As the three Enforcer jets flew towards the volcano, Lieutenant Felina Feral, in the lead, frowned and squinted through her visor at the dark plume rising from the crater of Mt. Anakata. This was definitely unnatural. You didn’t need to be a geologist to figure that out. The plume wasn’t smoke; it was a cloud of some sort. And, it masked something. Whatever that something was, it was dangerous, as it had already shot down three of the aircraft that had attempted to approach it.
Felina had no intention of entering the cloud as the Geological Society helicopter had. Instead, her jet was outfitted with advanced analysis equipment in the nose, recently installed. It was thermal imaging equipment. She wasn’t interested in what the cloud was composed of, but rather what was inside of it. As her jet approached, her two wingmen, Gavin and O’Herlihy, hung back as instructed.
“All right, let’s get this over with,” Felina said over her headset mic.
“Roger that, Lieutenant,” said Gavin over the radio. “We’re right here if you need us.”
Felina nodded. She flipped a gauge on her control panel and the thermal analysis equipment scanned the cloud. A glance down at the little screen on the control panel revealed something absolutely gigantic within the cloud! She gasped. It was a vague shape she couldn’t quite make out. But, a few seconds later, she no longer needed the equipment. Over the radio, she heard O’Herlihy’s surprised cry.
“Holy Kats!” he yelped. “Look at that!”
Felina glanced up. While she’d been glancing down at the screen, the cloud had actually begun moving forward of its own volition, headed away from the volcano.
“It’s moving!” said Gavin needlessly.
Suddenly, the cloud parted and began dissipating, revealing to the three shocked Enforcers an absolutely massive airship made entirely of gleaming metal of various shades of gray. It bristled with battle rigs and other weaponry. At the front, like a mouth, was a huge hangar. Above this was a large building-like structure with mirrored windows. Obviously the bridge. It was powered by four engines, two at the back and two on the sides, attached to downwardly curving winglike appendages.
Immediately, Felina knew who was behind this. She knew because the ship had silver triangles bolted to the sides of the hull and just below the bridge windows. Triangles emblazoned with a blood-red “D.”
“Evasive action!” she yelled and began to bank away.
Before she could, however, a sparkling greenish beam fired forth from the front of the ship and struck her jet. For an instant, Felina thought she was dead, that it was some kind of death beam. Instead, her jet was merely jostled and suddenly frozen in place. Then, with a surprising swiftness, the craft was pulled towards the ship. A tractor beam.
“Mayday, mayday!” Felina yelled, uselessly tugging on her stick. It was no use. The beam had her frozen in place. She wasn’t going anywhere except into the ship.
“Lieutenant!” she heard Gavin’s voice over the radio. His jet was making a beeline for the airship, apparently intending to take out the tractor beam. “Hang on, we’ll-”
He never finished. From one of the battle rigs flew a single red bolt of energy that flew harmlessly past Felina’s captive jet and struck Gavin’s. Felina heard a startled scream over the radio, and then static as Gavin died. His jet exploded in midair. The rig swiveled around and fired again. Felina jerked her head around to watch as her remaining wingman banked away in an attempt to escape and closed her eyes. She heard the explosion and O’Herlihy’s final cry over her headset.
When she opened them again, she could see the debris from O’Herlihy’s jet plummeting down through the sky to splash into the ocean. She gritted her teeth. Dark Kat was going to pay for this. She relished being taken aboard his vessel now. It was a chance to finally plug the big purple bastard once and for all.
In the Fear Ship’s control room, Marlow was smugly leaning back in his chair at the firing controls. Next to him, Zeckis was wide-eyed with amazement. Dark Kat stood behind them, arms folded indignantly.
“Got ’em,” said Marlow.
“That seemed… a bit excessive,” said Zeckis.
Marlow only chuckled. Dark Kat shook his head. Then, turning, he left the room to go and greet his “guest,” signaling several of the Creeplings wearing tactical goggles and armed with laser rifles to follow him. As they arrived in the hangar, the tractor beam deposited Lieutenant Feral’s jet neatly onto the floor. With a simple wave of his hand, Dark Kat had his Creeplings surround the craft and aim their little guns up at it, ready to fire if his prisoner attempted to try anything.
The canopy flew open, and Felina unbuckled herself and stood up, hand going to the blaster holstered at her side. She glowered down at Dark Kat, who stood there, completely unafraid of the Lieutenant and her puny gun.
“Lieutenant Feral,” he said smoothly, “I do apologize for your companions although you must understand I could not allow anyone to return to Megakat City and spoil the big surprise coming their way.”
“You murdering-” Felina growled and began drawing the blaster.
Dark Kat held up his hand. “In case you haven’t noticed, you’re quite surrounded. You can shoot me, but then you yourself would be killed just as quickly. My Creeplings may not be the best marksmen in the world, but with so many of them aiming their weapons at you, one of them is bound to get lucky, wouldn’t you say…?”
Felina hesitated, looking down at the assembled Creeplings, around ten or eleven in all. Dark Kat was right. The jittery little creatures looked quite trigger-happy as well, and she began to doubt she’d even live long enough to get the blaster fully out of its holster.
“All right,” she said.
“Good decision,” Dark Kat said. “Now, throw your weapon out.”
Felina unholstered the blaster and tossed it out. It clattered noisily at Dark Kat’s big purple feet. He raised one huge foot and brought it down upon the weapon, crunching it noisily into several pieces. In the jet, Felina removed her helmet revealing her eyes, previously hidden behind the tinted visor, were burning with hatred. This pleased Dark Kat immensely.
“Now, please,” he crooned. “come down from there and accept my hospitality. I don’t offer it to just anyone.”
