Creative fun in
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1334360
by Twiga
Rated: 13+ · Campfire Creative · Appendix · Sci-fi · #1334360
Sister story to Alien Wars On Earth and Humans fused with Animal DNA can save us!
[Introduction] This is the Sister story to Alien Wars. This is the story of what happans on dear old Earth. We learn Bettas abduct humans to use their DNA to reproduce and the only ones who can stop this are humans fused with Animal DNA

Here are the four heroes

Matoaka Redfeather: The leader of our superhero team Matoaka is a Native American Woman who has a rare gene which means she can't become a proper manimal (a human animal hybrid) but she can become six differnt creatures! These are Cheetah, Hawk,Grey Squirrel,Wolf, Black Bear, Crocodile

Minsk Flemmincoff: A Matoaka's 2nd in command a proud and mysterious Russian woman Minsk is bonded to the DNA of a Mink and she hates being called 'a weasel'
Minsk fights with a bo staff

Bill Brandy: A tough talking New Yorker Bill is bonded to Texas Longhorn DNA he is often vulgar and rude but has a suprisingly tender heart, His weapon is a long whip he wears on his tail

Jim Buckwheat: Is Bill's best bud his DNA is infused with that of the Red Squirrel, Jim is afraid of heights making his arboreal rodent instints tough for him Jim is the "kid brother' of the group and often the coward but his little heart may hold great coarage
Matoaka woke up that morning full of determatnation

"This will be the day." She said "Tonight we will we invade our first Betta spaceship together, as a team."

It was at 9:00 when the rest of the team arrived to HQ

Minsk and Bill changed into their manimal forms and sat down Jim was a little late

"You're late" Matoaka chided

"Sorry." Said Jim as he changed into his halfsquirrel form "I saw the prettiest girl in the park today"

Bill luaghed "You in love?" He snickered "That's a riot

Matoaka hushed him

"Tonight the Bettas itend to abduct humans for their profane experiments but we will stop them! Listen to my plan..."
Matoaka pressed a few buttons on the console in front of her and the 3-D screen appeared in the air in front of the rest of the group. The scene depicted showed a forest with a clearing in the center, about two miles from the nearest suburban community. The city had an estimated population of about 50,000.

"Now," she began,"my intelligence sources inform me the spaceship will be landing shortly in this vicinity in aproximately six hours. The closeness of this forest to the city gives the Bettas cover and opportunity to pick off humans around the edges of the city without calling attention to themselves."

She manipulated several dials on her console and images representing the four of them appeared in the digital forest. "Our mission tonight is to slip into their ship by stealth, eliminate any Bettas we find, and destroy their craft. I will see to it that we are each outfitted with weapons that best suit our individual forms."

Bill snorted. "So we just waltz in there, blow away a few bad guys, and disintigrate their ship, is that it?" He shook his bovine head, barely missing Jim with his expansive horns. Sarcasm dripped from his words like poison. "You make it sound so easy, Mat."

Minsk reared up on her hind paws, her dark eyes gleaming with anger. "How dare you address the Commander with such insolence!"

Matoaka held up a hand, fixing her steely gaze on the bull. Her voice came out low and dangerous, demanding immediate attention. "I never said this would be easy, Bill."

He blew out a breath, bowing his head slightly in recognition of her authority. "Yeah, well, that's how these missions go, I guess. The bad guys never give us a break."

Jim patted his big shoulder. "Too true, buddy."

Satisfied she had kept control of the bull's attitude, Matoaka continued.
Matoaka opened a cheast in it were some weapons

"Minsk you may have the bo staff." She handed a mighty bamboo staff to the mink-woman

"Bill you can have the tail whip" She fitted a long bolo whip on to Bill's long tail

"What about me Matoaka?" Jim asked "Can I have a gun? PLEASE tell me I can have a gun!"

"No guns!" Matoaka "I have something much better..."

She pulled out a sword, not just any sword the blade was dark purple-black with bits of silver mingled to make blade look like a peice of the night sky!

"The space sword." Matoaka said "You may have it little Jim

A Non-Existent User
Jim's eyes beamed as he grabbed the silvery sword.

"I'm honored, thank you." Jim said

He left Matoaka's presence

(Really Sorry guys, Its late when I added this)
Matoaka looked at Jim's retreating back. "Don't go off to practice yet, Jim. We must still discuss my plan of attack."

Jim took his seat next to Bill once again with a sheepish grin. "Sorry, Mat. Just eager to get the feel of this before the battle."

Mat allowed herself a small smile. "I understand, my friend." She pushed a few more buttons on the board in front of her, and the digital images of the team moved into position around the space ship in the center. "Now, if you'll watch this presentation I worked out, you'll get a good idea of how I would like this mission to play out."

The team watched carefully as the figures acted out the scene, nodding in approval. Jim sighed and his black nose twitched with concern. "You've got me coming from above in the trees again."

Matoaka glanced at him with a reasurring smile. "Well it is one of your best qualities, Jimmy."

He agreed with a reluctant shrug of his furry shoulders.

"My plan, as you can see, is to have Jim drop from the trees above with the star sword, slicing up the Bettas before they know what hit them. Bill will charge in while they're distracted and slice and dice with his tail whip, while Minsk and I slip inside to dispose of whoever they leave to guard the ship. this is a small invasion, so there shouldn't be very many left inside to handle."

Minsk nodded, her gleaming Mink eyes blazing with eagerness to fight. She loved using her Bo stick in battle.

"I will go in low and fast in my croc form, protected by my armor and make short work of any in my path." She looked up at her team. "Any questions or concerns?"
"Can't think of any." Bill said

"I comprehend perfectly." Minsk said

"Not really no." Jim said with a sigh

"Perfect." Matoaka smiled

(Fast forward ahead to six hours later at the spaceship)

The Bettas had beamed some humans aboard their ship two males one female they were teenagers on a camping trip when the Bettas found them

one of them Agent 99 took the blond male and stuck a needile in his arm.

The blood went though the needle in to a tube and flowed into a glass tank where the human DNA was stored

Just then the tank shattered! A bull and a croc had shattered it

"Sorry 99." Said Bill "This party is busted!"
The huge bull-man twisted with lightening speed, swinging his tail around with the deadly whip on the end. Agent 99 never knew what hit him. The power behind the whip was so great, it sliced the alien neatly in two, splattering dark purple blood across the frightened teenagers.

Agent 99's two assistants tried to reach for weapons, but the speed of the tail whip and the added teeth of the croc were too fast for them.

Matoaka morphed back into a humanoid shape and approached the teens, holding her hands up in a non-threatening manner. "It's going to be okay, kids. We're here to rescue you from this slime of the galaxy. I know this looks strange, but we're the good guys."

The dark haired male shook his head and glanced at the other two teens. "I-I don't know, man. This all seems pretty wacked to me. How can we tell you aren't just some rival bad guys waiting to steal us from these guys?"

Matoaka sighed and reached into a pocket, drawing out her ID. "See this? It's my Galactic Alliance identification. Does that help?"

"No," answered the blond male. "I could make one of those on my computer at home with the right software."

God, kids these days, Matoaka thought. "Okay, Bill, it's got to be the hard way with these three."

Bill nodded and whipped out a small silver square that resembled a camera. "Say cheese," he said in his deep rumbling voice.

The device flashed and the kids passed out. Bill put the neuralizer away and picked up the two males, while Matoaka morphed into her black bear form and picked up the female.

"Okay, let's get out of here while Minsk sets the charges to destroy this ship."

Bill grunted his assent and they headed out into the hallway. They passed several more alien bodies they'd disposed of on the way in before meeting up with Minsk and Jim just outside the ship hatch.

"You two set the charges while we dispose of the bodies out here," Mat ordered.

They nodded and hurried inside the ship.
"Wait!" Jim said "I smell someting inside the the ship, something that dosen't smell like a Betta."

"They might have prisoners from other planets aboard the ship" Minsk said

"Show me the way Jim" Matoaka said

Jim and Mat rushed in and saw three bird-like aliens in chains! One female, two males the female was red, the tall male was green and the shorter blue.

"What are these creatures?" Jim asked

"Don't know, only aliens I know are Bettas and Octos."

She approached them, they trembled "Don't be afraid I'm here to help."

The green male said "Teera chreesto naboska?"

Matoaka sighed "Silly me, we don't speak the same language."

She pointed to herself "Matoaka" she said
The green one pointed to himself and said "Zander" in a moment of claraity both of them had introduced themselves
"How do we get them out of here?" Jim asked
"First thing we do is get these chains off of them," said Matoaka.

She took a small laser off her utility belt and approached Zander first. The alien drew back a little, suspicious of the device. She made a slicing motion toward the chains, and the bird creature nodded, instantly getting the idea. He held out his wrists and Matoaka made short work of them. When she turned to the other two brightly colored aliens, they already had their wrists out in anticipation. She removed their chains as well.

