The end to my Darkwing trilogy is at hand. What started as a single story has morphed into three, each from a different viewpoint. This is further proof that my brain is not safe even from itself. I had no intentions, originally, of going this far with my creation. And yet, my mixed reviews and reactions to my first story prompted a sequel, which ended in a situation that almost begged for a conclusion. This piece should satisfy my muse sufficiently and tie up most of the loose ends.
If you have not read "Different as Night and Day" and its sequel "Nightfall," I suggest you turn around and do so. Otherwise you will be completely confused and will end up with a headache trying to understand what has occurred.
The rest of you, who have read my previous stories, you might recall that Gosalyn/Quiverwing was starting to experience some doubt with her decisions in the form of her subconscious (that was essentially her as a child). That doubt has been eating away at her for some time now, but hasn't been quite enough to break through her stubbornness yet. It has, however, laid the foundation for someone to pry away her shell of excuses and expose her to the truth. Someone who has an idea of how she thinks and can "dance" around the topic instead of attack it head on.
And while Quiverwing's name and old costume is the work of the Disney people, her updated costume (with shades of dark red and purple now and no feather in her hat) and NegaGosalyn's hero name and costume were from the scary realm of my imagination, though you can borrow them if you like. Pretty much anything else was invented some time period in the past by people who aren't me.
I hope you find this a satisfying finish to my trilogy and that it is everything you might hope for.
I know many children grow up believing their parents are heroes. They spend their youth with the deeply-entrenched belief that their mothers are bottomless springs of loving attention and their fathers are brave protectors of the family. Some grow up and become disillusioned by the fact that their parents are just ordinary people. Others are lucky enough to realize that their mothers and fathers are truly heroes, even if only because they are their parents. And a select few can claim real, genuine, actual heroes as their family.
I never had that. I was never able to believe my father was a hero. Actually, he's about as far from a hero as it is possible to get. A chainsaw-wielding, psychotic super-villain is not exactly prime parenting material, but that didn't change the fact I still loved him on some level. I can't explain why since I have every reason to hate him. He killed Taraus Bulba, hid me in a random house with the gun-toting Launchpad to watch me, and generally insisted that I live in a filthy and violent atmosphere. Yet, I still love Negaduck. Tank used to suggest it might be connected to something called Stockholm syndrome back when I was under his evil care, but that didn't change my emotions. My father is a super-villain who never gave any real indication he cared about me and I accepted that.
Of course, I haven't lived under his roof, or at least the roof he dictated I would live under to keep out of his way, since I was a child. The Friendly Four took me and Tank in, gave us a caring and unconventional family life, and provided a chance to escape from a future under our respective crazed parents. Granted, the group was not the most stable mentally. Uncle Megavolt had serious memory problems at times and talked to light bulbs and Uncle Quackerjack believed his toy, Mr. Banana-Brain, could actually talk back. But they always supported us and never gave us a reason to believe they didn't love us. And after Darkwing helped train them, the Friendly Four provided a sense of caring protection that everyone in the Negaverse wanted.
Darkwing Duck. The complete opposite of my father. Literally. A hero from another universe, he did so much to improve this world in such a short time. He was the reason the Friendly Four were able to become effective heroes and to become my family. I owe him so much.
Which is why I was currently on the rooftop of an apartment building on the rougher side of town. While he was a true hero, his own daughter was more problematic. I would have once given anything to have someone like him as a parent. My doppelganger had that life and she had completely ruined it. She became an overzealous, extreme hunter of any crime who would trade justice for violence. The Friendly Four and I helped her father confront her about her actions, trying to reason with her. We finally had to capture and arrest her, an act that clearly hurt Darkwing. It almost seemed like it broke his very spirit to see his daughter like that. Granted, I only knew him from his visits to the Negaverse from when I was nine and during my teenage years, but I could still see a marked difference. I tried talking to her, hoping to give him back the girl he wanted, but it didn't seem to work. Then, she escaped from prison and vanished into the bowels of St. Canard. For months, we only had whispers to go on. We would hear of another attack by Quiverwing Quack, but we could never find her. She seemed to have perfected the art of blending into the city and the gradual decrease in her victims stumbling towards the nearest hospital or being found out cold on the sidewalk made it even more difficult. But now, I finally had a lead.
I crept down the fire escape, the rusty metal creaking slightly with each step. One window was open just a crack, supporting my theory that its occupant often used it as a way in and out of the apartment. This individual probably wanted a quick exit in emergencies and felt confident that no common burglar would be a problem. Of course, I am not a common burglar. I'm a young lady raised by a team of crime-fighters. I may be cheerful, extremely optimistic, and love the color pink, but that does not mean I am not able to take care of myself in a dangerous situation.
I fought the urge to knock on the window pane before I slid it open. Too many people nowadays forget about common courtesy and proper manners. Still, some of them could be set aside while I am in costume. Knocking before entering was one of them.
The room was a wreck. Newspapers and empty cartons of take-out were mixed together with dirty clothes and parts of her arrow-making operation. The second-hand sofa, which clearly doubled as a bed without being one of the pull-out types, was partially buried in foul-smelling socks and empty pizza boxes. An old black-and-white television had a familiar hat hanging on one of the rabbit-ears, proving that I had the correct location. There didn't seem to be any lamps and the light bulb overhead was missing, meaning the only light source would be the window. One corner, the kitchenette, had a small fridge, a microwave on top of it, and a stack of dishes in the sink. There might be a stovetop under all those dirty plates and empty Chinese take-out boxes, but I couldn't tell for certain. There was a door at the other end of the room that, judging by the smell, led to a mildew-covered bathroom. The small coffee table, the only table in the apartment, had the quiver and bow half-hidden beneath the wanted section of the paper with several ads circled in black.
I careful slid the two objects from the table to behind the sofa out of sight. No reason to give her any weapons for our upcoming "conversation." She wasn't home at the moment, but that could change shortly. Until then, I would wait and try not to breathe too much. What was it with my doppelganger and not cleaning her room?
As I stood there silently, my thoughts began to wander towards the mysterious alternate universe. While I had been there once to capture Quiverwing Quack, it was still such a strange place. One of the biggest issues that the members of the Negaverse had was what to call it. Our universe was named by Negaduck, though whether it was simply named after himself or due to the high presence of certain negatively charged particles as Tank theorized was unknown. Some of the more scientifically-minded people considered calling Darkwing's universe the Posiverse or Neutraverse, but I personally don't like those terms. They make my home dimension sound… wrong. I'm not saying it's perfect, but not everything is horrible. My preferred name for that universe is the Darkverse. Just like the Negaverse is Negaduck's home universe, the Darkverse is Darkwing Duck's home.
Thinking about the Darkverse led to further questions about the citizens of such a place. What was it like to have the other members of the Friendly Five evil? I suppose the same non-sane mentality of some of my uncles could lead to them being criminals and Uncle Liquidator's general economic skills and talent for finding deals could manifest as being less than scrupulous in an alternate universe, but Uncle Bushroot didn't seem to have any real evil potential. Honestly, it was hard to imagine those caring faces as belonging to villains. Of course, an evil Steelbeak and good Muddlefoots were equally odd. No wonder Darkwing always seemed on edge when he visited. With enemies as friends and friends as enemies, it had to be stressful.
