Don Redmond (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As usual the characters are mainly the property of the folks at HB. There’s a little violence and, I suppose, a little sex, so I’ll tag this with a mature reader label.
Jake sat watching the news, as depressing as that was. Chance was finishing up in the kitchen with the last bits of dinner: another tuna and shrimp pizza. Chance laid out the pizza platter on the table in front of the couch on which he and Jake were watching tv. Jake was about to change the channel when the elegant form of Ann Gora graced the screen.
“This is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News. We are at the scene of the latest in what the public is starting to call the ‘Jack the Ripper’ killings.”
“The only one I know using that term is you, Ann.”
The camera swiveled around to spotlight Commander Feral. He glowered at Ann Gora.
“Commander, can you tell us what happened?”
“Another she-kat was murdered. That’s all I will say at this time.”
“Commander, …,” however, Feral had turned his back on Ann and disappeared behind the police line.
Jake turned to Chance as he grabbed another piece of pizza. “You know I almost feel sorry for Feral. Serial killers are always really hard to catch. The Enforcers have their hands full on this one.”
“This is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News. We are at the scene of another of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ killings. Perhaps we can get a word with Commander Feral.”
Even the mayor was not immune. When he called a press conference to announce that a new factory would be going up in MegaKat City and be employing 250 kats the first question he was asked had to do with the killings. As soon as he got back to his office he called Commander Feral and chewed him out for a half an hour. Unfortunately for Feral his only reply was that they had some leads and were checking them out. That was not good enough for the mayor.
“Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News. Commander Feral, what can you tell us?”
The stress finally got to the Commander. This “Jack the Ripper” business was getting him down. He could no longer sleep at night. He snapped at everyone. He found himself cursing his niece to her face. The final straw was when he physically attacked Steel. Steel may have screwed up, as he often did because he never seemed to be in a hurry to do anything for others, but being decked by Feral was not the proper response.
The Enforcers’ doctor and Feral’s temporary replacement, Lieutenant Tom Harlan, announced that for health reasons Commander Feral was taking a month’s vacation. The doctor gave a lengthy description of Feral’s illness and when the question part of the news conference began the first question was not directed to the doctor.
“Lieutenant Harlan, this is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News, what is the status of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ investigation?”
Lieutenant Harlan talked for about five minutes and then excused himself. “You may have time to ask me questions, but I don’t have time to answer them. I will talk with you again, when we have something further to report.”
With that he left the news conference to the doctor who answered a few more questions before things wound down.
Both Lieutenant Harlan and Lieutenant Felina Feral, as the Commander’s niece, also spent an inordinate amount of time fending off questions about the whereabouts of the Commander. There were rumors that he had resigned or that he had committed suicide. Calico Briggs had heard these rumors and had to discuss them with the mayor. He wanted to know whether he should begin looking for a new Commander of Enforcers. Callie told him that there was no need. The Commander was just on medical leave.
Unfortunately, she had not been able to discuss them with Felina. Felina was on night shift until this was cleared up and all Callie had heard from her were two short phone calls. Both times she sounded terrible and hadn’t talked very much. Callie had seen her on the news being badgered by some of the press, but fortunately no one had asked her about the suicide theory yet. Since today was Friday Callie had decided to go over to see Felina tomorrow to see if she could cheer her up.
Felina was driving home after her shift was over. She had no idea what day of the week this was. The only number that seemed to be in anyone’s head these days was the number of dead she-kats. It was near sunrise, but she knew also that there would be reporters camped out at her apartment waiting for her. Harlan had the same problem these days.
She was about a block from her apartment when suddenly she made a u-turn in the middle of the deserted street. This morning she wouldn’t give the reporters even the satisfaction of riling her. She drove through the streets with a definite goal in mind and twenty minutes later she pulled into the parking garage of another apartment building. She took the elevator up to the sixth floor and went to the apartment that she was looking for. Since it was early in the morning she got out her key to the apartment and quietly opened the door .
