Disclaimer: Darkwing Duck is the property of the Walt Disney Company.


Beacon


18

At first, he lived in a one room apartment in the bad part of St. Canard. The part where all the crooks and miscreants hung out, where you didn't know if that was a car backfiring or a gunshot, where you made sure to bolt extra locks onto your door. That made him nervous but then he remembered, as he dragged a mattress up the stairs by himself and sparks crackled at his whiskers with the effort, that he was a crook now, and he was more big time than any of the knuckle-draggers in this neighborhood.

"After all," he said to the only lamp in the apartment as he sat, cross-legged, on the floor, and screwed a capacitor into place, "I am the fearsome Megawatt! Er, no, wait, that's not what I decided. Is it?" He stared vacantly at the wall for a long moment. His memory played tricks on him; he couldn't remember his name most of the time, not just the new name that he'd adopted but his old name, the identity that seemed like a ghost now, like not exactly a real person and yet one that he knew he'd been. At least he thought he knew.

He snapped his fingers and blue electricity crackled up his arm. "Megavolt! I'm the fearsome Megavolt and this city will soon regret the day that it…er…" Drat. He knew someone, somewhere, had made him terribly angry, but he couldn't remember who it was or what they'd done.

The young rat shrugged and went back to working on the coffeemaker. It was his eighteenth birthday. Not that he remembered.


19

And then there was the night that he couldn't remember where he lived, finger crooked thoughtfully at his chin as he ambled down dark streets, lampposts black and lightless from his liberation of their bulbs. Some dimwit thugs, apparently not sufficiently aware of recent criminal doings in the city, melted out of the shadows, demanding his money (did he even have any?). They had knives, they thought they were threatening, and they knew they had the upper hand.

He magnetized the one with the most piercings. Then, only one of them had knives.

Megavolt still couldn't remember where he lived as he turned his back on the agonized yells and kept walking.


22

Darkwing Duck sent him to the electric chair reluctantly. That meddling mallard came to visit him in prison on his last day before the execution. Wanted to know if he was remorseful. If he regretted what he'd done. Megavolt didn't get up from his bunk.

"Do they regret what they've done?" Megavolt asked him, staring at the ceiling while lying on his back, hands folded across his stomach. A single bulb burned in the center of the ceiling. They'd been friends. Then the bulb had sided with that moron in the cell across the hall. "Do they care about the light bulbs, the appliances, the machinery that they've bent to their wills and enslaved?! And then, then, as if that wasn't enough, they sell them! Like all they are are just…just…property!"

By this point, he had twisted around, propped himself up on an elbow, and was glaring through the bars at Darkwing. Before the duck could say anything, he flopped down again on his back to keep staring upwards. The cracks made fractals on the ceilings. Fractals. Scattering theory. A monochromatic beam tweaked to do some real damage…

He could do something with this. Oh, right, if he wasn't set for execution tomorrow.

"That electronics store had it coming," he said dismissively. "Anyway, they'll just build another one."

"Even your colossally corrupt conscience must feel the cut of compunction once in a while, Megavolt," Darkwing said.

Rolling his eyes, Megavolt said, "Hey, I'm a dead man, can you cut it out with the alliterations?"

He could just imagine the self-righteous look on Dorkwing's face. "So I'll take that as a no," the duck said. Then he sighed. "You could still get your sentence commuted, you know."

"And give you the satisfaction of me owing you? Not likely."

With another sigh, Darkwing said, "All right, have it your way. The citizens of St. Canard will sleep more soundly knowing that you're gone."

"Yeah, yeah." Megavolt removed his glasses and cleaned them on his prison uniform. "I do hope you'll be there tomorrow, Darkwing. It's sure to be an electrifying event."

The crimefighter left without answering.

Megavolt went back to wondering what execution would feel like.


28

The Quackerjack toy factory had to go. Oh, its power usage was pretty standard, its indentured machinery the same as any other factory, if different in its particulars and attachments and really, Megavolt thought toys were just infantile; he didn't even have much of a memory of playing with them as a child. Then again, he didn't have much of a memory of anything as a child.