The lead creature nodded his appreciation, crooning to himslef, and strode over to the nearest console. Matoaka glanced at Bill, tensing her muscles in readiness should the bird creature do anything hostile.

It turned out to be a false alarm, because Zander plucked a small wristband with a watch-like face on it from the console and placed it on his wrist. He turned to them with a smile and spoke. "That should be much better. Can you understand me now?"

"A universal translator?" Matoaka guessed.

"Exactly," Zander answered with a smile. He found two more and tossed them to his companions. "Now, shall we discuss our next move and get off this horrible ship?"

Matoaka nodded. "Exactly what I was thinking, Zander."
"The red female is my sister Gear, and the blue fellow is my friend Revel"

The other two waved in a friendly manner

"You guys look sort of like alien roadrunners." Bill said eyeing them up and down

Zander raised an eyebrow "Perhaps we do, I thought we resembled Earth's herons more but to each his own."

"Let's just blow this marshmallow stand, I'm hungry" Jim complaned

"I'm ready to detonate the charges." Minsk said

"Good." Mat said "Let's clear out."

The explostion of the Betta starship was so spectacular that one could go temporaly blind looking at it!

Back at HQ the alien guests were given a few samples of Earth food and they devoured it greedily

"Wow! You guys were hungry!" Bill remarked

Revel swolled his bite of apple "Ten days of nothing but bread and water will do that to ya."

He picked up a can of Diet Coke and drank deeply

"Thank you for saving us." Said Gear

"No biggie." Jim said with a smile
"One of our jobs as part of the Galactic Alliance is to rescue hostages. Once we discovered you on that ship, we couldn't leave you behind," Matoaka explained.

Zander made a small bow, putting his clawed fist to his feathered chest. "And we are most grateful for your timely intervention. The Bettas have long been known to kidnap intelligent beings and perform unspeakable experiments on them. They trapped us while we were on an exploratory expedition to replenish our mineral supply that we use in our spaceship fuel. Even with the universal translator, they were extremely unreasonable about our requests to be set free."

Bill snorted with contempt. "Bettas are unreasonable by nature. It does no good to try and talk some sense into them."

"That's very true," Matoaka agreed. "We were lucky my intelligence sources let us know there would be a landing tonight."

Jim grinned, showing his squirrel teeth. "Chaulk up another point for the Alliance. Yay, team!" He pumped his fist in the air.

Zander dipped his beak, a solemn air about him. "Unfortunately, while we were captives, we overheard them making plans for a more extensive collection of humans. This was not their only landing place tonight."

Matoaka felt icy fingers grip her heart. "More landings?" She glanced at her team, concern crossing her features. "My informants didn't tell us about multiple landings."

Zander sighed. "I got the impression from the Betta's dialogue that the other missions were of the utmost secrecy. It's doubtful many knew about them."

Matoaka looked into his avian face. "I think you'd better tell us all you overheard, my friend. Perhaps our night of rescuing isn't over yet."
Zander sighed "I heard about another landing in a place called Lyon Park."

"Lyon Park? I was there earlier today!" Jim said

Gear spoke up "They said they would disguse themselves as humans and there smaller veicles as cars, they said there was going to be a party in the park tonight, severel rich familes would be there." She rung her hands together nervously

"They would disguise themselves as humans to lure unsepecting teenagers to the 'cars' and..." She blushed "collect their seman and ovum."

She shuddered at the thought and Revel put a comforting wing-arm around her

"We don't have a moment to lose!" Minsk said her brown hair full of lightning

The team dashed away to Lyon park.

(P.S. hope i didnt offend anybody by mentioning bodily fluids)
They entered the park. There were many rich familes there celebrating a party.

Just then Jim cuaght a familer scent.

There she was Blonde hair, blue eyes, dainty stature dressed in formal blue gown it was the girl he saw earlier that morning!

"I know who she is." Bill whispered in Jim's ear

"Her name is Jordan Celt and her family just moved here from England."

Just then Jordan was approached by two VERY suspiousous teenage men

"Hello Dollface. Would you like to inhale some non-alcholac beverages with me?"

"What did you just say?" Jordan asked

"I mean would you get a drink with me?" The very odd-looking teenager said

"That's a Betta in disguise for sure." Bill snorted steam blowing out his nostrils

Jim, acting more with his heart than his head lowered himself to all fours and charged
Acting quickly, Matoaka morphed into her cheeta form and sprinted after Jim. In the space of a heart beat, she lunged forward, swiped out a paw, and brought Jim to the ground. She wrapped him in a feline hug and glared into his outraged eyes.

"Fool!" she spat. "This team doesn't go charging into battle without a plan!"

He glanced at the Betta still trying to hit on the blond and struggled in Matoaka's firm grip. "But I can't let that slime take my girl!"

Matoaka cuffed him none too gently, bringing his full attention back to her. She came nose to nose with him, bearing her fangs. "You will follow orders or be kicked off this team, underling. Are we clear?"

He lowered his gaze and stopped moving. "Yes, Matoaka. I understand and beg your forgiveness for my rash conduct." He looked up again, his features drawn in distress. "But...can't we do something to save her? It's our job, right?"

Matoaka let him up and morphed back to human. "Of course we can. Let's move to those benches by the trees and study the enemie's operation for a few moments before I decide our best plan of attack." She glanced at the other members and they nodded.

The blond Jim liked had more brains than Matoaka gave her credit for, because she turned from the aliens in disguise and merged with another more familiar group of party-goers.

After a few minutes of study, they could see the Betta's plan clearly. Talk to some prospective teens, try to slip something in their drink, and then give assistance when the teens grew whoosey and started swaying on their feet. After the teens were sufficiently drugged, it was easy to escort them to a waiting Betta vehicle.

Matoaka turned to her team. "Okay, here's what we do. We wait for them to pick up some teens..."

Jim gave a strangled sound of outrage and she glared at him again.

"And then we follow them back to their main ship, where we rescue all the teens they've kidnapped so far and destroy the Bettas. If we're lucky, we can make one of them spill the master plan before we kill him."

"Sounds good," Bill rumbled.

"Looks like they've snagged a few more," Minsk said, pointing in the Betta's direction.

The aliens held two girls and a boy by the elbows, supporting them in a friendly manner while they guided the hapless teens to their waiting vehicle. Without cerimony, they stuffed the youths inside and got in front to pull away.

Matoaka looked at her team. "Here we go. Anti-gravity belts engaged, and follow them at a discreet distance." She flipped a switch on her utility belt and floated up off the ground. Her team nodded, imitating her action, and she lead them after the retreating aliens.
On Betta ship-disgused-sports car The Bettas gently laid down twin Japanese girls and the one African American boy. As a test they removed the boy's shirt to see give he cared or noticed. He was deeply asleep

The Bettas drove into their mother ship with the Manimals follwing

"We captured three humans my Queen!" Agent 100 said

The Queen was much larger than her underlings like a queen bee

"Very good." She said

Meanwhile our heroes were poised on the celing

Ready for the right moment...
Matoaka was very nervous. They had managed to sneak in through the main hatch unnoticed by the unintelligent Betta guards and now hovered near the topmost edges of the ceiling, spying on the scene below. They were taking stock of the situation and determining how many humans needed rescuing before trying to blow up the Betta mother ship. Mat tuned her sensitive ears toward the Queen, trying to catch important details.

The Queen sat on a floating oval, reclining on a couch filled with soft cottony material. Her thin-lipped mouth curved up in a smile, her voice a low buzz. "Well done, my underling. We can add those three to the dozen we have in the science lab cages. When the other three teams come in with their catch, we can retreat to orbit to extract what we need from the humans."

"Yes, my Queen," replied Agent 100, bowing in respect. "I will monitor the other team's progress from the communications room and inform you of their return."

The Queen nodded and pushed several buttons on the arm of the couch. The hovering platform turned in a graceful arc and moved off toward a hallway, her guards following a few steps behind.

Matoaka turned to her waiting team to whisper instructions. "Okay, I want Minsk and Jimmy to slip out and keep watch for those returning teams. Remember to keep your utility belts tuned to invisible mode and you'll be in good shape. Bill and I will investigate the science lab and see what it going to take to free the humans they have trapped in there."

Jim crossed his arms, looking down toward the hatch. "Look-out duty again! Why can't I come with you and Bill?"

Matoaka steeled herself, feeling her anger rising. She glared at him, using a cold tone of voice. "Because certain squirrel-men have shown me tonight that they act on impulse instead of following orders. When you can control your rash impulses better, I'll think about letting you come with me."

Jim dropped his arms, knowing she was right, and nodded. "Yes, Matoaka. I'll practice. It's this squirrel DNA that gets the better of me sometimes."

Bill snorted, but said nothing.

"Enough talk," Mat said. "Let's move."
Matoaka and Bill came to the science lab.