In the bedroom she saw the apartment owner was still asleep. Not wanting to wake her Felina went to the couch and lay down. As she drifted off to sleep she was glad Callie had bought a couch long enough that she could stretch out on.
When Callie woke up a few hours later she stepped out of the bedroom to see Felina sprawled half on and half off the couch. She was torn between letting her sleep there and knowing she’d get better rest if she used the bed. Callie gently woke Felina and led the still mostly asleep kat into the bedroom. She helped Felina undress and then tucked her in. She had no idea how long she would sleep, but figured she wouldn’t be seeing her until sometime in the afternoon.
Callie was sitting at her desk trying to reconcile her bank statement when she heard the shower. She smiled and looking at her watch saw that it was two o’clock. Perhaps not quite as late as she had thought. A few minutes later Felina came out wearing a robe and was surprised to see Callie in the apartment.
“Shouldn’t you be at work? It’s not that late is it?”
“It’s Saturday, silly.”
“Saturday?” Felina was stunned. She had had no idea what the day of the week was when she had decided to come over. “Okay. Are you hungry?”
“I might be. Did you have anything in mind?”
Felina smiled lasciviously. “Yes, but one hunger at a time. You don’t happen to have any pizza do you?”
“There should be a few. Pick one.”
Felina went into the kitchen and looked around in the freezer for a few moments before exclaiming, “Shrimp pizza!” She put the pizza in the microwave and went back out to the living room.
Callie joined Felina on the couch and as Felina curled up against her Callie put an arm around Felina’s shoulders. The two kats sat in silence waiting for the pizza. When it was done Felina sprang up to get it and when she brought it back the two kats set to devouring it.
After the pizza was finished Callie got Felina to talk about the case that was driving the Enforcers crazy. Since the killings happened all over MegaKat City it was hard to pin things down. The only similarity that Felina would mention was that all the she-kats that had been killed or wounded (since a few survived, though the public did not generally know this) had been cut up the same way. This and a few other facts were all the Enforcers had to tie the crimes together.
Immediately after it became apparent that there was a serial killer loose in the city the Enforcers had put out decoys, but none of them had even been approached much less attacked. Every night after that that a she-kat had been attacked there had been at least two Enforcer decoys out in the city and they had been left alone in favor of the civilian. This had led Lieutenant Harlan to the conclusion that the killer must be someone close to the Enforcers.
“According to Harlan that’s the only way the killer would know the decoys from the general population. Harlan says he has other reasons why he thinks it is really an Enforcer, but prefers to keep those to himself.”
As Felina spoke Callie began to develop an idea, but she didn’t want to share it with Felina until she had checked on a few things. After Felina had said all she wanted to say about the case the two kats just sat on the couch with their arms around each other until Felina decided it was time for her to get ready to go back to work.
At the door Felina said, after a goodby kiss and hug, “I’m glad I came by. I feel much better now than I have in several days. Would you mind if I came by again tomorrow morning? Talking with you is very therapeutic.”
“You know I’m always happy to be with you.”
The kats kissed again and Felina left. Almost as soon as Felina closed the door Callie went to the phone to call the salvage yard. “Chance? Are you and Jake going to be there for awhile? … Can I come over? I have a problem for you two. … . Good, I’ll be over in about twenty minutes.”
When Felina arrived at Callie’s apartment the next morning she felt better than she had the night before. The Enforcer job was still as depressing and her tour of duty as a decoy this night had been uneventful as usual. Since most of the she-kats in MegaKat City were staying off the streets at night the killing had slowed, but the killer still seemed to have a knack for finding the lone she-kat. Nobody ever reported anything suspicious beforehand either.
Not being as worn out this morning as she had been the morning before Felina decided to take a shower before curling up on the couch. When she looked into the bedroom she saw the sleeping form of her lover and smiled. As she walked backed to the living room after the shower she decided to take another look at Callie to prime her dreams and saw that Callie was holding the covers back for her in invitation. Felina smiled and accepted. As she slipped into bed next to Callie she apologized for waking her. However, the two kats were soon asleep in each other’s arms.
