by Comickook and T Campbell
Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, and the Earth-Reverse-C Doctor Hoot carefully made their way through the many corridors of Sting Sting Prison in Gnu York state. Finally, they arrived at the Zoo Crew Wing, the super-maximum security area of the prison used to keep the super-powered criminals captured by the Zoo Crew securely imprisoned.
Among these was Polly Wannacracker, alias the Squawker, who was still trying to blast her way out of her soundproof cell without any luck. (*) Also securely looked up there were Digger O’Doom, who had been genetically enhanced by the evil Doctor Hoot that the Crew was used to dealing with to maintain his powers permanently and was kept in a reinforced titanium cell. (*) Nearby was the Cheshire Cheetah, who had been captured by the Crew sometime after his initial battle with Fastback and whose cell was designed to perpetually vibrate at the same frequencies as his body to prevent his escape, as well as Solar Bear, and the Salamandroid. (*) And, of course, there was the one the heroes came to see — Samantha Drake, alias the Siren Belle.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Squawk Loudly, and Carry a Big Grudge,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #8 (October, 1982), “Digger O’Doom,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #6 (August, 1982), “The Fadeaway Crimes of the Cheshire Cheetah,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #10 (December, 1982), “Here Comes the Sun,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #18 (August, 1983), and “The Sinister Salamandroid,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #11 (January, 1983).]
It took all of Rubberduck’s willpower to keep his mind on business as he spoke to the sultry convict. “Excuse me, Miss Drake, but we have come to ask for your help in dealing with a few rather powerful super-criminals. In exchange for your help, we will all be certain to put in an extra-good word for you at your parole hearing next year.”
Samantha couldn’t help but smile. After all, this was the opportunity she was waiting for — the chance to prove she really had changed. Plus, as a bonus, she would be getting her powers back, at least for a little while, if that device the armored owl was carrying was what she thought it was. “Sugah, y’all can count this Southern belle in,” she said with a smile that, though it wasn’t her intention, caused Rubberduck’s heart to skip three beats before starting again at triple normal rate.
Nearby, Fantastidrake discreetly slithered his super-elastic body through the extremely narrow prison pipes after having memorized the prison layout with the aid of x-ray binoculars. Eventually he made his way to the outside of Sting Sting’s Zoo Crew Wing, stopping because he knew about the alarms even built into the piping of this wing. Exiting the pipes and slinking of just out of sight, Fantastidrake then used his superior mind powers to briefly enslave three of the guards in the Zoo Crew Wing. Just as he had surmised, the same willpower-enhancement ray he used to make himself immune to the mental control of others also made his mind strong enough to temporarily dominate the thoughts of three of the guards in spite of the psi-dampener field built into the inside of the wing.
Under Fantastidrake’s control, the guards deactivated the wing’s security system, after which the evil duck super-genius discreetly pressed a button on a remote attached to his belt. In a flash, Swanky Poodle teleported herself and Slashback into the Zoo Crew Wing, something they couldn’t have done before with the anti-teleportation energy field in place around that wing.
Distracted earlier by his efforts to restore the Siren Belle’s powers with the help of a special charger collar/cap of his own invention, the Earth-Reverse-C Doctor Hoot didn’t notice Swanky Poodle and Slashback until it was almost too late. However, he did notice them just barely in time and was able to get his force-field generator activated a nanosecond before the two villains launched their attacks, thereby protecting himself, Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, and the Siren Belle from the full fury of their foes. He knew this wouldn’t delay them for long, but it would delay them just long enough for his device to fully charge the Siren Belle’s telekinetic and sonic powers.
While Swanky Poodle was distracted, however, and just before Hoot’s force-field gave way, Fantastidrake discreetly opened the Squawker’s cell, and the newly released villainess launched a massive sonic volley that wreaked havoc on Swanky Poodle’s extra-sensitive ears, leaving her unable to remained focused enough to use her power ring. Fantastidrake had equipped Slashback with earplugs to protect him from the Squawker’s power when he found out about this world’s Squawker being locked up in this prison, but he did no such courtesy for Swanky Poodle. When Swanky fell unconscious (though not dead), Fantastidrake discreetly slipped the power ring of her finger and put it on his own, just before freeing all of the other inmates in the wing and teleporting himself and Slashback to the other-dimensional Limbo with said power ring.
