Book Three: Turmoil in the Sky
Katareena was still standing in the spot T-Bone had left her at. Looking out her window, she watched the lone SWAT Kat ride away on his CycleaTron.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow they would meet again. It was an unspoken agreement that he would come as T-Bone, not whoever he really was. His life as littered with secrets designed to keep friends, family, and himself safe. So was hers – and would be even more so soon.
The door flew open, so did Reena’s mouth. Head Nurse Katz stood in the doorway, a gun in one paw, a huge needle in the other.
“It’s really nothing personal, dear. Was there a little voice inside you that warned you away from any involvement with the SWAT Kat?” Katareena nodded stiffly.
“You really should have listened, then none of this would have happened. Turmoil said I had to bring you in – or kill you. But she didn’t say I couldn’t arm you with information.”
Katareena drew her eyebrows together. <Why is she helping me…?>
” Turmoil met your T-Bone when she tried to milk Megakat City of its gold. She had a ray that caused vertigo. T-Bone out-flew her ray and her fighter pilots – all female. Turmoil was impressed and offered him a position of authority, just under her own. The good-guy he was, he pretended to accept until he had been all over the flying ship she used, planting bombs all the time. When Razor and T-Bone escaped, Turmoil was in a frenzy – betrayed and angry. She even gave the order to shoot him down! T-Bone bombed her aircraft. Her few hundred followers either flew away or parachuted away. Most escaped. Turmoil didn’t. T-Bone captured her escape-craft. A few months ago, Turmoil escaped from jail to return to who she thought of as ‘hers’. Rumours of a romance between you two enraged her. She wants you now – to be used as a pawn against T-Bone. Any questions?”
“Yes, what’s with the needle?” “Good question. I figured it would be easier to knock you out if you struggled. I don’t want to kill you. The shot will put you down for a few hours longer than necessary.”
“Could you do me a few favors?”
“Depends on what they are.”
“Favor number one: could you leave the shot out of this if I promise to co-operate with *you*?”
“Yes, if you co-operate with *me* I will leave the shot in the cabinet I got it from.”
“Favor number two: could you take good care of those flowers and that vase, please?”
“They will go in very safe place.”
“Favor number three: will you tell T-Bone all that passed here, if he asks?”
“Everything but where you are.”
“Thank-you. What do you need me to do now?”
“Dress in street clothes that are comfortable – it’s not that late that the clothes would be suspicious to Turmoil.”
Katareena smiled and dressed in a black long-sleeved shirt and black jeans. She tied a black silk scarf around her neck so she could hide her blonde hair if necessary.
“It’s not the best, but it’ll do.” “What? What am I forgetting?”
The nurse smiled, “You’re forgetting that Turmoil is a very jealous she-kat. With that outfit you’re reminding her just what she’d jealous of!” _____________s___________w_________a____________t___________________
Katareena calmly followed the nurse to the roof where a helicopter was waiting. The door opened on the large ‘copter. This whirly-bird was meant for transportation of people and their things.
“I gave her a little shot. She co-operated with me nicely. *You* should have no trouble,” Katz bellowed to the two she-kats over the noise of the engine and the blades which sliced the night air. The two nodded that they had heard and understood the nurse.
Reena meekly entered the ‘copter and let the doors slam behind her. As the aircraft lifted, she wondered if there was a neon sign on her forehead that proclaimed, ‘Take me, super villains! I’m yours!’
The pilot flew carefully while the other she-kat watched Katareena for a long time. Katareena made herself stare meekly at the floor. Reena realized how great her feet looked. Funny how she’d never noticed before.
After a few minutes the other she-kats began talking. Cautiously at first, then as though she wasn’t even there. Casually, Katareena looked out the window over her shoulder. She gave a faked little shriek and said, “How high we are! I don’t like heights! Get dizzy…and…sick.”
“Take the wimp to the back and find her a bucket or something,” the annoyed pilot growled.
The other she-kat dragged her roughly into an unlighted section of the ‘copter. Her mistake. The she-kat didn’t even make a sound as she dropped. As she was tying her up, she overheard the pilot on her radio.
“Requesting permission to land – six…niner…zero…over.”
<Crud!> she thought as she tried to make her way back silently. Her ankle was still hurting. Her already injured paw throbbed because of the kat-rate she had used on the she-kat.
“That’s a negative – six…niner…zero…no pads clear. Make another pass in five, over.”
“Roger, understood.” The pilot pulled away and rounded a cloud. Katareena caught a glimpse of a well-lighted air craft. It was huge. Reena wondered how it took off in the first place, let alone how it stayed in the air!
She returned to her seat, just behind the pilot. The she-kat didn’t seem to notice her partner was missing. Katareena studied her next opponent and decided she could handle her. It would be tricky getting control of the ‘copter while the pilot was still free to regain consciousness and upset her plans. A light flashed in her head and she had a plan.
The rest of the five minutes passed and the pilot was once again on her radio. “Requesting permission to land – six…niner…zero…over.”
“Permission granted. Pad seven, over.”
Katareena leapt into action. She knocked the pilot over the head after she had pushed landing co-ordinates into the helicopter’s computer – it would leave her free to do whatever without worrying about paying attention to landing. Reena dragged the pilot and the co-pilot to the door.
The ‘copter was eight feet above the landing pad when Kat rolled them out the door. An alarm immediately sounded. <Good, a sound like that gets the blood pumping,> she thought.
Reena slammed the door and raced to the control panel. She wasn’t a wiz at computers, but she could override any commands in an aircraft’s computer.
The she-kats on the flight deck were so sure she couldn’t do anything about the landing code, all they did was surround the landing pad. No stand-by aircraft. Their mistake.
She laughed at the expressions on their faces when the ‘copter reversed the pitch of the prop and added power, again climbing in altitude. The controls for the weapons caught her eye. She could use them. Her aim wasn’t good enough that it hit the mark every time – but it was close enough that it usually didn’t matter when it missed.
