A Duck in Sheep's Clothing

Things don't always work out the way you want them to.

 

He hadn't been intending on staying in St. Canard for long. He was simply there to gather information about the city's bumbling hero and his weaknesses – anything from secret identities to allergies – then hand over that information to High Command. Simple and straightforward... nothing that should be too difficult for someone with his charm and silver tongue.

 

Unfortunately, in light of some new information, it appeared there was now another matter that needed to be addressed. And it looked like he may not be leaving St. Canard for quite a while.

 

There had been reports of a vampire hunter in joining the ranks of SHUSH. This was understandably an interesting development... and one FOWL needed to look into.

 

And that was why FOWL's U.K. Director was now playing the role of a mild-mannered English duck, sitting inside the office of J. Gander Hooter and waiting to be interviewed for the position of SHUSH agent.

 

Nigel made sure to put on the appropriate air of polite respect as he sat before the organization's director. He hadn't ever seen the man in person, but he knew enough about him. And while the man's small stature hardly made him very intimidating, Nigel made sure to show plenty of respect when addressed.

 

Next to SHUSH's director stood, quite literally, a bear of a man. Chief Agent Grizzlikoff, apparently. He'd heard the name, but knew little about him other than that he was a bit of a stickler for rules and regulations.

 

As Nigel sat quietly, hands clasped in his lap while the director peered over his application, he could feel the bear's eyes on him, glaring stonily. If Grizzlikoff was trying to fluster him, he would find himself rather disappointed. Nigel Mallard didn't become unnerved so easily.

 

He merely gave the Chief Agent a polite smile before bringing his eyes back to the director, awaiting him to speak.

    • J. Gander Hooter
      J. Gander Hooter

      "This seems rather... unusual," Hooter finally spoke, looking up from Nigel's files. "What reason do you-" his sentence was cut short when he noticed something and turned... to glance up his Chief Agent, raising a brow. This wasn't the first time it happened, but he just seemed to have this mindset that new agents do well under severe pressure. It chased off more new agents than the training course did.

      He turned back to Nigel, hoping to give him some ease. "For what reason do you have for joining S.H.U.S.H. as an agent? When I was your age, I was working for the director's position already."

      Some people had the strangest reasons for joining, but then again, they were signing up to risk their lives (and free time signing paperwork) for this organisation.

      • Nigel Mallard
        Nigel Mallard

        Hooter needn't be concerned about putting the man at ease. Nigel was quite unfazed by the bear's dour expression.

        “Admittedly, I'm not the youngest of applicants,” he conceded. “But, I can assure you, Director, that I am just as mentally fit as any twenty-year old... with the added benefit of being perhaps just a touch wiser,” he added jokingly. “As for why I'm here, I would think simply wanting to do good would be a decent enough reason, wouldn't it?”

        He smiled.

        “I'm well aware of the risks that come with being a SHUSH agent. But as I have no living family members, leaving behind a grieving family should the unthinkable happen is not an issue. And, quite frankly, I'm not the type who is willing to spend the rest of his days lazing about at home watching the telly.”

        • J. Gander Hooter
          J. Gander Hooter

          Hooter nodded with a smile at Nigel's explaination. "That is certainly agreeable," he said. "You should see half the explanations the recruits give me."

          Still, he couldn't help but feel a bit suspicious. Sure, Jacob and Derek were still agents in their mid-fifties... but Nigel didn't seem to be from around here.

          And his records seemed a little too perfect...

          He'd look into that later.

          Placing the papers back into the folder, he cleared his throat as he got down from the desk. "Everything seems to be in order. Now, if you'll follow us right this way, Agent Grizzlikoff will be giving you the standard S.H U.S.H. trial before we fully claim you as an agent. And for goodness sake, agent-" he turned to Grizzlikoff sternly. "Don't get carried away with this. We're paying for enough hospital bills as it is."

          • Vladimir Grizzlikoff
            Vladimir Grizzlikoff

            Oh, good! Now we get to the fun part.

             

            The malicious grin that had formed on the bear's face was quickly wiped away, however, as Hooter warned him not to overdo it. Realizing he'd been rubbing his hands in anticipation, Grizzlikoff quickly hid them behind his back and gave the director an innocently confused look.

