"Faster," said the Skull as the pair leapt from one rooftop to the next. Bones sped up, grinning as he followed.
It had been three months since Bones had found himself transported to 1971, with new-found superpowers and a costume waiting for him. Since then he'd seen plenty of criminals, even a few with powers. But tonight was his first mask.
The bad guys with a gimmick and a funny name were less common than people thought. One would make it onto the front page of every major newspaper almost daily, but that only required a few dozen to be active in the country at any one time. And it was a big country. Most people would never see a genuine super-villain in their lives. There were states where it had been years since anyone showed up in spandex and a cape.
The Skull adjusted his earpiece. "Sounds like it's definitely not Boomerang. We'll still check it out."
"Who do you think it is?" said Bones. "Iron Mask? The Ogre? Doctor Rex? Is it Rex?"
"The first reports couldn't identify him. Maybe it's someone new," replied the Skull. "Get ready to jump."
The black-clad duo dropped to the pavement below. Few people on the street noticed, their attention focussed on the man in front of the subway station entrance. He wore a long tiger-striped cloak, the bottom filthy and wet, and what looked like a plastic crown. There was a parrot perched on his shoulder.
"Behold the might of the Animal King!" cried the man, tearing open the front of his robe. A small monkey scampered from his body and disappeared into a nearby alleyway.
"What," said Bones.
"Prepare to join the animal kingdom, humanity!" said the Animal King.
"No," said Bones. "No way. This is not going to be my first mask."
"I'm afraid so, kid," replied the Skull, ducking behind a car. "I remember this guy. Watch out for sea urchins."
"Can't you call Blink and get him to do it?" said Bones. He slid into position beside the Skull, back pressed to the car door.
The Skull paused thoughtfully for a second before he shook his head. "Let's just wrap this up."
There was a shout from across the street. A security guard had emerged from the subway and pointed a gun at the Animal King's back. The Animal King turned slowly, his arms held in the air.
With a crack, the King's hand shot in and out of his tiger skin and a thick green whip wrapped around the guard's wrist. A hiss, a yelp, and a clatter later, and the gun was on the ground, the guard reeling backwards.
"That's a snake," said Bones. "He just used a snake as a whip."
The Skull was sliding over the car when the King turned and noticed him. Before the Skull's feet had reached the other side, the King had dug a hand into his coat with a cackle. The Skull fired the dart from his wrist as the Animal King flung something into the air.
The small blowfish met the dart in the middle of the street, and continued flying through space even after the metal pin had buried itself amidst the fins. The blowfish swelled as the freezing fluid pumped from the dart and expanded into ice.
The now beach-ball sized mass of icicles and spines spun towards Bones as he stepped onto the street. He narrowly ducked under the frozen fish and felt it rustle past his hair. It crunched as it collided with the brick wall behind him.
"This sucks so much," the boy muttered before he threw himself into a sprint. Ahead, the Skull feinted to Animal King's side and pounded a fist into the madman's stomach.
There was a sort of klonk, and a slightly dented looking turtle dropped to the King's feet.
"Nature herself bows to my throne," the Animal King said, drawing a swordfish from his waist.
"I don't even want to know where you fit all of that stuff," said the Skull, his body shifted into a fighting stance.
The King lunged forward, the fish swinging wildly. He wielded it with surprisingly speed, its razor sharp nose slicing at the Skull's sleeve before he could roll out of reach.
The swordfish held high with one hand, the Animal King pulled the snake from his pocket with the other. Slowly, he began to swing it in a figure eight as he edged towards the Skull.
"Look," said the Skull, "I'd rather not have to kill what's most likely a completely innocent snake in public, could we--"
"Hey, beast boy! Taste the leather!" yelled Bones, his foot sailing serenely into the Animal King's face. The plastic crown evaporated into a cloud of fragments, and the King collapsed.
"Enjoy your time behind bars," said Bones. "In a prison. Not the zoo."
"We'll work on the one-liners, kid," said the Skull. "Good work on the kick, though."
Both of them heard the buzz from above, sensed the static on their necks. But neither could move before there was an almighty crack and the Animal King was jolted from the ground. His body hissed and steamed as the lightning bolt returned to the sky.
"Rufruf apologises," came a voice from behind. "But Rufruf requires your full attention."
Their eyes still blinded from the flash, Skull and Bones spun to each side to flank the new arrival. A figure came into focus, lanky and chaotically dressed. He staggered as if barely able to keep his balance, and his tongue lolled from his mouth when he opened it to speak again.
"Rufruf has come to kill the Skull."