by Comickook and T Campbell
A tall (well, tall by Earth-C standards), starkly beautiful 23-year-old female duck approached a nightclub. She had bright yellow feathers, medium blue-green eyes, and bright red hair, and she was garbed in a simple but elegant navy blue dress and an expensive-looking, but quite tasteful, jewel-covered necklace.
She was stopped before she could enter the nightclub by two rather burly male rhinoceroses in black suits. “‘Scuse me, ma’am, but we’ll need ta know yer name ta check if ya have a reservation before we can let ya in. Dis is a restricted club,” one rhinoceros said matter-of-factly.
“O’ course, it could take a while fer us ta check da reservation, so I could keep ya comp’ny in da meantime,” the other rhinoceros said with a lustful leer.
With a snort of disgust, the female duck glanced casually at the two rhinoceros bouncers and placed them both under a powerful trance that immobilized them, allowing her to enter without further harassment. Once inside, she then started to sing (and since we’re absolutely no good with lyrics, you’re gonna have to use your own imagination for those), her song placing every male animal in the building hopelessly under her spell, while simultaneously producing the vibrations needed to cause the club cash register and the vault behind the main counter to both spring open.
When a few of the braver female animals in the club tried to stop this daring duck, she simply and casually glanced their way, mentally pinning them to the floor while she levitated all of the cash and jewelry from the vault, the register, and the customers’ pockets over to her side.
As she left with the loot from the robbery in mental tow, the mysterious female duck said in a seductive Southern belle accent, “By the time all y’all free yahselves from the effects of mah powers, which won’t be for another twenty minutes, ah’ll be miles away and have made a clean getaway. Ah’d say that’s a mighty fine debut for the Siren Belle.”
The time when she left was 9:35 PM.
At 9:55 PM, the first call came in to the police-dog department.
At 10:05 PM, the police-dog department called the super-animal emergency hotline, 1-800-SQUAWKS.
At 11:00 PM (or 9:00 PM, Califurnia time) Rova Barkitt (a trained interviewer) and Rodney Rabbit (the super-villain expert-in-residence) finished their phone interviews with witnesses and compared notes.
At 9:30 PM Califurnia time, the Zoo Crew convened in the Z-Building’s basement around the carrot-stump-shaped Ground Table. The fern in the middle of the table were dying fast, which is what you’d expect when your architect puts plants in the basement. The Z-Building’s design was actually full of headaches like that, from the diagonal elevator to the unstable plumbing, and Rodney had considered requesting a redesign. But the carrot motif was just so… flattering.
“Thank you all for coming so quickly,” said Captain Carrot, brisk and businesslike.
Pig-Iron looked at him with a mixture of pity and annoyance. He tried to hold in his reply as long as he could, but everyone else was just sittin’ there, and, flamin’ filings, somebody had to say it:
“Why the heck wouldn’t we come so quickly? We all live here! How the frig would we get here slowly?“
“Tarnation!” said Timmy-Joe Terrapin, slapping his forehead. “Ah left th’ feed in th’ oven!” And the reptilian rocket called Fastback ran out of the room, as usual creating a massive tailwind that blew all the papers off the table and further shortened the life expectancy of the fern.
“Wow,” said Rova, alias Yankee Poodle. “Even when he’s on time, he’s late.”
Rodney glanced at Pig-Iron. “Asked and answered. Moving on to more important matters — the Siren Belle. Looks like she’s got telekinetics — somewhere between Abra’s and Rova’s — and some mind-control ability. That’s something we’ve never faced before, and I want to be careful. The last thing we need is to turn our careers into a bad remake of The Invasion of the Body Poachers.”
Rova nodded, solemnly. “Two of them were enough.”
Looking defensive, Byrd Rentals opened his beak as if to speak, then shut it again. Rubberduck decided to let this criticism pass by.
“Fortunately,” Rodney went on, “her powers seem to have limitations. She entranced a couple of male rhinoceroses at close range, but to entrance large numbers of people, she had to sing, like Kitteny Spears in that Pupsi commercial. And even then, her powers only seem to affect males — or, possibly, lesbians.”
“Only sings to males, hm?” said Byrd lightly. “She must be lonely.”