Callie was sitting on the couch reading the Sunday paper when Felina came out of the bedroom. She walked into the kitchen and saw that coffee was brewing, but opted for some milk. As she poured herself a glass she tried to remember where Callie kept the donuts and bearing milk and donut she went into the living room to join Callie.
“Sleep well, my love?”
“A bed beats a couch any day.”
Later while Callie was fixing dinner Felina was getting dressed for when she had to leave to go back to work. After they ate they were still sitting at the kitchen table when Callie decided that this was as good a time as any to bring up her proposition.
“Felina, I have an idea about the ‘Jack the Ripper’ killings. Please hear me out before you object. I want to be a decoy.”
“No! That is a stupid idea!”
“I checked with Chance and Jake and they assure me that they can make a mesh fine enough and strong enough to protect me. Also, it can be wired so that the instant someone tries to cut it you’ll know.”
Felina stood up. “No! I can not allow you to do this. You’ll be in too much danger.”
“I’ll have protection. I’ll have you and the Kats looking out for me.”
“You can’t do this! I forbid it!”
Callie laughed a very nasty laugh. “You forbid me? Are you my mother? What is you want, Felina? Do want all of the city’s she-kat to spend the rest of their days inside too scared to go out? You tell me that Enforcer decoys don’t work, and so I am volunteering to be a non-Enforcer decoy. What other choice do you have? Would you rather that she-kats continued to be killed?” Callie also stood up to look directly into Felina’s eyes.
Felina stepped away from the table and spoke in a flat voice. “I should leave now.” With that she walked to the door and left.
“This is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News. Lieutenant Harlan, will you answer some questions about this latest killing?”
A week later Callie was at work at City Hall when her phone rang. It was Felina asking her to come over to her apartment tonight around six. She also wanted the Swat Kats to come along with the protective mesh. As soon as Felina hung up Callie called the Salvage Yard.
As Callie was getting out of her car in the parking garage of Felina’s apartment building she heard the familiar sound of the Swat Kats’ cyclotrons. She stepped out into the roadway so they would see her and waited for them to park.
“Evening, Ms. Briggs.” As usual T-Bone was the first to speak.
“It’s been so quiet, in a way, around MegaKat City that we haven’t seen much of the Kats.”
“We like it better that way,” Razor commented. “So what’s the meeting about?”
“I’m not sure. Felina just called me up this afternoon. She told me to be here and to see that you two were here also. The day after I went to see you guys we had a big fight over my suggestion and managed to say things I hope neither of us regret.”
While the three kats were riding the elevator up to Felina’s floor they decided that Felina had had a change of mind (and, Callie hoped, of heart as well) and was willing to discuss the decoy operation.
When Callie knocked on Felina’s door they were greeted by Felina who even smiled at Callie. However, none of the three were prepared for the other person in the apartment. It was Lieutenant Harlan who was all business tonight and skipped the introduction part of the meeting.
“Let’s get this show on the road. Let’s see this mesh.”
Razor handed it to Harlan. “According to what Callie told us the wounds occur from just under the breasts on down and only on the front. So …”
Harlan interrupted: “Where did you find this out?” He glared at Callie.
“I am the Deputy Mayor, Lieutenant. It’s my job to know what goes on in the city.” She hoped that this would keep Felina out of trouble.
“I suppose.” Harlan returned his attention to Razor. “Go on.”
“We made the mesh really fine in front in that area and extended it from the throat to about midthigh. Why don’t you put it on?” Callie took the mesh from Harlan and slipped it over her clothes. “Of course, it would go under her clothes.” Razor startled everyone by pulling out a pocket knife and slashing the mesh with some force.
Razor almost had two Enforcers on top of him, but managed to keep them at bay as they stopped to look around at the sudden beeping.
