“If you don’t mind me askin’,” Chance said, wrapping a friendly arm around her shoulder, “how did you get here?”
“Well, the guy I was seeing was the son of an incredibly brilliant inventor. I mean, his dad had private and government contracts out the wazoo. When I met Ryan, he was a spoiled little rich boy who thought he was God’s gift to the universe. Anyway, I was waiting tables when he came in and started shooting his mouth off, trying to be cool. Well, a couple of my customers weren’t too thrilled with him and I had to save him from a serious beating.”
“Then, we started seeing each other. Very discreetly at first, but as I taught Ryan what being a man really meant, he decided that it was time to take me home. Boy, you talk about an explosion. His dad hated me with an unholy passion. He was one of those guys who thinks that everything and everyone within eyesight are his possessions, and how dare you even think of voicing your opinion to him, let alone defying him.”
“So, he built this pod and told Ryan it was a government project for space travel to new worlds. He knew Ryan would show it to me and programmed it to disable all overrides and rescue programs as soon as I was inside.”
“The last thing I saw was Ryan trying to rip open the door with his bloody hands as he screamed for me to hold on. I don’t know how I launched or anything like that. I just know that when I woke up again I was staring at a green feline type creature that took great pleasures in my pain.”
Jake cleared his throat and looked as if he was choosing his words carefully. “Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot easier just to kill you?”
“For most guys, yeah.” She shrugged. “But, he not only wanted me dead, he wanted me somewhere that Ryan couldn’t be with me. If I were dead, he could visit my gravesite, but floating out in space he knew he’d never see me again.”
“Is he one of the men in your locket?” he asked almost apologetically. “I looked in case it had some info we needed.”
Autumn gave his thigh a reassuring squeeze then opened the big, Victorian design locket and showed the pictures to Chance as she kindly replied, “Yes, he’s the one with the long, platinum blonde hair and black polo shirt.”
“So, who’s the other one in the enforcer uniform?” Chance asked as a smile crept over his face. “He looks like an alien version of Feral.”
Then, as if realizing what he said, he quickly held up his hands in mock surrender and added, “Not that you’re scary or anything…”
Autumn grabbed the hand that was wrapped around her shoulder and pulled him in for a playful hug. “He’s the man I was seeing before Ryan.”
“What happened?” he asked before he could stop himself.
Autumn’s expression turned grey as she remembered the night she got the news of his death. Chance tried to apologize but was tripping over his words. Autumn just held up a couple fingers to stop their flow, and replied, “He was killed in an arms raid. The plan was perfect, warrants had been issued, and the men were ready to go. But, when they arrived, they were ambushed. The dealers all had armour piercing bullets. All but three of Blake’s men died in the attack, including Blake. Someone on the inside tipped them off.”
Jake and Chance looked away, lost in their own memories of how any times they’d been in similar spots before they logged in enough time to become pilots.
“The leak was found,” she continued in a whisper, “But, his body never will.”
That snapped them back to reality, but before they could voice a question, she continued, “It was Blake’s second in command. He was paid off… You don’t work for Feral, do you?”
“No, kitten.” Jake half smiled.
“Not for a long time,” Chance agreed, “Why?”
“Viper said if I ever escaped, Feral would just bring me back. I mean, I know he was just messing with my mind, but there’s still that nagging little ‘what if ‘?”
Pouring a freshly brewed cup of coffee, Feral stared at the open file in front of him. A medical work up, pictures of a young copper haired woman and a profile were spread across his desk.
“So, what does it mean?” he muttered. “Are you one of Viper’s mutations, the Past Master’s monsters, or some fresh new hell to be visited upon my life?”
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.