by Comickook and Marc Drayer
Over the last year, Fat Kat had made preparations. Oh, sure, he’d almost gone back to jail again, thanks to those infernal feline magicians Ala-Kat-Zam and Alley-Kat-Abra, as well as that stoolie Matt Mouser, but he had managed to evade the law. And now, with the help of his wealthy backer, who had a few bones of his own to pick with the Zoo Crew, Fat Kat was finally ready to discreetly issue his open contract. Thus, all over the world, through various anonymous underworld channels, the word was spread: Zoo Crew hunting season was open.
And with a one-billion-dollar-per-Zoo-Crewer bounty, plus a possible two-billion-dollar bonus if some super-hit-animal were to somehow take down the entire Zoo Crew singlehandedly, there was no shortage of takers.
From Hare-abia came the Hare-abian Knight. This silver-furred lapine, garbed entirely in all-black armor, possessed genetically enhanced strength, speed, agility, and senses. This rabbit was also a scientific genius even before he performed those genetic-enhancement experiments on himself. In addition, his armor was made out of a super-strong, but surprisingly lightweight alloy and had several powerful features.
The armor had an incredibly flexible, built-in exoskeleton that increased his super-rabbit strength, speed, and agility by incredible margins, very powerful heel-jets for supersonic flight, a pair of extra-high-powered palm lasers, a chest device capable of projecting incredibly realistic illusions, and an incredibly powerful personal force-field projector. Not only that, but his armor’s entire arsenal was thought-activated and carefully programmed so that it could only work for him.
In addition to the vast bounty, the Hare-abian Knight also had a personal score to settle with the Zoo Crew, which had foiled six of the evil super-rabbit assassin’s attempted hits in various untold adventures over the past year-and-a-half, though each time was a close battle, and the Knight managed to escape each and every time. Thus, he was only too happy to take up the hunt once more.
From Duckdown, Wingland, came Hexen. This gold-furred, blue-eyed, auburn-haired female fox, though garbed in modest, yet quite stylish blue dresses, was anything but a lady.
This villainous vixen possessed super-agility and super-speed, which was nowhere near as fast as Fastback, but still fast enough to easily outrun a bullet, and she could also think as fast as she could move. She had siphon-vision, which could drain the energy and memories of anybody she zapped with special optic beams. Although the energy and memory drain only lasted two hours, it was usually more than enough time to finish off her victims. She also had the ability to cause incredibly bad luck to anybody within a hundred yards, another effect that lasted two hours, which was still plenty of time. And she could disguise herself as any other animal, though aside from strength, speed, and endurance, she couldn’t duplicate the abilities of anybody whose appearance she copied. In addition to all these powers, Hexen was also an explosives expert and a crack shot with any firearm.
From Turkyo, Japanda, came the Shi-Poni. This dark-blue-furred male horse, garbed in black ninja attire, possessed the ability to create supercharged, semisolid matter from his hooves, in addition to the power of limited teleportation, though no more than eight miles in any direction. He also had the power to increase or decrease the gravity around anything within two hundred yards of him up to sixtyfold for up to four minutes, and the ability to fire beams from his eyes capable of transmuting matter. In addition to these powers, the Shi-Poni was also a multiple-degree black belt in numerous martial arts and an expert with all throwing weapons.
With these three assassins and more on their heels, the Zoo Crew was definitely going to be in for some serious hassles.
Follywood, Califurnia, June 9th:
The Hare-abian Knight looked around for an opportunity for a spectacular crime with which to lure the Zoo Crew to him. After all, the first rule of hunting was to make the target come to the hunter.
Finally, the Knight found his opportunity, which was like a scene straight out of Duck Hard — a daytime office party with three hundred innocent animals in attendance. This was the perfect hostage situation. He had enlisted six dozen generic animal thugs — a few wolves, some gorillas, a certain number of vultures, a few bears, and a bunch of rats among them — and had injected them all with a special serum designed to make all of their physical abilities several times greater, while also putting them under his absolute mental control, not to mention equipping all of them with an arsenal of super-weapons. The Hare-abian Knight also had a super-goon-squad to do the dirty work so that he could get the drop on the heroes while they were all otherwise distracted.
“Heh-heh-heh. Ten billion smackers and some payback to boot,” the villainous armored super-lapine said to himself with an evil grin. “Life is sooo good.”
The newest member of the Zoo Crew — Stormwing, alias Terry Dactyl — was on monitor duty that day at the Z-Building, though he was distracted by a very lovely lady who had accompanied him for what was usually a very boring duty. He had been spending most of his free time over the last month training his girlfriend Mandra Mynxbynd in the use of her new powers. (*) They had managed to sharpen her control over her powers considerably as they worked on them. Terry acted as her sparring partner most of the time, and he did have his hands full with her, but he was enjoying every bit of it. Still, neither had an inkling of what was about to happen very soon.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew: The Big Breakout.]
