The Crime Before Christmas
"Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Greenhouse, something was stirring, but it wasn't a mouse. Stockings were placed on chestnut trees with care, as all hoped that stolen gifts would soon be there. The criminals were all cozy, as they have all said, while visions of successful capers danced through their heads—"
"Enough with the cheesy story!" Megavolt finally snapped as he dropped the small yellow bulb he was using to replace one of the colored lights. He scowled as he climbed back down the shaky ladder. "I can't concentrate up here."
"But it was just getting good..." Quackerjack whined, putting on his best sad face.
"Yeah, it was getting so good that I was just thinking I would do anything to get you to stop." Sarcasm was thick in his nasally voice as he located the lost light bulb.
"Really? Anything?" The jester's grin was wide and devious.
"Any contractor worth his pay would tell you to reconsider the terms you have put forward." Liquidator remarked as Megavolt began looking rather nervous. "The odds that such a statement will lead to anything enjoyable are quite slim."
"Never mind that now." Bushroot said with a bit of irritation in his tone. He placed his leaves on his hips as he stared at the toymaker who blithely stared back. "I thought you were going to help set up some of the lighted decorations on the ground."
"Was I supposed to?" He replied innocently.
"You said you were going to."
"Did I? Well, I must have found that job so boring that I put it from my mind. You know what that's like, don't you?"
"Can't say I do." Bushroot responded as patiently as he could. He was aware that his fellow criminal had a very short attention span and that sticking to a plan or schedule could be rather hard for him. "Anyway, we all agreed we wanted to get this done today so we could be free to enjoy the Christmas party tomorrow. You remember that, right?
It was for that very reason that the four of the Fearsome Five members were in his Greenhouse now. They had all enjoyed themselves at their Christmas party last year, even with a visit from Darkwing Duck and a short stint in jail. All of the villains had decided to help with the decorating, though perhaps the jester had concurred with the idea without putting much thought into it.
"Well, yeah..." Quackerjack hedged before pulling on the ends of his hat and twisting them under his chin. "but we've been doing this for hours!"
"No, we haven't." Megavolt interjected, looking at the watch hidden under his blue gloves. "In fact, we've only been here a half an hour so far."
"Same difference." The jester stuck his tongue out at the rat before turning back to Bushroot with Mr. Banana Brain in hand. "Besides, remember the old saying: all work and no play makes all of us dull boys, Troy." The squeaky voice informed all of them.
"Yes, well, all play and no work make, um, well, it makes it so nothing gets done." The plant mutant finished lamely. He was trying to find a way to convince Quackerjack to get back to work, when Liquidator stepped in.
"How about this for a bargain?" The ex-salesman went right up to the jester and placed a wet arm around him. "Why not try the patented work and play system? The consumer uses this method to offset boredom, while still being productive. In other words, do a little bit of the job assigned to you, then take a fun break and continue on with the procedure until the task at hand has been completed satisfactorily."
"Hey, anything with word 'fun' in it is a bargain to me," the toymaker shook the liquid dog's hand up and down emphatically, "so you've got yourself a deal."
"There is a little bit of fine print on this offer that you might like to hear before signing on to it."
Quackerjack deflated a little at the statement. "That being?"
"The 'fun' clause in this bargain does not in any way give you free reign to do anything that would harm the plants in the Greenhouse, destroy precious equipment or cause any unwanted results to your villainous associates. Do we have a deal?"
"Sure." The large-billed duck said agreeably. "Rules have never stopped me from having fun before, they've only made me more creative in my games."
With that, Quackerjack bounced off, presumably to either do work or have fun. The botanist turned back to Liquidator, who was feeling uneasy about the last line the clown had said to them all.
"Do you really think that was a good idea?"
"Yeah, I have personal experience with how good he is in finding loop holes in any agreement he makes." Megavolt chimed in as he made his way back up the ladder.
"Hence why I added in some strict guidelines into the contract." The ex-salesman answered the electric rodent before addressing Bushroot again. "As for your inquiry, I personally endorse my solution. It is flexible enough to keep him entertained, while getting him to do a minimum amount of work." Liquidator then leaned in closer to the plant mutant's ear and whispered: "Besides, it will keep him out of circulation and provide the rest of us with less distractions. Thus, our time will be managed much more efficiently."
Bushroot, finding that he couldn't argue with that logic, smiled and nodded. The aqua dog patted him on the back and the two of them went back to work. The next twenty minutes or so were relatively quiet and the three villains got a lot of work done. Megavolt was just about to climb back down the ladder, having finished his burnt out light bulb repair, when something in the distance caught his eye.
"Hey Bushy, have you been working on flying pots for your plants?"
"Flying what?" The green duck questioned in confusion. He wasn't sure he heard that one right and, if he had, it made no sense to him.
Scowling, the electric rodent pointed to something going on above a tall palm tree. He didn't like having to repeat himself. "Come here and look over that tree."
Curious, Bushroot walked over to the designated position and glanced above the palm tree. Immediately, his hands were on the sides of his head and a shocked expression went across his face.