“This is what is called using your noodle, my hypersonic half-shelled helper,” Fantastidrake explained smugly as he power-ringed up a viewing screen that allowed them to see all the action from a safe distance. “We’ll let these vengeance-obsessed individuals soften up those do-gooders, and then, when these heroes are exhausted from fending off that small army of super-villains, we’ll step back into their universe to finish them off.”
“Raaakkk! Payback time, poodle,” the Squawker cackled. “That sneak attack on that other super-skank was merely a warm-up!”
“Indeed, chaps, let’s give these hero types what for!” the Chesire Cheetah said as he and the other super-inmates moved in on Rubberduck, Doctor Hoot, Yankee Poodle, and the Siren Belle.
“Well, I’d say these rapscallions just opened up a big ol’ can of trouble,” the now-fully charged Siren Belle said.
Just under the surface of the water there was a shape — a dark shape, moving impossibly quickly, heading toward a crowd of swimmers.
Cue cello music.
The swimmers were just starting to notice the strange oval bearing down on them, but they wouldn’t even have time to scream.
Then the oval stopped and bobbed to the surface, and Fastback’s head popped out.
“Phewww-wieee! Ah cain’t believe how long ah had to stay down thar! Us turtles can hold our breaths a good ways, but if’n ah hadn’t kept some air bubbles inside mah shell…”
“¿Que?” one of the swimmers responded. “¿Habla-usted Espaloma?”
“Aw, shoot,” said Fastback, bobbing in the water and looking at the crowd that had gathered around him. He must have swum at least as far as Meggsico, maybe as far as the Spare-ribsean Sea. Or was that on the other side of the continent? He hated geography. He’d hated it ever since he learned that Taxes wasn’t really the biggest state in the United Species of Animerica.
He cupped his hands to his beak. “Anybody here speak Animerican?”
A toucan in a modest swimsuit, named Pamela, stepped forward. “Fast Back, yes? You are Animerican super-hero. Yes?”
“Yes, ma’am. Ah’d be grateful for y’all’s help. See, ah need t’ git these legs o’ mine to a doctor. Preferable-like, a doc who works fast — real fast.”
Toucan Pam studied him. Half his words seemed to be some kind of nonsense language, but she could make out something about legs, a doctor, and speed. And after Fastback paddled to shore and started crawling onto the beach, using only his elbows, she began to get the idea.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha!” laughed the Squawker, and even the laughter was paralyzing. Rubberduck stretched his ears closed, and Doctor Hoot’s armor shielded his ears and face, but Yankee Poodle fell, clutching her head. “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” Then Polly sucked in a breath, let out a killing shriek… and the sound waves slammed into other waves of equal force, as the Siren Belle met her voice to voice.
The stalemate built. Samantha Drake looked into the Squawker’s eyes and felt like she was sinking into twin pools of hate. She, Samantha, had been a criminal; she’d done many things she wasn’t proud of, but she’d never hated another animal, not like this.
As the stalemate kept escalating, the rest of the fight stormed around them.
“You stupid costumes!” shouted Solar Bear, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was wearing a self-materializing costume much stupider than any of theirs. “You kept me from my revenge! Too bad for you!” He glowed. He glowed so brightly that Digger O’Doom was blinded — but the Salamandroid’s solar cells were fully charged.
And then he attacked. He unleashed sweltering heat rays that even Hoot’s armor could barely withstand. Rubberduck dipped and dodged and lifted Rova Barkitt out of the way, and one ray finally blasted a hole in a wall. “Forecast calls for UV rays with a zero percent chance of survival!”
The Solar Bear and the Squawker were of the same vengeance type. Whatever this type’s original goals had been, he or she had grown obsessed with revenge on his or her enemies, be they rival reporters, a scornful audience, or super-powered civil servants.
In his mind, the Cheshire Cheetah had a word for this type. That word was daft.
