With delicate whirlings of propellor blades, Selena Alvarez’s chopper swooped down to its appropriated space on the landing pad.
“Wrench,” Scotty asked, torso beneath a partially dismantled, older helicopter. There was no reponse.
“Wrench,” he repeated, thrusting out his paw.
Perhaps he was too far underneath and his voice had become muffled. He scooted out from underneath, squinting in the sudden brightness.
Derek had disappeared.
Scotty grabbed the wrench himself and scooted back, wondering. Neither Derek nor Jason had been at Millie’s that morning, or, for that matter, the morning before.
Something was surely going on. The thought rattled around his brain.
But what should he do?
A valve above him burst, spraying his face with oil. He cursed, crawled out, and abandoned his post momentarily to seek a towel.
Callie led the three Enforcers out onto the helicopter pad, where the afternoon sun cast them long shadows, and a gentle breeze ruffled their fur. The click of Callie’s heels on the asphalt drew the attention of all on-duty mechanics, the toms among them redirecting their vision to her as she passed. One, who looked fairly familiar – Officer Angora, was it? – strode by, greased with crude, looking embarrassed. The commander offered him a scowl. Jason offered him a discrete wave.
The footsteps alerted everyone on the deck – including the bad kat. He ducked behind a chopper as Callie, Feral, Felina, and Jason approached Sgt. Alvarez, Cole, and the mayor.
“Mayor Manx,” greeted Callie, “did you enjoy the tour?”
“It was wandarfal, Cal-lay, sim-play wandarfal. My of-fass looks sau small from outside,” he said.
“That’s very nice,” said Feral, “but there are more important issues at hand, Mayor, that more than merit your full attention. To my office.”
He turned and led them away.
Derek’s dark eyes went to slits, the pupils in them dilating fully. He made clenched fists of his paws, and sunk down to the concrete ground of the pad. His mind was racing, his emotions pouring out into his wordless thoughts like the cold sweat poured from his glands. He hugged his knees and began to sway back and forth.
Such were the side effects of the device. Intensified emotions, and a complete breakdown of reason.
Yet, unanticipated, and highly problematic, was that when his emotions were thus triggered, the Secret found that he could not establish control. Instead, all he could do was fight the overflow pain from Derek’s mind that washed over him like sulfuric acid.
There was now a battle for control that refused to be won.
Fortunately this meeting had bought them time.
Callie stood behind the Commander as he spoke, arms folded. Jason and the wounded Felina stood side by side at his left, while Cole and the mayor sat in the two drawn chairs. THe position of the deputy-mayorial candidate unnerved Feral, who was already shivering slightly, facial tic twitching mildly as he lied his way through the debriefing.
“The mass murderer situation is nearing control,” he said, at length, and following a string of improvised fabrications.
“I would consider him more of a stealth killer,” said Callie. “The first murder set designed for attention, to terrorize. The second, to establish him. It’s quite obvious.”
Feral decided then and there that he did not like her.
Jason, too, decided his opinion of her, but settled at the opposite end of the spectrum.
“Actually,” said Jason, “he had an additional motive for the second killing. Ghetto computers was his hideaway.”
Callie nodded, now very interested.
“Ah, so that’s why you say it’s under control. He has lost his base,” stated Cole.
“YES,” said Feral, with finality. Jason got the picture. No more details. Feral looked about at each face in turn.
“I see you do not trust me, Ms. Briggs.”
Callie looked him in the eye.
“Whatever would give you that idea. I merely wanted to be certain that this is ALL the information you have.”
Feral stared her down, and she cocked her head the way her mentor had taught her in law school.
He had said to her: “Callie, let me tell you something. If you want to get information out of someone, just ask them for it and tilt your head like this. Most kats break right away. But if they don’t, you can be sure that all the rest of the kats in the room will believe that your kat is keeping something from you, and victory will be yours.”
He was right.
Feral shivered, thoroughly annoyed. However pompous this other guy was, he would rather have him than her. She was too good.
“That is all for now.”
The two remained aloof and glared, then finally, Cole spoke up.
“Well, if that’s all, I should like to be going.”
“As you wish. Good day.”
Cole and the mayor stood up and walked out, followed by Callie. Feral would be forever convinced that even her WALK was designed to irritate him.
One minute before they left, the Secret broke through his proxy’s defenses.
His voice rang through Derek’s mind as the young officer rose.
‘I’m going!’ he thought back.
And the realization hit the Secret.
He had done it.
It was supposed to be impossible.
But this link was now so strong.
They could speak now.
It compromised his control of Derek’s motion, but it didn’t matter, now that he had verbal contact.
The Secret wanted to laugh, or sing, or shout for joy.
But he didn’t.
“You have a job to do,” was all he managed.
And Derek did it.
Cole was in the hall. Derek strode after him confidently, brushing past Selena Alvarez in his haste and poor judgment.