A scraping sound as a key was inserted alerted me to the arrival of my double. I edged further into my corner, hoping to remain undetected as long as possible. A pink costume was not exactly the most secretive or the best at blending into the surroundings, but Uncle Megavolt wore bright yellow and Uncle Quackerjack wore a colorful outfit and they seemed to manage fairly well. Even my own father's costume was pretty flamboyant and he could still sneak up on people when he didn't have his chainsaw running. A large part of stealth is silence and keeping movement as slow and careful as possible. That particular trick has always eluded the energetic jester, but Uncle Bushroot had helped me learn it. Hiding is an important skill for a mutant plant-duck before he becomes a city-wide hero.
The door creaked open, allowing the young lady to wander in. One arm balanced another bag of fast food while the other pulled off the blond wig concealing her distinctive red hair. She absent-mindedly tossed her keys towards the coffee table. She was wearing a rather revealing outfit that I recognized as being the "uniform" of one of the local bars. Undoubtedly, she was working off the books at a number of locations to cover her costs. At least she was doing something beyond going out every night to pound the faces of every criminal in the city. Still, I'm positive her father would have preferred her to have chosen another job option.
"I told you, I'm going out tonight," she muttered, apparently to herself. "If I don't keep on top of crime, they will begin to relax. They won't fear me."
The red-head reached into her bag and pulled out a French fry. She chewed on it as she tossed the empty pizza box to the floor so she could sit on the sofa. She paused.
"I am positive this is right," snapped the young lady. "This is the only way. Your stupid arguments aren't going to work, so please leave me alone."
I was beginning to feel more and more like I was watching Uncle Megavolt in an argument with the VCR. The electric rodent was positive that the machine was a double agent spying on them and that each time it flashed 12:00, it was trying to subliminally brainwash all of the good light bulbs who had "volunteered" to help the crime-fighters into turning against them. Uncle Quackerjack had said that was crazy and Mr. Banana-Brain had pointed out that the flashing just meant they hadn't programmed it yet.
"Shut up," she snarled, grabbing her head. "I'm not him. I'm not like Darkwarrior. And you're not real. Go away."
I couldn't wait much longer. The darkness and her strange conversation (with a name I could remember her saying before, but had no idea of the identity) had prevented her from noticing me so far, but that couldn't last. It would be better to speak than wait. It would be rude not to let her know I'm here.
"Hello Gosalyn," I greeted, stepping forward.
I had to admire her reactions. Rather than freezing or jumping in surprise, my doppelganger immediately dove for where her weaponry should be. Finding nothing, she up-ended the coffee table and blocked my first ribbon strike. She threw her bagged dinner towards me. I deflected the soggy projectile with my second ribbon as her fingers scrambled around for more ammunition. Our green eyes were locked on each other, waiting for the other to make a fatal mistake.
"We need to talk," I explained. "Really talk. And if I have to tie you up first, I will. But, wouldn't it be better if we sat down and discussed things like civilized people?"
"Please," she groaned, rolling her eyes. "You just want to lock me up again in that cardboard-walled place you call a prison. How many times do I have to explain how pointless, pathetic, and ineffective they are before you get it? And I don't belong there, even if they actually worked."
Her hand closed on an empty soda can that she threw with the kind of speed and perfect aim that baseball coaches dream of. I twirled out of the path, my flowing ribbons snagging it out of the air. With a swift jerk, I sent it flying back towards her as if it was fired from an old fashion sling. The graceful ribbons I specialized in were the work of Uncle Quackerjack at his best, meaning they were far more dangerous than their innocent appearance would suggest. I proved this as they hit the pizza box she hurled next at just the right angle, along their thin sides, and sliced the cardboard in half.
Unlike the set of ribbons I'd used in our last battle, these were more than just entangling strips of durable fabric. Along those edges, almost too tiny to see with the naked eye, was what were essentially saw teeth. They were harmless unless they moved across an object like the chain of a saw. I can still tie someone up or wield them like whips without causing even the smallest scratch. But with a slight change of my grip, I can slash away. Creating such flexible, innocent-looking streamers that acted like ordinary fabric while being strong and durable had been quite a chore, but Uncle Quackerjack did receive help from my other uncles and Tank. DarkGos had an arsenal of trick arrows (if I hadn't hid them) and I had my trick ribbons. Creative weapons seem to be the standard for us.
"I guess we're doing it the hard way," I muttered as she stared uneasily at the divided pizza box.
With my left arm, I sent a streamer snapping out like a whip. She deflected it with a quickly-grabbed set of chopsticks. My doppelganger certainly could think on her feet. After she blocked my strike, she kicked another soda can towards my face like a soccer ball. I jerked my head out of the way, allowing the crushed aluminum shape to bounce off the wall behind me. Without missing a beat, the red-head dove towards the kitchenette and tossed plates across the room like Frisbees. Forced on the defensive, my ribbons were flickering through the air to deflect the oncoming dishes. The crashing of breaking plates filled the room for a few minutes until she ran out of her improvised ammunition. Her eyes glanced away from me as she tried to find a new make-shift weapon and I used that instant to try cocooning her in my ribbon like last time.
She didn't want me to close the distance I needed to trap her. Her experience with sports and exchanging punches directly with thugs when her arrows weren't enough meant she would be dangerous up close, but she would have to come within range of my ribbons first. DarkGos was smarter than that. She grabbed her microwave with both hands, yanking it free of the electrical socket, and tossed it in my direction. I had to back up to avoid impact and allowed her out of the corner. If she didn't have the ceiling or the tight and revealing clothes restricting her mobility, I predict she would have used some form of acrobatics to escape. Instead, she was forced to lunge ungracefully and grab another pizza box to act as a make-shift shield. She held the piece of cardboard between me and her, ready to block my streamers while she tried to plan her next move.
"Can't believe you stole my bow and arrows," she muttered. "Do you know how hard it was to make a new one?"
"Why didn't you just buy a new bow?" I asked.
"Because I figured you and the rest of the Friendly Five would be watching out for that kind of thing?" retorted the red-head.
I nodded, realizing that my doppelganger's logic was correct. At least, it was on that particular topic. Her twisted logic about dealing with criminals was the reason we were in this mess. I saw her eyes dashing between the window and the door. It was clear she was estimating her chances of escaping. I couldn't allow it. Who knows when I'd be able to find her again?
With absolute sincerity, I apologized, "I hope you know that I'm truly sorry about this."
I ran forward without further warning. One of my arms snapped up suddenly, sending the ribbon flying in her direction. She jerked left to avoid the blow, but I wasn't aiming for her. The length of fabric snaked around the leg of the overturned coffee table and I yanked the piece of furniture towards me. The table hit the back of my doppelganger's legs and knocked her off her feet. Before she could recover, I was already next to her with my tiara in my hand. I pressed the decorative headpiece to the palm of her hand and tapped the secret catch on it. My tiara was based on Uncle Quackerjack's old joy buzzer and shot electricity through my double in the same manner. An unpleasant way to be rendered unconscious, but certainly not a lethal one if you know what you're doing. A quick shock, a little spastic jerking, and she was left lying perfectly still afterwards.
I waited a minute to ensure that the electric jolt had actually worked. When DarkGos remained limp and completely out cold, I allowed myself a sigh of relief. This moment of peace was interrupted by a muffled banging sound from the floor. It took a second, but I finally recognized it as someone in the apartment below hitting their ceiling with a broom handle and yelling about the noise. Apparently they couldn't hear Pelican's Island.
By the time my dimensional double began to stir, I had made several minor changes. One of them was tying her up, ironically with one of the ropes she'd been working on attaching to her arrows, and setting her on the couch so she would be more comfortable. I knew that electrocution was never fun, but Uncle Megavolt always made certain my tiara was never charged to a level that could cause permanent harm. Still, after a shock like that (excuse the pun), she deserved to be off the floor.
