~The Watchdog: Fall of the Masks~

Was the Watchdog a hero, or a villain? Were his actions, intentions aside, causing more harm to the innocent than good? The questions came time and time again as Eddy covered his wounds and once again locked away his mask. The mutt could feel the countless bruises and cuts from the evening's battle but they went ignored, shadowed by the questions that flooded his conscious mind.

Eddy finally laid in bed, knowing the sun would be rising in only a few hours. He winced as his torn back rested on the cold mattress, but slowly his body relaxed, leaving him to once again question himself. Eddy couldn't tell how long he had been looking at the paper star taped to the ceiling without noticing it, but once he recognized what it was he was looking at, the mutt's heart jumped. Was his beating not enough? Had the villainous feline left him more to battle in this newest note? There was only one way to find out, and the mutt very carefully stood up on his bed to pull the taped note off of the ceiling. As the paper unfolded, Eddy read quickly through the lines of rushed cursive writing, and he felt his breath stop.

"No...Carrot."

"I don't appreciate such a change in plans, Oracle. First you openly battle The Watchdog after i specifically ordered you to avoid a violent confrontation, and then you decide that even after your defeat you would taunt him with a kidnapping... I wonder perhaps if your defeat may be guiding your judgment." The orange wolf stared at his second in command, the feline's face covered in shadow within the large SUV in which they sat, occasional lights from the street lamps dancing quickly across their features. "Can you tell me truthfully you h ave fully thought this through?"

Oracle hissed under her breath. Of course she had thought this all through, she was too smart to let a fist fight blind her judgment. "Sir, your little Watchdog is strong, but i shook him hard tonight. He's right now questioning his very purpose, and right now he is more vulnerable than he will ever be. If we don't make our stand now, he will regain everything I've managed to shake loose." Oracle looked over to the front seat, the small Private Destruction humming to herself as she turned the large vehicle down back roads towards a secret location deep in downtown. "Look, Watchdog can take a beating, and he can keep getting back up no matter how hard you hit and how much it hurts. That's his strength, but why?"

"Because he's stubborn and believes he's doing the right thing, I know that." Carrot pulled off his pjs, changing into his tuxedo themed uniform.

"No sir, that's only part of it. He keeps getting up because he believes that OTHERS believe it's the right thing. He fights because he specifically believes YOU would be proud of him." Oracle grinned as Captain Doom paused for a moment before pulling a glove tightly onto his hand. "That's right, you're his weakness, and you're his strength. Without good old Carrot to come home to, he's got nothing, and no reason to fight. By 'kidnapping' you now, we're not only forcing him to come to us wounded and unstable, but we're forcing him to come to us with everything he possibly is. He's got everything to loose in this battle, and he can't refuse. If he doesn't surrender, his very purpose will be destroyed. He's stuck."

Captain Doom's mask pulled tightly to his eyes as he tied it behind his head, and he took in a deep breath only to let it go in a long sigh. "I hope you know what you're doing..."

"Captain, if you are going to go soft on The Watchdog, then you are going to fail. It's time you put aside this little friendship you have with him and see him for what he is. An obstacle, and an enemy."

Captain Doom nodded. "Let's get this over with. Where did you tell him to meet us?"

The abandoned Funster toy manufacturing factory. From the roofs it looked huge, and from the ground it looked even bigger. The structure was made of a mix of concrete and steel, and it was surrounded by a chain linked fence backed close to a large wooden fence that stood at least ten feet high, topped with razor wire. Normally The Watchdog would have a time getting in, but he had been invited after all. The front gate was unlocked, as the note specified it would be, and there were no guards.

The Watchdog walked slowly even through his urge of speed. His body ached and whined as he pushed his bare paws into the cold stone, pushing himself further towards the great empty halls of the factory.

Captain Doom and his followers have gone too far this time. Eddy's life had begun to crumble after the battle with Oracle, but stealing Carrot away while he was busy had pulled the last crutch of hope he had had left, and now he had nowhere to go but forward. With each painful step he took, Watchdog swore that if any harm had come to his best friend, he would never forgive himself or Captain Doom.

The factory was full of lines of conveyer belts and huge silent machines, each with a single purpose to build their toys. only pale moonlight spilling in through broken windows high above gave any sight to the hero as he pushed further into the labyrinth of steel. He knew that somewhere in the center of this building, the trio of villains waited for him to give up his mask or join their cause. Even as he saw the shadowed figures perched high on on of the machines, he realized he hadn't even made his decision. All he knew was he was bringing Carrot home.