Alley-Kat-Abra, Rova, and Pig-Iron all rolled their eyes at him. But Byrd looked perfectly innocent. Of course, being an actor, he had practiced looking perfectly innocent for hours.
“That means,” Rodney went on before the meeting got away from him again, “that the best thing we can do is give this one to you two, Abra and Rova. You’ll be immune to the worst of her powers.”
“Unless there’s something you’re not telling us, dahling,” added Rova, smiling saccharine at Abra.
Alley-Kat-Abra‘s eye briefly glinted, and a fang briefly bared itself. Consciously, she turned to the Captain. “Mew Orleans is my hometown, Captain. Two of those females who defended themselves were my old students. You couldn’t keep me away.”
Rodney smiled, actually looking relaxed for a moment. “Good deal. If it gets to be too much for you, signal us, and we’ll get Timmy Joe to rescue you before she can blink.”
The moment was lost. Felina Furr could see it happening to him, word by word. He was writing, not talking — saying the things he imagined a super-hero leader should say.
“But that’s a last resort. For the most part, you guys are going to have to put the cat-and-dog-fights behind you and depend on each other.”
It was a technique that had kept them alive, so she didn’t have too much of a right to complain, but who was he really? Did she still know? Did he?
“Can you do that?”
She blinked. “Do what?”
“Work together,” he said. “The two of you, as a team.”
“Oh, sure!” said Rova, smiling sweetly. “Felinie and I just need to get to know each other better. I always felt we could be like sisters!”
“Or at least stepsisters,” added Abra. She tried to look innocent as she said it, like Byrd. But she failed.
“Ah’m back!” shouted Timmy-Joe, blowing into the room and uprooting the fern once and for all. It landed on the side of the table in a manner that looked like suicide. Fastback sat and looked around. “Whut’d ah miss?“
“Well, Cap just assigned this Siren Belle case to Abra and Rova, because they’re female and thus immune to her mind control,” Byrd answered before asking. “But what would be the matter with me coming along if I wore special lens and ear plugs to protect myself from her mind control?”
Rodney sighed. Obviously, Byrd really wanted to go on this mission.
“Are you serious, Byrd?” Rova answered honestly. “We’ve all seen her picture. We know why you want to come along. Even with ear plugs and special lens, we couldn’t trust you around her.”
Felina nodded, even though she was more than a little surprised that she and Rova, for once, actually agreed completely on something other than the fact that they could barely stand each other without the others present.
“I’m afraid Rova’s right, Byrd,” Rodney replied. “Besides, the special anti-mind control lens and ear plugs haven’t yet been perfected enough for me to feel comfortable letting one of us accompany Abra and Rova on this case.”
“Well, OK, Cap,” Byrd sighed, though he had his fingers crossed behind his back. There was no way he was going miss out on this case, even if he had to sneak off and commandeer the Zoo Cruiser to get to Mew Orleans.
“Well, we’d better first try to figure out where the Siren Belle is most likely to strike next,” Rova said, “so we can be waiting for her when she does strike next.”
“She might be clever enough to expect us to do just that and then strike somewhere else just to spite us,” Felina countered calmly. “The most efficient thing to do is create special alarm devices, install one in every night club in Mew Orleans under the cover of an invisibility spell, and then wait her out. When she strikes again, Magic Wanda will alert us, and I’ll teleport us to the scene of the crime before our quarry has a chance to get away.”
“Well, I suppose that’s a good plan, Felinie,” Rova commented, “but I just got a stunning new dress, and I was just itching for a good excuse to use it. Swinging by a Mew Orleans night club just seems to qualify.”
That and the fact you would also have a good excuse to flirt with as many guys as possible, Felina thought to herself, though she refrained from saying this out loud. You’re as bad around guys as Byrd is around females.
Instead, Felina simply stated, “Look, let’s just agree to a compromise — you wait for her at whatever nightclub you think the Siren Belle will be likely to strike at next, and I’ll install the silent magic alarms. That way, we can use both of our plans. It’ll be better for all concerned if we just get this case over with as quickly as possible.”
“Agreed,” Rova said as she and Felina shook paws on the matter.