             

            “Who, me? Don't be silly!” he said, brushing off Hooter's concerns. “I will be gentle as keeten.”

             

            A 300-pound kitten armed with rocket launchers, maybe.

             

            The grin returned and he motioned for Nigel to follow him. “I hope you aren't afraid of alligators,” he quipped.

            • Nigel Mallard
              Nigel Mallard

              Nigel looked a little concerned.  Not so much about the hospital bill remark, or even about the idea of dealing with alligators. But it was logical to assume that whatever trial involved alligators would also involve copious amounts of water.  And, thanks to an incident in his childhood, he did happen to get quite... nervous around large bodies of water.  It was rather embarrassing, and not something he cared to let anyone to know about.

               

              “You're joking,” he said, lifting a brow at the Chief Agent. He then turned to Hooter. “He is joking, right?”

               

              Besides, surely they wouldn't put a prospective agent in his fifties through the exact same testing as an applicant in, say, his twenties or thirties?  It wasn't that he wouldn't be able to handle the rest of the test; he was pretty fit for his age, even if his endurance wasn't quite what it used to be.

               

              That said, he'd make good use of just about any reason to get out of going through a test involving water.

              • Drake Mallard
                Drake Mallard

                If Agent Grizzlikoff wasn't annoyed before now he would be in a few minutes when out of smoke he appeared. When the smoke that threatened to set off the detectors cleared Darkwing was standing there in the doorway.

                "Got another victim, Grizz?" The crimefighter eyes Nigel. 

                He had just came back from an assignment investigating a scheme that was possibly connected with F.O.W.L. He was proud of the fact that he once again did a great job and loved it when he could rub it in whenever he was present in front of Grizz.

                "Good luck getting through the test. Although you'll never beat my record." He boasted. Darkwing was unaware that the new applicant was actually a F.O.W.L. agent. 

                • J. Gander Hooter
                  J. Gander Hooter

                  Hooter shook his head at Nigel's question. "S.H.U.S.H. only accepts the best. This method, dangerous and deadly as it may seem, is to put each and every new recruit to the t- good to have you join us, Darkwing," his explaination was cut short as the crimefighter appeared in a cloud of blue smoke. "Well done in your latest mission."

                  It was obvious Hooter respected Darkwing well beyond anyone else in this organisation, as he moved forward to shake his hand in greeting.

                  "Nigel Mallard, meet Darkwing Duck," Hooter introduced them both, hoping he could avoid another fight between the masked vigilante and his Chief Agent.

                  • Vladimir Grizzlikoff
                    Vladimir Grizzlikoff

                    Grizzlikoff opened his mouth to retort, but a stray puff of blue smoke had managed to find its way to him, drifting right into his face. Whatever words were on the bear's lips died abruptly as he let out a cough, irritably waving away the offending smoke.

                     

                    “Yes,” he retorted dryly, folding his arms and looking largely unimpressed at the hero's boasting. “Darkwing Duck does have quite the record... for sheer number of injuries sustained during testing.”

                     

                    Grizzlikoff flashed his typical self-satisfied smirk at Darkwing. The insufferable hero may have been lucky enough to make it through the test... barely. But at least it had been fun to watch.

                    • Nigel Mallard
                      Nigel Mallard

                      Nigel didn't have much time to think of a solution to his predicament. Before Hooter could even finish speaking, the interview had been interrupted by the appearance of a certain hero. One who had proven time and again to be a thorn in F.O.W.L.'s side.

                       

                      Of course, Nigel had a feeling that was more due to Steelbeak's own failings, rather than any prowess on the hero's part.

                       

                      Though Nigel hadn't ever had the opportunity to deal with Darkwing Duck, he had heard enough about him... and was quite aware of the masked mallard's rather large ego.

                       

                      After taking a moment to observe the banter between Darkwing and Grizzlikoff, Nigel stood and held out his hand towards Darkwing.

                       

                      “It's a pleasure to meet you," he greeted with a smile.  "I've heard much about your heroics. The people of St. Canard must consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have such a capable hero watching over their city.”

