Shake 'n Quake

A rumble of the Earth erupted while Donald was polishing up the Revenger. Luckily, One, his AI partner shielded him with an earthquake-proof room just as the shaking kicked up. These things were just a fact of life. It didn't help that Duckburg was built right atop Futterman's fault, but the 'burgians learned to live with them.

As the rumbling died down and the protective walls were lifted away, Donald thought nothing of it. However, as he picked up his rag again to return to his work, he heard One say, "Incoming message from SHUSH!"

Obviously, something was up.

It was a quick flight across the bay to St. Canard and the national HQ of SHUSH, where Duck Avenger had been enjoying some time as a freelance agent. He landed the Revenger atop the helipad on the building's roof, and quickly went through the security check on his way to the office of SHUSH's director, the illustrious J. Gander Hooter.

As he sauntered inside, his eyes caught the sight of a particular duck dressed all in purple. The wide-brimmed hat stuck out like a rotten tooth, and his aura was one of overconfidence and bravado.

He heard about this guy. This was Darkwing Duck. Duck Avenger loosed a groan.

    • Darkwing Duck
      Darkwing Duck

      Darkwing didn't even wait for the director to speak.  Instead he pointed at the newcomer with disdain.  "Him?!" he cried incredulously.  "It's bad enough you want to saddle me with a 'partner'," - this was said with finger quotes - "but this prickly pipsqueak?!"

      "Now, now, Darkwing," J. Gander chided the hero.  "These earthquakes have been happening in Duckburg as well - all along the fault line.  We need his expertise as well as yours, and this is bigger than your pride."

      Darkwing blinked, abashed, then folded his arms sullenly.

      "Apologies, Duck Avenger," J. Gander said, holding out his hand.  "As you can tell, I've just informed Darkwing Duck of the situation."

      • Duck Avenger
        Duck Avenger

        "Pipsqueak?!" Duck Avenger spat, but his agitated temper cooled down again as J. Gander scolded the duck across from him. Duck Avenger crossed his arms. Pipsqueak, indeed. Where did a two-bit clown like Darkwing Duck get off by calling him that?

        He snorted at him, then took J. Gander's hand, shaking it in greeting. "No worries, sir. I just hope we can get this odd phenomenon under control, whatever it is." It was interesting that the Director said, "Duckburg as well..." It occurred to Duck Avenger that the whole of Calisota could be at risk here.

        The thought was quickly perished because it couldn't possibly be anything major, could it? Earthquakes were a fact of life, a natural occurrence.

        "Our scientists have reason to believe that someone is deliberately causing earthquakes along Futterman's fault," informed J. Gander.

        Duck Avenger gulped. Yup, this was anything but natural.

        The Director continued, "Seismographs were taken of the quake earlier today and compared with that of a recent one two months ago. They are anything but alike. We may be seeing the beginnings of a dangerous plot."

        • Darkwing Duck
          Darkwing Duck

          "Let me see that!" Darkwing said hurriedly, snatching the data from the gander's hand to peruse it.  "Hmmm...interesting.  Weren't a few buildings reported to have vanished, too?  Or - more accurately - fallen into a sinkhole?  According to these readouts, they seem to be getting more volatile..."  He held the paper just out of Duck Avenger's reach if he tried to get a peek at it.

          "Why yes - A. F. Erret's Cineplaza as well as the grocery center on Harlan Boulevard," J. Gander answered.  "What do you make of this, Avenger?"

          • Duck Avenger
            Duck Avenger

            "Well, if you'd stop being a jerk and let me see those graphs, I could tell ya!" Duck Avenger hopped up and snatched the papers from Darkwing's hand, successful after a couple tries. He studied them carefully.

            The seismographs seemed as normal as any other one he'd seen, which was admittedly not many. This kind of evidence was more One's cup of tea. He'd have to trust the SHUSH scientists and Darkwing's word when they said this was abnormal.

            The post-quake photos were fascinating. Street-level black-and-whites outlined the damages, from torn roads and newspapers strewn everywhere, to massive sinkholes where notable buildings used to be, just as Darkwing pointed out. What's more, the earth seemed to perfectly carved for this to be a natural-

            Did he just see what he thought he saw? Duck Avenger rubbed his eyes and peered closer at one of the photos.

            Yup. His eyes were spot-on.

            "Is that a mole walking around in fatigues?"

