Author's note: Thank you so much to everyone who's read this and again, thanks especially to everyone who's reviewed! You seriously can't imagine the thrill that goes through me when I see that review alert in my inbox. This is the last chapter, so hopefully it's been a fun ride. And a sequel is in progress. :)
"Gosalyn, didn't your dad say he didn't want you walking home this way?"
"Oh, come on, Honk, not you too. My dad's in over-protective parent mode, he'll get over it in a few days." Gosalyn paused at the entrance to the pedestrian underpass that went under the Duckburg Highway, her hands on her hips while she stared at her best friend. "No way am I going all the way down to that crossing guard. I've got Whiffle Boy Unleashed to beat before the new game's released next month!"
Honker blinked behind his glasses. "But, uh, haven't you already beaten Whiffle Boy Unleashed a dozen times?"
Waving a hand, she replied, "Thirteenth time's a charm. Now, are you coming or not?"
He looked even more nervous. "It's awfully dark in there…"
With a glance over her shoulder at the dim—in some places, completely dark—tunnel, Gosalyn said, "So there's a few lights burned out. What's going to happen in the middle of the day?"
"That lady got mugged here walking home from work last week," Honker pointed out.
"Well," Gosalyn said, "I think I know enough tricks from hanging around Dad to keep from getting mugged. C'mon, it'll be fine!"
Honker looked around. There was no one else in sight, just cars zooming by on the highway. A constant deep clacking and rumbling of tires filled the air every time one drove across the overpass. "What happened to that woman walking behind us?" he asked.
"Huh?" Gosalyn craned her neck and looked around him, but didn't see anyone on the sidewalk. She hadn't even really been aware of anyone else walking near them, but leave it to Honker to notice. "I don't know, she probably walks a different way. Who cares?" Why was everyone around her so paranoid lately? First Dad, now Honker. Launchpad, at least, had been acting like himself, but he wasn't due back in St. Canard for a few more days while he caught up with old friends and family in Duckburg. Who would have expected that Launchpad would have been the only sensible person left?
"I don't know," Honker said uncomfortably. "I j-just, well, noticed her, and she seemed like she was watching us…"
Gosalyn rolled her eyes. "We were walking in front of her, Honk, she probably was watching us. This isn't exactly the most exciting stretch of St. Canard sidewalk." When Honker still looked doubtful, she sighed and said, "My dad's not going to find out."
"Oh, I'm not really worried about your dad…"
She lunged forward and grabbed his hand, pulling him into the tunnel with her. "Good, then let's go."
It was dark inside the underpass, a lot more than Gosalyn had expected. But it was only about a hundred feet long, and they were already halfway to the other side. She stifled a sigh of relief. All Honker's worrying had actually gotten to her for a second there.
And then, suddenly, something grabbed her, yanking her up by the collar and leaving her dangling in the air. She lashed out on instinct, kicking and swinging with her fists, trying to make contact with whoever was holding her. "Run, Honker!" she yelled as her captor made a clumsy lunge for him.
The sound of his sneakers pounding and echoing in the tunnel reassured Gosalyn that he'd gotten away—which unfortunately wasn't much reassurance, because she was still hanging in the air in someone's tight grip, the collar of her jersey choking her a little. She threw another punch but her captor continued to stay out of range.
"Let me go, you piece of villain scum!" Gosalyn shouted, fighting the way the stranglehold of her jersey made her gag reflex kick in. "Darkwing Duck's going find out about this and teach you a lesson—" Abruptly, she was swung around to face a roaring flame, only inches from her bill, which she shut immediately.
"That's what I thought," a woman's voice said. The flame went out, and for a moment, spots danced in front of Gosalyn's eyes. A disembodied voice, obscured by her adjusting vision, said, "We haven't met, kid, and for your sake, you'd better hope that we don't meet again."
Her vision finally began clearing, and Gosalyn saw her captor was a feline woman, who was currently regarding her with narrowed blue eyes. Gosalyn glared. "You're the fire villain."
"Look at that. Adorable and smart," the woman said boredly.
"When Darkwing finds out you're kidnapping me—"
"Please, why would I want to kidnap you?" the woman laughed. Gosalyn kicked out at her again, but the cat gave her a hard shake that rattled her teeth. "I just have a message for Darkwing Duck, and since you seem so well-acquainted with him, you seemed like the perfect person to deliver it."
It didn't take a genius to sense danger in the woman's tone, and Gosalyn made a lightning switchover to naïve innocence mode. "Um, Darkwing Duck? I wouldn't say we're close…"
"Uh huh." The woman smiled slightly. "What would you say? Friend of the family, perhaps?" Gosalyn didn't reply, and the woman's smile widened. It wasn't a nice smile. "So, Gosalyn," the woman went on, "why don't you find some way to give this message to Darkwing. His secret identity isn't so secret anymore, but for the right price, I might just be able to make sure the word doesn't get out."
Gosalyn gulped. She wanted, more than anything, to believe that the woman was lying, but she looked all too serious about what she was saying. Only a villain would be as gloating as she was about knowing Darkwing's identity. "Yeah?" she asked, trying to sound brave. "What's the price?"
