Racing back through the antechamber, Razor was beginning to regret having charged in to confront Dark Kat directly. In his eagerness he had, once again, underestimated their most dangerous enemy. Well, one of them. In hindsight, he half-jokingly thought that retirement from being a SWAT Kat wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It would certainly mean having to deal with considerably less monsters and villains. On the downside, it meant jail time. But, it wasn’t like they had a choice. Besides, he reasoned, now wasn’t the time for decision-making. Now was the time for action.
Action they were getting. In fact, they got it as soon as they reentered the antechamber. Those two huge statues suddenly came alive. Their stone heads tilted up, eyes aglow with purple fire. Razor noticed out of the corner of his eye and was able to alert T-Bone before lasers fired at them. The two nimble vigilantes dodged as the lasers struck the floor, creating a huge hole. T-Bone rolled to one side, righted himself, and took aim at the statue on the left.
The Turboblades flew out and decapitated the statue. The purple in its eyes dimmed as it rolled off its shoulders, and it had the good fortune of landing on the first of the Stalkers as they came charging headlong into the room. The first of Dark Kat’s “greatest creations” was completely crushed into a gooey pulp.
Its comrades didn’t heed it and simply ran around the fallen statue head and came running at T-Bone. One got struck and incinerated by the laser beams fired by the remaining statue, but T-Bone had little time to chuckle at how, so far, Dark Kat’s defenses were doing a better job of eliminating his new creations than either he or Razor were before the other Stalkers were upon him. He tried to raise his Glovatrix, but was dogpiled.
Razor, meanwhile, was handling the statue on the right. He nimbly leaped left and right to avoid its lasers. He was unaware of the incoming Stalkers, and certainly didn’t notice that one of the laser blasts he was dodging took out one of the mutants behind him, so focused was he on getting rid of the pesky statue. He aimed with his Glovatrix.
“Mini Cement Launchers!”
He fired even as two Stalkers tackled him from behind. He was down on the floor underneath them, feeling their fists pummelling him. He’d hit his mark, though. The globs of cement splattered over the statue’s purple eyes. It tried to fire another volley, heedless of the Stalkers, but the cement gumming its eyes up made its head suddenly erupt in a massive purple fireball, raining chunks of stone all over the room. One of the “D” emblazoned banners caught on fire.
Razor struggled with his two attackers, but they were just too big and strong. He kicked out at one, hitting it in the abs, but this only mildly annoyed it and hurt Razor’s foot. He cried out in pain. He slashed with his claws at the face of the other one, and shredded its left cheek into ribbons. Greenish blood trickled forth, and the Stalker shrieked and reeled back, clutching at its face. So, at least, these monsters weren’t indestructible. His efforts to repeat this process with the first Stalker were stymied when that monster, proving a quick learner, grabbed his wrists, crushing his Glovatrix in the process.
“T-Bone!” he yelled.
“I got my own problems right now!” T-Bone yelled back from beneath four of his own Stalkers.
He struggled and, grunting, planted a foot on each of the stomachs of two of the creatures. Grabbing the other two and pushing off of them with his hands, he was able to get enough leverage to shove out with his legs and propel the first two Stalkers backwards with his feet. They went staggering off, and T-Bone felt his knee joints pop. Dang, he was gonna feel that in the morning. If the morning ever came. The first Stalker fell through the hole the statue’s eye lasers had made; the second one crashed directly into the statue itself, and the impact cracked the base. The statue teetered precariously and began to tilt, gaining momentum as it fell forwards towards Razor and the Stalkers he was fighting.
Razor saw it coming and prepared to be crushed to death along with his opponents. Instead, the headless statue collided with its equally decapitated brother across the room, shattering its upper extremities. Pieces of statuary fell down towards them. They all looked up. One large chunk clunked Razor’s first Stalker on the head. It remained standing, but was dazed enough for Razor to wiggle free of the second Stalker, who was still looking up, and give the dazed first one a shove, sending it careening against the wall, leaving a big dent in the metal. Turning to the second Stalker, who was in the process of looking back down at its prey, Razor aimed his Glovatrix at its face.
