right hurt me far more than anything else she might say. She looked like my Gosalyn, sounded like my Gosalyn, but I honestly couldn't recognize the spirited girl I raised anymore. When it became obvious I wasn't falling for her fake apology, she sent me a glare, "I can't believe you would lock me away. I was trying to help you. So a couple of criminals ended up looking a little worse for wear. It isn't the end of the world. They've learned their lesson and won't repeatedly cause anyone trouble in the future. But you're going to imprison your own daughter for something that petty? Don't you think that's overkill? Really, you call this justice? This isn't fair. Only some kind of crazy level of justice like the one Darkwar…" She stopped suddenly, her eyes widening in horror. Slowly, she whispered, "Darkwarrior Duck." The name didn't mean anything to me, but when she said it… she her expression momentarily seemed just like her old self. Gos looked as if she'd snapped out of the entire thing and was my daughter again. Then, her eyes narrowed and she muttered, "I'm nothing like him. He went completely overboard and I'm going just far enough. I don't plan to take over the city or anything. Just make it better. I'm not him."
"Gos?" I asked hesitantly.
That instant when she looked like her old self had given me hope. If there was still a spark of that red-haired girl I know in there, I wanted to believe she could still be who she used to be. But the brief moment vanished nearly as quickly as it appeared and she was back to the earlier stranger she had become. She turned her eyes away from me and stared at the ground.
"If you don't trust me, if you don't believe that what I'm doing is the right thing, if you truly think that you can make a difference to the world while the stupid justice system is fighting you every step of the way," she growled, "then you aren't who I thought you are. I did everything to make things better because you deserved it after everything you did for me. At least, I thought you deserved it. But you're just as completely oblivious as the rest of them. That's why I didn't tell you at first. I thought if I gave you some time, that I could prove that I could make a real difference, you would see the truth and even accept the failure of the justice system. You would understand that we're the only ones who can stop a criminal permanently. But you don't, do you? Is it your ego? Are you too proud to admit I realized this before you did?" The bound girl looked up at me again. She was snarling at me, her eyes filled with pure rage, "I wanted to be just like you. A hero. But you can't stand anyone stealing your thunder. You worked so hard to protect the innocent, but when I think of a way to actually make some real progress, you and these Negaverse morons try to stop me." Then, with cold and heartless tone, she slowly stated, "I hate you."
I thought the idea of facing my daughter in a fight would be the most painful. I thought the fact she could no longer tell right from wrong hurt me the worst. I was wrong. Those three words spoken from the twisted form of my daughter was more agonizing unbearable than anything I had ever encountered in all my life of fighting super-powered villains and crazed lunatics. No matter how old she was, what she had done, or how different she was acting, she was still my little girl. She'd crossed a line, hurt people she shouldn't have, but that didn't change how I felt about her. So, hearing her tell me she… It was just too much to accept.
NegaGos, either not wanting to listen to her alternate version's rants anymore or because she could see what effect it was having on the Friendly Five (not me… it can't be affecting that obviously, right? I've got more self-control than that. She can't have noticed how hard it was hitting me) to watch the familiar face attached to someone so completely different from what they expect, twitched her wrist slightly and looped another section of her ribbon around Gosalyn's mouth. This effectively gagged her and stopped the flow of angry insults and crazy reasoning, but it didn't undo what I had already heard. I wish I could have told her that I didn't want to treat her like a criminal and put her in jail, but she wouldn't believe me at this point and I had to do it anyway. She was acting like one and I'd been Darkwing Duck for too long to ignore the line she had crossed and the fact she would have gone farther if not stopped. I had no choice.
"We can take her back to the plane and head back now," NegaMegavolt muttered, looking at me nervously. "We'll drop you off before we use the portal generator to return to the Negaverse."
I shook my head slowly, "I'll call Launchpad and have him come pick me up. I need some time to think."
"Sure," nodded NegaBushroot, giving me a sympathetic look.
The Friendly Five carefully picked the still-bound Quiverwing and carried her out of the alleyway. I just stood there, watching my struggling daughter being taken by the group of heroes to face justice. I remained motionless as I observed her until she was gone. The hero in me said this was the right thing to do. The parent in me wished there was another way.
"I love you, Gos," I whispered, closing my eyes tightly and fighting past a painful lump in my throat. "I love you and I'm so sorry about this. But, no matter what… you're still my little girl."
And with that, the terror that flaps in the night walked into the darkness of the strange city, alone and heartbroken.
Wow, this ended up both longer and more depressing than I originally imagined. I still think it turned out well, though. How long did it take you to realize it wasn't NegaGos who ended up evil? Of the two girl's personalities, I have a harder time imagining the sweet, adorable Negaverse version turning evil; regardless of the fact her dad is Negaduck. She doesn't strike me as evil unless something major changes in her life. Gosalyn isn't obviously on the path to crazy evil either, but I can imagine it slightly easier.
This is my first (and likely, only) Darkwing Duck story, so let me know what you think.
Update: I was tempting fate by saying this would be my only Darkwing Duck story. This has a sequel now.