"Well," the woman said, still smiling, "I see no reason why a nice little girl like you needs to know those kinds of financial details. Let Darkwing know that he can find out for himself if he's at the old car factory on the north side tonight. Midnight. And let him know that Luminas doesn't like to be kept waiting. If he's late, well…" Her other hand appeared again in front of Gosalyn's face, fingers spitting fire. "…I might just have to drop by his place."
Luminas, huh? Dad would be happy to have a name, even if he wasn't going to be happy about any of the rest of this. Especially her being here in the first place. "You don't know where he lives," Gosalyn said. "No one knows where Darkwing Duck lives."
Flames reflected in the woman's eyes. "Guess you'll find out tonight, won't you?" Gosalyn didn't react, not wanting to give away anything about her dad. "It's probably only about a twenty minute drive from the factory to his alter ego's house…"
"I don't believe you," Gosalyn growled, trying to kick the woman once more. She just ended up whirling around, the back of her jersey twisting uncomfortably with each spin.
"Mm. Well, that is your problem, isn't it."
Without warning, the choking hold on her shirt disappeared, and Gosalyn fell heavily to the ground, scraping her knees as she landed. She jumped to her feet and backed away, keeping her eyes on the woman, who just stared at her, her hands on her hips. "Well?" the villain asked. "Don't you think you'd better get going?"
For a second, Gosalyn stared at her, expecting some kind of trick, but when the woman just kept staring, she took a couple steps back, then turned and ran.
She already knew she was going to tell her father everything about this conversation. And when she glanced back to see if the woman was still there, all she saw was an empty tunnel.
Megavolt took a step back, pushed the welding mask off his face, and admired his workmanship, arms folded across his chest. A shaft of evening sunlight cut through the dusty air of the old car factory, hitting the metal cage and throwing a hard gleam off it. He still had some wires to adjust, but it looked good. It looked effective. It looked deadly.
A two-stroke engine chugged outside and cut off, and he turned around to watch the door. In a moment, Luminas appeared in it, though she stopped in her tracks when she saw what he'd built. "Whoa," she said. "You made that in the last three hours?"
"You don't have to sound so surprised," Megavolt grumbled.
"No, I'm just…impressed."
She said it like that surprised her, but he let it go. "Did you find the kid?" he asked instead.
With a crooked smirk, she replied, "Found, threatened, and sent off with our message."
"Yeah, well, let's just hope you're right about her."
"Hey, like Quackerjack said, it doesn't really matter who she is, does it? Trust me," Luminas added, "I could tell from the look on her face. She ran right off to tell Darkwing that we're onto his secret identity. Oh, which reminds me, I sort of had to pretend like I knew where he lived. And I guess we should avoid situations where we have to call him by his alter ego's name, since we…don't know it."
Megavolt slipped his battery pack off and plugged it in before answering. Being fully charged was a necessity for tonight—no need to take any chances. "So this whole plan kind of hinges of a bunch of information we don't know."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Okay, well, I'll try not to mention any of it. Unless," he said hopefully, "you do know where he lives?"
She shrugged. "I just throw fire. I don't work miracles."
Returning to her side and tapping at his forehead thoughtfully with a finger, he said, "You know, the thing is, I'm pretty sure I did find something out about Dorkwing's secret identity. Don't remember what, though. Or where…"
When he trailed off, Luminas said, "You know, that memory loss is kind of a handicap in our line of work."
With a dismissive gesture, he replied, "Hey, as long as I remember the important stuff, the rest of it's just details. You know, like, uh…"
"Darkwing's identity?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, or my name…" he said, then brightened. "But who cares? I don't need to know my name to rob banks or liberate lightbulbs!"
Her brow furrowed, but she didn't remark on this. Instead, she motioned towards his project and asked, "So what is it?"
"A trap," he replied proudly. The sunlight was more gold than yellow now as the sun sank towards the horizon, and it made the contraption glow like it was lit from within. He'd assembled it out of metal scraps he'd found throughout the factory, pounding and welding them into long, thin strips, then weaving them together—with a little help from a blowtorch—until they formed a bowl-shaped cage. Then he'd stripped every wire and cable he could find in the place and wound them around the metal, finally running a bundle to a simple switch on a remote control he'd set up. Two settings: off and on. Live duck—and dead duck.
There was, however, a doubtful look on her face, so he said, "It's kind of a…reverse Faraday cage."
The doubtful look just got confused.
Imitating the shape of the trap with his hands, he said, "With a Faraday cage, when you're inside you're insulated from electric fields, right? Well this is the opposite. Once I switch this on, it draws electricity from the area around it and fries whatever's inside"
Luminas nodded, though she still didn't look like she understood the principle behind it. Oh well. He was used to it. Bushroot got stuff sometimes, but botany didn't really have much crossover appeal with physics and electrical engineering. "Is it going to work?" she asked.
Megavolt grinned and cocked a finger towards her. A spark jumped off the end of it. "We'll see, baby."
She lifted a bottle of Gander-ade to her mouth and took a swig of it, and Megavolt remembered something she'd said, that she needed to keep her strength up to take out Darkwing. Her constant guzzling of sports drinks—not to mention the Great Pyramid of Gander-ade in her roachy hideout—had given him the impression that her fire power maybe required a little more maintenance than she'd admitted.