"My new designer planting pots! I just stole those!"
Without another word, he rushed forward towards where the pots were being tossed in the air. Liquidator quickly glided on his heels, while Megavolt jumped down off the ladder and hurried to catch the commotion. The botanist screeched to a halt right in front of Quackerjack, who was currently juggling nine expensive pots in the air at a high rate of speed.
"What are you doing? Stop that!" Bushroot shouted, causing the toymaker to flinch. He lost his concentration and one of the pots fell to the ground and shattered. Luckily, Quackerjack managed to catch the other pots, four in each hand and balance them so as to save them from the same fate. He looked up at the plant duck who was glaring at him.
"What? That wouldn't have happened if you hadn't shouted at me, you know."
"None of this would have happened at all if you hadn't started juggling the pots!" The mutant scientist hissed back.
"A boring technicality." Quackerjack said offhandedly as he placed the remaining pots on the ground. Bushroot grit his teeth at the answer and very much looked as though he was about to ask one of his many vines to strangle the jester. A wet hand on his shoulder stopped him.
"Perhaps it would be best if our fun loving associate took a break outside." Liquidator spoke in a soothing tone, trying to appease both parties. "I'm sure there is plenty of entertainment to be found just outside these glass walls."
"Now you're speaking my language." The jester answered cheerfully as he rocked back and forth on his feet. "And you know what would be really, really fun right now? Committing some crimes!"
"No!" Bushroot snapped irascibly. "I'm not going on any capers today or tomorrow and that's final."
"Well, I figured you wouldn't since that was your rule last year." The colorfully clad duck responded with no less cheer than before. "As for the rest of us—"
"New rule." Bushroot cut in, deciding it was best to put his root down for a change. "No one does any crimes on Christmas Eve or Christmas who is attending my party."
"No fair!" Quackerjack whined pathetically. The plant duck ignored him, still feeling annoyed at him for destroying the designer pot.
"Come on, Bushy, that is a little harsh, don't you think?" Megavolt asked as he went over to console his wilting jester friend. Having two of them against him made him lose a bit of his assertiveness and he decided to back down a little.
"Fine." He replied with a sigh. "Then, how about this? If you have to get it out of your system, then go out there and commit some crimes. However, they must be over with before Christmas and they can't somehow be traced back to my Greenhouse. Got it?"
Megavolt nodded and Quackerjack mock saluted him. "Got it." The jester replied as he grabbed Megavolt's wrist. "Then, we'll be going."
"'We?'" The rodent repeated as the harlequin clad duck began tugging his arm.
"Of course, we." Quackerjack pulled hard on the others arm as he started walking towards the door causing the electric villain to yelp as he almost fell on his face. "You said earlier you had some big caper planned for today, remember?"
"No." Megavolt's response was aggravated, but whether it was at the clown tugging him along or at his own faulty memory was anybody's guess.
"Of course you don't." The toymaker said cheerfully as he opened the Greenhouse door. "That's why you have me around to help."
"Okay. Wait, what exactly are you helping me with?"
The answer to the question was not heard as the Greenhouse door shut behind the pair of eccentric villains. Silence filled the Greenhouse for a brief moment before it was broken by Bushroot's long sigh. Liquidator, who was picking up the pieces of the broken pot to dispose of, looked over at his partner in crime at the noise.
"Feeling exasperated? Worn out? In need of a break from unexpected antics? Then, a patented crime break for two of our guests is just what you need to restore your energy!" The plant duck was smiling as he finished his slogan and the water dog ruffled his petals a bit. "See? Sources show it's only been a few minutes and you already look less stressed."
"Don't get me wrong. I like Quackerjack and there certainly isn't a dull moment when he's around, but sometimes it can be a bit too much for me. You know what I mean?"
"You don't have to outline any details to me, Reggie. This discriminating salesman understands what you mean. Now, I can give you my personal guarantee that the two of us will get all the decorations up and ready before the day is out. Come on, let's get back to work."
Bushroot followed Liquidator back to the middle of the Greenhouse to continue their decorating. Time passed quickly and soon enough the mutant scientist was feeling cheerful again after the designer pot incident. After an hour and a half, when they were nearing the end of their project, Liquidator asked if he could turn on the stereo that he had stolen for Bushroot last year and put on some Christmas tunes. Though not entirely thrilled with the idea, the green duck gave in when the ex-salesman advertised that it would be certain to bring in the holiday cheer.
It was dark when the pair of villains were finishing up the decorations for the Greenhouse. When they only had a few boxes of ornaments left, both were startled from their work when a familiar nasally voice interrupted the sound of 'The Holly and the Ivy' and presented them with the following message:
"Hello there all you faithful listeners. Enjoying those Christmas songs you hear only once a year? Well, that's really too bad since I've just taken control of every station that plays Christmas songs." A couple of cruel laughs rang out before the message continued. "Now, just to show that I'm not a total Grinch, I will put the Christmas songs back on the air—for the right price of course. If this faithful audience donates a total of fifteen thousand dollars to St. Canard's KJR station, then all the songs will be put back on the air. If not, then St. Canard will have to go without Christmas music this year. If you don't want to dampen the holiday cheer, then get the money to me by midnight tonight. Oh and if you try anything funny, you'll be in for a shocking holiday. So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
A few more laughs were heard as the message faded out and all that was left was static. Liquidator shook his watery head and glided over to turn off the stereo.