Stormwing’s reverie was broken by the ringing of the alarm. It was a hostage situation at a downtown office building, which sounded strangely like the plot of that Duck Hard movie Byrd Rentals had starred in recently. He looked over at Mandra and said, “Looks like it’s time to call in the Zoo Crew!”
He punched the button to summon the rest. Now that his girlfriend was fully trained, Terry knew Mandra could be a real asset to the team, though she still hadn’t revealed her new powers to the whole team yet. He was glad to have her as his girlfriend, and maybe a little more, as they were starting to get serious about each other.
Soon, Captain Carrot had arrived with Alley-Kat-Abra. “The others are coming,” said Captain Carrot, who looked only somewhat surprised to see Terry’s girlfriend Mandra with him. “What’s going on?”
“A hostage situation at the theater, Cap,” said Stormwing. “I was about to head out there myself.”
“Wait!” said Abra. “My Magic Wanda senses that there is more to this than meets the eye. We could be walking into a trap!”
At that moment, Pig-Iron, Rubberduck, and Yankee Poodle came in with Little Cheese in tow, while Fastback came vibrating in through the walls. Captain Carrot and Stormwing briefed them on what was happening, and they all headed out.
The office building looked like a hornet’s nest, all abuzz, and inside were the goons waiting to ambush the Zoo Crew. Was there any hope for our heroes?
Mandra, having been left behind at the Z-Building, donned a black bodysuit with a bright orange lightning-bolt style double M infringed on the chest area, with a dark green cape and a matching mask, and white boots with matching gloves. She secretly followed close behind the rest of the Zoo Crew, not wanting to reveal herself just yet. Like Abra, she also had the feeling it was a trap, but she reasoned that whoever was planning the trap was probably only expecting the eight Zoo Crewers to arrive.
Alley-Kat-Abra had taken the liberty of making herself and Captain Carrot both invisible and intangible with her magic, while Fastback used his hypersonic vibrations to also become invisible and intangible. Rubberduck slinked himself and Little Cheese through the air ducts, and Stormwing, Yankee Poodle, and Pig-Iron went in the front way to draw the attention of the armed super-thugs. Every time one or more of the thugs tried to fire on any of the hostages, they were disarmed by either Fastback moving at invisible super-speed or Alley-Kat-Abra using levitation.
Eventually, when all the thugs were disarmed, the Zoo Crew started attacking the thugs directly, little suspecting that all was going according to the Hare-abian Knight’s plan. While the Zoo Crew was busy with his thugs, a device the evil armored lapine recently built into his armor started slowly draining off the cosmic radiation that had originally empowered seven of the Zoo Crewers. Once he had the power of seven of the Zoo Crewers, he could take down the last one, Little Cheese, effortlessly. Not only would he get a huge payday for eliminating all eight heroes singlehandedly, but he would also have their power transferred to his armor. There was only one thing the evil armored rabbit didn’t anticipate — one extra super-animal making her super-heroine debut.
Using her super-camouflage power and near-Fastback-level speed, Mandra Mynxbynd was able to easily slip around unnoticed until she located the villain while he was drawing careful aim on the slowly weakening heroes. Slipping up to him unnoticed just as the villain had managed to drain thirty percent of the power from seven of the Zoo Crewers, Mandra nailed him with a superb shot of her optic electrical blast while firing a freeze bolt aimed at his lower area and a heat-blast aimed at his helmet.
By the time the Hare-abian Knight could gather his thoughts and start to work freeing himself from the ice, Mandra had all the time she needed to use her super-speed and super-intelligence to not only completely disable his armor but also transfer the power he drained back into the Zoo Crew. With his armor now ruined, the Knight tried in vain to make a run for it, but the still-camouflaged mink caught up to him and nailed him with a superb right cross, followed by another optic lightning blast, which took the fight right out of the villain.
Within minutes, the Zoo Crew had all of the Knight’s thugs subdued and securely entrapped, and by that time the still-masked Mandra had approached the assembled eight heroes with the tied-up Hare-abian Knight.
“Wow! We’ve been after this guy for a year and a half!” Captain Carrot said when he saw the captured super-hit-rabbit with the masked mink.
“Yeah, I mean, either this gal has some seriously impressive moves, or this is a ruse, and that nutty Hare-abian Knight intentionally took a dive,” Pig-Iron replied suspiciously. “We haven’t been able to catch this guy in a year and a half of trying, and this one costumed mink was able to capture him singlehandedly? I don’t buy it.”
Stormwing stood defensively before her and said, “Somehow I trust her, and you know I’m not one who dolls out trust cheaply.” Rubberduck and Fastback both nodded in full agreement.
“OK, but that still doesn’t tell us who this masked mink is,” Yankee Poodle pointed out.
The masked Mandra remained outwardly cool, knowing that only Stormwing, Fastback, and Rubberduck knew about her super-powers and her training. “It’s better if my identity remains a mystery, even to you, Zoo Crew — at least for the time-being. So you can call me Mystery Mink. All you need to know is that I am on your side.”
Saying this, Mystery Mink used her super-camouflage-power and super-speed to get out of there before anyone could respond.