"Hey," he asked, and she paused before she took another drink and looked at him. "I probably should've asked this already, but do you have some kind of weakness I should know about before we get into a major confrontation with Darkwing?"
Lowering the bottle to her side and staring at him, she said flatly, "Weakness."
"Yeah. You know, like me and water don't get along too well."
"I know what you meant."
He rolled his eyes. Trust issues, tortured-soul, and, apparently, a complex about not appearing weak. Real bundle of stability, Luminas was. Er, not that he should talk, necessarily. "So do you or don't you?"
"You don't have to worry about me, Sparky," she said.
"Oh, I'm not worried about you, I'm worried about me." Hm, possibly the wrong choice of words, considering the glare she was shooting at him.
After taking another long drink of Gander-ade, she said, "I'm a grown-up. I can take care of myself. I know my own limits."
And he knew when an argument wasn't worth it. Holding up his hands, he said, "Okay, okay, keep your gloves on. Sheesh."
She pursed her lips but didn't pursue the subject, though she didn't even look that happy about the fact that he'd dropped it. Not that he had a long acquaintance with her or anything, but he was struck by the feeling, suddenly, that he didn't get Luminas, and that it would be a long time, if ever, before he did. Because he also had the feeling that, whether they succeeded here or not, she wasn't going anywhere. For the first time, the idea wasn't totally terrible.
"So what do we do with this thing?" she asked, pointing a thumb towards the cage.
Megavolt held up a finger, indicating that she should wait there, and then darted off to the stash of possibly-helpful materials he'd accumulated. After digging through it for a moment, he made a muffled noise of triumph and re-emerged with a bundle of metal cable. Dropping it at her feet, he said, "We'll use this to hang the cage, and then when Darkwing's underneath it, wham! We drop it on him."
She bent over and handed him the blowtorch that he'd abandoned on the floor. "Sounds like a plan."
Taking it from her, he said, "Hey, you create fire…can you weld metal?"
"Um." She looked oddly uncomfortable at that. "I've never been much of a tradeswoman."
Megavolt watched her for a second, sensing he'd hit a nerve, though he couldn't imagine why. "Okay, then figure out how you're going to get Darkwing to stand under this thing."
As he began welding the cable into place, having clambered onto the top of the cage, he heard her say, "Oh, I was just planning on using you as a distraction."
He turned his head to glare at her, then realized that with the welding mask in place she wouldn't be able to see it. He still snapped a muffled, "I already did most of the work!"
"I had to hang around outside a school without getting the cops called on me until I found Darkwing's kid. That's commensurate work, if you ask me." Nevertheless, she wandered off into the shadowy machinery of the factory, leaving him to finish the job. Once the cable was welded in place, he gave it a few tugs, and when it held, he shrugged and jumped off the top of the cage, stopping himself just short of the ground to see if the cable could take his full weight.
With that done, all that he had left to do was hang the cage in place, though he supposed he should get Luminas's input on the location. Just as he was about to call her, she said from behind him, "By the way, are you hungry?"
"Gah!" Megavolt yelped, whirling around and putting a hand to his chest. "Don't sneak up on people like that!"
She held up a paper bag from the fancy organic grocery store in midtown. "I brought sandwiches."
For a second, he eyed the bag, and then he said, "That was…thoughtful…of you," he finally said, the pause due to the fact that this wasn't a word he was used to applying to his cohorts. It was barely in his vocabulary.
With a shrug, she said, "Not really. I was hungry and it was just as easy to steal two sandwiches as it was to steal one. Do you want it or not?"
"Oh. Well, sure." He took the proffered sandwich and then gestured to the cage. "We should probably get this thing into position though."
He was gratified that she actually had figured it all out, that meant all he had to do was rig up the pulley system to get the cage into the proper position. Once it was hanging from the rafters, ready to drop on an unsuspecting masked moron with a simple snip of the cable holding it up, Megavolt actually was hungry. They sat on some old tires that were still laying around, eating the sandwiches which were, he had to admit, pretty good.
Sometimes, hours could pass, and at the end of them, Megavolt couldn't remember a single thing about them. That was the case tonight. Midnight crept up on him, the sky having grown dark long before without him noticing, and suddenly it was time to get into position and wait for Darkwing.
Megavolt had decided that the best place to watch this whole thing go down—since the only thing required of him was to cut the cable that would release the cage from the ceiling—was a lifeless robotic arm that was still bolted to the floor. Much of the conveyer belt that it had worked above was gone, but it was still standing sentinel in the dark factory, night after night…
He shook his head, ridding himself of that depressing thought, and shifted his position on top of the arm. He thought it was pretty close to midnight, but without a watch it was impossible to tell. Luminas had hidden herself away somewhere and was completely invisible, and he wasn't going to risk trying to talk to her and giving either of their positions away.
Minutes, maybe even an hour, passed like that. And then the factory door creaked open slowly.
