As they walked through the bowels of the ship, Felina gave T-Bone and Razor in on what she had endured up to when they’d encountered her, including exactly what the deal with Zeckis was. Neither SWAT Kat seemed particularly inclined to trust him, but they needed a guide and Zeckis was willingly helping them for the time being, so they kept their misgivings to themselves. Zeckis led them into the enormous engine room of the Fear Ship, where he directed them to the primary devices which powered the ship. They were terrifying machines with steam pouring off of them. They stared at them.
“Dark Kat’s safety standards sure are lax,” commented Razor.
“Lax?” replied T-Bone, with a snort. “More like nonexistent!”
At this, a few Creeplings who’d been tending to the machinery shrieked, glancing over and seeing them. The SWAT Kats and Felina charged forward and quickly took them out hand to hand, while Zeckis hung back nervously, still seeming somewhat uncertain of precisely where his loyalties ought to lie. Finishing with the Creeplings, they returned their attention to the machines. Razor removed a panel, revealing wiring inside. It didn’t seem too complicated, so he stuck his hands inside and began futzing around.
“Just make sure you set it to wait until after we’re safely off of the ship before it goes down,” Felina told him.
“That’s a tall order,” Razor said over his shoulder. “It doesn’t have an egg timer built into it. It’ll crash when it crashes.”
Felina huffed, standing with her hands on her hips, annoyed. “How are we going to get out of here, anyway?” she asked after allowing Razor to work in silence a few moments.
T-Bone answered her. “We’ve got some jetpacks stashed up top. You can probably get out in your jet.”
Felina nodded. Razor grunted and swore as he continued attempting to understand and dismantle the wiring and mechanical bits inside of the engine apparatus. Curse Dark Kat, he thought. The machinery was more complicated than he’d anticipated.
Sighing, Zeckis came over and began assisting him. “Here, let me,” he said when Razor looked at him questioningly, clearly not trusting him, “I know how it works better than you.”
“How come?” T-Bone asked.
Zeckis suddenly looked sheepish. “I helped build it.”
T-Bone was about to say something, but a glare from Felina told him it was neither the time nor the place. Razor, for his part, was slowly beginning to trust Zeckis, however, and soon the pair had a variety of different wires and doo-dads which the technician assured the SWAT Kat were important unplugged, rearranged, or otherwise cut.
Several levels above them, Dark Kat entered the control room and found it empty, the flight controls destroyed. He felt uncharacteristic dismay creeping into him. Curse those SWAT Kats! he thought, clenching his enormous fists so tightly together that his claws dug into the palms of his hands, threatening to draw blood. He turned and looked at the Stalkers who’d come with him, then turned and entered the laboratory.
“Zeckis!” he called out. “Where are you?”
He stomped down the steps and gasped as he found the table where he’d last left Felina empty. There was no sign of Zeckis. Perhaps it had been her who’d destroyed the controls? No, he thought, the window in the other room was broken. The SWAT Kats had broken in here and freed Felina. Or she’d freed herself, and then they’d broken in. It didn’t matter which had happened first. All that mattered now was that the SWAT Kats were still loose on his ship, whose controls were now broken beyond repair, his only hostage was gone, and his last remaining ally with any problem-solving intelligence was missing.
What had happened to Zeckis, anyway? Killed? A prisoner? Willingly assisting his enemies? Perhaps he’d been too quick to kill Blim and Marlow. While not as bright as Zeckis, they’d been made of sterner stuff, particularly Marlow.
Mistake after mistake, setback after setback… his plan to conquer Megakat City was completely off the rails and beyond hope of salvaging, now. Either the defenseless ship would be shot down by the Enforcers – or whoever – or it’d just keep flying ahead in a straight line uncontrollably until it rain out of fuel and crashed spectacularly, whichever happened first. And, knowing the mindset of Feral and his ilk, Dark Kat had no doubts which would come first.
He palmed his face in despair. His enormous form quaking with barely-suppressed anger, he turned and flipped over a table, shattering all the antique glassware that was on it. He whirled to the Stalkers, who didn’t flinch at their master’s outburst. They simply stared impassively.
“I am betrayed! Thwarted! All my work ruined! My enemies mock me to my very face!” he bellowed. “But, they will soon learn what it means to cross me!” he promised. “My rage will engulf them! I’ll destroy them all if it’s the last thing I do!”