Money, the thrill of the heist, and his lovely home nation of the United Animal Kingdom were calling to him. And as soon as the Solar Bear blew out the wall, he saw no reason to continue the pounding instead of going after the pounds. He rocketed off so fast he couldn’t be followed by the naked eye, much less by any super-heroes.
Doctor Hoot knocked the Squawker into a wall, and she slumped to the ground without making another sound.
Samantha breathed in, cleared her throat, and gave the Salamandroid her most seductive melody. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been at Sting Sting long enough to realize that she was trying to seduce a robot. Five seconds later she was out cold, and Hoot was using small arms fire to keep the Salamandroid off her, while Byrd Rentals’ questing fingers finally found what he was looking for. He turned the fire extinguisher on Solar Bear, concentrating on his face. The Bear went down easily, like the loser he had always been. Byrd started to feel confident.
But then he felt claws in his stomach muscles, and Digger O’Doom was on him, stretching him in ways even he couldn’t stand for long.
In Limbo where they observed, Slashback turned to Fantastidrake. “This’s better’n wrestlin’,” he drawled, munching some power-ring-generated popcorn.
The Salamandroid joined in, gripping with adhesive, superheated hands. Rubberduck was about to be sick. Hoot, where was Hoot? Why wasn’t Hoot helping him?
The trademarked sound of one of Rova’s magno-blasts brought a smile to Byrd’s face, and then he turned, and he saw that the trademark had been violated.
His Rova — Yankee Poodle — had been blasted unconscious. And the other Rova, the one in the so-very-wrong bondage gear, was up and fighting, stars and stripes shooting from her hands like shuriken and laser beams. She was fighting Doctor Hoot now. It was hard to tell, since Hoot’s armor covered him from head to toe-claw, but he looked like he was getting the worst of it.
Digger O’Doom took one look at this lady — the homicidal fury in her eyes, and the power she commanded, so much deadlier than his own — ran out the hole in the wall, and started digging an escape tunnel.
The Salamandroid calmly assessed this new situation and weighed it against the Three Laws of Evil Robotics:
One: A robot must obey its master.
Two: A robot must kill its master’s enemies, or, through inaction, allow those enemies to die, as long as doing this does not conflict with the First Law.
Three: A robot must preserve its own existence except when this conflicts with the First or Second Laws.
This second Yankee Poodle was too violent to be identified with the Zoo Crew, and therefore, he could not yet classify her as his master’s enemy. He could safely return to crushing the remaining life out of Rubberduck. And then he saw something that made him pause.
Doctor Hoot’s armor crumpled under one of Swanky Poodle’s magno-blasts and exploded under another, taking nearly all his weapons with it. He lay sprawled on his stomach, tried to rise, then fell again.
“Dear old Doctor,” Swanky Poodle smiled, limping forward. “So (censored) clean that you didn’t even have any (censored) secrets for me to (censored) you with. Oh, I’m going to enjoy this…”
A single stripe shot out of a single finger and wrapped itself around Hoot’s neck, leashing him tight, pulling him up to his knees.
“It’s been a long time,” she sighed, “since I’ve had a (censored) beak (censored) my (censored) (censored)… and you know how to please, don’t you, little (censored)? That’s what you spend your whole (censored) disgusting life doing… pleasing others… (censored), you’re sick…”
She never saw it coming — it being the Salamandroid, who knocked her cold and prepared to step on her neck.
“Don’t kill her!” blurted Hoot.
The Salamandroid stopped, surprised. Then he put his foot down, picked up Byrd’s limp neck, and resumed squeezing.
“Don’t kill him, either!” Hoot said. Then, casting a quick glance around the room, he added, “Don’t kill anyone!”
The Salamandroid dropped Byrd, who began coughing faintly, and gave Hoot a wounded look.
“Then how may I serve you, master?”
In the power-ringed bubble in Limbo, Fantastidrake slapped the screen repeatedly. Slashback turned to him with a contemptuous sneer.
“So whut’re we gonna do now, bird brain?”
“Shut up! I’m trying to think!”
Slashback nodded sagely. “Thet is why y’all fail.”