Original SWAT Kats Story

Ashes to Ashes

By Fortress Maximus

  • 8 Chapters
  • 65,386 Words

(Unfinished) After a brutal attack by Dark Kat, Megakat City tries to return to normal despite crippling losses. But, destiny & fate have something else in mind — something that will change the lives of Callie, Felina and Ulysses forever! The stage is set for the fate of the Swat Kats and perhaps all creation as they know it!

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Author's Notes:

Warnings: Violence, some disturbing imagery, some profanity.

Summary: Seeking a way to ease her grief, Callie turns to Jake and Chance for help. However, what she finally discovers tears her apart, pushing her to the edge of madness. Felina and her friend (and fellow Enforcer) Sami Higgins are drawn into a web of mystery as Calico fights for her life! Elsewhere, the former mayor finds a most unlikely ally as the villains further their plans for final victory! Ulysses receives the shock of his life and the stage is set for the fate of the Swat Kats and perhaps all creation as they know it…

Disclaimer: Disclaimer? I don’t need no stinki.. erm.. here come Ted’s lawyers. OH.. here’s the Disclaimer I was just trying to find. ? See, right here. The fine print says that I don’t own Swat Kats, never have or will. And I’m not making any money off this. See? (totally empty wallet). Erm.. excuse me while I hide in mortal terror. ?

Chapter 2

Destination Unknown

Hard Drive sat looking at the spartan room that served as recreation quarters for the “Alliance of Doom’, as Dark Kat had taken to calling the gathered super-villains. Mac Mange was shooting a solo game of pool on a ratty table stolen from a crime spree several weeks ago. He was, of course, cheating and since he couldn’t catch himself, he was winning big time. Mollie Mange gave her husband a disgusted look and went back to channel flipping, trying to find something to watch that didn’t involve a credit card (super-villains get lousy credit ratings). Viper was pouring over some biochemical formula in the most distant corner of the room, put there by the rest of the group since his insane laughter and tendency to answer his own questions put the others ill at ease. Disgusted with the lack of activity, Hard Drive threw down his magazine and walked towards the door.

“I’m going out!” he snarled to no one in particular.

Mollie looked over at the techno-villain and gave him a look she usually reserved for her husband when his mechanical mind came up with another inane plan to rob Megakat City blind. “You fry your brain on your last trip down through the power lines, Hard Drive?! Dark Crud said he didn’t want us leaving the mountain for any reason!”

“Oh, and since when did you start doing everything tall, dark and gruesome said?” Hard Drive spat at Mollie, prompting Mac to stop his game and glare at the villain.

“Hey! Watch your tone of voice, creep! No one talks to Mollie like that but me!” The robotic Kat walked over towards Hard Drive, the pool cue snapping like a twig as he balled his fist.

“Come on, Mac! Don’t get your circuits in a bunch!” yelled Mollie. To this day she kept asking herself over and over why.. /WHY/ she ever married that lunk. And, every time she came up with the same answer… she loved him. But, SHE’D never be the one to admit it first. “All I’m saying, Drivy, is that Dark Kat’s got a good plan for us to wipe out Feral and his idiotic Enforcers AND get a whopping pile of loot at the same time! I don’t like him any more than you do, but I’m not gonna get my tail zapped again just cause you’re bored! So, sit down and shut up or I’ll shut you up myself!” Mollie stood from the couch and aimed her blaster at Hard Drive as he looked for a convenient electrical outlet to zip into — just in case.

“You fools!” bellowed Dark Kat as his huge shadow feel across the room. “I leave the room for 5 minutes and you start to act like children! We are supposed to be on the same side, not fighting each other like hyperactive 5 year olds!” The master villain seethed, anxious to get to the point where doing away with these excuses for criminals would be a just reward for all his hard work. But, for now.. he needed them. But soon… very soon…

“Can the act, Dark Kat!” Hard Drive spoke with uncharacteristic bravado towards the massive figure. “We all know you’re gonna dump us when you get that Anti-Matter from Megatron Labs!” Hard Drive knew he was on dangerous ground, but he had all of this ‘alliance’ he could stand. “You need us to keep the Enforcers busy, and we need your technology to destroy them! But, we all know what’s next; you double-cross us, or we double-cross you! I may be a crook, but I’m not stupid! So you either come clean right now or I’m outta here!”

Mollie and Mac stood staring at Hard Drive. *That punk’s got a death wish* Mac thought as he felt Mollie pull up beside him. He leaned over, whispering, “You believing this, Mol?” he said in the softest tones his vocal synthesizer could create.

Mollie just shook her head, not quite believing it was Hard Drive who was voicing their shared concerns.

Dark Kat himself was amazed at Hard Drive’s bravery, or was it stupidity? He couldn’t decide, but one thing he did require was the villain’s surge suit to check the systems on his new warship that was only a bit more than three weeks from completion. Without him, Dark Kat’s time table would be thrown off enough by a manual systems check to where Feral and his accursed Enforcers would be at nearly full strength AND equipped with the new weapon upgrades Pumadyne was developing. A problematic thorn in his side at the very least. Restraining his anger, Dark Kat looked down at Hard Drive and almost smiled, a feature that looked as evil on Dark Kat as his scowl.

“My dear Hard Drive, you seek to accuse me of betraying you when I am sure that you and the others have considered the very same thoughts! We do not trust easily.. that is our nature. It is also our weakness. THAT is why those accursed Swat Kats defeated us for so long; but no more! I vow on all that is evil that we shall see this through to the bitter end, when Feral is broken at my feet and Megakat City is rubble. No betrayals, no double dealings. I am… kat.. enough to make this offer. Are you kat enough to accept?” The unsaid insult hung thick in the air, prompting even Viper to finally pay attention to the shouting match instead of his calculations.

“On two conditions, Dark Kat. One, we go our separate ways after you launch your attack on Feral. I am /not/ getting caught in the crossfire. Two, we owe each other NOTHING! ” Hard Drive stood there, awaiting the answer.

Dark Kat looked over at the Metallikats.”And, what of you, Mac and Mollie Mange? Do you share Hard Drive’s concerns?”

The two blinked, not wanting to drawn into this war of wills. But, having been done so, Mac looked at Mollie and piped up. “As a matter of fact, Dark Kat, we do! Last time, we would have bought it thanks to them collars you slapped us in. Whose ta say you ain’t already got something like that in mind again! I say..”

“Shut up, Mac!” Mollie shoved her husband. “Listen, Dark Kat. We ain’t gonna be collared like some wild animal, and if you try, we’ll vaporize your tail! Me and Mac already died once and I don’t mind doing it again if we take a piece of work like you with us! So, no double crosses, no tricks. We get our loot, Hard Drive gets his weapons plans from Pumadyne to sell, you get to blast Feral back to the Dark Ages in little pieces, and Mr. Lizard over there gets his Megaswamp city with what’s left of the pieces!”

Viper growled at the crack, but chose to not push the issue.. yet. Behind him, assorted plantmammals snarled and hissed as they wanted to rip the tin
woman apart, but held back until their creator ordered it. Feeling Dark Kat’s stare, he looked from Mollie Mange to the immense villain.

“What of you, my dear Doctor Viper? Where do you stand..?”

“Your petty feuding is no concccern of mine, Dark Kat. I care nothing for defenssse sssecretsss, or jewelsss and money. Reduce the city to rubble for all I care. But, I SSSHALL have my Megassswamp City after you have destroyed the Enforcersss. I promisse you that!” With that, Viper turned with a loud hiss back to his formulations, leaving the others to worry about their petty concerns.

“Then it’s agreed! We shall work together until the death of Feral and the devastation of Megakat City. We go our own ways with no tricks! Agreed??” Dark Kat held out his paw for the Manges and Hard Drive to take.

Each villain looked at the immense paw and wondered how much of their soul they would give up by taking it? Did they really have a choice? After a few long moments, each took it and together looked up at Dark Kat.

“Agreed,” was the combined reply.

“What ’bout you, Viper?” called Mollie.

Viper turned back around and almost looked like he was smiling at some hidden joke. He simply nodded. “Agreed.” And, he went back to his work.

Satisfied he had fooled them all for now, Dark Kat pulled his paw away. “Excellent! Now follow me. This petty bickering must be put aside for there are new plans to be made.” With that, Dark Kat turned and exited the room, followed by a still wary Hard Drive and Mac and Mollie Mange. Only Viper did not follow at once. Finishing up a formula, he looked at the empty room and began to laugh, the insane sound echoing through the mountain.

“Felina!” was the first words from Feral’s lips as he burst into Megakat Memorial’s ER.

Felina glanced up from where sat, wincing as the action sent a twinge of pain through her neck as her muscles still felt as if they had been tied in knots for a week. She tried to turn at the waist, but the nurse bandaging her ribs firmly fixed her with a glare and the Enforcer sat still. “Here, Commander,” was the soft reply.

Ulysses walked over, nearly pushing a few interns out of the way as he pulled up beside Felina. “What happened, Lieutenant?”

The nurse finished bandaging Felina’s ribs and pulled the top down from under her breasts to her waist, covering white gauze wrapped tightly around the Enforcers’s stomach. Offering a soft smile, she professionally departed, carrying the brown clipboard over to Thomas Katzenberg who had arrived at the same time as Commander Feral. Thomas chose to let the Commander ease his mind as to Felina’s condition before entering the discussion, instead reviewing Calico’s medical situation. Smiling, he took the clipboard and dismissed the nurse, his eyes widening slightly as Callie’s condition was made horribly clear.

“I’m not sure, Uncle. I don’t remember much after I got hit on the head by… whoever. ”

“Start at the beginning, Felina,” Feral asked, his voice neutral but still twinged with concern.

