Mankind learns about the existence of aliens on a Saturday morning.
Unfortunately, that introduction comes in the form of an alien invasion.
Massive, violet ships appear over Duckburg, looming ponderous and deadly. From their bowels emerge dozens of flying skiffs, with monstrous beings astride them. The aliens look uncannily like ducks, but their limbs are grossly elongated, each of them an easy seven feet tall, their beaks filled with serrated teeth.
Hundreds of news stations capture the outpouring of death, as the aliens explode free from the confines of their ships like furious wasps emerging from their nest.
But the city is not completely without its defenses.
Being the home of the richest duck in the world has its perks, among them being a task force to counter hostile attack. That attack usually comes in the form of a supervillain’s army of killer robots, so aliens are almost a welcome change of pace.
However, it’s not Scrooge McDuck’s Duckburg Defenders (trademark pending) that the news cameras follow. Rather, it’s the lone, relatively small, figure of Duckburg’s lone vigilante; the diabolical Duck Avenger.
Little is known about Duckburg’s hero. Appearing without warning three years previously to foil the Phantom Blot’s plan to hypnotize the city, the Duck Avenger became a staple within the city. Seen doing everything from stopping runaway trains to rescuing kites from trees, the Duck Avenger has done more than endear himself to the populace. Though he acquiesces to few television interviews, the number of personal encounters with the Duck Avenger is easily in the hundreds. He’ll smile and greet fans as he flies by, and stay at the side of those he’s saved, even when the danger is long gone.
His fighting style is fast, brutal and efficient, as the news cameras capture on that historic day. By firing a single grappling hook, he fells half a dozen aliens. He commandeers one of their strange, flying skiffs, and shoots down even more, as cameramen and newscasters alike offer astonished commentary.
In a small house on the outskirts of downtown, and away from the chaos, a teenager sits with his face nearly pressed against the television screen, watching rapt as the Duck Avenger save the day once more.
The landline rings, the only thing that manages to tear his attention away from the news report. Since the ships appeared, the phone lines have been busy beyond belief, and the fact that it’s ringing at all is a miracle. He rushes to answer it.
“Pollito , are you alright?”
He’d seen his mother just two hours ago, when she’d come into his room to kiss him goodbye before she left for work. Of course, in the span of those two hours, alien spaceships have blinked into existence over midtown. Where his mother is stationed.
“Yeah, Mamá, I’m fine,” he assures her. He glances back at the television, just as the Duck Avenger fires a volley of missiles at one of the smaller ships. He can hear the resultant explosion from here, echoing the one onscreen.
“Fenton, don’t leave the house under any circumstances,” his mother orders in a tone that brooks no argument, not that he would be foolish enough to do so. “Be smart, and stay safe until I can get home, okay? Everything’s crazy down here.”
Fenton nods, though he knows she can’t see it. On screen, the aliens are firing wildly at people that are just trying to get away. He clutches the phone tight with both hands. “Okay, Mamá. Be careful!”
“I will, Pollito,” she replies warmly. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Fenton listens to the dial tone for a long moment, his heart somewhere near his throat. He can hear the strange warbling of the alien ships from here, at odds with the perfect normalcy of his kitchen.
The newscasters begin shouting excitedly from the living room, distracting him from his encroaching panic.
“Duck Avenger, he —”
“This is incredible—”
Fenton rushes out of the kitchen, throwing himself in front of the TV so hard he gets rug burn on his knees. But the pain is quickly overridden by awe at what he is watching on the screen.
The largest of the alien ships is just gone, leaving behind a sudden expanse of clear blue sky.
“It seems as though the Duck Avenger discovered a way to send the mothership back to wherever it came from—I’m getting reports of something called a ‘transwarp coil,’ which DA is instructing the Defender strike teams on how to find in the other—”
“In a matter of seconds, Duck Avenger has saved hundreds, possibly thousands of lives with his quick thinking—”
In awe, Fenton watches the blur that is the Duck Avenger rocket across the sky with his jetpack shield, picking off the few aliens that haven’t already begun to flee. He watches, and wonders if he can help people too.
A thousand miles away, in a chilly basement in Kung Pow City, Drake Mallard struggles to get a working signal to his small television set.
The static and snowy screen finally clears, and Drake backs away carefully as the picture comes into focus.
The first reports started coming in in the middle of his training session, and Drake had been ready to run off to the nearest bar with a working television to determine the extent of the damage.
But not even an alien invasion was enough to convince his old master to end training early, and Drake was put through his paces with perhaps more gusto than usual. Goose Lee wasn’t particularly forgiving to students who tried to play hooky, whether or not their hometown’s sister city was under attack by a hostile extraterrestrial force.
By the time his teacher deigned to let him go, the attack was already over. The world hadn’t ended, which was a good sign, but he still had no idea what had even happened.
Drake raced back to his basement apartment in the city proper, where half of Kung Pow City was celebrating in the streets. He took to the rooftops to avoid the worst of the crowds, leaping over alleyways with growing skill and confidence. At last, he was able to retreat to the comforting solitude of his temporary home.
His television is on loan from the storekeeper upstairs, and is at least thirty years out of date, but it finally gets a signal. And Drake sees that the person responsible for saving the world is just who he hoped it would be.
The Duck Avenger is being interviewed on some international news channel, the smouldering remains of an alien craft splayed out on the street behind him. The report has been translated into Chinese, which Drake only understands bits and pieces of, but that hardly matters. What they’re saying hardly matters.