Katareena had to give them credit though, they weren’t surprised for very long. Before she knew it, three jets were on her tail. She didn’t worry though, she didn’t need to out-fly them…just out-maneuver them. She hoped she could out-maneuver any pilot they threw at her.
The radio squawked. <What a rush!> she thought as she put on the pilot’s helmet and adjusted the boom-mike. “Six…niner…zero – Katareena speaking. What’s your pleasure?” Those words were the first to come to her lips. They were a taunt that pleased her to no end – and gave the she-kat on the other end pause.
A heavy foreign accent oozed from the radio, not the she-kat she had heard earlier. “You are good. Do you not see you left my three best pilots far behind you?”
“Yes, I saw. You know…it’s funny. I’ve seen a movie once – no, no – I was *starring* in a movie once where kats tried this. The pilots pretended to fall back and – lo and behold! – there they were, behind the next cloud!” She said this just as she reached the cloud she had been watching. A sharp right brought her inside the cloud and through it. Behind her, the three jets reached a spot of open air.
Katareena waited for the pilots to report to their leader before getting on the radio again. “You know, if Head Nurse Katz had just *said* going would be this fun – I wouldn’t have made her drug me! This is the best medicine I could have gotten! I’ll have to recommend her for a promotion when I get back – I haven’t felt this good in years!”
“You *are* good. Of course, my T-Bone wouldn’t have settled for anything less. But, he would settle for second-best.”
The she-kat’s dig alerted her to who she was talking to – and Katz probably shouldn’t have told her the story. She played dumb. “*Your* T-Bone? He told me there was no one before – and would be none after!” Actually, he had said no such thing.
“Yes, *my* T-Bone. I told him I didn’t want him. He met you and must have decided to settle. I want him now. You can’t have him. I am Turmoil, and when I get T-Bone, he’ll forget about you.”
“Fine. But you can’t have *me*!” Katareena flipped the radio’s switch onto the ban that would broadcast to any listener within range. “May-day! May-day! Three on my tail and Turmoil in the sky! Any listener report to Enforcers!” Katareena saw the three jets closing in. She repeated her message over and over as she tried to out-maneuver them. They were faster and more numerous. Turmoil might have sent more to help.
She checked her fuel and altitude. Low on fuel, high on altitude. Reena changed her altitude, hoping that a lower altitude would get her out from under the clouds – possibly reaching more listeners.
A yellow beam of light whizzed past her. She remembered what Turmoil’s last ray did and dropped trying to talk to try to survive. She reached for the weapon’s put so kindly in her service.
Katareena whirled the whirly-bird around and fired at the nearest jet. The pilot swerved out of the way, just in time to miss the projectiles. Katareena watched as the jet dipped into another’s wing. They ejected as the jets went down in flames. She figured in counted as two for three.
While Reena was distracted by the ejecting pilots, the third jet maneuvered close enough to get off a good shot. The stitches in her left paw pulled painfully as she got hit head-on with the ray. __________s____________w___________a_____________t__________________
Katareena awoke on-board the huge aircraft. She was furious at herself for getting caught.
“So…you are awake. Good.”
Reena recognized the voice of Turmoil. Now she got to match her face with the voice. Turmoil was beautiful – her features harsh and dark, like her voice. Her eyes and her hair were black, probably like her temper.
Katareena sat up on the couch she had been placed on. Unlike movies she had been in when her character had woken up in the paws of the enemy, she didn’t rub her head or moan in pain. She didn’t have pain. There was no headache; no bruises.
“Some piece of work, your ray. No headache or pain,” Katareena reported.
To her surprise, Turmoil frowned. “I’ll remedy that. Can’t have hostages in full strength when they awake. Now to real business.”
Turmoil walked up to her and grabbed her face in one paw. The other she-kat used her dark eyes to stare into Reena’s blue ones. After a moment, Turmoil released her and turned away.
“You are not afraid of me. Good – I despise cowards. I don’t allow them in my squadron. With a little help, you’ll fit in nicely.”
A chill went through her. “What do you mean, ‘with a little help’?”
“Along with my new aircraft and ray, I acquired a psychologist. She can make kats forget. She can make people change loyalties. After she works on you, Doctor Lyn will work on T-Bone.”
The dark she-kat walked to a desk. Turmoil pulled a gun from a drawer and placed it on the desk. Then she sat on the desk top. Her eyes never leaving Katareena, Turmoil pushed the button on her intercom. “Send in Dr. Lyn.” To Reena she said, “I do not trust you yet. Forgive me. After the first session…maybe. I warn you, do not try to use Dr. Lyn as a hostage. She is expendable. I know her methods. She is just more convenient.”
A very small yellow she-kat entered. Everything about her was yellow. Her fur, her hair, her eyes, her clothes even. Dr. Lyn carried a large metal box in one paw and extended the other to Katareena.
“Doctor Paula Lyn. Make yourself comfortable,” she said when Reena did not take her paw.
Reena sat. She had learned over the years that there were times to fight, times to learn, times to create, times to rest, and times to be passive – one just had to play it by ear. She enjoyed the first three but would be a fool no to do the last two. Now was one of those times to rest and be passive. Who knew…maybe she would learn something she could use later in life.
Dr. Lyn’s metal box folded into a small table. From one pocket she pulled a remote control device and a little patch, from another, she pulled a small recorder. The recorder went on the table with the remote control. The doctor turned the recorder on.
“Date same as before,” she announced for the recorder’s benefit. Dr. Lyn turned to her now. “Lift the hair around your right ear.”
Katareena obliged by unbraiding her hair and making it into a left-sided pony-tail. Dr. Lyn tsked absently. “Her hair will have to go. It’s a reminder,” she said as she placed the patch behind Katareena’s right ear.
“*What*? My hair will *not* go!”
