The nighttime sky of Megakat City glowed a menacing reddish-orange as several fires burned out of control, creating a foreboding smoky atmosphere in the rear-view mirror of Callie Briggs’s sedan. After exiting from the roof of the building near City Hall, Felina had hurriedly made her way to the adjacent parking garage. The car was where she had expected it to be, parked in a reserved spot labeled DEPUTY MAYOR. Felina knew that Callie kept a spare key hidden underneath the rear license plate, which had made departure from the area relatively quick and easy.
Well, if you don’t count dodging flaming debris that had been falling out of the sky and onto the street.
It had been over thirty minutes since Felina had seen any aircraft in the sky. Whatever conflict that had been occurring was over, and she was fairly certain the Enforcers hadn’t won.
Now Felina was speeding down Highway 50, questioning whether or not she was making the right choice.
It was standard procedure during a city-wide crisis for all Enforcers to immediately report to their assigned locations. Felina was certain there was little good she could do at Precinct 58, especially with Sergeant Daniels in charge there.
This situation is way outside his ability to understand, let alone handle.
Felina frowned at the thought, realizing it was likely outside hers and anyone else’s too.
Felina had made a troubling observation as she had hastily driven down numerous side-streets, trying her best to stay out of sight. It was that there were no other Enforcers to be seen. Felina wasn’t sure what that meant. She had turned on the sedan’s radio, only to find that every station was filled with static.
It’s not a coincidence. All of this was planned. Turmoil had Captain Elizaveta in the Mayor’s Office; who knows who else she had elsewhere?
It was a disturbing thought, made more worrying by the fact that Commander Feral was taken captive, meaning that if Turmoil had any moles in the Enforcers, they were now more free to take action.
The tires of the sedan screeched momentarily before they dug into the dirt path as Felina took a hard left, pulling rapidly into the parking area of Jake and Chance’s Garage. She’d been so engrossed in her thoughts she hadn’t bothered to take in the acres of salvaged aircraft that led up to this point.
She opened the door and exited, not bothering to close it behind her as she walked briskly toward the entrance of the garage. The large hole in the ground was still present, but something else seemed off. She quickly realized that things were in a worse state of disrepair, with small arms bullet holes in the walls, and several brass shell casings scattered on the ground.
“Oh no,” Felina couldn’t help but say out loud as she charged forward and burst through the customer entrance door.
The interior of the garage was ransacked. Tool boxes overturned, wrenches, screwdrivers and sockets strewn about. The light fixtures were knocked off the ceiling. The kitchen was a mess, all of the cabinets opened. Broken glass littered nearly everything, and as Felina walked she kicked several more of the spent casings, which seemed to clink loudly in the dead silent interior. Light from the outside came in small beams through the numerous bullet holes in the walls and ceiling, casting everything in an unsettling glow.
“Jake!” Felina called out, and began to frantically search. She found the same scene upstairs, and doubled back, remembering the secret trap door. It was already opened, and she made her way down each embedded ladder rung.
As she reached the bottom, she noticed her hands covered in a sticky red substance.
It was blood. Upon closer inspection, she saw that the ladder rungs had been covered in it.
“Come back to finish the job?” a raspy voice asked.
Felina frowned, and saw in the corner next to a shot-up workbench was Jake Clawson, sitting on the floor, his back propped against the concrete wall. He’d fashioned a makeshift compress out of several shop-rags and was holding it against his abdomen with one hand. In the other, he was half-heartedly holding up a wrench defensively.
Felina held back her apprehension at the sight as she walked over and knelt down to get a better look at him.
“Not exactly,” Felina said.
“Oh, it’s you,” Jake said, and lowered the wrench. “Not ashamed to say I’ve gotten a little jumpy whenever I see a female silhouette now.”
“Can’t blame you,” Felina said. “How many?”
“At least 20 of them, all heavily armed,” Jake said. “Showed up knocking at the front door, just after our last chat. They were content to leave me like this.”
Felina frowned, noting that was at least 24 hours ago.
It’s a miracle he’s still alive.
“We need to get you to a hospital,” Felina said as she stood up and glanced around. “You got a phone down here?”
“Tried that already. All the lines are dead,” Jake said. “And there’s something blocking radio transmissions. Pretty sure it’s her.”
“I was afraid of that,” Felina said, and then knelt down again. “You’ll probably die if I move you.”