From his perch, Megavolt could see that there was no one standing in it. Ooh, he really didn't like this hiding and waiting. This wasn't the way to fight Darkwing! He almost wished there was a real super-villain code, so he could cite the appropriate section on killing your nemesis. It should definitely involve a plot. Money or city-wide domination or light bulb emancipation—whatever, the details weren't really important. Sure, the reverse Faraday cage was cool, but its only purpose was to do in whoever was inside it, and Megavolt was pretty sure that other, more blood-thirsty villains had that covered. Well, other villains and the justice system. He'd heard the St. Canard super-villain prison had installed a new electric chair with a high enough voltage to kill even him, and he tried to remember if he'd committed any murders that would get him sent there if he was arrested.
Wait—not important. What he was doing right now? Oh right, killing Darkwing. Well, that would count as a murder. Better not get caught.
No one had appeared in the door yet and it sat there, a half-open maw yawning out into the night, and—had he remembered to hook the cord up to the cage?! He squinted up into the rafters and could just barely make out the bundle of cables running up to it. Whew. Now, what had he been thinking about?
A cloud of gas appeared in the middle of the factory floor. "I am the terror that flaps in the night!" a voice boomed ominously. "I am the faulty battery that leaves you stranded by the side of the road! I…am Darkwing Duck!"
"Tell us something we don't know," Megavolt muttered, shifting again on the robotic arm. His fingers were itching to fire a surprise bolt of electricity at that duck. Ooh, that would get him. He'd never see it coming. But he restrained himself. This was Luminas's fight. Even if it wasn't really going to be a fight. Semantics, whatever. She was taking care of it, and he was…well, he was…hiding. That was, unfortunately, the right word for this.
The cloud of gas cleared, revealing Darkwing, his gas gun at the ready. When nothing but silence greeted his dramatic entrance, he straightened up and said, "And I am…wasting smoke canisters on an empty room." He peered around into the darkness, bringing his gas gun up again. "I prefer a more punctual super-villain," he muttered.
Nothing moved or made a sound in the factory.
And then a voice said, floating disembodied from the darkness, "Maybe I just like being fashionably early, Darkwing." There was a creak from somewhere. "So, you got the message?" Luminas's voice asked. "I'm glad Gosalyn was good enough to deliver it."
Darkwing turned around slowly, aiming his gas gun into every shadow. He'd definitely had a reaction at the kid's name, a surge of anger and trepidation flashing across his face, obvious even with the mask. "It's Luminas, right?" Darkwing said. "You know, it doesn't have to be this way. You don't have to join the Fearsome Five. Hanging around with them isn't going to get you anywhere but a nice, cozy jail cell."
With a laugh, she replied, "Was that an invitation, Darkwing? Are you asking me to join the sterling ranks of St. Canard do-gooders?"
After a horrified look flickered across Darkwing's features, the duck said, "Well, if you…want to, but joining the ranks of the law-abiding citizenry's always an option."
"Mm, tempting offer. I could probably find a job, right? Some office somewhere, where I'd look at spreadsheets and financial reports and contribute to society with my mostly-accurate data entry?"
The expression on Darkwing's face said he knew this wasn't going his way, but he still said, "Yep, a productive member of society, isn't that what we're all looking to be?"
There was a silence, and then stiletto heels clicked on the floor. "Not all of us."
Darkwing turned towards the sound of the noise, but the small flame that appeared, burning off Luminas's loosely curled fingers, was behind him. The light from the flame was just enough for Megavolt and Luminas's eyes to meet, and her mouth curved upwards crookedly.
Suddenly, Darkwing turned around, and Luminas put one hand on her hip. "I don't have to join the Fearsome Five," she said. "I just really want to."
With that, the flame on her hand flared to a bright ball, and she slung it towards him. Darkwing dodged out of the way and aimed his gas gun into the shadows, but she was invisible again. Megavolt had to give it to her, the black outfit did seem to come in handy.
"You can't hide forever," Darkwing said, creeping towards the spot he'd last seen her. Megavolt shifted quietly to follow his progress, still not feeling right about hiding up there. The plan was that Luminas would lure Darkwing into position, and then Megavolt would cut the line holding the cage up with his trusty bolt cutter (the sort of thing a person should never leave home without). Then she'd throw the switch, and there'd be no more Darkwing. Ten minutes. Fifteen, tops.
Wow, in fifteen minutes, his practically lifelong nemesis was going to be nothing but ashes. It seemed really anticlimactic to think of it that way.
"Not forever," Luminas said, a chuckle audible in her voice. "Just till I have you where I want you."
Darkwing flipped a pair of night vision goggles out of his sleeve and held them up to his eyes, scanning the room with them. "I've gotta hand it to you, Luminas, for a newcomer, you've got the hackneyed villainous banter down already."
"Wow, that means a lot coming from you. Aren't you the master of hackneyed banter?"
Even Megavolt didn't know where she was, but he could see what she was doing. As her voice moved around the factory, disembodied in the dark, Darkwing was being maneuvered closer and closer to where the cage was hanging.
The set of Darkwing's shoulders betrayed his irritation with her comment. "The master of witty repartee, perhaps. Shame that you're going to be in prison after tonight, you could've learned a thing or two from me."
"That's funny," she remarked. "I was going to say the same thing, only you're going to be dead, and I'm going to have the run of St. Canard."