“There’s not much to tell. I followed the autotracker to Clawson’s and Furlong’s garage out on 29. I started to draw my sidearm when I saw.. someone.. on the floor in one of the repair bays. After a few steps, someone slammed what felt like a baseball bat into my side then clobbered me over the head. I remember waking up and trying to get Mayor Briggs – who was beside me and looking in pretty bad shape – to the hospital, so I called Megakat Memorial to alert them that I was coming, then everything started to go black. I..” she paused, shaking her head as if to clear it and immediately regretted the action. After a moment, the world stopped spinning and she composed herself… “vaguely remember fumbling for my radio and pressing the emergency button… after that, it’s all blank until I woke up in the ambulance…”

Feral nodded and looked over at an Enforcer standing guard a few feet away. “Are you the one who brought the Lieutenant here?” he asked the suddenly nervous looking young she-Kat.

“Y..yes, Commander. Second Lieutenant Sami Higgins,” said the young she-kat, saluting while assuming full attention.

*Ah, I thought that was her* Commander Feral thought as he updated his mental rolodeck. Glancing down at the officer, he spoke. “At ease, Higgins. What did you see when you arrived?”

Sami’s deep blue eyes seemed to narrow as her 5’1″ frame relaxed slightly. Putting the past hour’s events in a coherent order, she looked up at Feral, her stunning blond hair flickering slightly in the light of the room. “I was on patrol when Felin… Lieutenant Feral’s emergency call came through. Being the closest unit, I responded. Arriving 5 minutes after originally receiving the call, I found both Mayor Briggs and Lieutenant Feral in the condition she mentioned. Calling for an ambulance, it arrived to carry both of them here to Megakat Memorial. I followed in my own cruiser, sir. By the time we had reached the hospital, Lieutenant Feral had regained consciousness and started to carry Mayor Briggs into the emergency room as I told an orderly to get a doctor down here. Then you and the other gentlekat arrived, sir.” She paused, wondering if she said too much, or not enough, or the wrong things all together.

*So, that’s why Katzenberg was told Felina brought in Briggs…* The shadow of a smile passed across Feral’s lips as he was glad that.. at least this time.. his niece was too stubborn to stay still. *She very likely saved Ms. Briggs’ life..*. Looking down at the young Enforcer, Feral let his normal neutral gaze take over. “You saw no one when you arrived at the salvage yard?” Inwardly, Feral’s mind raced as somehow, on an instinctive level, he /knew/ who attacked both his niece and Calico Briggs.

“No, Commander. No sign of anyone other than the Lieutenant and Mayor Briggs. There were no other vehicles other than the ones in for repair. I did a quick sweep after the paramedics arrived, but the yard was empty save for us.”

Feral nodded and seemed to weigh his options for a long moment. To him, it was totally obvious who attacked the pair, as was the reasons why. *Now I’ve got them…* he growled to himself as he glanced back at Felina, then at Sami. Reaching down to his belt, he removed the communicator with practiced ease, deftly flickering the unit to transmit… “This is Feral. I want two APB’s put out immediately! Subject one: Jake Clawson. Subject two: Chance Furlong. I want them considered armed and extremely dangerous. Physical descriptions on file at Enforcer Headquarters. This is an Alpha-3 priority.”

Felina and Sami looked at Feral with a look of pure shock. Both she-Kats just stared as their minds tried to process this sudden leap of illogic.

Feral felt their gaze on him and turned around to face his niece. “You have a problem with this, Lieutenant? It was their salvage yard, but they were no where to be found. Officer Higgins saw no one, and since you can not prove from memory or evidence it /wasn’t/ Clawson or Furlong, then they’re the most logical suspects. IF they are innocent, they can prove it when we find them. If not, then I will personally toss them in the deepest hole I can find until they rot!”

“But, Uncle.. an Alpha-3 means..” Felina began, but was cut off by Feral’s gaze.

“I am well aware of what it means, Lieutenant. But, if Clawson and Furlong surrender peacefully, then they won’t need to be fired upon. Otherwise, I’m not taking a chance with any other Enforcer’s life. Is that clear?” he directed at Felina, his eyes narrowing slightly.

“As crystal.. /sir/,” Felina responded, but Ulysses heard the venom in her reply.

Seeing the anger in her eyes, Feral decided to talk to Katzenberg but was suddenly cut off by an emergency alarm.

Thomas blinked as the all too-familiar voice echoed through the hospital… “Trauma Team to ICU 4 STAT. Trauma to ICU 4 STAT,” and suddenly Kats of every kind began to organize and most began to carry equipment down the main hallway towards a room with a flashing red light atop the door frame. “Holy Kats…” he mummered and joined the rush as Feral, Felina and Sami dashed behind him.

“What is it, Katzenberg!?” Feral nearly had to shout over the din.

“ICU 4 is Calico’s room! Her life signs must have dropped suddenly! Stay here!” he yelled as he grabbed a kit from a passing intern. The stunned trio slowed, then stopped, as the army of healers disappeared into the small room.

Feral glanced down at the shaken Higgins and then saw the same look on his niece, their bitter exchange a few moments ago forgotten as they realized that right now Calico was fighting for life. “Felina..” he said softly. “Did the doctors tell you anything about Miss Briggs before I got here?”

A soft sigh escaped her lips and her head shook. “Just that she was in pretty bad shape. That’s why she was in the ICU. But nothing.. like this..” she stopped, feeling an uneasiness grow in the pit of her being.

Sami just stood there, not sure what to make of all of this. Why had Felina been so upset at her uncle for the APB? To her knowledge, she didn’t think Felina associated with rogues who got tossed off the force for showboating, so it had to be more than concern for their sakes.– And, who beat up Mayor Briggs and Felina? There was no apparent motive!– There were too many pieces that didn’t make sense, and, despite her best efforts, they just wouldn’t fit together.. yet.

*Where the hell am I??* Callie asked herself as she tried to peer through the soupy mists that surrounded her. Tall, lifeless trees snagged at her clothing as she passed, branches shredding her clothing with unnatural ease. The cold, hard ground gave no help as she staggered along the desolate landscape, searching for something familiar ..something comfortable to latch onto. “Hello?! Please.. is anyone here!?” she called out, but apparently in vain. The emptiness seem to reach beyond forever.

“Deputy Mayor.. Miss Briggs!!” called a voice Callie never thought to hear again, at least on this side of the veil.

Callie turned, paling at the voice that sliced through the darkness. “T-Bone!? Is that you!? I’m here.. over here!” she yelled, hoping the Swat-Kat could find her in the mass of nothing that seemed to reach out to infinity.

“We’re on our way, Miss Briggs!” came Razor’s voice from someplace else, unseeable but close enough to be as comforting.

An incredible feeling of relief washed over her as two forms seemed to exit the fog almost in front of her…”Guys.. you’re alive… I can’t tell you… you..” she started, but stuttered to a stop as she realized who.. no, what.. was advancing towards her. “NO!! Stay.. stay… away from me!” she screamed as the two skeletal Swat Kats approached her. Terror clutched her throat as the two former heroes reached out, their bodies nothing but bones with bits of decaying flesh hanging off. Shattered Glovatrix’s rested on each kat’s left paw. But, it was their eyes – or rather the empty sockets resting in charred skulls – that froze her to the core. Her ears burnt with their ghoulish laughter as they approached.

“What’s wrong, Miss Briggs? Not happy to see us!?” the.. /thing/ that used to be T-Bone snarled as his undead partner made a swipe at her arm.

“Yea, Callie! We’re gonna help you like you helped us.. TO DIE!” Razor’s remains connected with her arm, pulling the horrified she-Kat to what was left of his chest.

T-Bone’s remains closed the gap. The smell of death surrounded the former heroes as Callie’s air was cut off by Razor’s bony arm wrapping itself around her windpipe. A small gurgle escaped her lips as she felt claws dig into her neck.

“Time to die, you coward! ” spat the undead remains that used to called Razor.

Callie tried to scream as the two former heroes tore into her body, but no sound could emerge. Their claws sliced past fur, deep into the skin itself. Jagged wounds erupted over her body as blood began to trickle down her chest and stomach, soaking her remaining clothes and the hard ground with her life-force. T-Bone’s swipes dug deeper as Razor’s claws inched into her throat, blood escaping down her neck, coating his undead fingers. Her legs began to buckle, the strength she had for flight leaving her as rapidly as her conscious mind. She mentally tried to flee, to run away from the nightmare her body had become, but T-Bone’s gloating laugh kept pulling her back in time to receive another swipe into her flesh. A soft question escaped her lips with the last bit of breath she possessed, knowing that she would soon perish.

“Why??” screamed the zombie T-Bone, his claws still back, ready to unleash what could be the final swipe that would end Calico’s life. “You dare ask me that?!” The undead Kat lowered his hand and grasped her throat above Razor’s lifeless arm. “You’re the one that shot down the TurboKat! You’re the one that caused us to crash into Dark Kat’s ship. **YOU’RE THE ONE THAT KILLED US, AND YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO ASK WHY??* screamed the ghoul as its bony fingers squeezed harder and harder.

“That’s it, partner, finish her off!” cheered the decayed Razor. “She’s the one that activated those laser cannons that totaled the Turbokat when she tried to escape from his airship! If she hadn’t tried to help, we’d still be alive right now!”

“Just.. wanted.. you.. couldn’t.. shoot.. with me. hos.. hos..” Callie tried to get out, but T-Bone’s grip tightened, and she whimpered as her body neared shutdown. Tears fell down her face as she felt her arms begin to numb, her legs practically useless. “Jake.. Chance.. I’m… so… sorry. .” was all she had left to say. Closing her eyes, she awaited the final moments of her existence.

