Original SWAT Kats Story

Gangland

By Jade F. Callan & Don Redmond

  • 1 Chapter
  • 29,882 Words

During the 1920’s, Megakat City is overrun by mob bosses and illegal alcohol. It’s up to undercover federal agents Jake, Chance, and two Ferals to keep things from getting out of paw when a mob war erupts between the Manges and Dark Kat.

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Author's Notes:

By Jade F. Callan and Don Redmond

Dedicated to Miss Kitty and Breathless Mahoney

Ulysses Feral stalked down the dark street, the collar of his coat pulled up against the sharp breeze coming off the water. He hoped he wasn’t running too late, but a phone call he had been waiting for all day had come in rather late, and the conversation had dragged on longer then expected. Quickening his step, he glanced around the waterfront as he passed the warehouses, knowing that there had been some trouble down here recently. It was risky for him to be in the neighborhood, his cover might be blown, but it was a chance he was willing to take, for Felina as well as for Callie.

Glancing over to his right, he saw his niece Felina leaning up against the open door of a warehouse, her cocktail dress flapping in the wind, revealing more of her legs than the slits in the dress did already. A pair of orange paws wrapped around her waist, drawing her back into the shadows, and Feral could hear drunken laughter from inside the warehouse. Sickened, he considered going in after her, but knew what he would find. That Felina chose to hang out at the Mange’s club bothered him, but not as much as her choice in boyfriends. Chance Furlong was a no-good thug, and seeing his paws on Felina simply infuriated Feral. However, he did not have time to extract Felina from Furlong’s embrace right now. Passing the warehouse, Feral tried to turned a deaf ear to the laughter drifting out to him.

Trudging on for another few minutes, Feral finally came to the door of The Fallen Angel, owned by Mac and Molly Mange. Several huge posters out front advertised Callie’s performance, all with sexy shots of the pretty blonde staring back at him. Feral sighed, and approached the door. He glared at the door kat, but allowed himself to be frisked. Pronounced clean, Feral was allowed to enter the clubs’ smoky but opulent interior. He had to admit, the Manges sure knew how to decorate. Red velvet with gold trim was the main theme of the club, with crystal chandeliers winking dimly. Feral sat in his usual seat, and ordered his usual drink from the bartender, Sami Higgins, impatient for the show to begin.

Mac Mange stepped up to the microphone and looked out over the crowd, more than a few of whom were drunk on what passed for alcohol these days. Even the non-drunks were being rowdy tonight, and Mac could hear more than a few shouts of “Get off the stage!” and “Bring her on!”

“All right, ladies and gentlekats. The Fallen Angel is proud to present the one and only Calico Briggs!”

The curtain parted to reveal a blonde she-kat in a tight black velvet dress slit up to the hip on the left side. The front was a vee down to just above her midriff, showing approximately half of each breast. Her wavy yellow hair was mostly combed down to her waist in the back, though a few of the tresses were combed forward to almost cover her right eye.

As soon as Callie stepped up to the microphone the whistling began and it was certain that no one in the audience noticed the three kats behind her. Her pianist, David Steel, was a short, blond kat, very nondescript and looked afraid of everything. The drummer, Abi Sinian, was the only female drummer anyone had ever seen. Finally, there was the bassist. Callie had found him on the docks, and after listening to him fooling around a bit decided he was just what she needed. His name was Jake Clawson, and he could make his bass sing like Django’s guitar.

In the end, however, all three of them knew that no matter how much space Callie might give them, and she was very generous, the audience came to listen to her, not them. Indeed, one night David was getting carried away with his solo and, even though Callie and the others were willing to let him go on as long as he wanted, several fans weren’t. They threw a few things at the piano, but the beer bottle bouncing off the music rack brought his solo to an abrupt halt. After that, David tended to behave himself, at least most of the time.

“Hello,” Callie looked out at her audience and wondered where the Manges had gotten this bunch. The audience was really crazy tonight. However, a row back and just right of center was Ulysses Feral. They smiled at each other and she just looked at him for a few moments while the crowd had its fun.

David began playing under the noise, followed by Jake and finally by Abi. Callie listened to them play for awhile and, as Abi slowly took over, she looked away from Feral and out over the audience. She closed her eyes, which many people thought was her way of getting into the song. Actually, she was just trying to visualize the song sheet to see the lyrics.

Tonight it took two words before the audience went quiet, “…been down so low with you leavin’ me,” It went on for an hour with the only noise coming from the stage. Mac was not pleased. Callie was too on and no one was ordering more drinks. He smiled to himself, thinking that when she was done, they would remember they were thirsty.

“… come on, come on, come on and take it! Take a little piece of my heart now baby!” These last words were sung with Callie looking at Jake. He took a short solo and then, as Abi beat her drum set into submission, Callie stuttered her way through the end again, “T … take it! Take a lit.. tle … a little piece of my …,” The band fell silent and Callie barely whispered the final word, “heaaart.”

There was silence for about thirty seconds and then the audience erupted into applause. There were shouts everywhere for encores, but Mac stepped up to the microphone and told them that if they wanted more they should come back the next night. For this he was roundly booed, and for a moment Feral wondered if they might start throwing things. As the house lights came up, however, Sami and the waiters frantically began to fill the drink orders flying at them from all sides.

**********************************************************

In her dressing room Callie, now wearing a robe, was sitting at her table staring at a small glass of whiskey. She couldn’t decide whether to drink it. It was the house brand and she still remembered what the audience had been like before she started singing. She was brought out of her meditation by several knocks at her door.

“You in there?”

She recognized the gruff voice, “Come in, Ulysses.”

The tall tom-kat entered the room and smiled at the she-kat, and she stood up so he could take her into his arms. After a moment he stood back.

“What was that thing at the end between you and the bassist?”

“Oh, stop being jealous. It’s just part of the show. You weren’t on the stage and I had to sing to someone the audience could see. Would you rather I sing to Abi?”

Feral started to laugh and realized she was serious. He knew better than to take her on in this sort of battle so he changed the subject, smiling gently down at her, “Are you hungry? The Chinamen’s Place is featuring sweet and sour shrimp.”