There was a fizzle. He realized with horror that the weapon was crushed. All that happened was the Tarpedoes exploded harmlessly while still in the Glovatrix’s missile port. Tar began to ooze and dribble from the device. The Stalker raised an eyebrow at this. Razor grinned sheepishly, but then flicked his wrist, sending gobs of tar into its eyes. With a yowl, the Stalker’s hands flew to its face, and it began trying to wipe the tar out of its eyes. Failing that, it swiped blindly at the air. Hearing a grinding noise, Razor looked up and beheld the tilted statue beginning to slide further down as the one it was leaning against crumbled further. With a groan it gave way and plummetted towards them, accompanied by the raining chunks of its brother.
Razor leaped out of the way, leaving the two Stalkers to meet their fate. The blinded one was flattened by the headless first statue, and the dazed one got buried beneath the falling chunks of the second statue. He then turned his attention to T-Bone. The Stalker whose impact against its base had made the first statue teeter and fall was getting up, and T-Bone was no closer to being free of the other two. With a sigh, Razor charged full force at them, determined to rescue his partner.
He ducked his head and rammed into the closest one. He saw stars and was thrown off balance, and felt and heard his flight helmet crack. Fortunately, his action had the desired effect. The Stalker crashed into its companion and both tumbled off of T-Bone and rolled away into the wall. Razor staggered a bit, then fell backwards onto his butt.
“Wow!” cried T-Bone. “Nice headbutt, there, buddy!”
He noticed the one over by the statue base starting to get up and took aim with his Glovatrix and fired. The Stalker was stopped mid-rise by a humongous glob of cement which threw it against the statue base and hardened, holding it there as it struggled. T-Bone stood and walked over to Razor.
“Are you all right?” he asked gingerly.
“I think so,” mumbled Razor, squinting at his partner. “But, when did you get an identical twin?”
T-Bone chuckled. He hadn’t thought the smaller SWAT Kat would’ve had it in him to knock two huge opponents off balance like that with a mere headbutt. Razor was lucky he hadn’t broken his neck. He offered him his hand, which Razor took, and he hauled his friend to his feet. They turned and surveyed the destruction in the room as Razor tried to shake the dizziness from his head, his broken helmet rattling.
“Not bad,” said T-Bone, “but I think we can do a little more damage before we have to go to court. May as well leave Dark Kat with a heck of a repair bill.”
“And, what about Felina?” asked Razor. “We can’t just leave her.”
“I know,” said T-Bone, “but in case you forgot, Dark Kat’s back in there with her. And, who knows how many more of these things he has!” He made a sweeping gesture at all of the dazed and slowly-recovering Stalkers. “Besides,” he added glumly, “we kind of blocked the door.”
Both SWAT Kats looked at the fallen statue which was now blocking the entrance to the control room.
“Right,” said Razor, trying to figure out a plan. He needed to get to a computer. Going back into the control room at the moment wasn’t an option, and the hallway to their right was the way they’d come in and he hadn’t seen any computer terminals. Turning, he eyed the hole that the statue’s eye-lasers had created and snapped his fingers. “Come on,” he said, “we’re gonna take an alternate route!”
And, none too soon, thought T-Bone, who noticed that the Stalkers were beginning to get back up. Rushing over, the SWAT Kats stood at the precipice and then jumped as one down into the blackness. Into the unknown again, thought T-Bone.
Meanwhile, Commander Feral returned to Enforcer Headquarters and fought his way through the mob of press, protestors and fans of the SWAT Kats massed outside. He was up to the top of the steps when he heard a deep rumbling sound overhead. The noise of the crowd slowly died down, and everyone glanced up and beheld the massive form of Dark Kat’s ship appearing. The citizens began dispersing and running in terror in all directions.
“Crud!” Feral grumbled and ran inside.
Time was running out! Curse Manx for making him come all the way down to City Hall! He took an elevator up to Enforcer Headquarters’ central operations room. This was a large control center with a spotlessly polished metal floor and rows of computers. There was a floor to ceiling 3-D computerized map of Megakat City. A red dot indicated the position of Enforcer Headquarters, whilst a blue dot indicated the position of Dark Kat’s ship.
