T-Bone and Razor nervously backed up as the newly-released Mega-Creeplings – or “Stalkers,” as Dark Kat seemed to want them to be called now – emerged from inside their stasis tubes, the embryonic fluids that they’d been immersed in still dripping off of their huge forms to puddle on the floor. Dark Kat continued stroking the neck of the one closest to him, as if it were a prized pet.
“Wow, Dark Kat, and I thought the regular Creeplings were ugly!” said T-Bone.
He gritted his teeth and raised his Glovatrix at the nearest of the creatures, who hissed and raised their clawed hands threateningly, allowing him and Razor to observe these lacked the winged underarms of the normal Creeplings. Just as well, he thought, they were so big and heavy it was doubtful they’d be capable of flight. Taking aim and determined to wipe the smug smirk off of Dark Kat’s face by destroying the Stalkers before they’d even had a chance to attack, T-Bone launched a barrage of Mini-Octopus Missiles – his last ones, in point of fact – at them.
To his immense worry the missiles thudded against the creatures’ broad chests and shattered, with the Stalkers only wincing and otherwise not betraying any sign that they’d been injured.
“T-Bone, might I suggest a strategic withdrawal?” Razor suggested.
“A good suggestion, buddy,” T-Bone said and started back up the steps. Halfway up, he glanced back, as much to shoot Dark Kat a dirty look as to see whether he was being chased or not. None of the Stalkers seemed to have moved. “This isn’t over, Dark Kat!” he yelled. “We’ll be back!”
“Part of you will,” said Dark Kat, crossing his arms.
The SWAT Kats ran back through the open doorway and into the control room. After a moment, Dark Kat raised his arms and spread them wide, and his voice bellowed forth so even the fleeing SWAT Kats could hear him.
“Stop them!” he commanded. “With every means in my power!”
Issuing forth a unified shriek of fury and hunger, the assembled Stalkers charged in single-file after their prey, half dashing and half leaping up the steps.
Dark Kat watched them go and chuckled heartily. Rubbing his hands together, he turned and pushed the button on the mind-scanner. Felina winced and squirmed as she felt a sensation in her head that was difficult to describe. It started as a tingle, and soon was blossoming into a powerful sensation that made her imagine a gigantic plunger was being applied to her skull. She fought valiantly against the machine, but could feel things beginning to slip away gradually. It was so distressing that despite the fact it didn’t actually hurt, she cried out in dismay.
“And now, Lieutenant, just relax and let my wonderful little machine do its work,” he said.
“You’re finished, Dark Kat!” Felina managed to blurt out in-between her frantic gasps. “The SWAT Kats will destroy you! And, if they fail, then you can bet my uncle won’t!”
Dark Kat only grunted in response. He wasn’t afraid of Feral and the Enforcers. The only ones capable of stopping him now, he knew, were currently fleeing for their lives from his latest and greatest creations. And, despite only having a handful of them, he could and would grow more later.
“Now, I’ll leave you alone with your thoughts. What little you have left. I must return to the control room and deliver my ultimatum to Megakat City. And pray, for your uncle’s sake, if nothing else, that Mayor Manx has the good sense to accept my generous offer! I’ll return after I’m through to check up your progress.”
He exited. Felina watched him go with hate-filled eyes. She shut them and concentrated. As long as her willpower remained, she knew, she could hold off and resist the pull of the machine. It was her mind, after all. She couldn’t hold it at bay forever, she realized, but certainly long enough to be rescued. And then, she would kill Dark Kat.
Returning to the control room, he found the SWAT Kats gone and all of his regular Creeplings dead. That left him with just his handful of Stalkers and a few Creeplings scattered throughout the Fear Ship, including the two down in the laboratory. And, of course, Zeckis, who was rubbing his jaw as though he’d been punched. Dark Kat was most displeased.
“I see the SWAT Kats managed to get in here on your watch,” he said.
Zeckis’ eyes widened, and he looked terrified for a moment, but then resigned, and hung his head. “Are you going to kill me now?” he asked timidly.
Dark Kat thought it over. He’d executed his other technicians for less. But, at the moment, with all of the control-room Creeplings dead, he needed Zeckis to run things for him. “Not now, there’s work to be done,” he said, and shoved Zeckis towards the controls. “Activate the holographic projector.”
Meanwhile, Commander Feral returned to Enforcer Headquarters and landed the Turbokat on the runway. As he got out, he felt a little dizzy. The SWAT Kats’ jet was quite powerful. More powerful than anything he’d ever flown before. Despite being an obsolete model, it seemed Jake Clawson’s technical wizardry had allowed him to add engines more advanced than anything Pumadyne’s propulsion think tank could invent.
As he headed towards the entrance, pausing to instruct a pair of officers to guard the Turbokat, Sergeant Brady came running over. “Sir,” he said, saluting, “Mayor Manx has requested you go and see him immediately.”
What did Manx want, Feral wondered, that was so important? Feral needed to be here to coordinate the defense of the city. He sighed. The Mayor was his superior. Nodding, he took the elevator down to the first floor where his car was waiting for him. A ten-minute drive to City Hall later and he was entering the Mayor’s office.