She only struggled a second upon waking instead of that level of wild thrashing she tried the first time I caught her. When it became obvious she was truly trapped, she simply glared at me. She was obviously furious at me, but she also looked… tired. Not from a lack of sleep, though there was evidence of that. She just looked like she wanted to stop doing something she could no longer whole-heartedly support. My mind flickered briefly back to the odd, single-person argument I had interrupted. Perhaps my words would not completely fall on deaf ears.
"Once again, I'm sorry about this. I don't like sneaking into people's homes and knocking them out when I only want to help," I explained. "But we really need to talk. Just the two of us. No guards, no other relatives, and no one who might judge us. A real conversation between me and you like civilized people. Unfortunately, this is the only way I know of to arrange that."
I waited for the verbal assault. I expected her to either yell at me to release her, for her to insult me in some manner, or another rant about the impracticality of prisons. I knew it wouldn't be too hard to handle since Negaduck was the expert in verbal explosions and I had witnessed enough of his in my early years. As her beak opened, I braced myself for whatever she might throw at me.
"Did you clean my room while I was out?"
I blinked. I certainly never expected that reaction. It was true though. While waiting for my doppelganger to awaken, I had gathered up the trash, washed the dishes, straightened up all evidence of our fight, and even placed the microwave back where it belonged. Now the apartment looked semi-habitable. Even the blanket draped over the back of the couch was folded neatly and the pillow was fluffed. I admit it; I like to clean. It has always been a great reliever of stress for me and this coming conversation made me feel nervous.
"Yes, I cleaned it," I nodded. "I couldn't help myself."
"Weirdo," she muttered.
"Being tidy is not a crime," I defended, feeling this was starting to get off topic. "Breaking out of jail, however, is." She somehow managed to look simultaneously insulted by being accused of that crime and uncomfortably guilty. "Regardless of whether or not you want to admit you deserve to be imprisoned in the first place, you had to realize that you were breaking the exact same law you hated criminals for: continuously escaping captivity."
"I wasn't doing anyone any good behind bars. It was for the greater good," my doppelganger stated, but she sounded less than firm. The strength of conviction she displayed when she was first captured had apparently crumbled in the months she spent in jail and on the run. She was doubting her actions, but trying to still pretend she knew them to be right. "I had to do it."
"I've also been keeping track of your vigilante activities since your breakout," I continued carefully, judging her reactions for hints of how to proceed. "Even on the run and scattering your targets across the city so we can't find your location, it is easy to recognize your work. Immediately after your escape, there were large numbers of victims. Some were in very bad shape and were very lucky to have been found alive. Otherwise you'd have murder charges to your name now. It was as if you were trying to make up for lost time." Barely noticeable behind an expression of pride, I could detect a slight look of regret. This was certainly progress. "But these events began to die down. This month, we've only had a single pickpocket with two black eyes and some painful bruising on his hands."
"I've been busy," she defended, not sounding very convincing. "I haven't had much time to punish the scum of this city."
"Or you might be feeling guilty."
"For dealing out justice properly? For doing what is necessary to actually have an effect on the levels of crime? Are you crazy?" the red-haired young lady asked incredulously. "Why should I feel guilty about making the world a better place? You should feel guilty for hindering me and thus helping out villains."
Running into that familiar roadblock, I decided to change tactics. Her resolve was weakening, but not completely gone yet. If I couldn't smash through her stubborn mindset, I would try creeping around it and finding the tiniest cracks to slip through.
"Gosalyn, who is Darkwarrior?"
I couldn't ask for a more drastic shift in mood. She went from confident and firm to uneasy and mildly remorseful. She didn't immediately answer the question, so I decided to proceed.
"I've heard you use the name at least twice now. I'm guessing he's from your universe, but I don't know who the Negaverse equivalent is. Is he a hero or a villain in your universe? Who is he?"
She looked at me and, for once, her green eyes held not a shred of that anger or fiery certainty of her "rightness" of violent actions. She seemed years younger, like she was just a child again. An innocent child who would never dream of straying this far from her father's heroic legacy. The same child who Darkwing saw and couldn't bring himself to fight. Briefly, I wondered if my family saw a similar child when they looked at me.
"He… was a nightmare," she whispered finally, slumping down as far as her bindings would allow. "He was someone who should never have existed. Or rather, he's someone who should exist… just not in that form."
Her answer wasn't particularly enlightening, but I remained silent. She wasn't finished speaking. She was just trying to fit her thoughts into words.
"I was accidentally sent to the future… a future where I had been missing for years," she described. An odd childhood event, but not the oddest I could imagine. "Darkwing Duck was gone. I mean, Dad still existed, but it wasn't him anymore. He'd lost his will to be a hero for a while because he thought I left him on purpose. And even when he restarted his crime-fighting career, to make things better for a daughter he missed, he wasn't really the same. He managed to take out every single real villain in the city. But then… he got worse. He went crazy, took over the city, and tossed people in jail for every little crime, like breaking eight o'clock curfew or serving unhealthy food. Anyone he didn't simply arrest probably received something worse. He had an army of killer robots, a tank, and not a shred of humanity left," she described numbly. "There was no more crime, but he wasn't Darkwing Duck anymore. He was Darkwarrior Duck: a merciless dictator who ruled with intimidation and an unforgiving nature. He didn't even…" She paused, closing her eyes. "He aimed a weapon at my head and treated me like a dangerous criminal. He even said that he should have noticed the signs that I was destined to be evil. That horrible future and what Dad turned into…? It was my fault. My absence caused it."
The description of his possible future raised two important arguments I could use. She wouldn't like me pointing out either one, but they should be fairly effective since the memory of Darkwarrior seemed to bother her so much.
"Have you noticed you're trying to do the same thing as he was?" I asked carefully. "Both you and Darkwarrior try to take justice into your own hands, dealing out harsh punishments for minor infractions, and your choices are based on trying to fix things for someone you love."
"I'm nothing like him," declared the red-head desperately. She didn't seem at all confident about her words, as if she had often considered these same doubts. How often had she needed to reassure herself that they were different, even though evidence said otherwise? Still, she tried to deny the similarity when another pointed it out to her. "He takes things too far. He goes overboard. I would never be as bad as him."
"He locked up people for breaking eight o'clock curfew, right? You dropped a jaywalker of a building. You're certainly on your way to being just like him."
Quietly, almost inaudibly, she mumbled, "You've been talking with my subconscious, haven't you?"
Pretending not to hear her, I pointed out another important concept, "And if you ignore the fact you're becoming Darkwarrior: The Sequel, you could still be responsible for creating that future anyway."
"Losing you is supposed to be what drove Darkwing over the edge, right? Well, he has lost you," I explained. "He hasn't seen you in months. You have essentially become a criminal." I held up my hand to stop her coming complaint. "Breaking out of jail, at least, is a crime. And you've left him alone to wonder what he did wrong and what he could have done to change it. I've seen him. You said he lost his will to be a hero before he became Darkwarrior? Even I can tell his spirit hasn't been the same since you were arrested." I paused, thinking sadly of how his visits to DarkGos' cell had always finished with him leaving even more depressed than he arrived due to her continued ignoring of his presence. And now that he couldn't even see her that much, he seemed like an empty shell of his former self. "I once would have given anything to have a father who loved me as much as Darkwing loves you. Not that I don't appreciate my life with the Friendly Four. They love me and he was the hero who made it possible for my uncles to take care of me. I'll always be thankful to him for that. But Negaduck will never look at me the same way your father looks at you. I came here to talk to you because anyone with eyes can see he really needs you back. Even if it is only through another set of steel bars, he needs to see you again."