T-Bone snarled as he pulled back, the final slash aimed at her heart. Razor’s laugh filled her ears as the claw began its downward arc.

Far overhead, there was one witness to the unjust carnage playing out on the barren wasteland. Unseen by either Callie or her destroyers, a bluish-green orb appeared high overhead, knowing the time to act would be here soon. Slowly, he started to descend towards the fading she-kat…

“Your Majesty!”

Callista blinked as she bolted upright as Sir Steel’s cry rang throughout her bedchambers. Pulling her nightgown from the hook beside the bed, Callista crawled out from under the mountain of covers and crossed the large room in three steps. Slipping the soft blue fabric around her bare form, she opened the door only to find herself face-to-face with her slightly perturbed Captain of the Guard.

“What is it, Sir Steel? What unsteadies my bravest of knights this time of the morn??”

“My Queen,” Nathaniel Steele bowed, his tan-ish form resting on one knee. “The Orb of Prysmos is vanished from it’s resting place!”

Callista’s eyes went wide with shock! “How did this occur, Sir Steel? Tell me all you know..” she commanded in an icy tone, catching the Captain off guard with its intensity. Striding down the hall, uncaring about her state of dress, Callista strode with a mix of anger and worry as the knight raised up and followed. Quickly, he relayed what had just occurred.

“I had assigned my finest guards to their chambers, just as you requested, your Highness. Every hour upon the hour I personally checked to see the guards intact and still upon their duty. At last chime, I again checked and saw all was in order when a glow did come from under the door… ” Nathaniel paused, his sudden silence drawing a look from his Queen.

“And, what happened next?” she prompted.

“I am afraid of that I am not sure of, my Queen. I opened the door, sword in hand lest the Pastmaster or some other of our enemies had discovered our visitors’ condition. There in the corner was the Orb, floating in the air glowing brightly. My guards surrounded their beds as I approached, but the Orb exploded with a light unlike I have ever experienced. When my eyes cleared, the Orb was not to be seen. I left my guards there and came to get you, my Queen. That is all I know.” Nathaniel looked down, his voice slightly carrying a tone that Callista never had heard escape from his lips: a tone of failure.

Callista smiled softly, trying to ease the troubled conscience of her friend. “Do not fault yourself, Captain. There is much even I do not fully understand about the Orb of Prysmos. I doubt you could have done more than you did. We shall discover the truth about this, but first we need to see if our guests are unhurt.” Callista paused herself for a moment, as if weighing a decision on her mental scale. Her eyes looked at her Captain and she nodded, the balance having been reached. “Go to see Arkatta the Wise. Tell her Callista of Megalith City begs her help and that of her most precious treasure. She will know what I mean.”

Nathaniel Steel nodded and sheathed his sword. Raising his right paw, he clenched it tightly and brought it over his heart as a confirmation of her orders and his fealty to her. “By your command, my Queen,” and, with that, he ran down the hall, his voice fading down the long corridor as his squire went to ready a horse and supplies for the dangerous journey to the Darklands.

As Callista watched the Captain depart, an uneasy feeling overcame her. *Did the Orb sense it was time? If so, why did it not appear to me in a vision as before?* Shaking her head, she waved off the guards that started to follow her. “I shall attend to this myself,” she commanded as look of worry crossing one guard’s face. However, Callista had spoken with such authority they simply saluted and walked down the opposite hall, leaving the Queen to her desired solitude.

Callista’s footfalls rhythmically fell upon the stones that lined the way to her most important destination. *There must be a connection to their arrival and the stone’s recent increase in power..* she mused as the door to her private study came into view. Then, without the slightest of warnings, the door shattered and two guards flew through the early morning chill to slam against the opposing wall with a resounding /THUD/ that made Callista feel sick. As her guards crumpled to the floor, Callista steadied herself for an attack, her hands rising to a defensive position. The words for a defensive spell began to form in her mind as a burly shadow flickered across the door frame. Callista frowned and started to recite the spell, but froze as the owner of the imposing shadow staggered in view.

The large Kat was ragged, clutching a nasty set of fractured ribs, the most serious of his injuries. However, there were numerous scars and abrasions still looking quite painful, even through the coarse linen shirt that only just covered his frame. Leaning against the wall, he panted for breath as bloodshot eyes attempted to focus on the stunned she-Kat. Slowly.. very slowly.. the multiple images solidified and he blinked, a hoarse whisper escaping from his dry throat.

“C..Cal..lie..?” muttered T-Bone as he looked at Callista and promptly collapsed to the floor, his minute reserves of energy depleted by his recent fight. Unconscious, the Swat Kat began to breath shallowly, his fevered mind lost in the fog of his near-death ordeal over 400 years in the future.

“We’re losing her!” shouted one orderly as the peaks on the biography became fewer and fewer.

“I want 10 cc’s of Animorphin!” Thomas shouted to the air.

“Heart rate is almost nonexistent. Blood pressure is almost off the charts…” another intern interjected.

Someone handed Thomas a syringe filled with a purplish fluid. Holding it up for the briefest of moments, the doctor verified it was the correct medication and dosage and proceeded to inject the liquid into a vein in Callie’s arm. Seconds hung in the air frozen until finally a soft /ping/.. then another.. caught Thomas’s ear and he looked and smiled. The biograph started to stabilize as Callie’s heart began to beat close to normal. Finally letting out the breath he seemed to have held forever, Thomas began to cautiously check Callie’s stomach for any discoloration that would suggest internal bleeding or hemorrhaging. Without warning, he let out a soft cry, prompting a young intern to look up from his tasks, Thomas’s pale face sending a wave of concern through the younger doctor.

Douglas Kowser put a hand on Katzenberg’s shoulder. “Sir.. are you..” the young kat began, but froze when his mentor’s paw withdrew from Callie’s stomach covered in blood. “What in the hell…” he whispered.

Thomas Katzenberg had seen both miracles and horrors of medical science, but as he pulled back the nightgown, his gaze froze as he saw something that defied even his long years of experience. “Doogie.. do you see..?” muttered the elder healer as he looked at his friend then back at the still form of Calico Briggs.

Douglas indeed noticed what Thomas saw, so shocked that even the use of his hated nickname didn’t even register. “By the ….Thomas.. what’s going on?” he finally mummered.

Thomas Katzenberg had no answers, not for this. In all his years, he had never seen anything even close. Before the startled eyes of both tom-kats, several sets of fresh claw marks appeared on Callie’s body, each set jagged and deep as blood began to seep from the terrible wounds.

Off to one side, the biomonitor began to fade once more..

Seconds ticked by like hours as, outside the ICU, both Ferals and Sami stood watching the windowless door, feeling as helpless now as they did a week ago when Dark Kat almost destroyed their lives and their city. Feral gently laid a reassuring paw on his niece’s shoulder, hoping despite their recent disagreement she’d still let him comfort her. Getting no adverse reaction, Feral kept his paw there, letting the young she-Kat draw whatever strength she could from him. Higgins stood next to Felina, her hand clasping Felina’s paw tightly as she tried to ignore the worse case possibilities that kept leaping to the forefront of her mind. Silently, the trio watched as each prayed for Callie’s safety in the next few hours.

*So, this is death* Callie accepted as the demonic T-Bone lowered his bone claw to rip her heart from her bosom. Soon, her life would be over, and she would pay for the misery she caused herself and her city. The undead Razor kept her close to his decayed body, preventing her from moving away as the claw moved closer.. and closer….

Then, suddenly, it froze in place.

An eternity passed before Callie realized she was not dead, lying on the ground writhing in agony as her soul left the mortal coil. Tentatively, she opened one eye, then the other, and came face to face with the immobile T-Bone, his jagged claw scraping the outer layer of fur but going no deeper.

Confused, Callie first thought it was a trick to increase her fear, but after several more seconds, neither of her attackers moved. The insane laughter had stopped, and Callie found herself able to move slightly, slipping after much finessing, from Razor’s steely grasp. Clutching her side, she staggered away as fast as she could, stumbling on the hard ground as the two figures faded back into the mists from which they came.

Unable to take any more, Callie collapsed to the earth and stared up at the empty sky, awaiting the angel of death to take her to a better place. She closed her eyes and waited, her breathing softly easing with each breath.

*Not… long.. now..* she thought, perhaps her last one in this life.

“Calico….”

Opening her eyes, Callie looked around for the voice that called her name, a moment’s panic arising as she thought it was the reanimated forms of her friends trying to trick her once more.

“Calico Briggs. You must not give up….” echoed the voice.

“No.. I do have to give up. I just want it over..” she whispered, praying for it all to go away and leave her to die in peace.

“If you give up, Dark Kat has truly won, and all innocents will suffer,” said the voice flatly.

Callie shivered, taken unaware by the feelings the simple comment invoked. Slowly, the she-Kat struggled, fighting blinding pain as the urge to confront the voice that mocked her became more important than anything else at that moment. Looking up into the emptiness above her, Callie almost snarled at her unseen taunter… “He’s already won! Look at Megakat City! You have no right to say what I should or should not do….”

Slowly, a light filled the sky, a bluish-green haze pierced the emptiness. As if by magic the haze thinned, then vanished without a trace, leaving only empty space surrounding the stunned woman. An orb, not much bigger than a basketball, descended from the glow and floated several feet in front of Callie.

“On the contrary, Ms. Briggs, I have every right!” the orb commanded as it began to shift and change, the smooth sphere melting into an almost Kat-like form, but with noticeable differences. The figure that began to emerge was almost 6 feet tall, but unlike any Kat Calico had ever seen. Long, white, stringy fur seemed to hang from the sides of the figure, leaving the top part of the head bare with no fur at all. A long red robe – much like the one Reverend Katsi wore for the Swat Kats’ funeral – enveloped the being, covering its feet. Steel blue eyes gazed at Calico with a youthful fire that was opposite to the aging face they resided in. More white fur drifted from the creature’s chin, giving the being a look of wisdom that comes with age. Callie began to step back from the horrible looking creature, sure that it was another monster determined to rip her apart. Where she had been welcoming death minutes before, now Callie found herself praying she could live just a while longer if for no other reason to understand the madness that had recently infected her life.

