by Drivtaan, Comickook and Doc Quantum
“What do you want me to do?” Comic-coo-coo asked.
“How’s your ink supply?” said the Plaid Porcupine.
“It’s recharged. Why?”
The Plaid Porcupine smiled. “I want you to draw me a door.”
The avian hero shook his head as he pulled out his pen and ink. “I’m starting to see why they call you guys mystery-mammals.” He did as he was told. “What good is a door out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“It’s not the door that is important,” the porcupine told him, “itbrain’s where it opens up.”
“I don’t think I can do what you are asking,” the coo-coo bird said. “I’ve never tried to use my powers to teleport that far before.”
“So, you don’t actually know that it can’t be done.”
Comic-coo-coo thought for a second. “Well, no.”
“Then try,” the Plaid Porcupine told him, “that’s all I’m asking.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“When I open the door, I want to be on the Cherokeet Reservation in Alarama.” Without waiting for the youngster to reply, the quill-covered hero reached out and turned the knob.
All Comic-coo-coo had time to do was react, so when he followed the older hero through the open doorway, he found himself in Alarama. “I did it,” he laughed. “I actually did it.”
The Plaid Porcupine smiled and led his companion to an old stone hut. He paused outside the building and announced himself and his guest. “Old one. We come from a long way away, seeking your wisdom.”
The two then waited patiently as they heard shuffling from inside, drawing closer to the door. When it finally opened, a wizened old face poked through the opening and looked at the two newcomers.
Comic-coo-coo could see numerous symbols of various hues painted on the Cherokeet’s face. Despite the wrinkles that told of many years, the eyes beneath the heavy brow still bore a clarity that had not dimmed.
“Grandfather,” the Plaid Porcupine said as a sign of respect. “Allow me to introduce my companion, Comic-coo-coo.”
The old one looked the coo-coo bird up and down, then nodded.
“Comic-coo-coo, I’d like you to meet Manatee Raven.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Raven, sir,” Comic-coo-coo said with great respect.
“I must say your young friend isn’t lacking in manners,” Manatee Raven said to the Plaid Porcupine. “He does know how to respect his elders. That’s better than some young animals today.”
“Indeed, Grandfather,” the quill-covered hero said with a smirk.
“I presume, however, that you are not merely here to exchange pleasantries,” the elder marine animal said sagely.
“No, Grandfather, we are not,” the Plaid Porcupine admitted. “We are facing a grave peril to the entire world, and I have need of your wisdom, as well as an equalizer. An army of near-mindless, two-hundred-foot giants are running rampant all over the world, and we have yet to encounter the mastermind, who I fear will be truly powerful and resourceful.”
Meanwhile, Billy Bearowitz, who was waking up back to normal, thanks to Ducktor Quackum’s antidote to the giant formula, felt pretty well-rested as he looked around at all the hero animals around him.
“Welcome back, Billy! I hope you’ve had a good nap,” Ducktor Quackum said with a smirk.
“I sure did, Duck. I must have been out like a light, but I don’t remember what did it,” the young bear cub answered in embarrassment.
“Well, that Koala Cola you drank made you two-hundred feet tall and nearly mindless,” the elderly heroic genius explained. “While I prepared an antidote, Commander Fowl, Plaid Porcupine, and Comic-coo-coo kept you from hurting anyone and managed to get a giant bottle of knockout drops down your throat. It was enough to render you unconscious for two hours, even at two-hundred feet tall. While you were slumbering, I managed to provide you with the antidote and bring you back to normal.”
“Thanks for that, Duck, but… speaking of the Plaid Porcupine and Comic-coo-coo, where the heck are they?” Billy asked. “Even with all these animals present, I don’t see those two.”
“What? They aren’t here?” Ducktor Quackum said in an embarrassed tone. “Must have snuck off while the rest of us weren’t paying attention, the sneaks.”
“Actually, Duck, I’ve been paying attention to the monitors, and I know Comic-coo-coo provided Plaid Porcupine with transportation to a remote area of Alarama,” said Commander Fowl. “They’ll be back soon enough, with any luck, so we’re free to discuss strategy.”
“Well, there is one theory that’s been brewing in my mind,” Duck Quackum said as he paced the floor before the assembled heroes. “But it’s a long shot.”
“Shoot, Doc,” Commander Fowl said with his wings crossed. “We’re all ears.”