Captain Doom stepped forward, looking down as The Watchdog stepped from the shadows and into a large clearing of the factory, bathed in the moonlight. Oracle was the first to speak, gripping her whip tightly, her memories fresh of the mutt's fighting spirit. "Are you unarmed?"

The hero didn't answer with any words, his eyes glaring towards the three shadows that were his enemies. He raised his arms gently, showing that his utility belt and doggy paddle were not with him, nor his normal shield and launching system, which were damaged anyways.

"Take off your mask!"

Eddy didn't know if he would have felt the same twinge of hatred if it had been someone else ordering him around, but he didn't care. the black mask that always hid his eyes fell to the ground, his identity naked to his enemies now, only the insignia on his shirt identifying him as a hero.

Oracle nodded to Captain Doom, who stepped to the edge of the machine he stood on. "Eddy, right?" He didn't expect an answer, so was not surprised when he only received a deeper glare from the mutt. The wolf stepped over the edge of his perched spot, sliding down the fixed ladder to quickly even himself with his enemy, continuing to walk closer. "As Orracle's note stated, we have Carrot in our custody. He's not hurt, now, and he doesn't have to ever know what happened if you cooperate." Captain Doom slowly walked into Eddy's shadow, looking up finally into the hero's eyes. The bright emerald eyes of his friend were shimmering in such turmoil and confusion,and they shook in fright and rage. They were dulled, drained of the lively charisma of their normal host, replaced with a cold pained gaze.

Oracle muttered under her breath to Private Destruction. "I don't like this... Doom is getting much too close."

"Don't worry 'bout the Captain." Destruction's voice was peppy as normal, but sounded somehow slightly uncertain. "I mean, he said Eddy wouldn't ever hurt him, right?"

"I don't know... be ready though." the two nodded to each other, watching the scene before them closely.

Captain Doom took another step, reaching his hand out to gently touch the insignia on Eddy's chest. "Eddy, just go home. Leave your mask here, leave, and don't let me see you out here again." Doom's words were soft, unheard by his henchmen. He was beginning to realize that his friend would never join him, but perhaps he could at least keep him safe. "You fought hard, but you've lost. We have Carrot now, and if you want him to... Gck!"

Doom's eyes went wide in shock, never expecting the strong grip around his neck. Eddy's eyes never left his gaze, but they changed, his fear draining away as his lips pulled back into a deadly snarl. "Where..." His voice was a dark growl, one Carrot had never heard, and never wanted to hear. "Where is he? Where is Carrot!?"

Doom felt his feet leave the ground and grabbed at Eddy's arm, trying desperately to pull away from the choking grip. He fumbled to pull a small cylinder out of his glove, flicking the cap off of the small magnesium flare, causing it to light into a brilliant point of extreme fire. Captain Doom held the flare so his own arm blocked the direct light. He watched as Eddy's eyes cringed in pain, but felt the mutt's grip remain tight. Doom's vision was becoming blurry and dark as he lost more and more oxygen...

Neither Doom nor Watchdog heard the two underlings make their move, but they made their strike quickly and efficiently. Oracle came out of the shadow on Eddy's right, thrashing out with her whip and slicing across his hand just missing Doom himself. As Watchdog's hand was forced open in pain and his attention was drawn right, Private destruction slipped out of the shadows to his left, launching a large ceramic ball from a long lacrosse stick, striking him hard in the side of the head, stunning him long enough for Captain Doom to stumble away grasping his now sore throat.

The Watchdog wasn't stunned long, and he reached up with no time to spare and caught an incoming whip strike, holding the leather strap in both hands as he once again glared at the pyro feline, Oracle. He was ready to leap at the girl when he saw a second attack from the side and lifted his arm to block, catching at a bola which wrapped around his torso, the balls at the end flickering as their wicks drew towards the center.

The bomb-bola detonated all around Watchdog, leaving Oracle and Private Destruction to escape along side their leader, who was beginning to turn on the machines all around them. Watchdog slowly stood coughing from the ground, the minor explosives having shred his shirt and many of his bandages. The mutt tore the remainder of the cloth off of his chest as he looked around, seeing each machine spitting out smoke and bits and pieces of toys to drive down the many different conveyer belts. There was movement everywhere, and it took everything he had to spot the end of a fluttering cape as Captain Doom ran from behind one machine to the next.