The doctor’s yellow eyebrows rose at her first display of rebellion. To Turmoil she said, “You’re right. This one *will* take longer than the others.” To the recorder she said, “I recommend later cutting and dying her hair.”
The she-kat sat and took up the remote control. “For the record,” she began, “tell us your name.”
“No middle name?”
“Now we may begin. What is your involvement with the SWAT Kat named T-Bone?”
Katareena raised her chin and stared at Turmoil, “We love each other.”
The doctor’s finger pressed a red button. A white hot pain racked through her. Reena screamed in pain and surprise. She began sweating.
“It is only fair to warn you that the pain will greaten and last longer for each incorrect answer you give. Now…what is your name?”
“Katareena Perkins!” she gasped. The pain came again and she felt herself greying out. Stubbornly, Katareena held on to her consciousness.
“No. You are wrong. From now on you are Katnip. You hate T-Bone. You had no life before coming here and will have none after you leave. You leave when you die. Tell me about your family.”
“My father was an Enforcer, he taught me how to fly. My mother was a mechanic and a gardener. She taught me how to fix things. I had two older brothers who died in service with the Enforcers -” She had to break off because of the pain.
“Wrong again. You have no brothers, no mother, no father. You only have sisters. Your sisters in the squadron are the only ones who love you. Everything else is a lie. What did T-Bone do to you?”
“He loved me!”
This time she lost consciousness from the pain. _________________s_________w________a________t______________________
T-Bone knew no reporters were around because Katareena ‘wasn’t feeling up to an interview’. He supposed that meant she had cleared the way for him if he showed up early.
Head Nurse Katz was nowhere in sight. “When I luck out, I luck out,” he said under his breath as he knocked on Katareena’s door. A muffled ‘come in’ was voiced and he opened the door.
His eyes automatically went to the table in front of the window. The flowers and the vase weren’t there. T-Bone jerked his head to the bed. “She’s not here, T-Bone,” Head Nurse Katz stated.
“Where? Where is she?” Thinking maybe she went to her appartment or was taking a walk around the hospital.
“I can’t tell you that. It could get me killed. I will, however, tell you who has her.”
T-Bone went ice cold in terror. “She has her, doesn’t she? I heard she escaped… Please tell me Turmoil doesn’t have my Reena!”
But the look on the heavyset nurse’s face told him that horrible bit of news before she told him all she could. ____________s_____________w_____________a_____________t____________
Jake was just sitting down with pizza in front of the TV when the phone rang. “Crud! I hope this doesn’t take long, I’ll miss the first few minutes of “The Killer Ooze!” He said this out loud. And why not? No one could hear him. Hardly anyone came to the salvage yard and Chance was gone.
“Megakat City Salvage Yard, Jake speaking.”
“Fire up the TurboKat and get over here, buddy! Turmoil’s got Reena and the nurse thinks she’s going to be brainwashed!”
His friend’s tone scared him more than his words. “I’ll be there soon, and then you can tell me the whole story.” _______________s_________w___________a_____________t________________
Katareena was returning from the dark land where she had been resting. She had no idea what time it was. Maybe it was the next day and T-Bone had discovered her missing.
“You’re back. Next question. What is your name?”
“Do you have any other name?”
“Yes, Katareena Perkins.” The expected shock came and Katareena bore the pain, smiling savagely for her small victory.
“We were so close to having a break-through. Now tell me-”
“No. Session one has ended. Tomorrow we will begin again,” Turmoil interrupted.
Dr. Lyn frowned. “I really think we’re close enough to a break-through to-”
“She said no, doctor! What? Are you deaf as well as stupid?”
A small shock hit her. It was enough to tell Katareena to learn her place, but not enough to alert Turmoil. The yellow she-kat removed the patch and packed her gear. “I will make copies of this tape. Do you want one, Turmoil?”
“Not at this time, doctor. You are excused.”
When the two she-kats were alone, Katareena grinned smugly at her captor. “I’m more trouble than I’m worth. I’m one tough cookie!”
“Yes, you *are* a tough cookie – but you are *not* more trouble than you are worth. I could send whole wings of my squadron after T-Bone and *still* not get him. You can and therefore are useful. With your flying talents, you will be invaluable.”
“I only fly helicopters,” Katareena lied.
“You can learn to fly jets. But come, you need a shower and rest. Have you eaten?”
“Yes. I will escape you know.”
“No. You will *try* to escape. I wouldn’t expect less. Go ahead, my she-kats need the exercise.”
With her gun, Turmoil motioned for Katareena to exit the room first. Outside the room, a she-kat with dark brown hair leaned against the wall.
“Tabbi, please escort Katnip to the showers and then to her room. Be careful to keep at least one eye on her.” Turmoil turned on one heel and began walking. “See to it she is given a *green* uniform,” she called over her shoulder.
When Turmoil was out of hearing distance, Tabbi spoke to Katareena. “Look here, Miss Priss. If you try something I’ll shove it down your throat. I won’t be punished if I take you down, and I’m not afraid to do it.”
“I’m not stupid. I didn’t sleep well last night, I got up early, I didn’t eat anything but hospital food, and I was drugged when I was kidnapped. To top it all off, I just got out of torture…I mean *therapy* and I am tired. You are fresh and ready. All I want is a shower and a bed. I won’t try anything now. Maybe tomorrow.”
“Blunt, aren’t you? Okay, I trust you enough for you to follow me – but not too close.”
They stopped by the CIF, the Central Issuing Facility, and Reena received a green flight suit, coveralls, a sleep shirt, and some underwear. Tabbi stopped her outside the shower room. “Towels are in there with soap and shampoo. Anything extra you will have to do without until the PX opens in the morning. Your room isn’t far and you’ll be going to bed right after you get out. You can put on your pajamas.”