                       

                      Just as Darkwing was unaware of Nigel's connection with F.O.W.L., Nigel was equally unaware that they apparently shared the same last name.

                      • Drake Mallard
                        Drake Mallard

                        "You're just angry that I beat your tests, Grizz." Darkwing huffed. There was some injuries during the test but he had shrugged them off and kept on going which he recalled annoyed the agent.

                        But enough about him. Apparently, Nigel knew greatness when he saw it since he was complimenting him now. Which only served to puff up his ego more. But when he went to shake Nigel's hand, he paused for a moment.

                        "Mallard?" 

                        That name caught him off guard. 

                        "I see Hooter's been hiring more agents with the last name of Mallard." He tried to regain composure.

                        • J. Gander Hooter
                          J. Gander Hooter

                          Hooter shrugged. "He approached us, and we don't turn down a new recruit. We are now putting his reflexes to the test."

                          Still, he'd keep an eye on Nigel. Something just wasn't right. People usually had a hard time taking to Darkwing... 

                          Or he was just worrying over nothing.

                          "As you have been very successful in your trial, perhaps you'd like to oversee his trial with Grizzlikoff?" And make sure the agent doesn't cause the new recruit any unnecessary harm

                          But seriously, Hooter had a feeling it was just going to cause them both harm.

                          • Nigel Mallard
                            Nigel Mallard

                            Nigel raised a brow at Darkwing's reaction. He was quite certain that the last name Mallard wasn't incredibly uncommon. So, when the hero had seemed just a little flustered there for a moment, he thought it a bit strange.

                            Still, there were more pressing matters to deal with. If any part of this testing did indeed involve water, that would pose a problem. Unfortunately, at the moment, there was little he could do without yet knowing what exactly they were going to ask him to do.

                            He supposed he would just have to wait and see.

                            • Vladimir Grizzlikoff
                              Vladimir Grizzlikoff

                              When Hooter suggested Darkwing help oversee the test, Grizzlikoff, unsurprisingly, objected.

                               

                              “Sir, I must deject! I am being perfectly capable of overseeing trial. Darkwing Dolt will be nothing but distraction!”

                               

                              Grizzlikoff knew that Hooter rarely ever listened to his protests when Darkwing was involved, but that never stopped the bear from vocalizing his displeasure.

                              • Drake Mallard
                                Drake Mallard

                                "Considering I've been through the trial myself, it only makes sense I help see it along." Darkwing folded his arms after finishing the hand shake with Nigel.

                                Then to Nigel. "We just got a new agent recently with the last name of Mallard.  He's working in the new department dealing with supernatural cases.  Also, a former agent has returned after being on leave. Also, a Mallard. Guess S.H.U.S.H. attracts Mallards."

                                 He wasn't sure about Nigel. Something seemed strange about him.  He wasn't willing to risk exposing his identity of being a Mallard just yet. In fact, was still recovering from the shock that not only he had more family but his father who had disappeared had just returned. He hadn't even confronted his father yet.

                                Shoving the thoughts behind he motioned impatiently to Grizz. "If we're training him we better get started."

                                • J. Gander Hooter
                                  J. Gander Hooter

                                  Hooter really hoped this one wasn't going to turn out to be a fight. There were times when Darkwing and Grizzlikoff could work together to accomplish something... and he had a feeling this wasn't one of the times.

                                  Still, the hero was already here. He would be most helpful in overseeing the trial with Grizzlikoff. Unlike the agent, Darkwing never went overboard with the controls in the control room. 

                                  Something stirred in his mind, from what Darkwing told him a long time ago. The S.H.U.S.H. agent in the new supernatural department, Trevor Mallard, was someone close to Darkwing. And he seemed affected by Jacob Mallard's return. And then there was this apparent shock upon introduction of Nigel Mallard...

                                  And Nigel Mallard. There was something about him Hooter couldn't quite place...

                                  He stored it all somewhere at the back of his mind to ponder on it later. Right now, they had to put their new recruit to the test. 

                                  "Let's get going, then."