“You know the way to my heart, don’t you?” Callie smiled and stood on her toes to kiss Ulysses a bit more passionately. After a minute Callie pushed back from his embrace and smiled at him, “I think we should stop here if you ever plan on going out of this room to eat. Why don’t you go outside to wait for me and we’ll leave from there. We can continue this after dinner – at my place.”

The two kats kissed again and Feral stepped out of the dressing room. She listened for a moment to his footsteps and, since she didn’t hear any shouting, she knew he hadn’t come upon Mac or Molly.

After getting dressed in something more reasonable for going out and not attracting too much attention, Callie went down the hallway toward the back door where Ulysses would be waiting for her. She was thinking, yet again, how lucky she was to have hit it off with Ulysses Feral. At least his size would give her some shelter from the mob. Almost walking into Molly Mange brought her out of her reverie.

“Nice show tonight, doll,” Molly greeted her, “You’re bringing them in in droves. However, could ya, in the future, take a break in the middle? Nobody’s buyin’ anything while yer singin’,”.

Callie smiled, “I’ll try to remember.”

“Good. Also, do you know who that kat yer seein’ is?”

Callie tried to looked puzzled.

“Lissen, babycakes, that kat you’re so fond of seems a little suspicious to me. I’m keeping an eye on him.”

“What do they say? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Look, Molly, I know what I’m doing, don’t worry. Besides, if he’s sitting in your place listening to me sing he won’t be out causing trouble for you.”

Molly glared at Callie, shook back her long rust-colored hair, and walked on. Callie was beginning to think she should have taken Charlie up on his offer and hired on at his place. There she would have had, at least sometimes, a big band behind her. More importantly, she’d have to deal less often with the mob. Sometimes, however, money triumphs over art.

As soon as she opened the stage door she heard Ulysses yelling at someone. She didn’t have to go very far to see who or why. Ulysses Feral had that dock worker friend of Jake’s up against the wall with a paw around his throat. Felina was trying to pull Feral loose, to no avail.

“Listen, scum, stay away from my niece. It’s bad enough that she hangs around the Manges, but she doesn’t need either of you to make matters worse. Just punk muscle, that’s all you are.”

“Uncle, stop!”

He glared at Felina for a moment, and then tossed an almost unconscious Chance Furlong at the feet of Jake, who was standing on the other side of the stage door, behind Felina. Even in the shape he was in Chance struggled to get up and go after Feral, but he was held back by his friend. By the time Callie was standing next to Ulysses Felina was kneeling by Chance’s side, Jake taking a defensive stance over them.

Callie whispered in Feral’s ear, “Why don’t you get the car and I’ll talk to your niece.”

Feral shrugged and walked off. Callie turned and addressed Jake first, “Can’t you keep your friend out of here? Ulysses is going to kill the both of you one of these days if you’re not careful.”

“I’ll try,” was Jake’s response as he relaxed a bit.

Callie knelt down beside Felina, “Listen, honey, your uncle’s got a lot on his mind. It would help if you could keep your friends out of his way.”

“Why should we? He doesn’t run my life!”

“Try telling him that. He’s had custody of you since your parents died, and, according to him, you’re still his little kitten,” Callie stood up and turned back to Jake, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek, “Nice playing tonight. I think we’re really starting to mesh, providing we can keep David in check.”

Jake laughed and Callie left to wait a little farther down the street for Ulysses and his car. By the time the big kat got there the other three kats had gone and Ulysses was back in lover mode.

“Feel better?” Callie asked as she got in the car.

“I’d feel better if we got the food take-out and went back to your place,” Feral told her as they pulled away from the club.

“OK by me,” Callie sighed as she leaned back against the seat, realizing how tired she really was.

**********************************************************

Back inside the club, in the darkened stairwell, Chance, Felina, and Jake tried to catch their breath. Chance seemed to have recovered from the choke hold Feral had placed him in, but there were still marks on his neck, which he rubbed gingerly. Felina tried to straighten her hair, while Jake shook and flexed his fingers, which were still numb from the performance that night.

“Now what?” Felina asked the two tom-kats in a low voice. Even when they weren’t in the bowels of the Mange’s club, she tended to speak in a whisper when not in character. It was hard work playing a loser, but she didn’t want to blow her cover.

“I’ll go visit Sami, and see if she found out anything tonight,” Jake replied, “You go check on the hookers, Felina. Chance, feel up to making a few sweeps across the waterfront?”

Chance nodded at his partner, “Just as long as I don’t run into Feral. Hey, you’ve been chatting up that pretty bartender every chance you get. You got a thing for blondes?”

Jake grinned at the big kat, “Something like that.”

“Always preferred brunettes, myself,” Chance rubbed that back of his paw against Felina’s cheek, “Be careful, Felina.”

“I promise. You, too, big guy. I love you,” Felina leaned over and gave Chance a gentle kiss before heading down the stairs to the base of operations for the Mange’s prostitution ring.

Both Jake and Chance watched her go, then turned to climb back up to the main floor. Jake headed for the bar, nodding to other kats who greeted him as he passed. Chance went back out the door, into the brisk wind, to search the docks for criminal activity. All three were scared of blowing their cover, but knew what was expected of federal agents.

**********************************************************

Callie sat opposite Ulysses as they ate dinner at her small apartment. Her place wasn’t the Ritz, but Callie liked it, and Ulysses never seemed to complain. He was unusually quiet, though, and that worried her, “What’s the matter, lover?”

Feral looked up from his food, “Huh? Oh, um, I was just thinking about …”

“Felina,” Callie finished the sentence for him, “She’s not twelve years old anymore, Ulysses. She has to grow up some time.”

“It’s not that. It’s just, when my brother and his wife died in that car crash, I felt they had entrusted me with a precious gift, their daughter. Now, when I look at her, I feel I let them down.”

Callie nodded, having seen this mood in him before. From what she had gathered, when he got Felina at the age of twelve, she had been a normal, albeit depressed, kitten. Something happened about the time she was eighteen or so. Felina seemed to be attracted to the dark side of life, and for the past few years, had been passing time with darker and darker characters. Callie knew Feral felt helpless in the face of his niece’s decline, and that the feeling baffled, infuriated, and frightened him.

“What do you know about this Furlong?” Ulysses asked her.

Callie shrugged, “He’s a friend of Jake’s, and works for the mob on the docks. He’s pretty low level, no wise kat there.”