"You...you can't hide from me. Bring Carrot back you monster!" Eddy sprinted towards where he saw the corner of the cape, hurdling over conveyer belts and boxes alike. as he turned around a large generator, the hero saw a flaming whip cracking at him, sending a mist of flames at his face. In an instant The Watchdog had turned away from the flames, jumping and running up one of the smoke spewing contraptions, pulling himself on top before falling down the other side to continue the chase. Oracle was on his tail, trying to make sure he didn't get far.

The noise of the factory was getting unbearably loud, and the movement all around made it impossible to find where Captain Doom had escaped to. Watchdog could only keep running, hoping he was going in the right direction. He turned hard corners, trying to loose his feline shadow, but the girl was fast on hr feet and agile to boot, easily staying on his track. He was about to turn and try to get a hit or two in to stop the girl, but out of the corner of his eye the Watchdog spotted something getting very close very fast. He turned just in time to see a bladed heli ball coming straight for him. Of course if he dodged the ball would come back again and again until he could trick it into hitting a wall or ceiling, but he didn't have time for any of that play. Without stopping his sprint, the mutt thrust his fist forward, catching his knuckles on the bladed propellers, shattering the ball outright even as it cut him deeply. As one ball fell, another quickly took it's pace, hinting that Captain Doom was nearby and on the offensive.

The scenario ran through Watchdog's head like a slide show in the blink of an eye, and the mutt quickly reached out with his already outstretched hand and caught the ball, letting the propeller cut into his palm without breaking. With a quick turn, the hero threw the ball, now spinning uncontrollably, at Oracle. The feline was close enough behind that she had no chance to dodge the bladed ball, so struck out with her whip to shatter the ball herself. In the instant of attack, Eddy skidded to a stop and launched himself back towards his following enemy, quickly slamming his shoulder into her chest before she could regain herself after the defensive strike. Eddy couldn't have her on his tail, so he lifted the slightly stunned Oracle and threw her high into a vat filling with various toy parts. As he turned to continue his search for Captain Doom, Eddy could hear the girl struggling to stand in the vat of plastic arms an legs, clawing desperately at the polished steel walls around her. Even in his rage the mutt kicked the emergency stop switch, at least letting the flow of toys stop from submerging his enemy.

Captain Doom cursed under his breath, quickly picking up his pace as he jumped from belt to belt, using the conveyers direction speed his escape. As he quickly made for the large SUV still parked far in the back of the factory, the villain searched his gloves for another weapon, finally pulling out what looked like a trip of yo yos. His own spring loaded extra strength bolas. those would at least slow the Watchdog down, at least he hoped.

Before Doom could use his own weapons, however, the smallest member of his team was supporting his escape, launching small explosives at the Watchdog from her hiding spot high on a furnace. Doom nodded at Private Destruction as he ran by, the little girl winking as she loaded her lacrosse stick once more, launching a plethora of fire crackers and smoke bomb right in front of Eddy, trying to steer him down the wrong paths.

Each path Eddy took, he was met with a barrage of small explosives, burning smoke, and ear shattering cracks. He could tell that it was the little girl, the one who had his him earlier that night with the over-sized shotgun blast. She was directing him the way she wanted him to go, so he needed to break away. He tried to quickly find where the explosives were being launched from, but couldn't see with all of the smoke and movement all over. He finally needed to move on, ad jumped through the next wall of smoke and flame instead of turning from it. he felt his skin burn for an instant, and his ears were ringing worse an worse, but as he ran through the smoke, he saw just for a split second where the girl was.

Destruction quickly lit another batch of bombs, she only had a few left, and loaded it into her lacrosse stick, pulling back to throw again. She hesitated though, quickly realizing that Watchdog had not turned where he was supposed to. she saw him running through the last blast, and he was now running straight at her! As fast as she could, the girl threw the bombs she had, and went to reload once again.

