Started from the Bottom

Previously on Duckverse… The return of Negaduck. Sighted, confirmed and subsequently smashed with evidence, Jade escapes the clutches of the psychopathic mallard— but only just barely. And little does out little duckette know, she has a little friend tagging along.
Reserved for Jade and Steelbeak.

She would not stop until she was a mile away from the warehouse. Why a mile? She didn’t know… maybe because she felt that a mile was where Negaduck drew the line for foot pursuit. Either way, panting, sweating, and looking pale the duckette leaned heavily against the cold brick siding of some long-ago closed down business.

Every breath was a bit of agony… but pressure helped. So every time she breathed in, she pushed against her ribs with her hand.

It was the only way she was getting the much needed oxygen into her.

But now she had no clue where to go. SHUSH was the only reasonable option… and she had no clue where their headquarters was located.

Weakly, she pulled open a pouch and fished out her cell phone. Maybe… with some luck… she could locate it with a moogle search?

    • Agent Steelbeak
      Agent Steelbeak

      "Bad night, Babes?" A familiar silhouette was leaning against the adjacent wall, polishing the screen on his cellphone.

      "You're looking a lot like de boys the day after the F.O.W.L News Years Party, ah-ah-ah-ah!"

      • Piper/ Jade
        Piper/ Jade

        For a split second, she was worried… Mostly that someone from Negaduck’s crew had caught up to her. But the annoying laugh that followed, and the tell-tale accent settled her nerves almost instantly.

        And she also quickly tucked her phone away. No SHUSH searching would be done with FOWL’s top agent standing right there.

        “Nothing quite… so festive…” she let out a breath and turned to look at him. They’d been paying her for information… right? Granted, they probably knew but…

        “Just got first hand confirmation that Negaduck is back is all.” a forced, crooked grin.

        • Agent Steelbeak
          Agent Steelbeak

          "Yeah, dat's old news. We knew coupla weeks ago when we picked up unusual activity on de F.O.W.L seismograph coming directly from Macawber's turf." A nonchalant wave of the hand.

          "So, what? You decided to just walk in dere to hand him a 'Welcome Back' gift basket or somethin'? Looks like it went over terrifically. 'First hand' indeed."

          • Piper/ Jade
            Piper/ Jade

            “I don’t have a seismograph in my back pocket, so forgive my need to actually look into the confirmation of rumors.” a bit more snappy than she normally would be but, she wasn’t exactly feeling her best at the moment.

            She straightened, recognizing that once again, her mouth was likely going to cause her problems. “Sorry.” she added in a calmer voice. “Was there something you needed?” Or do you just tend to hang around darkened street corners waiting for chicks in spandex to walk by… because so far this is the second time.

            • Agent Steelbeak
              Agent Steelbeak

              "A little bit 'o Column A an' a little bit 'o Column B." He flashed a dogged grin.

              "Seriously though, it's kinda reckless to go wandering in dere. The guy is a total nut, like a rabid dog let off-leash. I'm sure the Missus is real elated to have 'im back... which is good news for us. High Command sees his return as a real win for us."

              • Piper/ Jade
                Piper/ Jade

                “I was not sure he was in there. I went to see so..” a shrug. She’d explained this, hadn’t she?

                “And good news how…? She is basically going to fall back to the way she was befo—..” ding. Those lightbulb moments were pretty amazing.

                “Oh.” She’d overlooked that part, hadn’t she? For all of Malicia’s success, it was clear from an outside perspective that Negs had been what was holding her back before. And if she reverted now… FOWL had an open door to step in and take over.

                “…except there is still Negaduck to contend with.” she offered, finishing her thoughts aloud. “And he seems pretty anxious to get back to his career of chainsaw amputations.”

                • Agent Steelbeak
                  Agent Steelbeak

                  "Yeh, but we been dealin' wit 'ol Negsy for years. Aside from sending a few of our boys back to us in bloody gift-wrapped boxes after dey crossed 'is path, he doesn't get in our way much. Different M.O yanno? He likes to t'row his weight around, drink blended puppies, suck on skulls or whateva. An' best of all, he keeps Darkwing Dunce looking the othah way while F.O.W.L slips away wit all de moolah. He's nothing we can't handle."

                  Presumably. Steelbeak didn't care to meet the guy first-hand. That's what Eggman were for!

                  "But yeh, the second he rose from de dead, it was the final nail in the coffin for Macawber's career. We're not worried 'bout her anymore. In fact, I hear she's already losin' her cavalry, and he completely destroyed her last shipment. He's the Achilles to her well-manicured heel and everyone knows it. Guaranteed, within a month she'll lose her remaining grip on the city. Intel shows they're already starting to ask questions." He clicked his tongue and shook his head.

                  "Almost sad to watch a successful career woman let 'erself get dragged down like that. But hey, no skin off our beaks! Looks like you'll be outta work tho."

                  • Piper/ Jade
                    Piper/ Jade

                    “I noticed…” Jade confirmed. Tony had said basically the same thing, and she was not sure how much longer he and his band of merry men would be hanging on either. They were already worn thin and ragged.

                    Then to the topic of her…

                    “I’ll figure something out.” she said with a wave of her hand and a wince. She’d done alright before Malicia… “My resume has gotten pretty hefty after all.” Hah.

                    “But I don’t think it’ll go as easy as you think…” she added. “People don’t come back from five years of being dead without having changed.” In other words… she was advising him not to trust preexisting relations.

                    Another breath. “So… what did you need?” she asked, brow raised since he had yet to actually say what he was here for.

