by Amanda Rohrssen

Chapter Two

I thought once again of the plan I was about to set in motion to dethrone my father and take control of this miserable metropolis. In a couple of days every citizen in this city would be eating out of the palm of my hand, and those who wouldn’t would have their hands fed to my flesh-hungry Dobermans.

There was just one little piece of information I needed to get my hands on before I could set my perfect plan in motion. And it was proving harder to obtain than I had anticipated.

“What is with this dame!” I shouted angrily as I paced around my office, surrounded by the rest of the Fearsome Five. “We’ve tried everything to make her talk – even your stupid Mr. History doll,” I pointed at Quackerjack with a snarl, “and still nothing!”

“It’s like her beak’s sealed with Wacky Glue, Stu,” piped up Quackerjack in Mr. Banana Brain’s irritating voice as he waggled the doll in front of me. I glowered at him threateningly until he lowered the ridiculous toy and put it away.

Megavolt nodded in agreement. “She’s harder to crack than thermoplastic bulbs.”

I snarled at the lot of them, sending them quaking into a corner.

“If you imbeciles don’t come up with something fast, you’ll wish you had never crossed my path!”

“Too late,” Megavolt whispered lowly to Bushroot, whose petals were rustling furiously in fear.

“Sounds like what you boys need is an expert interrogator.”

All heads turned toward a sleek figure leaning against the doorway, wearing a gray pantsuit and a red blouse, her blonde hair pulled back loosely in a bun.

“Hey, hey, hey!” I protested defensively. “I’m the torture expert around here, sister! And this is a private conversation, so beat it!”

“Oh, I think you’ll want to talk to me…” she continued nonchalantly, taking off her stylish sunglasses to reveal dramatic hazel eyes underneath. “And if you’re such an expert, why hasn’t your hostage given you the information you wanted?” There was a hint of a smirk on her bill that infuriated me. Didn’t she know who I was!?

Just as I opened my bill to tell her off once and for all, she pulled something from her breast pocket that left me momentarily speechless. It was her badge. She was a SHUSH agent.

Immediately I whirled on my pathetic minions. “All right!” I bellowed. “Which one of you knobs squealed to the feds?”

“But it wasn’t us!” Megavolt sputtered, thrusting Bushroot in front of him.

“Yeah!” chimed in the green mutant. “We’re not stupid enough to rat you out, Negaduck, honest!”

“Three out of five henchmen say it’s never a good idea to go against the boss!” Liquidator added, his voice containing more than its usual watery waver.

I could feel my temper flaring with white-hot rage, but her voice cut in again, interrupting my tantrum.

“They didn’t tip me off.”

“Then who!?” I snapped, turning my fury on her. Then an idea came to me, and instantly the rage melted into complete and utter hatred. I smiled. “The old man.” I looked her right in the eye, wanting to slap that patronizing expression off of her face. “Jake sent you here, didn’t he? He wants to put me away for cutting in on his operation…”

“Actually, I’m here of my own volition,” she continued, unperturbed. She pocketed her badge and walked her way inside my office and plopped down in my office chair.

“Hey!” I shouted in outrage. “That’s my--!”

“I’ll cut to the quick, Negaduck. I have a proposition for you.”

I burst into laughter. She couldn’t have been serious. Me, work with a dame? “Look lady, I have enough problems keeping track of my worthless compatriots – you think I want some brainless girl following me around? What could you possibly have to offer me, Negaduck – Lord of Crime?”

She only smirked and leaned forward.

“I have inside access to SHUSH weaponry and security…I could put you in control, and you could cripple the organization from within.”

I had to admit, I liked where this was going. But I wouldn’t be so easily persuaded.

“I can bring SHUSH to its knees without any help from the likes of you,” I said nastily. “I’ve already done it once before.”

“Ah, but you can’t infiltrate it as Darkwing Duck again. The vigilante has to be fingerprinted and identified with a retinal scan before even he can enter. Besides…you’re running out of time getting that machine working before Jake finds out where you’re hiding it and steals it for himself.”

