by Doc Quantum, Comickook, Philip-Todd Franklin and Drivtaan
In a darkened room somewhere, a darkened figure spoke very dark language to darkened minions. It was, well… dark. You get the picture.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Those fools!” the darkened figure laughed, watching the events in Albatross and New Yak on two screens. “While we keep them busy with these mere distractions, our true plans remain hidden. Ah, the people of this world are so easily manipulated. So what shall we throw at them next? Any suggestions, boys?”
The darkened figure’s eyes rolled due to irritation. “Oh, do shut up! None of you monkeys shares the merest iota of my brilliance. I was only asking a rhetorical question, anyway. I already know what I will do next. This should be fun… ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!“
And the darkened minions laughed as well.
Meanwhile, unaware of the shadowy mastermind’s true intentions, Firefox skillfully evaded the grasps of the giant wolf’s massive paws. “I’ve known some grabby males, but this is ridiculous!” the heroine calmly quipped as she transmuted the air around the giant’s mouth into a very powerful sleeping gas.
Now that she had a free moment, Firefox caught a glimpse of the giant trouble elsewhere in town with Commander Fowl, the Plaid Porcupine, Comic-coo-coo, and the four members of the Outhyders confronting the giants on that part of town. Fortunately, she could get to the other side of town in about mere minutes with her flying speed, and it looked like the other heroes could last a lot longer than that, despite being outnumbered by those giants.
Sure enough, the heroic vulpine reached the scene just as the other heroes, thanks to organized teamwork and the power upgrades Comic-coo-coo had written up for the Outhyders, managed to subdue all but the last two of the giants. Still, she had come all the way across town and wanted to feel of some use, so, with supreme concentration, she turned the ground under the last two giants into enough quicksand to trap them.
Once the giants had sunken all the way to the point where anything lower than the bottom of their necks was beneath the quicksand, the heroine turned the quicksand into super-strong glue. With nothing solid to push against, the giants’ awesome strength was useless.
After Block Wolf shrank himself back down to his normal living concrete form and changed back to normal after that, introductions and explanations concerning powers and equipment were made all around, though the Outhyders were still more than a little pleasantly surprised about how their powers and equipment had increased, even if only temporarily. Shaking off the brief moonstruck look he was currently getting around the attractive newcomer, Comic-coo-coo explained about the increases he wrote up for the Outhyders’ powers and equipment, then pointed out that they had better return to Ducktor Quackum to see how he was doing about coming up with the antidote to the giant serum.
“Unfortunately, it’ll be a while before my pen has regenerated enough ink to be used for teleporting all of us back to Ducktor Quackum’s lab, so we’re going to have to get back there under our own power,” the young avian explained as he morphed back into his anthro-bat form and gallantly offered Firefox a lift.
“Thanks for the offer, young animal, but I can fly quite nicely on my own. Just lead the way, and I’ll follow under my own power,” the heroine replied, and Comic-coo-coo nodded with an embarrassed blush.
Lifting up Commander Fowl and the Plaid Porcupine again, the young hero made his way back to Quackum Labs in the city of Albatross, with Firefox following close behind, and Block Wolf morphing into his living concrete form and then growing back to his giant form so that he could make strides big enough to keep up with the airborne animals and also carry his fellow Outhyders.
As the heroes made their way back to Ducktor Quackum’s lab, a gentle beeping could be heard emanating from Commander Fowl. “Let me go here, Coo-coo,” Fowl said while they were still in the air over Quackum Labs.
“But, sir, if I do that with my pen’s ink low, you’ll fall to your death!” Comic-Coo-Coo said. As the young hero was speaking, the bionic eagle had been pressing at a little pad on his right arm.
Commander Fowl looked sternly at Comic-Coo-Coo and said, “Trust me. Let me go!” And the beeping sound continued. Without warning, Comic-Coo-Coo released his grip on the eagle, who quickly started to plummet toward Quackum Labs, screaming as he fell, “Cowww… aaa… bunnng… gaaahhh!”
Most of the heroes looked on in shock as Commander Fowl fell toward Ducktor Quackum’s lab, and even Firefox had begun to dive down toward the falling hero, when at the last few seconds, something looking like a parachute deployed from within his back, and little blue flames could be seen coming from the bottom of his feet. The bionic eagle seemed to just hover there for a few seconds.
