“So, what you’re saying is either we close two elementary schools or we shut down the east side fire department,” Councilman Anderson said.
Callie had collapsed into bed as soon as she had returned home the night before. The aches in her body had subsided for the most part, though her lower back was still sore. This morning she had conducted her morning routine on autopilot, her tired brain somehow managing to get herself on time to today’s City Council meeting. She leaned back in her chair slightly, her eyes red and half-opened. A yawn escaped her mouth.
“That’s a bit of an over-simplification,” Councilwoman Jones replied. “By adjusting certain budget items we wouldn’t have to shut down either.”
Callie frowned, the word “budget” caused a pavlovian response in her brain as she sat upright, and spoke up.
“Before this discussion goes much further, I’d just like to remind everyone that the city’s budget is nearing its working draft stage, and you’ll all have plenty of time to pick it apart after it’s officially presented by the Mayor’s Office,” Callie said.
There was a small grumble among the council members, but no one objected. The sound of a camera shutter could be heard, and Callie noted there was one fewer photographer today.
“Geez, this is so boring!” someone shouted.
The council members including Callie looked up towards the origin of the voice. It came from the nearly empty rows of audience seating. Nearly, because two individuals were sitting in the back. Callie immediately recognized who it was, and wondered how they had managed to enter the room without being noticed.
I need to get better sleep, Callie thought to herself.
“No kidding, Mac,” a modulated female voice agreed. “It’s almost as bad as listening to you talk.”
It was Mac and Molly Mange: the Metallikats.
“Ha ha, very funny,” Mac said, feigning amusement, and he stood up, his chrome-plated exterior coming into full view. Molly did the same, and the two strode up together, approaching the semi-circle of council members.
The lone press photographer did a double-take, and started snapping photos rapidly.
“Make sure you get my good side,” Molly said, putting a menacing looking clawed hand on her hip, using the other to brush back the “hair” on her head, posing.
“Good luck with that,” Mac said sarcastically, and then turned his attention to the council members.
No one had moved a muscle at the revelation of the Metallikats’s presence, all knowing full well what the infamous duo were capable of.
“Now, being legally dead and all, I haven’t been able to participate in the democratic process very well,” Mac said, his red eyes scanning the members. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care.”
“What lugnuts here is trying to say is that we’d like to petition the government for grievances,” Molly said, and shoved the photographer away, who went spilling over backwards loudly. “And by petition, we mean threaten. And by grievances, we mean money.”
“A hundred billion dollars to be exact,” Mac said, and pointed a metallic finger at the group.
Callie sighed as she quietly reached into her handbag and pressed the button on her communicator. At the same time, other council members laughed.
“You can’t be serious,” Councilman Anderson said. “You have to know this city is broke.”
“You mean there’s a reason this place looks like such a dump lately?” Molly asked rhetorically. “And here I thought the bunch of you were simply keeping a chunk of change for yourselves.”
“I find that kind of accusation offensive,” Councilman Anderson said, and stood up. “Now if there’s nothing further, I think you two should stop disrupting these proceedings.”
Callie’s mouth opened in shock. She had never seen the overweight city councilman act like this. Had they been putting artificial courage in the donuts, lately?
“Jimmy!” Callie hissed more than whispered. “Shut up before-”
Callie didn’t get to finish her warning as Councilman Jimmy Anderson was flung backward, over his chair and onto the spartan floor. Mac Mange’s right arm had transformed into some kind of energy weapon, and its barrel was still smoking from the discharge it had directed squarely into Anderson’s chest. The councilman remained unmoving.
Several of the other council members screamed as they stood up and started backing away. Callie stood as well, wondering what was taking the SWAT Kats so long.
“Now, as I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted,” Mac continued. “Hand us over the money or else.”
“And you get no points for guessing what we mean by ‘or else’,” Molly said, gesturing to Anderson.
“Fine!” Callie shouted, as she slid under the table to get in front of it, standing before the two. “I’ll get you your money. Just don’t hurt anyone else.”
“Oh? But I thought the city was ‘broke,'” Mac said mockingly, making quotes with his fingers at the word “broke.”