“Report!” Feral barked at a female technician.
“The unknown object–” she began.
“Dark Kat’s ship,” Feral interjected insistently.
“I mean, Dark Kat’s ship is approaching Enforcer Headquarters,” the technician said.
Tell me something I don’t know, Feral wanted to say, glancing up at the map. The blue dot was right on top of the red one. Suddenly, the map fizzled and the screen went blank and was replaced by the leering purple visage of Dark Kat. Feral gritted his teeth.
“Dark Kat!” he snarled accusingly.
“Greetings, Commander Feral,” Dark Kat said affably, although it didn’t seem as if he heard him. “And, my very special greetings to the rest of Megakat City, as well. This live message is being broadcast throughout the entire city, but I am especially addressing Commander Feral and Mayor Manx.”
He stood back a bit, revealing, behind him, the bound form of Felina Feral strapped down to some kind of table. A helmet-like device was attached to her head. She didn’t seem to be in any pain or distress, but Feral betted that was soon to change. Someone cried out in alarm, and the female technician covered her mouth in surprise. Feral himself took an involuntary step back, mouth agape.
“I have your niece, Commander,” said Dark Kat, pointing at Felina. “She is my prisoner, and I am in the process of extracting some very important information about Enforcer Headquarters from her. If you wish me to spare her life, then I suggest you stand down and make no efforts to attack my Fear Ship or otherwise impede my takeover. Do I make myself clear?”
Feral stammered, speechless, unsure of what he’d say, even if Dark Kat could hear him. He had suspected and feared Felina was a prisoner, but not this!
Dark Kat continued, “I’ll let you think on it. And, as for you, Mayor…”
In his office at City Hall, Mayor Manx sat behind his desk, watching the same broadcast on a small luxury portable TV. District Attorney Mills was standing opposite and couldn’t see the screen.
“And, as for you, Mayor,” Dark Kat said, stepping back up so his hulking frame blocked Felina Feral from view once more.
“Huh?” cried Manx as Mills came around the desk to see what was on the screen.
Dark Kat continued. “You are to ensure that the Enforcers make no move against me, just in case my holding Commander Feral’s niece isn’t enough of an incentive for him to stand down.”
“I am?” Manx mumbled, confused.
“Megakat City is mine!” growled Dark Kat. “Now and forever!”
“What are you going to do?” asked Mills, still looking at the TV. “You aren’t really going to make the Enforcers stand down, are you?” Manx didn’t reply. “Well?”
He finally took his eyes off the screen and turned to find Manx’s chair empty and still spinning. Blinking, he managed to just catch a glimpse of the Mayor rushing wildly out of the office.
“Mayor!” Mills yelled. “Where are you going?”
In the hallway, Callie Briggs was coming out of her office, Dark Kat’s message playing on the TV there too, to encounter the Mayor. He was running towards the elevator, holding onto his toupee, his golf bag slung over his shoulder.
“Mayor, wait!” she cried.
He ignored her and skidded to a halt at the elevator and frantically pressed the call button.
“Come on,” he whimpered, “come on!”
Callie came rushing up. “Mayor, what are you doing?”
“What’s it look like I’m doing?” he screamed. He was beyond hysterical. “I’m getting out of here while the getting’s good! And, if you’re smart, you’ll come with me!”
Callie was aghast. “But, what about Megakat City?” she demanded.
“Dark Kat can have it!” Manx yelped.
He pounded on the call button again, and, the elevator taking too long for his liking, looked left and right, then saw the stairs. He bolted for them and threw open the door and was gone, disappearing into the stairwell. Callie fumed. Turning on heel, she went into his office and found District Attorney Mills standing there, looking confused and afraid.
“Come on,” she said. “We need to get someplace safe, and right now Enforcer Headquarters is our best bet!”
Back at Enforcer Headquarters, Feral seethed with rage at Dark Kat as the transmission continued.
“Megakat City is mine!” Dark Kat was declaring boldly. “Now and forever! I issue this warning once and only once! The SWAT Kats have tried and failed to stop me, and my Fear Ship will crush any and all opposition! Any such attack against me will result in the immediate execution of Lieutenant Feral and the complete destruction of Megakat City!” He concluded with, “Dark Kat, now and forever emperor of Dark Kat City, out!”