“What are you talking about?” I snapped. “I had an easy enough time busting in a few days ago! Those saps didn’t even see it coming!”

“That was a few days ago,” she replied matter-of-factly. “They’ve upped security since then, thanks to you, and now they’ll be more vigilant on crime, waiting for you to make your move.”

“And you’d be willing to crush them from inside before they figure out what I’m up to, is that it?” I sneered, eyeing her through half-lidded, cunning eyes. “What’s in it for you?”

People never did anything out of the goodness-of-their-hearts. Even so-called kindness was masked by selfish feelings. Kindness could bring feelings of admiration just as easily as deception and malevolence. Goodness was dead. Evil had won out a long time ago. I learned it the hard way. And now, thanks to me, the rest of the city would know it as well.

Now her expression shifted somehow, seeming twisted and dark in the light of my cheerless office. It was an expression I often bore myself, and I found that it suited her much more than her other face had.

“I want control of everything from Indigo Boulevard to King’s Run.”

“Ah, the upscale district,” I mused. “Any particular reason?”

“None that concerns you. You just keep up your end and I’ll hand you SHUSH on a silver platter.”

As she and I spoke, the rest of the room’s occupants had kept their heads bobbing back and forth between us, but now all eyes were on me. Everything went silent as I took my time considering her offer.

Then my trademark grin slithered across my bill beneath cold, ice blue eyes. I held her gaze evenly like a shark eyeing a waterlogged meal.

“All right, dollface. You’ve got your little section of the city…but only after SHUSH is no longer a threat.”

She nodded once, then smirked coyly around the room before backing out of the door and taking her leave.

“I’ll be in touch,” she said over her shoulder as her footsteps faded down the distance staircase that led out of the building.

“I’m sure you will be,” I said deridingly, eyes narrowing underneath the brim of my blood-red fedora.


The rough, pockmarked wood of the bar felt comforting beneath my fingertips as I waited for the bartender to bring me a double shot of whiskey bourbon. I had made many memories in this old place, both good and bad. I knew all of the gangs that did business here, and of the less-reputable patrons that came merely to drink away their wasted lives, hoping to find peace in the empty solace of gin and vodka. I was well-respected by most in this part of town. They’d even hung a portrait of me above the mantle that housed the faux fireplace. I had my own idea of justice, and the patrons knew that. I helped them where it was warranted, I busted those whose aims went against the code of the streets, and I was fair about it. For information, I would look the other way as they committed felonies in front of me. Men had a business to run here. Who was I to judge them as long as they stayed civil?

Glass touched my fingertips and I lifted my eyes to thank the bartender when I froze, every muscle in my body tensing as the surprise shivered through me. It wasn’t the bartender’s eyes boring into mine, but a set of small beady black ones that I had seen only a few times before from a distance.

The shock passed and I downed the liquor in one easy swallow.

“Ah, I was wondering when I would have the privilege of making your acquaintance,” I mused, leaning back on the stool with a careless expression. “I’d ask your name, but your face says it all.” I coolly eyed the chrome beak beneath his narrowed gaze.

“A comedian, are yas?” Steelbeak scowled. “I don’t have time fer wisecracks. I got infermation ya might be interested in.”

I took a sip of bourbon and let the liquor settle warmly in my stomach before I answered him.

“Oh? And what’s that?”

“Ah, ah, ah, dis is how we’re gonna do t’ings. You gotta do some’n fer me in retoin.”

“Naturally,” I replied with a smooth nod.

“We – meanin’ Jake’s reputable faction a gentlemen – get official amnesty from SHUSH. Ya get us dat, I kin make it so’s ya kin arrest de Fearsome Five single-handed. You’ll be a hero to da city, more so den dat dimwit Darkwing, dat’s fer sure.” He cackled in his tinny, mechanical voice, which grated on my nerves like a rod on a washboard. His laugh could give anyone a splitting headache.

“What makes you think I can give you boys amnesty?” I asked, taking another mouthful of bourbon whiskey.