The cluster of fire crackers, miniature dynamite sticks, and smoke bombs were really slowing Eddy down, and he couldn't have that. Not now that Carrot might be on the line. He dashed through the pain straight to where he knew he needed to go. As he neared the large furnace which Destruction was perched, Watchdog tried to imagine how to get on top to capture the girl. nothing came to his mind, and finally he decided on the fast brutish approach. Picking up a burst of speed, the mutt jumped into the air and turned quickly, slamming his full body, shoulder first, into the furnace. the steel crumbled around his arm, and the full furnace shook madly, making Private Destruction loose her balance and fall, dropping the last of her explosives along with her lacrosse stick.

Destruction was confused from the fall, and felt her body in pain from her bad landing. Something was weird though, since she could swear she was moving. Her eyes opened to the ceiling, slowly drifting downwards. As she blinked, the girl realized she was laying on a conveyer belt, and looked up to see where she was headed. The hair on the back of her neck prickled as she saw a large cutting blade pushing down hard every second to cut a large sheet of plastic into bits like it was made of butter. the girl went to sit up and roll quickly off of the bet, but as she went to move she felt something push hard into her chest, holding her in position.

"You..." The voice growling into her ear made destruction's heart sink and her eyes burn with tears of fear. she felt her own lacrosse stick crossing her chest, holding her down against the conveyer belt. "You know where Doom is going. Tell me now."

destruction looked up again, the large blade quickly coming closer. "I..i don't know! Please let me up!"

"Shut up! You know where he's going, now tell me!" The stick became heavier on her chest as Watchdog leaned on the stick, glaring down at the girl, his burned fur and bruised skin making him look more wild and feral than ever. The look frightened Private Destruction, the girl feeling herself nearing the point of full tears.

"I... He... He's going to the car, in back. It's how we got here! Let me go!" as soon as she finished saying where Doom was headed, the staff released it's grip, and Watchdog tossed the hefty staff into the machine. The staff was cut into bits, but caught into the gears of the machine, making it sputter to a stop as an alarm sounded and steam pushed out of the numerous pipes pulling in and out of the machine. The girl panted and held back her tears as she watched the large mutt turn and sprint towards the back of the factory. "S...scary... he's not fun like he used to be..."

"help me!" the voice of Oracle carried through the factory, barely audible over the many running contraption everywhere. Destruction heard her, however, and quickly ran back to help, begging for Captain doom's forgiveness as she ran.

Captain Doom finally slammed the door shut on the large SUV, it's tinted windows shielding him from the outside as he tried to catch his breath. He quickly raised his radio to his lips, trying to see out into the dark to make sure Watchdog wasn't on his tail. He couldn't see anyone, so he leaned back against the seat to hide as he quickly whispered, "Code 13, Code 13, Oracle and Destruction, evacuate and report. I repeat, evacuate and repot." He waited impatiently, feeling his heart beating fast and hard as he waited to hear that his team was okay. "Oracle, Destruction, Code 13, evacuate and report, do you copy!? ... Tee, Aea, come on!"

Another moment of silence, and then the radio crackled back. "This is Destruction! Captain, Watchdog is after you and is on your six, escape now! He's a mad dog, almost killed me and Oracle. Leave now while you can!"

"Killed... no, Eddy wouldn't, it was a mistake..."

"Captain, leave now!" This time, Oracle was the one shouting into her mini radio. "He already tried to choke you into submission, he's not going to just talk it out, you have to run!"

Captain Doom bit his lip, and then went into the glove compartment to pick up the spare set of keys to the SUV. He didn't want to believe he was in real danger, but he couldn't chance it, not when Eddy was so unstable.

As Captain Doom listed his hand to see which key he needed from the small chain, the side window shattered next to his head! A strong long arm punched through the glass and caught his hand, squeezing painfully before pulling the frightened wolf out through the broken window and out onto the cold hard pavement. The orange wolf stumbled to his feet and backed away, looking in shock at Eddy as the mutt glared down at him in the shadows.

Eddy's shirt and bandages were all gone and his right pant leg was all but singed away, exposing his wounded body to Doom's quickly exploring eyes. Countless small bruises from the shotgun blast, slices from a whip, burns from explosions, and deep cuts on his right hand dripping blood slowly to the ground. His body somehow looked large and more menacing with his shirt covering him, and Doom slowly tried to back away.

Watchdog didn't feel a physical pain, only the strain of his heart when he thought that Carrot was hurt somewhere, afraid, needing his help. When he saw Captain Doom try to turn and run again, he quickly grabbed the large cape, pulling it tight to throw the Captain back into the SUV. He pinned the wolf hard tot he vehicle, and once again growled out, "Where is he? Where is Carrot?"

