Thursday, July 9, 2009
Ducktales: Twenty Years Later - Episode 17
Super short one today, but Hooray! Something has happened in the A-plot. Enjoy Dewey up above there. I even remembered the scars on his hand from that little broken glass stunt, although it does appear that Scrooge's musket is growing out of his shoulder. Oh well. I ain't Rembrant or anything.
Within a shaft of light, surrounded by darkness, a simple oak desk sat. Behind the chair sat a simple, solid-looking wooden chair stained to match the exact shade of the plain, unpretentious desk. Atop the desk was a poker hand of files arranged in a rainbow pattern, color-coded with small stickers in the corner for quicker indexing; Blue, Red, Green, Pink, White, Purple.
With loud sound, like the turning of a circuit breaker switch, another shaft of light thrust through the darkness of the hall, revealing a checkerboard pattern of tile which held, like a King standing high on white, Dewey Duck, head held proudly erect. Soon more loud light switches sounded and more shafts opened; Louie standing on a Black space in full costume, using what appeared to be some kind of face paint to dye the feathers of his face in a domino mask pattern to replace his destroyed mask, utility belt confiscated; Huey standing on a white space, the deadly weapons known as his hands bound up with thick manacles; Webby standing slightly behind Dewey's space, hugging the binder to herself, looking down towards the floor and trembling lightly; Fenton Crackshell, standing next to Webby, still looking gaunt and unfed, but with trimmed whiskers and cleaned appearance; And, of course, Darkwing Duck, unbound and allowed to retain her weapons as an honor-bound ally of S.H.U.S.H, their representation
As the five figures stood, awaiting their judge, they said nothing, making not a sound as they lingered. Soon, footsteps echoing off of the unseen breadth of the hall began to make themselves known, hard-soled shoes on tile getting closer to the chair behind the desk. Soon, a body appeared, in a simple grey business suit. A brown furred hand protruded from beyond bleached white shirt cuffs to grab and pull the chair out from under the Oak. Soon, the figure was sitting, a thick brown bear, in the process of trading the muscles of his youth for a proud plumpness in the beginning of his twilight years.
"Darkwing Duck," he said, his voice heavily accented in, to most everyone's surprise, a Russian dialect, "Dewey Duck and allies. I am Vladimir Goudenov Grizzlikof, director of S.H.U.S.H. I am here because an ally of mine... or at least one that takes the name of an ally of mine... has asked me to reconsider the case against you."
"Thank you Director Grizzlikof," said Darkwing, more businesslike than usual, "I appreciate it."
"It helps that we are getting rather suspicious of McDuck Enterprises under Farid Kagan, or at least some of the circumstances surrounding his rise to power." He turned his head towards Dewey. "Dewey Duck," he said, opening up the blue folder, "The charges made against you by this organization are dire. If you can refute them, then you may begin. What have you to show me?"
Dewey nodded slowly. He held out his hand, allowing Webby to place the binder in it. He slowly walked, binder in hand, towards the desk. As he did, the shaft of light followed him. He placed the book on the Oak desk and began to speak, "We have attained the records of Farid Kagan's business practices for two years, including the time during the siege and a small part of his time as CEO."
"We have combed the records ourselves."
"Yes, but we went over them with a fine-tooth comb. You should meet him. Fenton?"
Fenton Crackshell stepped forward, "Hiya."
Grizzlikof picked up the white-accented folder slowly, and began to leaf through it, "Fenton Crackshell, yes? Former accountant with Scrooge McDuck. Have you found something we have missed?"
"You bet!" He walked forward, opening the binder on Grizzlikof's desk, and pulling from the back a sheet of notes he had taken on a pad of yellow paper, "Here's my take on things, Grizz. Those books were put together in a way that would have had your best men scratching their heads for years."
"And you have... deciphered them?"
"Well sure. Mr. McDuck would only hire the best!"
As Crackshell said this, everyone who knew McDuck had to restrain themselves of saying that the actual fact of the matter was that Fenton was hired because he worked for peanuts.
Grizzlikof took the page of notes, an interlocking page of numerical wizardry, totally indecipherable to a pedestrian, but for the accusation made at the bottom of a hole worth six hundred thousand dollars and more.
"Six hundred... That is a large hole."
Dewey scowled, "You're telling me."
"But what does this prove? Many businesses, though I am loath to admit it, launder and cheat on these matters. This hardly proves your innocence."
"Excuse me, Director," said Louie, "But I think this is where I come in."
Grizzlikof looked towards the hero, before taking up the green folder, "A mister Green Phantom. We are aware of your secret identity, although if you so wish we shall keep it hidden during these proceedings."