“Look! See no damage.” The two Enforcers bent down to inspect the mesh.
Felina looked at Razor. “What’s the noise?”
Razor pulled a little box out of his pocket. It had a flashing red light and it was the source of the noise. He pushed a button and the light blinked out and the beeping stopped. “It has a range of about five blocks. We have both visual and audio alarms. Also,” he reached out and dragged his claws against the mesh and the flashing and beeping started again, “it is quite sensitive and can be used as a limited tracking device, if needed. If one of you would care to come with me.”
Harlan followed Razor out of the apartment. “Notice how the beeping is getting quieter and the light is flashing slower.” Razor was having fun showing off and took Harlan down two floors in the elevator and back up the stairway.
While they waited back in the apartment T-Bone talked with Felina about the best strategy for covering Callie. With the three of them: Felina on foot and the Kats on their cyclotrons, they figured they had Callie fairly well protected. When Harlan and Razor returned the discussion continued. Eventually a plan was worked out.
“I’m going to have to decide where to send you first so you get tonight off. Can you start tomorrow?”
“Fine. Felina, bring her in with you. You two,” he looked at the Swat Kats, “should be ready to go tomorrow around nine. Lieutenant Feral will tell you where to meet.” With that Lieutenant Harlan left.
The Swat Kats looked at the other two kats and when Felina asked if anybody wanted anything to drink Callie said she’d like some milk and the Swat Kats said they should be going.
“There’re a couple of mechanics who are still busy and for a change they aren’t working on your car, Ms. Briggs.”
“Give me a couple of weeks. Thanks, you guys, I really appreciate it.”
When Razor closed the door behind him the two she-kats looked at each other for a moment. They both started to speak and then decided they didn’t need to. They settled for holding each other in the middle of the kitchen. Later, seated at the kitchen table, while Callie drank her milk Felina talked about taking a vacation after this case was done.
The next day at work Callie told Mayor Manx that she’d need to take a few days off for personal reasons.
“When will you be back?”
“I don’t know how long it will take.”
“But what will I do without you?”
“I’m sure Van can take care of you for the next few days. According to your calendar nothing very important is coming up in the next week, except for the golf tournament. That you don’t need me for.”
The next night Felina expected to go to Enforcer Headquarters and find out where Callie was suppose to go, but Harlan was taking no chances and called Felina at home. She called both Callie and the Kats and at nine o’clock everyone was in their place. Though Callie was out on the street for a long time nothing happened. No one was on the street except her. Eventually Harlan called the operation off for the night. Felina thanked the Swat Kats and prepared to drive Callie back to her apartment.
At the red light before Felina would have to turn off to go to her apartment Callie put her hand on Felina’s. “Can we just go to your apartment? I’m terrified. I know this is unreasonable, but I’m afraid to be alone in my apartment tonight.”
Felina gave Callie’s hand a squeeze and agreed. “You know, you don’t have to go any further with this. You’ve proved any points you need to prove. I know you’ve got guts. I didn’t need to see you out on the street tonight to know that. I think Tom would be happy not to have to worry about you getting hurt. As would I.”
“Me too, but unfortunately the words I used on you have convinced me. I have to do this: not to prove anything, but to find the killer.”
When they got to Felina’s apartment Callie made a beeline for the shower. “Jake didn’t tell me that my fur would catch in the mesh. I’ve got to get this thing off!”
Felina laughed as she helped her partner out of her protection.
The next night was only slightly more eventful. At one in the morning, shortly before they were going to close down the operation for the night, a van drove up next to Callie. An obviously drunk he-kat leaned out the passenger’s side window.
“Hey babe, need a lift? We got lots of room in the van, if ya know what I mean.”
“No thank you. I have some friends who will be picking me up shortly.”
“So? Toss ’em and come with us. We got beer and other things to keep the mind at ease.”
Callie was trying to think of what to say next when T-Bone came by on his cyclotron. “You guys lost? Can I help?”
