Officer Felina Feral sat up, her paws on her temples. A large purple lump throbbed on her forehead. Over it was held a package of ice, which was beginning to melt and to leak down into the angered officer’s face. Her uncle wiped the water trickles away with a cloth.
Commander Feral gestured for Officer Whiskers to enter. He ran into the sick room, looking a little too relieved for Felina’s tastes. What had happened, she wanted to know.
“Somebody jumped you in the file vault,” Jason said, placing a paw on her shoulder.
“Don’t tell her! We need her to remember on her own.”
Felina nodded, remembering standard Enforcer procedure. She tried to open her eyes, which were somewhat stuck shut, but the bright whiteness of the sick room forced her to shut them once again. Jason realized the problem and dashed over to switch off the lights. This helped, and as Felina sank back down onto the bed, she looked around, draping one arm languidly over the side. Suddenly she raised an eyebrow in alarm.
“What stinks in here?” she demanded.
Jason and Feral sniffed the air.
“Smells like rubbing alcohol to me,” said Jason.
“I don’t smell a thing, other than antiseptics,” said Feral.
“It smells like… that basement,” Felina clarified.
Jason leaned over her.
“You’re right, there is something… on you.”
“Watch your mouth!”
Feral leaned over.
“Then the mole must have been the attacker! Think, Felina, what did he look like?” Jason pressed.
“What did *who* look like?”
“The guy who jumped you.”
“Stop telling her! Felina, what’s the last thing you remember?”
Felina attempted to concentrate, narrowing her eyes as she tried to narrow the field of her thoughts.
“I was putting some files away… and then I noticed that it was dark, and so I looked up, and there was someone there. Big… dark… up on the crossbeams. Then he jumped on me. I’m surprised he didn’t kill me.”
“Thank you, Felina,” said Feral, “you’ve been a big help.”
“So what now – and you’d better say I get to catch him!”
“You need your rest.”
Felina sat up at attention.
“I’m done. Reporting for duty.”
Feral was about to say something else when a medic pushed open the door with an urgent look on his pinched face.
“Commander Feral? The mayor is here for the meeting you requested.”
“We’ll be right up,” Felina told him, taking the ice pack off of the injury. It was deep purple and green in places, all in all rather unattractive – one might even say disgusting.
Jason winced and Felina gave him a dirty look. The three followed the pained-looking medic out of the room and into the medical center lobby, where Callie Briggs was waiting.
“Commander,” she said, offering him a nod of acknowledgment.
“And – Officer Whiskers, I see you are moving up in the world.”
Jason smiled, recognizing her. She looked especially nice in the blue dress, he thought.
“But Officer Feral – what happened?”
“I had an accident in the field. Hit my head, but it’s not too bad. I’ve had concussions before that were much worse than this.”
Callie saw the obvious; Commander Feral undoubtedly was of a different opinion. At least he was keeping his eyes to himself this time. Yet he seemed even colder than usual today. She hoped that his mood had nothing to do with her. IF she won the nomination, they would at least need to be on speaking terms.
Feral cleared his throat – his one “nervous habit.”
“Miss Briggs – I was expecting the mayor himself at this debriefing.”
Callie raised an eyebrow.
“And he was expecting you to be in your office.”
She turned, and gestured for the three to follow her.
“The mayor is with Mr. Cole,” she said, over her shoulder and loudly, although in a tone that suggested a lack of caring whether she was heard or not, with an undercurrent that denied requests for repetition in advance.
“*David* Cole?” asked Felina.
“The one and only,” said Callie. “His *lordship*, Mr. David Cole.”
“Something tells me you don’t much care for the guy,” said Jason.
Callie laughed lightly. “One way of putting it. But that is who the mayor is with at the moment. Before I left, I saw Cole solicit a tour from one of your sergeants, a Selena Alvarez. The last stop on that tour is to be the helicopter deck. I suggest that we wait there.”
‘Sergeant Alvarez?’ thought Feral. ‘Why do I keep thinking I’ve heard that name somewhere before…’
His eyes were on Calico Briggs’s tail as she swept open the med center doors, sidestepping past a speeding stretcher, and strode into the Enforcer HQ lobby, which was a sight less chaotic than before.
And yet her presence there would ensure the next day’s chaos.
* * *
He had little experience as a shadow, and for that reason was only now discovering his skill at it. His directive had become clear, and its urgency along with it. Thus the sudden appearance of Mayor Manx himself had been a cause of much pleasure, and the discovery that he was not, in fact, alone, but rather accompanied by what appeared to be an assistant – a *deputy* – was then a cause for all but celebration.
Such were the emotions of Derek’s captor, suppressing those of Derek himself most effectively. His looming figure swept through the darkness in the lofts above the main concourse, following the mayor and his new aide with an unsurpassed bird’s eye view. The mayor’s hair looked a little thin from this angle. Perhaps he might be considering a toupee one of these days?
Having first established identification of his target, Derek moved on to the next step – ascertainment of an identity. Who was this kat? The answer might prove difficult to get as a crowd rushed in behind the two, and for a brief moment they all but disappeared. It was now or never. Derek climbed onto the loft railing and leapt outward and upward, grabbing the edge of an overhead catwalk. He swung his legs over the side, then pulled himself upward and onto it. Spider-like, he crept along, watching, until the crowd parted and the mayor reappeared, this time in the company of an Enforcer she-kat.
