The Fear Ship flew steadily but ponderously across the bay towards Megakat City. Aboard, Dark Kat led the way as a procession consisting of himself, Felina Feral and eleven Creeplings entered the control room. Each Creepling held a small laser rifle on the Enforcer lieutenant, who glowered angrily, her gaze burning into Dark Kat’s back. He was aware but said nothing. Dark Kat’s two technicians were so engrossed in their work they only barely glanced up at the group as they entered.
“Welcome to the nerve center of the entire Fear Ship!” announced Dark Kat thunderously. “From here, I can run the entire ship and coordinate my armies.”
“Your armies?” Felina repeated scornfully. There was a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She glanced around at the gun-toting Creeplings. “Forgive me, Dark Kat, but you may have armed your Creeplings with lasers and equipped them with the finest tactical gear in the world… but they’re still Creeplings. Stupid, useless Creeplings.”
Dark Kat turned toward her. To her surprise, he wasn’t angry that she’d just insulted his long-suffering, faithful minions. On the contrary, he was grinning broadly. She felt uneasy.
“Quite right, my dear,” Dark Kat said. He walked over. “My Creeplings have indeed long since outlived their usefulness, and even with the advanced weaponry I’ve given them, the foolish little beasts can barely even deduce how to use them.”
As if to punctuate its master’s point, one Creepling, giggling, fired off a shot from its weapon because it squeezed the trigger too tightly. The laser bolt whizzed past Dark Kat and struck the wall. Growling, Dark Kat came over and swung his cane, swatting the offending little monster aside. It smacked into a control panel.
Felina struggled not to laugh.
Turning back to her, Dark Kat’s smile returned. “It is for this reason that I am working on a new breed of creature which will replace my Creeplings.”
Felina didn’t like the sound of that at all. Motioning, Dark Kat left the control room and proceeded down the stone steps into the alchemical laboratory that had been transplanted from Darkhaven. Felina was made to follow, prodded along by the overeager Creeplings, oblivious to their master’s plans for them. In the lab, Felina stopped midway down the steps as she beheld what Dark Kat was talking about. Dozens of large glass cylinders filled with some kind of liquid lined the walls, and one was in the center of the room.
In each floated the form of a creature similar in appearance to a Creepling, but the size of a full-grown cat! Felina gasped. Dark Kat was engineering improved versions of his ghastly little monsters.
“Behold, my new, improved Mega-Creeplings!” Dark Kat boomed. “Twice the size of a normal Creepling, with triple the strength! And, more intelligent, as well. I’ve seen to that. Soon, my army will awaken, and, with the help of my Fear Ship, they will overrun Megakat City!”
Felina noticed a large, arcane-looking knife sitting on one of the wooden worktables. Dark Kat’s back was to her. It would be easy, she thought, to run up and stab him before he had the opportunity to turn around. She was confident she could do it without the Creeplings managing to shoot her. But, that would leave the problem of the Mega-Creeplings.
Probing for further information before making her move, Felina asked, “When will these things wake up?”
“In less than an hour,” Dark Kat replied without turning around. He was staring intently into the nearest of the cylinders.
Felina grabbed the knife and charged at Dark Kat. As she predicted, the Creeplings, despite firing at her, missed, hitting the walls and ceiling instead. It was miracle they didn’t hit any of the cylinders. But, Dark Kat saw her reflection in the glass of the cylinder he was looking into and turned and batted her away one-handed. She flew over and thudded against the wall and slid down into semi-consciousness. Walking over, Dark Kat stood over her, glowering down at her.
“Such an unfortunate lack of vision you have, Lieutenant,” he tsked. “All that talent and energy wasted. What a pity.”
Bending down, he picked her up by one arm and hauled her to her feet as she struggled weakly.
“And now, Lieutenant, I think it’s time we had a talk,” Dark Kat said. “Although I could just use my Fear Ship to destroy it, I have my sights set on Enforcer Headquarters, rather than City Hall, as my new presidential palace once I have taken Megakat City. I’d like to take it as intact as possible. And, to do this I need to learn the placements of all the defenses so I can destroy them, but leave the building itself intact.”
“Never!” Felina snarled and kicked at him. Her blows landed dully against his leg without seeming to do anything.
“Oh, you’ll talk,” Dark Kat said. “You’ll talk. Once I hook you up to my… little device.”
Chuckling darkly, he pointed to a large metal table fitted with restraints with a helmet-like device of some sort attached to the top, where the victim’s head would go once they were strapped in. He was about to resume speaking when they heard footsteps, and Marlow came running in, skidding to a halt at the top of the steps.