Manx was sitting behind his desk, looking extremely annoyed. As Feral came in, Manx was noisily drumming his fingertips on his desktop. The Commander noted the presence of District Attorney Mills. Mills was frowning sourly and stood to one side with his arms crossed.
“What is it, Mayor?” Feral demanded. “In case you weren’t informed, Dark Kat is about to attack Megakat City, and I need to be back at Headquarters dealing with this situation.”
“He isn’t here yet,” Manx said curtly. “And, we need to talk. District Attorney Mills here informs me that you made a deal with the SWAT Kats to get them off the hook. Is this true, Feral?”
Feral groaned. It seemed Mills had informed the Mayor of his conversation with the SWAT Kats. He shot the D.A. an angry look before returning his gaze to Manx.
“Not exactly. I merely said I’d speak favorably at their trial if they succeeded in stopping Dark Kat. Even I have to admit they’re the best at what they do.”
The Mayor stood abruptly and pounded his fist against the desktop and shouted, “Feral, those SWAT Kats have to go jail! My re-election is counting on it! Before you unmasked them in front of the entire city, I could support them and their vigilante activities, but I can’t afford to be seen knowingly supporting them any longer now that everyone knows their true identities!”
Feral blinked. He’d always known Manx was a self-serving hypocrite, but this was a new low for him. Despite everything they’d done for Megakat City, the Mayor was ready to cut his ties with the SWAT Kats and let them go down in flames. Even Feral, who admittedly could barely tolerate the damage the SWAT Kats caused daily, was surprised by Manx’s lack of loyalty. This was a side of the Mayor he’d never seen before.
“After Dark Kat is dealt with – by the SWAT Kats or by you, I don’t care which! – I want you to re-arrest the SWAT Kats on sight! Do I make myself clear, Commander?” Manx demanded.
“Yes, Mayor,” Feral grumbled. He didn’t know why Manx needed to tell him to arrest them again when he saw them next time. He was planning to do that all along, and Manx should’ve known this.
“Good,” said Manx, and sat down again. “I’m pleased we see eye to eye on this issue. Now, get back to Enforcer Headquarters and handle Dark Kat!”
Feral nodded and without another word turned and left the office. On his way out he encountered Callie Briggs. The blonde-haired Deputy Mayor’s expression was a mixture of concern, anger and mild confusion.
“Listening at the door, Miss Briggs?” Feral asked.
“Sort of,” Callie admitted, a little sheepishly.
Feral pushed past her and headed for the elevator, his annoyance turning into anger over the fact Manx had made him come here personally when Megakat City was in danger. Surely this little dressing down could’ve been done over the phone! Callie followed him and walked beside him, matching his stride.
“I heard what you and the Mayor were discussing,” Callie said. “I have to admit I’m surprised.”
“At what?” asked Feral, pressing the elevator’s call button.
“You sticking up for the SWAT Kats,” Callie said.
Feral shrugged as he waited for the elevator. “Even I have to admit that if they pull this one off, the least they deserve is my support, Deputy Mayor. But, that’s if they pull this off. Our intel reveals that Dark Kat’s ship is many times bigger than anything he’s ever used before. I doubt that even the SWAT Kats can handle him. And, that’s what frightens me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that if they can’t do it, what hope do my Enforcers have?”
Callie nodded solemnly. It wasn’t that she lacked faith in Feral. Quite the opposite, her still present anger at him humiliating the SWAT Kats notwithstanding. It was more that she was concerned Feral wouldn’t even get the chance. Knowing Manx, despite his tirade against the SWAT Kats, it was clear that the Mayor’s only real hope for his city was in their hands. When and if they failed, Callie feared, Manx would immediately knuckle under and surrender to Dark Kat, without letting the Enforcers even have a token attempt at stopping him.
“Don’t worry, Deputy Mayor,” Feral said. The elevator doors opened, and he stepped through them. “No matter what happens, my Enforcers will do everything in their power to protect Megakat City from Dark Kat.”
The doors slid shut and cut them off from one another. Callie sighed and then turned and looked down the hall. She could see Mills and Manx discussing something inaudible in Manx’s office, through the open door. Mills was just trying to do his job, she knew, but Mayor Manx was looking like he was soon going to replace Commander Feral as her chief nemesis in the defense of the SWAT Kats.
Noticing her staring at him, Manx got up and came over to the door, shutting it so Callie couldn’t observe any more of their conversation. Great, she thought, now he was keeping her out of the loop. Who knew what he and Mills were scheming?
She decided to return to her office. Idly, she entertained contacting the SWAT Kats with the communicator, which hadn’t been confiscated from her yet, although Manx had mentioned that Mills might want it for evidence at the trial. Idly, Callie wondered whether Mills might want to also charge her as an accomplice? She didn’t think he would. Doing so would open a whole can of worms Manx would rather stayed shut, for he, Feral and others were equally guilty of enabling the SWAT Kats to continue operating.
In the end, as she entered her office, Callie decided not to contact the SWAT Kats. She had nothing new to tell them. At least, nothing that couldn’t wait until later, if later even occurred. Besides, she imagined they didn’t need to be distracted right now.
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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.