“Well, I’m guarantied to die if I stay here,” Jake replied, forcing a smile.
Felina sat in the brightly lit waiting room of Megakat Memorial Hospital. Several other people were sitting in seats arranged about, all of them with somber expressions. Felina had discarded her blood soaked hooded-sweatshirt in a garbage can once she’d managed to safely pass Jake off to the orderlies who’d rushed him to the emergency room. The blood had been Jake’s. By the time she’d managed to carry him into Callie’s Sedan and drive back into the city’s limits, he’d passed out.
She’d anticipated the usual questions related to gunshot wounds, but they were few.
“Oh great, another one from Main Street?” the orderly had assumed, and Felina had just nodded in response.
It seemed that a lot of bystanders had been caught in the crossfire, and now found themselves patients here.
Mounted high on the wall of the waiting area a television was turned on, though it displayed nothing but noiseless static. Felina was feeling antsy, and tapped her foot impatiently. She’d been here for what seemed like hours, and while she understood how busy the hospital staff likely was, she still wanted to know if Jake had survived.
And he’s not the only one, either.
Felina had been trying hard not to think about Chance Furlong. The last she’d seen of him didn’t suggest that he’d live to see another day. The fact that she’d run away wasn’t helping much, either.
I should’ve stayed behind with him. But, he told me to go. That’s just an excuse to let yourself off the hook.
She closed her eyes and shook her head, as if trying to jostle the thoughts out of her mind. She stood up and started walking down the hall, the few nurses nearby too focused on their tasks to notice her. As she walked down the hall, she could see a number of patients through open doors lying in hospital beds, sporting all the tell-tale signs of battlefield injuries.
Numerous regrets began to well up like the back-flow of a clogged toilet, making her start to feel physically ill.
How many opportunities did I have to stop all of this?
Felina recalled the Glock 36 she’d had on her person all the times she had been left alone with Turmoil. From their first official encounter in her apartment, to their journey together in Turbokat One, to their numerous meetings in Turmoil’s cabin, and even during the last trek toward the lair of defeated Dark Kat.
There wouldn’t have been anything physically difficult about it. Just take out the gun, aim and pull the trigger. That’s it. So many chances to have prevented all of this, yet I didn’t. Why?
Was it cowardice? Did she fear the repercussions of Turmoil’s soldiers while aboard the Balikirev? Felina didn’t think so. In fact, she thought of several scenarios in which escape would’ve been possible, even likely.
I didn’t shoot her because I thought I couldn’t get away with it. I didn’t shoot her because I… respected her.
Even now, with Chance Furlong’s and Jake Clawson’s fates uncertain, and a city in conflict where her fellow Enforcers were getting hurt and killed, with Callie Briggs, her uncle and the mayor captured, Felina still felt that respect. It was not a trifle task to bring the city to its knees, and it seemed that Turmoil was accomplishing just that.
But now, that respect was mixed with something else. Something she’d been denying. Something she’d been feeling in the back of her mind ever since Captain Elizaveta exited that stolen truck wearing a Telnyashka, the striped shirt of the Spetzkatz. That feeling was fear.
As Felina walked down the corridor of the hospital, she could see the staff avoiding eye-contact. She could tell they were feeling the same fear.
Felina began to peer into open doors along the hall, checking to see if any of them contained Jake Clawson, who should’ve been out of the emergency room by now.
Assuming of course he didn’t die.
Felina felt her throat tighten at the thought. She knew that Jake, being a former Enforcer himself, and a SWAT Kat, was no lightweight. She knew he was tough. He had to be, else he’d have died long ago, considering the foes the SWAT Kats faced. But, she had peeked behind the curtain, and gotten a glimpse of the two as they really were. Jake had given her a behind-the-scenes look at the vigilante duo, a view witnessed by few. They seemed so much more vulnerable from that perspective.
Unfortunately, Turmoil had also glimpsed behind that curtain, and had no doubt made the same observations, which only added to Felina’s unease.
She really did take us all apart, piece-by-piece, and reassemble us as parts of her plan.
The only hiccup seemed to come from that union boss, O’Reilly, but even that hadn’t stopped things from progressing.
Felina thought about that for a moment more.
She seemed genuinely surprised and upset by the crowd not taking her side. Maybe she hasn’t thought of everything. Maybe she isn’t invincible…
Surely Felina’s declination and escape also weren’t anticipated. Even if that was the case, what could she do? She was only one person.