“Figures.”

The two finished their meal in silence, then Callie cleared the table. When she came back into the dinning area, she noticed that Ulysses was nowhere in sight. With a slight smile, she guessed where he had gone, and made her way down the hall to the bedroom, “Subtle, aren’t you?”

Feral, who was sprawled in a chair, looked at her and shrugged, “We usually end up here anyway. Callie,” Feral got up and walked to her, taking her in his arms, “I need you tonight. I need to feel …” His words were cut off as Callie put her arms around his neck and kissed him. He wasn’t the only one with needs.

**********************************************************

Once the confusion at the bar died down, Jake made his way across the room and leaned on the bar railing, “What’s a beautiful she-kat like you doing in a place like this?”

Sami turned around at the sound of his voice, “Making a living. Now, you wanna drink, or flap your gums?”

“Ooooo, touchy! Hard night?”

Sami relaxed a bit, “Yeah, worse than usual. Everyone comes in to hear Miss Briggs sing, then they bombard me with drink orders,” she set a glass of milk in front of Jake, knowing that he usually didn’t touch the hard stuff, and she was out of beer, “Nice set tonight, by the way.”

“Thanks, babe,” Jake took a long drink of milk, “That hits the spot! How much do I owe you?”

“It’s on the house … just don’t tell Molly.”

“Trust me, I won’t,” Jake smiled at her, then finished his drink.

“I tell you, I had one customer that I really thought wasn’t going to take no for an answer. It was strange to see him up here, though. He usually hangs out with the hookers. He seemed to think, since I work here, that I’m for sale as well.”

“Who’s that?”

“Tom Harlan. You know, Dark Kat’s toadie.”

A dark look passed over Jake’s face, “He was bothering you?”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous!”

“I’m worried about you. That Harlan is trouble.”

“I can take care of myself,” Sami informed him, “But thanks. And don’t try any heroics, Jake. I don’t want Dark Kat’s goons taking pot shots at you.”

“Count on it,” Jake leaned over to give her a kiss, then headed out the door, disturbed by the news that one of Dark Kat’s henchmen was scoping out the place, not to mention Sami. He needed to compare notes with Chance and Felina on this.

**********************************************************

Chance finally stumbled into the apartment he shared with Jake and Felina. It had been a long night and, between walking the docks, work, and that run in with Feral, he was beat. As he closed the door behind him, Chance smelled dinner in the kitchen, and knew Felina was home safe and sound. Tossing his jacket aside, Chance made his way into the kitchen.

“Hard night?” Felina asked, keeping her eyes on the bowl in front of her. She had stirred up some eggs and milk, and was now adding sausage, cheese, black pepper, and onions to the mix.

“Cold too,” Chance said, as he came up behind her and slid his arms around her, “Wanna warm me up?”

“After dinner, Chance,” Felina gave him a quick kiss before disengaging his arms and moving to the stove. Carefully, she poured the mixture out of the bowl and into a hot skillet, where it sizzled. Setting the empty bowl aside, she began to stir the eggs with a spatula, so they wouldn’t scorch.

“Where’s Jake?” Chance sat down at the table, after getting some of the coffee Felina had made.

“In the shower. He said he had something to talk to us about.”

“Important?”

“Sounds like it.”

“What about you?”

“Nothing to report here. The hookers were pretty quiet tonight.”

As she cooked, Chance watched Felina, his mind wandering. He thought about the early days, when he and Jake had balked at being assigned another partner, much less a she-kat. Oh, the three had fought at first, but then, one night when he was alone with her, love happened. A couple of weeks after that, Chance and Felina came home to find Jake had moved all her stuff, including the double bed, into the room he used to share with Chance, and his stuff now was in her room. Jake never said a word, but Chance knew his buddy, and thanked him for the kindness. Jake had been pretty tolerant of them since then, and only a little jealous at first.

“What’s for dinner?” Jake walked into the kitchen, rubbing his hair with a towel.

“Leftovers,” Felina stirred the eggs more, “And curiosity.”

Jake grinned, “Good. I like both.”

Felina dished up the eggs while Jake poured two more cups of coffee. As soon as the three were seated around the rickety table, both Chance and Felina looked at Jake expectantly.

“Dark Kat’s lieutenant was in the club tonight,” Jake informed them between bites.

“Harlan?” Felina’s eyes were wide, “I thought he was only interested in the hookers.”

“This could be trouble,” Chance observed between mouthfuls, “I saw some of Dark Kat’s thugs down on the docks snooping around.”

“We better keep our eyes open,” Jake said, then he turned to Felina, “Think your uncle knows about this?”

“No, I don’t think he notices anything but Callie Briggs when he’s in that club,” Felina responded, “I wish I could tell him about it.”

“No way. That would blow our cover, and, considering how many years it has taken to establish this cover, destroy a major amount of work,” Jake replied.

“I know, it’s just that …” Felina trailed off, and they finished the meal in silence, knowing there was no logical outcome to this conversation. Both Jake and Chance knew it hurt Felina that she couldn’t confide in her uncle, that he didn’t know she had followed in his pawprints and become an agent just like him, but they also knew she would never blow their cover. They were both aware at how these conflicting loyalties tore at Felina, but there was nothing they could do.

“That was great,” Jake told her after they had finished eating, “I’ll clear the table. Then, I’m hittin’ the sack,” He stacked the dishes in the sink and headed for his bedroom, leaving the other two alone in the kitchen.

“Felina,” Chance said softly, “I’m sorry.”

She shook her head at him, “No, Chance, I knew what I was getting into when I signed up with the agency ten years ago. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. I’m glad I have you, though.”

“C’mon, let’s turn in,” He held out a paw to her, and she placed her paw in his, letting him lead her into their bedroom. After they had undressed and gotten in bed, Chance took her in his arms and held her until she fell asleep, offering what little comfort he could. It was, however, more than a little comfort to Felina – it was life itself.

**********************************************************

Behind the ornate oak desk sat a very large, very dark kat. It was said that Dark Kat earned his name from his color, but those who had many dealings with him were certain it was because of his temper.

Sitting in a chair facing the desk was the object of this moment’s wrath. Tom Harlan was one of Dark Kat’s lieutenants, but he was sure that, if he survived this meeting, he’d be back with the numbers runners.

