Chapter 16: The Army Takes Over
Callie Briggs stood in Commander Feral’s office wondering what was going to happen. She usually was confident in the SWAT Kats’ ability to save the day, but this time it seemed insurmountable. And, poor Lieutenant Feral! She sighed and rubbed her forehead. She didn’t want the responsibility of being mayor, but Manx had left her no choice.
Nearby, Mills stood talking quietly with Sergeant Brady. The District Attorney had elected to accompany Callie from City Hall to Enforcer Headquarters after Manx abandoned them. Callie didn’t hold a grudge against him despite his efforts to prosecute the SWAT Kats – his low opinion of them notwithstanding. He was, after all, just doing his job, and he seemed like a decent enough fellow once his mask of arrogant self-assurance was peeled away, showing a vulnerable young kat underneath.
Feral himself had returned on her orders. Dark Kat’s ship was moving away from the city and the squadron of Enforcer jets he’d rather rashly taken out to attack the ship. However, he hadn’t come back up to his office since then. Callie wondered where he was. Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of approaching helicopter rotors. A large chopper painted in olive drab and bearing a stylized “K” on the sides flew in and touched down on the runaway that stretched out below. The Army.
“What’s the Army doing here…?” she wondered aloud.
Mills and Brady looked over.
“Who?” asked the Sergeant, sounding somewhat concerned.
The Army! That could mean only one thing. Governor Clawstone was getting impatient with the Enforcers’ ability to handle this latest crisis and was sending in national troops. She watched as two uniformed officers disembarked from the copter, accompanied by a small group of soldiers, and met Commander Feral on the runaway. Feral, the two officers and one soldier then headed inside.
A few minutes later, Callie heard the elevator doors open out in the waiting room, and Feral and the newly arrived Army officers entered in mid-conversation. One of the officers, the older of the two, was a two-star general. He was shortish and middle-aged, carrying a swagger stick cut from bamboo. Gray hair peeked out from underneath his cap. He had a very narrow face with high cheekbones, and a pencil-thin mustache which matched his eyebrows.
The second officer was a much younger captain. He was taller and younger with a handsome face but an icy look in his eyes. The single soldier accompanying them wore a beret and carried a laser rifle. Goggles hid his eyes. All three’s uniforms bore the same stylized “K” Callie had seen on the helicopter outside. Feral and the general were speaking.
“I assure you this is all quite unnecessary, General Boggs,” Feral was saying. He paused and them grimaced, adding, “Sir.”
“The Governor thought it prudent to let the Army handle this little problem,” said General Boggs. He let that sink in. “Since you and your Enforcers seem incapable of handling it on your own.”
Feral hunched his shoulders and looked close to exploding. “I’ll have you know that my niece–”
Callie knew Feral meant his niece was being held prisoner, but it seemed the General misunderstood. “One officer–” he began angrily.
Feral continued uninterrupted. “…and the SWAT Kats are aboard Dark Kat’s ship as we speak.”
Boggs blinked and scowled. Apparently, he was unfamiliar with what went on in Megakat City, which, as far as Callie was concerned, made him less qualified to handle a military situation than Steel. “Who?” he asked.
Callie was about to answer him – none of them had so much as acknowledged her presence since they entered – when the young captain leaned in.
“They’re a couple of vigilante fighter jocks, sir. Recently revealed to be formerly of this man’s command.”
He glared at Feral. Feral simply glared right back. Boggs chuckled.
“Oh, I see. So, not just vigilante scum, but also Enforcer washouts. How… reassuring. Well, the Governor doesn’t share your confidence in these ‘SWAT Kats!’”
“Confidence?!” roared Feral. “I don’t even like them!”
“Be that as it may, your failure to contain this situation is worrying the Governor. He’s chewed his claws down to nubs he’s so nervous! So, he has asked my men to intervene on Megakat City’s behalf and do your job for you, Commander.”
General Boggs’ smile was poisonous. His captain’s was smug. The goggled soldier didn’t smile. He simply stood there like a robot. Callie decided now was the time to intervene. Blowhard that he was, Feral did have Megakat City’s best interests at heart. She couldn’t say the same for these swaggering newcomers and their goggled drones. She had a sickening feeling Boggs was the type of military officer who’d reduce a city to rubble to defeat one villain.
Admittedly, perhaps she was pre-judging him, and harshly at that, but with all of Megakat City, and the lives of T-Bone, Razor and Lieutenant Feral at stake, she wasn’t taking any chances. This skeletal ghoul of a general wasn’t going to do anything to Megakat City, not without her having had her say, not while she was acting mayor, anyway.
“What’s happening here?” she demanded.
Now they turned and looked at her. Bolstered by her courage, Sergeant Brady came to stand beside Feral. Good, thought Callie. At least she was inspiring someone to join her in supporting Feral against these bullies.
“This is General Finlay Boggs,” Feral said glumly. “He’s been given overall command of this operation. He’s here with full authority from the Governor.”
Boggs gave Callie a curt nod in greeting, clicking the heels of his dress shoes. Then immediately ignored her again, sniffing arrogantly. “As I said when I arrived, I suggest you inform Mayor Manx of my arrival and my orders at once, Commander.”
“We’ve been trying to reach him, but he seems to have better things to do than answer his phone,” said the captain.
“Manx isn’t the mayor anymore,” Callie told them coldly.
That caught them off guard.
“Huh?” said Boggs.
“According to Acting Mayor Briggs here, he pretty much resigned a few hours ago,” Feral told them.
Callie stood with her hands on her hips and smirked a little at seeing the smug looks wiped off of the Army officers’ faces. “The last time I saw him, he and his precious golf bag were running off into the horizon.”
Boggs shuffled his feet a bit. He wasn’t so confident anymore. “I see…”
“Now, fill me in on exactly what it is you’re planning on doing that Commander Feral and the SWAT Kats haven’t already.”
“I will attempt to contact Dark Kat and elicit a surrender and the safe return of Lieutenant Feral. If negotiations fail, then we will engage and destroy. I have an Army Air Squadron standing by to blow Dark Kat out of the sky.”
“Not while there’s a chance the SWAT Kats are still aboard and alive!” Callie hissed angrily. “And, if they’re still alive, then so is Lieutenant Feral! I won’t take that risk!”
“Back off, Briggs!” Boggs growled.
Feral stepped forward angrily. “No, she’s right. You have to give the SWAT Kats a chance! For my niece’s sake!”
Boggs frowned. He rocked back and forth on his heels, trying to come to some sort of decision. The he pointed at Feral with that bamboo stick of his. “They have two hours! Out of courtesy to the… new mayor, if nothing else. Then I’m moving ahead!”
Pausing, he turned to Callie.
“With or without her permission!”
Then, glancing back at Feral, without giving her a chance to reply, he added, “Agreed?”
Feral mulled it over. “Agreed.”
Callie gawked in shock. Now back in full swagger mode, Boggs turned, and he and his captain walked out of the office. The soldier turned and marched after them. Callie walked up to Feral’s side.
“Relax, Ms. Briggs,” he said with a small, sad smile, “I’m not entirely without confidence in the SWAT Kats. I only agreed to Boggs’ demands to keep him from interfering. I’m quite certain that two hours is all those two hotshots will need to bring Dark Kat and his flying nightmare down.”
Callie returned his smile and nodded. Feral was definitely changing for the better. It was refreshing to see that the two of them had common ground for a change. She guessed that sometimes all it took was a common enemy. But, could T-Bone and Razor really do it in only two hours? She certainly hoped so!
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