There they saw humans in cages like zoo animals and floating in containers disgusting little Betta/human hybrids!

"What I never understood is why Bettas need HUMAN DNA to reproduce" Bill wispered

"Bettas are not naturaul. They are artificilly created beings." Maotaka whispered back "They lost the reproduction technology when then they distroyed the race that created them!"

"Sounds like like a real Frankenstien." Bill mused
Matoaka nodded and studied the situation below them. Three scientists puttered around the lab, adjusting instruments here and there when needed. She and Bill could dispose of them before they knew what hit them.

The humans varied in age and type, but consisted of mostly older teenagers. Their cages lined one wall, linked together with minimal comfort inside. Several teens still lay on primitive cots, sleeping off whatever drug the Bettas had given them, while others paced with nervous energy. The Queen had been correct in her head-count; twelve teens altogether occupied the cages.

A noise from the doorway attracted her attention, and she nudged Bill. The team they had followed into the ship were bringing in their catch.

"Now would be a good time to spring the humans," she whispered to Bill. "After the guards leave and the scientists open the cage, we can attack and dispose of them. We can wake the sleeping humans and bring the whole crew out under an invisible force field."

Bill nodded and adjusted his position, waiting for the signal to attack.
"123 NOW!" Bill let out a mighty bellow and lashed his whip around.

The Bettas had no time to think, their heads and limbs flew off and purple blood soaked the floors

Matoaka pulled a skeleton key out of her utility belt and unlocked the cages as Bill cut through the scientists.

"We're here to get you out!" Mat said to the humans

The human captives did not question her and followed redily

The Queen herself noticed the the disturbance and with the power of an amazon warrior She grasped both Bill and Mat by their throghts

"Little pests! So YOU'RE the ones killing my subjects"

Matoaka turned into a wolf, a bear, a croc trying to free herself of the hateful hands!

All of a sudden The Queen realesed them both Mat and Bill landed on their butts

They saw that the Queen had an arrow in her rear end and in the doorway was Zander!

"Thank you!" Matoaka gasped her throght sore

"It is no problom when you're doing it for someone you love" Zander said

Jim and Minsk hurried in
With Jim's sword and Bill's whip they tore the queen to shreds.

"The Queen is dead!" Said one Betta "We must escape to Rigel 3 and get a new queen from the hatchery!"

The Bettas escaped into their pods and flew to their home planet

"Damn! They got away!" Bill whispered

"They'll be back." Said Zander

"Once again thank you for saving us" Matoaka said

"I don't know how to repay you."

Zander then got down on one knee and held Mat's hand

"Matoaka, You are clever, beautiful and brave. Will you be my mate?"

Matoaka gasped with suprise! Unsure of how to respond.
She swallowed and focused on Zander. Being team leader, she knew how to recover quickly from an unexpected turn of events, and thought about what Zander's offer meant.

He claimed to want her as a mate, even though they'd known each other only a short time. He said he admired her characteristics, but this didn't sound like love. The alien could be smitten with her for a short term relationship, but a mate? Inwardly, she shook her head.

She squeezed his feathered hand gently and gave him her warmest smile. "I am flattered by your proposal, my friend. Thank you for considering me as a prospective mate. I am honored."

She looked at the curious faces of her team. Bill's eyes twinkled with amusement. He knew she put the team and their mission before her personal life. Jim looked uncertain. He was never good at guessing the outcome of a situation, being an impulsive sort. Minsk put on a cool, indifferent air. She let Matoaka make her own decisions, whatever they might be; she knew Mat had the team's best interests at heart.

Matoaka looked back at the bird man kneeling at her feet. Hope shone in his eyes, and she hated to see it dim, but Bill was right; the team and their mission came first. "I must decline your generous offer at this time. The Bettas have escaped us once again and they will be back. We need to be there to stop them when they return, and I cannnot do that if I am your mate on a distant planet. You deserve someone who will be there for you."

Zander's shoulders slumped just a little, and then he bowed his head. "I understand, my lady." He rose to his feet. "You are correct. The galaxy must be kept safe from the likes of the Bettas." His eyes brightened. "Perhaps I may join your team so I can be near you and help abolish the Betta threat?"

Matoaka considered this for a moment.
"I suppose that we could." Matoaka said but she wondered, did he want to join the team just so he could be close to her?

Zander jumped to his feet "You won't regret it!" He said.

That night as eveeryone went to bed after a long night, Jim had a dream

In his dream he was slicing and dicing with his sword and people were cheering him on! He saw a Betta with Jordan in his clutches he cut off his head and resuced Jordan

"Don't worry Jordan I'll always protect you."

He was about to kiss her lips when she pulled away

"Don't touch me you freak!" The blonde hissed "Do you think I would ever love a squirrel!"

"B-but Jordan..." Jim wimpered

"I'll have nothing to do with you." She walked away

Jim awoke with a scream

"God, what a nightmare..." He wiped cold sweat of his brow and lay back down
The next morning, Matoaka came striding into the conference room of their hiden base. Bill, Jimmy, Minsk and Zander had all taken seats and were eagerly awaiting their team leader's words.

Mat stood behind the control board and nodded at each member. "I trust you all had a restful night's sleep, because we have a busy day ahead of us."

Jimmy shifted in his seat and Mat noticed dark circles under his large, chocolate brown eyes. Perhaps not all of us got a good night's sleep, she mused.

Taking a deep breath, she continued. "New intell has presented us with a prospective target right here on earth." She pushed a few buttons on the board before her and a 3-D image sprang to life in the air. A digital image of a valley surrounded by mountains and a waterfall at one end materialized. She pointed to a spot near the base of the falls. "In this valley, fifty miles to the east, intelligence sources have located what might be a Betta base of operations. A permanent fixture used to conduct the same type of experiments they were trying to acomplish in their mother ship the other night."

Bill snorted and twitched his tail. "Dirty buggers never give up, do they?"

Zander scowled, the feathers of his brow drawing together. "They have to be a resourceful lot even to survive because they must borrow other creature's DNA to reproduce themselves."

Fluffy tail swishing, Jimmy crossed his arms. "One neutron bomb in the right place ought to do it, I'd say."

"Idiot!" Minsk sneered. "You know we can't risk contaminating the valley in case any humans are present or need rescuing."

Jimmy's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, okay, I know. I'm just sick of these guys always picking on earth."

Matoaka gave him a pointed look and brought their attention back to the image before them. "Low levels of energy expenditure have been detected here near the base of the falls, and camoflage has been discovered covering several human sized openings. One larger opening through which equipment might be passed was also located. We haven't seen any Bettas in the area, but the energy signature is definately theirs."

"So what is your plan, Matoaka?" asked Zander.

"We go in disguised as campers and check out the area. If we find evidence of Betta activity here, we go in and destroy the complex."

The team nodded as one in approval.

"We'll meet in the equipment room after this and gather the supplies we need to proceed. Any questions?"

Everyone shook their heads.

"All right then. Let's go."
As the Team got ready Zander received a call on his cell phone.

"Hello?" He said

"Hi Zander, this is Gear, we just got back to Ava."

That's great!" Zander said

"Also." Gear said "Father is very unhappy you fell in love with an alien."

"I don't care what Father wants!" Zander fumed "Listen can we talk about this later I'm about to go on a mission."

He hung up his phone and continued getting ready.

Meanwhile Jim had already dressed and was sitting on the sofa deep in thought.

"Hey Jimmy! Earth to Jimmy!" Bill said Jim did not answer so Bill lightly punched his shoulder

"Quit spacing out it's time to leave!"
The team had to appear as normal campers, so they took two large RVs available in their motor pool garage and filled all the compartments with equipment they might need. When all was in readiness, Mat, Bill, and Jimmy were in one unit, with Minsk and Zander in the other. Mat didn't feel completely comfortable with Zander in the same vehicle yet, but she knew Minsk could handle him. Perhaps when he'd been around longer, she'd feel more at ease with his presence.

The trip took several hours of driving to reach the region their intelligence sources indicated. Bill and Jimmy kept Mat entertained with their playful conversation and storytelling. By the time they reached the valley, her spirits had risen considerably. She hoped Minsk had experienced something similar with the bird-man, Zander.

They pulled up in a camp ground at the far end of the valley from the waterfall in question and selected two spaces away from the other inhabitence of the area. Mat frowned when she noticed several other groups of RVs were taking up temporary residence in the area, but knew they could still acomplish their goals easily enough.

Jimmy stepped out of the RV after Bill and Mat and froze, his vision focused on one of the other camps. Mat noticed and turned to him. "What's up, squirrel guy?"

"That's Jordan over there in that camp," he answered, awe coloring his tone.

Bill snorted, his brow furrowed in disgust. "Not that again. Heaven help us!"

(Ummm You keep calling Bill Bull His name is Bill not Bull)

Bill tugged on Jim's ear "Come on!" He said "Let's keep you away from her so you don't do something you'll regret."