Ducktor Quackum turned and addressed them all, very seriously. “This is only speculation, you understand, but it concerns the president.”
“Ah,” Fowl said.
“A few years ago, back when the Zoo Crew was just formed, you may all recall certain incidences of giant animals showing up around the country. As I recall, there was a giant kangaroo in the Southwest, a giant vulture in the air over America, and a giant frog on the Pacific…” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “And Now… A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #3 (May, 1982).]
“Frogzilla!” said Black Lightning Bug. “Dizzam! We should’a thought of that before! He’s appeared once or twice since then, hasn’t he?”
“Right, youngster,” said Duck Quackum, somewhat annoyed at the black-furred feline for rudely interrupting him. “But he hasn’t shown up at all recently, and I assume he’s not directly involved. However…”
“His boss may be,” concluded Commander Fowl.
Quackum exclaimed, “Precisely!”
“No go, Duck,” Commander Fowl said without pause. “Already checked. Brother Hood is still locked up at Piker’s Island.”
“I was afraid of that,” said Ducktor Quackum, “although the president will be relieved to hear that his own brother, ‘Feathers’ Fillmore, is not involved in something that would be embarrassing once again to his administration.”
Firefox cleared her throat. “I know we’ve all just met each other and all for the first time — well, most of us, anyway — but I hope you don’t mind if I offer my own opinion.”
“Not at all,” Duck Quackum replied jovially. “You have the ‘conch,'” he added with a wink.
“As you said sometime earlier, Ducktor Quackum, this entire giantism scheme seems like more of a distraction than anything,” said Firefox. “While our attention is focused on the giants, I’m afraid something much worse may be happening beneath our very snouts — or beaks, in your case. We need to figure out what that is, of course, but we also need to change all the giants back to normal.”
Quackum replied, “Well, to answer the second problem, I forgot to mention to all of you that I’ve already sent the instructions for the reversal formula that changed Billy, here, back to normal around the world. At this very moment, the military forces of each country that has been afflicted by this ‘plague of giants’ is forcefully injecting the anti-giant formula into each of those giants, either through dart-guns or ingestion.”
“And it tastes great, too!” Billy Bearowitz piped up.
“So the giants should be gone momentarily,” said Quackum, “leaving us with the problem of where they came from.”
“I just hope that’s the only problem we’ll have for now,” said Black Lightning Bug, looking at Stink Bomber, Block Wolf, and Where Wolf, who nodded at their team leader in agreement.
Meanwhile, in a very dark room, a darkened figure cackled gleefully.
“Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Those fools! They think their problems are over? Well, they’ve only just begun!”
The darkened figure (who could somehow see in the darkened room) pressed a, uh… darkened button… of doom!
“I have seen these giants you speak of in my dreams,” Manatee Raven told the porcupine. “Your allies will take care of them.”
“That’s a relief,” Comic-coo-coo sighed.
“Do not be so eager to lower your guard, my young friend.”
“What is wrong, Grandfather?” the quilled avenger asked.
Manatee Raven cocked his head slightly and looked at him. “Why do you keep calling me that? I’ve told you a dozen times, I’m your mother’s uncle’s cousin twice removed on his father’s side!”
The coo-coo bird raised an eyefeather, but said nothing.
“Think about it,” the porcupine said. “It’s a whole lot easier to call you Grandfather than to go through that rigmarole every time I want to address you.”
The old one did think about it. After a few seconds, he shrugged his shoulders and turned his thoughts to other matters. “There is one behind these monstrosities who is using them to divert your attention.”
“Sir,” Comic-coo-coo said, “could you tell us who this mastermind is?”
“I have sought to pierce the shadows that cover his existence, but to no avail,” Manatee told the young bird. “All I can tell you is that he, or she, is somewhere… dark.”
“That’s not a whole lot to go on,” the Plaid Porcupine mumbled.
Manatee Raven reached over and gave him a light smack on the nose. It was an experience the porcupine had had several times while growing up.
“I have seen other things in my dreams, as well.” He turned his attention to Comic-coo-coo. “There are strangers from another world whom you will encounter. One has a vast array of knowledge, while the other wears the face of the Trickster. This is the one you must beware.”
“Come on, Grandfather,” the porcupine said. “Everyone knows that tricksters are for kids.”