“Yeah, well, you’re right. We have been embezzling from the city. Me, specifically,” Callie lied.
Molly Mange scratched her chin in thought, and then walked up to Callie, grabbing her by the back of her suit jacket, lifting her inches off the ground. Callie froze in place, defenseless.
“Why should we believe you, Deputy Mayor?” Molly asked, as she held up her other robotic arm, pointing her index finger. The finger split apart like a camera aperture, and a narrow bright blue flame shot out from it. “After all, you were so self-righteous when you denied our parole.”
“Yeah,” Mac said. “We offered you a fat bribe to get us out of the joint, and you still shot us down.”
Callie’s mind raced as Molly Mange brought the deadly blue flame closer to her face, the heat of it causing her brow to sweat. She thought quickly, and an excuse came to mind, the details miraculously coming from the recesses of her brain.
“It’s because Katscratch offered us a bigger bribe to keep you two locked-up and out of the picture,” Callie blurted. “So he could take over the mob!”
The finger and its flame stopped advancing, and Callie was dropped to her feet.
“I knew it!” Molly said. “That fat traitor would sell his own mother out.”
“Well, it’s a good thing he’s already taking a dirt nap,” Mac said with a laugh. “All right, Briggs. Leads us to this stash of cash you got set aside, and maybe we’ll reconsider killing you. Maybe.”
The sound of sirens could be heard approaching, along with the squeal of rapidly stopping tires just outside City Hall’s lobby entrance.
“I don’t keep it here,” Callie said, and straightened her suit jacket. “That would be stupid. Let’s just leave these other politicians out of this and take a walk outside.”
“Fair enough,” Molly said, and gave Callie a sharp prod forward. “Lead the way.”
The other council members watched in fear as Callie was lead out of the room by the Metallikats.
The outside of City Hall was surrounded by Enforcer squad cars, their lights sending blue and and red darting across the decorative steps that led up to the lobby. Several of them were in SWAT gear, holding black rifles that were pointed in Callie’s direction.
Well, not really my direction, but close enough, Callie thought, as Mac and Molly stood on either side of her.
“No tanks?” Mac asked out-loud. “I’m insulted.”
The face of the lead SWAT team member at the bottom of the steps was mostly covered, but his eyes could be seen through the visor he wore. Callie knew in that moment, from his expression, that this group of Enforcers did not arrive prepared to deal with the Metallikats.
“Put your hands up and release the Deputy Mayor!” the Enforcer said, a slight quiver in his voice. He and the others in his group kept their rifles raised and aimed.
“Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” Molly said as she walked forward, making a motion of cracking her knuckles. The lead Enforcer pulled the trigger of his gun, the loud sound of automatic gunfire at close range caused Callie to drop to her knees, covering her ears with both hands.
The other Enforcers did the same, all firing at Molly Mange who was walking calmly down the steps toward them, bullets harmlessly impacting and ricocheting off her metallic body. As the lead Enforcer was about to order his men to fall back, Molly lunged forward, grabbed the barrel of his rifle and snatched it out of his grasp. She then swung it like a club, the stock colliding with his head, causing his helmet to crack and the visor to shatter.
Callie winced as she saw him collapse on the steps.
“Good one, Molly!” Mac laughed.
The other Enforcers ceased fire and began to withdraw. Molly crossed her arms, a sadistic smile on her mechanical face.
“Yeah, you better run,” she said.
“Get up!” Mac ordered as he reached down to pull Callie to her feet by the shoulder. His mechanical grasp was harsh, and Callie’s shoulder protested in pain.
“Please, just let me take you to where the money is and stop hurting people!” Callie begged as Mac pulled her along down the steps.
“We’re getting to that, blondie,” Molly said, as she effortlessly tore the driver’s side door off of the nearest squad car.
“One of the first things we’re buying is a sweet ride,” Mac said as he shoved Callie into the car. It was with enough force to send her sliding all the way to the passenger side where she collided with the closed passenger door, bumping her head on the glass. The world started to get foggy for Callie, the words of Mac and Molly no longer making sense as darkness filled her vision and she lost consciousness.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.