Behind these two were two other kats stationed at the door, two of Dark Kat’s army of muscle. Their purpose was to see that Harlan didn’t leave before Dark Kat had decided on his fate.

“I might as well get some use out of you. What can you tell me about the Manges’ set up?”

“I didn’t see anything. I was just there to catch Cal … the singer.”

“I understand you do business with some of the Mange’s hookers. What’s wrong with ours? What’s wrong with our whiskey? What’s wrong Harlan, don’t you like us any more?”

“Why don’t you hire Briggs?”

“What do you think I run, an amusement park?” Dark Kat’s eyebrow arched upward. Harlan didn’t take the hint.

“Well, if you want more customers …”

“Are you in charge here?” Dark Kat’s massive fist slammed down on the desk, “I run this business, whether it be numbers, prostitution, drugs or whatever, and I will crush the Manges! I don’t need some blonde canary to do it!”

Dark Kat stared at Harlan. Harlan could smell a gang war in the future and, if ruthlessness was all it took, Dark Kat would win with no problem. However, Dark Kat ruled through fear and, when the chips were down, it was always hard to tell who would desert. Harlan knew that whoever won would be looking for good underbosses. He was with Dark Kat, for now.

“Get out of here!”

Harlan found he was finally able to breathe only when the door to Dark Kat’s office was closed behind him. Even so, it was a long walk down the corridor from the office. As he walked down the stairs he passed by one of Dark Kat’s hookers. She was a petite blonde kat, and of all Dark Kat’s stable, she was Harlan’s favorite.

“Tom, what’s up?”

Harlan turned, and it took him a moment to focus on who was talking to him, “Sheila, I’m sorry. I’m a little preoccupied.”

The she-kat looked back the way Harlan had come from and frowned, “Talking with him again? Why don’t you just do what he tells you to do?”

Harlan was tired of everybody telling him what to do. He glared at the pretty she-kat and resumed walking. She stared after him and shook her head. She knew it was time to find someone else, since it was clear to her that Harlan would soon be gone.

**********************************************************

Two days later, despite Dark Kat’s warning, Tom Harlan was entering the Fallen Angel again. He figured that if Dark Kat wanted him to always go to only Dark Kat owned places he would have to hire Calico Briggs out from under the Manges.

During the break in the set Harlan found himself facing Mac Mange, Dark Kat’s bitterest rival, “See me after the show. I have a proposition for you, which you might find interesting.”

After the show Harlan wandered into the bowels of the Fallen Angel looking for the Mange’s office. At one point he saw a very pretty tawny she-kat with white streaks in her black hair. She was talking to some of the Mange’s stable of prostitutes, many of whom he knew intimately. She was new and he knew he’d have to get to know her soon. For the moment he contented himself with asking her for directions to the office. She smiled at him and told him the direction to take. As he thanked her he asked her name and gave her body a quick once over.

“Felina.”

Yes, he’d definitely have to try her out, “What? Oh, thank you. I’ll put in a good word for you.”

She smiled again and he went off in the direction she had indicated. He smiled to himself thinking that the word he would put in would be a request for her services.

When he knocked on the office door he was told to enter. Inside he saw both of the Manges. Molly was seated at the desk while Mac paced behind her, “Welcome, Mr. Harlan. Please be seated.”

He did as bade and took in the office. It was spartan, not much like Dark Kat at all. There was the desk, a few chairs, some pictures on the walls, and a gun cabinet. Dark Kat could put all of this into one corner of his office. Of the wealth these two were reputed to have there was scant evidence. Of course, Harlan had heard about their mansion outside of town, but had never seen it.

“So what’s the deal?”

“Your boss is a thorn in our side.”

“I guess it’s even then. You annoy him as well.”

“We’d like you to get rid of him for us.”

“Me? You’re crazy. He’d have my head, from the feet up, if he found out. He’d probably do it if he ever finds out about this meeting.”

“By all means, tell him about this meeting. Tell him the truth.”

“You two are crazy. What’s the point of this meeting?”

“We just want to worry your boss. Can he trust you anymore? Only time will tell. You can leave now.”

As soon as Harlan closed the door he heard laughter behind him. He only wished he knew who the fool in this operation was.

Outside the Fallen Angel Harlan didn’t get very far down the sidewalk before a car pulled up along side of him and one of Dark Kat’s musclekats leaned his head out the window, “Get in. I think Dark Kat might want to know what you were up to.”

“Of course. I was on my way to tell him.”

“Sure you were.”

Harlan got into the back seat next to more muscle and began to understand who the fool was.

**********************************************************

During the intermission, while Callie was off stage, Feral was idly looking around at the others who had come to hear her sing. He momentarily gloated to himself that while they might come to hear her and fantasize about what it would be like to be with her in person, he could do this nearly any time he wanted.

He was brought out of this reverie when his glance settled on Tom Harlan. While Feral was trying to decide what the tom-kat was doing at the club again he saw Mac Mange walk up to him and chat for a few moments. This did not bode well at all.

After the show Harlan, instead of leaving, got up and went toward the back of the Fallen Angel. Feral followed him, discretely, to see where he was going. He stopped when he heard Harlan talking to Felina.

For his peace of mind, at least, Harlan was only asking about where the Mange’s office could be found and not some other favors that Felina might be willing to provide. He didn’t know if he was happier that Felina wasn’t going to be performing for Harlan or unhappy because Harlan was going to see the Manges.

All that could wait. Callie was waiting for him.

**********************************************************

Harlan found himself seated in the same chair as before, facing the same angry kat across the same ornate oak desk. This time, however, Dark Kat was pacing back and forth. Harlan was certain he had stepped over the line this time, because Dark Kat was speaking in an almost conversational tone, although it was easy to tell there was an edge to it.

“Harlan, you are making this real difficult,” Dark Kat paused as if trying to find just the right words, “I don’t want to lose you. You run the drug section splendidly and make us a lot of money, even considering the encroachment of the Manges. I believe what you say happened at the Fallen Angel, but I have to enforce discipline. Therefore you are going to become a mole in the Manges’ operation. It will be your job to find out what they are planning, and report back to me. If they find out about you, don’t expect help from me. Hard Drive, my lawyer, will be your contact. If you survive your sentence, you’ll be reinstated. Does this sound fair to you?”