Reena nodded and entered the shower room. She turned on a showerhead and examined the room. The only entrance and exit were the door she came in from. No escape attempt from here.
When she exited, the dark-haired she-kat was waiting for her. Tabbi led her to her room. As Reena reached for the doorknob, the other female shoved her onto the wall by the door.
“Let’s get one thing straight before we part. *I’m* MVP around here and I will stay that way. If you get in my way, I’ll squish you like the bug you are.”
“Most Valuable Pilot,” Tabbi clarified.
“Whatever. I won’t be here long enough to relieve you of your title. I’m getting out soon.”
“Sure. That’s what all the ‘drafties’ say.”
“What do you mean, ‘drafties’?”
“She-kats with potential are ‘drafted’ – taken from schools, homes, jobs, or off street corners. Some are like you – treated so they don’t *want* to escape. Some try and end up getting killed. The rest ask to be relieved of some of their memories and stay voluntarily.”
“Oh. Can I go to bed now?”
Tabbi stepped away and let Katareena enter her room. The door shut behind her and a click reminded her how trapped she was. She turned off the light. The room was small, but not claustrophobicly so. Lying on the bed, Reena thought things over. She couldn’t just bomb the place, Turmoil had neutralized that option by bringing innocents aboard. She couldn’t pretend to volunteer to stay, Turmoil had enough of that trick. Reena had to hand it to her, she learned from her mistakes.
One by one, Katareena made escape plans. One by one they were rejected. Finally, one came that would probably work.
“Well, T-Bone. Looks like I’ll be needing your help after all.” ______________s___________w___________a__________t__________________
It was a whole week before the SWAT Kats found Turmoil’s new air station. There were on air towers and only two landing area guards. They knew this without alerting them because Razor had used his new invention. It was a video camera attached to a small flying device. It wouldn’t even show up on radar. Razor dubbed it the ‘homing pigeon’.
“A sleeping gas bomb should take care of the guards,” Razor said as he launched his projectile. Another pass with the homing pigeon told them the guards were out. They landed among a hodge-podge of jets and scrambled inside the airship.
The SWAT Kats had descended two levels with no problem when they heard footsteps coming down the hall. The lone kat was running.
T-Bone pulled Razor into an alcove of a door. The runner was closer now, almost to them. Just as the kat began to pass them, T-Bone’s arm snaked out and grabbed her. His paw went over her mouth as she tried to yell.
Razor took one look at the captive and laughed. “You can put *Katareena* down, T-Bone.” He let go immediately and she dropped to the floor noiselessly.
“Shh!” Katareena’s head popped around the corner and she searched the halls. “It’s clear, follow me.” She started to go the way she had come and Razor touched her shoulder.
“We know the way – *that* way.” Her eyebrows shot up.
“You came *that* way and weren’t caught? We can’t go this way either then.” She lead them back into the doorway and opened the door. They followed Katareena up some stairs and into a storeroom with many boxes piled everywhere.
From far off there was a small sound. Katareena stopped them. “We’re alone now. Good.” She whirled on a surprised Razor and shoved him into a pile of the empty boxes. Then she grabbed T-Bone by the throat and slammed him against the wall. Her other paw went up, claws extended.
“This is for what you did to me!” she shrieked. Her paw came down.
Another paw captured Katareena’s before her nails raked T-Bone’s face. She howled her fury and struck at the other she-kat. The other pushed Katareena away.
“Turmoil said you might try something like this. This one is *hers*.”
“Go choke on a furball, Tabbi!” Katareena hissed.
“Maybe after I turn the SWAT Kats in to Turmoil and report you, *Katnip*.” Tabbi sneered the last word.
Razor watched all this in mute confusion. He got up and advanced on the party of three by the wall. “Hey, T-Bone…I thought you said she *liked* you…”
Tabbi leveled her gun at Razor. “Do not move. You, Miss Priss, should go to your room and hide. Turmoil does not like disobedience.”
“And let you take credit for the collar? Do I *look* stupid?” Katareena asked as Tabbi cuffed the SWAT Kats.
“Fine. You two, follow her. I will stay behind. *Anyone* who tries something will get shot. That goes double for you, Katnip.”
The little party arrived in a study where two she-kats stood. A very yellow she-kat…and the familiar Turmoil.
“Tabbi, report!” Turmoil barked in her foreign accent.
The dark she-kat did, emphasizing her role in stopping Katareena from harming T-Bone. Turmoil listened and turned to Katareena. “Katnip, report!”
“It happened *something* like that. Tabbi’s right. I *did* try to get T-Bone. You promised me vengeance for what he did to me!”
“What did I do to you?” T-Bone yelped, completely confused.
“I don’t know! *They* don’t know! They rescued me from a hospital where I was a Jane Kat. They nursed me and tried to restore my memory – a memory so horrible I screamed in my sleep! ‘No, T-Bone’, I screamed. Everynight until now! Turmoil! Give him to me – give me the vengeance I deserve!”
“We cannot stop the nightmares without knowing what caused them. Let Dr. Lyn work on T-Bone the way she worked on you. You can play with this one until then.”
“He’ll know! Requesting permission to take the prisoner to the flight deck to toss over.”
“No! Denied!” Turmoil yelled, she continued in a calmer voice while Razor and T-Bone smirked savagely. “Take him to an interrogation room. Tabbi, you may go about regular duties.”
The dark she-kat saluted and left. Katareena locked eyes with T-Bone for a few seconds and then grabbed Razor roughly by the arm. “Come on, you. We’re going to have a little chat. The two of you might as well say good-bye.”
“I’ll talk to her – try and snap her out of it,” Razor promised his friend. Katareena opened the door and shoved Razor outside.
“I love you, Reena,” T-Bone said softly.
She stiffened and slammed the door behind her. Turmoil laughed and the yellow she-kat smiled smugly. “T-Bone, my love – meet Dr. Lyn. She will be working on you. Dr. Lyn helped your ‘Reena’ forget what you two had together. She will help you forget too.”