Louie rolled his eyes, "Might as well just say it. It's not like I'm fooling anybody."
"Very well, Mr. Duck. What have you found?"
"This!" he then stormed the desk and slapped down a sheet of ripped paper. On one side there was a list of names; names of known criminals and supervillains; and on the other a list of figures, with lines drawn to indicate where the money was flowing to and from. The chart was topped by a large question mark where all of the arrows came from and where they also ended up.
"For the two years before the siege Saint Canard's underworld has been funded by money coming from a mysterious source. This money funded everything. Larceney, Murder, Cape and mask activity, drugs. Just about everything bad happening in Saind Canard can be traced back somehow to this pile of free-floating cash. Darkwing and I were able to track the source of the money to McDuck Enterprises, and eventually, the subsidiary Khan Industries."
"And the proof?"
"In the pudding," he pointed towards the bottom, where the figure matched the figure Fenton had written on his yellow pad, "Six hundred thou, running from the top, all the way to the bottom, and back, pouring money right back into the private coffers of Farid Kagan."
"And what does this have to do with the Siege on Duckburg. That is the main meat of the accusation posited against your brother, Mr. Duck."
"Well, just take a look," He pointed once again towards the arrow of money, following down its path through the underworld, "It goes down, gaining interest as it passes through the various industries. Gainding A couple thousand back investing in pimps, Paying thugs and Mob bosses to collect protection money from various small neighborhood, another hundred thousand buying cocaine from Colombia and sending it out all over the world..."
"...hidden in melons..." added Huey.
"Right! It's a machine for making money, like clockwork. If it wasn't rotten to the core Uncle Scrooge would be proud."
"And your point?"
"Farid Kagan never saw that much profit from this venture, Mr. Grizzlikof. He took home a tidy sum to be sure, but look, the last of it was skimmed off and placed here," Louie pointed to one more arrow, leading down to the last name at the bottom of the page, 'Beagle Boys Inc.' "This money directly paid the Beagle Boys for the raid on Duckburg!"
"Ah." Said Grizzlikof, "I thank you for this information, Mr. Duck, but I once again fail to see your point." He placed the two sheets back on the desk. "If I remember correctly, Dewey Duck was CEO of the company while this was going on."
Dewey rolled his eyes.
"Wait." Said a voice from behind Dewey, "I can explain."
Dewey looked behind him, "Webby?"
"Webigail Vanderquack. Daughter of a McDuck-employed governess, and current personal assistant to Dewey Duck. What is it?"
"I..." she gulped. "I'm an eye witness to Dewey Duck's business dealings."
"A suspect witness to be sure, considering the... personal nature of your relationship with the Duck family. I seem to have a record here..." He reached for the pink file, and pulled out a sheet. "That you were like a surrogate niece to the late Mr. McDuck."
"It's true," she said, "But still, I'd like to give what I've seen."
"Speak then. We shall determine its usefulness later."
She nodded her head and stepped forward, twining her hands together in front of herself. "Dewey was... Dewey was obsessed with making money."
"And that makes him innocent... how?"
"Because... because he was also obsessed with making money the way his Uncle made his money. He used to have a saying, about how he made his money by being... 'Tougher than the toughies, and Sharper than the Sharpies, and making it square.'" She raised her head up, looking Director Grizzlikof directly in the eyes, "I'm convinced Dewey would never use his uncle's money for anything dishonest like this, not when he had the claim on the goldmine to make money on, fair and square."
"A goldmine in this day and age does not make as much money as it would have in Scrooge McDuck's day."
"Even so, Dewey wanted to make his own fortune. He minimized using his Uncle's money so he could truly claim the gold as his own." She raised a single finger in the air as she made this next point, "More importantly, while he was working on the gold mine project, he became less involved in the company's affairs. He handed more and more responsibilities off to Mr. Kagan in Bombay."
"At the time I thought he was the only trustworthy man in the company. He and I seemed like we understood each other." Dewey crossed his arms. "Perhaps a little too well on his part."
"Can you corroborate this story somehow?" asked Grizzlikof.
Fenton spoke up, "Well now, I think I can!" He reopened the binder to a page of figures from a year and a half before the siege. "See here? Dewey Duck's signature is all over these records." He then turned a page, letting a few months pass. "And here you see money beginning to be funneled into the Goldmine project."
"And here," he turned a couple more pages, "See? Farid Kagan begins to sign more and more of these records as he is given more truck in the company." He finally turned the page to the month before the siege. "Here we are! At this point, Kagan is running a good chunk of the business beyond his Bombay offices. More than enough to let something slip past Dewey."