She refused to look at me through my description, supporting my theory that she already had considered everything I was telling her. That she had already wondered if she was causing him to head towards that unpleasant future. I was hitting her sensitive points and digging up her personal doubts as only a universe double could. Suggesting that her actions were hurting Darkwing struck an especially raw nerve. She had been rationalizing her behavior and silencing her unease by using her parent as a defense. If she was harming instead of helping him, then she'd lost an important aspect of her stubborn, unyielding mindset. I could practically see the cracks in her ideals widening, allowing daylight to shine down and reveal the truth.
"I… I do miss him, but… but I'm doing what's right. I'm making everything better…"
"I know you think you are, Gos. I think you've just lost your way. And even you are starting to doubt your actions. A part of you knows this is too extreme. You aren't attacking criminals as much anymore because you can't be certain you aren't becoming like them."
"I'm only hurting those who deserve it," she argued quietly.
I retaliated with an equally quiet, "My father used the same argument when he would turn his chainsaw against an underling who failed him utterly. He didn't usually even waste his breath on an excuse, but if he had others watching that he still needed to work for him, he would say the failure meant they deserved their final fate." I watched her shudder slightly at the mental image I had just provided. "If you have to defend your actions like Negaduck, you might need to re-examine your choices."
The comparison to both Darkwarrior and Negaduck, combined with my calm presentation of the same problems her own mind had apparently been screaming at her for some time seemed to be working when direct arguing or simple logic had failed. I had little doubt that none of this would have worked if her own mind hadn't already been creating a foundation of failing faith in her plan. If I could convince her enough, she might be willing to come with me…
"Am I evil then?" DarkGos asked suddenly, breaking my concentration and the silence that had descended after my last observation.
"Everyone is the opposite between the two universes," she explained. "Heroes are villains and jerks are nice. Negaduck is the evil version of Darkwing and Darkwing is the good version of Negaduck. I've been here long enough to see that this trend is pretty constant. The only exception to this rule is you… and me."
"And I've tried to see any evidence to prove you're the evil one, but I can't. I also liked it. I liked hurting and scaring criminals. It was exciting, like how Darkwing loves being surrounded by cheering fans. I felt powerful, causing those reactions in hardened criminals. Lately… it hasn't made me feel as great, but I loved it once. So, if you're actually the good version, that would have to mean…"
I interrupted, "No, you're no villain. Even after everything you've done, I don't think you're evil. I know what a crazy, evil person is like better than most, so trust me."
"No, I know what I'm talking about. According to Tank, our two universes were never supposed to meet and interact. This perfect reversal of good and evil is dependent on our universes being self-contained units," I explained, recalling the various conversations that I had picked up my theory from concerning me and my doppelganger. "Negaduck messed that up by setting foot in your universe. He interacted with heroes, villains, and innocent civilians in that universe, including you and your dad. Darkwing, in return, came here and interacted with us."
"So?" asked my doppelganger, sounding oddly curious of my point.
"Negaduck fought against your father and that would affect his life somewhat, but not enough to turn him evil or anything. But these changes that wouldn't exist if he never crossed into another universe would cause ripple effects on everyone, including you," I described slowly, picturing how Tank would explain it. "You are not exactly the same person you would be if your universe and the Negaverse were perfectly separated. And I'd certainly be different since I would still be with Negaduck if Darkwing never came here. Maybe you would have become evil if Negaduck never showed up. Maybe I would have turned evil if I'd stayed with him. But it doesn't matter."
"Why not? If I'm supposed to be a crazy villain, I think that might be kind of important."
I shook my head, "It doesn't matter because destiny or fate or whatever you want to call it was completely messed up the moment my father disturbed your universe. Since he messed up that symmetry, that entire good and evil mirror image set up was tossed out the window. We don't have to be the hero Gosalyn and villain Gosalyn. We can both be heroes if we want to. That's why I had to talk to you before you did something unforgivable. You have just as much right to be good as I do and deserve the chance to be remembered as that instead of the girl who broke out of prison after dropping a jaywalker off a building."
She gave me an odd look, "So you're saying that, because our dads, and eventually me, kept crossing between the universes, we sort of broke the whole 'good twin, evil twin' thing and now we're the rule breakers of that tradition by not having a real evil version? Can we do that?"
"I don't really like breaking rules, but I think this would be the ideal exception," I nodded.
Looking more calm and relaxed than I had ever seen her, she leaned back on her couch. DarkGos seemed to be handling the situation better than I could have imagined. The realization of the extreme and insane direction her life was handling, something she'd been trying to deny, and the fact that neither of us had to be evil appeared to have removed a great weight from her shoulders. Undoubtedly, some form of therapy would be helpful to her to deal with all of this, including her admitted past pleasure at others' pain. On the other hand, it is hard to find a reliable therapist for those who fight crime since their costumed life and civilian life can become interwoven and tangled together. But most of the Friendly Four weren't necessarily completely sane and they still managed. Friendship, family, and understanding served to keep them grounded. If she was willing to change and make up for her past actions, and those closest to her supported her, she might be able to drag her life back on track. Of course, I couldn't just let her go back out into the Negaverse and run around unsupervised, regardless of her wish to change. She'd committed too many violent acts here and everyone would want to have her locked away.
"If I untie you and let you change out of that 'uniform,'" I shook my head disapprovingly at the skimpy outfit she was wearing, "will you come with me quietly?" I reached behind the sofa to retrieve her weaponry from where I hid them. Her eyes widened as she realized how close her arsenal had been during our fight. "Or will that end up causing another rematch?"
She sighed, "Guess it would be too much to ask for you just to let me go. I won't fight you, Dazzle. Take me back to jail. Just… ask my dad to come by. It's been far too long and I want to say I'm sorry."
Once more, I was sneaking into a building in a seedy neighborhood. There were, however, several major differences. This one was a site for manufacturing instead of a residence, though it appeared to have a few years since the factory actually produced anything. But just because the location's legal operations were ancient history did not mean the area was completely abandoned and out of use. The glow from the tiny windows near the roof proved that much. Another, even more important difference would be that I was in the Darkverse instead of the Negaverse.
My uncles had not been very comfortable with my decision. I had expected some reluctance from them the moment I opened my beak, but Uncle Liquidator had eventually remarked "past sales reports suggest the girl is a wise investor with a history of a highly profitable income" and the others decided to trust me. I was happy to receive their support since I would never dream of going if the ordered me not to. I would never disobey a direct command; I'm too respectful for that. I did catch a glimpse of Uncle Bushroot's face as I stepped through the portal and I could see they would not be able to relax until I returned to the Negaverse. And while they certainly wanted to come with me, all of us realized that some things in life you have to do without anyone except yourself to rely on. Even if it was something as mundane as a visit to the Masked Mallard.
Honestly, I should have expected some kind of complication. My only defense for my assumption that things would go smoothly was my normal optimism combined with my successes earlier in the evening boosting my confidence. I thought I'd find Darkwing almost as soon as I arrived. After all, the portal opened directly inside his base of operations. I just forgot to take into account that it would currently be right in the middle of his nocturnal rounds across the city.