Manatee Raven tried to ignore the comment (and so, too, should the reader). Sighing, he asked, “Why did you even come here?”
“For an equalizer. You know that I hate going into a battle without knowing who the enemy is.”
“So,” Manatee said with a grin, “now you know.”
“I guess we can go now,” the Plaid Porcupine said as he looked at his companion.
“You mean that all we came here for was information?” Comic-coo-coo asked.
“What did you expect?”
“I… I don’t know. Once I met your, uh, ‘grandfather’ — sorry, sir — I thought you were getting something mystical or something,” the coo-coo bird replied.
The manatee and the porcupine exchanged glances and shrugs.
“Shall I send you back to where you are needed, now?” Manatee Raven asked.
“It was nice to meet you, sir,” Comic-coo-coo told the old one.
“You must come for a visit sometime,” the wizened manatee said.
As Manatee Raven began to chant, a hole began to open in the fabric of reality. Once it was large enough to accommodate both heroes, Manatee bid them farewell.
The last thing they heard before finding themselves back in Ducktor Quackum’s lab was the old one calling out to the Plaid Porcupine, “And don’t forget your grandmother’s milk!”
Comic-coo-coo, to his credit, didn’t make any comments concerning the more humorous aspects of the conversation between the Plaid Porcupine and Manatee Raven. He did, however, quickly write down something with his magic pen that caused his trans-dimensional viewer back in Cowarado to be transported immediately to Ducktor Quackum’s laboratory so that he could play a hunch. Sure enough, by setting the timeline scans to within two hours in the past, he found a dimensional breach that allowed what looked like Lex Lemur and the Porker from his comic-books to enter this world.
I thought the stranger from another world with the face of the Trickster might have been one version or another of the Porker, the young avian thought to himself. Thank you, Lotta Species Heroes comics.
“So, what do you have there, some sort of movie?” Ducktor Quackum said, coming up behind Comic-coo-coo as he observed the recent past footage of the two other-dimensional villains arriving on this world. “I must say, this is a pretty good working replica of Brainy-Quack 5’s trans-dimensional viewer!”
“You read comics, too, Duck?” asked Comic-coo-coo.
“Comics?” said Quackum, puzzled. “You mean Duck Tracy and the like? Never really had the time for them, I must admit.”
“Then how do you know about–? Oh, never mind. I’m afraid what’s on this screen isn’t just a movie, Duck,” Comic-coo-coo admitted, then showed Ducktor Quackum and the other heroes the playback again. “As far as I can tell, that is the real Lex Lemur and Porker arriving in Zooville. As for the replica of the trans-dimensional viewer, let’s just say I’m glad I was able to memorize enough of Brainy-Quack 5’s in-comics notes on how the device works to be able to make a perfect duplicate of it.”
“Well, then, this is a complication we certainly didn’t need,” Commander Fowl said, more than a little bitterly. It was bad enough they had yet to fight the mastermind behind the giant troubles, but the arrival of two deadly other-dimensional villains made things even worse.
“I concur, Commander,” admitted Ducktor Quackum. “Unfortunately, this means we can’t concentrate our forces on one problem or the other… unless, of course, the Zoo Crew is on their way back and can handle one of the menaces so we can handle the other…?”
“Again, no such luck, Duck,” Comic-coo-coo said after checking his trans-dimensional viewer. “Caesar Hoot, a genetically and cybernetically enhanced, third-generation super-villain from sixty years in the future, is keeping the Zoo Crew pretty busy in the Time-Keeper’s realm, especially since he’s stolen the Time-Keeper’s time wand.” It looked like the Zoo Crew could handle the trouble in the Time-Keeper’s realm, but they would probably be busy for a while yet.
Still, Ducktor Quackum couldn’t help giving a sentimental sigh as he glanced up at a picture of his younger self, together with fellow heroes the original Plaid Porcupine, the Terrific Whatzit, and the Red Hen Tornado. All this talk about time-travel made him think about his various team-ups in the past with those three mystery-mammals and others.
“Errr, Duck? Could we get back to the mission at hand?” Commander Fowl said with an obvious measure of impatience. “The sooner we get this wrapped up, the sooner I can return to semi-retirement.”
“Ohhh, right. Sorry, Commander. Got a little misty-eyed for a second, there,” Quackum said sheepishly. “Well, we’re just going to have to decide on how to divide up the teams so we can go after both problems at the same time.”