“You did that to her?” he growled. The doctor nodded absently. “It wasn’t easy either. It took three and a half days – the longest time I’ve ever had to work on a patient. I see I can expect no less from you. Do we begin today, Turmoil?”
“Later, it will start later.”
“You’re going to let her go the rest of her life thinking I did something to her? It’ll kill me, Turmoil. You went through all this for someone who never really loved you?”
She backpawed him viciously, but T-Bone didn’t yelp or even wince. “Not forever, T-Bone. Just until Dr. Lyn makes you forget her – then you will love *me*!” “Is that what you want, Turmoil? A pre-programmed lap dog?” Turmoil avoided his gaze and turned away.
“I have work to do. In an hour I will return and we will begin. Leave him – he cannot, and will not, escape without ‘his Reena’ and Razor.” _____________s_________w___________a______________t_________________
Razor offered no resistance as he was led to the interrogation room. Katareena opened the door and shoved him inside. “Sit,” she ordered.
Razor sat in one of the two wooden chairs in front of the wooden table. Katareena uncuffed one paw and used the other cuff to bind him to his bolted chair. Razor jerked experimentally, but the arm of the chair was strong. Katareena passes the handcuff key by his face and put it on the table. He followed it with his eyes.
“Do you want this key?” she asked softly.
“You know I do…Katareena Perkins.”
“Well, *fetch* it!” She threw the key against a wall. There was an unmistakable sound of breaking glass, and shards fell to the floor on and around the handcuff key.
Katareena went over to the wall and picked up the key. She looked up at him. “Bothersome things, cameras are. Whatever they see, they record.” Then she smiled and Razor knew she was back.
“Alright! There’s the Katareena Perkins I know and T-Bone loves! Tell me,” he said as she unlocked his cuffs, “were you playing them for a fool the whole time, or did something we say snap you out of it?”
Katareena’s face shuttered like a window shade and then she answered. “I think it was a little of both. This was my plan: pretend to submit to the treatment, memorize floor plans, and use one or both of you to help me. I knew T-Bone would come and was almost certain you would too. Knowing T-Bone and how he sometimes acts before he thinks, I allowed you a 2% chance of a no show and figured that into one of the seven escape plans.”
“*Seven* escape plans?”
“Uh-huh. One for if Turmoil let me have both of you, one for if she let me have T-Bone, one for if she let me have you, one for if you didn’t show and she let me have T-Bone, one for if you didn’t show and she didn’t let me have T-Bone, one for if T-Bone was early without you, and one for if both of you came early.”
“Wow! You planned for everything. You said ‘a little of both’, what did you mean by that?”
“It was the first night I arrived that I devised my plans. I had gone through the first round of treatment and expected the same next time. I was wrong, the treatment was at the same level I had finished at. The…discomfort level goes up and the questions get trickier and trickier.”
“What kind of treatment are you talking about?”
“Let’s just say that I wouldn’t wish it on anybody – not even Turmoil or the doctor.”
“Would T-Bone be receiving the treatment now? Should we be helping me now?”
“No. It is time for Turmoil to do bookkeeping. She will be there in her office for at *least* an hour. It’s surprising how information travels like that. Turmoil’s schedule is supposed to be a secret, so no one will be able to get to her easily should there be someone stupid enough to mutiny. She has three brain-washed secretaries – each possessing one third of her schedule. Luckily for me, each has her own office. I visit each secretary daily to ‘try to arrange a conference’ or ‘catch Turmoil for a talk’ or just ‘Turmoil sent me to see when her next appointment is’. So doing, I get her entire schedule.”
“Crafty. Go on with your story.”
“Oh yes…I believe the treatment started getting to me. I had to think of all my old memories all the time so they couldn’t make me forget them. I had to remember my brothers, my parents, my friends…you and T-Bone… Most of all I had to remember that Dr. Lyn wasn’t sane and had no compassion. That Dr. Lyn had done this to many if not most of the she-kats on-board. Some of these might be a mother just seen on the street – taken because they had potential!”
“What! You mean some were just taken?”
“Yes. They’re called ‘drafties’.” Razor motioned for her to continue with her story. “This remembering took all of my time other than memorizing the floor plans and getting Turmoil’s schedule. I began letting go on some of my memories. I must have at least partially forgotten that you SWAT Kats did nothing to me. The surprise attack against you went just as planned – when someone knew I was with you, I had to pretend to attack. But when I shoved you, something snapped. For a second, I really was trying to harm T-Bone.”
“It’s a known fact that she-kats can take torture better than kats. How long do you think T-Bone can take this ‘treatment’?”
“I think he’ll last forever, like I did. He’d be fine in the memory department, it’s the pain I’m worried about.”
“I hope you’re right. I know the issue is moot though, we’ll be out of here before Dr. Lyn has the chance to mess with him.”
“Time to escape…what’s your plan?”
Katareena looked at the clock. “Phase one, two, and three are done- pretend to submit, learn the floor plans, and getting at least one of you alone with me. Phase four began ten minutes ago and should take effect – ”
“Dr. Lyn to cabin 113. Dr. Lyn to cabin 113.”
“Your Phase four?” Razor asked.
“Yep! Cabin 113 is shared by two ‘drafties’. Yesterday I overheard one of them telling about her roommate’s nightmares. I told her that they should be reported to Dr. Lyn the next time they happened.”
“How did you know they were ‘drafties’? How did you know the nightmares would begin now?”
“I knew the nightmares would start now because this is about what time they always start.”
“It *is* daytime, isn’t it?”
“They have night shift. Their whole wing does. They’re called ‘Owls’. The ‘draftie’ part was easy because of the color of their uniforms. Those from the old squadron wear black.”
“Yes. Those who joined voluntarily wear brown.”
“Like that Tabbi.”
