A few moments later, Stink Bomber regained consciousness and immediately spotted the sharply dressed gecko. “You may be a gecko, but to me you’re just a snake in the grass!”
The gecko pushed aside some freshly harvested buds and said, “Ssso?”
A ponderous porcine entered the room then, and Stink Bomber realized he was in a barn; the smell gave it away. “Greetings, bounty hunter, and thank you for the two-billion-dollar contribution to my, uh, private charity.”
“And who, pray tell, are you, Porky?”
The pig brushed a straw off his very expensive suit, lit a fat cigar, and said, “I am the Kingpigpen, and you are just a minor annoyance. However, you did do me a favor. Now that I have one Zoo Crewer, soon I’ll have the others, and you, my friend, shall be rewarded.”
“Yesss,” hissed the gecko, “rewarded, yesss… slow and painful, no. Ssswift and quickly delivered by me, Greasssely Von Gecksssburg, yesss.”
“That’s quite a name, there, friend,” said Stink Bomber.
“You will remember it asss the lassst thing you hear,” replied the gecko.
Stink Bomber reacted quickly, releasing a gas bomb he had hidden in his left boot. Instantly, the place filled with smoke, and he untied himself, surprised at how easily it went.
When the smoke cleared, the barn was empty. “Now what? And where the hole am I?”
At the Z-Building, Captain Carrot was pacing nervously. Alley-Kat-Abra was late checking in, and Pig-Iron was destroying the gym again, despite Fastback’s attempts to distract him with food.
Plus, Yankee Poodle had just reported that an estimated seven hundred or so minor-league criminals had come to town, all with Zoo Crew-hunting in mind. Something seriously wrong was going on, and he was clueless. He did not like being clueless.
In his limousine, Kingpigpen turned to his partner, and they both laughed. On the floor, the magical feline known as Alley-Kat-Abra was still unconscious, and that fool Stink Bomber had fallen perfectly into his plan. Soon it would all come together.
Greasely Von Gecksburg laughed because his boss laughed; that was known as staying alive and employed. But he had plans of his own, and they didn’t involve letting this mammal live much longer. This time he laughed at his own audacity.
Plans, plans, everybody’s got plans, the gecko sang silently to himself. And the game belongs to the best lizard in the house, yesss, indeed.
When Kingpigpen scowled at him, Greasely stopped grinning. For now, you are the bosss… for now…
“So this, uh, Kingpigpen took Abra?” a very upset Captain Carrot asked Stink Bomber. “I’m not sure I believe you, but I will assemble the Zoo Crew, and we’ll go to New Yak City and rescue her. Then we’ll go after the guy behind this bounty business. As for you, Stink Bomber, if it weren’t for your connection to the Sisters of Saint Mendes Orphanage, I wouldn’t believe a word of your story!”
Taking Pig-Iron aside, he asked him if he’d managed to reach the others yet. “Everyone’s comin’ in except Rubberduck, Stormwing, and Little Cheese,” Pig-Iron whispered to the Captain. “Byrd’s in Ireloon doin’ a movie with Nicole Kidmink and can’t get away right now, Terry’s coverin’ a big weather story for his TV station, and Chester is studyin’ for his final exams.”
When the remaining members of the Zoo Crew finally assembled a few minutes later, they left Stink Bomber to wait outside the meeting room.
After a few minutes of discussion, Captain Carrot looked at his teammates and said, “I don’t know if we can trust Stink Bomber or not, so I want Pig-Iron to keep him close. But remember, gang, we’ve got to find out who’s behind the bounty on us and take them down!”
With the team meeting over, the Zoo Crew invited Stink Bomber back into the room. At that moment, the emergency buzzer went off.
Pig-Iron answered it, and after a moment he told his fearless leader, “Cap, it’s some guy called Black Lighting Bug. Says he’s got somethin’ important to tell you, and it won’t wait.”
Captain Carrot took the headset, listened, and said, “Thanks. We’ll see you there!” He looked at his teammates. “Black Lightning Bug spotted Kingpigpen taking Abra into a building, and he’s monitoring the situation. So let’s get ’em, Zoo Crew!”
As they were leaving, Stink Bomber asked Pig-Iron, “If there’s another hero out there called Black Lightning Bug, how come he isn’t a Zoo Crew member?”
“I dunno,” Pig-Iron responded. “Guess he just likes being an outsider.”
The assembled team whisked their way to New Yak City via the Zoo-Cruiser for a meeting with destiny, unaware someone was shadowing them.
The Zoo Crew gathered together near a large brownstone in New Yak City. All they were waiting for was the appearance of Black Lightning Bug, who had found the blueprints of the building. Stink Bomber admitted he didn’t know much of anything about the solo super-hero who would be joining them, and he had been half-expecting an overgrown insect. So he was surprised by the black-leather-coat-wearing cat in a blue and black with gold trim costume and mask who sauntered up to the heroes.
