Felina’s cabin was about the size of a jail cell, not unexpected on a naval vessel, but the bunk she had slept in had been comfortable enough. Before falling asleep she had read over the very brief plans provided by Lt. Durov. Falling into a dreamless sleep, she’d awoken at 05:00 hours thanks to a ship-wide Reveille bugle call, causing her to remember the words many recruits at BCT had assigned to the lyric-less tune.
You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up this morning
You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up
Get up with the bugler’s call
Her head ached, as she felt the aftereffects of the champagne, but she forced herself to roll out of bed and drop to the floor, seeing how many push-ups she could do. She reached 64 and then collapsed on her stomach, out of breath.
“I need to get back to the gym more often,” she said out-loud to herself.
Before her demotion, she had been able to do 100 consecutive push-ups every morning, and though she was still in relatively good shape, she wasn’t feeling as strong as she did when she’d last helped Callie Briggs.
Felina briefly pondered if it was just a psychological thing as she picked herself up off the floor and walked the short distance across the room. Her cabin thankfully came with a private restroom, a luxury on a ship like this. It included a shower, which allowed her to complete her morning routine. Afterward, she changed into a green, form-fitting, camouflage patterned BDU, complete with combat boots.
She changed into the military attire, and neatly rolled up the sleeves at the elbows. It bore no insignia, and Felina wondered just what role she was going to play in this operation, as the plans didn’t have a whole lot of specifics.
It was a precarious situation, requiring Felina to put a lot of trust in someone that in all likelihood couldn’t be trusted. It went against all of her better judgement, experience and training. But, despite all of that, here she was.
I suppose it’s just a weird form of reciprocity. She extended trust to me, letting me fly Turbokat One. Trusted me to handle the dogfight. Trusted me on this ship. No armed guards or anything. Didn’t even frisk me…
Felina dug through the pile of clothes she’d changed out of, and withdrew the Glock 36 and the triangular communicator Jake Clawson had given her.
Didn’t even put Chance under guard, though she did point that 9mm at him…
Felina put the communicator in one of the BDU’s pockets, and arranged the concealed holster in the small of her back once more, sliding the sidearm into place.
Wonder if he got a cabin like this, or maybe…
Felina recalled the kiss Turmoil had given Chance after threatening his execution, and she forced herself not to finish the thought, for some reason finding the potential topic too weird to contemplate.
It was Monday morning, and millions would be waking up in Megakat City to start the week. On some occasions as a traffic officer, Felina had been given the morning shift, which resembled her evening shift, the only difference being the sun’s direction. Had she not been on Sergeant Daniels’ forced leave, there was a good likelihood she would be leaning on the handlebars of her parked motorcycle on the shoulder of the 101 Freeway with a bored look on her face right now.
Realizing that now was probably the last time she’d be alone, Felina withdrew the communicator from her pocket, and looked it over. Jake had said the signal was encrypted, but she knew from personal experience that it wasn’t uncrackable.
“Might as well,” Felina said out loud and pushed the button in its center.
The button illuminated and began to blink. She stared at it and waited. A full minute passed before a static-filled transmission came across the device’s speakers.
“This is Razor,” a familiar voice crackled through.
“Razor,” Felina said, holding the communicator up to her mouth. “It’s me.”
“I read you, but the signal’s a little weak,” Razor said. “Where are you?”
“In the middle of the Balinese Sea, just offshore of Cymric Island,” Felina said. “And, T-Bone’s here, too.”
“So, that’s where he went,” Razor replied with a sigh.
“He didn’t tell you?” Felina asked.
“No, but it’s not the first time he’s done something like this,” Razor replied. “Is he with Turmoil?”
“At the moment? Don’t know. Probably,” Felina said. “But, that’s not important right now.”
“Well, tell me what is,” Razor replied.
“Turmoil’s gathered a strike force to attack Dark Kat, who’s holed up on the island. She somehow managed to make six copies of the Turbokat, along with hundreds of your Scrambler Missiles to take out the island’s forcefield. I’m going to be part of the attack, and so is T-Bone,” Felina explained.