            • Darkwing Duck
              Darkwing Duck

              "What?!" Darkwing sputtered, snatching one side of the photo and squinting closely.  Finally he pulled out a magnifying glass and narrowed his eyes.  "I should have known.  Moliarty!  He has a pattern of snagging buildings - I wonder if he's building another giant tractor beam?"

              J. Gander cleaned his spectacles, unfazed.  "Well then, it sounds like you gentleman have a lead to go on.  I expect a report on your findings.  Good luck to you."

              Darkwing grumbled under his breath as they left the office about having to work with a caped clown who clearly was going to be a thorn in his side.  "Say Avenger?" he crooned slyly, putting an overly-friendly arm around Duck Avenger's shoulders.  "What's say we split up?  You take the Cineplaza and I'll take Harlan?"  Of course - Harlan was where the photo with the mole in it was taken.

              • Duck Avenger
                Duck Avenger

                Duck Avenger followed Darkwing out of the office. He rubbed his hands together at the prospects of meeting this so-called, "Moliarty", and teaching him a thing or two about pilfering buildings.

                He was brought out of his excitement by Darkwing's arm pulling him in close. He stiffened at the unwarranted contact.

                Splitting up? Yeah, he knew something was up. He had no idea where the Cineplaza or Harlan Boulevard, but he could smell an attention hog a mile away.

                It helped that his cologne was comparable to that of rancid salad vinaigrette.

                Duck Avenger squirmed out of Darkwing's side hug and brushed himself off. "Look, Darkwing, I don't know how you St. Canardians do your superhero-ing, but where I come from, many hands make light work. We can start at Harlan if you want, but it'd be best to stick together." He glanced from side to side. "That said...lastonethere'sarottenegg!"

                He zipped down the hall past Darkwing toward the stairs, leaving the purple purveyor spinning like a top.

                • Darkwing Duck
                  Darkwing Duck

                  When Duck Avenger pulled away, Darkwing folded his arms with a skeptical expression.  What was with these Duckburgian interlopers?  He didn't have long to think about it when the other hero darted away.

                  "Hey!" he cried.  It took him a second or two to regain his balance before he took off like a shot after the avenger.  "Oh no you don't!"

                  Rather than take a normal means of exit, Darkwing altered course and dove out of the nearest window - he'd blame the broken glass on Gryzlikoff later.  With finesse he used a grappling hook and rope to swing around the exterior of the SHUSH building and then landed with practiced ease on the Ratcatcher.  Once he caught sight of Duck Avenger, he flashed an arrogant smirk.

                  "You snooze you lose, Avenger!"  He sped off toward the scene.

                  • Duck Avenger
                    Duck Avenger

                    Reaching the ground floor, Duck Avenger shouldered open the exit to see Darkwing Duck on his motorcycle, waving smugly. After his smart comment, he was gone in a puff of exhaust.

                    How'd he do that?

                    "Joke's on you! I haven't slept in two days!" he yelled after, shaking his fist in that general direction. He dashed to the Revenger and hopped it. He too was gone in a puff of exhaust.

                    "That arrogant nitwit," he grumbled, One relaying directions via GPS. "The sooner this job is done, the better,"

                    It was nothing against St. Canard, the city across the Bay that was a bustling business sector in its own right. Just against the one crimefighter they were stuck with.

                    The Revenger stopped right behind Darkwing's motorcycle, and Duck Avenger stepped out, beholding the crater a few feet away that was very striking in comparison to the tall buildings surrounding him.

                    As he walked to the edge, he could see Darkwing nearby, snooping around.

                    "Didn't you say there was a grocery store here?" he called out.

                     

                    • Darkwing Duck
                      Darkwing Duck

                      Instantly the hero tensed and rolled his eyes.  Great, that asinine ninny made it.  "J. Gander," he called back in answer.  "He must be familiar with this area!"

                      Darkwing pulled out his magnifying glass and stooped to scan the ground.  All along the massive hole was crumbled concrete and rebar.  "It's like the quake was centered here," the masked mallard muttered.  "But why?  Moliarty angry they were out of cocktail weenies?"

                      He rounded the expanse toward the back of where the building should have been and paused near a dumpster.  There in some of the dust was a boot print.  Next to that was a crumpled can of Beetle Juice.  "Hmm," he frowned.

                      • Duck Avenger
                        Duck Avenger

                        Duck Avenger watched Darkwing traipse to and fro, beak to the ground, snooping around like a hungry dog sniffing out a meal.

                        What a fitting metaphor.