Just another step backwards, and Darkwing would be in position. Megavolt put a hand on the cable tied to the robotic arm and hefted the bolt cutter with his other hand, fitting the shears over the line.
But Darkwing and Luminas seemed to be at a standoff. He wasn't moving back, no matter how much she taunted him and moved around, and Megavolt was getting impatient. You couldn't just ask him to sit there with bolt cutters and a cable and not do something.
Then, Luminas materialized out of the shadows, her fist clenched around something and the creases of that hand lit by an orange glow. "By the way, Darkwing," she drawled, "I owe you a couple cents for that Gander-ade."
His reaction was immediate. He brought the gas gun up and fired it, but Luminas skipped to one side and flung something at him, avoiding the canister and the explosion of gas.
Whatever she'd thrown hit him in the hand, making him yelp in pain, drop the gas gun and take that final, crucial step backwards. With relish, Megavolt brought the bolt cutter blades together, slicing cleanly through the cable.
The cage dropped, whistling with momentum, and Darkwing was still clutching at his hand and blowing on it frantically when it landed around him, trapping him. His head snapped up and he immediately aimed a Quack-Fu chop at the cage. The metal bounced him back, and since he'd used the hand that Luminas had somehow injured, he also clutched at that again.
Luminas swaggered out into the open, scooping up Darkwing's gas gun with one hand and whatever ballistic she'd thrown at him with the other. "I'll have to keep this," she said, indicating the gun. "But you really should let me pay you back, Darkwing," she added, holding a dime up and catching the moonlight with it. "I promise I won't super-heat it to its melting point this time."
Darkwing didn't take the dime. "You," he said with recognition. "I ran into you in the convenience store!" Scowling, he added, "I knew there was something fishy about you."
It was hard to resist gloating now that Darkwing was trapped. Megavolt knew that he should have, but he didn't. He slid down the robotic arm and joined Luminas, whose arms were now crossed over her chest, and chuckled, "Guess those hero instincts of yours aren't too good after all, huh, Darkwing?"
With a glare, Darkwing said, "Megavolt. I should have known. This has something to do with the Gander-ade, doesn't it, you electrical egomaniac?" he demanded, searching for a weakness in the cage with his now recovered hand.
"Gander-ade?" Megavolt asked in confusion.
"Forget the routine, Sparky. The Gander-ade stolen by your fiery friend that you and the rest of the Fearsome Five have been fraternizing with! What fiendish felony have you fabricated?"
"Oh, that!" Megavolt said, the memory connecting in his brain. "Still don't have anything to do with it, Dipwing. Luminas just gets thirsty."
Darkwing's eyes narrowed, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from looking to Luminas for confirmation of this fact. She opened a fresh bottle—evidently she'd stashed them all over this place—and took a sip. "My favorite flavor happens to be blue," she informed the duck.
"My favorite flavor happens to be blue," he mimicked her. "So what are you two larcenous low-lifes doing here?"
With a smirk, Luminas said, "Isn't that obvious? Trapping you."
"No one traps Darkwing Duck for long!" the mallard declaimed.
She uncrossed her arms and walked over to the remote control wired to the cage, with its single on/off switch. "I only have to keep you trapped for another couple seconds," she said. She held up the gas gun, still in her hands, and studied it. "You won't be needing this anymore," she remarked, and a glow suffused her hand, making its way into the gun until the metal softened and collapsed on itself. When it was nothing more than a twisted hunk of scrap, she tossed it to the ground and looked at him. "Darkwing, it's been nice knowing you, even if it's only been for a few days."
Understanding dawned on Darkwing's face, and he redoubled his search for a way out of the cage. Megavolt watched for a second, anticipating the blinding flare of electricity that would fry the duck, but the seconds ticked by, and it didn't come.
He glanced over his shoulder at Luminas, who was holding the remote control in her hand. Well, he could watch just as well from over there, right after he figured out what in Edison's name she was doing.
Sidling up to her, he asked, "Um, Luminas? You going to throw that switch or what?"
Her fingers were hovering over it. Every ounce of her attention seemed to be focused on that little switch. Her whole future kind of depended on it, he guessed. She inched a finger closer, but then, with a sigh, she drew her hand away and dropped the remote, letting it dangle from her fingers by the wiring. Avoiding Megavolt's eyes, she said, "I can't."
"What do you mean, you can't?" he demanded. "We've got Dipwing right where we want him! He's toast!"
Luminas swallowed and stared at the ground for a moment. "Yeah, but I just…can't." Suddenly, something seemed to occur to her, and she looked up at him, her expression brightening. "But you can!"
Megavolt opened his mouth to answer, then glanced towards the cage, where Darkwing was looking less nervous the longer their whispered conversation went on. He looked at the switch. "You're supposed to kill him," he said, stalling for time without quite knowing why. "Negaduck doesn't care if I kill Darkwing. You're supposed to be proving yourself here."
"Negaduck won't ever know which one of us did it!" she wheedled.
"So you can't do it but you have no problem watching me kill him?" Megavolt asked.
At first, she didn't answer, but then she said, "You said you wanted him dead."
"Yeah," Megavolt said. "I do. It's not that. It's just…" He took the remote control from her and reached for the switch.