                                  • DarkwingPsycho
                                    DarkwingPsycho

                                    Just before J. Gander could open the office door to lead them out to the training course, it opened, revealing a tall, well-dressed mallard with slicked-back hairfeathers and coal black eyes.  The agent smirked, his gaze travelling briefly over the quartet in the room, and handed a folder out toward the director.

                                    "Oh, I didn't realize you had company, John.  Here's that file you wanted, with the updated surveillance."  While Jacob Mallard was a fantastic and well-trained agent, he wasn't known for his documentation skills.

                                    He nodded his head amicably toward Grizzlikoff.  "Chief Agent."

                                    Although there had been a fifteen year gap in his SHUSH career, only recently returning to his post, Jacob seemed to be settling into things smoothly.

                                     

                                    ((OOC: I thought this may be a good place to jump in, but if not  - let me know and I'll wait!))

                                    • Vladimir Grizzlikoff
                                      Vladimir Grizzlikoff

                                      Once again finding himself overruled, Grizzlikoff folded his arms and glared, annoyed, at Darkwing.

                                       

                                      Da. Fine,” he relented curtly when the hero suggested they get started. “But you best be keeping out of way. This is serious training exercise, and I will have no Darkwing Disaster ruining it.”

                                       

                                      Finger-jab to Darkwing's chest on the words 'Darkwing Disaster,' for emphasis.

                                       

                                      Before they could go anywhere, however, the door to the office opened, and they were joined by another.

                                       

                                      The bear nodded his head in return at Jacob's greeting. “Agent Mallard.”

                                       

                                      ((OOC: This is good, glad to have Jacob join in!  Also, FYI, I'll be out of town today through Saturday. But Nigel and Grizz should be back sometime Sunday. :D))

                                      • Nigel Mallard
                                        Nigel Mallard

                                        Upon Darkwing's explanation, Nigel appeared mildly surprised. “Well, that is quite the odd coincidence, isn't it?”

                                         

                                        Still, he knew that Mallard wasn't too uncommon a name, so he continued to brush it off as just that – a coincidence.

                                         

                                        Just as they were about to leave, the door opened to reveal a smartly dressed agent. Nigel immediately took notice of the man addressing the director by first name. Obviously, they must be close.

                                         

                                        Nigel's eyes widened slightly in interest upon Grizzlikoff's greeting. This man was one of the Mallards, then? From what Darkwing had said, one of them had been assigned to a new department dealing with the supernatural... and if there really was a monster hunter working for SHUSH now, that would most likely be the department he'd be in.

                                         

                                        Of course, it wasn't clear which of the two Mallards this one was, or if the monster hunter was even a Mallard at all.  But that information would come in time.

                                         

                                        Well-mannered man that he was, Nigel would politely wait to be introduced. In the meantime, he was interested in seeing what relation this man had with Hooter. Such information could prove useful later on.

                                        • Drake Mallard
                                          Drake Mallard

                                          Darkwing glared at Grizzikoff when he was jabbed. "I am not a disaster!" He felt his feathers bristle in irritation. He felt insulted plus his jabbing was wrinkling his freshly cleaned and pressed coat. 

                                          The nerve of that bear!

                                          As they were starting to head out towards the training area, Darkwing paused when Jacob entered into the office.

                                          "Agent Mallard." He greeted before trying to brush past him.

                                          • J. Gander Hooter
                                            J. Gander Hooter

                                            "Late as always, Jacob," Hooter grinned, taking the file from the agent. He'd probably spend later trying to sort them all out, but if he knew his friend it was pretty much done. "Thank you for doing them."

                                            He glanced at Nigel. "I'd like you to meet one of S.H.U.S.H.'s best agents, Jacob Mallard. Jacob Mallard, our new recruit, Nigel Mallard."

                                            Come to think of it... maybe Darkwing had a point... 

                                            He sensed the tension around the masked hero as he tried to pass Jacob, but said nothing. 

                                            "We were just going to put his skills to the test. Would you care to join us?"

                                            • DarkwingPsycho
                                              DarkwingPsycho

                                              Jacob moved back a step slightly as a duck in a mask moved past him briskly.  He didn't think he'd met the mallard, but assumed that he knew his name based off of Grizzlikoff's response to his greeting.  He wondered who the duck in purple was, but given the passive-aggressiveness of his actions, he brushed it off and maintained his good humor.