Behind him, Feral heard his niece’s pained yet defiant voice cry out, “Don’t listen to him, Uncle! He’s going to kill me anyway! Attack! Attack and destroy this entire thing!”
The transmission ended just as Dark Kat was turning away from the camera and roaring at her to be quiet, and the screen returned to show the Megakat City map. The blue dot of Dark Kat’s ship was now moving away from the red Enforcer Headquarters dot. Feral growled and brought up his baton and bent it, snapping it in half, making the assembled technicians flinch. He was beyond enraged now.
“What do we do, sir?” asked the female technician uncertainly.
“Destroy Dark Kat,” said Feral, tossing the halves of his broken baton aside. He balled up his fists. To hell with Manx’s orders, if he even gave them. “The SWAT Kats had their chance! I want an entire squadron in the air at once! We’re going to blast Dark Kat right out of the sky!”
“But, Lieutenant Feral!” cried another, male technician.
“You heard her!” snarled Feral. “Dark Kat’s going to kill her anyway! And, if he does, then I want the satisfaction of knowing he dies burning in the wreckage of his crashing ship! Now, get the pilots to their fighters, on the double!”
For the second time in a scant few minutes – or however much time had passed since their arrival – the SWAT Kats landed in a darkened hallway. It was a much longer fall than before, and only the fact they were used to jumping long distances prevented them from spraining or breaking anything. It was still a rough landing, though, and T-Bone’s knees still ached like crazy from the force he exerted earlier.
In the dim light provided by the hole above them, they found the Stalker that T-Bone had knocked down here earlier, lying sprawled on its back on the floor. T-Bone gently nudged at it with his foot, and it shifted and rolled over with a growl, but didn’t get up.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he flipped on the triangular light on his helmet, illuminating the dark utility tunnel. There were lights affixed to the walls, but they weren’t turned on. Beside him, Razor tried to activate his own helmet light, but it fizzled out due to the damage the helmet sustained. He frowned and removed it.
“Okay, Sureshot, what’s this big plan of yours?” asked T-Bone.
Razor inspected his cracked helmet for a little longer before tossing it aside. He also, with some effort, removed his crushed Glovatrix. “Crud, this thing’s had it,” he said. He threw it down angrily.
“Relax,” said T-Bone, flexing his arm to show his own still intact Glovatrix. “Mine’s still workin’. So, I repeat, what’s the plan?”
“Well, we find a computer terminal for me to access so I can find a way to bring this thing down,” said Razor confidently. “Then, we get back and rescue Felina.”
“Hopefully, not in that order,” T-Bone said as he started off down the tunnel, disliking the idea of trying to rescue Felina while the ship was in the middle of crashing.
“Of course,” said Razor sheepishly as he followed T-Bone’s lead. “I think out of order sometimes, is all.”
“Don’t I know it!” mumbled T-Bone.
The tunnel opened out onto a catwalk moving over several huge vats of what, at first, appeared to be molten metal. The heat was tremendous. Immediately upon entering, the two SWAT Kats could feel their fur and flight suits beginning to dampen with sweat. Light was provided by the glowing contents of the huge vats, so T-Bone flicked off his headlamp. They proceeded cautiously across the catwalk. There was a single Creepling wearing a little hardhat, but his back was to them.
T-Bone rushed it, seized the pink little monster up, and flung it over the railing. Its momentum prevented it from taking flight, and it splashed into the superheated liquid beneath. Leaning over to watch it splash down, T-Bone blinked.
“What is this stuff?” he asked as Razor joined him. “Liquid metal? Is Dark Kat running some kinda smelting factory?” He dimly recalled the gold foundry from Darkhaven Manor all those years ago.
“No,” said Razor, “this isn’t molten metal, it’s lava!”
He rushed along the catwalk, found a ladder, and climbed down it.
T-Bone followed. “Lava?” he yelled in surprise. “What in the heck is he doing with lava on board his ship?”