"There is a strem over there." Zander said "We could fish a little while."

"An excellent idea!" Minsk said "Zander can take the boys out for awhile while Matoaka and I prepare the plan."

Zander walked off with Bill and Jim to the stream "Watch this." Zander said with a twinkle in his eye He waded into the water slowly like a heron than he lifted one foot, stood still as a stone and then... SPLASH! His head struck the water like a a spear and in his toothy beak a fine catfish!

"Looks like Zander got our dinner!" Jim said impressed.

Meanwhile Minsk practiced with her bo while Mat worked at her laptop working out the battle plan

"Zander seems very nice." Minsk said "You could humor him a little and go out with him."

"You don't understand." Mat said "I don't ever intend to fall in love it will take away my freedom."

"That's nonsense!" Minsk said "Love dosen't take away freedom!"

"My dad was a deadbeat who abandoned my mother." Matoaka said "I can work with men when there is nothing between us but..." She trailed "...if I fell in love it would be the end of me."

At this point Minsk felt something rise inside her that she had never felt before

"You know nothing of love!" She spat "You never known what it feels like to be intimate and you judge all men by something your father did to your mother! I know what it is like to have sex! When I was a young girl growing up in Russia My family was dirt poor and one day my little sister Anya became sick."

Minsk's fists were clenched as she shook with memories "We needed to make money fast to buy medicine for her so... at age 15 I became a prostitute! The men were not kind to me the were very rough on me I became pregnant and I gave birth prematurly... the baby boy died."

Matoaka was shocked "Why did you never tell me?"

"I thought you would think less of me." The mink said with tears in her eyes
Matoaka reached out and held her friend by the shoulders, gazing deeply into her eyes. "My dear Minsk, how could you think such a thing? You are my best friend and second in command. I admire you for your courage and skill, no matter what happened in your past." She gathered Minsk into a rare hug and whispered into her ear. "Never think less of yourself for having the courage to help your family. You are first and foremost, a warrior, and I admire you very much."

Minsk tightened her hold on Mat, her tears making tracks down her soft cheeks. "Thank you, my friend. You don't know how happy it makes me feel to hear you say that." She drew back and wiped the moisture from her face. "I still think you could have a relationship without endangering your freedom. Perhaps we can talk about it more after this mission."

Mat smiled at the sincerity in Minsk's eyes and nodded. "All right, we can talk about it. I don't like letting the past shackle my actions or my heart, now that you've brought it up." She glanced at Zander, proudly displaying his catch to the others. "I'm just not so sure of picking someone from outside my own species. This will take careful consideration, and maybe a vacation to contemplate."

Minsk smiled. "A good enough answer for now."

They were spared further conversation when the other team members ventured back to camp.
They roasted the fish over a campfire Zander had cuaght three fish in all and they sat down to a delisious feast.

"This reminds me of the time my big brother Dimetri cuaght four sticklebacks" Minsk said as she swallowed

"How many siblings did you have?" Bill asked

"Well Dimetri and I were the oldest, then there was Anya and the twins and... darn I've lost count!"

Everyone had a good giggle at that.

"My father has a very active socal live." Bill said washing down his fish with some Pepsi

"He was going to marry my mother but then she died shortly after I was born."

"Who was your mother?" Matoaka asked

"Pa said she was some German waitress who he met while she was visiting America." He sighed "He took it real hard when she died he developed in Alchahol problom."

"How awful!" Zander said after swolling his last bite of fish

"He breifly had an affar with anouther woman and that's how my half-brother Bob was born."

"Bob?" Matoaka said Jim nodded

"Bob Buttz. Bill and I would always luagh at his last name." Jim giggled a litte "Bob was a fat little nerd with red hair and glasses he was a bit of a coward always afraid spiders."

Minsk perked up her round ears "I hear a Betta's voice." She said

Every member of the team became alert, listening for the voice of the enemy.

Matoaka caught it first, turning in the direction of the neighboring camp fifty yards away. She heard the familiar lilting tone the Betta's were famous for. From the sounds of it, the Betta was trying to convince a young girl to come with him to a party in another camp.

She turned toward the others. "Sounds like the Bettas are up to their usual tricks, trying to entice humans to another location so they can kidnap them."

Jim turned pale, his eyes going wide with realization. "That camp over there. My friend Jordan is in that camp."

"Easy, big fella," said Bill, patting him on the back. "We'll take care of this before she knows anything is wrong."

Matoaka nodded. "Okay, team, let's get ready to kick some Betta butt. Spread out in formation Two and surround the camp over there for observation purposes first, until we determine how many Betta's are present. When we discover their number, we'll use hand signals to proceed."

"Got it, Boss," said Minsk, nodding her head and reaching for her Bo stick beside her.

Mat looked at each team member and nodded. "Let's move."
Zander and Jim watched as Jordan walked away from the Betta enticer

"That was close." Jim said with a sigh

"That girl has a good head her shoulders." Zander said with a nod "either that or Bettas are really boring."

Minsk and Bill were following a Betta when Bill cuaght a scent

"Something smells like fish." He said

"Bill! We had fish for dinner remember? Minsk said more bemused than annoyed

Suddenly there was a rustle in the bushes and Bill got on all fours and lowered his horns to meet the threat

Something emerged from the bushes that was not a Betta

It appeared to be a catfish-like human

"FOR THE LOVE OF ZORC HELP ME!" The fat little fish-creature screamed "I've been mutated by aliens and a coyote has got my glasses!"

Bill knew that voice "Bob? Is it you?"

"Bill?" Bob said "Why are you wearing that stupid cow suit?"

Bill snorted at his half-brother

"This is NOT A SUIT!" Bill bellowed "And what do you mean you were mutated by aliens?"

"They turned me into a freaky fish thing!" Bob yelled "They were trying to make some kind of circus freak army by turning people into animals!"

"Those Copycats!" Minsk fumed "Matoaka was right they have no imagenation."

"And that ain't all." Bob said "Almost all the freaks they created were growing mentaly unstable so they..."

Jim interrupted with ugrgent news

Matoaka joined him at the riverbank and gazed down at a body on the edge of the water, bobbing with the current. Sure enough, the dead man was a cross between a rodent and a human. Poor guy, Mat thought with disgust.

She began issuing orders to her team. "Bill, I want you to go get a tarp from our equipment to wrap this poor soul in. We'll need to get him back to the base and test his DNA to discover his identity and notify his family. Minsk, Jim, you two comb the area and find that Betta we heard. Don't kill it right away because we need to do a little interogating to find out how big this Army operation of theirs is. Zander, do a search of the area and see if you can find anymore transformed humans. If you do, bring them back to our camp."

"What about me?" Bob whined.

Bill snorted with disgust at his brother. "Make yourself useful, fish-face, and come help me."

Bob sputtered with indignation, but followed when Bill swung his huge body around and headed back to their equipment stash in the RV.
Bill got the tarp and wraped the body in it. They tested the DNA.

"It says here that his name is Jonathan Green." Minsk said

"Anything else?" Matoka asked

"His wife was Polly Green , she died three years ago."

"Go on." Matoaka said encouraged "His duaghter is Eliza Green and his Grandson is..." She puased

"Who is his grandson?"

"...Edward Green."

"Edward Green?!" Bill was dumbstruck "Isn't he...."

"Edward Green is a professtional crimmanal" Minsk said sollomly "A most famous and notoriously hard to catch theif and burgaler!"

"Word on the street is that he's illegitimate son of Gotham City's own Edward Nygma AKA The Riddler! Bill said with Awe

"Theif or no theif." Bob said with a sniffle "He will be terribly sad to know his Grandad is dead"

Zander then swooped into the room his wing-arms gliding in the still air. In his clawed feet a very angry Betta

"Fellows. I bring you the Betta scientist 123!"

Jim walked into the RV about to say he found anouther dead soul in the water (This time dolphin-woman) but when he saw the Betta he decided to put his news on hold and get ready for the grilling!
They surrounded 123 gazing at them with their angry eyes.

"Aliright Bug-brain start talking!" Bill bellowed

"What are you Bettas doing with animal DNA?" Minsk probed

"Start talking or we'll brain probe you!" Bob said holdig a pair of tongs

"No Bob!" Jim said "We don't start tortureing until AFTER 30 minutes have passed!"

"And besides." Matoaka said "You're not an offical member of the team."

"Can you blame me for wanting revenge?" Bob fumed

123 began to speak "We observed you bio-engineered warriors and we were curious we wanted to know if we could get the powers of the Animal kingdom on OUR side!"

"Why didn't you experiment on your own bodies?" Zander asked

"Oh please you would not ask the most magnificent race in the universe to sully themselves by injecting animal DNA into themselves! That is absurd and..."

He was cut of when Zander smacked upside the head.