                                              He straightened his suit needlessly and stuck out a hand toward Nigel, flashing a charismatic grin at the Director's compliment.  "Another Mallard, eh?  I'm sure you'll do us proud."  Mallard was rather common.  The thought that they may be related in any way, shape, or form never even crossed Jacob's mind.

                                              He looked at J. Gander and began following the group out of the door after the caped duck.  "I'd love to, John.  I just hope the place has improved since we were recruits.  At least Pondrains is gone, eh?"  Agent Pondrains had been in charge of J. Gander and Jacob's training squadron, and had been nothing short of an arrogant blowhard.

                                              His attention was back on Nigel.  "Where are you from, friend?"

                                              • Nigel Mallard
                                                Nigel Mallard

                                                Nigel had also noticed the brusque attitude the hero was giving Jacob, and briefly wondered if there was some history there. He accepted Jacob's handshake and nodded. “I intend to,” he replied, giving the agent a polite but confident smile in return.

                                                 

                                                Though he hid it well, Nigel was a touch annoyed when Hooter invited Jacob to watch. Did all prospective agents get an entire audience for their testing, or was he just lucky?

                                                 

                                                As they followed Darkwing out to the testing area, Nigel overheard Jacob's conversation with Hooter. So, that explained the familiarity between them. It also confirmed that Jacob was most likely not the newly hired Mallard in the supernatural department. Still, it couldn't hurt to get to know someone personally close to the director.

                                                 

                                                “London,” Nigel answered. “Lived there my entire life. One day, I realized I wasn't getting any younger, and decided it was time to go out and see the world. Eventually, I landed here.”

                                                 

                                                He glanced sideways at the agent as they walked. “And you? It sounds like you've been with S.H.U.S.H. for quite some time. I don't suppose you'd have any tips you'd be willing to share with a new recruit?” he asked jokingly.

                                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                                  ((OOC: I wasn't sure if I should go or not since DW and Hooter haven't responded in a bit, but I'll go ahead.))

                                                  Jacob smiled, feeling a bit of an ego boost at the thought of being asked to "pass along wisdom."

                                                  "Oh, I've been an agent for a few years," he said cryptically.  "Local and otherwise.  I've been to London a few times - a beautiful city.  As for 'tips,' well..."  He looked pointedly from J. Gander to Nigel.  "Perhaps that's best left for another time."

                                                  He smirked boyishly at John.

                                                  "What made you decide to land in St. Canard of all places?" he asked Nigel curiously.

                                                  • Trevor Mallard
                                                    Trevor Mallard

                                                    "Director Hooter!" Trevor called out from the hall when he spotted the group. He and his partner were bringing their paperwork when everyone had filed out of the office.

                                                    He was surprised at the number of people in the group along with faces he hadn't seen before.

                                                    "Is there a meeting I was unaware about?" He asked.

                                                    • J. Gander Hooter
                                                      J. Gander Hooter

                                                      "I couldn't agree more," Hooter said, smiling wryly. Any recruit under that squadron really suffered. Any small offence was punished severely. And it didn't help that Jacob couldn't keep his straightforward and sarcastic self shut. Ah, good times. 

                                                      "Oh, I assure you, it has gotten much worse," he told Jacob with a helpless smile. "Agent Grizzlikoff has made sure of that."

                                                      He glanced over at the curly-feathered duck and his vampire assistant as he entered the office with a stack of paperwork. Motioning to him to place it on his desk, right in front of his seat, while Nigel and Jacobwere talking, he began with the introductions once again.

                                                      "We were just about to leave to give our new recruit, Nigel Mallard, his trial, to see if he's suitable for the agency," Hooter explained, gesturing to Nigel. "Nigel Mallard, this is one of our new agents, Trevor Mallard. He works for our supernatural department to deal with the unknown."

                                                      Whether it had occurred to him or not that there were now three Mallards in this room, all which resembled each other in some small way, he didn't show it. 

                                                      "We were all leaving right now... I don't suppose you'd be interested to see someone go through the trial like you recently did?"

                                                      Yes. It was quite the party. Lucky Nigel.