The creature smiled as it finally settled before her. “Good. The spirit is not yet willing to pass on. There may be hope for you and your world yet, Calico Briggs.”

“Who.. what.. /are/ you??” whispered Callie as she stared at the figure, wondering how it had read her mind.

“My name is Merklyn, young one. And, I am here to give you a great gift.”

“W.. what kind of gift…?”

The creature simply smiled once more. “Your destiny.”

Thomas sighed, stepping out of the ICU unit and began to walk towards the waiting room at the far end of the hall. *This is not going to be easy..* he thought, trying to find a way to explain Callie’s medical condition without letting Feral know about the scars that appeared from thin air. *She’s already unconscious, on the verge of a breakdown, and when she finds out about being replaced…*. Closing his eyes, Katzenberg shook his head, wondering how everything went so wrong so fast. Finally reaching the lobby, he started to enter when a young nurse flagged him over.

“Dr. Katzenberg… you’ve got a call on line one.”

“Take a message, Meredith, please. I’ve got to talk to Commander Feral and his party about Mayor Briggs…”

Meredith smiled, but you could tell by her face that wasn’t an option… “Wish I could, sir, but it’s Councilman Witwicky.”

Thomas stopped in his tracks, feeling as if a great weight had been doubled on his shoulders, and not from the mental image of Curtis Witwicky’s girth.. “Ask.. ask him what he wants, Meredith..” he softly mummered as he leaned on the counter for support.

With practiced easy, the RN picked up the phone, took off the hold, and began with her most professional voice..”I’m sorry, Councilman Witwicky, Dr. Katzenberg is in the middle of a patient conference and can’t be disturbed right yet. Might I take a message?” After a few seconds, she began to scribble down notes from the civic ‘leader’ and with a confused frown finished. “Yes, sir. I’ll make sure he gets the message as soon as possible. Of course.. good bye.” With a slightly annoyed look she hung up the phone and glanced up at Thomas, handing him a message pad. “Well, he was rude. He wouldn’t even give me the real message; just some crap that he’d said you would understand. ” The she-Kat was obviously upset at not being trusted with something so basic, but Thomas knew there was more to it than a simple matter of trust. He just wished he could tell Meredith.

“I’ll be fine, Meredith. You know how politicians like to play mind-games at times. I’m sure it’s nothing more than a carefully disguised attempt for free health care. ” At that, he laughed softly as the she-Kat smiled as well. “Thanks for the help..” he mummered, knowing what the pad said but kept a straight face until she was out of sight to begin her rounds. Steadying himself, he read the message whose coming had been like that of a dreadful shadow, hanging over him for days.

[Situation understood. Choice reached. Proceed as discussed. Notify ‘U’ as agreed upon.]

*This cannot be!* Thomas looked at the letter again and again, praying he had misread it. But, no.. it said ‘U’, no matter how many times he wished otherwise. Rubbing his temples for a moment, he looked over at the small waiting room and sighed deeply. **This is not going to be easy at all…** he mentally shook his head and strode over to the door and slipped from the frying pan into the fire.

Feral looked over as the door opened to see a concerned-looking Doctor Katzenberg enter. Raising an eyebrow at the blood on his gown, his eyes narrowed slightly. “Doctor.. what is Mayor Briggs situation?”

“Stable, thank whatever powers that be. That first emergency was due to her unbalanced biochemical situation, and she had an unexpected reaction to one of the medications. As it is, she’s weak and still in critical condition. But, she’s alive, and that’s what’s important.” He sat down, needing the momentary rest. Suddenly, his brain clicked that something was missing from the room. Glancing around, Thomas realized that two of Feral’s party were missing. “What happened to your niece and that other officer?”

“They went to the hospital cafeteria. They didn’t want to leave but I … suggested.. they take some time and relax. Both have had a hard day and pushing themselves won’t solve any of our problems. However, Felina would like to know about the Mayor.” Feral started to reach for his radio, and paused. “Doctor.. what did you mean by the ‘first’ emergency? Was there a problem I should know about?” the Enforcer commander looked at the doctor quietly.

*DAMN!* thought Katzenberg. “Sorry, Commander, I should clarify. There was a second moment of worry when her blood pressure dropped again, but that was due to a misread on the equipment rather than an actual biological problem.” *Whew…*

Feral studied the older man then nodded, sensing there was more to this addendum than Katzenberg was willing to admit. Not wanting to push the issue at this second, Feral simply raised the radio and fingered the ‘transmit’ button. “Before you call her, Commander, we have one other matter to discuss; one that I need your undivided attention on. ” He paused, trying to find the best way to phrase this… IF there was a best way… “A little while ago, we were discussing what role you would play when the city council decided on a replacement for Calico. Well, I just received a phone call that you need to be aware of…” Thomas started, but was cut off by the exasperated Commander.

“Let me guess: the city council has made a decision on who the new mayor is, and I have to go break the news to him or her, right?” Feral sighed, a small voice in the back of his mind wondering how much worse this day would get.

A few minutes later, Ulysses Feral found the answer to that very question, and he would never be the same.

Several minutes before Feral’s call came through, Felina and Sami were in the elevated glass walkway between the main hospital branch and the administrative wing, which held the cafeteria. Watching the traffic pass by, Felina became very quiet as the city came to life as the night sky darkened. The damaged the city gained in the attack slowly vanished from sight save for the occasional flickering of hazard lamps marking holes in the freeway. The city was almost.. normal.. in a sense. A soft hand on her shoulder snapped the young she-Kat from her reprieve.

“Penny for your thoughts, roomie..” Sami laughed softly as the look of playful irritation in Felina’s eyes lightened her mood slightly. “I know you hate me still calling you that, but you have to admit, we did have some fun while it lasted..”

Felina smiled, despite herself. “A penny huh? You’d get change back.”

“Maybe, but it looks like you could use someone to talk to.” Sami softly leaned against the window, making it abundantly clear that she wasn’t going anywhere without helping; even if Felina didn’t want her help.

Felina looked at her friend and then turned, studying the city she loved. “It almost hurts to see Megakat City like this, doesn’t it?”

Sami blinked, not quite expecting that as an opening statement. “It does.. I guess. But, we’ll get everything rebuilt, and Dark Kat will pay for his crime. You know your unc.. the commander… will see to that.”

At that, Felina actually laughed, but it was a laugh without humor. Instead of happiness, a bitterness seemed to escape her lips. “I’m sure we’ll try, Sami, and part of me actually believes we’ll make him pay. ” Still, Felina stared out into the night.

“And, the other part…?” Sami didn’t want to ask, but felt that the answer, if made known, might unlock some of the mystery Sami found herself drawn into.

Felina looked at her former roommate and current friend. “You really want to know..?”

Sami’s only reply was a soft nod.

Felina sighed and leaned forward. “I don’t think we have a prayer of winning.”

Pure shock ran through Sami’s mind as Felina’s statement sent shivers up her spine. “What makes you say that, Felina? The Enforcers have the best technology… the best troops. And – despite what many kats think – a commander who’s one of the finest kats I’ve ever known. ” A slow blush crept up Sami’s cheeks as Felina’s gaze finally turned from the city before her to the friend beside her.

“While we’ve got all those things, Sami, we don’t have the edge. Not anymore. The time has come for us.. and my Uncle.. to realize how important the Swat Kats were to Megakat City. How many times did the Turbokat pull our tails from the fire? I’ve lost count how many times they found the solution while we were still trying to discover the problem. Despite our advanced technology and all our bravery, we couldn’t stop Dark Kat, and it took the Swat Kats’ deaths to give the opening we needed to bring his airship down. But, look at all the destruction he caused in the short time after we mobilized and before the Swat Kats arrived…” Felina’s voice trailed off as she looked back towards the city.

Sami’s mind was in turmoil. She had never expected to hear Felina, of all people, to talk like that. The Enforcers were her life, her family. While she had a mother and father who loved her deeply, Sami still felt as if the Enforcers were the brothers and sisters she never had. To hear Felina sound so.. defeated.. broke her heart. “Felina.. you can’t give up..”

“I’m not giving up, Sami. No matter what happens, I’ll be there until the end. But, recent events have made me realize how important the Swat Kats are.. were.. to the city. And, with Dark Kat, Viper and the rest still out there, we’re going to be pushed to stop them. We need to admit that to ourselves.”

“That may be true, Felina, but remember what the Reverend said at the Kats’ funeral. That we should learn from their sacrifice; to defend those who can’t defend themselves. That’s what the Enforcers do, what they’ve always done. I’m going to honor their memory by doing my job the best I can and putting Hard Drive and rest of our so-called super-villains behind bars for a long time. It’ll be tough, but nothing worthwhile ever is.” Sami paused, as if she was weighing something very carefully.. “What are you going to do to honor their memory, Felina…?”

A flash of guilt erupted in Felina’s mind as Sami’s unexpected question hit home. Painfully, she remembered how useless her attack on the air carrier was when Dark Kat first appeared that day. Her ‘copters lasers bouncing harmlessly off the electrostatic shield was still frozen in her mind a week later. Then, without warning, another thought appeared. Unwelcome and undesired, it was no more than a foolish wish that had chosen the worst possible moment to reassert itself. But, the thought would not be denied so easily and, despite Felina’s best efforts to wipe it from her mind, it only became stronger and clearer than ever before.