                    • Agent Steelbeak
                      Agent Steelbeak

                      "Moi?" He chuckled. "I'm 'tinking you're the one who could use a bit of assistance. Our doctors can patch you up real quick, they got all sorts of advanced technology and whatnot." He never bothered to learn the details. As long as they got rid of unsightly scars and blemishes, he didn't need the textbook explanation on advanced medicine.

                      "You know, dat offer to join us is still on de table if you're in need of a career change..."

                      • Piper/ Jade
                        Piper/ Jade

                        Her mind raced over two things…

                        One… he never actually offered to have her join FOWL. In fact…he’d made it pretty clear that she was NOT a member of FOWL… only the recipient of pay. Why the sudden change?

                        Two… it was going to look stupid if she did not accept medical help when it was so clear she needed it.

                        Stuck. Again.

                        She mulled for a moment more… then gave a nod. “I.. could use a doctor.” she admitted. If nothing more to get looked at. At least there she’d be safe for the time being…

                        • Agent Steelbeak
                          Agent Steelbeak

                          He grinned widely. "Fabulouso! Right this way, Babes." Beckoning her inside the building he had been leaning against. It was rather dingy-looking. In fact, one might mistake it for a crack den of some sort, given the boarded up windows and spray-paint graffiti.

                          Inside seemed no better. An abandoned store, it was dark, dingy, and a bit moldy. Steelbeak stopped in front of a wall adorned with a cracked, dusty mirror. He fiddled with the broken light-switch next to it, pulling back a panel to reveal a big red button (the best kind, of course). Pressing it, an embedded door slid open, and they were ushered into... a rather luxurious ballroom, a large fountain seated in the center.

                          He beckoned a few Eggman over -- one wearing a stethoscope and lab coat over his usual gear. "De lovely lady 'ere could use your medical know-how, Doc. She's had a rough day, and not de fun kind."

                          The EggDoctor nodded in response. "Right this way, M'am!"

                          • Piper/ Jade
                            Piper/ Jade

                            With only the slightest hesitation, she followed Steelbeak into the run down building, wondering just where he planned to take her. She assumed he had his car nearby or something and would be taking her for another wild ride.

                            But no… a fiddle and button push later she was met with an over abundance of wealth.

                            Just… how many secret places did all of these spy agencies have deposited throughout the city? Was her condo rigged with some magic big red button that would open up to another hidden room as well? Her eyelids lowered slightly in internalized annoyance… Show offs.

                            To Steelbeak’s comments she rolled her eyes slightly. As if she were that kind of girl… really.

                            Then to the Egg Doctor, she game a small smile. “Thank you.” she said kindly, following him with her hand over the pained area. “I appreciate the help.”

                            • Agent Steelbeak
                              Agent Steelbeak

                              "Yer in good hands, Babe." Watching her closely as she walked away in that tight vinyl. I can think of a few more hands that could look after ya.

                              She was brought into an exam room, where the doctor proceeded to perform a series of rather advanced medical techniques that the narrator is far too lazy to make up. Within a few hours, Jade would find herself feeling a lot less painful, and able to move freely.

                              "Just don't go jumping off rooftops or anything yet." The doctor warned her. "You're not fully healed up, but our advanced medical technique stuff the narrator can't be bothered to explain will help you substantially. Your ribs should be back to normal within a few weeks."

                              • Piper/ Jade
                                Piper/ Jade

                                She sat through the battery of advanced medical techniques that the narrator as too lazy to explain, thankful that it did not take too terribly long, nor was too terribly uncomfortable. As the doctor worked, she kept mulling around the offer in her head, pausing only to shift or move as she was instructed.

                                When the doctor finished, Jade sat up and gave her arm a rest rotation on the side that had been injured. No sharp, stabbing, breath stealing pain. All in all, she was more than thrilled with the results.

                                “I won’t.” she assured the doctor kindly when he had finished. What others did to her was another story… “Thank you very much for your help, I really appreciate it.” a light, kind smile was tossed the doctor’s way before she moved off the exam table.

                                Next goal? Home… for what she’d gotten out of it the time was short, but it was awfully late. She threw a look back towards where she had come in at and started in that direction.

                                • Agent Steelbeak
                                  Agent Steelbeak

                                  The doctor nodded in response and led her back out to the fountain, where Steelbeak was leaning against a wall (an awfully strange habit of his).

                                  "Feeling bettah, eh? FOWL Technology is somethin' else, that's for sure." Cheesy grin. "Now you can get back to whatevah shenanigans you like gettin yerself into."

                                  • Piper/ Jade
                                    Piper/ Jade

                                    "It really is." she agreed, stifling a yawn.

                                    "No shenanigans... I've had my fill for the night. I'm heading for bed." Polite way of excusing herself for the evening. "Thank you for your help." she added to Steelbeak, since he really had given her a hand. Then a pause... "I'll think more on that offer."

                                    Not unlike her since she'd taken time to consider his proposal to spy on Malicia.

                                    • Agent Steelbeak
                                      Agent Steelbeak

                                      He was tempted to crack a comment about whose bed she might be heading off to, but opted to bite his tongue for once. Somehow he suspected she would not appreciate his special brand of humor.

                                      "Sweet dreams, then." A playful wink. "Here's my number, if ya wanna call any time." Business card handed over to her.

                                      • Piper/ Jade
                                        Piper/ Jade

                                        She took the card and tucked it away in one of her pouches. "Goodnight then." she said with a small wave. She went out the way they'd come in... through the abandoned shop and then out into the night.