Callie had returned home shortly after midnight, and collapsed into her unmade bed, too tired to take off her damaged clothes. When she awoke the next morning, the pain in her head had returned, and she took some more ibuprofen. Callie showered briefly, and put on a more casual set of clothes afterward, consisting of denim jeans, tennis shoes and a white, busted t-shirt.
The city’s government was effectively shut down until further notice due to the Metallikats. Commander Feral had assigned several of his Enforcers to guard City Hall, but none of the council members would be showing up at the building anytime soon. Callie knew that Manx was likely using this as a holiday to perfect his golf game.
This, in combination with her recovery from injury, meant that Callie would have some private time where her absence from the public wouldn’t cause any suspicion or concern. Callie exited her bedroom and entered her pristine kitchen. It was pristine due to lack of use, as it primarily served as a receiving station for take-out orders. Today, only one item was on the counter-top. Her communicator, modified by Hackle.
Callie picked it up and looked it over. The newly attached display was still showing the signal overlaid on a simple map. She walked forward with it in hand, and noticed that the “you are here” marker moved as well, and output an emotionless “blip” noise.
“Hot potato,” she said to no one, and pocketed the gadget into her jean pocket. Callie took a baseball cap with the Megakat Badger’s logo on it off of the coat rack near her front door, and put her signature blonde hair back in a pony tail through the hat’s opening. She put on her glasses, grabbed her car keys and exited her house, taking one last glance at it, hoping that she would be seeing it again soon.
“Oh, Deputy Mayor, good to see you on your feet,” the dispatcher in the lobby of Enforcer Headquarters said.
Callie had seen her dozens of times, but she could never remember her name, and was too embarrassed to ask. The last bit of sub sandwich Callie had eaten on her way through the door didn’t help matters much, and she reached into her jean pocket and dug around for a napkin amid the plastic wrapper and sauce packets.
“Yeah, well, that’s modern medicine for you,” Callie said and she dabbed her face.
“Just give me a moment to let the Commander know to expect you,” the dispatcher said as she picked up the handset of her office phone.
“Actually,” Callie said, interrupting. “I’m here to see someone else this time.”
“Oh?” the dispatcher asked as she set down the handset.
“I need to speak to Lt. Felina Feral,” Callie said. “And, if possible, I’d like to do so without the Commander knowing. He always seems to get…irritated when her name comes up.”
The dispatcher smiled and reached into a drawer to withdraw a laminated visitor badge and held it out to her.
“Ms. Briggs, you don’t know the half of it,” she said.
Enforcer Headquarters was a mega-structure unlike any other in the city. It served as a combination police station, military garrison and airport, with thousands of staff, troops, pilots and support personnel. Callie had taken a series of elevators nearly a hundred stories up to reach what was called the flight deck, the uppermost sections of the building containing hangars, aircraft and the expansive runways that protruded from the building. Her presence had resulted in several glances in her direction, but the pinned visitor’s badge on her chest allowed her passage without incident.
Callie waited, tapping her foot as the final elevator arrived at the destination floor. She knew she was going in the right direction, with two other Enforcers in pilot gear riding along with her. Once the doors opened, they exited in a hurry, seemingly with somewhere to be.
The spartan interior looked more like the inside of a battleship than an office building, with several exposed pipes and conduits running along the ceiling. The floor vibrated every so often, and Callie knew it was the result of numerous aircraft taking off and landing.
Callie walked down the hall, passing by numerous doors that were open. The first she passed looked like a small classroom, and it was decorated with several framed photos and engraved plaques. At the head of it was a podium with a worn Enforcer logo hanging from the front of it. At present, it was unoccupied.
The second door in the hallway was also open. The words “C.A.G. Gorman” could be seen stenciled on the window. Callie recalled the name from the event Dark Kat had planned to disrupt two months ago. She knocked on the open door.
“Excuse me, Mr. Gorman?” Callie asked, peeking in.
“That’s Captain Gorman, Ms. Briggs,” said someone from within.
Callie walked inside, and saw Captain Gorman sitting at a neatly organized desk where he was sipping from a white coffee mug with the Enforcer logo on it. He wasn’t that old, probably in his late-twenties, and he was reasonably good looking, though there was something about him that Callie found unappealing.
Maybe it’s the mustache, she thought to herself.
“I apologize, Captain Gorman,” Callie emphasized.
“It’s not often we get visitors from the outside world in our little crow’s nest up here,” Gorman said as he stood up. Behind him was a large window that overlooked one of the primary landing strips. A single-engined jet fighter with the Enforcer color scheme could be seen coming in for a landing. It came to an abrupt stop as a tow-hook underneath it caught a landing line.
“You know, I’ve never gotten used to the setup you have here,” Callie said, walking closer to the window. “It’s just like an aircraft carrier in the clouds.”
“Not exactly,” Gorman said, standing next to her. “This place doesn’t jostle in the waves.”
“I’m looking for Lt. Feral,” Callie said, and turned to face him.
Gorman laughed and walked away from the window, returning to his desk to take a seat.
“If you’re looking to say thanks, you could’ve just sent her a card,” Gorman said.
“Is she here?” Callie asked.
“She is,” Gorman said, crossing his arms as he leaned back in his seat.
Callie frowned, growing tired of playing games.
“Where can I find her?” Callie asked flatly.
Gorman looked to his left, glancing at a schedule pinned to a cork board.
“The lieutenant should’ve just finished her patrol,” Gorman said. “I’d bet you can find her in the weight room, down the hall, four doors on your left.”
“Thank you,” Callie said, and turned away, walking out of the Captain’s office. She could feel his eyes on her, watching her leave. Callie wasn’t sure what to make of Gorman, but she didn’t have the time to figure him out.