No, what really got Megavolt's sparks up was the fact that, night after night, a light burned from the factory's closing until nearly dawn. He'd first noticed it on the power company's usage reports, which he hacked into most mornings to read over breakfast. Then he'd gone to the factory to investigate himself, perching in the transmission lines and watching. Someone kept that light on, never giving it any rest, never allowing it a respite. Did they think that just because it wasn't a piece of heavy machinery that it didn't deserve a break?!

Stars were beginning to disappear into the dawn when the light finally switched off.

This was his chance.

When the factory door opened, Megavolt was ready and waiting, his hands raised and crackling with electricity. "All right, you tyrant," he yelled, "prepare to fry!"

The suited, briefcase-carrying, exhausted looking duck stared for a second, then exclaimed, "You're Megavolt!"

The lack of distress that this caused the duck—in fact, the apparent delight that it caused him—made Megavolt lower his hands just slightly, though electricity continued to course through them and jump between his fingertips. "Yeah. What's it to you?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing, it's just—I've been thinking." Rubbing his hands together, the duck said, "A St. Canard Greats action figure line might be just the thing I need to beat back this video game thing. You could be in the first run!"

Megavolt's hands lowered further. "I could?"

"Sure, you're what, fourth most-wanted in St. Canard?"

"Third, last time I checked."

The duck snapped his fingers. "That's right. Must remember to include Doctor Slug and Taurus Bulba." He whipped a notepad out of the briefcase and scribbled furiously on it, then looked up and said, "What was it that you came by for?"

The whole encounter up to this point had taken Megavolt out of his game. He was used to the people he brought justice to screaming and running, or cowering in fear at the very least. "Um." He scratched at his head, electricity jolting from his hand to his hat to his head. Ah, thank Edison, he'd been trying to clear his sinuses for days! "You, uh, you run this place like a sweatshop. That light—" He pointed upwards to the window where the light had been so recently shining. "It's on all the time."

The duck grinned. "Well that's because I'm inventing, good sir! What will all the children of St. Canard play with if I don't keep coming up with new ideas, creating novelties and games and fun that they've never imagined?"

Megavolt opened his mouth, feeling thoroughly deflated now. He could still blast this toymaker into his constituent particles, but all the joy had been taken out of it.

The duck handed him a card as he strode past Megavolt, a bounce in his step. "Name's Quackerjack, always liked it better than my first name, no honorific needed. Toodles, Megs."

It was hard not to feel like a stupid toymaker had just gotten the better of him. Still, an action figure. That was nothing to scoff at.

"Should've asked him if it would include sparking action," Megavolt muttered.


30

Discovering the lighthouse was kind of an accident. Not that he didn't know it was there—he had eyes, he'd seen its pure and transcendent beacon every night, pulsing its song in Doppler-esque rotation, calling to him in its own code.

The night came that he was just sitting at the window of his apartment, elbows propped on the sill and his chin resting on a hand, and the beam hit him in the eyes. It was like a mystical pull, demanding his presence, drawing him closer, until he found himself standing at the foot of the tower, staring upwards. The lantern swung around in slow, stately circles, like the rhythm of a heartbeat, and Megavolt could only watch it for long minutes, breathing in the night air, the tang of salt on the breeze stinging his nose.

When he finally magnetized the pins in the lock and forced the door open with a shoulder, he found a metal spiral staircase leading upwards. Otherworldly glow from the lantern cast its fingers down, all the way to the foot of the tower where he was standing. He blinked into the light and then climbed the staircase.

The watch room was empty, cleaned out when the lighthouse had been automated. Definitely large enough for him to bring in a couple tables, some generators, maybe a couch… He crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his eyes. Funny, he hadn't planned on scoping out a hideout when he'd come here. But maybe that was why the lighthouse had brought him.

He slept in the lantern room, the light so bright that even with his eyes closed, it was like he was staring right into it.


33

He was at one of the many apartments he'd used over the years, looking for spare parts to cannibalize for his newest invention, when someone knocked on the ajar door and pushed it open with a cautious, "Hello?"

Megavolt whirled, a bolt of electricity arcing between the prongs of his hat, to see an old woman clutching a purse to her chest.

But there was being a villain, and then there was Being a Villain, the latter category being the one where you fried scared little old ladies. So he just said, "You're in luck, the place is available for rent."

There was a funny expression on her face and a shining in her eyes that looked like hope. She took a step towards him. "It is you," she breathed. He just went back to sticking spare parts in a bag.