Razor didn’t answer just yet, instead approaching a nearby computer terminal. He turned it on and snorted derisively at the “D” insignia desktop background. T-Bone was anxious. He kept glancing back up at the catwalk and the tunnel they’d emerged from, wondering why the Stalkers from before hadn’t followed them. He didn’t like hanging around in this dangerous place in one spot for too long. Still, Razor had wanted a computer to work with, and so T-Bone dutifully stood guard while his partner typed away feverishly, accessing various subdirectories and examined various files.
T-Bone wandered around, doing a little patrol of the room to ensure there weren’t any more Creeplings. He found none. He did, however, find an elevator on the opposite side of the room. Eventually, Razor found what he was looking for and summoned T-Bone back over.
“Whoa,” he said, looking at the computer screen, “Dark Kat’s using geothermal power to run this thing!”
T-Bone blinked, remembering how they’d used superheated volcanic gasses to power the Turbokat once, when the Pastmaster propelled them back into prehistory. He thought it was a dangerous idea then, and, despite the fact it amazingly had worked at the time, his opinion of using lava to power a vehicle hadn’t changed. He felt uneasy, as though the Fear Ship was a gigantic time bomb just waiting to explode with them still in it and rain lava down over Megakat City. The sooner they got out of here, the better.
“Well, okay, that answers that question,” Razor said, “and now how about finding an alternate way to get back up and get the Lieutenant.”
“Shockingly, we don’t need the computer for that,” said T-Bone and pointed over at the elevator he’d noticed earlier.
Razor chuckled and slapped his friend on the shoulder. He turned the computer off. As they turned to go, they heard growling, and, glancing over, saw four Stalkers come charging out of the tunnel and onto the catwalk above them.
“Razor, run and get in the elevator!” T-Bone yelled.
Razor raced over, and hit the call button. T-Bone knelt and took aim with his Glovatrix. He fired a Mini Bola, which wrapped itself around the ankles of the lead Stalker. It pitched forward mid-run and landed so hard the entire catwalk rattled. The Stalker right behind it tripped over it, and likewise fell. The other two leaped over their fallen companions, however, and continued charging. T-Bone fired again but missed, and the two Stalkers reached the leader.
“Crud,” he grumbled and quickly checked his Glovatrix’s weapons inventory. He was almost out of any really useful ammo. He had just two ordinary explosive missiles left. “What I wouldn’t give for a reload!”
Glancing up, he watched as the first Stalker didn’t bother using the ladder and simply did a flying leap off the walkway to land standing in front of him so hard that T-Bone stumbled back, and the Stalker’s feet left imprints in the metal deck plating. Growling, T-Bone aimed with his Glovatrix and fired the first of his only two remaining missiles. The Stalker was hit dead center, and T-Bone immediately wished he’d waited until he’d put some distance between himself and his target because, upon violently exploding, its slimy green guts splattered all over the thoroughly startled SWAT Kat.
“Aw, gross!” T-Bone yelled.
The second Stalker had actually clambered down the ladder, its weight causing the ladder to break away from the walkway and come off as the mutant was halfway down. It thudded to the floor a few feet away from T-Bone. Up above, the third Stalker was getting up, and the fourth was wrenching itself free of the bola. T-Bone struggled to stand, but lost his footing and slid in the slime.
Still sitting down, he took aim at the second Stalker as it got up and stomped over towards him. Seeing his weapon, though, it hesitated. Gritting his teeth, the SWAT Kat fired. He worried that the dead Stalker’s innards would’ve slimed up the Glovatrix and prevented it from firing. It would either simply click uselessly, or it would explosively backfire, depriving T-Bone of his hand and much of his forearm. Amazingly, though, the missile fired successfully.
It didn’t matter, though, as the Stalker, which had observed the fate of its predecessor, leaped aside, and the missile hit and exploded the nearest of the vats. T-Bone’s eyes widened as the side of the huge container exploded, spewing boiling-hot lava forth in a geyser! Alarms began to sound.
“Oops,” T-Bone muttered.