There was a pause on the other end, and Felina let the words sink in. After a moment, Razor responded.
“Why?” Razor asked.
“She says she’s changed, and it’s for the good of Megakat City,” Felina said.
“And you believed her?” Razor asked.
“I…I’m not sure,” Felina responded with a sigh.
“Does T-Bone believe her?” Razor asked.
“I’m not sure about that either,” Felina admitted.
“Just, look…” Razor began, apparently at a loss for words. “Can you make sure he doesn’t do something stupid?”
Felina was surprised by the request, and wondered just how serious the relationship between Chance and Turmoil had been.
“Can’t make any promises,” Felina said. “Look, I need to get going.”
“Yeah, me too, someone’s banging on the front door. Be careful out there,” Razor replied, and she heard him shouting, likely over his shoulder. “We don’t open for another hour!”
The signal abruptly cut off, and Felina frowned, now feeling more uncertain about things. She pocketed the communicator and exited the cabin, the smell of freshly cooked food guiding her down the corridor.
Felina arrived at the ship’s mess and immediately found her way to the buffet-style tables.
She grabbed a plate and grabbed herself a hardy breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon and some other mushy porridge she didn’t recognize, moving about the other crew. None of them made any conversation with her, all seemingly focused on the upcoming task, or just plain ignoring her. Felina wondered if they were scared at all, as they didn’t seem to show any emotion, at least not in her presence.
Among the occupied tables, one in particular caught her attention, as its lone occupant stood out from everyone else. Felina made her way over, setting down her plate as she took a seat, sitting across from Chance Furlong.
He was wearing the same style BDU, no insignia on display, his sleeves also rolled up to his elbows, distractedly eating the grey porridge one spoonful at a time. He looked up as she took her seat.
“This stuff any good?” Felina asked as she scooped up some of the porridge and looked it over in the spoon. It looked like grits, but smelled more like oatmeal.
“It’s called kasha,” Chance said. “And it’s okay.”
Felina took a spoonful, tasted it, swallowed, and shrugged.
“Beats an MRE,” she said and ate another spoonful.
They ate their breakfast in silence for a few moments before Felina spoke up again.
“Does it bother you?” she asked.
“Does what bother me?” Chance returned.
“The fact that Turmoil,” Felina said, pausing as she ate a helping of scrambled eggs. “Knows who you really are? And for that matter, everyone else here?”
“That thought had crossed my mind,” Chance replied, and reached over to Felina’s plate and took a piece of bacon.
“Stop takin’ my bacon,” Felina replied, her mouth full.
“No way,” Chance said and took a bite of it. “I’m not going to skimp on what may be my last meal.”
“Then get your own,” Felina said as she pulled her plate farther away from him.
The meal was surprisingly amiable, which dampened the concerns building in the back of Felina’s mind. Though Chance had made the comment in jest, it was something that had crossed her mind as well.
This could be my last meal, too.
She shrugged off the notion. Pre-mission jitters were something everyone had, but over the years she had grown numb to them. Not completely, but enough that it didn’t bother her. It wasn’t that she was indifferent to whether she lived or died, but that she wasn’t going to worry about it.
If it happens, it happens.
By Chance’s demeanor she could tell that he probably felt the same way.
“You wishing you had that Glovatrix of yours about now?” Felina asked as she finished off her bowl.
“I would be,” Chance said, and then reached down under his seat and produced the aforementioned item and dropped it down on the table.
“Where’d you get that?” Felina asked.
“Turmoil gave it to me last night,” Chance replied.
“She trusted you with that?” Felina said, surprised.
“Apparently,” Chance said as he put the SWAT Kats’s trademark weapon on like a gauntlet over his right forearm. “She had these leftover from her raid. Said her troops didn’t have enough time to familiarize themselves with ’em. Not surprising. Took me months of practice to understand Jake’s designs.”