Then he pulled his hand back. Grumbling, he finished, "I just can't do it this way." When she shot him a surprised look, he said, "Look, I'm into mayhem and destruction, all right? I'll be the first to tell you that. And I don't mind taking Darkwing out in a good old-fashioned fight. But murder just for the sake of killing someone isn't really my thing."
"Yeah, mine either," she mumbled.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Megavolt said, "But you made a deal with Negaduck that you were going to kill Darkwing. If you're not into killing people you should've thought of that before."
"I didn't make the deal," she hissed. "The four of you made it for me and by the way, no one bothered to ask me if I was okay with it!"
"You seemed okay with it," he retorted.
She sputtered for a second, then snapped, "I didn't have much choice!"
"Hey, like Dorkwing said, you don't have to join the Fearsome Five." As soon as the words left his mouth, he actually regretted them. Good Tesla in heaven, what was with him? Somewhere along the line in the last three days he'd gone from finding Luminas an irritating inconvenience, to grudging acceptance of her and her ambitions, to…to…geez, he thought he might outright like her. It might be too soon to call her a friend, but he could see it now. That was where things were headed. Ugh. This was what hanging out with the Fearsome Four had done. Now he was susceptible to things like friendship, and helping one's fellow villains out, and worst of all, caring about their feelings.
And she did look hurt, even if it was only for a split second. His shoulders slouched and he studied his fingertips. Geez, he was really bad at this whole friend thing. He didn't really want to be better at it, but that wounded look in her eyes, even if it had disappeared quickly, just kind of…well it kind of hit him right in the chest. It kind of made him want to apologize, which he definitely wasn't going to do, but maybe he could say… something. "Not," he muttered, "that Darkwing knows what he's talking about."
She glanced up at him, her eyebrows drawn together in a dark furrow. "No, maybe Darkwing's right," she said mirthlessly. "Darkwing and Negaduck and you. I'm just not cut out to be in the Fearsome Five."
Megavolt rolled his eyes. "Come on, you don't really think that."
His flat, matter-of-fact tone snapped her out of her self-pity. "Excuse me?"
He poked a finger at her collarbone and repeated, "You don't think that. You're just saying it, and you know what? If you think I'm going to stand here and try to make you feel better about yourself, you've got another thing coming. Trust me, I've got plenty of better things to do."
She blinked. "What's your point?"
He smacked his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Do you want to be in the Fearsome Five or not?"
For a second, no longer, she hesitated. Then she said, "Yeah."
"And just to be clear on this, you're not going to kill Darkwing?"
"I told you, I can't." She grimaced, glanced towards Darkwing, and then leaned closer to Megavolt, volunteering in a barely audible tone, "He has a daughter."
It was hard to tell what bothered her more, the admission itself or the possibility that Darkwing might hear her. Either way, it surprised Megavolt enough that all he could think of to say was, "He might have a daughter."
Luminas shrugged. "It doesn't matter. If she's his daughter…well, I just can't stomach killing him and leaving her on her own."
Holding up a hand, he said, "Don't tell me what that's all about."
"I wasn't planning on it."
They both glanced towards Darkwing, who was obviously straining to hear what they were talking about, though he tried to make it look like he was just leaning on the cage once they both looked at him. "Need something, Deadwing?" Megavolt asked maliciously.
"Now that you mention it, a sandwich and a soda would be great," Darkwing replied sarcastically.
"Everyone's a comedian," Megavolt muttered.
Darkwing tried to lean an elbow on one of the metal strips of the cage, failed, and settled for crossing his arms over his chest. "Say, Sparky, why don't you let me out of here and we'll do this the old-fashioned way?"
Electricity arced between the prongs of Megavolt's hat. "Call me Sparky again and you're going to be dead the old-fashioned way, duck," he snarled. Then, turning back to Luminas, he said in a more quiet tone, "But maybe he has a point…?"
"No," she said in a low tone. "Too messy. No guarantees." She raised an eyebrow at him. "Didn't you say Darkwing always wins?"
"Did I?" he asked. At her put-out look, he added, "I'm serious, did I say that?"
She sighed and glanced at their captive again. With a thoughtful look on her face, she said quietly, "What if Darkwing Duck just disappears?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean we get him to give up being Darkwing Duck. That's kind of like being dead."
Scoffing, Megavolt replied, "Oh, yeah, I'm sure Negaduck will go for that."
"Well," she said in a careful tone, "we'll just have to make sure that Negaduck's under the impression that Darkwing actually is dead, won't we?"
Megavolt stared at her. "You're suggesting we lie to Negaduck."
With a wince, she said, "No good?"
He clapped her on the shoulder. "And you actually thought for a second that you didn't belong in the Fearsome Five!" When that made her smile, something occurred to him. "Just one thing—how is this less messy than fighting him?"
"Because," she replied, "I have the perfect tool to blackmail him with."
For a second, Megavolt thought about that. He saw her point, but he didn't exactly agree with her. On the other hand, there was the plan to kill Negaduck to think about. Depending on when they pulled that off, it might not matter if the blackmail didn't work very well—or for very long.