“Right again. Those ‘drafties’ that volunteer when offered a place here wear grey. ‘Drafties’ that were treated wear green.”
Razor smiled and said, “Like you. No wonder Tabbi snubs you.”
“No, it’s not that. Generally, most ‘drafties’ are treated with respect. Tabbi snubs me because I threaten her.”
“Does Turmoil still have the vertigo beam?”
“No – that’s long gone. *This* beam knocks a pilot out and allows the user of the beam to gain control of the air craft.”
“Thank goodness she *wanted* us here!” Razor went quiet for a second then said, “How’d you know your Phase four would happen the day we came?”
“I didn’t. I have a new Phase four everyday. Phase for is to get the doc. out of the way. Yesterday it was that her session tapes came up missing – I threw them in a furnace – and she spent the whole day looking for them. Tomorrow it would have been something else.”
“Okay. Phase five is to get T-Bone and get out of here, right?”
“Wrong. Phase five is to get Turmoil out of our fur. That one is simple.” She pulled a stack of official-looking documents from one of the big pockets on her green flight-suit.
“I have leaked rumors of a change in wings. The rumor says that new wing leaders would be selected and to check the bulletin boards everyday. These will go to the next she-kat we see. Come on.”
“Won’t they suspect something when I walk around with no handcuffs on?”
“Of course they would! Sabatoge the cuffs and get a move on!” She ordered with a grin.
“Boss-e!” He mumbled, but he was smiling too. Razor used a small tool to cut the teeth of the cuffs off. The tongues would slide in, but it wouldn’t lock. “After you…prisoner,” she said, almost laughing.
A group of pilots were walking down the hall. All wore grey except one. “Dinah! Here, one of Turmoil’s secretaries game me these. They go to each of the bulletin boards.”
“Why don’t *you* do it?” Someone asked suspiciously.
“I’ve got to transfer this prisoner. One of the crows loaded me with the task.” The greys all grimaced but the one called Dinah, who was wearing green, took the papers.
“A crow made me do a pre-flight while she finished her lunch. Want me to take the prisoner to a wrong cell? I can blame it on the crow.”
“No, the crow knows who I am.”
“Too bad. I’ll do this though.”
“Thanks Dinah.” Katareena marched away with her ‘prisoner’. Razor heard the group speaking.
“They’re going up anyway, Dinah, let us see one…”
“Yeah. Those who wear black. Browns are hawks, greys are pigeons, and greens are parrots because we repeat whatever memories Dr. Lyn tells us we have.”
“And because parrots are one of the few birds that are green.” Katareena smiled as she quickened her pace. “That too. Any minute now, Turmoil will be called upon to straighten up the mess I made. We’ll have T-Bone and be on the flight deck before she gets three words out about the ‘prank’.”
“But we can’t leave greens here and we can’t bring the Enforcers here – they’ll get hit with Turmoil’s new ray!”
“Of course not! We’ll disable as many rays as possible before we leave. I’ll radio the Enforcers while you SWAT Kats make sure Turmoil doesn’t take it in her head to leave. I’m sure Alkatraz still has a jail cell with her name on it.”
The study door opened and Turmoil stood glowering at him. “I have come to inform you your treatment will be post-phoned until further notice. I will send someone to escort you to your room.” She turned and left him sitting handcuffed to the heavy wooden chair.
T-Bone sat studying the bolts that anchored the chair to the floor. The bolts were not the kind of thing that would be able to twist open if he used his foot.
The door swung open again. Razor entered, followed by Katareena. “Hey buddy! Long time no see!” Razor joked. Then he slipped his cuffs off. Katareena tossed the freed SWAT Kat a key.
“Hi love. This should work, Razor. Brief him while I watch the hall.”
“Yeah, you do that, Sure-Shot,” T-Bone said, dazed. Razor did so while Katareena ducked her blonde head out the door.
“There you are, free as a bird!” Razor finished, then took a tool from his belt and began smoothing the teeth of the cuffs. “While I work on this, why don’t the two of you…talk?”
Katareena quietly shut the door to the hall and walked up to T-Bone. Her eyes searched him while she asked, “They didn’t hurt you, did they?”
“No.” T-Bone inched closer, his eyes never leaving hers.
“*I* didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“Not a bit. I always knew you were a terrific actress…but this performance…”
Katareena looked up at him and smiled as she brought his head down to her. They kissed and then held each other. Razor cleared his throat. “We’d better go now. It won’t be long until someone checks up on the rooms we’re supposed to be in.”
“Yes, follow me.” ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
They stole silently and quickly through the maze of passageways. Katareena was leading with T-Bone and Razor not far behind. The public address system crackled to life as they neared the flight deck. Reena stopped them and motioned for them to listen.
“All wings report to the auditorium or your television set. Turmoil to give conference.” The halls were once again silent. T-Bone opened his mouth to speak, but Reena silenced him.
Seconds later three she-kats came around the corner. They were down before they knew what hit them. T-Bone pointed to his mouth as if to ask if he could speak.
Katareena smiled and said, “Yes, you can talk now, just keep moving.”
“How did you know? There was no sound, this section of the hall is carpeted.”
She laughed softly and answered, “There are always two deck guards and one radar watcher. The guards were to make you two think they were all the defense they had. The radar watcher makes sure no aircraft that isn’t theirs comes within ten miles. If so, they move away…or neutralize. I knew they would come because there is no TV – excuse me, no *working* TV around here. They would have gone to the auditorium.”
Razor grinned as they emerged on the flight deck. “Now, *you* wouldn’t have anything to do with that, would you?”
“I might,” she agreed. Then she continued. “It would be best to make it look as if nothing is wrong with the rays.”