                        But who was this Moliarty character and why on Earth was he stealing buildings from where they stood? Duck Avenger crossed his arms and scanned the horizon. Piles of debris dotted the perimeter of the giant hole. Among the mounds of gray stone, green caught his eye among one nearby.

                        Seeing Darkwing continue to search through a dumpster on the other side, Duck Avenger thought he would do some investigating of his own. He snuck toward the concrete pile, careful to be as silent as possible. As he neared it, a radio's staticy voice made its way to Duck Avenger's hearing. The green he saw on top of the pile became a camouflage-covered helmet. Just like the one in the photo.

                        Seems this Moliarty had a straggler here.

                        "Yes, sir, Moliarty, sir," whispered the soldier. "Darkwing Duck is searching around, but don't worry. He won't get very far."

                        Time to jump him. Duck Avenger leaped behind the pile and tackled the mole soldier, knocking the radio out of his hand. "Darkwing!" he called out. "I've got a soldier! Stop sniffing dirt and get over here!"

                        • Darkwing Duck
                          Darkwing Duck

                          At the sound of his name, the hero perked up, a banana peel comically stuck to his fedora.  Then he raced over with a perturbed expression.  "I was not sniffing - hmm - I knew it!  One of Moliarty's minions!  Good thing I led you right to him!"

                          After a bit of preening - missing the peel - he leaned in toward their hostage with narrowed eyes.  "Where's your boss?  What's your next target?  What's he planning?"

                          The mole turned up his nose, clearly unintimidated.  "I'm not telling you fellas anything!"

                          • Duck Avenger
                            Duck Avenger

                            "Good thing I led you to him!" Oh, please.

                            "As if, Doltwing!" Duck Avenger retorted. "I found him while you were over there sifting through garbage!"

                            Darkwing paid no mind to Duck Avenger and proceeded straight to interrogating the mole soldier. Which didn't yield anything.

                            "Come on, talk! Or do we have to get nasty?" Duck Avenger reached into one of his pouches and pulled out a flashlight. He shined it right into the mole's face. "Now then, tell us where your boss is, or your future won't be so bright."

                            The mole squirmed under the bright light. Such a hurtful disadvantage of being a ground dweller.

                            "Alright, alright!" squeaked the mole.

                            Duck Avenger turned off the flashlight. Now we're getting somewhere.

                            "If you head down that hole, turn left at the first stalactite, make two rights after that, and go straight a ways, you'll find master Moliarty's lair. But don't think you can stop him! He'll never fall to surfacce dwellers in funny costumes!"

                            • Darkwing Duck
                              Darkwing Duck

                              Darkwing sneered.  "Surface dwellers in funny- hey!"  He frowned at the minion.  "I'll have you know I paid top dollar for these materials!  Besides I've defeated Moliarty before countless times.  No doubt he'll quake in fear when he learns Darkwing Duck is on the case!"

                              He took off down the hole, assuming Duck Avenger would follow, and followed the soldier's directions until they came to an opening that clearly led to the base of operations.  "Wait here," Darkwing directed his companion.  "I'll distract Moliarty while you take out the extras."

                              Before Avenger might argue, Darkwing disappeared in a puff of blue smoke only to be heard thundering over the camp.  "I am the terror that flaps in the night!"  Another puff of blue smoke appeared on a jutting rock face above them.  "I am a 10 on the Richter scale of justice!"  As the stuff cleared, Darkwing could clearly be seen striking a daring pose, his cape undulating in an unseen draft.  "I am...Darkwiiiiing Duck!"

                              • Duck Avenger
                                Duck Avenger

                                "Darkwing, wait!" called Duck Avenger, but it was too late as Darkwing leaped into the hole and disappeared into the darkness. He rolled his eyes, activated the X-Transformer's flashlight, and jumped in after him. The fall was slowed by the X-Transformer's thrusters before he touched down in the cavern below.

                                Darkwing was already quite a ways ahead so he ran to catch up, remembering the mole soldier's directions. After going straight for a bit, an opening revealed itself as the entrance to Moliarty's base.

                                Darkwing told him his plan, what there was of it, then vanished in smoke before Duck Avenger could so much as open his beak. Goldurned drama queen...he thought. He was going to make a big spectacle, then they'd be up to their chins in moles. He saw this buffoon enough on TV to know it would happen.

                                "I am the terror that flaps in the night!" Case in point. He saw Darkwing do his thing, silly as it looked, and groaned.