The Crow’s Nest, as Gorman had called it, spanned the uppermost floors of Enforcer Headquarters, and it was complete with the full amenities one could expect in any military barracks. At the moment it seemed deserted, and Callie assumed that everyone was on duty. The weight room’s door, like the others, was open, and as Callie walked inside she was instantly greeted with the smell of perspiration, along with a few other scents Callie didn’t care to try to identify.
Unlike the 24 hour gym Callie went to, this one felt much less inviting, and included a boxing ring in the center, which seemed a little awkward due to the room’s not so-high ceiling. Sounds of exertion were being made on the opposite side, and as Callie rounded the ring, she could see a lone person lying on her back, wearing Enforcer issue khaki pants and a well-worn grey t-shirt, doing bench presses with an impressive amount of weights.
“Is it safe to be doing that alone?” Callie asked. “Without a spotter, I mean?”
Lt. Felina Feral grunted, strain visible on her face as she pushed the weights up from her chest and docked the bar on the bench. It clanged as it made contact. She sat upright, and reached down to take a swig of water from a sports bottle.
“No,” Felina said. “But no one else was around.”
“I wanted to say thank you for rescuing me,” Callie said. “And, I also wanted to apologize for what I said to you last week.”
“Yeah, well, someone had to do it,” Felina said as she laid back down, and reached up to grab the weighted bar and began to do another set of reps.
Callie walked around Felina, crossing her arms as she spoke.
“But, that’s not the only reason I came here,” Callie explained. “Something’s happened.”
“Then call the SWAT Kats,” Felina blurted in-between breaths. Callie had lost count how many Felina was up to.
“That’s what this is about. They’re missing,” Callie admitted.
“Figured as much,” Felina strained as she spoke, and put the bar back in place with a loud clang. She sat up and then stood, grabbing a nearby towel to wipe the perspiration off her face and neck.
Callie reached into her pocket and took out the modified communicator and held it out. Felina glanced at it, and discarded the towel as she took the device in her hand and looked it over.
“So, this is how you get ahold of them?” Felina surmised.
“Usually, but I haven’t been able to recently. And, there were a lot of weird sounds coming through it,” Callie explained. “I took it to someone who’s familiar with this kind of thing, and he was able to convert it into a tracking device.”
Felina looked at the newly attached display and held it up, moving it around from left-to-right, apparently realizing what Callie had earlier.
“Hot potato,” she said as she moved it, and pointed it in another direction. “Cold potato.”
“It also has the approximate destination if you zoom it out,” Callie said.
Felina tapped two fingers on the display to confirm it for herself, and read off what it said on the screen.
“Felidae Ergs,” Felina said with puzzlement. “What’s an erg?”
“It’s a kind of desert, with sand dunes, or something,” Callie said.
“Well, whatever it is, it’s about 1,200 clicks away,” Felina said as she handed the communicator back. “Good luck finding a flight out there.”
Callie pocketed the communicator and clasped her hands in front of herself.
“That’s where I thought maybe you could help,” Callie began.
Felina laughed and reached down to pick up her sports bottle, and began walking around the boxing ring. Callie frowned and followed after.
“I’m serious, lieutenant,” Callie said, keeping pace.
“I know, that’s why it’s funny,” Felina said as she reached the weight room’s entrance, and walked across the main corridor into a locker room that was directly across. Callie chased after her, going inside as well.
“Well, I don’t find it amusing,” Callie said, catching up to Felina who was at an open locker and in the process of disrobing, which caused Callie to avert her gaze. Callie turned her back and spoke over her shoulder. “What are you doing?”
“This is a locker room. I just worked out. Now I’m hitting the showers,” Felina said.
The noise of running water could be now be heard.
“Anyway, as I was saying, this isn’t funny,” Callie continued as she closed her eyes. The steam from the shower was making her glasses fog, and she took them off to wipe them with the bottom of her shirt. “Mac Mange killed someone because the SWAT Kats weren’t there to stop him.”
“I know,” Felina said from the showers, obscured from view.
Callie turned around, and put her glasses back on as she took a seat at a bench that ran between the lockers, placing her elbows on her knees and her palms on her forehead. The headache was back.
“Then why won’t you help me?” Callie asked.
“Because it’d be against regulation,” Felina said. “You’re breaking the chain of command. You need to talk to the Commander about this.”
“I can’t go to him with this,” Callie said, and then recalled what Felina had said earlier in the week. “You told me that not all of you are like him. What did you mean by that?”
There was a pause, and the water from the shower stopped running. After a moment Callie looked up to see Felina standing in front of her, modestly covered in a towel.
“I meant that not all of us are blind slaves to rules,” Felina said.
“Your uncle,” Callie pieced together. “You disobeyed his orders when you rescued me from the Metallikats, didn’t you?”
Felina didn’t answer as she walked back to her locker, and opened the door. Callie looked away as the lieutenant changed into her uniform.
“Why?” Callie asked.
“Heavy armor backup was still 15 minutes away, and those two idiots would’ve killed you by then, either accidentally or on purpose,” Felina explained as she zipped up a khaki jacket adorned with pockets and official looking patches and insignia. “And, because it was the right thing to do.”
“They could’ve killed you,” Callie said.
“Risk is part of the job,” Felina said. “You don’t get to be a professional badass like myself otherwise.”
“Then, lieutenant,” Callie said as she stood up. “I’m asking you to please do the right thing again.”
Felina sighed and rolled her eyes, and then closed the door of her locker.
“Alright, Deputy Mayor. I’ll help you.”
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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.