"At least we know what he's up to." The half-plant half-duck said as the liquid dog silenced the static sound that was coming out of the speakers. "So, um, do you think it will work?"
"The statistics by the Liquidator's calculations is that this scheme has a fifty-fifty chance at success. However, the likelihood that our electric friend will get away if something goes wrong is significantly higher."
"I hope you're right about that." Bushroot replied uncertainly as he picked up one of the last boxes of ornaments. "I wish him good luck with that at least."
"As do I, but let us put this from our minds for now. Our work here is almost complete."
Bushroot and Liquidator went on with their work, figuring if they didn't hear from Megavolt again by tomorrow they would assume something had gone wrong with his plot. Another hour passed and the two were finally done with the decorations. They high fived each other and stood back to admire their handiwork.
"Well done, my plant-loving associate. Any home decorating magazine would declare this as nothing less than an exquisite piece of work."
"It is pretty cool." The plant duck had to admit as he looked at all the strings of lights, ornaments on all kinds of trees, lit decorations all over the ground and all other abundance of flashing odds and ends. They had spread everything out enough so that all the colors complimented each other well and it wasn't overly gaudy. "Thanks for helping me out with this."
"Anytime. The Liquidator aims to please." He finished with his signature smile.
As Liquidator continued to move about and admire their handiwork, the botanist felt a little bit of fatigue from the work they had been doing. Deciding to get off his roots for a bit, he flipped on the TV and plopped down on a lawn chair he had stolen a while back. The station was playing a classic Christmas movie where the kid wished for a BB gun as his present. Mildly amused, the mutant scientist debated whether to stay with this or change the channel when a special news bulletin took over the screen. Tom Lockjaw appeared as the news team's logo subsided and gave his normal hammy introduction to the story.
"This is Tom Lockjaw reporting from the warehouse district with a special news bulletin. Citizens are fleeing their homes tonight as a giant robot reigns down destruction on downtown St. Canard. Fortunately, it doesn't seem as though the robot is tearing down apartment buildings or any non-commercial buildings. The motivation behind this attack or the perpetrator behind it are unknown at this time, though the machine has targeted quite a few banks and purloined the money inside. Take a look at this disturbing footage taken from the scene."
The camera changed focus to show scenes of destruction being done by, what looked to be, a giant robotic Santa Clause. The robot was designed much like a wind up toy, looked as though it had taken a great deal of time to make and that it was running on a lot of electric power.
Bushroot blinked at the scene on his small television set, trying to take in what he was seeing. Liquidator was by his side a minute later, viewing the same report with his arms crossed and his eyebrows raised. Finally the two of them looked at each other, both sharing expressions of disbelief and resignation.
"It couldn't be..." Bushroot tried to think of another explanation, but fell short.
"Any discriminating journalist would ask you who else it could possibly be?"
"Well, you never know. Maybe there's a new villain in town who shares the same interests as them."
Liquidator said nothing in response to this. He merely raised both of his eyebrows higher and kept his liquid expression set on firm disbelief.
"Oh, who am I kidding! You're probably right." The plant duck slapped a hand on his beak in frustration.
"This just in!" Both villains tuned back in as Tom Lockjaw reappeared on the screen with a hand to his ear. "The robots attacks have become more widespread. The machine, which used to be working with more controlled movements, is now blindly destroying everything in its path! Several non-commercial buildings have now been knocked in for no apparent reason to this reporter. Either the person behind the robot has lost control or has become more indiscriminate in their attacks. We'll report more on this terrible incident when we have more information on the motivation behind these savage attacks. For now we'll have live coverage of the damage being done to our fair city. What an awful surprise for the holiday season.."
"It seems likely you will be found as an accessory to this latest crime." The ex-salesman remarked with mild amusement as he watched the carnage unfold on the screen.
"What? How so?" The plant duck inquired with indignation clear in his voice.
"Simple. The Liquidator recollects that it was the idea of our local plant-loving mutant to tell two of his associates to get their crooked schemes out of their system before they attend his party tomorrow. Thus, a little market research shows that this whole event is your idea brought to fruition."
"What?" Bushroot said in exasperation. "That's ridiculous! When I told them that, I thought they'd rob a few banks or steal a few Christmas presents or, I don't know, take a few electronics and steal a few toys. I never suggested they do something like this."
"The Liquidator would advise that in the future our local plant lover should define his terms to the letter, especially when dealing with criminals suffering from overactive imaginations."
Bushroot groaned and buried his head in his leaves. When he looked up again, he gave his watery companion a pleading look. "You don't really think I'm going to get blamed for this, do you?"