Shoving past them, he headed up the stairs. The Stalkers followed uncertainly.
Where to go? he wondered. If he were the SWAT Kats, where would he go? As he headed through the empty control room, he realized that simply hoping for the Fear Ship to crash on its own wasn’t the SWAT Kats’ style. No. They’d want to ensure its destruction. And, if Zeckis wasn’t dead, he’d be with them, a source of valuable information, willing or not. Which meant…
“The engine room!” he snarled and ran off, his Stalkers hurrying after him.
In Feral’s office at Enforcer Headquarters, Finlay Boggs stood at the window with his hands clasped behind his back. Below him, the runway stretched out over the rooftops of the city. His primary subordinate, Captain Pomeroy, was overseeing things as the Army jets prepared for takeoff. He smiled. Dark Kat was going to be nothing but a memory very soon. He’d make sure of that. And then, he thought pleasantly, he could be done with this over-engineered eyesore of a city and return to the capital, so he could report success to Governor Clawstone and take a much-deserved vacation.
He eyed Callie Briggs, who stood uncertainly nearby. Despite her unease – with him, he knew – he found her to be a tough and capable leader, unafraid to speak her mind regardless of the consequences. Much like himself, he realized. Much like Feral, he realized further. She’d make a more than suitable replacement for that coward Manx, and both she and Feral would soon have the city running smoothly after the crisis was over. Despite his intense dislike for them, he admitted that much.
He considered them overly sentimental. Feral, at least, he understood; it was his niece aboard Dark Kat’s ship. But, Briggs, to him, anyway, was being overly concerned for two criminals who’d thus far failed to deliver as far as Boggs could see. How such an intelligent stateswoman as Calico Briggs could allow herself to be so sentimental for two vigilantes was beyond him. That was the only thing he thought set him apart from his current allies. He, General Finlay Boggs, was not sentimental at all and never had been. He was willing to accept casualties if necessary, and one Enforcer lieutenant and two vigilantes were definitely what he considered acceptable losses, even if one was the Enforcer commander’s niece.
Behind him, Commander Feral entered the room and picked up the phone. Boggs didn’t turn to speak to him.
“Feral here,” he said into the phone. “Get me the crew chief on the runway, and hurry.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Boggs saw Callie Briggs look over. Boggs still didn’t turn from the window. It was Enforcer business. None of his concern. On the runway down below, the crew chief, wearing overalls, went and answered a wall phone. Speaking to Feral, Boggs knew. He could only hear Feral’s half of the conversation which ensued, although he wasn’t paying any attention. At first.
“Get all of our remaining jets ready for takeoff,” Feral said.
Blinking, Boggs looked at him over his shoulder. There was a pause as the crew chief said something Boggs couldn’t hear except as a tinny, indistinct voice coming through the phone.
“Yes, now!” Feral said, his back to the General, apparently unaware or not caring that he now had Boggs’ full attention. “But, tell them to wait for my order to take off.”
There was another pause. Boggs turned around fully now.
“Yes, that means I want them to sit there!” Feral snapped at the chief, clearly exasperated. “That’s an order!”
He hung up without giving the chief a chance to reply.
“What are you doing?” Boggs asked, suspicious. “I haven’t given any orders for any jets other than mine to be prepped…”
Ignoring him, Feral turned and headed out the door.
“Feral!” Boggs yelled after him.
Boggs hurried after him, accompanied by Callie.
Out on the runway, the Army pilots were prepping to fly. Neither they nor Pomeroy noticed Commander Feral marching sternly past them to where the Turbokat sat. With him was Sergeant Brady, looking as stern as ever. As per Feral’s instructions, Enforcer jets began taxiing out in preparation for takeoff, situating themselves between the currently stationery aircraft and the Turbokat, effectively blocking the runway. Pomeroy was annoyed. He went over, accompanied by another officer, a meek lieutenant.
“What are you doing?” Feral heard him demand. “Move those hunks of junk!”
You’re going to regret calling my jets junk, Feral thought.
“We got orders,” said an Enforcer pilot matter-of-factly.
“Whose?” Pomeroy demanded.