“Felina.. Felina..” spoke Sami, trying to snap her friend out of the daydream that had enveloped her.

“Huh?” blinked Felina, looking at the younger officer. “Sorry, Sami. I must have zoned out for a moment..”

Sami simply nodded. “It’s okay, but the Commander is calling you.”

“Felina.. are you there?” came Feral’s staticy query over Felina’s radio.

Picking up her radio, Felina banished the thought and pulled herself together to responded. “I’m here, Uncle.”

“I’ve just been talking to Dr. Katzenberg. You and Officer Higgins can go see Miss Briggs now, but keep it short. She’s still unconscious, but the doctor thinks having some familiar faces might help bring her around.”

“Understood, Commander, ” replied Felina. “Meet you there?”

“No.. not just yet. The doctor and I have other.. concerns.. to sort out. I will join you shortly. Feral out.”

Felina looked down at Sami, who had a soft smile on her face and a tear in her eye. “She’s alive,” stated Felina, and a great weight lifted from her shoulders. It wasn’t a complete recovery, but the cloud that hung over her since the fight with Calico in the hanger brightened slightly.

At times, Sami could read Felina like a book; others she was a complete mystery. Right now, she was somewhere in between. She could tell that Mayor Briggs’ recovery was important to Felina, but why was it so important to make her friend’s entire mood shift like it just had? Putting such questions on the back burner, Sami smiled at her superior. “Go on ahead. I’ll catch up,” hoping to give Felina enough time alone with Calico to settle whatever was darkening her mood.

“Thanks, Sami, for everything.” Felina smiled and started down the hallway towards the medical wing.

Standing there, Sami watched her friend depart, then looked at the neon lit city. Slowly, Sami began to realize how deeply Felina felt about her home, and how much Dark Kat’s attack had angered her. As she turned to go, a random though caught Sami’s attention. *That’s weird. The Commander called her ‘Miss Briggs ‘ and not ‘Mayor’. Wonder why?* Pondering it for a moment, Sami shrugged and chalked it up to habit on Feral’s part and thought no more of it until she reached Calico’s room a few minutes later.

“Ooooh.. what the crud.. hit me…” moaned Razor as the fever that had assaulted his body finally broke.

Shocked, Callista looked around from the window she had been looking out to the badly beaten – but alive – Swat Kat who was struggling to lean up in bed.

“Careful, Sir Razor. The fever that hath bedridden you may be gone, but other sickness might come if you exert yourself too much. Rest now.”

Razor blinked. *Sir Razor!!?? Oh.. CRUD!* was his first thought as the blurry image slowly focused into that of Queen Callista. “Call.. your Majesty.. what are you doing in Megakat City?” Razor leaned up, shivering as the blankets that covered him fell into his lap, the night air taking him by surprise. “And, could you turn up the heat? It’s freezing my tail off…” he softly requested as he buried himself back under the covers.

Callista looked confused at Razor for a moment, then nodded in understanding. Walking over, she placed a few more logs into the huge fireplace that heated the study that had been the Swat Kats’ recovery room.

Soon, the heat began to rise, and Razor started to warm up when he realized one crucial thing.. they didn’t have a fireplace at the garage. Feeling a sick nausea in his stomach, he looked around and confirmed his suspicion.

“Oh man.. we’re in Megalith City??”

“Is that so bad, Sir Razor?” Despite a valiant attempt, her disappointment at his apparent dislike of her city upset the Queen, invoking a hurt she had never felt before.

Razor realized his mistake and tried to correct it. “Of course not, my Queen. It’s just.. of all the places I expected to be, Megalith City was not one of them. I apologize if my rashness offended you or your city, my Queen.”

Callista smiled, letting the incident slide. “No apology is necessary, my knight. Perhaps if the roles were reversed, I would be shocked to find myself in your Megakat City.” Properly, Callista sat in the chair beside his bed, looking at him.

Razor blinked and looked around suddenly..”T-Bone!” Frantically, he looked at Callista who leaned over and put a reassuring paw on his shoulder.

“Rest easy, Sir Razor. Sir T-Bone is fine. He awoke some time ago. A surprise to be honest since yesterday he hurled two of my finest guards through a door in his fevered state. He is bathing at the moment, but should return shortly.”

“He did that??” Razor blinked, knowing if T-Bone was hurt half as bad as he was, that would have been a feat indeed. “Are they.. I mean.. did he?” Razor swallowed, knowing how strong T-Bone could be, especially if drunk or delusional

“They are fine. A bit sore, but they do not hold fault against him. It was the sickness, not the Kat.” Smiling, Callista retracted her hand. “When he returns, you may bathe and I will have the cook prepare a light meal for you and T-Bone.”

Razor nodded, not sure how much he could eat with his body aching like it was, but he knew that he needed something. It felt like a week since he ate anything. He blinked. *Speaking of which*.. “My Queen. .how long have we been here in Megalith City?”

Callista started to reply, but a deep voice interrupted. “Almost a week, Sureshot, if you can believe it,” T-Bone said, his eyes showing he too was still trying to accept the fact.

**A week** Razor screamed internally. *MegaKat City.. oh man.. Dark Kat!* Looking at T-Bone, Razor tried to get up, but his body refused to operate even on the most basic of levels. Wincing at the pain he slumped back into bed, his eyes closed as he fought back against the agony. Through clenched teeth he growled at his partner. “We.. gotta.. get back, bud..”

T-Bone came over and sat on the end of the bed by Razor’s feet. “I know, but between my cracked ribs and your still getting over the feedback blast from the weapons console, we’re not going anywhere for a while. Especially with no Turbokat.” Even as pain blinded his sight, Razor could feel the hurt in T-Bone’s voice over the loss of his beloved jet.

Razor looked at his partner, then at Callista. About to ask the obvious, Razor was interrupted by a knock on the door (which had been apparently replaced during the night).

“Enter,” commanded the Queen.

The door opened and Sir Nathaniel Steele stood in the hall at attention. Razor and T-Bone blinked in awe as the Kat that stood before them looked like David Steel so much it was downright scary. Save for the armor and a scar on his cheek, Nathaniel looked like David would a few years down the road, if the Enforcers didn’t wind up chucking him down a tank barrel and shooting him into a mountainside.

“Sir Steel!?” Callista blinked in surprise as Steele was back much too soon for comfort. The journey to the Darklands, even at full gallop, didn’t take less than a day up and back. Rising from the chair, Callista walked over to her knight as her eyes narrowed “What has caused you to return early, Captain..?” Callista asked, her tone a bit more disapproving then either Swat Kat had ever heard her use before.

“Before you chastise the knight, Callista, I was the cause,” came an ancient voice from behind Steele.

Stepping aside, Nathaniel revealed the results of his aborted trip to the Darklands.

There in the hall was an ancient Kat, with fur white as snow. Standing maybe three feet, the old woman wobbled in with a gnarled staff as her only support. Dressed in tattered brown rags and a matching cloak, the visitor hobbled diligently towards the fire as her piercing green eyes seemed to take in everything around her. “I was already coming to the castle, Callista, when your knight came across me in the town of Primus. From there it is only a half day ride, and so we are here early.” Stopping by the fire, she sat down a small bag that had been attached to the top of her staff. Silently, she warmed herself and looked at Nathaniel. “You may go, good knight. I have much to discuss with your Queen.”

Nathaniel nodded and looked at Callista for confirmation of the order. Receiving a nod, he saluted and departed, casting a wary glance at the two Swat Kats. Out in the hall, the remaining guards followed their Captain, one pausing just long enough to shut the door. Then all was silence as the two heroes looked at the newcomer.

“Arkatta..” Callista began.. “you do me a great honor by coming here.”

The old Kat turned and smiled. “Perhaps, Callista, but you know of my dislike for the flowing prose that seems to come from mouths when I enter a room. It’s enough to make this old Kat feel sick.”

Callista smiled, remembering several times both kings and queens had been on the receiving end of one of Arkatta’s lectures and was grateful she did not fall into that category. “Of course.. I had forgotten,” was the simple explanation, and Arkatta seemed to erase the matter already.

Razor and T-Bone felt totally lost in the situation. They looked at Callista, then at this ‘Arkatta’ person who was apparently a big shot around here. Razor began to ask T-Bone if he understood any of this when he felt Arkatta’s gaze on him.

“These are the two you braved the timestorm for?” It wasn’t an accusation, merely a simple gathering of facts the old woman needed for some reason.

“Yes, they are. If I had not acted, they would have been lost and…” Callista began to explain, but stopped when a withered paw was raised.

“Believe me, Callista, for two such handsome Kats I too would have braved such dangers, were I several hundred years younger that is..” and her wizened laugh filled the room, the comment forcing a blush to Callista’s cheeks.

Razor and T-Bone just stared as her comment of age began to sink in.

“How much have you told them, Callista..?” Arkatta directed to her former pupil once the old sorceress was able to control her laughter at Callista’s embarrassment.

“None yet. I felt you needed to be here.”

“Tell us what??” exclaimed T-Bone, nearing the end of his patience.

“Yea.. I hate to sound ungrateful, Callista, but would someone please fill us in on what going on??” Razor seldom admitted confusion, but at this juncture he had no other options.

Arkatta hobbled over to a chair, moving the sack beside her as she lurched into the seat. “Be at ease, warrior. The time has come at last to reveal all.” She watched Razor and T-Bone start to relax, but her eyes narrowed dangerously, catching them both off guard..”Although in the end, you may wish you did not know..”

A uncomfortable silence filled the room as Callista and her mentor began to explain.

“I’M WHAT??” roared Feral, nearly falling out of his chair, causing the windows of the waiting room to rattle incessantly. The large Enforcer just stared at Thomas, his entire expression showing one of total and absolute shock.