Harlan merely nodded. He was truly speechless. He had expected a death decree and, while he may have gotten one, it was one he might be able to get out of. Besides, he didn’t mind getting closer to Callie Briggs, and also getting a chance to try out that new hooker he had spoken to earlier.

“Good,” Dark Kat waved his bejeweled left paw in a gesture of dismissal. When Harlan got to the door the muscle stepped aside and he opened it to leave, “One more thing,” Dark Kat added. Harlan turned to face a now seated Dark Kat who was, for lack of a better word, smiling at him, “If I hear that you’ve switched sides to the Manges,” the large kat to the right of Harlan grinned at him, “Victor will kill you without thinking about it. Is that also understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

Harlan walked out the door and on down the hall. He almost laughed at the thought of Victor killing him ‘without thinking.’ Harlan figured Victor did everything without thinking. If Dark Kat didn’t tell him to do it, Victor didn’t do it.

“Tom?”

Harlan was brought out of his reverie by Sheila, “Hi, babe.”

“You sound a little more cheerful this time.”

“I’m still alive.”

“Why don’t you come to my room and tell me about it?”

Harlan put his arm around Sheila’s waist, and the two of them walked down a couple of hallways to a small room. After entering Harlan turned to close the door behind them. When he turned around again he saw Sheila was already half undressed.

“Don’t want to waste any time, do you?”

“Sorry, just thinking of my job. Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure, the usual.”

Sheila finished undressing and slipped on a robe before going to her limited liquor supply. She poured a couple of drinks and gave one of them to Harlan, who was sitting on a chair that had its back to the table in the room. She sat on the edge of the bed and the two kats toasted each other with smiles.

**********************************************************

The three kats sat in the living room to talk before dinner. Both Felina and Jake tried to speak at the same time. Chance decided on Felina, “She-kats first.”

“At least you didn’t say pearls before swine.”

The three kats chuckled, but the news two of them bore dampened things.

“I saw Harlan in the Fallen Angel again. I was talking with the Manges’ hookers when he wandered by in search of the Manges’ office. He obviously thought I was one of the hookers, by the way he looked me up and down, but he left after I told him which way to go.”

“If he lays a paw on you, I’ll tell him which way to go,” Chance growled, “So Harlan and the Manges met? I hope this doesn’t mean that Dark Kat and the Manges are joining up. We’ll be in real trouble if that happens. So what have you got, Jake?”

“Same thing. Sami told me that Harlan was in again and Mac Mange had talked to him at intermission of Callie’s set. At the end she noticed that he went to the back rather than out. Obviously that was when he ran into you, Felina.”

“If this is a joining up of the Manges and Dark Kat, we may have to bring in my uncle, whether we want to or not. This is just going to get too big.”

“I think we should let it ride for awhile before clueing in your uncle. I just can’t see Dark Kat bowing to anybody,” Chance couldn’t make any sense of this at the moment.

“Could Harlan be getting ready to sell out Dark Kat?”

“Great. Gang war. If it gets to that, we may have to bring in your uncle,” Jake did not relish that thought any more than Chance did, but he knew that the time might come to bring in Feral. At least he didn’t have any bias against Felina’s uncle. Well, not much.

“You really think there might be a war brewing, bud?” Chance asked Jake, his brow wrinkling.

“I have a feeling things might be heading in that direction,” Jake answered, “We’re all going to have to be careful, but we’ve got to start leaning on other kats for information.”

“I wonder why my uncle hasn’t noticed Harlan in the Fallen Angel,” Felina mused, “He was there tonight, I know, because he stopped to give me a disappointed look before he went into the main room.”

“He did notice Harlan. Sami said Feral followed Harlan to the backstage area on his way to see Callie. Maybe Sami will be able to give us more info the next time Harlan comes to the club. I just don’t like this.”

“Getting protective of Sami, aren’t you Jake?” Chance tried to lighten the mood.

Jake shrugged, “Somewhat.”

Felina shook her head, “Our little Jake, all concerned about a she-kat. What next, drinking beer?”

“That, and long pants. Next thing you know, he’ll want to drive a car. I’m not sure us old kats can take all this.”

“Are you two through having fun?” Jake grinned in spite of himself.

Chance laughed, “Well, we’re not going to get anywhere on this gang war situation tonight, so we might as well get some supper. What’s on the menu, Felina?”

“Fish stew, and it should about be done. One of the dock workers,” she winked at Jake, “saved out some really nice fish chunks for me. Guess he’s just too susceptible to my charms,” Felina stood up and affected a glamour pose, and both Chance and Jake laughed at her antics. The three headed for the kitchen, the smell of the stew heavy in the air.

**********************************************************

Feral awoke, and felt Callie’s body next to his. For a change, they had gone to his apartment that night, Feral feeling the need to escape the docks. It was always a risk, bringing Callie here, but, on occasion, Feral felt it was a risk he had to take. The appearance of Harlan, and his interaction with Felina and the Manges, worried Feral, and not even having Callie in his bed could relieve his anxiety. Slipping out of bed without waking her, Feral walked over to the window and looked out. Not much of a view, but then he wasn’t really seeing what was in front of him. Could Dark Kat and the Manges be heading for a war? Feral felt a cold finger down his spine, his thoughts on the safety of both Callie and Felina.

The feeling of dread was suddenly banished as a familiar soft paw settled on his shoulder. Callie lightly pressed herself against Feral’s back and kissed his neck before speaking.

“What’s the matter, Ulysses? Are you feeling okay?”

“It’s just some problems from work that are nagging at me. They woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“If you come back to bed, I think I can help you forget your problems, at least for a few hours,” Soon the two kats were back in bed and, true to her word, Feral was no longer worrying about the problems of the mob.

**********************************************************

Chance leaned back against the stack of crates he had just moved into the dark interior of the warehouse. It was only mid-morning, and already he was beat. He looked over at Jake, who was stacking crates on the far end of the floor, and saw his partner was in a similar state. Working on the docks all day and then spying on the Manges at night certainly took a toll on both of them. Felina was lucky in that she got to sleep in, but then that was why she took care of the cooking and cleaning. Chance’s eyes narrowed as he remembered Harlan’s presence in the club the night before. An uneasy feeling crawled along his spine, but he quickly dismissed it. There was nothing he could do about it now. With a sigh, he made his way over to Jake.