The entranceways all began slamming shut. Apparently, an automatic containment system was being put into place, and if the SWAT Kats didn’t leave quick, they’d be trapped in here with all this lava! T-Bone watched as the lava hit the Stalker who had dodged, and the thing gave a mournful howl of agony as it was set afire and sank slowly to its hot death in the magma flow. T-Bone shuddered.
Standing more carefully this time, he was able to avoid slipping, and hurriedly hopscotched over to the elevator where Razor waited, holding the elevator doors open for him. They both got in and the doors slid shut just as the other two Stalkers hopped down from the catwalk on the side opposite the lake of lava.
“Smooth move, T-Bone,” Razor said, leaning his elbow against the wall.
“Hey, it was an accident,” said T-Bone. “Besides, you’re the Sureshot, not me.”
He pressed the button for the fourteenth floor, three floors above them. Nothing happened.
“Great,” said Razor, “the containment system must be preventing the elevator from moving. Here, give me a boost.”
T-Bone helped him up so he could open the emergency access hatch on the elevator’s roof. Once Razor was up, he offered his hand down to T-Bone. Just then, something started banging violently against the closed elevator doors. The Stalkers. Apparently, despite Dark Kat’s claims about all their intelligence, they didn’t know how to push buttons just yet. T-Bone grabbed Razor’s hand and was yanked upwards. He was climbing through the hatch when clawed fingers forced their way between the seams of the closed elevator doors, and then the Stalker grunted and forced the doors apart. T-Bone slammed the hatch shut.
“That’s not gonna hold them!” said Razor.
“I got a way to take these guys out,” said T-Bone and flipped up his Glovatrix’s blowtorch mechanism. “Hold tight to me.”
Razor threw his arms around T-Bone’s waist as his partner activated the blowtorch. Grabbing the elevator cable with one hand, he touched the torch’s flame to it, just as the hatch flew open and one of the Stalkers poked its head up.
“Going down, ugly?” he taunted.
The cable snapped, and the elevator car, with its Stalker occupants, dropped down the darkened shaft, leaving T-Bone hanging by the cable one-handed and Razor clinging to his waist. Hurriedly, T-Bone used his other hand to grab the cable. Razor climbed up ahead of him so he wasn’t weighing his partner down, and the two began their ascent.
“Dark Kat, here we come!” growled T-Bone.
As Callie Briggs and District Attorney Mills got off the elevator, they found the lobby deserted. Outside, they could see Manx’s limousine parked at the curb. Some Enforcer cruisers flew past, sirens wailing. They ran outside and down the steps towards the limo. There was no sign of the chauffeur and the front passenger door hung open. Dark Kat’s Fear Ship filled the sky ominously.
“What do we do?” whimpered Mills.
“We can take my car!” Callie said.
She led the way into the City Hall parking garage. Her green sedan was the only car left, apart from two others, one of which was Mills’ own luxury sports car. Mills started for it, but then stopped and came over to Callie’s car. Callie figured the District Attorney didn’t want to ride alone. She and Mills got inside and, sticking her key in, she fired up the engine and floored it, smashing through the front gate and careening out onto the street.
“What about Mayor Manx?” Mills asked, concerned, glancing back at the limousine still sitting at the curb.
“He’s just going to have to fend for himself,” Callie said angrily and swung the corner, heading in the direction of Enforcer Headquarters several blocks away. “He deserves no less for abandoning both Megakat City and the SWAT Kats the way he did.”
Mills found he couldn’t argue with that, and said nothing for the remainder of their drive.
A few minutes after they were gone, Mayor Manx came staggering out of the front entrance of City Hall, his toupee askew, panting, out of breath from lugging the weight of his golf bag down all those flights of stairs. Managing to make it to the bottom of the steps, he paused for a breather, taking the golf bag off and setting it down. He noticed his chauffeur was gone and grumbled in irritation.
Taking his hairpiece off, he wiped his bald spot with a handkerchief before looking up and noticing the Fear Ship. With a squeal, he put the toupee back on backwards and bolted for the limo, then stopped, remembered the golf bag, and went back for it. He shoved it into the open front passenger door, buckling its seatbelt. Then, slamming the door, he went and got behind the wheel.
