“Ready forward cannons!” shouted the voice of Ulysses Feral.
Felina blinked, finding herself in unfamiliar surroundings, the smell of sea salt filling her nostrils. All around her was chaos. Men dressed in anachronistic sailor uniforms brushed past her. The ground, which she quickly realized was a wooden deck, lurched beneath her, and a wave crashed over the nearby railing.
I’m on a ship. And not just any ship…
It appeared to be a late 18th century frigate, its three large masts poking into the grey sky above, the winds rippling the cloth sails. Above and behind on the quarterdeck, a crewman was spinning the large helm wheel. Standing beside him, wearing a tri-corner hat, a blue waistcoat with tails hanging to behind the knees, with large cuffs of at least six inches on the wrists, and frills coming off his collar, was her uncle.
Or at least someone who looks an awful lot like him, weird clothes not withstanding.
“Lieutenant, prepare to lead the charge on my order!” he shouted, looking directly at her.
Feeling confused, Felina pointed at herself, and realized that she too was dressed similarly. A tri-corner hat sat atop her head, her hair tied back into a neat ponytail. She was wearing a blue waistcoat seemingly tailored to her figure, adorned with several gold buttons, covering an off-white shirt and pants. A brown leather strap was hanging over her shoulder, attached to a screw-tip powder horn. In her free hand she held a black powder musket with a barrel of at least 30 inches. It was heavy, and as another wave crashed she quickly grasped it with both hands to keep from dropping it.
“Steady!” Ulysses Feral was shouting, steadying himself on the railing, but keeping his attention focused ahead.
The ship was moving at incredible speed through the Port of Nebelung, passing by flaming wrecks and adrift debris. There were several remnants of wave-break walls, damaged by battle, causing what would normally be a calm body of water to be battered by the waves of the ocean. Felina could feel more than hear cannon fire, which seemed to be originating from their destination: the Great Hall.
It was a palace, constructed from white marble, with intricate archways supporting its multiple levels. Atop several sections, round domes with pointed tops gave it an ancient, other-worldly appearance. It was not pristine, however, as several blackened and collapsed areas were smoldering.
“There’s nowhere safe to come ashore…” Felina said to herself, taking in the scene, noting several of the docks were on fire or splintered into useless sections.
She then remembered the dramatic legend of famed Enforcer Jonas Spangle. He was the captain of the Megakat Spirit. On the last day of the Battle of Nebelung, he had run the ship aground, directly into the Great Hall’s landing. Those who told the tale had said the Spirit’s bowsprit had actually pierced the walls of the palace, allowing the troops entry.
An explosion of splinters, iron and fire knocked Felina down on her chest. Several screams of surprise and pain surrounded her, sailors falling to the deck dead or sent overboard. Ropes went flying as the full-rigged vessel seemed to be coming apart, its mizzenmast teetering backward.
“Fire!” the voice of Feral, Felina now realized was actually Captain Jonas, commanded.
Felina got to her knees just in time to see the two forward mounted cannons recoil backward, flame and smoke shooting out the barrels like a dragon breathing fire. Ahead, the walls of the palace were so close they filled her vision. Several enemy artillery platforms exploded from the close range attack of the Spirit, sending soldiers flying.
Gunfire sporadically impacted the deck, and several more sailors met their ends. Felina took cover behind a deck mounted cannon, the enemy gunfire ricocheting off of its thick iron. She could see the muzzle flashes atop the walls where enemy marksmen took aim from.
The helmsman was dead, his unmoving body slumped over the wheel. Captain Jonas pulled the body off and took control of the ship himself.
“Lieutenant, prepare to disembark!” Jonas shouted, his eyes filled with a terrifying purpose.
From her position, she couldn’t see how close the wall was, but from the remaining crew’s collective expressions, Felina knew it was time to grab hold of something.
The Spirit, riding one last wave, drove bow-first into the damaged wall. The front of the ship came aground, up and over a small dock where enemy soldiers scattered, several cannons displaced. Large, several-ton cubic stones collapsed in all directions. The marksmen who had been shooting moments before now fell from the parapet walks.
The ship came to a rest, and the interior of the Great Hall of Nebelung was now exposed to the outside world.
Felina was no expert in colonial naval vessels, but she knew that the Spirit had sustained irreparable damage, and did not offer any safety.
“Alright, let’s go!” she shouted to anyone who would listen as she got to her feet, taking one last glance toward the quarterdeck. The Captain was slung over the remains of the forward facing railing, the helm broken and on the deck. He was dead.
Felina’s eyes narrowed.
Jonas had famously died steering the Spirit into its desperate and final assault. It was a legendary act in Enforcer lore. Many places in the academy bore his name, including the target range where Felina had earned her sharpshooter qualification.
Despite knowing all of this, it was difficult to look at, and she had to remind herself that it wasn’t her uncle.