“What’s up, buddy?” Jake greeted Chance.

“Not much. I thought you might need help over here.”

“The more the merrier.”

“You playing at the club tonight?”

“Nope. Callie said she needed a break, her voice was starting to get a little ragged. Hey, did you hear about the shakeup in Dark Kat’s organization?”

“Nope,” Chance said casually, leaning over to pick up a crate of canned tuna – at least, that’s what the label read.

“Looks like Dark Kat tossed one of his lieutenants out on his tail,” Jake informed him, not letting on how important this information was.

“Which one?”

“Some tom-kat named Harlan. Seems Harlan was a bit too taken with hanging out on Mange turf,” Jake gave Chance a meaningful look, then went back to stacking crates.

Chance didn’t need looks from Jake to know something was wrong. Dark Kat didn’t just dismiss lieutenants that crossed him – he killed them. Harlan was up to something, and he, Jake, and Felina had better watch their step around the Fallen Angel.

**********************************************************

Feral sat at his desk at headquarters, but his mind was far from the paperwork in front of him. There was trouble brewing, he could feel it. But where was it coming from? Throwing down the pen in his paw, he leaned back in his chair and contemplated the situation. What was Harlan up to? Better yet, what was Dark Kat up to? Feral closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. He had a feeling it was going to be a long, long day.

**********************************************************

Tom Harlan, chin tucked down into the collar of his trench coat, slunk down the street looking as dejected as a kat can get. Other pedestrians made it a point to avoid him. Harlan smiled inside, knowing that Dark Kat had managed to put the word out that Harlan was no longer in with his gang. That suited Harlan fine, it was less explaining he had to do. After walking a few more blocks, he reached his destination, and entered a two story office building on his right. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, he walked down the hall until he found the office of Hard Drive, Attorney at Law. Harlan smiled as he recalled the lawyer had earned his nickname because he drove hard bargains with the DA, a timid little kat named Manx. Entering the outer office, Harlan gave his name to the secretary, then watched her scurry into the inner office to announce his presence. When she reappeared, she told him to go on in.

Harlan entered the well appointed office, closing the door behind him. He took in the leather furniture, velvet drapes, and antique desk, then rested his eyes on the kat behind the desk. The youth of the attorney surprised him, but Harlan hid it, and went over and sat in the large leather chair in front of the desk.

“I’ve been expecting you,” Hard Drive said, “Dark Kat explained everything to me. You are to drop off your reports, in sealed envelopes, to my secretary, Rosie, once a week. The cover story is that I am taking care of some financial matters for you. Is that clear?”

Harlan nodded, “Crystal. Nice office.”

Hard Drive took no notice of the compliment, “Just do your job, Harlan. Dark Kat is not a good enemy to have.”

Without another word, Harlan rose and exited the office, closing the door softly behind him. With a nod to Rosie, he left the building and continued down the street, heading for his apartment and, he hoped, an afternoon with Sheila.

**********************************************************

Callie had talked the Manges into giving her a night off so that she could rest her voice. Of course, that didn’t mean she couldn’t practice, she’d just not sing full out. This afternoon, wearing a sedate pair of slacks and a sweater, she was in the practice room above Charlie’s place. He had been kind enough to loan it to her for the afternoon. Since his band used it to practice in as well all the instruments were there and waiting.

Her trio was suppose to show up, but since they all had day jobs it wasn’t always easy. She hoped that they could make it since she was looking for new songs for the show. She was tired of singing the same songs, not that she’d been singing them at the Fallen Angel all that long, but they were the same songs she always sang. If her trio could gather, she hoped they could work on some new numbers.

While waiting for anyone to show up she sat at the piano and tried to see if anything would come to her. She was a passable piano player, but everyone in the trio played better than she did. Inspiration was hard in coming, and so Callie was reduced to plunking out gospel chords in hopes they would inspire something.

She was interrupted in the pursuit of the new by a kat entering the practice room. She looked up and saw Jake Clawson coming toward her. She smiled at him and motioned for him to take her place at the piano.

“I’m glad you could make it, Jake. I hope the others can get here too . I’m really looking forward to finding some new material. I don’t mind listening to you three play the old stuff, but I am getting bored singing it.”

“Now Callie, what would Mac say if you didn’t close the show with ‘Piece of my Heart’ every night?”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to sing it again for awhile.”

With Jake at the piano and Callie standing behind him the two kats ran through some new material that they collectively knew or that one of them knew really well. At the moment they didn’t care whether either Abi or David knew the pieces. They could take care of that later. Right now they were just looking for material that Callie could sing. When they found a song the process of beginning an arrangement started. Callie would sing along with Jake’s playing and each would, from time to time, stop the music to suggest other ways of playing phrases or sometimes even notes.

For one song this was an especially onerous task. Occasionally Callie would stop and lean over Jake’s shoulder and pound on a key, “No, this one!” This happened several times before Jake spun around on the piano bench to face Callie. He stood and looked at her, “Look, if you think …,” Jake lost his train of thought as he looked at Callie. Suddenly music was the furthest thing from his mind as he reached over to Callie and pulled her to him. She started to protest, but the emotion of the moment had to go somewhere. Almost before they knew it both kats were engaged in passionate kissing that neither of them wanted to stop.

Jake would have continued further except that both kats heard the sound of voices and more footsteps in the hallway outside of the practice room. As if splashed with cold water the two kats parted and tried not to look too disheveled. Soon the other two members of the trio were in the room and Callie explained what she wanted to do. She told David to take the piano before either she or Jake tortured it any more. With the whole group present things went much smoother and they managed to work up several new songs for their next performance.

As they were breaking up Charlie stuck his head in the door and loudly lamented that he hadn’t been able to hire Callie. She told him that she’d talk to the Manges to see if they’d loan her out every now and then so she could play at his place.

“Fat chance, Callie. Those two wouldn’t let water out if they could make a penny on it. Even if they did, I don’t know if I could afford that.”

Jake hung back until the others had left, “Look, I want to apologize for my actions. It was uncalled for.”

“Don’t worry. Nobody knows except us. Let’s leave it that way,” She grinned at Jake, “As long as Ulysses doesn’t find out you have nothing to worry about.”