There were no keys, and he pounded the steering wheel in frustration. Suddenly, he heard scuffling feet, and his chauffeur appeared, out of uniform, headed for the parking garage. Manx beeped the horn and rolled the window down.
“Hey, you!” he yelled, having never remembered his driver’s name. “Get over here! You’ve got to get me out of here!”
The chauffeur stopped, looked at him, then elected to keep running.
“Wait! Come back!” Manx wailed.
At that, the chauffeur stopped and ran back over. Manx grinned and started to get out so he could go and get in the backseat, but, instead, the chauffeur just fished the limo keys out of his pocket and threw them to him. Manx caught them.
“Get yourself outta here!” the chauffeur said. “I quit!”
With that, he whirled and took off again, and this time, he kept going.
“You ungrateful little–!!!” Manx yelled impotently.
Growling, he got back in and started the limo up and threw it into reverse. He didn’t intend to follow Callie. Instead, he swung the limo around and drove in the opposite direction, towards the city limits. He was getting out of Megakat City!
Traffic was light getting to Enforcer Headquarters. The Enforcers were keeping people off of the streets. There was a barricade being manned by Sergeant Talon when they arrived, and Callie slid her car to a stop at it, and she and District Attorney Mills got out. Talon seemed surprised but glad to see them. Callie especially.
“Deputy Mayor, District Attorney,” he said, “You’d better come quick. Don’t tell him I told you this, but Commander Feral is about to do something quite foolish.”
“More foolish than sending the SWAT Kats to do the Enforcers’ job?” Mills grumbled and crossed his arms.
Callie shot him a fierce look, and he grinned sheepishly and shrugged. Shaking her head, she turned back to the Sergeant, who gestured for them to come with him. He left a subordinate officer in charge, and the three of them ran inside. There were a number of civilians in the lobby, mostly consisting of the crowd who had gathered outside from before, huddling in here from the shadow of the Fear Ship outside. District Attorney Mills elected to stay in the lobby with the other people, and Callie accompanied Sergeant Talon upstairs to the central operations room herself.
“He’s going to attack Dark Kat head on again!” said Talon. “And, this time, it’s not going to be just a distraction, but the real deal.”
Callie frowned. “Why are you telling me?”
“Well, you being the Deputy Mayor and all, I sort of was hoping you could get the Mayor to see clear to–”
Callie coldly cut him off. “Manx isn’t the mayor anymore.”
“Huh?” Talon gulped.
“He pretty much resigned about ten minutes ago. The last time I saw him, he and his precious golf bag were running off into the horizon.”
She put her hands on her hips as it seemed to fully sink in for her that, with Manx gone, whether officially or unofficially, this left her solely in charge of Megakat City. The second Manx had taken his golf bag and ran, Callie had gone from being deputy mayor to acting mayor. The Sergeant seemed to realize this, too.
“I see,” he said. “Then I guess that makes you…”
“Acting mayor,” Callie said. “Until Manx comes back, anyway.”
She wasn’t smug or proud about it, and, in fact would’ve preferred to avoid it. But, it was either take on the responsibility or leave Megakat City at Dark Kat’s mercy.
“Yes, ma’am!” Talon said, snapping immediately to attention. “Then allow me to rephrase. You being the acting mayor and all, perhaps you, then, can see clear to call the Commander off of this suicide mission of his.”
She nodded. “Where is he?”
“On the runway,” Talon said. “If you hurry, you can catch him!”
Callie turned and ran through the building, taking the elevator to the elevated runway of the building, but she was seconds too late. She watched a large squadron of Enforcer jets, likely including Feral’s, in the midst of taking off. They left the runway and soared into the sky. She sighed. Feral was going to get himself and his niece killed, and Dark Kat’s retaliation would cost hundreds more innocent lives!
She returned to the operations room. Her frown told Sergeant Talon all he needed to know. Approaching a female technician, she said, “Get me Commander Feral.”
In his jet at the head of his squadron, Commander Feral gritted his teeth resolutely as he watched the Fear Ship growing steadily in size the closer they got to it. He switched on his radio to all frequencies, addressing his men.
