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|Speaking of Silly Crossover Ideas... [message #5792]
||Tue, 27 May 2008 06:21
Registered: January 2003
Location: San Francisco
...most of this fragment has been sitting on my hard drive for a couple of years now, ever since somebody referred to "Tuckville" in a note here, and an alternative leaped into my mind.|
Tonight, I completed the second section below, in response, more or less, to the more recent crossover discussions.
Unlike most of my unsubmitted story fragments, this one actually leads somewhere, though it'll take more story than I'd hoped for before it gets there. That's rather unfortunate, given that an idea this far off the wall should really get in and out of town as quickly as it can.
The true identity of the first two protagonists should be obvious to everyone here, and those of you reasonably familiar with the relevant canon can probably figure out what's going on in the second segment.
But it may take a while (like three parts worth) before I can clue the rest of you in. And things don't come completely together for some time after that; at the moment, the folks in parts one and two aren't even aware of each other's existence in this worldline.
So without further ado...
BABES IN TUCKBURG
by (AJ) Eric,
with apologies to Ellen Hayes and Carl Barks
* 1 *
With a resounding "POP!", the door to Duckburg's city council chamber suddenly was reduced to a small pile of dust. A small group in what appeared to be military attire marched through the opening.
Its two leaders engaged their weapons, each pointing at one of the two nearest legs of the ornate, heavy wooden table that took up most of the room. As the table legs disintegrated, its surface toppled. Papers, briefcases and water glasses slid onto the floor.
The notorious Peking Duck and his attractive associate, China Doll, waved their weapons and herded the mayor and about a dozen confused council members and assistants into the far corner of the council chamber as the few spectators fled through the open doorway to safer venues outside the building.
"You chaps just don't listen," the invader told his captives, in a youthful-sounding voice with an accent far more British than Chinese.
The statement would have been hard to deny, even if the politicians had been less intimidated than they were feeling at the moment.
First, there had been the two red-and-yellow flags -- one with the hammer and sickle, the other with the five stars in the upper left corner -- found flying from the roof of City Hall one morning where the Stars and Stripes normally waved, and the letter attached to the flagpole demanding that a large sum of money be spent on housing, food and medical care for the needier residents of the city. The note was signed "The People's Army."
When nothing came of that, there'd been the tableau they'd found one morning in the council chamber: a dummy with a surprising resemblance to the mayor, presiding, knife in hand, over an altar containing two or three bloody and dismembered "victims", with a sign on the torso of one of them reading "The Poor".
A week ago, the room-sized computer in the City Hall basement had stopped functioning. Any attempt to restart it produced only a printout, in X's and dashes, that looked somewhat like a goat's head, with a line underneath: "ON STRIKE - CYBERNETIC WORK STOPPAGE UNTIL THE MONEY FOR THE NEEDY IS PAID." The techs had taken three days and had the gigantic machine working again, but the goat's head still printed out every morning, now with the short but unsettling message "YOU JUST _THINK_ THIS IS WORKING PROPERLY..."
The City Council had met last night, and the recent events had been enough to get one nervous council member -- a gentle soul named Quisling who dressed in a business suit that looked old-fashioned even by the 1950s-early '60s standards that prevailed here, and who was frightened by computers even when they were on their best behavior -- to propose the appropriation that Peking Duck and his People's Army had demanded. But he'd been unable even to get his motion seconded.
Minutes later, the police had swept in, reporting that a bomb threat had just been delivered by telephone and then clearing the council chamber. After nearly an hour of searching, a mysterious valise was found in a janitor's closet. When carefully opened using the requisite eleven-foot pole, what leapt out was a jester's head on a metal spring. There was a note attached: "APPROVE THE MONEY."
By that time, the Council, tired of milling around on the cold streets outside City Hall, had recessed for the night and agreed to meet the following afternoon to complete what little of the week's city business still remained. It was that afternoon meeting that Peking Duck, China Doll and their contingent of masked soldiers -- no more than ten individuals, all of them rather diminutive even by stereotypical Asian standards, carrying rifles and dressed in military uniform shirts and combat boots that seemed to extend almost to their waists -- had so boldly interrupted.
The mayor collected his courage. He and the town had gone through a lot of strife during his years in office: earthquakes, explosions, magical confrontations, large boulders rolling inexorably toward the center of town, even a visitation by exotic birds that cracked all the glass in the vicinity when they vocalized. Of course, most of those hadn't included futuristic weapons pointed in his direction. But he was prepared to do his best even when faced with this newest assault.
"I'm sorry, Commander," he replied. "Much as we'd like to do more to help the poor, the handicapped and the hungry, we can't appropriate money we don't have. What you're demanding would bankrupt the whole city."
"We're not like the federal government," a council member chimed in. "We're not allowed to print our own money to solve our problems." He stopped as he recalled the time, not too long ago, when old documents had been discovered in the city archives that indeed seemed to make their city an independent entity. It might have literally saved his life today, he reflected, if it had held up. "We have to balance our budget each year."