As Firefox flew past him, it looked like he was carrying on a conversation with himself. “Yes, sir, we’ve been able to stop the giants. No, sir, you don’t have to deploy the armed forces.”
As Commander Fowl continued to speak, the Outhyders and the other heroes followed Comic-coo-coo as he led them through the skylight in the roof to land within Ducktor Quackum’s private hangar.
Without any formalities, the group of heroes quickly followed the Plaid Porcupine and Comic-coo-coo into Ducktor Quackum’s lab, entering just in time to hear the good Ducktor shout, “Eureka! I’ve done it! I truly think I’ve done it!“
“What have you done, Duck?” the Plaid Porcupine asked excitedly. “Have you discovered a cure?“
Ducktor Quackum looked at the gathered heroes as if just noticing their presence for the first time, and said excitedly, “No, my friends, I’ve discovered a new flavor of fizzy pop! Would you like to try some?” The reaction of the gathered heroes was quick, as each of them began to shout just as Commander Fowl walked into the room.
“Well, Duck, where’s the cure for our giant problems?” Fowl asked without formality as he reached Ducktor Quackum.
“Oh, that? I discovered that an hour ago, while all of you were handling the giants,” Ducktor said as a grin broke across his beak.
In the basement of a large building in the middle of the city of neighboring Zooville, a swirling portal could be seen opening, or would have been if there had been anyone there to witness it.
After a few moments, shapes began to appear in the portal. Stepping out was a tall, balding monkey wearing a gray lab coat and armored gloves over his hands. A pig wearing what looked like a purple-and-black-striped suit whose face was white and wore a rather large grin with blood red lips followed him through.
Looking around quickly, the pig said, “You’ve done it, Lemur! No more Super-Squirrel and his pals to get in our way!”
The criminal scientist ignored the Porker for a moment as he continued to check a little handheld device that he had pulled from one of his pockets after exiting the portal. “Yes, I do believe I have, Porker. I can find no trace of that annoying squirrel’s Chiptonian DNA anywhere.” He began to slowly smile as he placed the device back in his pocket and turned to face the Porker. “Once we find some drink, Porker, I propose a toast. To us, and a world we shall soon control, and no Super-Squirrel or Batmouse to get in our way!”
In response to Lemur’s words, the Porker began to laugh, and it was a truly frightening sound to behold. The balding villain thought at first to silence his companion, but then decided to just join him.
But their entrance into the building’s basement had not gone unnoticed. As they spoke, nearly a dozen security gorillas were on their way.
“After we assume control of this business, I’ll be able to use it as a front,” said Lemur, smiling at his own dark thoughts. “And you, my dear Porker, shall be able to rule over any city you wish for.”
Just as the Porker was about to reply, four large sets of double doors opened into the basement, and behind each stood three guards. “Hands in the air, rodents!” spoke one of the guards.
Lemur looked around the room, an evil grin crossing over his face. “Oh, my dear fellow animals, I’m afraid you’ve got us all wrong.” Twisting a dial on his armored gloves, he continued. “I am a lemur, and my companion, here, is a pig,” he said, waving an arm at the Porker. The results of his actions surrounded both himself and the Porker with a protective force-field.
The Porker continued to grin at each of the guards as he began tossing playing cards through the one-way force-field at each of them, each card exploding as it made contact with the concrete building. The Porker laughed uproariously while the guards began jumping every which way, trying to avoid being crushed, even as the force-field deflected the debris from the two super-villains.
The guard who had first spoken aimed his gun at the duo as he came back to his feet and opened fire. His bullets only bounced off the force-field and ended up striking a few of his companions.
“I would really recommend you surrendering, boys,” said Lemur. “I know how hard good help can be to find.”
The Porker then launched what looked like clown-shaped bombs toward each group. The result was instantaneous, as the guards all dropped their guns and began to laugh uncontrollably, their faces sporting what looked like carbon copies of the Porker’s own grin. “I sure do love to leave ’em laughing!” he said as he started to laugh once again.
The Plaid Porcupine found a nice, quiet place to sit and observe the gathering of heroes. He had known that there were other heroes in the world besides the Zoo Crew; he had just never expected to see them assembled like this.
Although somewhat absent-minded, Ducktor Quackum was still a fowl of great intellect. That, plus his years of experience, made him a valuable linchpin to this group.