Just before they parted on the street Callie leaned over and lightly kissed Jake on the cheek, “Until next time.”

**********************************************************

Felina stood in front of the closet, clad only in a slip, trying to decide what to wear. She was so engrossed in the two dresses hanging on the closet door, she didn’t hear Chance enter the room. Moving silently, Chance stole up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

“Oh! Don’t do that!” Felina yelped, but there was a smile in her voice, “Which one of these dresses do you like better?”

“The one you’re not wearing at the moment,” Chance began to nuzzle her neck, and Felina leaned back against him, purring.

“My, you’re in a good mood,” she observed.

Chance moved back a bit and turned her around in his arms, “Not really. I’m worried about you.”

“What’s up?”

“Word on the street is that Dark Kat discharged Harlan for spending too much time at the Fallen Angel.”

“Dark Kat usually doesn’t dismiss his lieutenants. We usually find them floating in Megakat Bay.”

“Exactly. Watch yourself around him, Felina. I don’t like this,” Chance drew her against his chest, holding her tight.

“With you and Jake there to protect me? What could happen?” Felina tried to soothe Chance, but she could still feel the tension in his body, “Listen, we don’t really need to be at the club for a while yet. What say we get caught up a little with each other? I think we need to take our minds off the mob, at least for a bit,” she started to run her fingers through his hair.

“What about …” Chance began, but was cut short by Felina’s kiss.

“There’s leftovers in the refrigerator for Jake,” she informed him, after kissing him long and hard, “He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself. Now, where were we?”

“C’mere,” Chance pulled her even closer, and kissed her again.

**********************************************************

“I don’t like this, Mac,” Molly declared as she paced. She and her husband were in their office below the club, which opened in about two hours. There wouldn’t be much of a crowd, without Callie singing, but the liquor was cheap, so they usually had a decent take even on an off night.

“I know what you mean,” Mac replied, sitting at the desk. He flicked the ashes from his cigar into an ashtray, then returned the stogie to his mouth, all the while watching his agitated wife, “Something ain’t right about this thing with Harlan.”

“I figured Dark Kat would’ve busted him back down to the streets, or shot him outright. What does that mean, Harlan has been dismissed?”

“Maybe Dark Kat wants us to become suspicious and knock off Harlan ourselves,” Mac mused, “And maybe we need to have another chat with Harlan.”

“Think he’ll show up tonight?” Molly finally stopped pacing.

“Count on it,” the cigar was crushed out in the ashtray.

“You better be right.”

Both kats looked up as there was a knock at the door. Molly called for the kat to come in, and Sami entered with a bottle from the Manges’ private stock and two glasses. She had also brought a couple of sandwiches from the kitchen. After she set the tray down on the desk, Mac waived her out of the room. Sami left quickly, closing the door behind her and heading back to the bar. She would have a lot to tell Jake tonight, that was for sure. Who said it didn’t pay to listen at doors?

**********************************************************

Jake entered the Fallen Angel rather early that night. Without Chance and Felina, dinner had been a rather quick affair, and he was getting bored listening to the radio. A quick scan of the room revealed no one of interest, so he sat at the bar and signaled Sami for a beer. Sami poured his drink, then came over to him.

“Slow night?” Jake asked, passing her two bills for the beer.

“It always is when Miss Briggs isn’t singing,” Sami replied, “Did you have dinner?”

“Yeah, there were some leftovers in the fridge. Why, you wanna go out later?”

“Actually, I was wondering if you wanted to come over to my place for – dessert,” Sami looked seductively at Jake.

“Now that’s truly an offer I would be a fool to refuse,” Jake took a gulp of his beer, “What’s on the menu?”

“Me.”

“I’ll be there with bells on,” Jake promised, then leaned in closer to her, “Something big happen?”

“Yep,” with that, Sami went over to the other side of the bar, where two kats were signaling her they wanted drinks.

Jake nursed his beer, unsure which he was looking forward to more, making love to Sami or hearing the information she had for him. When Sami had started using Jake as a sounding board for things she heard at work, he had done all he could to encourage her to keep talking. As far as he knew, she didn’t know he was an agent, but that didn’t stop her from leaking information to him. Of course, the fact they were lovers helped as well.

**********************************************************

Feral wasn’t sure why he had come to the Fallen Angel tonight. Callie wasn’t singing, and she didn’t answer her phone when he had called. As he sat down, he idly wondered where she was. A waiter brought him his usual drink without him having to order it, and Feral nodded in thanks. Raising the drink to his lips, he took in the crowd in the club. He saw the bass player from Callie’s band at the bar, drinking a beer. Felina and that no good hoodlum she was seeing came in, looking drunk already. Feral could have sworn Felina saw him, but she went right past him, and, after kissing Furlong in entirely too familiar a way in public, she walked to the back of the club and entered the stairwell. Feral was going to follow her, when he spotted Harlan entering the club.

Harlan looked dejected, Feral noted, and sat near the back of the room. After a few moments, however, one of the runners for the Manges came over to Harlan and gave him a note. Feral watched as Harlan read the note, stuck it in his pocket, and got up, heading for the stairwell. He toyed with the thought of following Harlan, but a familiar voice brought him out of his thoughts.

“Hello, Ulysses,” Callie said as she stood in front of his table.

“What are you doing here?” Feral asked her, “I’ve been calling you all day, and got no answer. What’s going on?”

“Can’t a she-kat have a little time to herself?” Callie didn’t sit down to join him, “C’mon, I only came here because I knew you would be here. Let’s go somewhere else. I have to work here, I don’t want to play here as well.”

Feral finished his drink, laid a bill on the table, and stood up, “What do you mean, you knew I’d be here?”

Callie just smiled and headed for the exit, Feral following in her wake with a curious look on his face.

**********************************************************

Felina was leaning against a door frame, talking to a couple of the hookers that weren’t out escorting clients, when she felt a paw brush along her backside. Stiffening, she turned to see who had dared lay a paw on her, and was confronted with the sight of Tom Harlan’s retreating back. He was heading in the direction of the Manges’ office. Felina was curious as to what Harlan was up to, but the hallway was too crowded for her to follow him without arousing suspicion. She returned to her conversation, making a mental note not to tell Chance about the pass Harlan had made. No sense letting Chance’s anger blow their cover.