Even though Darkwing was absent from the location, I immediately realized the room was not empty of life. I nearly had a heart-attack at seeing the face of my father's most loyal supporter before I remembered that it would be DarkLaunchpad, not the Negaverse version, who would be present. He was equally shocked by the portal's appearance and the arrival of a familiar face. I quickly explained to the pilot/sidekick that I was the Negaverse Gosalyn to avoid confusion, but that didn't stop him from providing a warm hug and commenting that Darkwing was going to be so happy. When I asked him why he wasn't currently with the hero, some of his enthusiasm died down.
It turned out that not only was Darkwing's drive to stop criminals, and thus gain praise from the public, seriously diminished from his old self, but he'd been finding more and more excuses to leave his sidekick behind or avoid spending time with him. Not that DarkLaunchpad was particularly driven lately either. Both felt this dragging, disheartening tension on their interactions, as if an important component of their lives was missing and the depressing nature of the absence was pulling them down. It didn't take a genius to realize that losing DarkGos, in multiples senses of the word, had hurt both of the deeply. Even if the pilot wasn't technically her parent or any other relation, he was just as much a part of their family as Darkwing himself and her actions affected him. Thus, the once-excited sidekick wouldn't summon up his past desire for adventure and the heart-broken parent was pushing away his friend and simply going though the familiar motions as a hero because of habit.
Uncle Bushroot once mentioned that while justice can be a good inspiration for crime-fighting in theory, it often takes something more personal to strengthen and maintain the will to keep trying. That could be fellow team mates, friends, or even a family. He used to be fairly isolated, but he has the rest of the Friendly Four, Tank, and me now. We're a family and trying to protect people you care about is an amazing motivator. Darkwing was missing someone important that made his fights against criminals worth it. He needed to see his daughter, hear her voice, and witness her desire to change. And I was going to ensure that would happen quickly.
Extracting Darkwing's likely route from the pilot was incredibly easy. Convincing him to remain behind in case the hero returned was more difficult. I guess the arrival of a familiar-looking red-haired young lady in a crime-fighting costume was all that was needed to renew DarkLaunchpad's hope of the future and spark off his desire to resume his hero-helping duties. By pointing out that it was quite possible Darkwing would come home before he could be tracked down and that would offer the pilot the opportunity to be the first to share the news concerning his daughter I had just described, he finally relented to waiting.
Traveling along his route, keeping to the rooftops to avoid problems, it wasn't until the less pleasant section of the city had been reached that any sign of Darkwing was found. The signature motorcycle that I had only head about, but never personally seen, was parked at the corner of an alley. The Ratcatcher's position was in sight of several dark industrial buildings, but only one held a hint of light. That small trace of life was the only point of interest and the most logical location for Darkwing to be investigating. I could wait and see if he would return shortly, but a certain impulsive desire could not be convinced to wait by the bike.
A quick examination of the building demonstrated heavy padlocks on the doors and tiny windows only on the north and south walls. It would be best if both sides could be investigated since there was no telling what was happening inside or which of the two would make a better entrance. After debating on the different possibilities, a plan was decided on. I would use the first window on the north side, the point closest to the motorcycle and the most likely route Darkwing would use to leave. Which leads back to me breaking into a building for the second time that night.
In one sense, I was in luck. The window was unlocked and didn't make any type of noise as I slid it open. Crisscrossing the factory ceiling just above the windows was a set of metal rafters that were practically a road system for anyone with good balance. Moving above the conveyer belts, machinery, and carts of left over products of what was once a sporting equipment company was almost ridiculously easy. As my eyes shifted over the long-unused industrial equipment and the containers of balls, bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, protective padding, tennis rackets, and what looked like a couple of pitching machines in the corner, I remained perfectly concealed by the shadows and height of my location.
The bad news was that the only operating light in the entire room, the one responsible for the faint glow I could see outside, was hanging over and illuminating the other occupants of the building. They were all familiar in appearance to me, but only one was someone I've actually met.
Darkwing was indeed in the room, but he wasn't in control of the situation. Chained up and dangling over a large vat of something boiling on a hook, the hero was absolutely not escaping sometime soon. Surrounding him were the faces of my family, though that was not a comfort since they were actually strangers. These were the Darkverse versions of my uncles, villains who threatened to harm the brave hero that the Friendly Four idolize. It was so odd seeing that expression of anger and hunger for revenge on their faces. DarkQuackerjack was arguing with DarkLiquidator about the current set up and that killing Darkwing deserved something more elaborate. He was describing something involving jacks, bouncy balls, and "authentic" toy fighter planes, which sounded like something my uncle might devise if he was particularly cruel and sadistic. DarkLiquidator pointed out that "four out of five doctors state that boiling to death is particularly painful." DarkMegavolt, his hands sparking slightly, seemed to favor a "quick frying." And while the quieter member of the gathered criminals, DarkBushroot, wasn't tossing his ideas around like the others, he kept glancing at the dangling hero with an expression that seemed to promise a future as fertilizer.
That strange malicious gleam in their eyes didn't belong; they looked too much like my loving family who would joke across the dinner table, compliment my recipes even though at least half of them didn't eat actual food, and comfort me after a nightmare as a child. I didn't like the odd conflict in my mind between my memories of the Friendly Four and the emotions painted across the faces of their doppelgangers as they considered how to dispose of Darkwing, but I forced myself to focus on the conversation instead of the eerie similarity of the group.
"Why should you get to chose how to kill him?" pointed out DarkQuackerjack, staring at the aquatic canine. "You can be defeated by a sponge. It wouldn't even have to be a super sponge designed to absorb you specifically. Just a regular kitchen sponge."
"The latest polls report that you lack any powers beyond insanity and should be more wary of investing in low profit decisions such as antagonizing your team mates," he warned. "Revenge could easily become a buy one, get one free sale."
"Come on, guys," soothed DarkBushroot. "Does it really matter how we remove him from the picture? We should be united by this, not arguing about it. He won't keep trying to keep me from finding a bride and you guys from… whatever crime sprees you have in mind."
"Face it, Bushy, getting the four of you to agree on anything is impossible," commented Darkwing, but it wasn't quite his usual level of confident banter. "The only thing that ever works to motivate your malicious and malevolent cooperation is…"
"Me," interrupted a particularly cruel and unsettling voice that caused everyone, myself included, to flinch. Stepping into view while dragging a couple of thick electrical wires behind him, was a familiar yellow, black, and red costumed figure. I know him extremely well. I knew he hid a chainsaw beneath his cape, possessed a violent temper against anything cute or sweet or just in the wrong location at the time, and was absolutely crazy. His personality is strong enough to obviously intimidate a canine made of water that could not actually be harmed by the lethal chainsaw. He was a monster, a villain and my father. The infamous Negaduck, leader of the Fearsome Five, grinned up at the dangling Darkwing, "I'm glad you could join us. I'm certain that an individual with your busy schedule has more important things to do besides just 'hanging around,' but we certainly appreciate your time."
He handed off the wires to DarkMegavolt, who connected them expertly to a large piece of machinery I couldn't immediately recognize. It did, however, have a very large switch on the side. As the electrical rodent finished, the bound hero decided to address his deadly captor.
"Ignoring the horrible pun on your part, did you bring in the giant vat just for me or was it already here?"
"Laugh now if you like, but I'm the one handling your demise," responded Negaduck, giving the other criminals a glare to remind them who would be finishing the job and that the earlier argument was pointless. "First, I've rendered your buzz-saw cufflinks pointless by using the strongest chains that can be stolen. I've also taken your precious gas-gun," he gestured to the shadowy corner of the building he had just come from. "Which means you won't be pulling off any last minute escapes. Next, you're dangling over a vat of boiling oil. A classic from the Middle Ages, but still effective. When I throw the Switch," he pointed at the toggle gleefully, "you will be slowly lowered into the vat while we listen to your delightful screams. Just think about it; I'm about to turn you into a giant French fry."