                                Duck Avenger dashed into the base as all eyes turned to him. "Alright, peat pushers," he said, readying himself, "who wants some?!"

                                As they charged, Duck Avenger got to work, beating down one, lasering another off his feet, even grabbing one by his stubby arm and bowling him into a group of camo-clad moles. "STEEERIKE!"

                                But what of this Moliarty? Where was that creep?

                                • Darkwing Duck
                                  Darkwing Duck

                                  Meanwhile, Darkwing deflated slightly.  "What happened to that diminutive digger?" he mused aloud.  Then he pouted.  "I wasted a gas cartridge and a dramatic entrance."  The villain had been in his sights before he had done his intro.  What gives?  Narrowing his eyes, he started looking for clues while Duck Avenger took care of the riffraff.  

                                  • Duck Avenger
                                    Duck Avenger

                                    "I knew you would try such a silly move, you little annoyance," echoed a particularly rodent-esque voice.

                                    Duck Avenger whipped around from a fallen soldier to see a diminutive mole in a suit and glasses standing atop a rocky pillar, a smug look across his snout. This must be Moliarty.

                                    "You didn't plan for me, though, didja?" shouted Duck Avenger.

                                    Moliarty looked at him and scoffed. "Great minds plan for every potential variable, which is why I'll be the doom of Calisota when I'm through with it! Seize them, my loyal subjects!"

                                    Duck Avenger gasped, then felt a sharp pain across the back of his head. He didn't even reach the ground before blackness totally enveloped him.

                                    • Darkwing Duck
                                      Darkwing Duck

                                      At the sound of Moliarty's smug voice, Darkwing whirled around with a glare.  "If you think I'm annoying, wait'll you get a load of Avenger there!"  Since he was above the minions and his compatriot, Darkwing took the opportunity to shoot a grappling hook into the cave ceiling and then swing toward his foe.  "Mo-yo-haiyo!!" he cried, aiming a webkick right for Moliarty's paunch.

                                      • Duck Avenger
                                        Duck Avenger

                                        Moliarty took the kick, flying back and slamming into the cave wall. He slid to the floor and shook off the stars. “Annoying?” he smirked, easing himself upright. “Whatever makes you think that?”

                                        He pointed to some soldiers some distance away, holding the knocked out Duck Avenger in their fists.

                                        ”Surrender, Darkwing Duck,” Moliarty threatened.” “If you won’t, your joke of a partner will be singing his last hurrah...in the slug pit.”

                                        • Darkwing Duck
                                          Darkwing Duck

                                          The caped crusader glanced over his shoulder and frowned when he saw his KO'd compatriot.  "Oh, figures."  He glanced around skeptically.  "I don't see any pit, and I'll have you know I've defeated Dr. Slug countless times, so bring it on, dirt breath!  I can save him and handle the likes of you and your pathetic peons!"

                                          • Duck Avenger
                                            Duck Avenger

                                            "Oh yeah? I know you talk a big game, but let's see you play," said Moliarty, stepping into the shadows.

                                            A rumbling permeated throughout the cavern, shaking every mineral. It grew louder and more violent until the wall in front of Darkwing came crashing down in a dusty avalanche. As the cloud settled, two slugs the size of tanks slithered out of the new cave, piloted by four mole soldiers each. Their antennae glowed red and they let out an ear-splitting roar, taking down loose stalactites with this unnatural mutation.

                                            As the roaring died down, Duck Avenger found himself awake and confused. He looked around, adrenaline spiking, and whacked the soldiers holding him across their snouts. He stumbled toward Darkwing and stared, astonished, at the giant slugs.

                                            "WAK!" he screeched. "What sick gardener mutated those freaks?!"

                                            As if in response, the moles fired their launchers at the two heroes. Duck Avenger ducked as a ball of slime splatted onto the rocky pillar behind him, and lurched to the floor in a gelatinous heap.

                                            Gross.

                                            • Darkwing Duck
                                              Darkwing Duck

                                              Darkwing's eyes widened as he shook right along with the rocks underfoot.  "Uh oh..." he muttered, then yelped when the wall fell away, trying to dodge debris.  He coughed and sputtered in the dust.  "Yipe!" he cried when the roaring slugs took out the stalactites.  His cape got pinned underneath one of the rocky bits, and he struggling to yank it out as the slugs drew near.  "Perhaps I...spoke too soon...!"

                                              He gulped just as he got splatted by a giant glob of goo.  Now he was trapped two ways.

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