"You are too late to save any of our experiments now except for the soul exception of the Catfish boy (Bob just frowned at 123) Two of our captives died from shere shock of the transformation, one of which you have appered to have found." He said looking at Mr. Green

"The other 2 lapsed into beistial instincts! An electric coller and one of those clicker training things was the least we could do to get them under controll!"

"Where are these 2 you speak of?" Mat's face became like a bear and growled

"In a cave by the waterfall you will find Porga the pig-beast I should warn you he'll eat anything."

"And the other?" Bill said

"The other one is the other Rat creature we created he is located in our headquarters under the lake and I will not be sorry to get rid of him. He frightens me! I beleive he is only pretending to have sunk to beastial level just to deceive me."

Matoaka issued the orders "Minsk, Bill, get the scuba gear and go under the lake Zander, Jim and I will go to the cave to recover the Pig-man."

She turned to Bob and handed him a shotgun

"You will watch 123 if he tries anything funny blow his head off!
Bob looked eager to shoot the alien whether it moved or not. Mat gave him a stern look. "Perhaps I'll leave Jim here to help you, since you aren't familiar with how our team operates."

Jim was about to object in his usual fashion when a commotion broke out in the nearby camp. The team whirled to face what was happening and were horrified to see a battalion of Bettas swooping in to capture all the humans in the emcampment.

Jim's blood went cold when he saw Jordan scooped up in a Betta's arms and carried away through the woods. Rage bubbled up, over-riding his reason and he bolted forward after the fleeing enemy and his catch.

Matoaka was too busy fighting off Bettas to reprimand her team mate for running off in a crisis. If they all survived, she'd definately have words with him later!

Bill bellowed a challenge and charged the Bettas trying to drag his brother away. His tail whip came into action, slicing the two on the left in bloody pieces. The remaining two let go of Bob and turned to flee, but Bill's horns skewered them before they took a single step. Bob fainted with relief and Bill picked him up, tossing him quickly into the safety of the RV.

When he turned to help his team mates, an electric shock from a tazer gun sent energy coursing through his shoulder into his body, temporarily frying his system and dropping him to the ground. Several Bettas fastened an anti-gravity unit to the bull-man and floated him away.

The rest of the team were having trouble fighting off the sheer numbers of the Betta enemy.

Jim lept to the familiar trees and scrambled after Jordan and the fleeing Betta. In a few leaps and bounds, he overtook them and jumped down, landing on the Betta's shoulders and flinging everyone to the ground.

Jim sprang to his feet, fur bristling, and pulled Jordan behind him. He whipped out his sword and made short work of the alien.

Turning to his love, he visually checked her over for injuries. "Are you all right, Jordan?"

She wiped leaves and twigs from her shirt and jeans and nodded. "Yes, I'm okay. Thank you so much for saving me from that horrible thing."

Jim's stomach jumped. He was finally talking to Jordan and she wasn't recoiling in disgust from him. How cool is this? I can't believe it!

He held out his hand. "There might be more about. I suggest you return with me to my team where you'll be safe."

"That sounds great to me," she agreed, and they made their way back to the camp.

When they reached the outskirts of the campground, they looked around in shock.

Everyone was gone!
"Oh...crud...." Jim said
He stood there for a while completly lost. Then he turned to Jordan "Please come with me. I need to find my teamates"

"I'm in no postion to argue." Jordan replie
Jim got on all fours and offered his back to her
"Are you sure I won't be to heavy?" She asked

"If I can throw Bill I can lift you."

She got on his back and off they dashed.

Meanwhile at the Betta's underwater hideout

Bill felt something poking him, he stired and saw a gray furred rat-man with black headfur and blue eyes.

"Who are you?" Bill asked

"I have many names." The Rat said

"Well which one are you using now?" Bill rubbed his sore head as he said that

"You may call me Prowler..." Bill jumped up

"You! You're Edward Green!"

"Not so loud!" Edward whispered "Yes I am him."

"Do you know you're grandad is dead?"

"Yes, but YOU should be more concerned about your brother over there...

The Bettas had Bob! Straped to his head were wires that were monitering his brainwaves. The Bettas were (At the moment) Only compareing his brainwaves to the poor Hog-creature the Bettas called Porga who was most unfortunety degraded to a completly ferel state! Squeeling and slobbering in his cage Porga was a fright to see!

Matoaka was in hawk shape flying higher and higher into sky to evade the Bettas but they were gaining on her fast! Zander was in pursuit two sais (three pronged daggers) clutched in his claws! He flew up to the Bettas and cut their heads off! It was a good thing too for Matoaka was completly out of strengh!

Zander cuaght her in his arms and landed in a tree

"Minsk.." Mat panted "I saw her in the cave..."

"Shhhh my warrior" Zander crooned " I know we will go to her now."

Holding the hawk Matoaka in his wing-arms Zander climbed down from the tree and headed for the cave.
When they arrived, Matoaka had regained some of her strength and morphed back to human form. She didn't see Minsk near the mouth of the cave anywhere, so she gave a hawk's whistle into the dark hole. She looked at Zander, listening hard and searching his avian face. He appeared almost as concerned as she felt.

After a moment, they heard a low whistle in return and Mat's heart leaped. "She's alive!"

"Let's go, then," said Zander, starting toward the cave.

Mat held him back. "Just a second. I have to confirm with her that no enemy presence is around."

She gave a series of whistles and listened for a respose. Nodding, she looked at the bird-man. "She says no enemies, but she's injured. Let's get moving."

They made their way into the dimness of the cave, using their flashlights to search for their injured team mate. The first thing they found strewn about the rock floor was the body parts of several Betta.

"It looks like she managed to make short work of those guys," Mat commented.

"Excellent work," Zander replied.

A little further in, behind a boulder, they found Minsk leaning against the cave wall, holding a bandage on one leg and bleeding from several other cuts and scratches. She gave them a weak smile. "Good to see you two. I admit I could use your help right about now."

Mat knelt and put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "It looks like you fought well. Let's get you back to the RV and patch up those wounds. Then we'll fill you in on the situation."

Minsk looked in Mat's eyes. "The team?"

"Some kidnapped by the Bettas. I don't know where Jim is yet. We'll go back to the RV and form a new plan to rescue them."

Minsk nodded and they helped her to her feet. Zander picked her up in his arms and they set off to their camp.
Meanwhile Bill hust watched as they hosted anouther human being into a transformation tank.

Edward Green just looked away pretending to sleep. Bob himself WAS asleep due to the Bettas giving him a sleeping potion.

"From what we have learned." Said Agent 007 "We now know the excact dose of DNA fluid to administer."

"Dirty little buggers." Bill fumed under his breath

The human that was no in the tank was 18 years old but severly mentaly handicaped incapeable of speech or rational thought it was almost as if he were an animal himself!

"In this experiment." 007 continued "we will see if adding animal DNA will raise the I.Q of this human."

The tank filled with nasty looking red fluid, it looked like blood. Whereever the fluid touched the body would change

"What is he becoming?" Bill asked

"Wait and see." Edward sniffed through his ratty whiskers

The feet became flippers, the eyes bulged and moved to the side of the head, the nose became a long sword that gave away what he was becoming... a swordfish!

Meanwhile Jim ran every which way with Jordan on his back with no clue how to find the others.

Suddenly a rustle in the bushes! Thank goodness it was only a Beaver, the beaver stood on it's hind legs and chittered

"I think it is trying to communicate with us." Jim said

The beaver gestured in way that ment it wanted to be followed

It led Jim and ordan back to the RV where Mat was tending Minsk's wounds
Jim thanked the beaver and slipped Jordan off his back. He took her hand and hurried up to Mat.

"Hey, Mat! We made it back."

A grim smile spread across Mat's face and she clasped Jim's arm. "Glad to hear it, my friend."

"Oh, and this is Jordan," he said, gesturing at the girl beside him. "I rescued her from the Bettas just in time."

Mat nodded at the newcomer. "It's nice to meet you, Jordan, although I wish it were under better circumstances. My name is Matoaka."

"Could you tell me what all this is about?" Jordan blurted. "I've never seen anything like those things before!"

Mat sighed. "Come and sit down, and we'll talk while I finish helping my friend."

Jim and Jordan took seats at the weathered picnic table where Minsk sat. Mat moved over to Minsk and finished applying another bandage to her team mate's leg.

"Feel any better, Minsk?" she asked.

Minsk nodded. "Thanks, Mat. That was quite a fight, but I'll heal up quick enough."

Mat nodded and took a seat opposite the two young people, deciding how much to reveal to the girl without endangering their operation.

The girl clasped her hands together on the table, trembling. She looked at Mat with pleading eyes. "Those things took my brother, Matoaka. Please...is there anything you can do to get him back for me?"

Mat looked at Jim and saw the same pleading expression, with a touch of determination squaring his shoulders.