"Uh… I'm not so sure about this," mumbled DarkBushroot, somehow looking even greener than normal at the idea.
"Grow a spine," Negaduck snapped, causing the mutant plant-duck to wince. "He's been a pain in the neck for more years than I like to think about. That will all be over once I pull the Switch!"
"You have a very unhealthy obsession with that thing," pointed out his good universe double.
Rather than confirm or deny this statement, my father grinned evilly, "As the condemned, you're allowed to say some final words. Try to keep the 'justice will always prevail' and 'the legend of Darkwing will live on' speeches to a minimal."
I recognized a cue as well as the next crime-fighter. Though the Friendly Five tended not to be quite as dramatic and flashy as our idol, we all know how to do the full Darkwing appearance routine on special occasions. I even have, hidden inside my lavender utility belt, the components necessary for a smokescreen entrance. This occasion completely warranted the best arrival I could devise. I had to set the right tone, after all.
As Darkwing opened his beak, planning to deliver a rather subdued statement in comparison to his usual declarations if his expression was any indication, I interrupted with a firm, "I am the star that shines in the night."
"Didn't he already do that part?" asked DarkMegavolt uneasily as the entire group below glanced around in confusion.
"I… don't think that's him," DarkBushroot answered nervously, indicating the tied up and equally surprised hero.
Running silently across the metal beams, I continued, "I am the butterfly that flutters just out of reach."
"I have a bad feeling about this," the plant-duck mutant muttered, backing away from the direction he guessed I was hiding in.
Grasping a personalized smoke bomb from my belt, I selected my arrival point and threw. A pink cloud swiftly formed, complete with a hint of sparkle, and I positioned myself in the center as I finished the introduction.
"I am Dazzling Duck!"
Six sets of jaws dropped in unison as the pink smoke dissipated. Four of them were simply stunned and confused by the arrival of a young lady in pink using Darkwing's formulaic introduction. Darkwing, who knew exactly who I was, didn't know why I was here and seemed to be trying to shift gears from "about to be dipped in boiling oil and likely die" to "person from the Negaverse has just showed up randomly". The most interesting reaction came from Negaduck. With his continued returns to the Negaverse, he'd apparently heard of my adoption of a hero identity and was not happy about my presence here. Judging by the murderous gleam in my parent's eye, he didn't really care why I was here as long as he could kill me before I could say something damaging.
"Who is that and what is with the ridiculous outfit?" asked the criminal harlequin.
"You can call me Dazzle if you like," I smiled slightly, trying to sound even sweeter than normal. "I would hate to intrude on a private matter like this, but I would really appreciate it if you would free Darkwing and surrender quietly so we can take care of this messy situation quickly."
"Inquiring minds want to know if this statement is intended to be a humorous claim," remarked DarkLiquidator, looking particularly skeptical.
"You honestly came here to simply ask us give up?" the electrical rodent asked incredulously.
Feeling a little rebellious and deciding on an action that my more trouble-making doppelganger would appreciate, I answered, "No, that wasn't my original plan." I glanced over at the deadly expression on Negaduck's face and gave him my most cheerful smile, "I came to arrange a family reunion. After all, it is very important for family members to stay in touch. Right, Dad?"
If looks could kill, I'd already have the chainsaw jammed through my head. Negaduck was stalking towards me, leaving his precious switch behind. My words combined with this blood-thirsty expression resulted in stunning the four criminals further. If he had laughed my statement off, they would have never believed the insane idea. By heading towards me with such murderous intentions, he had inadvertently confirmed our relation.
His approach halted as soft snickering began. His glare turned towards the other members of the Fearsome Five, who were struggling to control their amusement. For once, his murderous expression wasn't quite enough to send someone running.
"She's a real chip off the old block," chuckled DarkQuackerjack, failing at maintaining his silence. "I can really see the resemblance."
DarkMegavolt lost control next and added, "But she hasn't followed in your footsteps very well. What went wrong there, Negaduck?"
The murderous mallard slapped his hand across his face and moaned, "I should have drowned the brat years ago. I knew the stupid kid would be trouble someday. She's too sweet and perky for her own good."
As much as it hurt hearing his comments about me, I didn't expect anything less. Even if my optimistic nature always hoped for some sign that he loved me on some level, experience had demonstrated that I would never receive that reaction from him. Negaduck loved explosions, chainsaws, the Switch, and being Public Enemy Number One, but he would never admit having any type of positive feelings towards the red-haired child he'd once claimed as his own.
Slipping the coiled up ribbons out of my belt, I let them unroll to their full length. My choice of weapons seemed to further cement the group's assumption of my harmlessness. DarkQuackerjack was chuckling at the sight. Only Darkwing, and possibly Negaduck, seemed to believe I might actually be a capable fighter.
"If you aren't going to be good and do as I ask," I remarked causally, "I guess I'll have to make you surrender."
Negaduck, gaining a slight smirk, offered, "Whoever can obliterate that pathetic, pink hero wannabe first can have a five second head-start at wiping out Darkwing."
"I really don't like having my demise as a reward for a fiendish fraternity for foul freaks," objected Darkwing before adding quietly, "Though I am a valuable commodity."
"I don't know," mumbled DarkBushroot, stepping forward slowly. "Attacking a young lady who plays dress up in pink seems a little low, even for us."
"At least she's an opponent you won't be afraid to face directly," grumbled DarkMegavolt, earning an angry look in return.
I love the color pink. I admit it. But my outfit serves a very important purpose beyond anesthetic beauty. Upon first meeting me, people quickly form an opinion of what I am like based upon the feminine colors, the sparkly quality of the fabric, the carefully curled and styled hair, and the delicate tiara on my head. I strengthened this opinion by acting as innocent and adorable as possible. People will automatically assume that I am too kind and gentle to ever be a real threat. Even my own doppelganger saw me as a "demented ballerina" in our first encounter and underestimated me. Unfortunately for them, I may be nice, sweet, cheerful, obedient, and more feminine than DarkGos, but I am not harmless.
DarkQuackerjack, apparently deciding to collect his violent reward, bounded towards me with a set of chattering teeth, giggling, "It's playtime!"
I returned the familiar phrase of my uncle with a nod, "Game on."
He threw the deadly dentures towards me, but I easily blocked the first one with a ribbon and used my other streamer to grab the second set of teeth. A quick flick and the dentures were sent back towards the jester, resulting in him diving to avoid a close encounter with his own dangerous toy. I lunged forward and whipped one ribbon down to snap directly in front of his beak. At the whip-crack sound, the harlequin yelped in surprise and scrambled backwards. The chuckling from the Fearsome Five had stopped, replaced by more wary expressions.
"Consumers find the new product to perform better than original testing would suggest," remarked DarkLiquidator.
"High sales prove that it will beat the competition without fail," I added, earning more confused looks.
"But an unstable economy could lead to new businesses going under," the liquid canine pointed out, apparently enjoying the challenge.
Extremely experienced in this game, I grinned, "If the established companies are not able to adapt to changing consumer's tastes, new corporations can move in to overcome the failing business."
"Anyone want to translate?" asked DarkMegavolt.
"I think they're… boasting about who's going to win," DarkBushroot commented.
