The Last True Hero

by Amanda Rohrssen

Chapter One

Yahoo!” she screamed rambunctiously above the pounding of her feet as she stampeded toward her sleeping father. She was chasing after the soccer ball that had shot into the living room. Countless times she had been told not to play sports in the house, but she was never interested in listening. Her dad woke up with a jolt as she leapt from his chest after the ball.

Gosalyn!” he shouted in that authoritative tone all parents took on before giving severe punishment.

Hearing this, she stopped short and grimaced. The ball rolled lazily at her feet and she turned to face her father. His blue eyes were inflamed with anger and his beak was frozen in a tight, twisted frown. The silence seemed to last for ages as they glared at each other. Rain thudded threateningly on the windows and roof. Gosalyn reluctantly looked away and winced, knowing she couldn’t get out of trouble this time.

“Look, young lady, this house is not a playground! How many times have I told you not to play soccer in the house!? You are grounded, grounded, and re-grounded!” He snatched the soccer ball from the floor and pointed toward the staircase. “Now go to your room!”

Gosalyn looked up at him innocently, but said nothing. This was the usual punishment, no big deal. She knew when she really let him down and now wasn’t one of those times. She had only gone up three steps when the garage door burst open and Launchpad walked in, rain dripping from his soggy pilot’s uniform. As Drake turned to talk with his closest friend, Gosalyn saw her chance.

“Launchpad!” She jumped from the stairs and into his surprised arms.

“Whoa there Gos! I’m glad to see you too.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed the cleft in his beak.

“Hey now! It’s not my birthday, is it?” he chuckled, returning her hug.

Drake shook his head and smiled; his anger had faded somewhat. “Gosalyn was just on her way up to her room...weren’t you, dear?”

“Uh, heh, heh, yeah. See ya, Launchpad!” She raced up the stairs and grinned to herself. With luck, Drake had forgotten about grounding her.

When he heard her door slam, he immediately turned his attention to Launchpad.

“Did you pick up my suit from the dry cleaners?”

“Uh, no. But I did get these free Winkie the Clown earmuffs from the bowling alley! I, uh, got three strikes in a row.” Launchpad gave a sheepish grin as Drake’s face dropped into a scowl.

“The dry cleaners are closed by now! It was supposed to be picked up two weeks ago!” he cried.

“Well, uh, you could always use your spare costume.” Launchpad suggested.

“I guess so. I- I’m sorry LP, a costume isn’t that important. It’s just that I’m a little edgy. There hasn’t been a robbery in almost a month!”

“It’s okay, DW. I get a little stressed out too when I don’t get my weekly Frankie Ferret comic book.”

Calling all cars, calling all cars. Disturbance detected downtown. Source unknown,” the radio tuned to the police station’s signal blared. Drake’s eyes lit up.

“To Darkwing Tower, Launchpad! Crime waits for no duck!”

In the Audubon Bay Bridge, or Darkwing Tower as Drake loved to call it, both ducks were searching everywhere for the spare costume. Launchpad pulled out a discarded trunk hidden in the back of a closet and they leaned over it, eagerly yanking out old clothes. At the bottom was the forgotten spare costume. Drake gently lifted it out and hugged it to him, reminiscing. It was this costume that he had worn when he’d first met and rescued Gosalyn. Launchpad walked over to one of the large windows.

“At least it stopped raining.”

At this Drake broke away from his memories and blinked. “Get the Thunderquack ready while I put this on. I have a feeling tonight’s going to be a long night.”

Once up in his jet plane, which was shaped like his head, Drake, now dressed as Darkwing Duck, scouted the streets of Saint Canard with binoculars. The sun was just setting, spraying rays of colors across the sky like fireworks.

“Isn’t that pretty, DW?” sighed Launchpad, staring dreamily at the flaming clouds. Darkwing slightly turned his head toward the sun.

“Yeah, right. Now help me look for anything suspicious!” He jerked his eyes back to the binoculars and began scanning once more. A gaping hole crossed his vision and he pointed in that direction. “Take her down, LP. We’ve got some investigating to do.” Launchpad swerved in the direction Darkwing was pointing and slowly lowered the Thunderquack.