"The odds of it are, in this dog's calculation, seventy-five to twenty-five. In layman terms, it's more likely that our lucky contestant will be found not guilty. However, be advised that he amount of chaos and destruction wreaked by this crazy scheme will certainly factor in to the dealings of guilt and punishment and will undoubtedly begin evening the odds."
"So, what should we do?" The botanist questioned with a long sigh.
"We don't have to do anything." Liquidator replied offhandedly as he turned away from the screen. "As the consumer has aptly pointed out, neither one of us specifically told the pair of them to do anything remotely this extreme. Our presence at the scene of this mayhem will only guarantee our positions as accessories to the crime committed. Besides, the Liquidator personally has nothing at stake in this arrangement and sees no reason to offer his services to remedy the situation."
Bushroot crossed his arms at the liquid dog with a frown on his bill. The ex-salesman saw that his partner in crime wasn't satisfied with his answer, so he shrugged his shoulders and decided to elaborate.
"Look, Reggie, it's unfortunate that they misconstrued your idea to such fantastic lengths," the water dog said calmly as he straightened out a string of lights, "but marketing research shows there is very little that we could do about it now. Better for the two of us to stay here and enjoy the holiday rather than wind up in a jail cell because we tried to help clean up someone else's mess."
The liquid dog's voice showed finality on the decision, which only made Bushroot pout all the more. He really didn't want to spend another Christmas, even if it was only temporary, in jail. Frowning, the green duck tried to think of a way to convince the former salesman to aid his cause. After all, Liquidator always got him to participate in all of his schemes one way or the other. He just needed to come up with the kind of persuasive argument that Liquidator always used on him. Trying to think of how to go about doing this, he stared absently at the TV for a moment when something caught his eye. Grinning mischievously at his luck, he pointed to the screen and spoke in the most innocent voice possible:
"Say, isn't that you're bottled water factory in the background?"
Immediately, Liquidator whipped around to check. His hollow dark blue eyes widened as he recognized his business in the background amidst the chaos. His long ears rose and both of his hands were raised up to his mouth, a look of distinct horror on his face.
"Gee, it looks like it might be destroyed in all the carnage." Bushroot remarked as he purposefully stared at his leaves, trying to control his grin. "Well, as you said earlier, it's not our mess to clean up and we shouldn't inconvenience ourselves on their behalf."
"The Liquidator, a dog who is a quite adaptable in these ever-changing situations, happily retracts his statement." The ex-salesman stood up and placed a hand into the air, going into his full salesman mode. "Adhering to the times is important to gaining the satisfaction of customers and business people. As such, and this being the time of good will towards men, it is my bold suggestion that we willingly give a helping hand to our fellow criminals free of charge, for a limited time only. Would you, my dear plant-loving associate, be willing to buy a share in this once a year deal?"
"You've got me sold." Bushroot said with amusement.
"Great!" Liquidator reached over, grabbed his wrist and started dragging him along. "Your savvy partner in crime knows the quickest route directly to our bargained place. In other words, don't delay, act now!"
A few hours earlier...
Once they had departed the Greenhouse, Megavolt finally remembered that he had planned a caper for the day and needed to finish the machine he was going to use back at his apartment hideout. He and Quackerjack parted ways, though not before the jester guaranteed that they would meet again later that evening. The rat shrugged off the statement and hurried back to his hideout to finish his latest dastardly invention.
"I've done it!" Megavolt shouted in triumph. "I have completed my radio wave transfer unit! With this baby in my arsenal, I can control every radio station in St. Canard. And, with the radio under my control, I can take away all those precious Christmas songs and hold them for ransom 'till someone pays me a nice, big wad of cash for them! 'Tis the season, after all."
He let out a few laughs and left his apartment hideout with the device in hand. The electric rat made it to the KJR station and had no trouble installing the instrument and carrying out his evil scheme. When his message had been sent to the public, he put his feet on the desk in front of him and relaxed, patting himself on the back for a job well done. He wasn't expecting anyone for a while to meet his demands, thus he jumped pretty high in his chair when a voice spoke to him out of nowhere.
"Pleased with yourself?" Quackerjack asked with his hands behind his back.
"Yes, actually." Megavolt said proudly once he straightened up again. "I just took away all the Christmas songs in the city and if they want them back, the public's gonna have to pay me through the nose to get them."
"That's it?" His partner in crime questioned with a raised eyebrow. The jester didn't seem impressed at all.
"What do you mean, 'that's it?'" Megavolt demanded. "I'll have you know it took me a long time to create the radio wave transfer device for this plot of mine. Besides, I don't see you committing any grand capers at the moment."
"I'd be happy to change that for you," Quackerjack replied with a big grin, "but unfortunately I'm going to need someone to charge the batteries for me. You can help me out with that, right?"
"Why should I?" The electric rat snapped back, still annoyed with his earlier comment about scheme.
"Because it's that special time of year when you're supposed to do nice things for people." The toymaker flipped over to where the yellow jump-suited rodent was sitting, pulled him from his chair, then started pushing him towards the door. "Besides, it'll be fun!"