The driver leaned out the driver’s side window of the van and stared at the Swat Kat. He tried to figure out the probability of being able take him. Fortunately for him he was sober enough to realize that he stood no chance. “Thanks, but the lady was kind enough to tell us where to go.”
When Razor and Felina found Callie and T-Bone they were still laughing.
The next night when Harlan called he told Felina that this was probably the night the attack would occur. “I don’t want you to tell Briggs because she has to appear natural. Scared is okay, but jumpy is not. You can tell the Kats to keep a closer watch, but try not to tip off Briggs.”
Around eleven o’clock Callie heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw that it wasn’t Felina. She speeded up and saw an alley to duck into, but the kat behind her overtook her before she could. He grabbed her around the neck and threw her to the sidewalk. Callie couldn’t see the face of her attacker because of the ski mask he was wearing. Otherwise he looked nondescript.
“Now, slut, you will pay for all the men you have stolen from their wives.”
The he-kat lifted a scalpel and slashed at Callie’s abdomen, but the scalpel didn’t cut. He tried again with the same result. He growled and as he began to stab at Callie’s twisting body he howled in rage.
“Get away from her!”
He looked over his shoulder to see an Enforcer coming up the street and then he heard the roar of a motorcycle. He stabbed the still screaming Callie twice more and was going to do it again when he heard a warning shot from the Enforcer. He jumped up and ran off into the alley. The motorcycles turned out to be the Swat Kats on their cyclotrons. T-Bone took off after the he-kat and Razor stopped next to Felina to check on Callie.
She was bleeding badly from numerous stab wounds. Felina looked at Razor. “Can you take her to the ER by yourself?” Razor nodded and Felina helped load Callie on to the cyclotron. “Hurry!”
Felina turned down the alley to chase after T-Bone. She was about halfway down the alley when she heard the unmistakable voice of T-Bone. “Crud!” When she caught up with him he was at the end of the alley.
“I lost him. There aren’t even any katholes for him to disappear through.”
Felina cast her flashlight about and saw a slightly open door. “This way.”
“What would he be doing going in here?”
“Trying to hide. It is either in here or nowhere and I prefer to believe that we are not chasing a phantom.”
Felina’s light swept the inside of the building. It was a sporting goods store. As they cautiously moved through the building T-Bone kicked something metallic. The two kats looked down to see a bloody scalpel. Felina bagged it for evidence and they continued on. On the other side of the building they came to another slightly open door.
“This kat’s running scared. He’s stopped being careful.”
“He’s never been chased before.”
The door opened out into another alley. There weren’t many businesses with two alley entrances, but this sporting goods company was one of them. The kats stood in the alley wondering which way to go when they heard something bang into some trash cans. They headed off in that direction and were rewarded by being shot at.
“Looks like he stopped by for some rearmament.”
The two kats slowly worked their way up the alley and as the other kat stood up and ran off Felina yelled at him to stop. He turned and fired at her. Then he ran a short way down the alley and disappeared into another building.
When they got there they found the door closed. Felina casually reached into her pocket and pulled out some keys. As she quickly looked at the numbers to see which would open the doors in this section of town realization struck.
“Great Mother! I know who we’re chasing.”
“You’ll find out when we catch him.”
As soon as they cautiously entered the next building they were fired upon. This was a jewelry store and T-Bone and Felina were able to use the display cases to try and sneak up on the he-kat they were after. There were a few more shots fired in their direction and then a door opened again.
“Damn it! Now where to?”
“It doesn’t matter, T-Bone. We’ll catch him.”
The walked up to the door watching for another gunfire attempt, and so Felina kept her flashlight aimed at the door to blind anyone stepping through. Just as they got to the door they heard a voice outside.
“Okay, Stankatski, that’s as far as you go.”
When Felina and T-Bone opened the door they saw that Lieutenant Harlan had a gun drawn on the masked kat they had been chasing. Harlan was standing under a street light next to an Enforcer car.