It was just as well, as he really couldn’t kill anyone here.
So from above, he followed them. Where the catwalk ended, he leapt from the end out and onto a suspended lamp. Fortunately it was on an agracite rod and not on a chain. He leapt from lamp to lamp. The trio was approaching an elevator.
Derek looked down. The light on the elevator read “7” – he had little time. The last light looked to be at least ten feet away – could he make it? The light read “5” – he crouched and sprang! Missing his mark by feet, he fell to the ground, or rather, to the thicket of waxy-leaved plants placed as decoration. Fortunately, he always landed on his feet, and as the elevator doors had just opened, none of his charges had been looking.
He weighed his options, and just as the doors were about to whisk themselves shut, he climbed in with the mayor et. al..
Cole hardly noticed him, not one to focus on beings of a lower order. Yet Sergeant Alvarez recognized the creepy officer from their earlier encounter. She eyed him warily, yet he fixed his gaze straight ahead. The elevator rose to the fortieth floor.
“I thought we ought to skip the boring floors. A helicopter ride sound interesting?” she asked, though her eyes remained trained on the dangerous looking tomkat.
“Yass, yass,” said the mayor.
Cole stood silent, thinking of Callie. He took a deep breath – and gagged.
“WHAT is that SMELL?” he demanded.
The mayor and Sgt. Alvarez sniffed the air. The foul perfume of Derek’s uniform was more dilute than earlier, and in fact difficult to detect but for Cole’s refined nostrils. Derek stood stiffer.
“Exc-yause may…” offered the mayor.
Lady luck liked him today.
Yet this kat… he still had to know. He decided then and there to follow him. If anything, THIS one *deserved* to die.
The elevator chimed for the fortieth floor and all four kats walked out toward the helicopter pad. The three together walked off in the direction of Alvarez’s chopper. Derek pretended to walk the other way, but in truth wove in and out through the rows of parked helicopters, following them. When Alvarez’s chopper took off, Whitepaws turned – only to bump into Scotty Angora, on repair duty (his favorite).
“Derek!” Scotty cheered. “Great to see ya!”
He threw a well-muscled arm around the black kat’s shoulders.
“Ah, Scotty,” said Derek. “Likewise.”
Scotty sniffed the air.
“You need a shower,” he said. “And I thought Jason had the messy job today, down at that disgusting crime scene.”
“I’m sorry, I had no idea what he was doing,” said Derek apologetically, his interest piqued.
“You didn’t know? It’s all over Kats’ Eye – Jason and his partner, the commander’s niece, are on the mass murder case.”
Derek’s eyes went wide, but he said nothing. It was fortunate for him to have run into Scotty – it provided an excuse for him to linger on the pad, that he might intercept and follow the wealthy tom per his arrival.
“And on his first day, too. Y’know, I’m beginning to smell something fishy around here. D’you follow?”
Derek didn’t so he asked for clarification.
“Something like, well, I don’t know if there’s a word for it – something like favoritism, and it’s rather creepy.”
Derek just nodded. He neither understood nor cared.
“Tell me, Scotty – were you just let off shift, or just beginning another?” he asked, voice smooth, even.
“I was about to ask th’ same of you. Truth be told, I was in search of somekat to give me a hand wi’ my repair job. If you’re not too busy…”
“Say no more,” said Derek, smiling, and making a silencing gesture. “How may I be of service?”
“Ye can start by passing me my tools as I work. This way…”
An insidious grin crossed the face of the shorter titan as they crossed the pad to a spot that was a perfect vantage point to the would-be landing site of the mayor… and the unfortunate Mr. Cole.
* * *
Alvarez again tugged at her hair nervously as she flew the helicopter over the city, on an “around the block” run that she knew by heart. There was a feeling that had climbed its way out of her gut and was now tugging at the back of her mind. It was something like a suspicion, a connection half-made. She knew she would have to tell someone. The mayor looked around happily, while David Cole merely leaned back and yawned.
“Bored already?” she asked him.
He looked over to her. In the odd light through the semi-tinted windshield she struck him as almost pretty. He smiled, using the well- rehearsed “lady-killer grin” he loved so well. She smiled back.
“Actually, I would have preferred a tour of the athletic facilities,” he told her.
“I can arrange that for you,” she said. “But in all honesty, tours of the actual building require authorization and must be scheduled. Aerial tours are a different matter. Still, if you’d like, I can get you in tomorrow.”
Cole looked out the window and rolled his eyes. If only he could have such an effect on Callie – but she was too coy. He turned back to the sergeant.
“Can you make it next Tuesday? I’m afraid -” here he looked at his watch “- that I’m on a rather tight schedule these days.”
The mayor suddenly looked over to her.
“Sergeant?” he asked. “Can we gau by Cit-tay Hall?”
“Sure,” she said, altering the course. “But why?”
The mayor looked embarrassed. “I jaust want to see my of-fass fram the outside.”
Alvarez laughed lightly, problems forgotten temporarily as the spirit of general mirth filled the chopper. But given time, the thoughts returned.
Who was there to tell?
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.