All that matters is that the Duck Avenger is still standing, and not just that, but standing proud and resolute. He’s practically black and blue with bruises, one creeping out from under his mask in what must be a spectacular black eye. The feathers on his head are singed, and it looks like his cape was ripped off his shoulders.
But for all that, he’s smiling. He’s still standing.
Drake reaches out with careful fingers, the static fuzz haloing the television screen making his feathers stand slightly on end. He touches the screen over where the Duck Avenger is still speaking; from the bits Drake can understand, he’s explaining who the aliens were and why they invaded.
His training has been grueling. There’s hardly a moment when his body doesn’t ache, that his muscles aren’t sore to the point of immovability. Even at that very moment, he’s fighting the urge to fall asleep on the floor. But his training is nearly complete. He’s so close to going back home.
And Drake knows (hopes, God how he hopes) that one day, that’ll be him on the television screen, standing proud and tall as he protects his city.
It takes ten years, but the Evronians return to Earth with a bone to pick.
It takes ten years, but the sight of his most fearsome enemy gives Donald no choice but to don the cape and cowl of the Duck Avenger once more.
It’s a grimly familiar sight, the alien ships hovering over Autobahn Bay. They’re vaguely blimp-shaped, at least a hundred meters long, and almost indistinguishable against the night sky. Only the clusters of blinking lights on their faces give them away, reminding Donald eerily of eyes leering down at the two cities.
There’s also double the number of ships than the last invasion, which means double the Evronians, double the weapons, double the trouble.
But as luck would have it, Donald isn’t facing them alone this time.
New heroes have cropped up in the decade since he retired.
There’s Gizmoduck, of course (who Donald strongly suspects is really Fenton, unable to imagine who else his Uncle Scrooge would trust in the suit). He’s still a little green, but more than makes up for it with a stunning intellect and dogged determination that verges on stubbornness.
Launchpad, the only one who knows his secret identity (it’s bizarrely impossible to keep secrets from him), insists on joining too, for which Donald is grateful. The pilot’s genial nature belies a terrifyingly strategic mind, and a fighting prowess that matches Donald’s own.
But following in Launchpad’s wake is someone Donald has never met before, in or out of the mask.
St. Canard’s resident vigilante, Darkwing Duck, is the last to join their superhero posse. Donald knows precious little about him, relying on the hearsay that trickles out of Duckburg’s sister city. Shadows and smoke, threats in the dark carried out with brutal efficiency; the way Donald hears it told, the Darkwing Duck is a nightmare made real.
Which is why he finds it more than a little confusing when both Gizmoduck and Darkwing halt their friendly bickering (well, friendly on Gizmoduck’s part) to gawk at him when he pulls up in his 313.
“You’re …” Gizmoduck starts to say, only to trail off.
Darkwing Duck continues to blink, gaping like a fish out of water.
“Hey, DA!” Launchpad calls with a small wave, the only person to react normally to Donald’s arrival.
“Looks like the gang’s all here,” Donald comments as he greets Launchpad with a fistbump.
Darkwing makes a choked sort of noise.
“Duck Avenger!” Gizmoduck cries, zooming over to his side. “What—I mean, I what an honor! To be working with you, I mean! I-I’m Gizmoduck, but you already knew that didn’t you?”
Donald can’t help but chuckle, reaching out to shake Gizmoduck’s massive robotic hand. Definitely Fenton; he’s never met a man who can ramble half as well. “‘Course I know who you are. Great job handling Beaks, by the way. I think the conviction might finally stick this time.”
Gizmoduck’s positively beaming, an oddly endearing expression on what amounts to a seven foot tall robot that that’s quite literally armed to the teeth.
Darkwing clears his throat, getting Donald’s attention. “Ahem. Duck Avenger.” He nods once, a diplomatic gesture, his expression carefully aloof.
His answering smile wry, Donald extends a hand in greeting. “Darkwing Duck,” he replies in the same respectful tone. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” (From Launchpad at least, and he’d emphasized the hero’s non-terrifying qualities. Donald never would’ve guessed that the terror that flapped in the night loved mint chip ice cream as much as the next guy)
Darkwing looks at his hand for a second too long, before accepting the handshake. He pumps Donald’s hand up and down once, businesslike, but he doesn’t let go right away. Something flickers behind Darkwing’s eyes that Donald can’t name, but it leaves his expression strangely open.
“Thank you,” Darkwing says gruffly, before releasing his hand.
Donald doesn’t think it’s the handshake he’s been thanked for.
A steady droning fills the air, like the buzzing of a thousand angry bees, saving Donald from having to think up a reply. He looks up at the Evronian ships, floating docile until now, and activates his X-Transformer shield.
“What’s the plan, Duck Avenger?” Gizmoduck asks, simultaneously eager and anxious.
“I was gonna ask you two the same thing,” Donald smirks, making a show of rolling his shoulder and stretching his arms. “Technically, I’m still retired, and you guys have been at this for a while. So? Any ideas?”
The two heroes blink, their professional veneers thinned by sheer surprise. But then Gizmoduck is projecting a scan he’d taken of the Evronian flagship and pointing out potential weak spots. Darkwing Duck, after asking Launchpad if he’d gassed up the ‘Thunderquack’, starts extolling the virtues of his plane’s not insignificant firepower.
For Donald, it’s a reassuring sight.
It was nice not to be alone any more.