"Ow! Hey, stop pushing me!"
"Then, walk faster." Quackerjack countered with another small push.
"Don't make me fry your feathers." Megavolt warned as he walked out the door and followed Quackerjack back to a nearby warehouse hideout. When they got there, the clown burst through the double doors and went in search of something. Megavolt went in after him and noted the wide variety of toys spread all over the floor.
"So, Quacky, where's this thing you want me to charge?" He inquired, feeling uncomfortable with all the plastic eyes staring at him from all angles. Quackerjack ran back over to him in a hurry and pushed some bundle into his hands.
"It's almost finished. I just have a few more kinks to work out. In the meantime, it would really help me to work faster if you put these on. It would bring out more of the holiday cheer, you know."
Megavolt looked down at the bundle in his arms and realized that it was a green elf hat and striped red and green one-piece pajama outfit with the feet cut off. The rodent scowled back at the grinning jester, resisting the urge to fry him for the suggestion.
"I am not wearing this! It's completely ridiculous!"
"When has that ever stopped you from wearing a silly outfit before?" Quackerjack jumped back as a shot of electricity landed where his feet used to be. "Anyway, remember what you said earlier? You said you'd do anything to stop me from reciting my version of a classic holiday tale? I think the outfit would count as an 'anything,' don't you?"
The electric rat just glowered at the other villain, not giving an inch. The toymaker gave a long sigh.
"Fine. If you won't do it of your own volition, then I'll just have to convince you. I'll do some caroling for you until you get more into the spirit of things."
"Caroling?" Megavolt repeated nervously.
"Grandma got run over by a reindeer." Quackerjack bellowed after a deep breath. He purposefully sang as out of tune as possible. "Walking home from our house Christmas—"
"All right! Enough!" The electric villain said clamping the others large bill shut. "I'll wear the outfit. Just stop singing, please!"
"I knew you'd see things my way eventually." The toymaker gloated before he started walking towards the middle of the warehouse with a wave. "Now, you get changed and I'll get my latest invention ready for its criminal debut."
"Yeah, whatever." Megavolt muttered sulkily as he began putting on the elf outfit. The main part of the outfit was stretchy enough that he could just wear it over his yellow jump suit. He strapped his plug and battery over the striped pajamas, then pulled the green hat over his plug hat. He tore two holes in the top of it, so that his amperes were sticking out. He looked down at himself and frowned at the indignity of it all.
At least the others aren't here to see this. He thought as he pulled at the fabric of the pajamas. They'd never let me hear the end of it.
"Now, that's the spirit." Quackerjack said from behind him, making the electric villain jump. He hadn't heard the clown come up and he turned around to give him a piece of his mind for scaring him. When he saw the state the clown was in, swaying back and forth in place looking far too happy, a deep frown crossed his features.
"You've gotten into the Egg Nog again, haven't you?" Megavolt scolded, knowing how much the harlequin-clad duck liked spiked Egg Nog.
"Oh, don't look like that." The jester said waving the comment off. "I only had one glass. Or two. Or three. Not that it really matters anyway because it's all the same. Besides, I need you to power the batteries. My newest creation is ready!"
He dragged Megavolt along behind him to the middle of the warehouse. Megavolt blinked at the large mechanical structure before him. It was a giant robotic Santa dog with a bulging belly, red, puffy suit and all the features one would have expected from a Santa. There was a panel that could open on the Santa robot's back that allowed access to the inside of it. Megavolt circled around the structure, admiring the handiwork, then looked up at Quackerjack.
"This is really something, Quacky, but, um, what exactly is it supposed to do?"
"You'll see." Quackerjack's tone was mysterious and goading at the same time. "Now, charge up those two batteries by his feet, while I get this big guy outside."
The toymaker had placed the robot on top of a large wooden board with lines of roller skates tied up underneath it. He quickly pushed the enormous thing out the door, while Megavolt set to work powering up two large batteries. When he was finished, he set the two batteries on their sides and rolled them out the doors of the warehouse.
Once there, he saw that Quackerjack was using literally hundreds of toy soldiers to pull the giant robot up. They had all tied super thin, super strong threads to the machine and were all pulling back to lift it up and set it on its feet. When they had succeeded, the soldiers tugged the threads loose, saluted their creator and marched off, presumably to cause trouble elsewhere. That's when the jester noticed that the batteries had arrived.
"Oh, great timing! Hand one of those over." Megavolt obeyed and picked one up to give to the energetic duck. Quackerjack took it, then hopped onto the board that the robot had been on and jumped from there into the open hatch door that was in back of the robot. He placed the battery in the proper slot, then hopped back down to repeat the process. When it was finished, the eyes of the Santa robot glowed red and a humming noise came from the being, signifying that it was on.
"Isn't it wonderful?" Quackerjack exclaimed as he came back to the open hatch door to talk to Megavolt. "You see, I started thinking about how Santa got into houses by sliding down the chimneys. Well, that got me thinking how much easier it would be if the roof just didn't exist. That's when I got the idea of this giant Santa robot who could smash in every roof in St. Canard and take all the presents for himself."