The remnants of the crew spilled over the side of the deck’s railing, dropping the short distance onto the rubble that acted as an uneven ramp that led down into the Great Hall. Felina grabbed her musket and vaulted over herself. Jumping between disheveled stones she arrived on the polished marble floor, now covered in pebbles, and skidded to a stop.
The Enforcers were engaged in close combat with the remaining Chartreux Pirates, the violence of battle heavily contrasted by the palace’s majestic interior. Several of her impromptu comrades were using the three story tall white columns that lined the perimeter of the chamber for cover, while the pirates had set up what appeared to be a last stand barricade around the elevated throne platform.
Someone was shouting in a foreign language, probably Slavonic, and as Felina rushed forward to take cover, she identified the voice as the pirate’s leader: Sergey Balikirev. He was shouting at his men, just barely visible behind the makeshift barricade, waving a large cutlass defiantly in the air. Felina knew it had to be him, because she knew his defeat signaled the end of the battle.
“This is it…” Felina said out loud and then turned to the Enforcers. “Prepare to charge the barricade!”
The soldiers looked dubiously at one another, fear in their eyes. The barricade was a short distance away, and incomplete. A unified charge would likely breach it easily, but not without obvious casualties. Felina snarled and reached down to pick up a primed and ready flintlock pistol off a nearby corpse, gripping the musket long gun in her other hand.
“Form up on me, and I swear if I die due to your cowardice I’ll be the one who greets you in hell!” she shouted, and then stepped forward, chunks of the column breaking off near her head from gunfire. “Now, charge!”
Felina sprinted forward, her face a wide-eyed expression of rage and determination. She didn’t know what had inspired the sense of overwhelming emotion now beating in her heart. None of this made any sense, but she didn’t care, and quickly closed the distance to the barricade, leaping up on top of it. She brought up the flintlock pistol and pulled the trigger.
The hammer dropped and sparked, the flint striking past the frizzen and igniting the black powder in the pan. Unlike modern firearms, the gun fired a split second after the trigger was pulled, and Felina compensated for it. She hit her target, an unwashed looking pirate, who stared up at her in surprise, the business end of his sidearm about to point at her. He fell to the floor, dead.
Behind her, Felina heard the unintelligible shouts of her fellow Enforcers. All had followed her and were charging over and, in places, through the barricade. The gunshots were deafening, and Felina’s ears rang in protest. She ignored them, dropping the pistol and transitioning to the musket, taking aim at another pirate who was within arm’s reach, charging at her with a rusty cutlass. She pulled the trigger and shot him point-blank.
He fell, but another was right behind him. Felina brought the now empty firearm up and collided the butt of the stock with the face of the approaching enemy, the cutlass piercing Felina’s waistcoat and narrowly missing her torso. The weapon’s heavy wood composition made it an effective club and the pirate fell to the ground, incapacitated.
The scene was a soiree of violence, and Felina felt herself the master of ceremonies.
She lost herself in the action, her thinking mind shut off as years of training commandeered her every move, simply reacting to the situation.
Another gunshot. Felina felt it whiz through the air as it took off her tri-corner hat, which until this point had miraculously stayed on her head. It was an incredible near miss, and she turned to the origin.
Despite the language barrier, Felina knew Sergey Balikirev had said something profane as he tossed aside a spent flintlock and brought up his cutlass, charging at Felina. For an inexplicable reason, Felina found herself smiling, and rushed forward to meet him, holding the musket by its barrel.
Sergey slashed his sword with full force, an attempt at decapitation. Felina blocked the blade with the musket, the sharp edge cutting deeply into the wood, stopping as it hit the metal barrel. It stuck, and she tugged back on it. Caught off guard, Sergey was pulled forward. Felina drove her shoulder into his exposed chest and he fell back, dropping to his knees.
Standing over him, Felina tossed aside the stuck weapons. Around her, the battle continued, but it seemed more distant and vague. As if the world was now solely focussing on her and the defeated opponent in front of her.
“You put up a good fight,” Felina said as she reached down and grabbed a fistful of Sergey’s hair, pulling up on it, forcing him to look at her.
Unexpectedly, Sergey’s face was no longer his own. Like a mirror, his face was now hers. Despite this, Felina did not hesitate, and drew her right fist back and punched the likeness with all her might. The knuckle’s in Felina’s fist ached at the impact, but the damage was done.
The other Felina Feral fell to the floor, losing a tooth that went flying out of her mouth.
The battle was over, and as adrenaline and the uncharacteristic bloodlust she felt began to subside, the thinking elements of her brain returned. She felt herself filled with a terrifying confusion.
Why am I fighting myself?
“You know, we don’t have a punch card,” the medic said. “No buying six sandwiches and getting the seventh free around here.”