She took another step into the room. Her hair was mostly white, but here and there, there were streaks of red. "Elmo?" she asked.

Megavolt glanced up at her. Something flickered in his memory at the name, but he shook his head to clear the feeling. "Sorry lady, you've got me confused with someone else."

When he got up to go, slinging the bag over his shoulder, she held a shaking hand out, stopping short of touching him. Her eyes were glassy with unshed tears, her whiskers were quivering, and all he could think was that he hoped she didn't cry. He hated it when women cried. It made him feel guilty and useless and like he needed to be—blech—nice.

"You don't remember me," the woman said. She sounded desolate.

He brushed past her. "Nope," he said.


35

Though the duck that was thrown into his cell looked vaguely familiar—in that way that many things in his life looked vaguely familiar but were ultimately unplaceable most of the time—Megavolt didn't make the connection until it was made for him.

"We've met before, you know," the duck said casually. The bells on his hat jingled as he twirled one of the tassels around his finger.

With a shrug, Megavolt said, "Sorry, nothing personal. I don't have the greatest memory for faces." Or names, or places, or things.

"You were threatening to kill me, I think. I offered to make an action figure of you."

"Oh yeah." That piqued his interest, which was a nice change. By the time you'd been in prison eight or nine times, it got pretty monotonous. What was the duck's name? Quackylaugh? Quacks-a-lot?

The duck was studying him with narrowed eyes, and almost as though he could see Megavolt's thoughts on his face, he said, "It's Quackerjack. I suppose you, just like every other miserable person in this city, has forgotten my name!"

Megavolt glared. "I said it was nothing personal."

Quackerjack jumped to his feet and stuck an accusing finger in Megavolt's face. "And if you're wondering about that action figure, it went the same way as the rest of my toys! Gone! Gone! All because some pixelated ninny in a spacesuit stole the market away from me!"

Had he not been wearing the electro-suppressive collar, Megavolt would have zapped the duck. He settled for knocking the jester's hand away. "Back off, you nudnik!"

He attributed their future successes as partners-in-crime, in part, to the fact that he remembered this incident.


38

"It's lights out for you this time, duck!"

"Au contraire, Megavolt!" Darkwing aimed his gas gun at Megavolt and fired it, but Megavolt pointed his own gun, blasting the canister out of the air and showering the duck with shrapnel.

Megavolt grinned and fired his blaster at the ridiculous mallard, only to have his smile fall off his face as Darkwing rolled out of the way. "Give it up, Dorkwing!" Megavolt shouted, and then, cackling, added, "I'd hate for you to get a shock to your system, but after I activate my latest invention, you, not to mention anyone else who's brainless enough to get in my way, will be toast!"

"Ha!" Darkwing struck a pose. "In your demented dreams. I'll be pulling the plug on you, you pernicious—"

"Puh-lease!" Megavolt shot a hole through Darkwing's cape. "Like I haven't heard all of this before!"

Darkwing aimed a kick at Megavolt and missed as Megavolt ducked, but the mallard recovered, spinning a leg out and tripping Megavolt before he could zap the caped crusader's tail feathers. "Then I would think you'd have learned by now that your life of crime's just a flash in the pan!" Darkwing crowed.

Scrambling to his feet, Megavolt squinted and bared his teeth, aiming his gun again. "Eat electrostatic death, duck!"

"Not this time, Megadolt." Darkwing pointed his gas gun straight up at the ceiling and fired it.

Megavolt laughed, power crackling up his arm. "That's it? That's your plan? No wonder no one in this city takes you…seriously…" There was a hiss and Megavolt looked up at an entirely up-to-code sprinkler system, sinking realization in his stomach. "Oh no."

Uncontrolled electricity coursed through his body as the sprinklers rained water down on him, the buzzing filling every cell in his bones and blood and brain until it drowned out the sound of his own scream.

Then it stopped and he collapsed face-first onto the wet floor. Hazily, he felt Darkwing yank him up by the back of his collar. "Seen the light yet, Sparky?"

Megavolt coughed and said weakly, "Don't—call—me—Sparky."


40

It occurred to him, somewhere between deciding to kill Negaduck and getting shorted out by Liquidator, that he was surrounded by living, breathing people whom he very grudgingly conceded might, just possibly, maybe be considered his friends.

That, for some reason, he remembered.