“Commander Feral to all squadron members. I will attempt to contact Dark Kat and elicit a surrender and the safe return of Lieutenant Feral. If negotiations fail, engage and destroy. I repeat, engage and destroy.”
In the alchemical laboratory aboard the Fear Ship, Dark Kat divided his time between preparing to grow a new batch of Stalkers and keeping an eye on the captured Felina Feral. She was putting up quite a magnificent fight against the mind-draining machine, struggling and moaning. She was far stronger than he’d anticipated, and it was going to be some time before he had fully retrieved all of the information he wanted from her.
Suddenly, there was a muffled but powerful explosion which rocked the ship. It sounded like it came from somewhere down below. Zeckis came running down the stairs, waving his arms frantically.
“Dark Kat!” he cried, and Dark Kat fully expected a report on the SWAT Kats’ survival. Instead, Zeckis had different news to deliver. “The Enforcers!”
“What about them?” Dark Kat asked.
“They’re approaching our position again!” Zeckis said.
“They mean to attack us?”
Zeckis shrugged. “No, master, Commander Feral is just demanding the return of his niece. They’ve made no hostile moves against us, yet.”
“Unbelievable!” roared Dark Kat. “But, wait, what caused that explosion I just felt?”
In his jet, Feral said into his radio, “Attention, Dark Kat! This is Commander Feral of the Enforcers! Release your prisoner at once, or suffer the consequences!”
There was no response. His worst fears were being confirmed. “Feral to all pilots, engage!”
Suddenly, a female voice cut in. “Commander Feral, stand down!” Callie Briggs. “This is Acting Mayor Callie Briggs!”
“Back off, Briggs,” Feral snarled. Then he realized how she had identified herself. “Wait, what? Where is Manx?”
Callie filled him in. Feral allowed himself a guffaw despite the situation. After he was finished, he turned serious again. “Briggs, let me blast Dark Kat and his ship out of existence! I just know he’s murdered Felina already!”
“No, Feral,” Callie said, “not while there’s a chance the SWAT Kats are still aboard and alive! And, if they’re still alive, then so is Felina!”
Feral wrestled with himself. He wanted to believe, to hope, Felina was still alive, and that the SWAT Kats, as much as he hated them, could save her, or that she could free herself, one. But, the realist in him was certain the SWAT Kats had failed and that his niece was dead.
Hope won out.
“Understood,” Feral said, and then, hurriedly, to his pilots, added, “Abort the attack, men. Remain in a holding pattern around the ship until further instructions. Agreed, Mayor?”
Callie seemed to mull it over. “Agreed, Commander.”
On the Fear Ship, Dark Kat seethed with rage. It seemed his initial impression, that the SWAT Kats had been responsible for that latest tremor, had been correct. A quick look at the computer terminal in the laboratory showed critical power failings and lava overflowing on decks eleven and twelve.
The lava had, so far, been contained, but there was no telling how much more damage those meddling SWAT Kats were going to cause. He turned to Felina Feral and deactivated the memory-stealing device.
“I’m afraid we must postpone our little session for the time being, Lieutenant. I’m having to reroute the power needed for the memory-drain to other, more important systems.”
Curses! He used the computer to send the needed power to the engines to keep the Fear Ship operational, and, when he was done, punched a random control panel, crunching it. Felina sighed with relief, and visibly relaxed. He sneered at her.
“Don’t get too cocky, Lieutenant!” he growled. “Once I’m done with the SWAT Kats, I’ll be back to finish sucking your pretty little mind dry!”
“I look forward to seeing you try!” Felina hissed, straining at her bonds. “And to ripping out your eyes!”
Dark Kat chuckled. He looked over at Zeckis, who still stood expectantly at the bottom of the steps. Dark Kat grabbed him by the scruff and dragged him over.
“Watch her,” he commanded. “Your performance lately has been unsatisfactory. Do not let her escape! If she escapes, I’ll do worse than kill you!”
Zeckis nodded fearfully. “Yes, master!”
Then, whirling, his cloak swishing, Dark Kat bounded powerfully up the stairs, roaring at the top of his lungs, “SWAT Kats! Prepare yourselves! I am coming for you!”
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