"Are you villains or a bunch of spine-less idiots?" snarled Negaduck. "Someone kill the peppy cheerleader before I hollow out your skulls and use them as hood ornaments for a tank."
Ignoring the fact that DarkLiquidator does not actually have a skull, his sharp exclamation was enough to spur them back into action. They were more serious now, eyeing the brightly colored streamers suspiciously, and careful edged around me so that I was surrounded. Negaduck had backed up so he could lean against the large piece of machinery, intent on watching the show. I waited for them to move first, counting on my ability to out-wait the evil versions of my uncles.
Almost predictably, DarkMegavolt cracked first by trying to shock me at a distance, hoping to fry me while out of reach of my streamers. I danced and weaved between the electrical bolts, flowing between the movements seamlessly. In one of my smooth dodges, I allowed one ribbon to land on the concrete floor near DarkBushroot in a casual fashion. With my next shift in position, I added a small wrist-flick that wrapped the length of fabric around the plant-duck's leg and finished with a twisting jerk that yanked him into DarkLiquidator. And by "into," I mean he ended up completely soaking wet. Not allowing anyone a chance to recover, I dove between DarkQuackerjack and the lightning-shooting rodent, dragging the still entangled DarkBushroot behind me. I yanked the ribbon free just as the dripping wet plant-duck impacted the electrical member of the Fearsome Five. Sparks flew, shrieks emerged, and the remaining members of the criminal group were left staring at two soggy and slightly smoking knocked-out villains.
"Steamed vegetables, anyone?" asked DarkQuackerjack uneasily.
"I just thought I'd mentioned that the surrender option is still unavailable," I reminded, keeping in mind that they just looked like my family.
An unnerving roar of the chainsaw grabbed my attention and I turned to see Negaduck stalking toward me once again. Darkwing, brought somewhat out of that earlier spiritless-ness by the sight of his daughter (or at least, her doppelganger which was usually close enough for him) in danger, was at least trying to wiggle free now. An improvement on his previous apparent disregard of his fate of being boiled in oil, but not enough in my opinion to truly qualify as being back to his old self.
"Tell me, brat," he growled, bringing the weapon up towards my face. "Is this how you pictured our little reunion?"
With a cocky grin, I jerked back further from my parent and his remaining two teammates to increase my chances of not being shredded and corrected, "I said I was arranging a family reunion." Grinning further, my voice dropped down to a more hushed tone, "But I never said it was ours."
There was only enough time for a brief expression of confusion to flash across everyone's faces before a new element was added to the situation. That instant was fairly satisfying, however.
"I am the huntress that protects the night," a very familiar voice announced from somewhere in the mildly echoing building.
"Not another Darkwing copy-cat," moaned DarkQuackerjack. "Is there a hero convention in town I don't know about."
Both the bound hero and my father, who had at least a general idea of what was going on, muttered simultaneously in very contrasting tones, "I can't believe this."
The voice continued, "I am the arrow that never misses."
Likely realizing I'd been deliberately trying to move them away from the Switch, Negaduck broke into a run back towards the control that would lower Darkwing to his doom. As he reached for the toggle, an arrow shot down from the rafters and pinned the switch in place. My father jerked his hand back in surprise while the hero smiled.
"I am Quiverwing Quack!"
Living up to her father's dramatic arrival style, the young lady appeared in a billowing red cloud of smoke with her bow at the ready towards Negaduck. Behind her mask was a pair of calm green eyes without a hint of fanatic fury. She knew what she had to do and that she couldn't go further than that point. The archer was focused on her task, to help people, and on maintaining control of herself. She was going to be a hero, the type of hero that she was meant to be, and not the unyielding force of violence she had nearly become before. She was still, however, dangerous and her body language declared her capability to perform harm.
"Wasn't she that kid crime-fighter years ago? Ended up on the news and then vanished?" asked DarkQuackerjack, sliding a bag of marbles out of his pocket. "Around the time that Dr. Slug gained the title of Public Enemy Num…"
He trailed off as the glare from Negaduck promised a similar fate of boiling oil for the jester if he completed that sentence. My parent had a very extensive vocabulary when it came to death glares. His looks could suggest everything from various tortures, maiming, agonizing death, or just a simple "you will be hurt now."
"Ready, Dazzle?" my doppelganger asked.
I nodded, "Let's get dangerous."
With surprising speed, she began firing her trick arrows at Negaduck to drive him further away from the Switch. I, meanwhile, flicked my ribbon so that it ran the edge along the side of DarkQuackerjack's bag of marbles. Just like the pizza box, the specific movement sliced through the flimsy material. And due to the fact the jester is almost incapable of constructing a harmless toy or a dangerous-looking weapon, the marbles began exploding upon impact with the floor. I wasn't very worried about him being hurt by his deadly playthings since I knew how nimble my uncle could be and his alternate universe version proved this by scrambling out of the way. DarkLiquidator, extending his arm towards the closest pipe, exploded the water out of the metallic vessel and summoned the liquid into a giant fist.
"Sales are predicted to drop and the financial impact could be deadly," he warned as the water-formed fist rose above me.
"But your competition came prepared for your business strategies," I retorted as Quiverwing fired a particular trick arrow into his aquatic form.
Among her various specialized projectiles, I had learned that she kept at least one at all times designed to handle the most slippery member of her parent's enemies. A logical precaution that proved to be an effective one as her arrow released the pressurized liquid nitrogen into DarkLiquidator. His face was literally frozen in an expression of shock and the giant fist fell apart into plain water that washed across the concrete floor.
Brushing off some of the dirt after escaping his exploding marbles, DarkQuackerjack glanced at his out-of-commission friends, "The teams are growing a little small, aren't they? Makes the game a bit more interesting though."
"Games are supposed to be interesting," I shrugged.
"And children are supposed to be seen, and not heard," growled Negaduck, swinging his chainsaw close enough to nearly decapitate me. "Or preferably never seen or heard again."
"Haven't you noticed I'm all grown up now?" I asked, sliding across the wet floor to avoid his next swing. Landing near a cart of tennis balls, I overturned it and spilled the round objects across the ground. As he eyed the treacherous terrain, I added, "I grew up without you and now I'm a hero. Not to be disrespectful, you have no one to blame for that except yourself."
"You're still that disgustingly sweet, annoyingly cheerful, nauseatingly adorable, pathetic, weak-willed brat I snatched up before I realized how useless you were," shot back my parent, walking towards me slowly while DarkQuackerjack practically skipped between the spilled tennis balls. "And after all the trouble you're causing, one of us will wipe you out. Preferably, I'll kill you, though the clown has my permission to break your neck if he gets close enough first."
"Embarrassed, Dad? Afraid someone will consider you soft since you have a child?" I suggested, taking a step back. My streamers were tough, but his chainsaw would rip right through them. My tiara was no use except up close and I didn't have the chance to recharge it before I arrived in the Darkverse. I just needed a few more seconds anyway, so I kept the pair's attention on me by questioning my psychotic parent. "And not just a child; a daughter who is so completely different than you that she's a pink-wearing hero and has never demonstrated an great act greed, wrath, or pride that you can use as an excuse for my existence?"
"Please," he rolled his eyes. "It's not like you're actually related to me. You're just a clingy little girl that I though could be a means to an end. A mistake, unfortunately. I just think that the disposal of that mistake is long overdue."
I'll admit that his blunt admission about his act of keeping me was not connected to any type of compassion or emotional attachment really hurt, regardless of the fact I'd always expected it. But I couldn't allow that to distract me. Now was not the time for dealing with that type of emotions. It was time to win.