“I’m sorry, Commander, to be the bearer of the news.. but the vote was nearly unanimous, and in your favor. You are the new acting Mayor of Megakat City.”

Ulysses Feral had always been a Kat of action. He would see a problem, find the necessary resources to solve the problem, and act. There was no enemy that could not be beaten by guts and the right training. But, right now, at this moment, all Ulysses wanted to do was crawl under a rock and never come out. At least on the inside.. outside was much /much/ scarier.

“What in the name of Hell’s Nine Lives are they thinking??” raged Feral. “I’m a solider, not a damned politician. If this is someone’s idea of a joke…”

“I wish it was, Commander, but I just got off the phone with Councilman Witwicky, and he was quite serious. I was involved somewhat with their original list of choices, and I’ll admit I’m totally surprised by the result. I thought for sure David Steel would get the vote, considering his.. abilities.”

Feral looked at Thomas and would have started laughing, if the situation wasn’t so serious. He knew exactly what the doctor meant by ‘abilities’; his connections to several key politicians and public officials. “Steele?? Kats Alive, he was actually considered?!”

Thomas watched as Feral’s eyebrow went up another inch as the thought of David Steele in charge sent shivers through the large Kat. “He was right behind you in votes, Commander. In fact..” Thomas paused, unsure if to mention this bit of information or not, considering the already volatile situation.

” ‘In fact’ what..” said Ulysses, very slowly and evenly.

“If you turn down the appointment, Commander, he will get it.”

“That’s blackmail!”

Thomas frowned as Feral kept making this harder than it needed to be. “No, it is not, Commander. Simple political policy in action. You were chosen to replace Calico or Manx until one recovers. If you do not accept the post, David Steele will be given the title, due for reasons we both know about. The city council isn’t going to waste time by holding another session. They’ll just move down the list until someone takes the position. And.. truth be known.. there are several on the council who have threatened drastic measures if anyone but you was offered. So…”

“So, I take the position and lose direct command of the Enforcers or I refuse and that idiot Steele gets to be acting mayor and I’ll answer to him on everything.” Feral looked at Thomas as a sick feeling sank into his gut. “IF I take the position, who is in charge of the Enforcers?”

At that, Thomas Katzenberg actually smiled. “I think that would be up to the acting Mayor.”

Feral blinked, and sighed as he sat back down. Despite his best efforts, there appeared to be no way out. Shaking his head, he glanced up at Katzenberg. “One question. Why me?”

Thomas sat down, looking at the slightly overwhelmed Kat… “Your reputation. Despite everything else, Commander, you are respected for the job you do in a crisis situation, and Megakat City certainly falls into that category in this point of time. You understand the necessity to balance resources and achieve the most you can with what you have, while helping the most you can with each decision. That’s all basically politics, when you remove the bulls…” Catching himself, he paused to let Feral weigh his options. Frowning, Thomas.. not for the first time of late.. realized how much he hated political games and wished he could spare himself – and Feral – the tired dealings that seemed to be a necessary evil at best, and a downright pain in the tail at worse. **But..* he thought..**I don’t see any other way..**

Feral stood up and began to pace, looking at nothing as his thoughts were turned inwards to make sense of the situation. Suddenly, a look of realization crossed his face. “Doctor… it’s been about a week. According to your estimates, Mayor Manx should be close to recovery from his coma.”

Thomas sighed, realizing that Feral was grasping at nonexistent straws. “Perhaps, but that was a best guess estimate. A coma has no timetable with which to go by. As long as Manx continues to recover at his present rate, he could resume office by the end of the year. However..”

“However, ” began Douglas Katzer, who stood in the door frame silhouetted by the bland florescent lights in the hall behind him. “That’s not an option anymore, sirs. Mayor Manx just passed away a few minutes ago.”

Feral and Thomas exchanged shocked looks as the latter stood up and walked over to his protege. “What happened, Douglas?? His life signs were stable..”

The young Kat sighed, wishing to not be the bearer of such news, but in his heart he knew otherwise. “They were, sir, but his heart seemed to just give out. We tried everything from Sheridium 5 to plain old adrenaline. Nothing helped. I am so sorry, sir…” Douglas let his voice fade as he saw the saddened look on his mentor’s face. “I’ll leave you for the moment, sirs, and I’ll have a full report on your desk in an hour, Thomas.”

Thomas simply nodded and smiled at Douglas for a brief moment, then turned back to Feral, who had sat back down dejected, as if his last, best hope had just been snatched from his hand. Slowly, the former Enforcer commander looked out the window, and wondered how he was going to explain this to Felina.

“M.. my destiny??” Calico looked at the creature known as Merklyn with a mix of confusion and wariness.

“Yes, child. There are things you need to know.. and decisions you must make soon, for the good of yourself and your city. Perhaps even your world.” Merklyn looked at the young she-Kat, hoping his own worries were not showing through.

“Why should I believe anything you say? For all I know, you’re the one who brought me here to this.. whatever.. and created those two abominations to attack me.” Callie balled her fists at Merklyn, determined to find out what the hell was going on, no matter the cost to herself.

“I did not bring you here. You brought yourself.”

“What??”

“This place..” Merklyn paused, a fur-less arm emerging from the red cloak. Slowly, he waved it around, as if to point out the realm Callie found herself in…” is where all beings come when the choice between life and death must be made. It is here that the demons of the past must be faced; where the will to survive is forged, or the desire to be at peace is welcomed. You, Calico Briggs, are at that juncture.”

“I don’t .. you mean, I have to decide if I want to live or not? And, those.. things.. that used to be T-Bone and Razor were my demons that I had to face?” Callie shook her head, knowing that she must have failed this most important of tests. Painfully, her plea to die echoed in her mind as she felt herself sicken at the ease of which she caved into her greatest fear.

“Do not hold yourself accountable for failure yet, Calico. Yes, you asked to die; but in truth many seek that way at first, only to find the strength to go on and deny their earlier misjudgment.”

“Then.. I still have a choice??” Callie looked at the ancient being with a growing sense of trust, but not knowing why.

“You do, but before you make that choice, there are.. things.. you need to know.”

“Like what?”

“Your destiny was foretold many years ago Calico Briggs. You were to be a great user of magic, a warrior on the side of justice. Megakat City would have peace due to you and those you called Swat Kats working together. An almost golden age would exist now, had it not been for the one you call the Pastmaster.”

“What does the Pastmaster have to do with any of this!?” Callie blinked, confused as to where the Pastmaster figured into all of this situation.

“Ironically, nothing directly, but due to his incessant attempts to bring his time to yours, the natural flow of what was to be was forever changed. The situations that lead to your empowerment never occurred, and thus your full potential was never reached. That, coupled with the rapid advances in science..” he paused, saying the last word with venom, “kept your world’s forces of magic at bay until now, when it is nearly too late.” Stopping, Merklyn watched quietly as the she-Kat absorbed what she had heard.

“Nearly too late for what?” she had to ask, “this.. whatever.. that you said threatens Megakat City?”

The ancient wizard nodded. “Yes. A great battle will soon be joined, but your Enforcers will not be able to stop the tide of evil as it comes to pass. Unless you are there.. armed with magic.. to stop the one you call Dark Kat, all hope could well be lost.”

Callie bristled at the mention of that most hated name. “But.. what can /I/ do?? I don’t.. you said that I was supposed to have powers, but I can’t now. There’s nothing I can do..”

“That is true to a point. However, if you are will to risk everything you hold dear, there might be a way to give you the powers you need to save your city and countless lives in the process.”

“But, if my world’s magic has been weakened, then how…??” Callie grasped for answers, seeking some light.. some hope… at the end of the tunnel of confusion she found herself in.

Merklyn walked (although it almost looked like he floated) over to Callie and placed his hand upon her shoulder. “I can give you the magic of /my/ home world to use in defense of yours.”

“W.. what??” Callie paled, looking as if someone just walked over her grave.

Seeing the startled expression on her face, Merklyn pulled back, realizing the need to use caution from here on out. “Perhaps.. first.. it would be better if I told you how I came to be, then you might understand why this must be done.”

Callie simply nodded and ‘sat’ down, floating in space as the tale began.

“Many years ago, before your world had life upon its surface, my world of Prysmos was in its own golden age. Though it was one of technology, the planet had no war or famine. Crime was almost a memory and everyone enjoyed a life of comfort and ease for nearly seven thousand years. But, it was not to last. As foretold, our three suns aligned, and the resulting release of energy nullified technology all over the planet. Over the next several years, my magic was able to grow and expand until the time came to pass it along to those with the vision to rebuild our world in this new age. In the end, twelve knights were chosen, and I bestowed a portion of my powers to each side, one representing the forces of ‘good’ and the other the forces of ‘evil’.

“But, why give power to those who might use it for evil? That would only lead to trouble that you could avoid all together.”

Merklyn nodded, a look of wishful agreement in his eyes..”For every amount of good, there must be an equivalent of evil. The cosmic scales must balance. The two sides must work out differences between them, or the imbalance would be worse than the evil itself. If there were no good, evil would run across the universe unchecked, and if there was no evil, good might turn in upon itself and do more damage than the evil it fought. It makes no sense, but seldom does the universe appear orderly to we who pass through it so briefly.”

Callie contemplated this for a moment, and nodded in understanding. Although she knew there was more to this than met the eye Callie felt compelled hear more of the story. “So, what happened, Merklyn? Did your knights of good win?”

At that, Merklyn laughed disdainfully. “There were no winners, my dear. Several years after the cataclysm, I sent both the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords on a quest to recover four talismans in order to increase my powers to combat a great evil just beginning to emerge.”

Callie looked at the ancient wizard, entranced by the story. “What happened…?” she felt that the answer would be dark, but part of her had to know.

