The admission was abrupt, and amid the host of euphemisms, pleasantries and other verbal nonsense, it rang with truth. Callie could see by the small smile forming at the corner of the Mayor’s mouth that she had said the right thing.
“Well, Ms. Briggs,” Manx said as he leaned back in his ornate office chair behind an equally detailed and polished walnut desk that occupied much of the rear-end of his expansive City Hall office. “You certainly do stand out from the other potential candidates for Deputy Mayor.”
“You can call me Callie,” Callie said.
She knew that despite several within the Mayor’s administration virtually jumping ship, there were always those who would try to make their way in, much as she was. Even before she had graduated from Megakat University she had interned with the Mayor’s Office. That was over three years ago, and today she was part of the senior staff, working as assistant to the campaign manager who had recently quit.
Callie suspected the former assistant to the mayor had been embezzling from the city, and the Mayor had quietly gotten rid of him, but she didn’t know for certain. Callie didn’t really care either, as one person’s disgrace was now her opportunity.
“Well, Callie,” Manx said as he stood up. “I admire that kind of attitude. It’s one that I’ve considered myself to have. You don’t get to be Mayor for eight terms without a winner’s outlook.”
Callie listened, assuming correctly he had more to say.
“But, hating to lose is just the start,” Manx said. “You have to have the courage to act, to lead by example.”
“Just like your ancestor?” Callie asked.
“Yes, just like the Blue Manx,” the Mayor said with pride. “Though he was an aristocrat, he set aside the protection his wealth offered and took to the skies to fight the forces of evil.”
“I need that kind of dedication, that kind of leadership, that kind of perseverance in my campaign,” Manx said. “As you know we’re down in the polls this election season.”
“By about one and half percentage points,” Callie said, recalling the data from her latest research.
“You could change all of that,” Manx said, looking at her. “I know your work in the community is well respected, and your past offers nothing of question. And, most importantly, your expertise is unparalleled.”
“Your flattery is appreciated, Mr. Mayor,” Callie said, but knew she also offered something else he wasn’t going to mention.
I am also a pretty face. Petty as that may be, it’ll set this campaign in stark contrast against the opponent’s in nearly every way. Someone like me tests well with the undecided voters, which are critical this election.
“It’s well deserved,” Manx said as he extended a hand. “This process of interviews has really just been a formality, Callie. I think you know I’ve already made my decision. I’d like you to be my new running mate.”
Callie stood and shook it.
“I accept the offer,” Callie said. “And I’ll make sure to show you and the citizens of Megakat City that I’m not just a pretty face.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that for an instant,” Manx said. “I have a feeling you’re going to show all of us.”
“Help!” Callie shouted, her voice standing out amid the relative silence that had befallen the chamber.
Callie could see Dr. Viper’s head jut upward in the distance, his eyeless gaze honing in on the sound of the shout.
“Please! Don’t hurt me!” Callie shouted again.
“Oh, I won’t hurt you,” Viper said with a devilish grin and began to march his way toward the sound of her voice, breaking and crushing several rows of cylinders along the way.
“No! Don’t!” Callie shouted as the hulking form of the greater monster Dr. Viper had become arrived.
“It’s no use, you stupid girl!” Viper said with a slithering laugh. “I hear exactly where you are!”
Viper reached down and shoved aside a small pile of debris, the remnants of his partially severed tongue slithering visibly outside his mouth, wet with saliva, apparently anticipating the flesh of the Deputy Mayor.
But, he found nothing, and leaned forward to look closer, no doubt now seeing what Callie had left there: T-Bone’s discarded helmet. The volume of the radio headset was on full. She had been shouting into her communicator to mislead the murderous abomination, and while he had been distracted, she had managed to work her way back to the still unmoving forms of Razor, T-Bone and Lt. Feral.
They were not the focus of her attention at the moment, however. Callie had her eyes on Dr. Viper. As he turned to look over his giant shoulder, Callie could see it all in his eyeless expression.
The irony of using the communicator to lure the good doctor to his doom, as he had done to the SWAT Kats and inadvertently to Callie and Felina, was no doubt on his mind.
Callie felt a smile come across her lips, and a few tears of happiness mixed with the joy one feels at narrowly avoiding their own demise welled up within her. Not only that, but a feeling that made her shoulders feel warm and tingly: the sense of having one-upped the devil himself.
I got you.
Callie pulled the trigger. The SMAW had already been prepped to fire by Razor before he had been knocked aside like a rag doll. It was heavy, and with her injuries she had strained to heft the tube onto her shoulder from a kneeling position. But she had done so, and was now looking through the very basic optic. It was much like the small lens on the side of a telescope. The reticle had been filled with Viper’s terrible, disfigured face.
Callie felt herself pushed backward as the projectile left the tube, sending a spray of exhaust behind her, but she maintained her ground, the recoil feeling less intense than she had expected.
The rocket zoomed, several stabilizing wings expanding outward, just barely noticeable as it collided with its target. Viper’s upper body disappeared in a plume of smoke and fire, and Callie felt the concussion from the explosion deep in her chest shortly before it filled the view of her cracked glasses.
As the smoke cleared, the carcass of what Dr. Viper had become collapsed to the floor, sans an upper-body. Callie turned her head away at the disgusting sight, to see the lieutenant was awake and had propped herself on an elbow, witnessing what had just transpired.
“Like I said,” Felina said with a cough. “No matter how large your attacker…”
“…They always have a weakness,” Callie finished.
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