“You could’ve done a lot of damage with that,” Felina commented. “Maybe even escaped.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Chance said.
“But, you didn’t,” Felina said.
“Neither did you,” Chance pointed out. “Also, Turmoil said you should pick up something other than your .45 for the mission.”
Felina frowned, feeling both displeased and impressed that Turmoil knew about the concealed weapon.
“I guess she’s smarter than both of us,” Felina said.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Chance said.
A klaxon blared once over the public address system’s speakers, and the voice of Lt. Durov came across it, though she spoke in the native tongue Felina had heard used on the bridge. The other crew and soldiers in the mess stopped what they were doing and began exiting the room.
“I guess it’s time,” Chance said as he stood up.
Felina did the same, taking one last piece of bacon off her plate. She bit into it, feeling the fatty, greasy flavor encompass her taste buds.
Could do worse for a last meal…
Turmoil’s forces were on full display as the flight deck of the Balikirev became a staging ground for war. Soldiers also wearing their BDUs along with other assorted combat gear were lined up on deck. They were being issued rifles one-by-one, and then stopping by other open crates to retrieve magazines and other supplies, putting them in pockets and holsters.
The sun had risen just as beautifully as it had set the night before, lighting the puffing Mt. Dragon Li. The volcano was an ominous presence that seemed to be looking upon the forces in Cymric Island’s bay with disdain. The air was calm, and the waters the ships rested in appeared undisturbed, like a pane of glass.
Felina was in line among them, having already grabbed an empty tan colored tactical vest that now hugged her shoulders and midsection. She reached the crewman handing out the weapons, and took what was handed to her: a black AK-74 rifle with a synthetic stock and leather sling.
“Thanks,” Felina said, holding the weapon in a safe position as she moved down the line.
Chance was behind her, and the crewman attempted to hand a similar weapon to him.
“No thanks,” Chance said as held up his Glovatrix hand and pointed at it. “Got everything I need right here.”
“You don’t even want a backup?” Felina asked as she reached into an open crate that others seemed to be passing by, withdrawing a bayonet.
“It’s really not my style,” Chance said.
“Could’ve fooled me back in the Felidae Ergs,” Felina said as she slid the blade into a holster on the tactical vest. As concealment was no longer an issue, she took a moment to do the same with the Glock 36.
At least I won’t die uncomfortable.
“That was different,” Chance said as he reached into a crate and withdrew a half-dozen loaded 30-round magazines, and handed them to Felina one-at-a-time. She took each one and inserted them into pouches on her vest, feeling the added weight she was now carrying. The last one she inserted into the magwell of the rifle. It clicked into place.
“I don’t see how,” Felina remarked.
“I don’t pick up a gun unless there’s no other choice,” Chance said, and before he could offer any more details he was interrupted as the soldiers abruptly faced the same direction and stood at attention.
Felina took a more casual stance, and leaned the rifle on her shoulder, one hand on her hip, a look of indifference on her face. Chance seemed to take a similar tact, crossing his arms.
Turmoil was approaching. She wore a similar BDU, with no tactical vest, but wore a belt that hung just slightly askew on her hip, emphasizing her figure. A sidearm holster hung from that belt, likely containing the Walther P38, along with a new item on the opposite side. A scabbard containing a sword, the familiar hilt of which Felina had seen the previous evening. No cape, but the peaked commander’s cap was still a part of the ensemble.
“At ease, and return to your duties” Turmoil said after returning the salute.
The women soldiers completed what they were doing and began walking up the ramps of four Chinook helicopters that rested nearby. Felina estimated about 100 soldiers total, 25 heading into each craft.
Turmoil hadn’t followed them. With Chance and Felina, they were the only three remaining behind.
“While you are not officially under my command, as neither of you have sworn an oath to the cause,” Turmoil said. “I’d like to make it clear that I expect neither of you to go against my plans here today.”
“Sure,” Felina said.