“Look out for that building!” shouted Darkwing fearfully as the jet just missed slamming into a skyscraper. As they neared a deserted street, the landing gear creaked out of the bill of the plane, and Launchpad took a tighter grip on the wheel. The tires thumped and bounced, resisting the pavement, but finally the wheels rolled into a smooth run while the pilot stepped on the brakes. Darkwing sighed and looked upward, thankful that they hadn’t crashed this time. He turned back to the windshield just in time to see a huge Hamburger Hippo barring their makeshift runway. “Launchpad, watch out for that-” The beak of the Thunderquack smashed into the side of the little restaurant. Both pilot and passenger were thrown forward, only to be choked back by their seatbelts. Darkwing turned to glare at his sidekick. Launchpad shrugged.

“Sorry, DW.”

They crept toward the foreboding black hole in the middle of the block and peered down into its indistinguishable depths.

“Odd. Either this was made by a giant gopher, or Moliarty’s back in town. This hole’s as wide as a building foundation. No doubt he’s trying to claim the city for his moles again. Come on, Launchpad! Let’s get dangerous.” He narrowed his eyes and pulled a grappling hook out of his suit pocket. Launchpad watched doubtfully as Darkwing slipped a rope through the end of the hook, wound it securely around a flickering street lamp, and grabbed hold of the loose end. Wind rose up from down the street and Darkwing’s dark purple cape flapped defiantly behind him. He took a deep breath, turned his back to the hole, pushed his webbed toes to the edge, and began to repel. A blast of air smelling of newly unearthed soil met his plunging feathered body as if to stop his descent. A dirt wall rushed up toward his face, and he planted his feet on the muddy sod. Catching his breath, he looked up at the sky, which was as black now as the pit he was repelling down.

“Coming LP?” he shouted expectantly. The only answer he received was the lonely moan of the wind. “Launchpad?” he yelled again. An eerie silence crept over him and his stomach ached with the feeling of dread. Suddenly, a face distorted by the darkness blocked out a portion of the emerging stars.

“Uh, DW, is the rope supposed to rip like that?” Launchpad called down to him, the sound echoing fiercely off of the crumbling walls.

“What do you mean...” Before Darkwing could react, the rope snapped, and he toppled backward, flailing his arms out for anything to hold on to. Helpless, he was swallowed by the darkness until his vision was of no use. Blind and alone, he twisted and stretched his arms, groping through the air for the decaying wall, but there was nothing but blackness. He contorted himself in every direction, straining his joints for anything until his extended, shuddering back rammed against the rock-hard bottom of the tunnel. He gasped loudly as his lungs seemed to shatter, the air blasting out of his mouth like a freight train. He tried to breathe, but all he could manage was a moan. The compact, worn dirt underneath him chilled his sweat-dampened feathers and sent a shiver rolling through his aching muscles. His body collapsed as he tried to gently pull breath back into his burning chest. Slowly, he regained his wind and forced his protesting body to sit up.

“DW! DW, are you all right?!” Launchpad’s frightened voice screamed down at him in a panic. Darkwing eased his neck back to look up into the ominous abyss he’d fallen through.

“Launchpad...” he croaked weakly. He was a little surprised to find nothing broken, but his wrenched back throbbed furiously and his head felt like it was in a vice. Gathering strength, he swallowed and tried again, his lungs searing as he drew in a deep breath.

“Launchpad! There’s another rope in the Thunderquack under my seat! Don’t worry! I’m okay!”

“You may be okay now, but you won’t be when I’m through with you,” a mocking, nasal voice said from behind the hero’s back. Darkwing cringed and turned slowly, trying to ignore the shots of pain tearing through his spine.

“Moliarty,” he breathed darkly, air scorching his lungs like fire. He looked up into the ridiculing eyes of the little mole-man and disregarded the agony clinging to his body. Although his legs were trembling, Darkwing rose defiantly and stood over his adversary.

“Actually I’m a little disappointed you survived the fall, but now at least I get to watch you suffer. Take him to the Albatross Fault and chain him to the wall. He’ll get a first-hand look at the biggest earthquake in history!”