Katareena walked up to the belly of a jet and opened a hatch. “This is where the ray is. This should dismantle it. I saw people installing one of these babies – delicate as spider silk.” Reena pulled a few wires and connected them in different spots. “Got it?” “Got it!” The SWAT Kats said in unison before the party of three separated to sabotage the jets. ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
Razor was dismantling his tenth jet when an alarm sounded. “We’ve gotta move, guys! Dismantle one more before you head out!” He heard Katareena yell. Razor yanked a wire and closed the hatch. He moved on to the next one.
Blindly, he grabbed and switched the multicolored wires and re-closed the hatch. Then he make a dash for the TurboKat. T-Bone wasn’t far behind.
The SWAT Kats were in the air not long after that. They took off just in time to see the doors to the flight deck burst open. Far above firing range, they watched as Katareena ran to the six newcomers, pointing to them in the sky. She rubbed her head as if she had just awoke from being knocked out. Then she ran to a helicopter as the rest went for a jet.
“What do you think, Sure-Shot, do you think we can handle six jets?” T-Bone asked his partner.
“Oh, sure, but what about your girl-friend?”
“What do you mean, Razor?” T-Bone guided the TurboKat away to give them room when the six jets began attacking.
“Well…I know she can fly, but how is she at shooting?”
“She’ll be good enough,” T-Bone said stubbornly. He wasn’t going to think about what would happen if she weren’t.
“The little creep hit me! I tried to warn the she-kats in the hall, but they didn’t understand the obvious distress signals!” Katareena growled at the leader of the first six on the scene.
“Whatever. Why are they staying in the air over us?”
“How should *I* know? I was out of it as soon as we got here!”
The older she-kat, a crow, eyed her and said, “No, I guess you wouldn’t. Come on! Scramble! Get in those jets and in the air!” The five browns rushed to obey.
“I’m going too!”
“Fine, get in your butt in your whirly-bird then! Just get moving!” The crow called over her shoulder as she too climbed into her jet.
Katareena was in her helicopter and in the air before half of the other pilots were. She kept her guise of ‘Katnip’ only because it was a better way to sneak attack.
The radio was off. They were trained not to use it unless told to before take-off or in getting clearance for landing. She hoped the SWAT Kats understood what she was doing and played along. She lowered the guns and ‘pursued the enemy’. Katareena was even with the fastest pursuing jet in minutes. She saw that she couldn’t fly faster than the pilot in that jet, so she turned the helicopter around and fired upon the other five.
Katareena made sure she didn’t make her aim look as good as it really was. She was saving that to impress the SWAT Kats at another time. She also made her flying look by-the-book with no stunts for the same reason.
Of the five jets, only two were hit. But one jet knocked into another jet, forcing three of six to land. Two of the remaining jets followed the TurboKat, the other came after her.
“Let’s play hide-and-seek, okay?” Reena said as if the other pilot could hear her. She flew the ‘copter into a cloud bank, knowing the other pilot would follow. ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
“Text book flying and shooting gallery aim, but she’ll be fine,” T-Bone said to Razor as they fired upon the last two pilots.
“She’ll be great. I wonder what happens when they discover our tampering?”
“Ya wanna find out?”
“If you can do it without getting us killed.”
T-Bone maneuvered them under one of the jets. The other was perfectly aligned for a shot from the ray. Obviously, that’s what the pilot thought too. The jet exploded.
“Oh, so *that’s* what happens,” Razor said as the twisted bits of melted metal fell to the earth thousands of feet below them and the pilot drifted down in a parachute after it. The other pilot didn’t understand what had happened. It exploded too.
“Let’s see what we can do to get Katareena out of the danger zone,” T-Bone said. The helicopter and the last jet were playing peek-a-boo among the clouds. “Hey, Razor…do you still have your old Enforcer notebook back there?”
“It’s better to maintain radio silence. When we get close enough, hold the notebook up to the glass.”
“I see…she’ll only see the Enforcer symbol and realize that she’d better get the Enforcers. She won’t know it’s an official Enforcer notebook either.”
“Affermative. With the way our luck is running today, maybe Feral called in sick.”
“Oh, come *on*! *Nobody’s* *that* lucky!” ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
Katareena circled around a huge cloud. The TurboKat was hovering not far from her. If her calculations were correct, the last jet should be coming around the cloud on the other side.
Razor put something up to the glass of the canopy. It was the Enforcer symbol on a white background. She immediately got the message and saluted. Reena turned the helicopter around and flew away. The SWAT Kats would cover her tail.
To get help, she would have to go five miles away from Turmoil’s flying air force base. They may know that an aircraft is within ten miles of their station, but they could only hear them from five miles away.
It didn’t take long to cover the miles, but it seemed longer. Reena waited an extra two miles before she turned on her radio.
As soon as Katareena left, the other jet came from around a cloud. Their tampering might have shorted out the ray – but the other weapons worked just fine, as this pilot so kindly demonstrated for them.
The TurboKat rolled out of the way under T-Bone’s guidance. “Crud! I think this lady caught on!” Razor said, mentally choosing one of his gadgets to neutralize the threat.
“You better think of something before she reports this tampering to the rest, Sure-Shot!” He growled while avoiding Lady Pilot’s barrage.
“Gotcha! Buzzsaw missiles…fire!”
The missiles dropped from bomb-bay and zoomed toward the target. They opened and the arm extended. The blades began turning and were, of course, razor sharp. Lady Pilot, no dummy, tried to avoid the projectiles by diving. It didn’t work the way she hoped. The buzzsaw missiles cut the tail of the jet off. The pilot didn’t have time to call for back-up.
“Bingo!” Razor yelled.
They set up surveillance on the huge air base. Razor sent his ‘homing pigeon’ to watch up close while they went above the clouds to use the X-Ray beam.
For a while, all was calm. Then dozens of she-kats came from the door onto the flight deck. They ran to their jets and were in the air in a minute.
The new pilots didn’t head for the TurboKat, but in the direction Katareena had gone. “Looks like the Enforcers entered the ten mile radius. Let’s hope whoever’s in charge listened to what Katareena had to say,” said Razor.
