by Comickook and Marc Drayer
While Stormwing parried the bull’s lightning attack with some lightning of his own, Mandra Mynxbynd was levitated to safety, courtesy of Samantha Drake’s telekinetic powers. “Now, sugah, that is absolutely no way to treat a lady,” the Siren Belle replied in a confident tone. Unlike the boys, she had no secret identity to protect and was still wearing her blouse and dress.
The Alpha-Bull tried charging the sultry female super-duck, only to be stopped in mid-charge by her mind-control song. “Nice try, toots,” the Alpha-Bull replied, “but I’m already wearing earplugs to protect myself from the sound of my electrical powers — safety is number one!” Still, enough of the singing managed to get through that his willpower was slightly sapped. While the Belle was keeping the bull busy, Stormwing called up a miniaturized heatwave to thaw out Rubberduck.
Eventually, the Alpha-Bull managed to twist some pipe around Samantha’s beak, which silenced her song, but she still had her telekinetic powers to fight with. While Samantha telekinetically flung Brunota Burmis back, Stormwing started whipping up a lightning storm. While the Alpha-Bull was still reeling from the lightning bombardment, Rubberduck snaked himself around the super-bull’s legs and tripped him up.
By this point, Samantha had telekinetically gotten the pipe off her beak, but before the heroes could finish the attack, the Alpha-Bull darted off with almost Fastback-level speed. Still, the three super-animals already knew they hadn’t seen the last of the Alpha-Bull, not by a long shot. In fact, he’d probably try again later that night. In the meantime, however, Rubberduck and Stormwing had to revert to their civilian identities and set up some careful explanation.
As the newly freed Mandra Mynxbynd walked back down the street to her apartment building, she saw Terry Dactyl holding the flowers he had brought her, and Byrd Rentals waiting in the limo with Samantha Drake.
“Hi there, Mandra,” said Terry. “I hope you weren’t too shaken up by what I presume happened up there. Mr. Rentals and I just got here ourselves, but we saw the huge hole in your back wall and some rather nasty-looking sparks, so we know something major must have went down. We hope you weren’t hurt. Good thing those Zoo Crewers were passing by, huh?”
Play it as cool as you want to, Mr. Dactyl, Ms. Mynxbynd silently thought to herself. I happened to see you and Mr. Rentals here just after Stormwing and Rubberduck left, and you and Mr. Rentals actually look like Stormwing and Rubberduck probably do out of costume. Furthermore, Ms. Drake was there helping me also. It can’t all be a coincidence.
As the limousine left, the Alpha-Bull raced back just in time to secretly view the scene from a hiding place, and he began to have the same thoughts as she did about the two Zoo Crewers. With that thought, Burmis took off after them, absolutely determined he would be ready for those three super-animals the next time.
The foursome’s dinner together went without incident, though Terry Dactyl was a little nervous, especially when Mandra Mynxbynd insisted he round up an interview with the ever-elusive Stormwing.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s quite busy,” said Byrd Rentals, winking at Samantha Drake next to him. “A super-hero’s work is never done.”
With that, the foursome went in the limousine to the theater where the musical The Phanduck of the Opera was about to start. They arrived fashionably late, as Follywood stars usually were, and were seated in a special box where they could view the musical from a great vantage point.
As the play continued, the chandelier on the set crashed prematurely, seared by a lightning bolt. Maniacal laughter erupted from the stage as the Alpha-Bull stepped forward. He focused both his heat and cold blasts at the box where the foursome was seated, and it cracked, disgorging its contents.
Terry caught Mandra as he flew down, and Samantha telekinetically lowered herself, Byrd, and the shattered opera box itself, seeing to it that no one was hurt. Terry and Byrd then quickly excused themselves, explaining that they had to summon security.
Sure you do, thought the mink.
Right on cue, Rubberduck and Stormwing entered the stage from opposite directions. But the Alpha-Bull was ready for them. He cast lightning at Rubberduck, which the hero was hard put to avoid, while the villain threw his heat bolt at Stormwing. The flying forecaster countered with a cold wind at one hundred degrees below zero. The bovine then grabbed the fallen chandelier and whirled it, sending it hurtling toward the audience. Rubberduck had to stretch to his limits to try to catch it, but he didn’t need to.
Suddenly, stars propelled the chandelier back onto the stage. Rova Barkitt had been in the audience, since she was writing a review of the musical, and she had already quickly changed into her heroic persona of the Yankee Poodle. She shot a magnetic star-blast at the bovine villain.
When the smoke cleared, the Alpha-Bull slowly came forward. “That tickled. Now, let’s see how you like it.” And he sent lightning crackling at Yankee Poodle.
Suddenly, a massive glowing shield appeared in front of the lightning and blocked the villain’s twin lightning bolts. “For once, I’m actually glad for that whiskered witch’s presence,” Yankee Poodle said to herself as Alley-Kat-Abra suddenly flew into view.
