The sound of voices greeted the three when they came to the end of the tunnel that led to where the Turbokat waited. A small group of six Fae warriors stood or flew around the jet, studying it from all angles but didn’t get too close as they could feel the iron coating it. It was obvious they were eaten up with curiosity and not a little fear.
Smiling a little to himself, Jake deactivated the security system and signaled the cargo door and cockpit to open. The Fae eyed it leerily before approaching with great caution.
“I promise, there is no iron within or near the door, so you won’t be harmed. Just don’t touch or get near the outer skin of our jet,” Jake warned them as he led the way into the cargo hold.
Still nervous, the Queen’s soldiers and Tochere walked up the ramp and entered this strange new world. Chance followed behind them then signaled the door to close, causing Tochere flinch in fear, which he quickly hid.
“I thought you said you had to wait a candlemark?”
“That’s right, but Jake, or Razor as he’s called when we’re fighting as a team, told you he needed to take readings before he dared to drop the iron dust, remember?”
“We need to take to the air to do that, so we’ll fly high enough none can see or hear us and, as we do so, he can take his readings. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the ride. And, for your information, I’m called T-Bone when I’m in my masked outfit and Prince Lorcan when I look like you, just so you know what to call me and when,” Chance said, allowing his appearance to return to his T-Bone persona as wings were impossible to fit into his pilot seat.
Before leaving, he and Jake, now Razor with his mask back in place, showed the soldiers where and how to sit in the flip down seats then aided each in buckling in. It wasn’t comfortable for them because of the wings, but no one complained.
To prevent them from panicking when the engines were started, the liftoff, and flight itself, T-Bone gave them a quick briefing.
“The first thing you’ll feel and hear is a deep thrumming beneath your feet then a lifting sensation stronger than the one you feel when you flap your wings. It will press you into your seat… hard. The engines you heard will be loud but not as noisy inside as outside it. When we get in the air, the sensation of being pulled down will change to your back being pressed against the seat. The change in altitude and speed could make you feel a bit upset in your stomach. Yes, I know you’re used to flying, but not at the speeds we’ll be doing. This is the only reason I’m telling you all this, so you won’t be alarmed. You’re all soldiers used to danger, but it’s no shame to be afraid of something outside your experiences. Now, if there’s no questions we’ll take off.”
No one said anything though there were quite a few nervous eye flicks in a few faces, he noted, as he stared at each in turn. Nodding, T-Bone climbed up into the cockpit and began preflight procedures.
Beneath the passengers, they could feel the deep thrumming the Prince had warned them of. Nearly all were gripping their seats or straps tightly, eyes round and bodies tense as the huge machine surrounding them began to rumble beneath them and the noise of its engines got louder. Then it lifted from the ground with relative ease.
“They’re going to be freaked, buddy, no matter how prepared you tried to make them,” Razor observed as he activated his weapon’s board and monitored the radar as T-Bone slowly applied power to raise the jet upward on VTOL.
“They’ll handle it or be shamed and none of them will allow that to happen,” his partner assured him. Using the air jets, he eased them out of the cave without scraping the wingtips. In clear air, he switched from VTOL to the engines and set a course for the upper stratosphere.
The sky was a dingy color of muddy greens and oranges with patches of darkness here and there. It was disgusting and hard to see through. His lips pursed together grimly, T-Bone headed the nose of the jet upward for more than fifteen minutes.
As they passed through the different levels of sky, Razor took readings, then, finally, they broke through into the higher altitudes where they were stunned by the brilliant azure sky that was clean and unmarred by the sickness below them. Only white streaks of clouds could be seen and over all was the warm sunshine shining down on them with a more intense yellow color than Megakat City boasted.
“Wow! It’s beautiful up here. This must be what this world normally looks like,” Razor observed.
“Yes. It’s exactly like what I saw in the amulet,” T-Bone sighed, the sight making feel more invigorated and optimistic. “Too bad we can’t just blow off the scummy air below us,” he said wistfully.
“I would think, with the powers you and your mother possess, you could use magic to do that,” Razor hazarded.
“Hmm, I don’t know. Won’t be able to test that theory until we break the spell the Dark King has over the world right now.”
“Oh, guess you’re right. Well, that’s the best incentive I know of to take this guy down,” his partner growled.
Silence fell for a while as T-Bone cruised along while his partner worked.
“Hey, buddy, since we can’t drop into the Dark King’s palace just yet, there’s no reason we can’t just go ahead and fly there but stay at our high altitude position until it’s time to attack. I only need a few minutes to determine wind speed when we get into position.”
“I’ve been going that direction already, Razor. Should I increase our speed?”
“Nah, we’re going at a fair clip already that will still get us there early, so keep it cut back. Don’t want to get there before your mother. Nice to see you’re thinking ahead instead of waiting on me, buddy,” Razor said, teasing his friend.
“Thank my uncle for that. He told me I was too impulsive and needed to take more time to think before acting. He spent a lot of time pounding that into me,” T-Bone said ruefully.
“Yeah, I definitely noticed that when you took out Dark Kat. I like it, and that attitude adjustment will make working with Feral much calmer, I think,” Razor commented then asked more hesitantly. “That’s if you intend to return home with me, that is.” This was his greatest worry. He didn’t know what he would do if Chance decided to stay behind.