Felina ducked her head into another hospital room, and not seeing Jake, began to pull back out, but paused. Sitting upright, with several bandages covering part of her face and her right forearm encased in a cast, was a young girl eating from a cup of green JELL-O with a plastic spork. A television was mounted on the wall, though like others she had seen, it was filled with muted static.
“Oh, hi,” the girl said, looking up.
“Hi,” Felina replied, and stepped back into the room, recognizing the girl instantly as the one she’d pulled from the burning minivan days ago.
“Want some?” she asked, holding up a second, unopened cup.
Felina’s stomach rumbled, and she realized that in all the excitement of the day she hadn’t eaten anything.
“Yeah, sure,” Felina said, and pulled up a chair next to the bed as she took the cup.
“I like the red kind the best,” the girl said as she scooped out a cubic portion that undulated in the eating utensil. “But the green’s okay, too.”
Felina opened the lid of the disposable container, and not having a spork herself, simply brought it up to her mouth and squeezed the sides. Chunks of the JELL-O fell onto her tongue. It tasted bitter and artificial to her. She briefly chewed it, feeling it turn to liquid as she swallowed. It was better than nothing, she supposed.
“You’re the lady who pulled me out of the fire,” the girl said.
“That’s me,” Felina replied.
“Is that your job?” the girl asked inquisitively.
“It’s part of it, I guess,” Felina said. “How old are you?”
“I’m six-and-a-half,” the girl said as she held up fingers on both hands, and Felina couldn’t help but notice she struggled to do so with the cast.
“That’s almost seven,” Felina said, and the girl’s face brightened at the remark. “When’s your birthday?”
“June 22nd,” the girl said.
“What’s your name?” Felina asked as she squeezed the remaining JELL-O into her mouth.
“I’m Kaitlin,” the girl said. “But everyone calls me Katy.”
“Well, Katy, thanks for the snack,” Felina said.
“How old are you?” Katy asked.
Felina smiled at the question. It felt strangely foreign on her face, as if she hadn’t done so in a long time.
“I just turned thirty last week,” Felina said.
Katy held up her hands, fingers extended.
“Yeah, you’ll need more fingers than that,” Felina said.
“Do you know where my mommy is?” Katy asked.
“Let me see,” Felina said as she set her empty JELL-O cup into a nearby receptacle and reached forward to grab at a small stack of charts at the foot of the bed. She flipped though them and found some of the nurse’s notes. “Looks like the doctors are still making your mom better.”
“Oh,” Katy said, her earlier brightness fading.
“Hey,” Felina said as she set the charts back down, “Don’t worry. She’s gonna be fine.”
“That big car hit us really hard,” Katy said. “Mommy fell out of our car. I haven’t seen her.”
Felina frowned at Katy’s expression. The little girl looked as though she were on the verge of tears. Felina didn’t consider herself good with children. She normally felt awkward around them, always afraid she’d say or do something inappropriate that’d offend their parents somehow. But, for some reason, she wasn’t feeling that now.
“You know, you’ve been pretty brave,” Felina said as she reached forward and took the girl’s hand in hers.
Katy looked down and nodded.
“A lot of things are going on right now,” Felina said. “And I guess we all need to be a little brave.”
“How?” Katy asked.
Felina chuckled at the question.
“That’s a good question,” Felina said. “We just have to, I guess.”
“Why do you need to be brave?” Katy asked. “You’re not afraid of anything.”
“What makes you say that?” Felina asked.
“Because I saw your face in the fire,” Katy said.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I was pretty scared then,” Felina said. “But that’s what it means to be brave. You can’t let your fear stop you. You have to face it, and overcome it.”
Katy nodded again, and Felina felt her hand gripped tighter.
“Will you stay here?” Katy asked.
Felina glanced at the wall-mounted analog clock, and saw that it read 23:00 hours. She blinked, surprised that so much time had passed. As if reacting to that realization, her body started to become overcome with tiredness.
“Yeah, I’ll stay here,” Felina said.
Katy adjusted herself and leaned her head back on a pillow, hanging on tight to Felina’s hand.
Felina felt the squeeze, as she too felt herself leaning into her own chair in a more relaxed position. Everything was turning fuzzy, and for a brief moment the troubles of the world seemed to disappear.
Navigate This Author's Stories
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.