“Finally opening up!” Zap-Panda shouted as she and her ten traveling companions appeared on the other end of the portal. However, they did not appear in the universe they wanted to. Rather, the eleven heroes all appeared in what looked like a dark mirror version of their respective worlds. A quick area scan by Alley-Kat-Abra, Zap-Panda, and Green Lambkin quickly verified that not only did they arrive in the wrong universe, but they also arrived two hours in what would be to them the future (as you might have guessed, they ended up on Earth-Reverse-C).
“OK, something tells me that those villains the Captain mentioned must have just launched their attack on the Zoo Crew’s world, and the energy from that portal those villains created seriously threw off the portal Abra and Zap-Panda used,” Super-Squirrel stated matter-of-factly.
“All right, Abra and Zap-Panda are going to have to conserve their strength for now, but I think I have another idea,” Captain Carrot said. “Remember I told you how the alternate Doctor Hoot appeared in a beam of light?”
“Yes,” answered the squirrel of steel. “But what does that have to getting us to your world in time to stop your evil counterparts?”
“Well, I theorize that the Doctor Hoot of this world probably has a dimensional gateway generator stashed away in his laboratory, wherever that may be,” the Captain explained. “By now, that generator has probably rested up enough to create a portal back to Earth-C. The tricky part will be finding the lab, but that’s nothing you, the Martian Anteater, Batmouse, the Crash, and Green Lambkin shouldn’t be able to handle. The rest of us will stay here to keep an eye on Abra and Zap-Panda until they regain their strength.”
Seeing how Wonder Wabbit was eyeing him, however, he nervously added, “On second thought, maybe W.W. should help out on the search team.”
Super-Squirrel nodded and said, “Well, since it’s your universe in peril, Captain, it’s your call. OK, we’ll be able to cover more ground if we split up into three seperate search teams. Wonder Wabbit and I will be one team, Batmouse and the Crash will be another, and Martian Anteater and Green Lambkin will comprise the last one. We’ll maintain contact via Anteater’s telepathy, and the first team to find Hoot’s lab will think loudly enough to alert the others. Understood?”
As the other five heroes on the search teams nodded, Super-Squirrel said, “OK, heroes, let’s move out.”
Sting Sting Prison, Ow-Stinging, Gnu York, Earth-C:
Fantastidrake and Slashback reappeared in Sting Sting before the Earth-Reverse-C Doctor Hoot could answer the Salamandroid’s question. With a massive power ring blast, Fantastidrake knocked the Salamandroid out for the count and, just to minimize the captured Swanky Poodle’s chances of escaping from Sting Sting, used that same ring to siphon off her bio-magnetic powers, transferring them into his own body.
As Slashback moved in on the now-armorless Hoot and the just-starting-to-recover Rubberduck, the just-recovered Siren Belle nailed Slashback with her most seductive melody, putting the hypersonic blackguard hopelessly under her spell in spite of the earplugs he was wearing. However, she noticed that Fantastidrake seemed quite resistant to the mind-control aspect of her power, though not completely immune, judging by the fact that the evil avian super-genius had to muster every ounce of his willpower just to keep from falling completely under her spell. In fact, he had to expend too much of his willpower to even use his own mental powers on her, since Fantastidrake’s willpower-enhancement ray didn’t make him quite as immune to powerful mind-control as he thought or hoped. So Belle used her telekinetic powers to push him against the wall. Barely finding the willpower to aim a power beam at the Siren Belle, Fantastidrake looked in amazement as the entranced Slashback dashed out in front of the blast meant for Samantha Drake.
Fantastidrake, however, quickly altered the power beam into a power drainage beam as he did with Swanky Poodle, managing to drain off Slashback’s super-speed powers and using his newly acquired hypersonic vibrations to shake off just enough of the Belle’s spell to be able to use the ring to teleport himself to safety.
“Not too shabby, Sammy, errr… I mean Miss Drake. Sorry,” Rubberduck said, finishing with a sheepish grin. Yankee Poodle, who recovered just quickly enough to see what the Siren Belle did to Slashback and Fantastidrake, simply nodded in agreement.
Meanwhile, Doctor Hoot, who was busying himself trying to repair the damage done to the Salamandroid, merely listened to what the other heroes were saying and smiled with mixed emotion. On the one hand, it was starting to look like he and the Zoo Crew actually might stand a decent chance against the Nasty Menagerie as he hoped. On the other, Fantastidrake now had the powers of Swanky Poodle and Slashback added to his mental prowess and super-stretching powers, making him arguably the most dangerous of the Menagerie, especially since Slashback’s speed now belonged to somebody with the brains to use it.
“Err, say, Doc, are you really the only super-hero on your world?” Rubberduck asked.