The wizard’s features darkened at the terrible memories. “The gods of fate were angry at us, my dear. In a supreme twist of irony, our world began to disintegrate. The shift from science to magic proved too much for the planet and even with two of the four talismans, my power was not enough to keep our world from tearing itself asunder. We only had one option; to gather all the magic of my world and banish it completely. Then and only then would the planet begin to heal. ”

Her jaw dropped to the floor as Callie listened in part pity and fear as the old kat’s (for lack of a better term) eyes closed. Slowly, his voice began again.

“We succeeded, but with no magic on Prysmos, there was no need for me anymore. I joined the gathered magic, including that of the Darkling Lords and the Spectral Knights and banished myself.. and the Orb.. to the limitless reaches of time and space.” Merklyn stopped, his eyes opening to reveal a haunted look that would be forever etched in Callie’s mind forever.

“But.. how did you surive.. and how do you know about me??”

“I can not tell you that right now. Suffice it to say, certain events drew me to your world, and as I saw your planet grow and evolve, I began to hope that I would be useful once more. But, in time, I realized if I interfered, that interference would change what should be and that I can not do.”

“But.. if giving me these powers you talk of.. isn’t that changing what should be?”

“No!” Merklyn yelled, catching Callie totally off guard. Seeing her reaction, the wizard pulled back and reformed his icy composure. “No, my dear. I only seek to correct a right put wrong by the Pastmaster. Perhaps.. in a small way.. my planet’s magic will live on in you. ..” he paused, remembering what she had yet to decide..”if you choose to help.”

Callie ‘stood’ up and floated over to Merklyn, and looked at him intently. “I want to.. but.. it’s all so.. I mean.. why me? Just because I am supposed to have some kind of powers doesn’t mean I’m the best choice.. surely there’s someone else you could…”

Merklyn focused on Callie …”Now what will they do.. now who will protect those who could not protect themselves..?” his ancient voice never wavered, solid as an iron mountain.

As if a physical blow had struck, Callie staggered, her own thoughts at the funeral being spoke out loud for the first time. Images flashed across her mind as her friends.. family.. loved ones were incinerated by a beam of light coming from a huge floating airship high above Megakat City; her city in rubble as an all too familiar laugh filled her ears as it mocked everything she believed in. The laugh grew and grew until it was all she could hear, tormenting her over and over, leaving her powerless to stop it and its owner. **No.. not powerless.. not now..** a small voice deep in her mind said, cutting through the mental anguish and giving her a clarity she had not possessed for a very long time. The agony fading, Callie looked at Merklyn but knew deep down the wizard could not help her now; everything she held close rested on her shoulders alone. Her future, the future of Megakat City. Everything. A thousand thoughts filled her mind as the chance for redemption fought against the need for peace. Closing her eyes, the images began to intensify faster and faster, her mind racing to stay ahead of the myriad fears that threatened to overtake her.

Only the Goddess knew how long the internal conflict lasted, but after what seemed like an eternity, a soft voice broke through the confusion and reached the part of Callie’s mind that still remembered what she had to decide… “It is time, Calico Briggs. What is your choice…?”

Sami stood in shock as her mind tried to fathom what she had inadvertently overheard. *Felina lied to her uncle??!!*.

The awestruck she-Kat listened intently as Felina’s confession to the still unconscious Calico Briggs had an unintentional eavesdropper. She hadn’t meant to hear, but Sami’s arrival at the cracked door had been an example of perfect, though bad, timing.

“I didn’t want all this to happen, Callie. You.. I /need/ you to know that..” Felina softly said as she sat beside her friend. “But, after what we saw below the salvage yard, during our fight.. I had to protect Jake and Chance. I know they’re gone.. but if my uncle found out, their legacy could have been tarnished ..and that.. it’d be like losing them all over again, only this time I would have been the one to pull the trigger and not Dark Kat.” She sighed, her head in her hands for a moment.

Callie lay silent to Felina’s anguish, but somehow – on a level Felina didn’t understand – she /had/ to tell Callie. She didn’t know why, but her honor demanded no less. “But then.. he put an APB out on them, Callie. Can you believe it!? Not only do we lose T-Bone and Razor, but because I lied about what really happened to put us in the hospital, my uncle still found a way to blame the Swat Kats, even without knowing their secret identities!” Felina gently slammed her fist into her paw, incensed on how everything was turning out. “All I wanted to do was help try to ease your pain. When I saw you there.. on the floor of their house..” . The enforcer paused, the memories of what really happened that night flooding over her, drowning her in a sea of confusion.

<“Who, Callie.. who did you.. kill??” Felina asked softly. She knew Callie could never kill anyone; her heart told her that much. But, to see Callie like this.. teetering on the brink of emotional shutdown.. was something she never expected to see in this life. Mentally, she braced herself for the answer.>

<“Don’t you see!? I killed the Swat Kats!”>

<“No.. no you didn’t, Callie. It was Dark Kat. He was the one who kidnapped you. Remember.. we learned by monitoring his radio transmissions that he was going to use you as insurance against the Swat Kats attacking..” Felina took a step closer, praying that some part of Calico’s mind still hung onto logic and that her arguments would ease the troubled she-Kat.>

<“NO! You don’t understand, damn it! How could you?! Were you there, seeing it all? NO! You were in your little jet, flying around acting brave while I was fighting for my lift in that damn ship!” Callie spat at Felina, her words hurting the young Enforcer more than a physical attack could have done.>

<“That’s not fair, Briggs! We lost 6 good kats on our initial attack; Enforcers with families and loved ones! We were out there fighting for our lives, just like you were!” Felina balled her fists and felt a massive surge of anger erupt in her mind, but forced it down with a visible exertion of will. *It’s the despair, not the Kat talking, Felina…* she kept telling herself.>

<No.. NO! You don’t understand!..” screamed Callie as she took another step back from Felina. Her mind raced feverishly, trying to find a way to escape from the corner she found herself backed into, both geographically and mentally. Narrowing her eyes, she glared at Felina. “You don’t understand.. you CAN’T understand.. so leave me the hell alone!!” With that, Callie launched herself at Felina, tackling the startled Enforcer with her adrenaline-enhanced might.

Caught off guard, Felina found herself waging a defense battle against Callie, whose momentum carried them both into a door frame, the side stopping Felina’s backward movement HARD. >

<“D..damn!” screamed Felina as her shoulder winced in agony as every effort to get away from Callie met with sharp claws swishing by her face, or a fist trying to land a telling blow to her gut. Callie swung again, but Felina dropped to a crouch and punched a fist right into her opponent’s stomach, catching Calico off guard and sent the stunned Mayor backwards.>

<“WITCH!” raged Callie as she narrowed her eyes, the part of her that might have been able to be reasoned with now awash with anger. She charged Felina,
trying to land a blow to her head, all thoughts of friendship gone.>

<Felina prepared for another charge and accepted it, trying to use Callie’s forward momentum to flip her over the shoulder and on her back so the force of the blow would knock the wind out of the desperate she-Kat. What Felina was not prepared for was the sudden feeling of momentary free fall as Callie’s blow, which had shoved Felina against the wall, resulted in that wall suddenly swinging open and both women landed hard upon a set of unforgiving stairs. Having the wind knocked out of her instead of Callie, Felina could do nothing but hold the struggling she-Kat best she could as both bounced down the long flight of hidden stairs. Crash-landing at the bottom, the two combatants found themselves in pitch darkness, both too sore and beat up to continue the fight.>

<As Felina landed, the corner of something slammed into her side with such a force that her uniform and fur together were not enough to prevent several of her ribs from being efficiently cracked clean into. A sharp whimper escaped her lips as this injury – combined with her shoulder – proved too much to handle, and Felina promptly blacked out.>

<Calico looked up from her own landing spot atop a group of barrels and moaned as she tried to reach Felina, but wound up sliding off onto the cold concrete floor. As darkness began to claim her, Callie’s last thought was of her actions, and how she had killed the only Kat left she could trust. >

<Then all became quiet.>

<*Oh crud, this is gonna hurt* was Felina’s first thought after waking from her impact-induced rest. Slowly, her eyes adjusted to the low light and she struggled to stand, but a burst of pain from her side nearly caused her to black out once more. Slowly, the she-Kat stopped, waiting for the agony to pass. A moan from nearby caught her attention as she looked towards the noise. “C.. Callie…?” she called into the darkness. >

<Another moan was her reply as Calico Briggs was in no shape to be awake, let alone coherent. Unknown to her friend, Callie’s body was raging with miswired body functions as her white blood count was dipping close to critical. Unseen by modern medicine, a long dormant genetic code moved through her DNA, rewriting it as her body fought the attack. Diverting all energies to self-preservation, Callie’s brain activity levels soared higher than ever, the creeping agony in her blood and bone more intense than anytime in the past week. A whimper escaped her lips as she mentally cried out for help, but her body was too involved to aid physically. >

<Felina stumbled and fought back tears that pooled in the corner of her eyes. With every ounce of will she took a tentative step.. then another, until she was upright in the dark room. “Can’t.. see too good. .even with my eyes. I need some light..”>

<Suddenly, the lights in the hanger came to full intensity as a metallic voice rang out, nearly making Felina reach for her blaster until the pain stopped that idea.>

^^Vocal Identification.. confirmed. Lieutenant Felina Feral. Enforcer Identi-code 8406593. Level two commands — on-line. Require second vocal confirmation for level one access.^^

<Felina blinked as the sudden illumination caught her totally off guard, causing her to shut her eyes in pain until several minutes later she could open them once again and see who, or what, had spoken. Glancing around the large hanger, Felina spotted a small video screen with a keyboard mounted into the wall underneath. Next to that on the right was a small speaker, which apparently is what the synthesized voice came from. Confusion filled her thoughts as she stared at the room around her.>

Missiles of every description were stored in a wall off to one side. A workbench lay partially buried under mounds of unfinished electronic components. But, it was the twin lockers that caught her eye, and held her breath for long seconds. There, inscribed on small metal plates above the air vents, were two names she knew all too well — ‘Razor’ and ‘T-Bone’.