"Jordan, we need to regroup and make a plan, and then we can try to get your brother back. But I warn you, we're dealing with some very dangerous aliens." She took a deep breath, glancing at Minsk, who nodded. Feeling reasurred by her friend, Mat continued. "We're a special team charged with destroying this alien race who've invaded our planet. We've made good progress, but still need to stamp out operations like this where the aliens are kidnapping humans. They can be very sneaky, as you've just seen, so it's difficult to find them in the first place."

The color had drained out of Jordan's face while she listened. Jim noticed and put an arm around her shoulders, trying to comfort her.

"What do they want humans for?" Jordan asked in a small voice, as if dreading the answer. "Do you think they'll hurt my brother?" Her eyes glistened with tears.

Mat didn't want to spook the girl too much, so kept her answers short. "They're looking for human DNA to help perpetuate their race. So far, we've managed to foil their efforts, but they're not giving up yet."

The girl looked horrified and Jim pulled her close, scowling at Mat for upsetting her.

"But the good news is, we're not giving up either. So, how about if you go home and wait for us, and my team will do their best to retrieve your brother for you. Jim, would you like to make sure she gets home safe?"

He nodded, giving Jordan a slight squeeze. "Yes, Mat, I'll can do that."

Jordan drew back to look at him. "No, Jim. I want you to go with Matoaka and help her find my brother. I trust you to do your best and bring my brother home safely."

Mat looked at Minsk after seeing Jim puff up his chest with pride. Minsk only smiled at her.
Meanwhile Jordan's brother was the one being transformed into a Anthro Swordfish!

When the transformation was complete the tank was drained of transformation fluid and the creature collapsed in a small heap.

"How do you feel?" Agent 007 asked

"I feel.... awake..." The fish-creature said

The bettas jumped up and down with joy!

"SUCSESS!" 007 cheered "We cured you of your mental retardation!"

"Holy Moly they really have." Bill whispered astounded

"You must be given a new name." 007 said "As a human you were called Tom now we will call you Blade."

"A most fitting name." Blade said carressing his sword nose

"In exchange for curing you we ask a favor. Capture your sister and bring her to us so we can transform her as well!"

"What do you indend to turn her into?" Blade asked

"We were thinking a red squirrel." 007 answered

Bill thought how ironic it was that they wanted to turn the girl Jim loved the most into a red squirrel like him

Blade made a small bow and left. Edward whispered in Bill's ear

"I know a way out but I will need your help."
Edward used a claw to loosen a screw and open a vent that led to exit

"This way." Edward said

"What about Bob?" Bill asked

"You can worry about Bob later! Right now we need to get help!"

Bill sighed and follewed the ratty Prowler.

Meanwhile Matoaka lay down on a chair utterly exuasted. She needed to gather what little streagh she had left to fight the Bettas but she was tired and sore.

Zander noticed and placing his feathered hands on her shoulders began rub them.

"Zander I don't think now is the time..." She began to protest

"Now is the perfect time." He said soothingly

Matoaka hated to admit but he was right. She continued to let him massage her shoulders, then she leaned foreward a little to let him rub the small of her back.

He leaned foreward and gave her a peck on the cheek. Matoaka found herself giggling a little in spite of the grim situation
Just than she cuaght Bill's bovine scent

"It's Bill!" Matoaka said. "He's back."

"Never mind about Bill," Zander said and nuzzled Matoaka's throat.

She pushed him away. "No! I told you before that the team is the most important thing to me. Never again tell me to 'never mind' about one of my team members!"

Zander hung his head. "Fine. I'm sorry. Let us see Bill then."
Edward hung back in the distance while Bill told the others what happaned to them.

Edward kept himself hiddin for two reasons
1. He was indeed a well-known crimanal
2. He was ashamed to let anyone see his ratty shape.

Edward noticed the swordfish-man now called Blade was sneaking around in the bushes

Blade peeked through some branches and watched the scene unfold before him. Once again he wondered who were these people and why did they want his sister? He didn't really trust them. He wasn't sure he was better off as a swordfish. Sure, now he could slice tomatoes with his nose, but how many bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches was he going to eat in his lifetime? Was it worth giving up his humanity just to become a walking steak knife? Mmmm... steak! Suddenly he felt hungry.

"Hey, rat boy!" he whispered to Edward.

"Yeah, what is it?" Edward said.

"Are you in the mood for a good meal?"

"Shhh!" Edward said. "I'm trying to hear what Bill is saying."
Edward did not trust Blade one bit! He knew he was still mentaly unstable.

He leaned in closer and perked up his ears to what Bill was saying

"We NEED to get Bob out! He's still trapped in that..."

Suddenly Edward felt a tap on his shoulder and he jumped straight into the air!

He turned around to see Minsk!

"Hello Handsome." She said smugly "Don't see too many gentle young theives these days is it true what they say...."

"Yes, yes I'm the Riddler's bastard brat! Is that what you want to hear?" Edward was fumeing

"Sorry!" Minsk said "Listen you must be tired and hungry why don't you come into the RV and I will get something for you."

Edward was suspisious but felt he had no choice but to accept.

Meanwhile Jim was gently talking to Jordan

"I'm SURE we'll get your brother back!" Jim whispered tenderly

"Thank you." Jordan whispered back clutching his furry fingers

"Did you find him?" Jim asked Edward when Edward entered the RTV.

Edward looked at Jordan. Her eyes were filled with hope. "I need to talk to you privately, Jim," Edward said.

"Sure. I'll be right back, Jordan."

Jordan began crying.

"Jordan!" Jim said. "Don't give up hope yet."

Edward pulled Jim into the back of the RTV and whispered to him. "I found her brother, but the Bettas turned him into a swordfish. He's s little mentally unstable. Maybe he'll adjust. But right now he doesn't know what's what. And I think he's hungry."

Jim's jaw dropped. "Geez! Did you just leave him out there? Come on. We have to make sure he's okay. Jordan doesn't care about his mind. Didn't you know he was mentally retarded before the Bettas got him?"

"No," Edward said. "I didn't know that. I hope he's still out there."

Jim grabbed Jordan's arm. "I think we found your brother. Come with us."

The three of them went outside.
"Jordan." Blade whispered

"Tom? Is it you?" Jordan was shell-shocked

"Not Tom, Blade!" The swordfish chuckled

Blade took Jordan's hand

"The Bettas woke me up, They helped me become born again! If you come with me they can do the same for you!"

"Tom I don't know what they did to you but those Aliens are nothing but evil!" Jordan was alarmed but also curious

Edward would not take anymore and grabbed Blade by the scruff of the neck with his jaws!

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way it's up to you" He said

Jim grabbed Edward's arm. "Hey! Don't be hard on Blade. He's been through a lot. The Betta's messed with his mind and completely changed his body."

Edward let go of Blade but still glared at him.

Blade shook himself to try to relax a bit. "Listen, I know you guys find this hard to believe, but whatever the Bettas are working on, well, I think it must have some value. I know it helped me. All my life I was never able to think straight. Now for the first time I can. Isn't that something to be thankful for?"

Jordan still couldn't believe that this swordfish called Blade was her brother Tom. Tom had barely been able to speak his own name and this swordfish sounded like a scientist. "Tom? Or Blade, if that's your name now... Do you remember what we did on your 9th birthday?"

Blade smiled. "Of course I do, Jordan. We went to Three Flags Park and rode on the Double Twister. You screamed but I laughed. Dad rode with us and he almost threw up."

Tears came into Jordan's eyes. "Oh Tom! It IS you!" She hugged Blade. "I can hardly believe it!"
Blade wanted to do what he had been told to do and that was to take his sister to the bettas.

But at the moment he was torn between his heart and mind.

Meanwhile Bob had just woken up in his cage but he saw a way out!

The vent that Edward had opened!

Blade was beginning to think if he was going to deliver Jordan to the Bettas he had better do it soon

But when Blade saw the tears in his sister's eyes he had a moment of doubt. Maybe the Bettas were manipulating him for their own purposes? How could he be sure it was a good purpose? In his case it meant he was better off, but what about the millions the Bettas had enslaved? Were they better off?

Blade felt a headache coming on. Geez! Too much thinking required! Maybe he was better off mentally retarded.

"Blade?" Jordan said. "There's a strange look in your eyes. What are you thinking about?"

"Come with me to join the Bettas!"

"Blade! How can you say that? The Bettas are evil."

"No. Yes. Maybe. I don't know! They helped me, didn't they?"

Jordan patted Blade's long bill. "Oh, Blade. You're just confused. You've been through a lot. Come inside the RV and lay down for awhile."

"Jordan, PLEASE come with me to join the Bettas!"

"I could never do that, brother of mine. Come on inside." And gently, with smiles, Jordan maneuvered Blade into the RV and had him lie down on one of the bunks. After she gave him an aspirin and a drink she sat beside him talking in a low voice about their childhood together and he drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Meanwhile Bob Buttz had escaped the Betta's headquarters and was now running as fast as his fat little body could carry him!