Now his metal beak was curled back in a disconcerting grin.

“We know you’re in real good wit’ de director, so don’t even try denyin’ it.”

“Oh, I’m not,” I replied with some amusement. It wasn’t the first time a criminal gang had tried to exploit my friendship with J. Gander. “But the director’s always been by the book. I doubt I’ll have much influence, but I’ll see what I can do. I suppose you’re not going to give me any leads until then?”

“The Natural History Museum,” the rooster said evenly. “Eight o’clock sharp, two nights from now.”

It was just enough time for me to figure out why Jake was sending his lackey to sell me such a transparent deal. Then something else came to mind.

“By the way,” I said casually, “I don’t suppose you know anything about the bullet through my office window earlier today.”

“Can’t say dat I do. But it’s unfortunate ta hear dat.” I could tell he was lying, but I let him think he’d fooled me.

I shrugged. “It depends on which end of the lens you’re looking through.”


My cane clacked rhymically in time with my stride, and each time it hit the pavement it sent a hollow echo off of the surrounding buildings. It was the only sound for blocks, but I barely noticed it. The moon peered out nervously from behind the scattered clouds, grazing the cityscape with a hesitant shade of periwinkle, and shadows swam over the alleyways as I continued past without a second glance.

Pieces of evidence were running through my mind as I tried to assemble the puzzle. It would determine my next move.

A Russian bear blackmailed and assassinated. A dangerous device stolen. A suspicious invitation to the museum. And an unwelcome bullet hole in my office window. What did they all have in common? Where did they link up? Something to do with that machine. And the one person I could talk to about what it did was missing.

I knew it was time to confront Jake Mallard. I had evidence I knew he must want, but he was playing cat and mouse by sending Steelbeak after me with that phony lead. I would have to play their game for now.

I stopped cold. The flutter of a sound had whispered past my keen ears like the low hum of conspiracy. I waited for an indication of an encore, but only the moaning wind obliged. My eyes shrank to slits for an instant; I was growing tired of games.

Keeping my senses alert, I continued on my way as if I had consoled myself that it had merely been the wind. But I knew better.

It wasn't long before I heard it again. The dull scrapings of sound, the faint suggestion of noise, the soft murmur of resonance just over my shoulder. I whirled around and in one swift movement had my pursuer up against a brick wall. It wasn't until my eyes focused in the dim moonlight that I could see a thick curtain of straight crimson hair overshadowing a set of piercing hazel irises. As I glared into her fierce stare, I could feel the pulse in her neck quicken underneath my palm where I held her in place.

"Why are you following me?" I demanded lowly.

"I'm just waiting for you to slip up, you slime bag," she spat vehemently. "I want to be there to slap the handcuffs around your wrists and cart you off to the authorities myself." Her voice contained venom that oozed hate as vibrant as the ruddy hue of her hair.

It took me a moment as her words gored my ears for me to realize her error. I smiled.

"My dear lady, I suggest you take a closer look at my person, for I am not the mallard you are so hoping to ensnare."

"Oh no?" she scoffed. "You look every bit like your mug shot."

"Ah, but you see, the mallard you are looking for is one, Jake Mallard, whereas I am Jacob Mallard. If you care to notice, there are a few minor differences despite my unfortunate resemblance to that conniving crime lord. For example, my eyes are completely black."

She raised an eyebrow and opened her bill to make what I deemed to be some sort of retort, so I cut her to the quick.

"And should that not convince your obviously sharp observation skills, you'll notice that I require the assistance of a cane to walk. Hardly an attribute of Jake Mallard's, though that is a situation I intend to remedy quite soon."

Her eyes were scrutinizing me now, most of the initial malice gone.

"How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"Jacob Mallard never lies. He merely withholds certain information until the proper time."

"And are you withholding information now?"

"Why don't you investigate that for yourself, madam?" I was enjoying this little banter with her, though I still had yet to discover who she was. Any moment I could toy with someone was a moment I appreciated.