Chance looked hesitant, but nodded anyway.
“Good,” Turmoil said. “As a token of my appreciation, I thought you should have this.”
Turmoil extended her hand, and held out an item to Chance. He glanced at it, and after a moment, took it from her. It was a black bandanna. Chance pulled it over the top of his head, revealing two eye holes already in place with white lenses that that gave him an almost otherworldly look. It was the mask of the SWAT Kats. Felina could see by the change in his posture that Chance Furlong was no longer among them.
He was T-Bone.
Two inward facing rows of seats lined the interior of the Chinook. Felina was at the end of the row, closest to the cockpit, opposite T-Bone, with one of Turmoil’s nameless soldiers to her left. She felt the thumps in her chest from the helicopter’s double rotors. The vibrations shaking her spine were a familiar feeling. Helicopters were not entirely foreign to her, as she’d had to qualify for them once she was assigned to the Enforcers in Megakat City. Those retrofitted Mi-4s were nothing like this, however, as the Chinook was much louder and less comfortable feeling, though Felina assumed it had more to do with the fact she was a passenger and not the pilot.
They were in the air and underway, on approach toward the island.
Turmoil was not sitting, and held a handle on the interior’s low ceiling with one hand to keep herself steady. She called out orders loudly into a radio she held with the other, receiving the reports back in an earpiece.
“Squadron is up,” Turmoil called in. “Commence initial operation.”
Even with the noise of the Chinook, Felina could hear the familiar screech of jet engines, followed by an extra vibration. She craned her neck to look out one of the few circular windows that lined the sides of the helicopter. Her glance came just in time, and she was able to see the tan colored Turbokats streak past, with several dozen missile contrails shooting out from them.
The attack was underway.
Turmoil was facing forward, able to see the view afforded by the cockpit’s windows, and she called in again.
“Launch supporting barrage,” she called.
This part of the plan Felina was familiar with. Apparently Dark Kat had a collection of MIM-104 Patriot missiles, loaded aboard mobile tactical truck platforms hidden throughout the island’s jungle. Dark Kat’s defenses would have been capable of shooting down most, if not all, of the incoming Scramblers. But, the Turbokats, with their stealthy composition, couldn’t be adequately tracked by the platform’s radar, and could launch the Scramblers too close for them to react. The ensuing electro-magnetic interference when the Scramblers hit the forcefield would disrupt the platform’s targeting system, allowing the primary barrage from the missile ship to commence undeterred. After the barrage, the ground forces Felina was now a part of would land a safe distance from the primary compound and make their way through the jungle to finish the attack.
That barrage was now in progress, and Felina couldn’t help but be amazed as the portion of the sky visible to her filled with hundreds of fiery streaks that whizzed past. Though she couldn’t see it directly, the interior of the Chinook filled with a strobe of colors, followed by several of the running lights blinking on and off.
Felina briefly worried that the helicopter might’ve been too close to the discharge, but those worries subsided as everything seemed to return to normal.
“Balikirev, confirm?” Turmoil said, and a moment passed, followed by a smile.
Felina knew by that look the attack was a success, and her eyes met with T-Bone’s.
“That was the easy part,” T-Bone muttered.
“No doubt,” Felina replied, and checked over the rifle she had resting between her legs.
While not her preferred choice, in the past she found the AK-74 was still an adequate weapon, having handled it during a brief segment of her QRF training focused on becoming familiar with enemy weapons. If memory served her correctly, it used a smaller, intermediate cartridge in 5.45x39mm, which was somewhat similar to the 5.56 used in the Enforcers’ M16s and M4 carbines. At least more similar than the larger 7.62x39mm used in the older AK-47s.
She considered it a less precise weapon, though its ruggedness and simplicity of operation made up for that.
“The attack was a success,” Turmoil said as she turned around to face the passengers. “Ready your weapons and prepare for rapid deployment!”