Felina opened her eyes and saw the face of the same EMT who had been feeding her oxygen earlier in the day. She was once again lying on a stretcher, a fresh bandage wrapped across her forehead, where a cold compress also sat.
“You should,” Felina slurred, noticing her mouth felt swollen, her tongue feeling the vacant real estate caused by a missing tooth.
“I can recommend a good dentist,” the medic said as he held up a clear Lucite polybag with a bloodied molar inside of it.
“Thanks,” Felina muttered as she sat up and took the bag, feeling a rush in her head.
“You sounded pretty out of it earlier,” the medic said. “Saying something about being the one to greet me in hell?”
“Yeah…” Felina said, looking away as she took off the cold compress. “Just weird, punchy dreams, I guess.”
“I gave you a dose of paracetamol,” the medic continued. “I’d also offer to take you to the hospital, but I get the feeling I already know your answer.”
“You probably do,” Felina said as she stood up and took in the surroundings. She was still in the parking lot near the loading bay. The moving truck was gone, the bay door left wide open. Several Enforcer police officers were on the scene. One of them was walking toward her. The medic sighed and shook his head as he carted the stretcher back to a nearby awaiting ambulance.
“Feral!” the officer called out to her.
“That’s me,” Felina said unenthusiastically.
“You okay to walk?” the officer asked.
“I’ve had worse,” Felina said as she stepped forward, whatever drug the medic had given her was starting to kick in.
“Well, good, because the Sarge wants you in his office,” the officer said in a foreboding tone.
“I don’t think you’re a healthy person,” Sergeant Joseph Daniels said, pacing as well as he could around his cramped office in Precinct 58.
The rundown, wood-patterned aesthetic was present in abundance, along with several exposed pipes near the ceiling. An old map of Megakat City, yellowed by age with several push pins stuck in it hung on the far wall. A metal, military-surplus desk, covered in paperwork and a flesh-colored 15-inch CRT computer monitor dominated the center of the room. The window overlooked the alley behind the precinct. There were no inspiring cityscape views to be found here.
Felina sat in a metal folding chair, legs crossed, slouched slightly as she held an icepack to the side of her face. She imagined her expression was one of severe indifference.
“Because,” Joe said as he turned, an action exaggerated by his rotund figure. “A healthy person doesn’t get beaten to a pulp twice in one shift for no good reason.”
“A kid was going to burn alive if I didn’t step in,” Felina said with the same affect others might use to describe a casual afternoon of running errands. “Some smoke inhalation caused me to lose consciousness for a little while. Not really what I’d call beaten to a pulp.”
“Oh, so you want to argue semantics with me?” Joe said, a sarcastic smile on his face.
“I don’t really want to argue anything with you, Sergeant,” Felina said, her eyes drifting, not making contact.
“Hey!” Joe shouted and he snapped his fingers in front of her face. “Pay attention when I’m talking to you.”
“Sure thing,” Felina said as she took the compress off of her face and crossed her arms, leaning back in the chair, her eyes meeting his. “You’ve got my complete attention.”
“You know, Feral, I don’t know how life can make it any clearer to you,” Joe said as he stopped pacing and walked behind his desk. He reached for a manilla folder. “I know your type. You think you’re some kind of badass. That the rules don’t apply to you.”
“Clearly they do,” Felina said. “Else I wouldn’t be stuck in this detail.”
“I’ve read through your file,” Joe said as he opened the folder and flipped through several pages inside. “Now, I don’t know if it’s because of who you’re related to or what, but anyone else with this list of problems and they’d be kicked off the force.”
Felina felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, but she clenched her teeth, making her injured face hurt.
“That upset you?” Joe asked.
“Not really,” Felina lied.
Joe set the folder back down on his cluttered desk and took a seat in his worn out chair. It creaked like a rusty door.
“To top things off you go and get beat up by a girl,” Joe said. “I thought you were some kind of specially trained super soldier?”
Apparently Joe had already read Felina’s statement. She had given it to another officer while sitting outside the Sarge’s office like an elementary school student waiting to see the principal.
“Maybe this precinct just rubbed off on me too much,” Felina said. “With all the sitting around and getting fat everyone does.”
Joe’s eyes narrowed and he pointed a stubby finger at her.
“You’re suspended,” Joe said and he picked up a pen and started scribbling on an official looking document.
“For what?” Felina asked, sitting up straight.
“For medical reasons,” Joe said and then added his signature to the piece of paper.
“I’m fine,” Felina said.
Well, maybe not fine, but well enough to do this job.
“You’re anything but,” Joe said and slid the paper across his desk.
Felina groaned and took the paper, standing up.
“I don’t want to see you back here for at least a week,” Joe said. “And when you do get back, consider yourself on notice. The last thing I need is some hotshot getting herself killed and ruining my precinct’s stats in the department.”
“Thanks for your concern,” Felina muttered as she let herself out.
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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.