Like a tidal wave of biblical proportions, the realization engulfed Felina totally. Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong were Razor and T-Bone. *How could I have been so blind?!* Felina yelled at herself, forgetting that hindsight is always 20/20. *The only place we never checked.. all that salvage /would/ have made the TurboKat.. and Razor’s missiles. Goddess.. so that’s why Callie.. CALLIE!* her mind screamed as she turned towards the barely conscious she-Kat sprawled painfully on the concrete floor. Walking over, she pushed all thoughts of the Kats aside and knelt down, ignoring the massive pain shooting through her body and tried to help Callie up.

Slowly, the Mayor began to stir and as her eyes opened, a soft smile passed her lips.

<“You’re.. alive..” Callie noticed, tears running down her cheek as another lancet of pain swept through her body. Her hands clutched at Felina’s shoulders for strength to hold on a little while longer. >

^^Vocal Identification.. confirmed. Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs. Social Identification Number 5168904. Level one commands — on-line.^^ Again, the computer voice broke the silence with its cryptic message.

<Callie looked up at Felina, her eyes betraying the confusion she felt as the computer voice finished. The Enforcer shook her head and tried to lift Callie up. “No time to answer what’s going on, we’ve gotta get you to Mega…” she started to lift Callie to her shoulder for support when a ghost’s voice resonated throughout the hanger.>

<“Callie.. Felina.. we need to talk,” came Razor’s voice as a stunned Felina Feral and Calico Briggs looked up. On the video monitor, Jake and Chance’s faces smiled down upon the two bewildered heroines.>

Slowly, Felina looked away from the window of Callie’s hospital room, tears running down her race as she remembered with all-too-vivid detail the implications of the gifts Jake and Chance had left behind.

“I wish you were awake, Callie. I could use your help on deciding what to do. I mean.. the guys.. they wanted us to give what they had left to my Uncle so the Enforcers could have a slight edge, at least for a little while. And, when you get better, we can help each other with the Glovatrix’s they built for us.” Felina paused, wiping her eyes. “Why didn’t they tell us, Callie? I know Chance said they wanted to, but couldn’t because, if my Uncle found out, we’d both be implicated for aiding and abetting.” Reaching down, Felina took Callie’s limp paw into her own, still unaware her heartfelt confession was being heard by her closest friend only hidden by a slightly cracked door. “But, how can I give my Uncle what Chance wanted us to? With the warrants on them, everything they did.. everything they stood for will be forgotten by the ramifications of their true identities.”

Outside in the deserted hallway, Sami stood in awe of the ramifications being made only a feet away. *Jake and Chance were the Swat Kats!?* Her mind
reeled at the thought of the disgraced former Enforcers being the beloved Swat Kats. Shaking her head, she wanted to talk to Felina face to face.. to learn more of what happened in that hidden hanger, but the logical part of her mind realized that this struggle could not be solved easily; that friendship and loyalty would not overcome this enemy alone.

Going back to her place, Sami listened as Felina continued to bare her soul to the unconscious Calico Briggs.

“You sent for me, sir??” inquired the smooth talking Lieutenant David Steele as he stood before Commander Feral in the private office Thomas had been gracious enough to loan to the besieged Enforcer. Slowly, Feral’s almost-cold gaze rested upon the young upstart, who began to sweat profusely.

“Yes, I did, Steele. Now listen carefully, because I’m on going to say this once.” Feral looked down at the Kat and sighed softly *Because if I say it more than once, I’ll going to realize what I’m doing and throw up..*. Feral watched as Steele looked as if a giant anvil was about to fall on top of him.

“Y..ye..yes, s..sir..” muttered the Enforcer.

“As of this date, you are..” pausing, Feral watched as Steele turned a not-too-good looking shade of green. After gathering his own strength Ulysses resumed… “you are promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and are in charge of all Enforcer duties until such time I can resume those duties.” Feral felt himself pale, but nothing compared to the young Enforcer who looked as if he were getting ready to faint.

“S..S..Sir…?” was all Steele could muster for a reply.

Feral leaned over the table and locked his gaze with the Kat before him. “It’s very simple, Steele. The city council has named me acting mayor and due to the city charter, the Mayor can not hold any position of military power while in office, so in short, you’re /IT/, Lieutenant Commander.”

David’s eyes began to light up as the realization set in. Quickly, he saluted and that irritating grin spread over his face. “I won’t let you down, Sir! I’ll do everything in my power to…” he began, but froze when Feral rose up to his full height and glared down at him, his eyes as cold as ice.

“Now you listen to me, Steele, and you listen good! I have had it with your snide remarks and countless excuses. Good Kats are going to be out there risking their lives to protect MegaKat City. Every decision you make could lead to victory or defeat, David!”

Steele blinked. *David? That’s the first time he’s ever….*

“Everyday, the lives of your troops are going to hang in the balance. You must be decisive in your actions, strong in your beliefs, and true to your convictions. You must expect the unexpected daily and believe that you can win, no matter how hopeless it looks. Your strength will be their strength; your fears their fears. This is not a game anymore, David, if it ever was. You have the most precious duty to protect our city.. our home.” Ulysses paused, his eyes seemingly looking into David Steele’s soul and beyond. “I want your promise, David. Here. Now. No matter what happens, you /must/ give everything.. /EVERYTHING/ you have. No half measures or weak attempts. Will you give me your word, Lieutenant Commander?” Feral quieted, watching the expressions dance across Steele’s eyes.

Deep in the young tom-Kat, he knew the elder Enforcer was right. Throughout all of his ‘career’ he had been a joke, earning rank due to his family connections and not with his deeds. He never cared before now how it might make him look, but that was before all the lonely nights in the barracks as his fellows went out, dated.. did all the things that friends do. Always it was David Steele who was left out.. alone. The outcast. Some had tried, but they were just using him to get more rank. Weren’t they? Then he was so sure, but now…? Was this the second chance he always wanted.. to start over and be the person he secretly wanted to be, or would he fall back into what he was, less than he /knew/ he could be..? Moments passed like eons until some part of his mind nudged him, warning him that Comm.. Mayor Feral finished and was waiting for a reply. Looking up, he noticed the fierce gaze and, much to the shock of himself as much as Feral, met it back with an equally determined look.

“I am a Steele, Ulysses! We helped found this town; took a barren patch of land and turned it into a paradise. From nothing, my family helped forge the future that we now live in. My grandfather gave his life in MegaWar I to protect the innocent, and I will be damned if I will let anything happen to /my/ city, or do anything to tarnish the memory of my family. From this moment on, I will do whatever it takes to protect this city, and Goddess help the poor bastards who stand in my way!” David paused, then leaned over on the desk, as eye-to-eye as he could be with Feral’s noticeable height difference. “Is that good enough for you, Mayor, or do I need to give you my resignation here and now??”

Neither Kat moved or breathed. Feral was shocked and surprised by the sudden depth of conviction emanating from the young Kat who hours ago would have stood there fidgeting until a passable answer was given. Now Feral saw no trace of that indecisive Kat, but rather a warrior with both steel and heart as his weapons. **His backbone finally found the light switch** mused Feral as he looked at the Enforcer before him. Pulling himself back up, Feral nodded only once to David and offered his paw. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander. I’ll make the official announcements tomorrow.”

Steele looked at the paw as the words digested into his brain. A small part of who he was tried to reassert itself, but was quashed by the new David Steel that stood before the new Mayor of MegaKat City. Taking the offered paw in a firm grip, David shook, his gaze or grip never faltering. “Thank you, sir. Now.. if you will excuse me, I do need to begin reviewing status sheets and current troop deployment.”

“Of course. Dismissed,” Feral began, but smiled ever so slightly as Steele began to go. “David?” he said softly.

“Sir?” Steel glanced back, worried about his new responsibilities. Seeing an almost quirky expression in Feral’s eyes, he raised one eyebrow.

“Dinner. D’Kattios. My treat. Last decent meal you’re going to get for a while.” Feral smiled and almost laughed.

David was shocked, but held in the surprise at the offer. “Thank you, Com.. Mayor. I’ll see you soon.” With that, David Steele left the building bound for Enforcer Headquarters and the pile of paperwork that awaited his arrival.

Sitting back down, Feral looked around the office and closed his eyes, trying to sort out everything that had transpired over the past few hours. The death of Mayor Manx. Calico laying unconscious in a room not far away. His niece attacked by those two mechanics, who still had not been found. Him being Mayor; Steele becoming commander of the Enforcers. It was all leading to.. something.. he felt. He knew that in his bones, but what that exactly was seemed to be in the paws of the powers that be, and Feral didn’t expect any revelations soon.

Sighing, he got up and walked out the office and down to the room where Calico rested, the real battle of the evening looming dangerously close. He had to tell Felina why he did what he did, and hoped that she would trust his judgment, if not the reasons themselves. Shutting the door, Feral disappeared around a corner towards a small room that held the past; but more so than Ulysses Feral would ever know.

Deep in a mountain stronghold, two words were muttered from evil lips. No grand verbose prose, no dogma erupting to enflame others. Just two simple words that signaled the beginning of the end. Dark red eyes played over holographic scenes of Pumadyne, Megakat Biochem and Megatron Labs. Then they drifted to other eyes, both natural and abominations of science as the words pierced the night.

“It’s time.”

(To be Continued…..)

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