"Um, didn't Santa deliver gifts to people instead of taking them?" Megavolt scratched his head in confusion, trying to remember the details of the old story.
"Who cares if he did? It's my robot and my own spin on an old character. Since it's my interpretation that we're using, I'm making him steal all the money, toys and whatever else I want to give to me. I think my version's a lot more interesting, don't you? I'll even let you have a few gifts to take home since you helped me get it up and running."
The electric villain grinned evilly up at colorfully clad duck above him. "Sounds good to me."
"Then, it's time for me to take this new and improved Santa for a spin, don't you think?" Quackerjack shut the door behind him, not waiting for an answer and hit the controls. The giant, red-suited robot marched forward at his command and he cackled with glee as they entered the city together.
Megavolt let the mechanical Santa get a short distance away from him before he climbed up a utility pole and electric skated over to where the robot was causing some mayhem. He watched as the robot brought its large fists down and smashed through the roof of a bank, pulling out some very large wads of cash. Next it walked over to a toy store, smashed in its roof and picked up all the shelves of toys and threw them aside. The electric rodent assumed that Quackerjack planned to replace the shelves with his own toys once he was done with his robot.
The organized chaos continued as the Santa robot tore through financial buildings, toy stores and other retail stores, trying to pull goodies from each location. Then, as the robot got farther away from him, the giant mechanical creation began to attack a library and other structures that didn't seem to have any monetary value as far as the rat could tell. In fact, he noticed that the robot seemed to be wantonly destroying everything it came across.
Feeling a bit uneasy now, the electric rodent was just about to get closer to the robot to try and ask the insane duck just what he thought he was doing, when a familiar voice stopped him.
"Isn't it amazing?" The rat whipped around and rubbed his goggles to make sure he was seeing clearly. Standing behind him was the clown whom he had last seen inside the giant Santa robot. "This is much better than the Crying Chrissy Doll that I made some time ago."
"Quackerjack, what are you doing out here?" Megavolt said with some dismay. "Aren't you supposed to be controlling the robot?"
"No need." Quackerjack brushed his fellow villain's worries aside with the wave of his hand. "I gave my creation an autopilot mode so that it controls itself. I just typed in some instructions and then it does the work for me. Neat, huh?"
"Uh, sure." There was hesitation in the rat's voice. "So, Quacky, what exactly were the instructions that you gave it?"
"Destroy." The toymaker replied simply.
Megavolt waited a minute or two before he realized that there weren't going to be any more details. "That's it?"
"Yep. What more do I need to tell it? I just need it to smash in the top of the buildings so it can take out what's inside."
"Okay and how is it supposed to know that if all you told it do is destroy?" Megavolt demanded. "It can't know that you want anything inside the building. It's a robot! It's just going to smash up the buildings until they're completely gone, then move on to the next one."
Quackerjack blinked. "Hm, guess I didn't think about that. Oh, well."
"What do you mean, 'oh well?' You have to get back into that robot before it turns St. Canard into a pile of rubble!"
"Fine, then, Mr. Worrywart. I'll get back into the robot before you tie your extension cord in a knot. Sheesh."
The jester took out his trusty pogo stick and started bouncing over to the destructive machine. It had been occupied with knocking in the front of a post office when its sensors caught motion coming up behind it. Quackerjack figured the robot would recognize him and wasn't being too cautious about his approach. He was completely taken aback when the Santa robot tried to squash him with his fist. He jumped away from his pogo stick just in time and landed on his back. The robot lifted its fist revealing the crushed remains of the pogo stick.
"You ingrate! I created you!" Quackerjack yelled up at it, shaking a clenched fist.
"Quacky, watch it!" Megavolt came up behind him and wrapped his arms under the toymaker's arm pits and dragged him away. A large, black foot stomped down right where the pair had been just a moment before. Megavolt helped Quackerjack to his feet, then the pair of them bolted down the street. When they were a safe distance away from the robot, they stopped to catch their breath.
"How could it do that to me?" The clown whined pathetically. "I gave the thing life!"
"Well, that's what happens when you give a machine instructions to destroy. It doesn't differentiate between its master, living things or inanimate objects. It just does what it's told to do." The electric rat watched the destruction from where he was standing, worried about all the precious luminaries that could be lost in the carnage. "The most important thing now is to find a way to shut it down. Any ideas?"
"None. You know I'm not good with coming up with ideas when I'm frazzled like this." Quackerjack whined some more, wishing there was some easy solution.
"Then, maybe we can help." Bushroot said as he appeared beside them. Liquidator lined up to the left of him so that they knew he was there as well. "We saw what was happening on the TV in my Greenhouse." He explained as they bestowed him puzzled looks on their sudden appearances.
"Has your latest scheme gone awry? Need assistance? Then—"
Liquidator stopped in mid-pitch as he got a better look at what Megavolt was wearing. Suddenly, he was doubled over with uncontrollable, boisterous laughter, stopping for a split second to get another look, then pointed and laughed all over again. Bushroot, who looked where the ex-salesman was pointing, snorted and then joined him in raucous laughter.