“Dark Kat!” he cried. “It’s… It’s…” He couldn’t seem to choke it out.
“Oh, get it out!” Dark Kat grumbled.
“The SWAT Kats!” Marlow yelped.
“What?” Dark Kat roared and, letting go of Felina, ran up the steps at him. He seized the blonde-haired technician by the front of his uniform and threw him out the door, back into the control room. There was a muffled thud.
Felina attempted to rise, but Dark Kat, again, anticipated her movement and yelled for his Creeplings to restrain her. “Bring her!” he snarled. “Let her come and see the destruction of her precious SWAT Kats!”
Seven of the horrid things swarmed over Felina and held her firmly, and she half-walked and was half-dragged up into the control room. Marlow lay on the floor, dazed, and displayed on the big viewscreen was the Turbokat. Behind it was the surprising sight of an entire squadron of Enforcer jets! Several Creeplings at control stations of their own, directed by Zeckis, were hitting buttons randomly, firing every weapon the Fear Ship had at its disposal.
As Dark Kat and Felina watched, lasers flew wildly towards the approaching jets. A few of the Enforcer aircraft were struck and blown to molten chunks, but nothing seemed to be hitting the Turbokat.
Growling, Dark Kat said, “Forget about the Enforcers! Next to the SWAT Kats they’re meaningless! Concentrate everything on the Turbokat!”
He turned towards Marlow, who had just recovered and risen to his knees, cowering before his master.
“I warned you not to fail me!” he yelled.
“It’s not my fault they survived! Your Creeplings were the ones who failed, not me!” protested Marlow desperately.
Dark Kat flipped the top of his cane up and aimed it at the technician. A big bolt of electrical energy shot out and enveloped Marlow, who screamed as he was burned first to a skeleton, and then his skeleton crumbled into a pile of ashes on the floor. It happened so quickly that by the time Felina and Zeckis, engrossed in the battle happening onscreen, looked over all they saw was the crumbling pile of smoking ashes.
“Someone always must pay the penalty for failure,” said Dark Kat simply.
“Holy Kats!” cried Felina.
Paying what was left of Marlow no more mind, Dark Kat closed the top of his cane and turned back to the viewscreen. Finally, a lucky beam struck the Turbokat. Felina whirled around again in time to witness this and cried out in surprise, watching as the SWAT Kats’ jet, trailing smoke from the wing, flew down and out of the view of the Fear Ship’s camera filming the battle.
She struggled fiercely against the Creeplings holding her and managed to shake them loose and run and tackle Dark Kat, knocking him off balance. He threw her off, and she landed hard against the floor and hit her head, blacking out completely.
The rest of the aerial battle went about the way Dark Kat anticipated. Deprived of the SWAT Kats, the Enforcers were quickly made into mincemeat by the Fear Ship’s weapons. One jet in particular, however, gave the Creepling gunners more problems than the others. Its pilot was actually very skilled and dodged almost all of the lasers. Almost. One hit it and it, like the Turbokat, went into a spinning spiral and fell away past where it could be seen on camera.
The surviving Enforcer aircraft turned and flew away back towards Megakat City. Dark Kat chuckled, but did not celebrate. It was conceivable the SWAT Kats were still alive. However, as he perused the radar screen, he saw no sign of any other aircraft apart from the fleeing Enforcers. The Turbokat had disappeared. Either it had splashed down in Megakat Bay, or…
He spoke his thoughts aloud. “Either the SWAT Kats have finally been destroyed, or this is yet another one of their tricks. But, I will remain on guard for the time being. And, even if they’re still alive, they’ll be helpless against my Mega-Creeplings once they awaken. Besides, all of Megakat City has now seen the full power of my Fear Ship, and only a fool would dare oppose me now.”
Turning and looking at Felina lying on the floor out cold, Dark Kat said, “Take her back into the lab.”
The Creeplings scurried to obey. They dragged Felina’s limp form from the control room and down the steps into the alchemical laboratory. After a moment, Dark Kat remembered Zeckis and turned to him. The remaining technician stood trembling before his master.
“Ah, I almost forgot,” he said. “It seems that by process of elimination, shall we say, you are in charge now. I trust you’ll remember to do your very, very best.”
With that, the huge purple feline turned and exited the room, leaving the cringing Zeckis to watch, sweating, as a Creepling used a small brush and a dustpan to sweep up the ashes of his former superior.
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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.