“Yo-yo-yo, Black Lightning Bug in the hiz-zouse!” he announced as he checked his afro-style hair.
“Black Lightning Bug, good to see you!” said Captain Carrot, who had met the new hero during a solo adventure a few months back. “You know the Zoo Crew, right? Well, this guy in green and purple is Stink Bomber. I told you about him.”
“Right on, Captain C. Hey, how ya be, cat-brother?” Black Lightning Bug slapped paws with the newcomer. He then turned to the hare hero and said, “There’s three ways in. There’s six o’ us, so we go in twos, each takin’ a diff’rent route. We should find your honey there, C.C.”
“OK, Yankee Poodle and Fastback are one team,” said Captain Carrot. “Bug, you’re with me. And Pig-Iron, keep an eye on your boy, here.”
Plans were worked out, and the three pairs of heroes went to their respective entrances.
“P.I., I really made a mess of things,” admitted Stink Bomber. “Guess I’m not cut out to be a real super-hero type.”
“Aw, take it easy, Stinky,” said Pig-Iron. “You had a good idea. Just wish you’d talked it out with me first. Come on, this is our door.”
The building seemed to be deserted, and all six heroes found themselves within moments meeting up again in the basement, where they found Alley-Kat-Abra chained to a wall.
Kingpigpen hung up a phone and looked at the heroes. “Goodie! Bonus bounties! Thanks, Stink Bomber!”
“You fiend!” cried the skunk. “I never meant for you–!”
“Too bad! I did it!” With that, Kingpigpen snapped a finger, and out of the shadows emerged a number of different types of animals dressed in black ninja gear.
A big fight scene ensued as the Zoo Crew jumped into the battle, and although the ninjas put up a fair fight, the heroes emerged triumphant, though somewhat tired out.
Kingpigpen was not happy to see his troops taken out so easily, and he went into the attack himself, pushing the battle into a narrow corridor that only allowed two combatants to fight at a time. He proved a powerful adversary, and thanks to his ninjas having worn down the heroes already, he managed to defeat Captain Carrot and the other Zoo Crewers with preplanned traps specially tailored to their abilities. Now he finally faced Stink Bomber at last.
“So we meet again, skunk.”
“Yes we do, hog.”
Kingpigpen launched into the attack and swung his fist, only to strike a wall. Stink Bomber aimed a kick and knocked the big beast down. He caught a glimpse of the well-dressed lizard moving toward Alley Kat-Abra, but he could do nothing as his foe was moving in.
Suddenly, an idea hit him, and he reached for a special bomb he had been experimenting with. He hurled it down, and it broke open. A slow-moving green gas emerged, and the villain laughed. “That does nothing to me! Ha!” Then he discovered he was moving in slow motion, which enabled Stink Bomber to take him out with a solid right paw.
The zzzaaappp of electricity drew his attention toward where Alley-Kat-Abra was hanging, and he spotted the little lizard dancing around, hopping from foot to foot, saying, “Oohhh, ooohhh, owie!” before vanishing down an escape hole.
“Yeah, I’ll teach you, ya mammy-jammer!” Black Lightning Bug exclaimed. “Hottest brother around for sure!”
Alley-Kat-Abra was very grateful to be rescued and reunited with her friends, and she even forgave Stink Bomber for his involvement with her capture.
Black Lightning Bug turned to Stink Bomber and said, “Cool moves, bro. If you would like to join a group, I am starting a new one. It’s called the Outhyders.”
“That’s cool,” said the skunk, “but how come your voice changed its tone, may I ask?”
“Easy,” said Black Lightning Bug. “The street persona is part of my disguise. I am really a school teacher.”
“Wild. I’m a chemist,” said Stink Bomber. “Uh, if the Zoo Crew wants to lock me up, I guess… well, I know I would deserve it.”
“Actually, Stinky, the Captain and everyone agrees you can go,” said Pig-Iron. “You may’ve put Abra in danger, but you didn’t know it was her when you captured her, and we decided to accept you as a good guy.”
“Thanks, Pig-Iron, and please stop calling me Stinky!”
Pig-Iron nodded. “OK, Bomby. Well, you guys take care, and we’ll see you next time!”
“Wait, what are you guys doing next?” Stink Bomber asked.
“Same thing we do every time, Stinky,” said Pig-Iron with a wink. “Make plans to save the world! We also gotta take down whoever’s behind these bounties.”
Stink Bomber watched them leave, then turned to his new pal. “Drats! They were my ride home!”
“Relax, homes,” said Black Lightning Bug. “I gotcha covered. My vehicle is down the block.”
“That would be great, brother,” said Stink Bomber.
“You know it,” said Black Lightning Bug. “Watch out, evil — justice cats in the hiz-zouse!”
“Bug, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship!”