Megavolt, who now had pink showing under his scant fur, powered up one finger on each hand and zapped both of them. It was a small jolt of energy, but it was enough to get the two villains to stop laughing at him. Both looked at him with smiles on their faces that told him they were still trying not to lose it anymore.
"His idea." The electric rat pointed to Quackerjack, who grinned. "Anyway, you were saying?"
Liquidator had long since forgotten his latest slogan, so Bushroot filled in for him. "He was just saying we're here to help you disable that robot of yours."
"Do we have to?" Quackerjack pleaded with a sad look on his face. "I worked really hard making him..."
"Yes, but if he continues to rampage there won't be anything left to rob." Megavolt pointed out logically. Seeing that the argument hadn't had any effect on the jester, he tried a different tactic. "Plus, if he destroys all of St. Canard, there won't be any toy stores left in the whole town. That wouldn't be fun, would it?"
"No, that wouldn't be any fun at all!" The toymaker answered with an emphatic shake of his head.
"Well, it's good that we all agree that we should take down this Santa robot," Bushroot spoke hesitantly, "except, um, how are we supposed to do it? "
"Allow the strategic plans of the Liquidator to handle that!" The water dog stepped in front of the others and started speaking. "To complete our proposed transaction of dismantling our robot problem, we will need a to pool a few resources together to help us. Quackerjack, we'll need some of your extra strength jump ropes to execute this plan. Bushroot, we're going to need you to summon some of your strongest tree allies to our cause. Megavolt, we'll need you to be fully charged in case we're in need of a back-up plan. Does everyone have their terms memorized?"
The trio nodded back to him and he smiled. "Now that we all have our assignments, let's get to work!"
"Wait, what's your 'assignment,' as you would put it?" Quackerjack inquired.
"The Liquidator is going to be gathering a large stream of water down in the sewers. Meet me by that manhole when you've got everything you advertised you would bring." He pointed to a manhole in the road a few blocks down before disappearing into it. The other three set off to complete the tasks they were given. In fifteen minutes time they were all gathered up again and Liquidator outlined the rest of his plan. Once the entire thing was explained, the group split up again to get into position. When the robot started walking down the street towards its next target, Bushroot took the jump ropes from Quackerjack and gave it to the trees nearest him.
"Ready?" He asked them and they answered telepathically that they were. "Okay, now!"
On his command, the trees, one on either side of the street, stretched the jump ropes out to full length and caught the robots legs with them. The mechanical creature, not expecting the move, fell forward with a loud clang onto the concrete street. When Liquidator heard the noise, he gushed forth from the sewers with a river of water at his disposal. He flowed over the robot and flooded it with water. The robot convulsed as parts of it short-circuited and some of the joints began to emit steam. However, the giant metal Santa still managed to get back on its feet, though it was moving pretty slowly.
"Hmm, it seems the back-up plan is necessary." Liquidator muttered as he reformed himself on the sidewalk. He then cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted at a figure on an utility pole. "Megavolt! All market indicators show that it's your turn."
"I could have guessed that without any help from the market." Megavolt muttered to himself as he powered up. He had climbed up the pole to avoid getting splashed by the oncoming water. Just as he was about to fire off a strong stream of electricity, a familiar voice shouted out in the night.
"I am the terror that flaps in the night!"
All four villains groaned. "Oh, why did he have to show up?" Bushroot asked in aggravation.
"He's a complete and total spoilsport with no life. Why else?" Quackerjack responded before shouting up at Megavolt. "Come on, Sparky! We don't have all night."
"Don't call me Sparky! I hate it when you call me that!" The electric rodent looked at though he was going to use all his stored power in an attempt to zap the jester.
"I am the one burnt light bulb in your perfect line of Christmas lights!" Darkwing continued without noticing the quarrel going on right in front of him.
A splash of water just below his large blue boots made the rat yelp. "The Liquidator would like to remind you to keep on task!"The liquid dog shouted, sounding less than pleased.
"Fine then. All right robot, eat high voltage!" Megavolt let loose a surge of powerful electricity that hit the robot dead on.
"I am Darkwing—"
The hero paused as the robot jerked abruptly. It's arms flailed and its head spun about wildly. Then, it fell to the ground, completely lifeless, right at the feet of the masked mallard.
"—Duck." He ended on a confused note.
The villains behind the fallen robot all gave a cheer at their successful plan causing the terror that flaps in the night to notice them. He started moving towards them, his gas gun in hand.
"Hey!" He exclaimed as he started running at the four villains. Before he could reach them, however, cheers met his ears and he suddenly found several cameras in his face.
"This just in! Our city's mysterious defender, Darkwing Duck, has single handedly defeated the robot menace that was terrorizing St. Canard." Tom Lockjaw put a microphone at Darkwing's beak. "Now, Mr. Darkwing, what do you have to say about this astounding victory?"
