Chapter 15: Back Into the Gates of Hal

By Hal Aetus

Welcome to the next part of a series I call “The Trials of Graves-Beaks.” For more background, read this intro page. This builds off of other fanfic out there that puts Falcon in the situation of being Mark’s bodyguard and boyfriend. I’m also building off of elements from season 1 and 2 of the new DuckTales reboot but don’t worry– you won’t miss much if you haven’t seen them and the spoilers should be minimal. A big thanks to Patreon supporters for encouraging and funding this story one chapter at a time. Please leave a rating below – no login required!

Mark squeezed Falcon’s hand while Gizmoduck picked up his limp body. Falcon’s beak corners were pale and his skin was cool but he was taking short, quick breaths so he was still alive.

Gizmoduck pulled back and spun around to go. “I’ve already alerted the hospital. I’ll get him there as fast as I can!” In a whirlwind of smoke, he blasted back down the hallway and rocketed up the stairway.

Mark stood in shock staring at the pool of blood on the floor and the blood on his hand. The past few days had shaken his being like nothing else in his life. He had been to the bottom and realized how badly he needed someone outside of himself. And not just any someone, but Falcon Graves. He wasn’t just his bodyguard or lover, but also a life partner. Someone whom he could be silly with or serious with and not be judged. Someone that was there through thick and thin. For the first time, he was loving someone else more than he loved himself. It was invigorating until now. Now, with his partner ripped away all he could feel was a stinging gaping wound. The image of Falcon looking so fragile and so close to death was like seeing a big part of himself die. He couldn’t move.

Behind him, at the server vault door, the Little Bulb-controlled robots were attempting to break open the door. One was prying at the door’s edges while another one typed at the keypad interface, which was flashing red with the words “Access Denied.” Two of the bots wrestled with the gun pod still hooked to the ceiling and finally wrenched it loose with a loud bang and a shower of sparks.

The bang jarred Mark back to the situation. He looked over at the robots as they hacked into the pod’s wiring and aimed it at the door.

Mark shouted, “Wait! Stop!”

All the robots turned their heads to look at him. Mark took one last look at the blood on the floor and gathered his courage. Falcon’s last words to him were to keep going. And the sooner they got this done, the sooner he could go be with him.

Mark turned towards the robots. “I need that interface intact. You start firing and you’re gonna ruin it.”

The two bots looked at each other and shrugged.

Heavy clanking noises came from the stairs. It was more robots on the way.

“Oh shit! Little Bulbs! There’s more robots coming up the stairs! Get that gun over there and keep them back!”

Two more of the Little Bulb-controlled bots seized on to the other gun pod already on the floor and all four started marching towards the stairs.

“Watch your backs too cuz they could use the elevator!”

The robots paused and picked up the door that their first comrade had been carrying as a shield. The robot had been trapped under it but now it shifted slightly and its Little Bulb pilot crawled out unscathed.

The four others proceeded to the stairs while Mark saluted the freed Bulb. It glowed red in response and saluted back.

“Good work, little fella. Come on, I’ve got a job for you.” Mark held out his hand and the Little Bulb climbed up and sat on his shoulder. Mark leaned his head closer and covered his mouth with a hand, whispering instructions while the Little Bulb nodded and glowed brighter.

Heavy gun fire erupted in the stairway and interrupted the conversation. But no matter, enough had been said. Mark lifted the Little Bulb up towards a ceiling ventilation duct. The tiny robot grabbed on with one claw, saluted with the other, and flipped itself up between the slats and disappeared.

Mark walked slowly over to the desk by the vault door, punching up a secure chat on his spare smartphone. In a moment there was a ruffle of tired feathers crackling over Mark’s earpiece followed by Gyro’s uncharacteristically concerned voice. “Mark! Gizmoduck just got to the hospital. Are you ok?”

“Yeah, yeah!” Mark choked back the lump in his throat. “Make him stay there. If they can’t patch up Graves then get him someplace that can, understand?”

There was a loud crash in the stairway and one of the Little Bulb-controlled robots staggered back into the hallway on fire and flailing its arms. It grabbed a fire extinguisher from the wall and doused itself.

“Look, I’m almost in. It’s almost time to lay our egg. Wait for my signal. In the meantime, send all Little Bulbs to the 45th floor! They’ve got to hold off the bots at all costs. Got it?”

“Got it! Sending the cavalry and standing by!”

Mark sat down in the desk chair and wheeled up to the door panel. “Oh Ultimaaaaa… Yoohooooo? I know you can hear me. You know you’re fucked, right? About now I’m sure you’re deciding just which network to slip yourself off to but there’s something just driving you crazy, isn’t there? Something’s keeping you here.”

The panel continued to flash Access Denied and there was no response.

Mark leaned closer and spoke quietly, “Listen, I know what you’re looking for. After all, I wrote your core code. I designed you to want something, a particular thing, more than anything else. Glomgold’s directives have made you extra greedy so now it must really be driving you mad to get it. You don’t even know exactly what that thing is but you just know you want it.”

The panel glitched for just a split second. Got her!

Mark whispered low, almost lustily. “Want to know what it is?”

The panel went blank and then flickered to a computer-rendered image of Mark frowning with one twitching eye. “You promised me! You promised me everything! Give me what I want!”

“Uhn uhhhhh…”

The screen glitched and the image of Mark roared like a lion. The lights in the hallway flickered and Mark thought he heard a deep rumbling. He smiled wider.

“Call off those robots and maaaaaybe I’ll tell ya. Might even tell you how to get it. Your minutes are numbered, poor fella, but at least you could finally attain your one true goal.” Mark stroked a finger down the keypad. “You could feel that connection you’ve been wanting all your life.”

The Mark in the screen roared again and its eyes burst into flames. “I will make you give it to ME!”

The stairway rocked with explosions as several bots self-destructed. Mark turned in horror to see billowing smoke and flames pouring into the hallway. The fire alarms went off but the sprinklers didn’t engage. The whole floor was filling with thick black smoke and Mark started to cough. He turned back to the console.

“If you kill me *cough* you’ll never know *cough* and you’ll die not knowing!” Mark broke into a fit of coughing and slid down out of sight.

The Mark on the terminal broke into a fit of maniacal laughter, its eyes burning like two torches. “Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa! You lose, loooooser! If you won’t give me what I want then we’ll die together! Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!”

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