"I must get back to the RV!" Bob panted

A couple of time he had to hide from the Bettas but finaly he made it to the RV!

Meanwhile on Planet Ava Revel and Gear were talking

"You don't understand." Revel told Gear "I think the reason Zander has fallen in love with a human is becuase I put a curse on him!"

"A curse?!" Gear exclaimed Revel nodded

"I love you Gear, but I'm a servent and you're a princess The only way I could ever marry you is if Zander lost his birthright and transfered to me."

A tear slid down Revel's beak

"So I put a curse on him that would make him fall in love with a human and therefore disgrace the royal family."

Gear was shocked but also a little hopeful

"But Revel," Gear said. "Do you want to see me disgraced as well?"

"No! No! It was such a stupid thing to do. Love blinded me. If I could only undo what I've done." Tears poured from Revel's eyes.

Gear smiled sadly. "Oh, Revel. I'm not sure it matters anymore. With this war going on who knows if any of us will live through it? Right now survival is the most important thing."

She was thinking of how Revel had said "love". In the past when Gear had felt romantic about Revel she had quickly put a lock on her emotions. Romance between royalty and a commoner was impossible. She knew that. But what did all the old rules mean now with her world crumbling to pieces in a vicious war? Did it make any sense now to stick to the old conventions and deny her heart what it wanted?
It was an achient old Ave law that if a prince or princess disgraced him/herself and was forced to surrender his/her birthright their last act was to choose someone to transfer their royal powers to. This was called The Last Act.

Meanwhile back on Earth Bob had found the RV

"I'm Back!" He panted

"What do we do now?" Bill asked

"Were going to do something I hoped we would never do." Matoaka sighed "We're going to activate the true power of Jim's sword

Bill whistled in surprise. "I thought you said it was too risky?"

Matoaka sighed. "It IS risky, but perhaps not doing it is even more risky."

"Things are that bad?" Bob asked. Matoaka didn't say anything but Bob saw the bleak look in her eyes and murmured, "I guess they are."

"Alright, I've made my decision," Matoaka said. "The sword will be activated. Let us have no regrets. I'll need a bowl of hot water and also Jim, of course. Where's Jim?"

Jim walked up slowly. "I am here." he said

"Good." Matoaka said

She took a bowl of hot water and dipped the sword in it. The sword began to glow with red-golden flames!

"Take it" She told Jim "The flames will not burn you."

Jim did so and when he did... WHOOSH! A halo a flame surrounded him!

"I am ready." He said

"We must all link arms," Matoaka said, "and allow the sword to draw spiritual power from our souls."

They stood in a circle, arm in arm, and the halo of flame around Jim intensified and then suddenly flashed in spectral colors red orange yellow green blue violet.

"It is done," Matoaka said. "This is our last stand against the Bettas. With Jim before us as our shield we will enter their command center and destroy the megacomputer that guides and advises their society."

"Awesome," Bill said.

"Let's do it!" Bob shouted.

They entered the Command Center. The Bettas froze in the terror of the squirrely torch!

"Say Farewell to all this." Jim said "And hello to OBLIVIAN!"

The fire struck and burned only the Bettas and their technology soon every Betta was just a pile of ashes on the floor.

"I don't think we will have to worry about Bettas for awhile." Matoaka said

The flames disapeared around Jim

"I wouldn't be so sure," Bill said. "When you kill the hordes of eveil there is always one that survives."

"Shhhh!" Bob said. "Listen!"

They all remained quiet. From the backroom came the sound of something slowly walking around with a dragging sound, then a thump. Drag...thump. Drag...thump.

"A surviving evil?" Bob said.

"Could be," Bill said. "I'll batter down the door. Jim you raise the sword."

"But it's gone out!" Jim said.


"Look! See? No more glow!"

"Damn!" Bill said.

"It's alright," Matoaka said. "There's always some slight residual power left. But just enough for one stroke. You can't miss, Jim."

"I understand," Jim said and gripped the sword tightly. Beads of sweat appeared on his brow. "Okay, Bill. Are you ready to kick in the door?"
"I was born ready." Bill said

He kicked the door open and...

"Oh..." Matoaka said "It's just the Mr.Coffee machine"

Indeed the coffee machine was on the fritz doomed to forever to try in vain to make coffee.

Jim stabbed it and it sileced it's thumping.

Finaly everyone could go home and get a good night rest. Matoaka showed Bob, Bill and Edward how to transform back into humans, she touched eachof them on the forehead and said "Ctrl Alt Dealete" And they all became human once again.

"Thanks" Bob said

Edward turned to leave

"Where are you going?" Minsk asked

"I can't stay." He said "I'm a theif I'm always traveling"

Matoaka spoke up "You can't just leave! You need to learn how to control your new instincts and your new body! When you are under extreme stress or even afraid you will turn into a Rat-man unless you know how to controll it!"

Edward looked thoughtful "Sorry, but no I am the Prowler. I am the lone theif I go whereever I want."

And with that he whisked himself away from the scene.

Minsk whispered in Mat's ear

"I will follow him for a few nights to see he dosen't betry himself"

Matoaka turned to Blade and Bob "You two will come to HQ and train right?"

Bob nodded and so did Blade.

After most of the younger people had retired for the night Matoaka took Zander's feathered hand

"I know we've been having our ups and downs." She said shyly but I have a strange favor to ask."

"What is it?" Zander inquired

"Hold me tight and kiss me" She whispered

Meanwhile, on Ava, Princess Gear had come to a decision. "Revel?" she said.

He looked at her with hope in his eyes. What he saw there in her eyes made a thrill run through him. "Gear..."

Their arms went around each other and they drew together in a tight embrace.

"I love you, Revel," Gear said.

For a moment Gear and her brother Zander were in telepathic communication with each other, not in words, because the distances were very great, but emotionally. It was just a quick feeling they each had that at that moment the other was very happy.
Zander pressed his warm beak against Matoaka's mouth and for a moment they drank in each other exploring each other's mouth.

Matoaka felt the sharp tips of his teeth and the gentle probing of his toungue.

Meanwhile on Ava Revel embraced Gear ever so tightly as he kissed her as warmly and as gently as he could

Edward crouched in a dark alley behind the Bluebell Inn. His whiskers twitched. He had to find a way up the wall to the window of the man in the red cape. The man Edward had noticed in the dining room of the inn. The man with the thick purse of gold coins. Edward's whiskers always twitched when he was onto something big.

The wall offered enough handholds. He could scale it. After a last quick check of the ends of the alley, Edward scurried up the wall. The window was open but Edward waited on the sill, listening. Deep snores came from within.

Now it was just a matter of tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe, gently feel under the pillow... and... aha! Why did they always think that sleeping on their money would keep it safe?

Edward slipped out the window as silently as a breeze and landed softly on the alley. A dark shadow separated from the shadow of the building. "Visiting a friend?" Minsk said.

Edward didn't flinch. "Hello, Minsk. You're a long way from the old gang. How's Matoaka and Bill doing these days?
Edward looked the other way and began to walk away.

Minsk let out a small growl "How would you liked to be turned into the police"

Edward bared his teeth "You woulden't dare!"

"Why do you do it?" She asked

"I think the world is full of hypocrsy and lies and..." Minsk interuppted him

"You want to be more famouse than your father the Riddler don't you?"

Edward blushed for she had spoken the truth

"Dad was the greatest!" Edward said.

"But he ended up with his head on a pike, Eddie. You don't won't to end up like that, do you?"

"They'll never catch me. I'm twice as slick as dad ever was."

Minsk shook her head sadly. "Nobody is perfect, Eddie. Sooner or later you'll make a mistake and they'll catch you."

"Yeah? Well then let's hope it's later. Meanwhile I've got some living to do and I've got the coins to do it with. Come have a drink with me, Minsk. I like you."
Minsk felt unsure of herself. This man was handsome, clever and brave. Everything she wanted in a man but he was also a theif and that was a dangerous kind of person to love.

'I will humor him for a while.' Minsk thought

And they both walked away into the dark night.

The next day. The weekend was over and Bill, Jim, Jordan and Bob had to go back to school

They did not attend school in their animal forms but in their origanal human forms.

Jim talked to Jordan about this and that at lunch. Bill sat at his usaul spot at the bench under the oak tree, his mischivious blue eyes scanning for pretty girls to flirt with or nerds or geeks to tease.

Then by the fence Bill saw the two most likely people eating lunch and engaging in conversation. Ichabod Crane and Alice Tech.

Alice looked just like the Alice from Wonderland she was blonde and blue-eyed and as dainty as a daisy.

Ichabod also looked much like his literary namesake (except he was a redhead not dark haired) He had glassy green eyes, a long nose, a lanky body and long narrow feet.

Ichabod was a sort of fustration to Bill becuase he was the only nerd who dared to stand up to Bill. No one but Bill ever dared to tease Ichabod for they were afraid of his famous father Jonathan Crane who was once The Scarecrow!