"I didn't really—" Darkwing started, then changed tactics. He preened underneath the limelight, puffing out his chest with pride. "I mean, there was nothing 'astounding' about what I did. This is a typical days work for Darkwing Duck. I'm so well renowned and so terrifying that even giant robots faint at the very sight of me."
The crowd of reports clamored to be heard next, crowding around the purple clad duck. A short distance away, Megavolt, Bushroot, Quackerjack and Liquidator looked on with disgust at the egotistical display.
"Now, wait just a minute! He can't take all the credit when we did all the work!" Quackerjack said angrily with his hands on his hips. Mr. Banana Brain was taken out of his pocket to give his two cents on the matter in his squeaky voice. "It's not fair!"
"This watchful viewer would like to remind his colleague that no plan would have been necessary if he had not caused the trouble in the first place." Liquidator pointed out as he sulkily watched Darkwing get dozens of snapshots taken from different cameras. Then, he leaned over to the reporters and loudly told them everything that should be in the paper the next morning.
"Oh and don't forget about how I stopped Megavolt's scheme to hold all of the Christmas songs for ransom." The masked mallard tapped the notepad one of the reporters was writing on impatiently, making sure he got everything down. "Though it is minor in comparison to my slaying a robot, it should be mentioned nonetheless. No good deed is too small for an entry in the paper, after all."
"Oh, yeah, my scheme to control all the Christmas songs on the radio," Megavolt sounded a bit distressed for a minute, then shrugged and looked sheepish. "I completely forgot about it."
"Bad memory?" Bushroot hazarded a guess.
"No," Quackerjack shook his head and had an expression of pure innocence on his face, "it just wasn't worth remembering."
"Yeah, that's it." Megavolt concurred amiably, then scowled as he caught on. "Hey!"
"The Liquidator suggests we head back to Reggie's Greenhouse for the night." The ex-salesman spoke with a tinge of disgust. "Watching any more praise being heaped on the Dimwing over there is guaranteed to make even my non-existent stomach turn."
The feeling was mutual as the four members of the Fearsome Five turned away from the crowd of reporters and began the trek back to the Greenhouse. It was quiet on the way back except for the occasional joke or prank from Quackerjack. As his home came into view, Bushroot decided to break the silence.
"Well, Darkwing may have taken all the credit, but at least we didn't come out empty handed." With a sly smile on his face, the plant duck had the two trees show them the bundles they had been carrying back to his Greenhouse. The trees held four red colored stocking, two on each branch and inside the stocking was the unmistakable glow of gold coins. The others gaped at him for this unexpected present, which made him smile all the more.
"I thought you said no crimes." Megavolt finally broke the silence, looking back and forth between the green duck and the stockings filled with gold.
"I said no crimes could be committed on Christmas when my party was going to happen." Bushroot replied confidently. "Since I took the gold coins from the bank that the robot busted a hole through when we were leaving the scene and it's still Christmas Eve, I haven't broken any rules."
"That would be true, my dear associate, if it was still Christmas Eve." Liquidator's hollow eyes sparkled with mirth.
"What? But it is—" The aqua dog pointed to a clock on one of the buildings behind them and Bushroot turned around to check. The clock read that it was twelve forty-five in the morning.
"Yeah, well, that may be," Bushroot turned back to the Liquidator trying to defend himself, "but it was still Christmas Eve when I actually stole the stuff, so—"
"That would be false advertising." The water dog retorted quickly, with complete confidence. "The facts show that it takes only a little over a half an hour to get from the spot we were back to your lovely Greenhouse abode. Also, the Liquidator gives you his one-hundred percent satisfaction guarantee or your money back that he saw that the time was twelve ten in the morning on Christmas day."
"Quite the technicality, eh, Bushy?" Quackerjack said with amusement as Bushroot continued to look more and more frustrated with how the conversation had turned out and how he'd got caught in the fine print again.
"Do you guys want the gold or not?" Bushroot sounded completely exasperated with the three of them. Liquidator slid over to him and placed a wet arm around his thin shoulders.
"It's nothing to take personally, Reggie. Criminal records show that we are the bad guys and stealing is part of our job." The liquid dog was pleased to see that his partner in crime looked a little calmer after that statement. "Now, how about we all go inside and get warm? It is well known that cold temperatures and the Liquidator don't mix."
Bushroot nodded and the four of them headed back to the Greenhouse. They all settled down and slept, feeling tired from the events of the previous day. When they woke again, everyone received their stocking full of gold and spent the day feeling quite cheerful indeed. Darkwing, now back at his home on Avian Way, had forgotten all about the villains he had seen at the scene of the crime. The fabulous coverage he was getting from his battle with the Santa robot completely blocked the event from his mind and, with his ego at maximum capacity, there was very little chance he would remember it any time soon. Thus, the four villains of the Fearsome Five spent a peaceful Christmas together inside Bushroot's Greenhouse without any unwanted interruptions or jail visits.
Author's Note: I'm sure most of you got this, but the kid wishing for a BB gun reference was from "A Christmas Story." Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed the story and have a very Merry Christmas.