“We’ve lost contact with Lieutenant Feral,” Sergeant Brady said gravely.
Standing nearby, Chance and Jake exchanged worried glances, which Feral caught out of the corner of one eye. If nothing else, for all their bluster, those two, much like himself, actually did care about the lives and well-being of others.
Feral slumped against the wall with one hand. A gigantic object of unknown origin was heading towards Megakat City. His niece and two others, sent to investigate what the Geological Society had thought was simply a volcano on the verge of eruption, had disappeared. Feral squeezed his eyes shut as he entertained the possibility that Felina might be dead.
It wasn’t the first time. Feral had always assumed that, as reckless as Felina was, he’d become desensitized to the constant dangers that often resulted in her apparent demise. It certainly would’ve fit with the sort of image the hulking Commander liked to project.
But, when it was your brother’s only daughter… you never got desensitized to that. Especially if you had sent her on the mission that might’ve gotten her killed. He had never told his niece this, but, despite his confidence in her abilities, he always worried about her whenever she went out on a mission. And, dreaded what he was going to say to Cassius if something should…
“Commander,” a soft voice said, interrupting Feral’s contemplating of what he was going to say to his brother if something had indeed befallen Felina.
It was Callie Briggs. She gingerly touched his shoulder, but he jerked away and composed himself, adjusting the lapels of his overcoat and clearing his throat.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Now, what it is you want, Miss Briggs? If you don’t mind, make it quick. My Enforcers and I have a job to do.”
Callie scowled. Her rebuffed sympathy was leaving her in a bad mood. “I have a suggestion to make. It regards the SWAT Kats.”
Feral eyed her. He already knew what it was she intended to suggest. So did District Attorney Mills, who, looking horrified, glanced at Feral to see his reaction to the impending request. Feral did not look at him. He simply stared straight ahead at Callie without blinking. After a moment, he looked over at Chance and Jake.
Why did all of this have to happen when the SWAT Kats were in custody? Any sooner, and Feral could’ve let the two vigilantes deal with the problem like usual, and then arrest them.
He could do it. He knew their real names and identities. And, so did everyone else in Megakat City, Feral realized, thanks to his little ill-advised stunt on TV earlier. It would be relatively easy – difficult, but not impossible – to arrest the SWAT Kats (or whatever you wanted to call the two grease monkeys) later. But, it would tarnish Feral’s reputation as a hardass who didn’t deal with criminals. Especially vigilantes.
But, the lives of Felina and possibly two more of his men were on the line. To say nothing of countless others, should that object reach Megakat City. As much as he liked to boast about how his Enforcers could handle anything, deep in his heart Feral realized they couldn’t do it alone. Granted, he could teach his pilots to fly the Turbokat, but that would take time. Time he didn’t have.
His mind was made up. With a great, heaving sigh, and even as Callie opened her mouth to resume speaking, Feral said, “All right, Miss Briggs. You have yourself a deal.”
“What?” cried Mills.
“Shut up,” Feral said, whirling to him. “You’ll still get your day in court with these two clowns, so just pipe down and sit tight.”
That shut the District Attorney up, and Mills turned and left. Turning the two unmasked vigilantes, Feral said, “In return for speaking favorably on your behalf at your trial, I’ll allow you to go free for as long as it takes to… deal with this situation.”
“‘Speak favorably at our trial?’” replied Chance, face twisted into an expression of barely contained rage. “What kind of offer is that?”
“It’s the only one we’re likely to get right now, buddy,” said Jake, attempting to calm his partner. “Remember, our duty was always to protect the city. So, whaddaya say, T-Bone? You ready for one last ride?”
Chance mulled things over. One last ride. One last chance to show these jokers exactly why Megakat City needed them. The maybe they’d let them go. He nodded solemnly. “All right, buddy. Let’s do it. Give ’em one last taste of what they’re gonna be throwin’ away when they stick us in the slammer.”
Jake, who wasn’t confident that their performance today would grant them their freedom, had other plans. Plans somewhat along the lines of Feral’s ideas about reverse-engineering the Turbokat. If they were going to go to jail, he wanted Megakat City left in the hands of Enforcers who were better-equipped than they were now. But, that was for later… if they returned from this last mission alive.
Seeing that both of them were in agreement, Feral said, “Sergeant Brady will show you to the flight deck and provide you with anything you need.”
“Just a second, Feral,” said Jake, holding a finger up.
“Now what?” asked the Commander.
“Yeah, what is it, Jake?” asked Chance.
“We’ve gotta think this through.”
“I know that,” said Chance, “but in case you haven’t noticed, time isn’t something we’ve got a heck of a lot of.”
“For once, I agree with Furlong,” grumbled Feral, who felt that any delay was a waste of time.
“You do?” Frowning and looking positively shocked, Chance eyed the Commander in surprise, and the look was returned.
Shaking his head, Jake moved to step in-between them so as to make his intentions clearer. One thing he hated was people not understanding him.
Jake said, “Remember, if Dark Kat was behind the assassination attempt, then he’s probably behind this UFO thing, too. And, as far as we know, he thinks we’re dead, so we have an element of surprise. One which will be blown bigtime if we go charging in there in the Turbokat.”
“He’s right,” said Feral, who was finding his constant agreeing with the SWAT Kats slightly disturbing.
“But, I still wanna use the Turbokat. Uh, Sort of. It all depends on how well Chance remembers flying an Enforcer jet, and whether Commander Sourpuss here-”
“Hey!” growled Feral.
“Sorry. And, whether Feral can learn how to fly the Turbokat in less than a couple of hours…”
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