Bill finshed his cucumber sandwich and cracked his knuckles "I think I'll give Ichy a pantsing in front of Alice and show that nerd whose boss!" He said softly to himself

Jim touched Bill's shoulder

"Please don't do it Bill!" Jim pleaded "I think Ichabod knows our secret! One day my tail poped out and before I could get it back in I saw Ichabod give me a wink and a creepy smile... Bill he knows!"

But it was no good Bill was going to pull down Ichy's pants and nothing going stop him!

Ichabod looked up as Bill approached. "Hello, Billy Bob, do you need some help with your homework?"

"No," Bill said and felt his face redden because he couldn't think of anything better to say. Damn! He had wanted to sneak up behind Ichabod but Ichabod had turned around at the last moment.

"So, Bill," Ichabod said, winking at Alice. "What's this I hear about you and Jim being more than just friends?"

"Huh?" Bill said. "Where did you hear that?"

Ichabod grinned. "Yeah, somebody told me you and Jim have a secret."

"Uh, no, we don't have any secret." Bill's face grew hotter and he wished he hadn't walked over. Now there was no cool way to leave. He suddenly was angry at Ichabod for being a smartass. "But you'll have a secret if you don't shut up. You'll have the secret of how your nose got broken today."

Ichabod smiled and turned to Alice. "He's so big and strong. Do you like him?"

Alice giggled. "Sure. But I like you, too, Ichabod. I like everybody!" Her blue eyes sparkled.

Bill felt tense. "Well, I don't like everybody. Especially not this tall freak." Bill decided he had made his point and no further action was necessary so he walked back over to Jim.

"I thought you were going to pants him," Jim said.

"Yeah... well... I will. Just not right now."

Bill was big and strong but he was not patiant unlike Ichabod who was as steadfast as a brick.

Soon lunch was over and everyone had to go back to class. Bill saw his oppritunity.

He walked behind Ichabod pretending to be another kid on his way class.

Like a beast stalking his prey he remained focused.

When he finaly got close enough he grabbed the wasteband of the pants and gave a quick downward tug before Ichabod knew what was happaning!

For a minute Ichabod was complely in shock! He looked down at his tighty-whightys with heart decorations and tried feebly to cover them up with hands.

His knobby knees shook with dread as everyone just leered at him.

Bill puffed out his cheast with pride but Jim was afraid

"You animal!" Ichabod yelled as he pulled up his pants.

Bill cringed.

"Yeah, that's right! I know all about you and your freaky friend!"

Jim froze and murmured, "I was afraid of this."

Bill glared at Ichabod. "Shut up!"

"Or what? You'll gore me?"

Some of the other kids gathered around, curious about what was happening. The ones who saw the pantsing were still laughing and they told the newcomers.

Jim grabbed Bill's arm. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
Bill took one last moment to razz Ichabod before letting himself be led away.

Ichabod was more embaressd than he had ever been in his life. Never had Bill done this to him before and now everyone was luaghing at him!

His father Jonathan Crane always had a small supply of fear gas, that made people hallucenate and see their worst fears! Ichabod knew fear would make Bill transform and next day, he would be ready for him.

After School Bill, Jim and Bob went to HQ to train in their manimal forms.

Matoaka seemed unusauly calm and composed today not furiously barking out orders or anything like that, she had even plucked some strawberries for them to eat!

Jim thought she was being nice to make him confess a secret (which wasen't true but sure felt like it) and finaly blurt out "Matoaka! Ichabod knows our secret! Bill pulled down his pants and he told evreyone!"

Mat for a moment was shocked than she turned to Bill "What have I told you about bullying?" She asked

Bill hung his head. "I'm sorry, Mat. That Ichabod makes such a tempting target. I can hardly resist."

"That's no excuse, Bill. You jeopardize our entire operation with your childish antics."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Mat looked at Bill for a long moment, then she began pacing back and forth. "Something has to be done about this. We can't allow Ichabod to reveal our secret."

"Should we... eliminate him?"

Mat stopped short. "What are you suggesting, Bill?"
"We are not going to kill him!" Mat snapped "We are heroes! We do not kill innocent people!" She paused and thought for a while

"I think I will send Zander with you tommorow to explain to that poor young man who you are and what you do."

Zander just entered

"And I shall be glad to do it!" He said "Shame on you Bill for picking on your intellectual superiors! This persicuteing of the intelligent is one reason most other beings don't trust humans!"

Bill hung his head even lower. "How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"

"Humility is the beginning of wisdom," Zander said.

"Did you just make that up?"

"No, I must have read it somewhere," Zander said. "Let's go find Ichabod."

Bill and Zander walked along the sidewalk, enjoying the warm sun.

"Isn't Ichabod going to freak when he sees you?" Bill said.

"What? Because I'm an alien? Hmmm... You may be right. It seems like Mat would have thought about that."

"I'm worried about Mat," Bill said, running his fingers through his hair. "That experience with the Bettas seems to have taken something out of her. She doesn't seem as sharp and alert as before."

"It doesn't help when you go around stirring up trouble," Zander said. "She needs to rest and recover, not worry about your mistakes."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I AM SORRY! Zheesh!"

Ichabod meanwhile had a small bit of Fear Gas at the ready. He stood poised waiting for Bill to turn the corner.

When Bill did Ichabod sprayed him in the face! Bill coughed as he breathed it in!

"What 'cough' the 'cough' hell do you..." Bill didn't get to finish his sentance for he began to hallucenate!

The world around him turned dark and suddenly he was sinking in water!

When he was little Bill nearly drowned at the beach ever since his greatest fear was drowning!

As he panicked and tried to swim through imagnened water his horns began to sprout, his muzzle formed, his tail popped from his pants!

Zander tried to steady him

"You need a doctor now!" Zander gasped

And before you can say "I think DC Comics is gonna sue somebody" Zander took Bill away leaving Ichabod feeling very smug!

Zander dragged Bill up the stairs of the old mansion. The sign out front said "Doctor Keith Sloan, by appointment only" but Doctor Keith was a friend of the manimals. Zander knew he wouldn't need an appointment.

"What happened to him?" Doctor Keith said, surprised to find Bill in his bull form and apparently incoherent.

"Some kind of gas," Zander said. "As soon as he was sprayed with it he panicked and went bull."

"Hmmm, I've seen the panic reaction before. It's fear gas."

"Fear gas?" Zander said.

"Yes. There's been a rise in fear gas attacks in this community. Someone's bringing the stuff in and using it to commit crimes."

"I think I know who it is - Ichabod Crane."

"That makes sense. His father used it. I've suspected him myself, but never could prove anything. This is a great opportunity you and Bill are giving us to finally shut down the fear gas supply."

"I don't see how we can help," Zander said.

Bill coughed. "Where am I?"
"You're at Dr Sloan's" Zander said

Bill looked away as if thoughtful for a moment, than he turned to Dr. Sloan

Did you say you suspected Ichabod of commiting crimes?" Bill said

Dr. Sloan nodded

"I don't think Ichabod is commiting crimes. He used the fear gas on me cuz I pulled down his pants."

"But surely..." Dr. Sloan interupted

"I was born and raised on Skid Row Doc." Bill said some of my Poker buddies were Gangstas, I would know if Ichabod was doing deviant things. He may be a smartass and nerdy jerk but..." Bill shook his head "He's too much a wuss to be a crimanal."

"Would you hazard a guess his Father is up to his old tricks?" Sloan asked Bill shrugged his shoulders

Zander interjected

"Mind if I make a phone call?" He asked

"Go ahead."

Zander got out his cell phone and called Matoaka.

"Hello?" She said as she picked up

"Hey Mat it's me Zander! Listen we're at Dr. Sloan's things went a bit askew."

"I'm on my way." Matoaka said

By the time Matoaka arrived, Bill and Zander and Dr. Sloan were in agreement that Ichabod was most likely not the bad boy they were looking for.

"So you think it's his father, Jonathan, up to his old tricks again?" Mat said. "Hmmm, possible. The best way to find out might be through Ichabod. Bill? What's the chance of you becoming buddies with Ichabod so you can get in their house and snoop around?"

Bill's eyebrows went up. "Me? Become buddies with Ichabod? You got to be kidding! Me and him are totally incompatible. Everything he is I'm not, and vice versa."

Mat looked hard at Bill. "You're both male, aren't you? I'm a woman. Zander's an alien. If it's not going to be you, Bill, then who will it be?"
Bill sighed deeply as he relented... He did not know that he would soon go on an adventure beyond reckoning...

Hi Everybody! Sorry to cut off this campfire but I think it has gotten big enough! Soon I'll make a spin-off campfire about Bill and Ichabod's adventure but that won't be for a while...


The End!

© Copyright 2007 Twiga, Blue-Inspired, xx-xx, Steev the Friction Wizurd, (known as GROUP).
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