They waited a few seconds in silence, watching the monitors for signs of extra activity. “Well, Feral’s not in command today,” T-Bone informed Razor.
“How do you know?”
“Feral couldn’t keep radio silence this long.” Razor laughed.
Just then, a small aircraft flew from the bottom of the air base. Then another one, identical to the first, came from the same place and went it the opposite direction.
Before Razor ejected he said, “I’ll take the one going left, you get the one on the right.” ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
The cold air was a shock, but Razor welcomed it. It got the blood pumping. He put on his oxygen mask and used the controls on the armrests to steer towards the escaping aircraft.
It was a low-tech thing, mostly cockpit. It had wings just big enough to support it. There was probably only enough fuel to send it a few miles at the most. The speed was so slow that Razor easily caught up.
Whoever was flying was a mediocre pilot at best. He knew who it was before he saw her through the glass of the canopy. Razor tapped on the canopy. She looked up, completely startled. “Dr. Lyn, funny we should meet here.” ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________ T-Bone raced after the mini-jet. Whoever was flying was a terrific pilot, but not as good as he was. In seconds he had caught up. He saw Turmoil. Her beautiful face looked up at him, then contorted into a mask of rage. T-Bone waved and blew a kiss just to annoy her.
Turmoil wasn’t in the mood to be teased, so she fired upon him. He skillfully avoided the bullets. Then he returned fire. He used the cement gun to fire directly onto the cockpit. Turmoil couldn’t see out.
The radio hissed and the heavy foreign accent belonging to the she-kat reverberated through the TurboKat. “T-Bone. You have a choice. I have a remote controlled detonator. Bombs are placed at strategic points in my air base. I can blow it up now or a hundred miles from here. Either you let me go or three hundred brainwashed she-kats will go down. So what will it be? Jail me, or save the innocent?”
“Get her, T-Bone! Everyone has either fled or was forcefully evacuated from the air base.” It was Razor.
Turmoil screamed in rage. “I do not *believe* you!”
“Go ahead, Turmoil! Push the button that blows up your work. Either way, we Enforcers will have you!” *This* was Commander Feral.
T-Bone used the grappling arm to grab the little jet. ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________ Katareena watched the lines as the female pilots from the air base were either put it the ‘go to jail’ or the ‘go to the hospital’ areas. All of the greens and a few of the greys were going to the hospital. The rest were going to jail.
A long file of browns were marched past her. Reena saw the one she wanted to talk to. She walked up to Lieutanant Felina Feral. “Excuse me, could you arrange it so I can talk to one of those pilots?”
“It wouldn’t be smart, but I’ll stay just out of hearing range. You’ll have one minute with her before she gets taken away. Follow me.”
Katareena pointed out the she-kat and Felina talked to one of the guards. The one she wanted to talk to was brought to her by gun point. Felina stood just out of hearing range, which wasn’t far considering all the noise.
“Hello, Tabbi. Nice day, isn’t it?” Reena pointed to where the TurboKat was dropping off Turmoil. Turmoil was immediately shackled and put in a transport vehicle.
Tabbi turned her dark brown eyes on Reena and frowned. “You didn’t just call me over here for this. Our minute is ticking, what did you want to say?”
Katareena smiled. “I *told* you I wouldn’t stay long enough to take your title.” _________________s____________w_________a___________t_______________
T-Bone watched Katareena talk to Tabbi. They looked his way and began talking again. Then Katareena walked away, if he hurried he might be able to catch her before she left.
“Razor, you can handle this, right?”
T-Bone left, ignoring everything and everybody else. She looked over her shoulder and stopped to wait for him. “Reena-” He said when he caught up. Katareena shook her head and grabbed his paw. She lead him away from the milling kats and under an oak tree.
They were somewhere on the outskirts of Megakat City. The skyline could be seen in the distance while empty lots of grass could be seen for miles in the other direction.
“T-Bone…we can’t go on like this. Kats like Turmoil will find out we’re together. Something like this can’t be prevented from happening again. I could be used against you again and again until someone gets hurt. I could, you could, Razor could…kats we don’t even know and who have nothing to do with us could!”
“We’ll protect you! We’ll give you a device that can call us if you’re ever in trouble. Deputy Mayor Briggs has one-” T-Bone argued, knowing it was a lost cause. He loved her because she was a strong she-kat, she wasn’t one to give up. Unfortunately, that’s also what would keep them apart.
A tear ran down her face as she continued. “If I’d thought of something like this before, we both could have been spared this. But no….”
“It doesn’t have to end. We could-”
“No, T-Bone. It has to end now. Before any more rumors of us get around. The thank-you kiss I gave you when we first met is what made Turmoil have me watched.” She looked around, then back at him. “I don’t want this good-bye kiss to get us killed.”
Katareena kissed him for a heart-breaking moment, then she whispered ‘good-bye’ and walked away, lost in the shuffle of those around.
T-Bone waited under the oak tree for a few minutes, then walked back to the TurboKat.
He was furious. Even though Turmoil had been re-captured, she had won. Never would he and Katareena be happy together in the way they would have been. He just hoped someone would be stupid enough to try something today. ____________s_____________w_____________a______________t___________
“Come on, Razor. We’re leaving.”
Razor unhooked the mini-jet as T-Bone got into the TurboKat. Almost as soon as Razor was inside, the canopy closed. They were in the air before the last seat belt was buckled.
He had seen T-Bone mad, no big deal. He had seen T-Bone angry, watch out world! But he had never seen him this furious.
In minutes they were in Megakat City, flying among the tall skyscrapers. Razor watched the monitors with no comment.
After an hour of flying, they had to go back to the hangar to rest and refuel. Luckily, no one tried to rob a bank or a chemical warehouse. Lucky for the criminal.
Next Book: The Bomber
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