She followed him with her eyes.
She needed to talk to someone.
Officer Scotty Angora stepped out of the elevator, still drying his face with his towel. When he lowered it, he saw a she-kat standing in front of him with an urgent look on her face.
“What can I do for ye?” he asked, and smiled – then noticed her sergeant’s bars.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked, sounding almost pleading.
Scotty softened his expression, put a paw on her arm, and in his most soothing voice, asked her what the trouble was.
And she blew his mind.
“I must still be passed out.”
Felina was, once again, irritated to the point of insubordination.
Commander Feral was also irritated. The difference was that he *gave* the orders, and he was darned if she would disobey this time.
“Felina, look, the thing is, uh, the thing is that we looked at this file, you see, and, uh, we know who this guy is!” Jason blurted.
Feral’s chest puffed up and his eyes narrowed. He was ready and poised to kill.
“Oh?” Felina demanded.
“He’s a sneaky devil who likes to murder detectives. So he commits crimes, hoping to have someone follow him, and then -” Jason drew a finger across his throat to illustrate.
The lump on Felina’s head was throbbing, and she felt dizzy. Jason helped her into a chair.
“Go on,” she said.
“Feral’s letting MacAbee and Winthrop on the case. He’ll get them, then he’ll disappear.”
Well, he had been doing well until that point.
“That’s terrible!” Felina said, her voice pinched with her pain.
“But – uh, but, uh, oh yeah, we get to uh, follow, and when he goes for them, maybe we can catch him.”
Felina smiled thinly. “That doesn’t sound too bad,” she said.
“Yeah. So you’re okay with this?”
“I guess I’d better be, huh?” The barb was directed at her uncle. She sighed. “Make me feel better about this, Whiskers.”
“How?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Take me out to dinner.”
Jason’s jaw dropped.
Felina didn’t notice. Her vision had switched from clear to blurry to a big white blob. Her consciousness was fading.
“Tonight?” he asked.
“Ten,” she said. “Pick me up.”
“All right,” said Jason, and as he said this, she collapsed.
Feral slammed down the medical call button.
“This is Feral! Send a doctor immediately!”
He turned to the astonished officer.
“You may go. Take the rest of the day off.”
“You have a date.”
Feral stepped over to his limp niece and picked her up.
“I’ll take good care of her until then.”
Jason nodded, and with a backward glance and a bouncy step headed out the door. It wasn’t just her. They were BOTH confusing.
But he liked them.
* * *
David Cole hailed the limousine.
“I was thinking,” he began, then the chauffeur stepped out of the vehicle to open the door. The three stepped in.
“…As I was saying, I was thinking: has the mayor made his decision?” Cole finished, reaching for a bottle of perrier from the bucket of ice.
The mayor looked from Cole to Callie, Callie to Cole. Cole stared at him, while Callie held her gaze out the window, chin on paw. Were they being watched? Followed? She wasn’t certain.
The mayor cringed. It truly was impossible. Callie had proved her mettle in her dealings with the commander, yet Cole still held the trump card of excessive moneys.
“Still undecided, eh?” Cole flipped the top off the bottle of sparkling water. “You have until tomorrow, anyway. Why worry?” He took a stemmed glass from its holder and put in it three ice cubes before pouring the mayor a drink, then alloting himself the remainder of the beverage. “And either way you decide, I assure you all will be well. Callie will be happy, as will I – won’t you, my pet?”
“I think -” she began, but Cole cut her off with a finger to her lips.
“Shhh,” he said. “Let us be silent now.”
Callie furrowed her brow. She was about to say, “I think we’re being followed,” but it was obvious to her that Cole was not going to hear of it, and so she kept still, fuming. He had called her “my pet” again, hadn’t he.
She looked out the window again, but had lost sight of the kat.
Perhaps they were not being followed, after all.
Or so she could only hope.
Derek followed them out of the Enforcer building, then hailed a cab with the instructions “follow that limo.” The driver consented. Hey, the guy was an Enforcer. This had to be legit.
The limo stopped at City Hall, and Derek insrtucted the cabbie to stop down aways. There, he climbed out, and watched as Cole climbed out of the limo to help the mayor out, then Callie. It made Derek stew to see him kiss her paw before she and the mayor went inside, but he and the Secret together fought off any emotion.
Derek made his way towards Cole through the afternoon crowd, but he was sufficiently slowed as to allow the aspiring politician to escape. Derek turned to watch as the limo drove away –
– Only to find himself staring at Cole’s grinning face, but on the cover of a general interest magazine.
The cover read:
“Cole sets his eyes on City Hall: Most Eligible *and* Most Powerful?”
Derek grinned. All that remained now was to track him down.
“Excellent work,” said the Secret.
‘Thank you,’ replied Officer Whitepaws, and he sauntered down the street, a copy of “Kats Weekly” tucked under his arm and his target, though far away, well in his sights.
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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.