"Okay," he said. "I can live with that." Her expression brightened—apparently she'd been concerned about him not going for this plan. With a grin, he added, "Let's go blackmail ourselves a super-hero."
The two of them approached the cage. Darkwing just looked bored now. It made Megavolt wish he'd built power settings into the cage. Having his feathers just a little fried would definitely wipe that smirk off the duck's face.
"All right, Dimwing," Megavolt said. "My associate and I have a deal for you."
Darkwing scoffed. "Ha! I don't make deals with delinquents, Sparky."
Putting her hands on her hips, Luminas said, "You might want to take this one, Darkwing. See, I'd really hate to think of little Gosalyn growing up without a father." She smiled. "Almost as much as I'd hate to think of her not growing up at all."
Darkwing's face went slack with horror for a second before he recovered. "Empty threat," he said breezily. "Besides, I hardly—uh—know that little girl."
"Yeah," Luminas said, sounding like she really regretted what she was about to say, though the expression on her face told a different story. "See, the thing is, Darkwing, we know who you are, and we know where you live." She leaned closer to the cage, but not close enough that he might be able to reach out and grab her. There was a cruel smile on her face. "If we see you again, doing your flapping terror routine, well, then you're going to see us. And believe me, you don't want us showing up for a party at your house. We're not exactly…neat guests."
This time, the worry in Darkwing's eyes didn't go away. "A super-hero doesn't abandon his city," he said, though his tone was much less sure.
Luminas flicked something off one of her gloves. "Even," she asked casually, "for his family?"
There was a long silence. Then Darkwing said, "If I give up crime-fighting, it would be solely because a true hero doesn't allow the life of an innocent child to be threatened due to a malicious case of mistaken identity."
"We'll have to get him to give up the melodrama," Megavolt commented.
Darkwing glared and opened his mouth to respond, but Luminas cut him off before he could begin. "If you have to tell yourself that so you can sleep at night, fine," she said. "Now, do we have a deal?" When Darkwing hesitated, Luminas added, "I imagine Gosalyn's sound asleep in her cozy little bed right now…"
The silence was the longest of Megavolt's life. Not that he had a habit of remembering silences. And even if he did, he supposed, he wouldn't actually remember them. And—wait, what had Darkwing just said?
"Sorry," Luminas said, cupping a hand to her ear. "Didn't quite catch that, Darkwing."
Darkwing's head was hanging, his eyes invisible below the brim of his hat. In a low tone, a tone that didn't sound defeated so much as angry and helpless, he said, "Fine."
With a triumphant grin, Megavolt said, "Hey, nice doing business with you, Dorkwing! Now repeat after me: I am not the terror that flaps in the night…"
Luminas twirled Darkwing's fedora in her fingers, staring at it with a slight smile on her face. The brim was singed and there was one hole burned through it, the edges of it still smoldering a little. Darkwing Duck was gone.
And on foot, too, Megavolt thought to himself with a giggle. The two of them had slashed the tires on his motorcycle while Darkwing watched mutely, his eyes narrowed, and it had been so satisfying to watch them flatten and sag and for the unmasked mallard—though actually, they hadn't made him take off his mask, maybe that had been an oversight—to not be able to do a thing about it. After that, for good measure, and also just to be mean, Megavolt had fried the electrical system.
"So," Megavolt said to Luminas, "you did it. Sort of."
She looked up at him, her expression wary. "We're in this together, right? You can't tell anyone what happened here tonight. As far as the world's concerned, I killed Darkwing Duck."
He raised an eyebrow. "Hey, I value my life. If Negaduck finds out I helped you pull a fast one on him, I'm just as dead as you."
"I guess mutually assured destruction is what passes for friendship around here, huh?" she asked, arching one of her eyebrows in return.
Holding up a hand, Megavolt said, "We're not friends."
She didn't look hurt. She also didn't look like she believed him. Only fair, really. He didn't believe himself, either.
The two of them walked around to the side of the building, where they'd hidden their respective vehicles. Before she got on her moped, though, Luminas said, "Well, Megavolt, tonight did answer one question."
"What's that?" he asked, trying to remember if she'd just asked him one.
Her eyebrow curved upwards again. "That kid—she really is Darkwing's daughter."
Darkwing Duck—no, Drake Mallard—dragged himself through the front door of 537 Avian Way. No spinning chairs tonight, no Darkwing Tower. He didn't know how Megavolt and Luminas had figured out where he lived, but he couldn't take the chance of them seeing anything that would put Gosalyn at risk.
His heart clenched at the thought of his daughter, and suddenly he had to know that she was safe. He'd had no choice but to leave her alone—Launchpad was still gone—and he was filled with sick dread as he rushed up the dark staircase.
Outside her closed door, he paused. Everything looked normal, but if he opened this door and it wasn't…
He shook his head and pushed the door open.
His eyes, already adjusted to the darkness from the long walk home, went directly to the lump on the bed. One of Gosalyn's arms was flung out, a foot was dangling off the bed, but she was sleeping peacefully. Undisturbed.
A sigh of relief escaped him, and he slowly made his way to the side of her bed, removing his cape as he went. Gently, he put a hand to her forehead, smoothing her hair away from her eyes. She stirred and mumbled something about zombies but didn't wake, and Drake smiled, then swallowed hard. The best way to keep her safe had always been to be Darkwing Duck. Now that he wasn't, he felt danger looming around the house.