"You are certainly not winning any award for 'Parent of the Year,' Negsy," Darkwing remarked snidely, yanking the villains' attention back to their prisoner.
Or, rather, their former prisoner. He and Quiverwing were standing in front of the vat, my doppelganger slipping her lock picks back up her sleeve. She handed her parent back his gas-gun and reached back towards her quiver. Two-generations of crime-fighters, side by side, were staring across the wet and ball-covered building towards the remaining villains. I could practically see the realization that he was out-numbered slowly dawning on my parent. Of course, a minor detail like that would never cause him to hesitate long.
"I'll handle the moron," snarled Negaduck to his remaining follower. "Kill the girls."
An idea suddenly hit me as the jester followed the suggestion/order gleefully. Diving left, I snatched a golf club from another out of sporting equipment. As DarkQuackerjack whipped out another pair of chattering teeth, I hurled the length of metal across the room to Quiverwing. She grabbed it and easily guessed my intention.
"Hey, Quackerjack," she yelled, catching his attention. When he looked toward her, she grinned, "Have I ever told you the story about the little girl, the golf club, and the firing squad?"
Before he could respond to the strange question, she began hitting the scattered tennis balls rapidly and sending them flying. The criminal harlequin found himself being painfully pelted by the young lady's great aim and speed. It truly did resemble a firing squad. Unable to move out of the path of her projectiles, the jester was quickly reduced to curling up in defense. Rather than continue to batter the villain as she once would have, Quiverwing consciously decided to drop the club and yank back up her bow. Her chosen arrow was one of the rope-cocooning ones and it effectively took him out of the fight.
Somehow, in the time we took to handle DarkQuackerjack, Negaduck and Darkwing had ended up on one of the conveyer belts. Happily, neither had managed to turn it on with their fighting or else it would be too cliché. But it did offer a unique opportunity due to the position. I gave my doppelganger a glance.
"I fire, you tie him up?"
She nodded, "Works for me, Dazzle."
We ran off in different directions. My target was a particular device I'd spotted in the corner on arrival. I turned it around and hit the ON button. Twisting the speed to the maximum setting, I took careful aim.
"Hey, Dad," I called, resulting in a momentary pause in the fight. "Think fast."
As the words left my mouth, the pitching machine began firing the baseballs into my parent at devastatingly high speeds. Each impact resulted in a grunt of pain and knocking him further away from Darkwing. As I finally ran out of ammo, Quiverwing released a second of her cocooning arrows. By that point, enough baseballs had struck him that he wasn't really in any condition to resist. And, even if he was my father, I felt almost no guilt.
"Keen gear, that was great shooting," complimented my doppelganger, grinning at the pitching machinery.
"Thanks, Quiverwing," I answered. "How about you tie up the other two in case they wake up and all three of us go talk. The police can handle things from here."
She nodded and dashed over with a rope toward DarkBushroot and DarkMegavolt.
The tied up (or, in one case, frozen) members of the Fearsome Five were left behind after a quick phone call to the police to pick them up. We left quickly, not even waiting for Darkwing to preen for the media. He grabbed his bike and us girls took to the rooftops. About five blocks away, we re-converged on the roof of another building.
It started out as an awkward silence between the two family members, neither knowing what to say. A fight against super-villains is easy for these two, but obviously talking about their feelings or starting difficult conversations was beyond them. I began wondering if I was going to have to start the ball rolling when my doppelganger decided to act.
"I'm so sorry, Dad. I've been acting like a completely brainless psycho and I can't even claim mind control or being turned into a zombie as an excuse. I couldn't even see what I was doing, even after you literally told me, until both my subconscious and alternate universe double figuratively bashed me over the head repeatedly with the message. After everything I said and did while acting like an absolute crazy idiot, I don't know if I'll ever be able to make up for it. This is beyond anything I ever did to the VCR with the peanut butter and floor wax or any other small mess from when I was a kid, so a simple 'I'm sorry' isn't even close enough to fix things. But I am and I really missed you and I never should have said I hated you because I never did…"
As her cascade of words spilled out, they sped up and her voice began to crack at the end. Once again, I was reminded of the young girl that she, and I, once was. She wasn't Quiverwing; she was his daughter begging for forgiveness from her parent. And just as quickly, Darkwing transformed into her loving father as he wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. That expression of parental affection and relief on his face was the reason I'd gone to such lengths to bring happiness to the hero. He needed her back, so I did everything I could to arrange that.
He once gave me four heroes to be my family. Judging by their reactions, I'd just given him back his entire world in return. It was absolutely worth every moment of scouring the city and dragging DarkGos out of her poisonous mindset.
After giving them a few seconds of silence, I finally explained, "I had a talk with Steelbeak and managed to pull a few strings." Which was true. I didn't tell my uncles about my idea prior to my talk with my doppelganger since they would've been concerned that my entire plan hinged on the concept of being alone with the violent girl, but I shared it with the director of FOWL in order to extract the needed concessions. My identity as a hero, and dropping Darkwing's name, managed to convince him to go along with my idea. "In a sense, Quiverwing in on parole. She's not allowed back in the Negaverse for at least three years and, after that time, she's only allowed back while she's accompanied by you. Essentially, she's your responsibility there. If they see Quiverwing there prior to the three years or without you after that time, they'll toss her back in jail. Of course, Gosalyn is a different matter," I left the implied invitation for a visit hanging. I would rather like to see her again. Especially once she started getting her life back on track. "As long as she's in this universe, she's outside of their jurisdiction technically. Any restrictions or conditions for here is up to you, Darkwing." Thinking for a moment, I suggested, "Though I think making her clean her room would be a nice start."
Darkwing chuckled, "She never cleans her room."
"Just call Dazzle," remarked Quiverwing, giggling slightly as she pulled out of the hug. "She loves cleaning."
I grinned, "Your apartment was a disaster zone. I couldn't leave it like that." Growing slightly serious again, I explained, "Any restriction he devises for any length of time, Gos, follow them. Regardless of whether it means no-solo crime-fighting, staying at home and attending a community college, or just a mountain of chores, follow his instructions. He's not just your parent; he's your parole officer. You have twice the reasons to listen to him now. And I have no problem coming back and helping knock sense into you again."
The red-haired young lady nodded solemnly, "I completely understand. And thanks."
"Yes, Dazzle," Darkwing agreed. "Thanks."
I smiled, "Let's head back. I need to go home and your sidekick is rather excited to see everyone back together again."
Instead of following me back across the rooftops, Quiverwing climbed down to ride the Ratcatcher with her father. Highly satisfied with my night's work, I raced nimbly across the city as the first rays of daylight began to rise above the horizon.
And that ends my trilogy. I started by addressing the whole "good version, evil version" concept that the Negaverse presented by describing how one of the Gosalyns could eventually become evil. I finish by explaining why that pattern did not necessarily have to be in place any longer. Negaduck and Darkwing were never supposed to be in each other's universe, so their presence would disrupt that whole balanced system. And that meant it is theoretically possible that the changes that their presence would cause could result in two good Gosalyns.
And the whole "Darkverse" name? I highly doubt that NegaGos would think of her universe and the inhabitants as a copy of Darkwing's. She would think of her home as the original one and the other as the copy. Her family, the Friendly Four, would be the main group and the Fearsome Five (except for Negaduck) would be the Darkverse alternate versions of them.
Hopefully, this finish to the trilogy was at least partially satisfying. And maybe it will allow my mind to focus on other topics again.