As Abra and Stormwing drew the Alpha-Bull’s fire, Captain Carrot snuck up behind Burmis and walloped him in the jaw. Rubberduck eyed the heroic hare gratefully, but in a manner that silently asked, “Let me guess, Cap — you and Abra here are on a date, too.”
“Yep,” Captain Carrot replied quietly as Alley-Kat-Abra came up next to him. “Rova got us tickets.”
“I’m surprised she isn’t with Pepe Le Pew,” remarked Rubberduck. “Those two seem inseparable these days.”
“I got the impression that they’d had an argument and weren’t on speaking terms,” whispered Alley-Kat-Abra, a little too eagerly.
“Now, now, Abra, no need to be catty,” said Rubberduck. “Rova may be the queen of celebrity gossip, but that doesn’t mean we should respond in kind.”
“Says you!” Abra replied in a huff.
As the Alpha-Bull slowly got up from the good Captain’s punch, the bovine took a couple of swings of his own, but the super-lapine easily dodged both of the villain’s attempted punches before nailing him with a superb kick to his midsection, which knocked the Alpha-Bull back a good seven feet. Before the Alpha-Bull could get back to his feet, Alley-Kat-Abra levitated him off the ground and conjured up a set of super-strong chains to secure the brutish super-bovine.
“Blast it. I was expecting Stormwing and Rubberduck, but three of their Zoo Crew teammates?” he muttered as he discreetly aimed his cold blasts at the chains holding him.
Eventually, the Alpha-Bull’s chains weakened from the freezing temperatures to the point that they were brittle enough for him to break. Unfortunately, as he was about to make his exit, he ended up ramming headfirst into a mystical energy force-field that left him dazed long enough for Yankee Poodle and the Siren Belle to pool their powers to pin him to the ceiling, while Stormwing froze that portion of the ceiling around the bull. Finally, Abra reinforced Stormwing’s ice with a mystical force-field.
“There we go. That should hold him for a while. Thanks, everybody,” Stormwing said, saluting Captain Carrot, Alley-Kat-Abra, and Yankee Poodle.
Alley-Kat-Abra took a moment to magically repair the damaged stage and the opera box, and as the police arrived to take away the dazed Alpha-Bull, all five of the Zoo Crewers who were present slipped away in opposite directions to change back into their civilian identities and return in the commotion. Rodney Rabbit and Felina Furr, holding hands, were among the first to return with the rest of the audience. Rova was a close second.
Mandra, meanwhile, smiled and silently thought to herself, Let’s see, now… Mr. Dactyl and Mr. Rentals should now be back in five… four… three…
Right on cue, Byrd and Terry reappeared. Terry was carrying a bag of popcorn, while Byrd had a bottle of mineral water.
“So, did we miss anything?” asked Terry.
Obviously not much, thought Mandra to herself. She said aloud, “Oh, just most of the Zoo Crew doing their own version of Phanduck of the Opera.”
“Popcorn?” asked Terry as they were ushered to their opera box. After a few minutes’ delay, the musical continued, and the actors were superb in their roles.
Despite the interruption, the date was a success, even though Mandra Mynxbynd was now certain of the identities of her date and their stellar companion. The limousine picked them all up and escorted them all home.
Byrd Rentals grinned sheepishly at Samantha Drake and said, “Well, that went better than expected.”
“At least it was better than our last date,” said Samantha. Just before she headed back into her apartment, she suddenly gave Byrd a big kiss and said to the dazed duck, “See you again soon, sugah.”
Byrd just grinned sheepishly and said, “I think I’m in love.”
Meanwhile, Terry saw Mandra off at her apartment. “We’ll have to try it again,” he said. “Usually my dates aren’t that exciting.”
Mandra just flashed a knowing smile at the pterodactyl and said, “Wanna bet?”
After saying their goodbyes, Terry went back into the limo and glanced at Byrd. “That was a close call! How have you kept from blowing your cover all these years?”
“Practice, Terry — practice,” said Byrd Rentals, still wearing a silly grin on his face. “It pays to be a good actor.”
Unfortunately for the Zoo Crew, they would later learn that the Alpha-Bull had escaped from police custody despite having been placed in power-draining shackles typically used when subduing super-villains. Although they had proven to be very effective, they were not foolproof, and the Alpha-Bull was able to use his great strength to shatter his shackles and escape before his powers were fully sapped.
The Alpha-Bull went into hiding for the next few weeks. I’ll have Stormwing blow his cover yet, Brunota Burmis thought to himself as he bench-pressed massive weights in his hideout. I might just attack when he’s on the air and can’t change.
And the Alpha-Bull laughed uproariously as he planned his revenge.