Commander Fowl was a pure military-bird. He had the focus, the determination, and the leadership capability to see these heroes through the current crisis, and he seemed to enjoy being back in the thick of things, despite his complaints about having his retirement interrupted.
The Plaid Porcupine glanced over at Comic-coo-coo. Here was a hero who possessed a power that could possibly easily handle almost any situation that arose.
Firefox was another powerhouse. This vulpine heroine, although powerful, also had the heart to be in this group. Teaming her with Comic-coo-coo could make for an unbeatable combination.
He next turned his attention to the heroes known collectively as the Outhyders: Black Lightning Bug, Stink Bomber, Where Wolf, and Block Wolf. All of them had abilities that made them unique; all of them had something to contribute to the coming battle.
The Plaid Porcupine next looked at himself. He had faced several foes, all of them powerless, like himself. True, certain of his enemies had gotten ahold of devices that had given them small advantages, but in the end they were just normal animals.
“I don’t belong here,” he muttered under his breath. “I’m nothing but a porcupine in a plaid tuxedo. Quackum treats me with respect, but only because of Grandpa, as do the others.”
Pulling a slip of paper from his pocket, he jotted down a quick note and exited unnoticed from Ducktor Quackum’s laboratory.
“I’ve got to find Raven,” he whispered as he pulled the door closed behind him.
Unbeknownst to the Plaid Porcupine, Comic-coo-coo saw the quill-covered hero leave. The young avian understood how the porcupine could feel a bit overwhelmed. He was feeling that way, too. After all, this was a pretty big deal, and this was his first time working with this many heroes all at once. Heck, this was his first time working with other heroes, period.
Still, he had a feeling that the Plaid Porcupine might be more needed than he thought. After all, he had read enough Just’a Lotta Animals comics to know how valuable the non-powered heroes could be, providing that they didn’t give up. After all, Batmouse and Green Sparrow didn’t have super-powers, and they still fought beside their super-powered colleagues in the JLA as valued equals, because what they lacked in raw power, they more than made up for in skill and courage. Thus, the young writer with the magic pen, in his normal form, went after the melancholy mammal.
The Plaid Porcupine saw Comic-coo-coo coming after him and smirked slightly. Why was this kid with a pen that was potentially the most powerful weapon this side of a Green Lambkin power ring coming after him? Actually, he knew why. The kid was going to try to convince him to stay and probably point out a number of comic-book heroes who didn’t have super-powers and still fought alongside more powerful animals as true equals. As much as he appreciated the gesture, he still had to find Raven. At least, that’s what the plaid-tuxedo-clad hero told himself.
“Awww, come on, Mr. Plaid Porcupine. I just want to talk,” Comic-coo-coo said quietly as he continued to give pursuit.
“Sorry, Comic-coo-coo, but I can’t stick around. The coming battle is too out of my league,” Plaid Porcupine replied. Still, young animal, I admire your persistence in keeping after me, he added silently.
I’ll say this for the porcupine — he’s in very good shape, the young avian hero thought to himself as he panted slightly from the distance he had chased the melancholy mammal so far before realizing that he forgot about his ability to morph into his other form. He decided against that for the simple reason that he wanted to do something important without using his magic pen or the power of his anthro-bat form.
The Plaid Porcupine glanced back and allowed himself a slight smile at Comic-coo-coo’s persistence. When he saw the young hero becoming winded, he stopped under the pretense of tying his shoe to allow him to catch up.
“What do you want from me?” the plaid-clad crime-fighter asked in the surliest voice he could muster.
Comic-coo-coo knew immediately that none of his arguments for hanging around would have any effect on the older hero. “Um, I was wondering if I could go with you?”
“Don’t you have a world to save?”
“I… uh, yeah, I guess I do,” the avian hero replied. As he turned to go, Comic-coo-coo felt a paw on his shoulder.
“You give up way too easy,” said the Plaid Porcupine.
Comic-coo-coo looked back and saw a twinkle in the porcupine’s eyes. “Yeah?” he said, grinning. “What about you?”
“I never said anything about giving up,” the prickly purveyor of justice said. “I just said that I was out of my league.”
“Then why did you leave?”
“I can’t face these giants on my own. If I were to go into battle with the rest of you, I would be more of a liability than anything,” the Plaid Porcupine said, “and that isn’t my style.”
“Then… where are you going?” Comic-coo-coo was clearly confused.
“I’m going to get an equalizer,” the porcupine said, “and you get to help me.”