Doom felt Watchdog's impossibly strong arm push into his neck, pinning him to the vehicle. He tried to gasp for air, but it was so difficult. he needed to try to reason with this monster. "H...he's safe... i...if you just p...put down your mask and walk..." Before he could finish, Eddy released him for the brief moment it took to push his fist into Doom's stomach. The villain almost felt himself vomit, but held himself together enough, finally pulling in a breath of air, coughing into the concrete. Watchdog picked up Captain Doom by his cape again, pinning him to the SUV.

"Where. Is. Carrot!?" Watchdog pulled Doom back and pushed him back into the SUV hard, shaking the large gas guzzler. "Where is carrot!?" he slammed again! "Where is..."

Captain Doom felt his body shivering as his body took the pain. He was panting and scared, but the violence had stopped for a moment. He opened his eyes, noticing that one eye was so dark. His mask has slipped. as tired to reach up and pull the mask back up, but Eddy grabbed it quickly and pulled it away.

"C...Carrot..."

Carrot's eyes shimmered with tears as his lips pulled back in a snarl. he pushed Eddy away, the mutt actually backing off easily as he held the villain's mask weakly in his hand, his eyes fixated on Carrot's face. "You..." carrot's voice was shaking with the threat of crying, his throat painful and his nose running lightly. "You couldn't just... just let it go, could you!? you couldn't let me do what i had to? You had to be the hero, had to see me as the bad guy, even when... even when i told you i was just trying to save people. You couldn't join me you... you..." carrot couldn't think of a word, swinging his fist at Eddy, pounding the mutt in the chest multiple times. "stupid! You stupid mutt, stupid stupid! Why can't you just go away! Leave me alone!"

Eddy couldn't move at first, staring at carrot for a while longer. the orange wolf didn't know what was going to happen, and he fell back against the SUV, sliding down to sit on the asphalt. he felt the tear flowing down his face, but clenched his fist to regain himself enough to speak. "So what now, Eddy? What are you going to...Eddy?" Carrot opened his eyes, seeing the boy who was his friend at least until only seconds ago running. Eddy was running as fast as he could, away. Away from Carrot, away from the factory, away from everything.

Tee sat on Carrot's bed, her mask slipped easily in her pocket as her whip hung heavily on her hip. She held her arm in a home made sling,clenching her fist as she thought of how easily she was dealt with that night. Aea sat next to her, holding an ice bag to her head. The smaller girl sniffled in a mix of fear and worry as she watched Carrot slowly dressing back into his civvies.

The orange wolf pulled on a green T-shirt and some jeans, pocketing a few mini heli balls and a dog whistle along with his own mask. "He knows who we are now, so we don't need to hide. We're just going to talk to him. Not as Villains to a hero, but... as friends."

"Captain..." Aea sounded very worried, so Tee chimed in to help her with her words.

"Carrot, Eddy might not want to talk to his friends right now."

Carrot turned and looked straight at his two subordinates, and he smiled, trying to reassure them both. "I know Eddy. If i know anything about him, it's that he is still my friend. He told me nothing would change that, and i believe him. We're not going to cause trouble, but... He needs this, I need this... We need this. We need this bad blood to flow under the bridge now, and we can only do that by talking. come on."

The trip walked out of the boy's small home, the sky streaked red and orange with the coming sun. They walked slowly just across the street, and they all held their breaths as Carrot reached out and knocked. Almost a whole minute passed before he knocked again, and then again. There was no answer, no scurrying inside the home, nothing. Carrot backed up and looked up, noticing eddy's upstairs bedroom window open. He quickly climbed up to the windowsill and let himself in, followed by Tee, and then Aea.

Aea gasped, looking around the room. Clothes were tossed everywhere, the room completely torn apart. It looked like someone may have ransacked the place. "Did... did someone rob him?"

"No..." Tee looked around as well. "It's a fast packing job."

Carrot stared ahead of him, seeing what the others didn't. "Packing job..." On the dresser drawers was a small pile of cloth. It was one of The Watchdog's shirts with his insignia. The shirt was ripped in half along with three others just like it. on top of the pile was his mask, cut neatly in half. "He's... he's gone."