His partner was silent for a bit before finally answering. “I’ve been giving that a lot of thought, buddy. Though this place is fantastic and all, I’m not sure I’d be happy here. It’s great to see my mother and be able to be my true self, but, when this war is over, she can visit me, but I most likely won’t visit her because of the drastic time difference. However, since I will live a lot longer than you, down the road I just might go home to stay as I couldn’t bear to see all I know die and leave me behind,” he said honestly.
Razor relaxed and sighed with relief. “And, I wouldn’t want you to, buddy. All I want is for you to be happy.”
“Then happy for me will be Megakat City, though I know my mother won’t be happy about that.”
“No mother would be, but she’s been without you for a very long time. I have a feeling she’ll handle it well,” Razor said comfortingly.
Silence fell again as they cruised the warm, sunny sky to their destination. Within the cargo, hold the soldiers were trying their best to remain calm and get some rest before their energies would be needed for the battle to come, but it was proving rather difficult as none of them were able to get used to this nerve-wracking form of flight.
Tochere was rather glad they couldn’t see out as he thought that might make handling this trip even harder to bear.
Though it only seemed a long time, finally the flight did end and Razor had all the data he needed.
“Time to rock and roll, buddy!” he warned his partner.
“Not until I hear from my mother, Razor,” T-Bone reminded his partner. And, luckily, his dashcom lit up at that moment. “Huh! You and your uncanny timing!” He reached to answer it as his friend snickered.
“I hear you, mother. You in place?”
“We are. We have spread out in a thin line along where the Dark King’s army has stopped to rest,” she reported then her voice dropped to a more worried tone. “Lorcan… there are so many of them. Even my reports did not do justice to the sheer size of his army.”
“Don’t worry, mother. With them so close together and in one place like this, that just means we’ll take many more of them out in one fell swoop. Please take the precautions we warned you to do. We’re just above you and will commence our strafing run in five minutes.”
“I hear you, son, and will be ready. Good luck to thee!”
“And, to you, mother.” T-Bone cut the connection, his face grim. “Alright, buddy, time to take out the trash.”
T-Bone tipped the nose of the jet downward and prepared to strafe the field from left to right then toward the far mountains where the Dark King’s castle perched among the rocky crags. It would take them more than fifteen minutes to reach that location when they were ready to tackle the King himself, so they needed to be finished here as quick as they could.
It took only the promised five minutes for them to break through the clouds and plunge down into darkness again. Razor was prepared for it to be dark like when they entered this realm so had the nosecone light already lit, lighting their way and blinding those dark fae below them that were sensitive to it.
The army below stared up at them in stunned surprise, and Razor used that to his advantage. As his partner began his run, the weapon’s officer fired a mixture of gas grenades, iron dust laden missiles that sprayed their contents extensively, and flashbulb missiles to rout and terrify the army.
It was more successful than Razor could have hoped as his instruments told him the army was dying, unconscious, or running but none coming up to attack them.
Below, the Queen’s army watched in amazement and fear as their enemy went mad with fear and pain; fear from choking to death on gas or turning to ash from the iron dust. The stronger ones were driven off by the gas and the too brilliant light, heading to their dark hills for safety and away from the Queen’s lands. The huge dark army lay in total disarray. It was a better result than they could have dreamed. However, as her son had warned, there were a few causalities among her own troops from friendly fire but not many, thankfully.
For a straight twenty minutes, death stalked the land as scores of the enemy met their end, fell unconscious, or ran off. As he flew a grid pattern over the dark army, T-Bone was appalled at just large it was. If he’d not returned in time, his mother’s forces would have been overrun.
“We’re done, T-Bone. Time for the last stage of this operation.” Razor broke into his friend’s thoughts.
“Roger!” The pilot flew the jet toward the mountains and called his mother’s com unit. A roar of sound greeted him, causing him to wince. “Mother?” T-Bone shouted.
“Son! They’re dying by the thousands, and any that have tried to run toward us have been picked off. You have done well. But, be careful on your final mission. Do not get yourself killed by over confidence or carelessness,” she warned, shouting to be heard.
“I’ll keep my head about me, mother, promise. But, you be careful too. See you later!” He cut the comm and concentrated on getting to the castle as fast as he could. He knew the King should have been already notified that something odd had gone on, so they had to reach him before he could figure out a counterstrike. As he flew, he activated the intercom to the cargo hold. “We’ve been victorious against the dark king’s army; now we beard the leader in his own den. We’ll be at the castle shortly, be ready!”
Tochere and the other fae startled at the sudden sound of the prince’s voice seemingly coming from the walls, but what the prince said banished their fear and made them cheer.
Tochere was heartened by the news that the war was nearly over but reserved any true celebration for after they’d taken the King and he had a chance to check the battlefield. His leader had been on the throne for centuries and was not someone that could be taken that easily, however, since his mental faculties were seriously questionable, perhaps the old lion would be no true threat.
He shook his head. No, I won’t count on that; it just might have made the King even more dangerous. Wait and see and hope that this bright light from another world will be successful. Only then will I be willing to join the celebration, he thought. He gripped his sword tightly and readied himself for the final battle.
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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.