“And just how do you plan to cause an earthquake, Moliarty? The Albatross Fault hasn’t moved in centuries,” Darkwing challenged.

Moliarty smiled cunningly as his men dragged Darkwing through the tunnels.

“Simple, Duncewing. If I can’t wait for an earthquake, I’ll make my own. Behold!” shouted Moliarty dramatically as they entered a large chamber. “My Quake-o-matic!”

Quake-o-matic?! Puh-lease! That’s so cliché!”

“Well I was short on time. The name might be cliché, but this ingenious device will knock the Albatross Fault loose and cause the entire city to go under, leaving us moles free to claim the surface world for ourselves!”

With that he began laughing hysterically. The Quake-o-matic was comprised of a large computer panel and two large columns that reached the ceiling of the cave. Two more jutted from the back, fitted against the rock wall. Inside a small cavern directly across from him, Darkwing could see a thick metal room built into the side of the stone. A bomb shelter. He frowned as Moliarty’s goons hammered stakes into the rock wall to hold the chains restraining his arms and legs. He couldn’t move except to breathe.

“You’ll never get away with this, Moliarty! Mad men always slip up somewhere along the line and when you do, I’ll be there.”

“Now who’s cliché? Besides, you won’t be around long.”


Launchpad grimaced as he glanced down the large, seemingly endless pit. He took one end of the rope he’d retrieved from the Thunderquack, let the other end fall, and tied the end he grasped securely to a fire hydrant. Then he walked back toward the crater, trying to whistle to ease his tension. The bumbling pilot looked down the dark streets warily, expecting something to jump out at him. He felt like getting in the Thunderquack and going home, but he couldn’t leave Darkwing. Who would read him his favorite bedtime story? Suddenly, a small tremble rose up from the ground and shook Launchpad off of his feet. He fell backwards and down into the darkness of the foreboding chasm.


Darkwing tried frantically to free himself, but the more he struggled against the chains, the tighter they seemed. Moliarty and his men had gone to their impenetrable bomb shelter to wait for their new world. The tremors began to worsen, and Darkwing’s stomach was doing somersaults. He twisted and stretched, his back throbbing furiously as rocks and dirt cascaded on top of him. The thunderous rumble of grinding rock echoed off of the cavernous gorge as the Albatross Fault was forced into motion, upheaving the city streets and threatening to tear down the skyscrapers. Boulders crashed down as the earth was ripped apart, creating a large fissure. Moliarty’s Quake-o-matic was reduced to rubble and Darkwing fought violently at his unyielding restraints. Suddenly, a familiar form emerged out of the falling debris.


“Launchpad! I’m over here! Quick! Get the stakes out of the wall!”

The vibrations abruptly became more violent, and Darkwing was knocked unconscious by a falling rock. Launchpad dodged the rocks as best he could and yanked at the chains. Small cracks began forming in the chamber’s walls and the stakes lost their hold. Launchpad flew backward with the chains flapping limply in his hands. Darkwing slumped to the bottom of the cavern, just as a massive crevice sliced through the ground right under him. Launchpad’s eyes widened in fear and adrenaline surged through his body. He leapt up off the ground, sprinted toward Darkwing, and vaulted across the unearthly crack just in time to grab the hero’s flailing wrist. The gap grew wider with each tremor, and Launchpad almost slipped on some gravel as he heaved his companion up into his arms.

“Hold on, DW,” he gasped, springing back across the fissure. He lifted Darkwing into a fireman’s carry and sprinted for the opening in the ceiling. The rope he’d tied was still there, but the hole was caving in fast. Launchpad tied a loop in the end big enough for him to sit in with Darkwing on top of him. He climbed into it, slid his friend onto his lap, and, using all his strength, pulled them up to the city street.

Launchpad couldn’t believe his eyes as he surveyed the surface. The earthquake had settled down to only small trembles, and the vast chasm had been filled in with debris. The pilot rubbed his eyes in disbelief, then looked again. Children were laughing, people were going about their lives, and all the buildings were still standing… as if nothing had happened.