The six who stood in the shafts of light looked up at Vladimir Grizzlikof. For his part, Grizzlikof seemed to look a bit more attentively at the binders and pages that had been set before him.
"It is very suspicious for Mr. Kagan. This is true. I thank you for this."
Smiles split the beaks of all those gathered. "Does this mean...?" Huey began.
"I'm afraid," answered Grizzlikof, before Huey could finish, "That no, it is not quite enough. It is certainly enough to cast suspicion on Farid Kagan, and is exactly the push we needed to open up an investigation. However," he picked up the blue folder and began to wave it, "It is not enough to entirely life suspicion from you, Mr. Dewey Duck."
"I... I understand."
"If you would please, I would like to keep these documents, and take Mr. Crackshell into protective custody, if you do not mind."
"As long as you feed me."
"As for you, Duck brothers, you are still internationally wanted criminals."
Huey and Louie began to tense up, sensing approaching bodies in the dark. However, the man approaching Huey unlocked his bonds, and the man approaching Louie threw the yellow utility belt in front of them. Their invisible presence was soon gone.
"However, in light of your help this day, you have a single hour to vacate these premises before my agents will take you in." He stared at the purple-clad hero, "Including you, Darkwing Duck. As an honorary field agent, you are on our side as long as you are on S.H.U.S.H property."
"Just go!" Said Dewey, before the entire group, minus Darkwing and Fenton, turned towards the exit and ran, followed the whole way by the shafts of light.
Louie turned and yelled back to Darkwing, smiling, "No hard feelings DW. We'll see you later."
"You know it, Gadgets. You better not get hurt again or I swear for every broken bone I'll give you two more!"
The group then disappeared into the hallway, a small victory achieved, but made hollow by the fact that they must keep running.
"Huey!" yelled the three girls, tending to Doofus's rapidly healing wound.
"What happened?" said Doofus, "Where's Mr. Crackshell."
"Hi Gals. Hi Doofus. No time," said Huey, before he ran into the cockpit, "Gotta hurry."
Webby waved off the girls and took her place by Doofus's side, to tend to the bullet hole. "I think we did well today," she said, "They're going to investigate Farid Kagan."
"But no luck on clearing our names," said Louie, wiping the improvised facemask off with a damp washcloth, leaving a black residue on the white fabric, "We're still on the run."
As if in answer, the engines buzzed to life, and the plane began its rise into the air.
"Where to now, Dewey?" asked Louie, "As if I don't know already."
"Chihuahua. We wait, and hopefully nothing else... happens. I've had about as many plot twists as I can handle here."
"I really doubt it," said Louie, "Think Chihuahua is safe?"
"No, but it's our best option at the moment. Panchito and José are our best bets as far as allies are concerned."
"Panchito and José aren't who I'm worried about," said Louie, his hand travelling up to touch his still aching ribs.
"You think that PK guy will still be around, huh?"
"If I had any eye-teeth after he knocked them all out I'd bet them on it." Louie sat slowly in a chair, "Who knows? Maybe now that me and his fists are more well-aquainted, we can skip the introductions."
Dewey walked over to sit by Louie. "I still have a question about that, if you please. If he beat you up so bad, why did you tell us to trust him?"
"It worked, didn't it? Fenton was right where he said he would be."
"That's not what I asked. Why did we trust him in the first place."
"I..." Louie looked out the window, "I can't say. Sorry."
"We're keeping things from each other. I thought we had enough of that after that roof in Mouseton... and that bottle of scotch..."
"Trying to guilt it out of me, eh?" Louie said with a smirk, "You weren't kidding when you said you don't spend money unless you plan on getting something back for it."
"It was a forty dollar bottle!"
"You've got one third of umpteen squntillion dollars. They named a mathematical concept after us and our predicament, did you know that?"
"Yes, Fenton told me about it. A Dewey, a Huey, and a Louie are the names for each of the three thirds of an impossibly high number, collectively known as the 'Nephew Numerals.'"
"What's your point?"
"My point is that I have a little something neither you nor Uncle Scrooge ever had; Perspective. I can understand the fact that in the face of all of that money, forty bucks for a bottle of great scotch is a drop in the bucket."
"And are you trying to make me angry to duck the question of why we trusted this PK guy?"
He looked towards Louie's smug face with a fair bit on contempt, before he gave a great heaving sigh. "Fine. Don't tell me. I don't know if I can trust him, but I can certainly trust you to know what you're doing."
Louie simply smiled and leaned back, intending to sleep away the time between Saint Canard and the middle of nowhere, Mexico. It was less painful that way.