One of the pilots pointed at Feral’s office window. Pomeroy and the lieutenant turned and looked up, seeing nobody visible in the window. Nearby, Feral and Brady arrived at where the Turbokat was under guard by two Army soldiers who’d replaced the Enforcer guards after Boggs had forced the Enforcer personnel to vacate that part of the runway.
Oh, what am I doing? Feral wondered as he saluted them. They saluted back. This isn’t going to end well, he thought.
“Stand down, men,” Feral said. “General Boggs’ orders. I have need of this aircraft.”
He winced internally. That was painful. No way they’d buy that. They glanced at the jet they were guarding, and then tightened their grips on their laser rifles suspiciously. Crud.
“No can do, sir,” said the first soldier. “Orders have to come from General Boggs himself.”
That settled it. Feral made a gesture as if to suggest it was all the same to him and half turned as though to go, and the soldiers relaxed. Only slightly, but it was enough. Feral balled up one fist and whirled, punching one soldier in the face, sending him sprawling on the tarmac in a daze. The other raised his gun in reflex, looking uncertain, but Sergeant Brady punched him, knocking him out. Feral turned, but nobody had noticed. The Army personnel were too busy arguing with their Enforcer counterparts, and everyone else on the runway was watching them. Nobody had seen he and Brady knock the two guards out. Just then, General Boggs burst through the door, followed by Callie Briggs, and he came charging down the runway as fast as he could.
“Feral!” he yelled, drawing the attention of everyone around them. “Stop!”
“Sorry, General,” Feral yelled over, all eyes on him suddenly, “just a minor snafu. I’ll get this aircraft out of your way in no time.”
Without waiting for anything further, he climbed into the open cockpit of the Turbokat. It was a tight fit. Despite being far larger than any jets he had ever personally flown, the actual cockpit was built for someone smaller than him. He had to duck his head slightly as the canopy slid into place above him. Frowning, he stared down at the controls. There were a lot of buttons he didn’t recognize, others he did; figuring a jet was a jet, he started pressing the ones he recognized and was rewarded with the sound of the Turbokat’s engines firing up, first a whine, then a deep-throated roar.
“Go, sir!” cried Brady, turning to face the group of Army soldiers rushing towards them, intent on stopping the theft of the Turbokat. He began fighting with them. He was seized and dragged off to the side, kicking and struggling, overpowered, yelling, “Go!”
Boggs hurried up accompanied by his men. The General, proving surprisingly spry for such an old cadaver, hoisted himself up onto the top of the jet and tried to force the canopy. When that failed, he settled for impotently hitting it with his bamboo stick. Feral pushed the throttle forward. The engines fired, the sudden rush of hot air knocking the Army troops off of their feet. They flew back screaming, but landed safely on the tarmac a few feet away.
“Stop!” Boggs cried. “I order you to stop!”
The Turbokat shot down the runway, causing Boggs to fly backwards off the top, his hat flying off. He was airborne for a moment before thudding painfully to the ground.
Callie Briggs smiled as she watched the jet soar up, up, up into the sky. Her opinion of Commander Feral had definitely changed for the better these last few hours. Good luck, she thought.
Boggs’ men helped him stand. He was okay. Callie was grateful for that, at least. He looked at Brady, still being held by the muscular soldiers. He considered having him locked up, but decided against it.
“Let him go,” he ordered.
The soldiers frowned, but released their prisoner.
Boggs eyed Callie. “This doesn’t change anything, Briggs,” he snarled. “All Feral’s done is sacrifice his career. And, maybe bought his niece and the SWAT Kats a few extra minutes, if they’re even still alive…”
That’s the idea, Callie thought, suddenly reminded why she disliked Boggs so strongly, despite him being on the same side.
“Move these jets!” Boggs shouted. “Get everything into the air!”
“Do we pursue Feral?” asked Captain Pomeroy as the lieutenant began directing the removal of the Enforcer aircraft from the runway to clear a path for the Army jets.
“Forget Feral!” Boggs snapped. “This changes nothing, just like I said. Dark Kat is history.”
In the Turbokat, Feral had some difficulty managing the jet’s controls, but soon enough he got the hang of it, and he soared off towards Dark Kat’s ship, taking the time to try and familiarize himself with the aircraft’s weapons.
I’m coming, Felina, he thought. And, if you’re dead, I’ll make Dark Kat suffer…
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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.