She gave me a wry expression behind the blanket of hair.

"I would...except you're choking me."

"Oh!" I exclaimed apologetically before I could catch myself. I removed my hand from around her neck and stepped away from her. "My sincerest apologies."

"So you're after Jake too?" she asked me curiously after catching her breath.

I was hesitant to divulge much -- my life is my own business -- but I gratified her with a nod. Normally it was as this point that I took my leave, but something about the way she tilted her head with a sardonic smirk twisting her bill made me pause and wait for her to make the next move.

"So who are you, then? I mean, what do you do?"

"Private investigation," I replied automatically, annoyed that I was giving away more than I wanted to. So I turned the tables. "And what about you? You have the upper hand knowing my identity and occupation. It's only fair that you offer up the same."

"Says who?" the woman said almost tauntingly. She was beginning to grate on my nerves which were usually placid, and it was all I could do to keep my tongue under control.

"All right, then. Perhaps an honorable inclination is far too much to ask at this day in age." I tipped my black fedora toward her. "I bid thee farewell."


Her fingers touched the crook of my arm and halted my advance. I turned to look at her expectantly, though inside I was enjoying the fact that she wanted to speak more to me.

"Annie Barrow," she stated simply, her hardened eyes now a bit softer as she looked up into mine. "My name, it's...Annie." Then she straightened up and stuck out her hand toward mine, her professional exterior suddenly placing an invisible wall around her. "I'm the new Chief Agent of SHUSH."

I almost inhaled my tongue. "What? You?!"

That superior smirk returned to her mouth, and I found I wanted to rip it off of her face.

"That's right," she said with an undertone arrogant enough to match my own.

"But you're're..." I stammered, my mind reeling at the thought of a woman in the role of chief agent.

"How perceptive of you," she continued flippantly, reading my thoughts. I hated that. "And should that not convince your perceptibly sharp observation skills, you'll notice my badge."

My eyes darted to the golden insignia just over the left breast of her suit jacket. Damn. How could I have missed that?

"Well, it's been fun," I remarked sarcastically as I swept past her, trying to regain some of my dignity. "But I've got a case to solve."

"Indeed?" Both of her eyebrows arched in unison. "The missing machine, am I right? The one the Fearsome Five stole a couple of weeks ago? And, let me guess, you're trying to tie that to Chief Agent Gryzlikoff's murder."

I didn't grant her the satisfaction of turning back around so that she could see my incredulous expression. Instead, I decided to sweep her conclusions aside.

"I'm following a lead tomorrow night at the museum. Care to join me?"

I blinked. Why had I invited her along? To my relief, she declined.

"No can do. I've got a lot of training to go through at SHUSH filling that overstuffed teddy bear's shoes. I don't have time for fancy parties."

I shrugged, playing it nonchalantly though I couldn't pinpoint where my strange behavior was coming from. "Perhaps another time, then. Au revoir."

"So long."

My cane again. The only sound for blocks. But all I heard was one word. Annie.


"There," the blonde said as she pocketed a rather long feather. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

I stared at her, slack-jawed, but as soon as she turned toward me I closed my beak with a snarl. "Big deal! I coulda done that!"

"Then why didn't you?" she stated snidely.

I muttered an unpleasant string of words as I whirled out of the room, my cape snapping behind me. The dame had made good on her word. She had made the hostage talk. And though I wouldn't admit it to anyone, she impressed me. But I still didn't trust her.

Our hostage slumped down, her restraints the only thing keeping her upright. While the girl finished up with her, I went to find the rest of my miserable compatriots.

"BOYS!" I thundered.

Instantly a horde of stampeding feet met my ears and they appeared in my sight within seconds.

"Look alive...tomorrow night we're gettin' neat and pretty! AhahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!"


“I assure you, Mallard, that SHUSH is doing everything we can at the moment.”

“But you said you haven’t heard word in three weeks, John. I would think SHUSH would put a little more effort into finding out what’s happened to its most prized scientist.”