"Spare us the civics lesson. You balance your budget on the backs of the indigent poor." China Doll also spoke with a British accent, in a light-timbred voice that might have sounded musical, had she not spoken with the precision that one might expect from a character whose face was made up to look like white porcelain. "Surely there are funds you can shift from less immediate concerns."
"You need to realize that it'll be easier on you and the city to pay for this now, than it will be to clean up after an uprising in which the rioters are equipped with weapons such as these. Recall what our leader told us: all power derives from the barrel of a gun." Peking Duck aimed his disintegrator and made a light fixture on the wall disappear. "The Council is still in session. We expect reconsideration and passage of Councilman Quisling's legislation, with significant funds awarded to local food banks, work begun immediately to improve the City Hospital, and creation of a new public housing entity with the funds to renovate and build new units without creating a new homeless class out of people living in those areas now. If you do it now and do it right, you won't see us again. If you don't, or if you try to scale things back after approving them today, you'll be responsible for what happens to you and to Duckburg."
"We'll do what we can," the mayor answered. "But we can't do nearly as much as you're demanding. For that kind of money, you're going to have to get large donations from local business. The retail stores. The factories. And especially Mr. Scrooge McDuck."
* 2 *
The business card said "Deborah Duck, Curator, Duckburg Museum of Commerce and Industry." The cultured, feminine voice that offered it said, "Please, Mister McDuck, call me Debbie."
Scrooge McDuck looked back at the confident, well-dressed lass standing across the desk from him, and then, inquiringly, at her associate, standing at her right, a step behind her.
"Madge, my personal assistant," Debbie said.
Madge and Scrooge nodded politely to each other. Blonde and nondescriptly dressed, Madge's blue eye shadow seemed a bit heavy, in marked contrast to Debbie's perfect look.
"Please be seated. What can I do for you?"
"Hopefully we can help each other," Debbie answered as she and the secretary sat on the comfortable chairs provided. "It's possible that you haven't heard of us yet, although the managers of some of your many subsidiary companies here have been generous in donating or loaning us items for our displays. So have a lot of other businesses in Duckburg, and we've even come up with historical documents and artifacts from the city archives, going all the way back to the town founder, Cornelius Coot. We expect to have some great permanent exhibits on display when we open to the public in a few weeks.
"But of course, Mr. McDuck, you're the hero of our story here, responsible over the years for much of the town's wealth and prosperity. And so we'd like to create a special exhibit of items that you could provide for us that the public hasn't seen before or isn't all that familiar with. Our financial advisors tell us that if we set it up in a separate room, for a limited time, we could charge our patrons extra for the experience, and use that money to pay you for your time and trouble in assembling the exhibit and loaning it to us. It would also help pay for the special heavy security and insurance we'd need, so that we'd have your complete confidence in displaying the material.
"The way we see it, everyone benefits: the public, seeing items on display that will be new, different and exciting to them; our museum, which should get added publicity when we open because of the exhibit; and you, Mr. McDuck, by earning additional funds by showing off items and memorabilia that aren't necessarily appreciating in value while vegetating in your personal collection."
"Exactly what kind of 'items and memorabilia' did you have in mind?" Scrooge asked.
"I'm sure you have a better idea of what would be available than we do," Debbie replied. "But we've prepared a list of things that we're aware of that we hope would be included."
Debbie turned to Madge, who had a black valise in her lap. Madge opened it, pulled out a manila file folder, and gave it to Debbie, who in turn removed a stapled, two-page typewritten document from the folder, stood up and handed it to Scrooge.
Scrooge glanced at the list. "There's a lot here."
"There has to be. We need enough material to fill a good-sized room and justify the additional charge. Also, many of the most valuable items, like the Inca gold coins or your famous First Dime, don't take up a lot of space. We have excellent designers on staff, of course, who can see to it that the exhibit space looks attractive and not sparse. But we do need a significant amount of material."
"My number one dime?" Scrooge responded testily. "There's no way that I'd include that. The only time it leaves my Money Bin is when I'm carrying it with me on a chain, the way I am now."
"We don't really need to discuss individual exhibits here today," Debbie said reassuringly. "What we'd like from you right now is your approval of the basic idea of loaning us material for the exhibit. We will need to move fast to put it all together to run as soon as possible after our museum opens. Once we have your OK, you can look at our list of suggested items before we meet again. You can let us know what else you might have available, or ideally, give us a chance to look through your personal collection ourselves..."
It wasn't quite that quick a sale. Debbie, famously, could sell ice to Inuit -- or Eskimos, as they were still called in this world -- but Scrooge McDuck didn't get to be the wealthiest individual on the planet by succumbing quickly to persuasive sales pitches. Still, before the hour had passed, the fledgling Duckburg Museum of Commerce and Industry had a tentative go-ahead for its initial outside exhibit, pending further discussion of the financial end of the equation.
(to be continued)
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