“Regretfully, yes, Rubberduck,” Hoot answered. “At one point there were other short-lived heroes — my world’s versions of Kongaroo, the Armordillo, Frogzilla, the Squawker, the Bunny from Beyond, and Cold Turkey, for instance. One hero was Courthouse Roc, my world’s counterpart to Jailhouse Roc. Save Digger O’Doom, all of the flesh and blood villains we just faced before Slashback and Fantastidrake returned had heroic counterparts on my world as well. Unfortunately, all of those heroes died in battle against the Nasty Menagerie, so we can’t go to any of them for help.”
“Well, what if you could pluck each and every one of them from some point before each of them was killed and then fill all of them in on the Nasty Menagerie?” suggested Rubberduck. “If those guys were all heroes, they would probably not have a problem helping us against those villains, and the reason they all died in battle was probably because they didn’t have any back-up.”
“No need to rub it in, Rubberduck. I feel guilty enough failing all those fellow heroes as it is. If I would have been free to help each of those heroes, I most certainly would have,” Hoot began remorsefully before he caught on. “Ohhh, I get it. You have a way of getting all those heroes pulled from points before they were killed, and you propose to team me and them all up into one group powerful enough to face off against the Nasty Menagerie… and win.”
“You got it, Hootie,” Rubberduck said with a nod. “Well, we don’t have a way, but we know somebody who does — somebody who owes us a favor for starting him up on so many great collections.”
“You’re referring to your universe’s Time-Keeper, correct? Well, I have a one-shot portable teleporter that is one of the few pieces of equipment I have that is still undamaged from Swanky Poodle’s rampage. However, I doubt it’ll be powerful enough to teleport the four of us into his realm, much less the four of us and the Salamandroid,” Hoot said, once more regretfully.
“With some careful rewiring and an energy boost, courtesy of a few carefully aimed magno-blasts by Y.P. and the Belle’s sonic powers, it will be, Doc,” Rubberduck said with confidence.
Inside the Z-Building, Fantastidrake teleported in and explained, “I know why Bast-Felina hasn’t been able to find Little Cheese. He’s hiding in the one place on this Earth where her magic can’t concretely pinpoint him.” He then power-ringed up a whisk broom and test tube and swept Katastrophe’s backside, floating the contents of the test tube into Ultra-Rabbit’s view.
“I suspected it for a while, but I wanted to wait until I got Swanky’s power ring so that I could search for him without looking like I was trying to cop a feel off Bast-Felina,” Fantastidrake explained truthfully. He added inwardly, After all, I know what you’d do to me if you thought I was trying to make a pass at your female. Since he knew Ultra-Rabbit’s super-villain ego would not let him admit, even to himself, how he really felt about Katastrophe.
In retrospect, Ultra-Rabbit had to admit that what Fantastidrake had said made sense. Bast-Felina kept saying she knew Little Cheese was close, yet couldn’t get a definite fix on him. Hiding on her person, just out of plain sight, would be the only logical explaination as to why he could keep evading the evil sorceress’s scans. “Speaking of Swanky, Fantastidrake, how did the set-up go?” the evil bunny asked.
“She’s alive, but powerless, so the system that would reveal all of our secrets in the event of her death will not kick in. Therefore, the answer is, the set-up worked perfectly. Slashback getting captured was not part of the plan, but I’ve got his speed along with Swanky’s powers, so we really don’t need that half-shell hoodlum anymore.”
Ultra-Rabbit looked at the evil avian super-genius and said, “Just because you happen to have the ring, the bio-magnetic powers, and the super-speed of our two defeated comrades, in addition to the powers you had before is no reason for you to…”
“Don’t worry, boss rabbit. I haven’t forgotten who’s in charge,” Fantastidrake responded truthfully. “In spite of my newfound power, I am not cocky enough to think I could take on either you or Bast-Felina, much less both at the same time.”
“Well, if Fastback is still alive, we’ll wait him out. After all, he’ll eventually try to save these two, and he has to believe that we think he’s dead, which can work to our advantage. After all, if he believes that we think he’s dead, he won’t be as likely to sense a trap,” Ultra-Rabbit reasoned. “What about Hoot, your counterpart, and this Yankee Poodle?”
“Well, they were aided by this female with rather powerful sonic and telekinetic abilities,” Fantastidrake answered nervously. “I think she was called the Siren Belle. That’s how they got Slashback and how they almost got me.”
“Darn it. That kills the idea of simply waiting Fastback out,” Ultra-Rabbit replied. “If we have five opponents waiting in the wings — seven if you count Carrot and Abra, who are still missing in action — then we have to hunt them down. Bast-Felina, you track down Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, Hoot, and this Siren Belle. Fantastidrake, you go after Fastback. Iron Pig, Big Cheese, and I will stay here to wait out Carrot and Abra.”