“I haven’t done anything.”
From behind him Felina spoke with her gun still drawn. “I assume that that’s just catsup on your on your pants and shirt. And also, I assume, this scalpel isn’t yours?”
The man took a step and then thought better of it. T-Bone could see the faces of the two Enforcers and knew they were just waiting for the kat to try to escape. As he looked at the anger on their faces he wasn’t too sure they would even wait that long.
“It was a neat trick to use all these buildings to escape through, but when I realized you were who we were after I just looked for your car and waited. If the others didn’t catch you, I would. T-Bone take his mask off.”
T-Bone did as asked and saw the face of an Enforcer he had seen around now and then. He had no clue as to why this kat would do what he had done. He had certainly attacked Callie and perhaps the rest. T-Bone decided he should say something when he realized Harlan wanted the mask off so he could look into the face of the kat he was going to execute. Felina looked like she felt the same.
“I know there are only the four of us here and whatever you do it would just be your word against mine, as though any court would ever take my word for anything, but you two are Enforcers, very good Enforcers. You two also have consciences, something our friend there doesn’t have. Could you live with yourselves if you just kill him in cold blood?”
Even T-Bone wasn’t convinced. What if it had been Razor instead of Callie? Would he hold back? Fortunately for the three of them more Enforcers arrived and no one had to decide whether they could live with the consequences of their actions. However, T-Bone was certain that both Harlan and Felina looked relieved when their opportunity for revenge disappeared.
Two of the newly arrived Enforcers took Stankatski into custody and T-Bone got a lift from a group going back to the scene of the attack. Before he left to go back to Enforcer Headquarters Harlan ordered Felina to go to the hospital. “I want you to stay with the witness until she can give us a statement.”
“As you wish, sir.” Silently she thanked Harlan for his kindness and quickly got a lift to where her car was.
With Chance driving it was going to take next to no time to get from the salvage yard to the hospital to check on Callie. The two kats were worried almost as much about Felina as they were about Callie. Felina was going to feel bad enough for allowing Callie to get hurt, but she would never forgive herself if Callie suffered some sort of permanent damage, no matter what Callie might tell her.
When they got to the hospital they found Felina was already in the waiting room. It was a long hallway from the elevator to the waiting room proper and they saw Felina get up twice and pace about before they got there.
When she saw the two kats she hugged Jake and thanked him for taking Callie to the ER and hugged Chance and thanked him for helping to catch Stankatski. After she told them there was no news yet the three kats sat and waited. At one point Felina got up and took a long walk. The two he-kats were beginning to worry about her when she finally reappeared.
“I couldn’t just sit here. I strolled around a good part of the hospital.”
Soon thereafter a doctor came over to talk to them. She saw the three kats in the waiting room and in particular that one of them had on an Enforcers’ uniform. It was to Felina that the doctor spoke.
“We think we got everything sewn back together. The wire mesh she was wearing kept the cuts from being too deep and too damaging and the stab wounds weren’t too deep either. She did lose a fair amount of blood, but rest will take care of that. Without the mesh her liver would have been cut in two and she might have lost one of her kidneys. She’ll be in recovery for awhile and then moved to a room. When she’s ready to go to a room a nurse will let you know.”
After the doctor left the relief was palatable: everyone spent some time with tears in their eyes. Felina was glad her lover would recover and Jake and Chance were glad that the mesh had done what it was suppose to do: to protect Callie from too much damage and to warn them so that they were able to get to Callie as soon as possible.
Later a nurse appeared to tell them the room number and Felina told the two kats to go home. “She’s going to be out of it for awhile. Why don’t you two go home? I’m the only one who has to be here. When she’s up to visitors I’ll give you a call. Thanks for waiting with me.”
She hugged the two he-kats again and they reluctantly left the hospital, but promised to return.
“This is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News. We are here in the hospital room of the Deputy Mayor, Calico Briggs. Ms. Briggs, can you tell what led you to do this?”
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