A series of metallic clicks filled the inside of the Chinook, as each soldier racked the charging handles of their weapons, loading rounds into chambers. Felina did the same, making sure to switch the fire selector to the safe position, keeping in mind that with this particular weapon the semi-auto and full-auto positions were reversed. That particular tidbit was something she had forgotten in her last encounter with Dark Kat.
Not going to make that mistake again.
T-Bone had his arms crossed, a look of disdain on his face. What Felina wasn’t sure was who the expression was in reaction to. Was he feeling that way toward herself? Toward Turmoil? Maybe toward himself? Felina didn’t know, and didn’t have the opportunity to inquire, as she felt her stomach lurch. The Chinook was angling downward and rapidly descending.
Despite the circumstances, the adrenaline was starting to pump through Felina’s veins. It was a nervous excitement, and she tapped her foot impatiently, feeling like a sardine in this tin can.
What if all the SAMs aren’t disabled? It’d only take one lucky shot to blow this thing, and everyone in it, out of the sky…
The ramp at the rear of the helicopter opened, allowing the bright sunlight inside. Outside, the jungle canopy was racing by, until it broke away, revealing a grass-filled clearing. The Chinook lowered just a little more until the ramp just barely touched the ground, coming to a hovering stop.
The troops got up from their seats, and in an orderly quickness exited the helicopter. Felina and T-Bone got up as well, following less quickly behind them, stepping onto the ground at the same time, keeping their heads low as the double-blades of the Chinook caused a small maelstrom to surround the landing site. Turmoil was right behind them, and as the three made their way away from the helicopter, it rose into the sky.
A textbook rapid deployment.
As the sounds of the rotors diminished, the area filled with an odd quiet. The 25 troops had established a perimeter, keeping their attention, and guns, pointed outwards.
The clearing appeared peaceful; the bright green grass reminded her of the meadows occasionally found between the mountain ranges far to the east of Megakat City. At the edges, about 200 or so meters away, was the edge of the jungle, where the peak of Mt. Dragon Li poked out of the canopy, looking closer and more ominous than ever, the smoke still puffing out of its top.
It was a short distance away, maybe a few hours trek on foot. It was their destination, Felina knew. Dark Kat’s base of operations was there. The quietness was interrupted by the roar of several jet engines, and she glanced up just in time to see three of the Turbokats flying by lowly, just above the treetops. They zoomed at the volcano, and she felt just as much as heard the explosions in the distance.
More smoke rose, but this time from lower, near the base of the volcano. The Turbokats’ second objective, once the forcefield was down, was to soften up the base with an airstrike. Whatever remaining hard targets Dark Kat had would have been destroyed, just now. No more air force, no more missile defenses. No more radar.
Even if Dark Kat had managed to hide an aircraft and successfully take off, the Turbokats would still be on patrol, able to intercept and prevent an escape.
There was nowhere to run.
Felina gripped the rifle close, feeling an anticipation that made her grow anxious.
“Sure you didn’t kill him with all of that?” T-Bone asked, taking in the sight.
“He’s alive,” Turmoil said, and then called out to one of the troops. “Sergeant! We’re moving forward. Keep an eye out for Creeplings. And remember, I want him taken alive.”
“Aye aye,” the female sergeant responded, and the group of soldiers began to advance forward, heading to the edge of the jungle.
“Remind me again why you need our help?” T-Bone said as he followed along in a more casual stride.
Turmoil smiled, not answering.
Felina frowned, following along as well, each boot step feeling soft in the clearing’s grass, getting closer to the jungle by the second.
It was an eerie and foreboding presence, and for some reason it chipped just a little bit of Felina’s gung-ho feelings away. Something about it wasn’t right, and the doubts she had been experiencing started to resurface once again.
What am I doing here?
It was a question she had yet to answer, and as the jungle swallowed up the troops, T-Bone, Turmoil and now herself, she wondered if this island in the middle of an empty sea was going to be her final resting place.
She shrugged off the idea.
If it happens, it happens. No going back now.
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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.