“My agents are spread thin enough as it is,” J. Gander said defensively from behind the office desk that dwarfed him. “Mob activity has skyrocketed in the past few days, and we’re getting little help from the police.”

“You know as well as I do that the police force is as crooked as the criminals they’re supposed to protect the city from,” I scoffed.

“Be that as it may,” he continued dismissively, “I can’t spare any extra manpower on the Bellum case until things die down.”

“Can I at least get a look at the files on her latest invention?”

His head cocked to the side. “You mean the RMCD?”

“If by ‘the RMCD’ you mean the machine the Fearsome Five stole from you, then yes.”

He shook his head. “I’m afraid not, old friend.”

A frown immediately consumed my face.

“Why not? You’ve always granted me access to SHUSH files before…”

“Not this time,” he said resolutely. I knew right then and there that it was a lost cause. He continued. “I’ve been too lenient with you in the past. I’m allowing only certain SHUSH personnel access. We can’t afford any more information leaks , especially since the device’s disappearance. If its function were to become public, it could cause pandemonium.”

“But surely…” I began, then started again. “You let Darkwing Duck-”

“The vigilante’s relationship with SHUSH and yours are completely different,” he bristled. Then he melted back into his usually zen exterior. “But not even he will have access. I’m sorry Jacob; that’s my final decision. Believe me when I say it’s nothing personal.”

A few moments of tense silence passed between us while this roadblock to my investigation sank in. Finally, I allowed the frustration to drain out of me, and I smirked at the director.

“Don’t worry about it. I just have one question more.”

J. Gander’s eyebrow rose. “Oh? And what’s that?”

“Is Miss Annie Barrow working today?”

He opened his bill to reply but was interrupted by his intercom.

“Director Hooter?” sang the voice of J. Gander’s shapely young secretary. “The mayor is on the line for you. Should I patch him through?”

His eyes panned up to me, and I nodded once to take my leave. He nodded in return, and as I exited I could hear him politely ask Dolores to put the mayor on.

I shut the door behind me and flashed Dolores a charming smile. I always wondered in the back of my mind exactly what was keeping J. Gander from taking advantage of that young thing just outside of his office, yet at the same time I felt gratified in the fact that I could bring a deep red blush to her cheeks. It made me feel twenty years younger, and J. Gander was always too absorbed in his work to really notice the opposite sex.

I headed down the main hallway that lead to the exit, but took a quick turn down a side corridor before anyone could take notice. I wasn’t about to leave SHUSH without looking at those files.

“Hey stranger,” a voice said cheerfully from behind me.

I turned and was surprised to find myself face to face with Annie.

“Oh, hi,” I replied nonchalantly, though I could hardly deny how pleased I was to see her. “Fancy meeting you here. Been keeping busy with your training? I imagine they must ride you doubly hard.”

“Not really,” she said dismissively. The hint of her slender shoulders peaked up in a shrug beneath the suit jacket she was wearing. “Besides…I like a challenge.” She smirked at me in a flirtatious manner, and for the slightest moment she had me entranced by the wrinkles just barely suggested beneath her intelligent eyes. She couldn’t have been more than five years younger than I, but she certainly didn’t look it.

Her weight shifted and she regarded me curiously. “So what brings you to SHUSH? The private eye career track no longer as fulfilling as you’d hoped?”

Her inquiry caught me off guard momentarily, but my self-imposed exoskeleton of calm quickly snapped up around me once again.

“Nothing so dramatic. I merely came to get a few answers…but it seems I am no longer allowed access to the information I need.”

“Oh, you mean the files on the RMCD.” She regarded me smugly.

I caught on quickly. She must have access being SHUSH’s chief agent. My eyebrows rose as she flashed me a crafty smile.

“I can get you in,” she said, “but we’ll have to be careful. If they find out I helped you, I’ll be in big trouble.”

I nodded and began to follow her down the hallway when she suddenly stopped and looked back at me from over her shoulder.

“But you owe me, Mallard…”

I smiled at her slyly. I had just the thing in mind.