With another sigh, this one most definitely not of relief, he reached up and removed his mask.
Luminas stood in front of Negaduck, her chin tilted defiantly upwards and a triumphant gleam in her eyes. The rest of the Fearsome Five were ranged around the room watching the impending confrontation. After all the trouble, Megavolt found himself really hoping that Negaduck was going to stick to his word.
But Negaduck was just staring at Luminas suspiciously, drumming his fingers on the table he was seated at. "I wanna see some proof," he finally snapped. "Where's the body?"
"I burned it," Luminas said casually. "Just seemed prudent, know what I mean?" Then she grinned. "But I did bring you this." With a dramatic flourish that would have done any of St. Canard's super-villains proud, she produced a tattered and burned gray fedora and tossed it towards him. It spun through the air and landed on Negaduck's desk, knocking one of his unsheathed knives into a tailspin.
He brought his hand down on the knife, halting its movement without looking at it. He couldn't seem to take his eyes off the hat. "You can't possibly have done it," he said.
Her look hardened. "I did. There's the proof. Now, I thought we had an agreement, Negaduck."
Negaduck's glare turned towards the rest of the villains in the room. "I don't suppose any of you knobs can corroborate this little claim of hers?"
There was a long silence. Then, Megavolt cleared his throat, half-hoping that Negaduck wouldn't hear him. No such luck. While Negaduck's eyes bored into him, Megavolt squeaked, "I can."
"Really." The sneer in Negaduck's voice was audible, even though Megavolt couldn't quite bring himself to look at the duck. "And how, exactly, did she pull it off?"
Megavolt didn't look at Luminas as he rattled off the way the night had gone—minus, of course, the whole part where neither of them had had the stomach to kill Darkwing. That was something he'd take with him to his grave.
Quackerjack, Bushroot, and Liquidator were all staring at him. Suddenly another peril of friendship occurred to him—the better you knew a person, the better you could read them. He really, really hoped that Negaduck couldn't read him.
There was a silence, and then, finally, Negaduck shrugged. "Yeah, okay," he said, like he'd just consented to order pizza instead of spicy wings. Luminas stared in surprise at his nonchalance. "I can probably get a tax break for the diversity, anyway," he added grudgingly.
Her face lit up. "Really? I'm in?"
With another shrug, Negaduck said, "A deal's a deal. For now."
The addendum to that sentence didn't dim her happiness, and she whirled to meet Megavolt's eyes, a huge grin on her face. And though Megavolt wasn't normally attuned to the reactions of others, he couldn't help but notice the way Negaduck studied this interaction with narrowed eyes. It was hard not to get the feeling that this was a bad thing.
Nevertheless, Megavolt returned her smile.
"I hate to break up the happy occasion, but there's still the little matter of the name," Negaduck growled. "We're not going to be the fearsome bunch of idiots who can't even add."
Liquidator grinned. "Six out of six villains agree that a re-branding is in order."
With a giggle, Quackerjack suggested, "How about Psychotic Six?"
Bushroot shook his head and said, "That starts with P—hey! I'm not psychotic!" That only made Quackerjack laugh harder, which in turn made Negaduck look increasingly annoyed.
Clearing his throat with a burble, Liquidator said, "If I may make a suggestion? 'Sinister Six' has the ring of terror to it that today's super-villain gangs require."
"Hm." Negaduck put a thoughtful finger to his bill. "I guess I can get used to that." His typical cruel smile spread across his face. "And with no Darkwing Duck in the picture, this city will be ours by tomorrow night. Yeah. I can definitely get used to that. Boys—" He glanced at Luminas. "—and girl, I guess—we have some serious crime to commit."
The celebration was short-lived. Even a happy Negaduck was impatient and full of hate for his underlings, after all. Luminas got her flakey happiness under control pretty quickly once they were outside, particularly after Liquidator expressed interest in the fact that dousing her with a substantial amount of water had knocked her out for hours.
But she couldn't keep the smile off her face, and before she hopped on her moped, she turned to Megavolt. "Don't say anything," he interrupted her, before she'd even opened her mouth. He could just tell. There were going to be thank you's and gratitude and he wasn't interested. "Besides," he added, remembering the way Negaduck had been watching them, "this might not be everything you think it's going to be."
"Pretty philosophical, Megs," she said.
"What did I tell you about nicknames?" he grumbled, rather than acknowledge this.
The irrepressible smile returned. "Guess I forgot," she said.
He shook his head and rolled his eyes, but he really couldn't help smiling back at her.
When she roared down the street on her moped, Megavolt watched until it disappeared around a corner, then turned to his villainous cohorts, none of whom had gone anywhere. "So what are we doing about Negaduck?" he asked.
Liquidator's arms were folded across his chest. "Projections show that the feasibility of continuing to work with Negaduck is zero percent. Are we all still in agreement on that?"
Four members of the Sinister Six looked at each other, and after a moment, Bushroot, Quackerjack, and Megavolt all nodded.
Liquidator's eyes narrowed. "Then the plan is still the same. Leave the details to me."