**********************************************************

Harlan knocked on the door to the Manges’ office door and was told to come in. When he opened the door he only saw Molly behind the desk. It was only when he looked around the room that he saw Mac sitting in a darkened corner chomping on, and sometimes even smoking, a cigar.

When Molly saw where Harlan was looking she chuckled, “Don’t worry about him. I thought this talk might go better if neither of us had to put up with his cigar smoking. I understand that you have been dismissed by Dark Kat. Isn’t this somewhat unusual?”

“I’m not one to look gift horses in the mouth. You are nowhere near as surprised as I am. Maybe he was rewarding me for my years of service. I don’t know. Dark Kat is a psycho. Who can figure out what he does. I’m just glad to be out from under his thumb.”

“Since you’re unemployed, could you use a job?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“I understand you had a paw in Dark Kat’s drug business. We’d like to get a piece of the action. Would you care to get some of it for us? Think of it as a loyalty test.”

“If you want me to do it, I will. Do you have any particular part of the business you want?”

“We’ll let you make the choices. You know it better than we do.”

“You can count on me.”

“I hope so. I’ll send someone over to see you later and you can work out the details. How does that sound?”

“Do you need my address?”

“No, we know where you live. That will be all for this time.”

Harlan got up and left the Manges’ office. He’d have to get in touch with Dark Kat to see what Dark Kat was willing to lose for this charade. There was one good point to working for the Manges. They believed in short meetings, and they didn’t yell either.

As he walked back up the stairs he thought to himself that he should have asked for an introduction to Calico Briggs. Well he’d be by again and could ask then. In the meantime he’d see if he could find that new hooker for the night. At the moment he couldn’t remember her name, but names didn’t matter. He would recognize her when he saw her again and if she performed well he might decide to remember her name.

**********************************************************

In the office the Manges were trying to decide what to make of their little interview with Tom Harlan. Mac was pacing in front of the desk with an object that use to be a cigar now in his paw.

“I don’t trust him, Molly. He’s too smooth.”

“Not everyone has your rough edges. We’ll see how he does. We know Dark Kat’s drug fronts as well as he does. If the only things he gets us are the losers, then I think it will be time to take a closer look at Mr. Harlan.”

“I’d feel better if we kept a close eye on him. I think I’ll set Sol Panther on him. He should be able to follow him without being seen.”

“Good idea. Want to get something from the bar?”

**********************************************************

When Jake got to Sami’s apartment he wasn’t sure what would happen when she opened the door. It wouldn’t have surprised him if she had shown up nude. But she was still wearing the same clothes that she had worn to work.

As soon as he was inside and Sami had closed the door the two kats embraced and shared a long, deep kiss. When they broke Jake asked if it was time for dessert, but Sami said that she’d better tell what she knew before they got on to other things.

Sami said she had already eaten, but asked Jake if he’d like anything. He said that some ice cream might be nice. Sami served up two dishes of ice cream and a glass of milk for Jake. They ate in silence until the ice cream was gone and then as Jake finished his milk.

Sami told Jake about she had heard while listening at the Manges’ door. Jake digested it for a moment and asked a couple of questions to see if Sami knew any more. When he was sure she had told him all she knew he told her not to do it again, it was too dangerous.

“I don’t want you risking your life like that. Suppose someone had come to the office while you had your ear planted on it? You’d be floating in the bay now instead of talking to me.”

“But no one saw me, and I had a reason to be there,” Sami wasn’t happy with this turn in the conversation.

“I know. Look, what you found out is interesting, but try not to take any chances in the future, please. I don’t want to have to identify your body in the morgue sometime.”

Jake put his glass down and walked around the table to where Sami was sitting. He leaned down and put his arms around her. As he nuzzled her neck he murmured in her ear that he didn’t want to lose her, she meant too much to him.

“What’s with you tonight?” Sami twisted around to face him, “You’re not usually this affectionate.”

“Are you complaining?”

“No, I’m curious. Is there something I should know about?”

Jake looked straight into her blue eyes, “Only that I want to be with you, and I don’t like you taking chances.”

“OK, OK, I get the point,” Sami stood up, “Shall we try a new topic of conversation?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Come into the bedroom and I’ll explain it to you.”

**********************************************************

“OK, what’s the mystery?” Feral was staring at Callie.

“Mystery? I just want to go somewhere fun tonight. How about the beach?” The blonde kat looked up at Feral, smiled and batted her eyelashes.

Feral grumbled something to himself, but nodded in assent. He was tired, as he always was by this time of night, but maybe Callie had a good idea. Maybe it would be good to really get away from the familiar. He and Callie had gone out to eat at various restaurants from time to time and then ended up at one of their apartments, usually Callie’s. More often they had skipped the first step and just gone to her apartment. Maybe a change of pace would be good.

Callie snuggled up against Feral as they drove to the shore and thought about their relationship. What had happened with Jake was just one of those things. She didn’t know if Feral was absolutely faithful to her, and it didn’t really matter. In the end they were faithful to each other despite the occasional bump in the road.

The boardwalk at the beach, as usual, was lit up like someone had bought every light they could find and wanted to run them all at once. The two kats walked along the boardwalk at a leisurely pace. Callie suggested the ferris wheel, but Feral pleaded a weak stomach. She then suggested hot dogs, “If it wouldn’t be too much for your stomach.”

When they found a bench to eat their hot dogs on they sat in silence for awhile before Feral asked, “So where were you this afternoon?”

“I told you, I was just taking some time off,” Seeing that Ulysses wasn’t going to take that for an answer she added a little more, “I was over at Charlie’s place practicing with my trio. We were trying to come up with some new songs as I’m getting tired of the old ones.”

“You should have told me. I would have loved to watch you practice.”

“No, we’re pretty boring. Play a few bars and stop and analyze. It’s boring for us as well,” Plus, Callie thought to herself, you might have killed my bass player.

“So, you’d get anything new?”

“Come to the next show and find out.”

The two kats settled back into eating. Afterward they walked down the beach holding paws. The two were beginning to feel like teenagers. They’d stop occasionally and watch the moonlight on the water. Feral got a bit wet when a big wave came in rather unexpectedly, but tonight he was in a good mood and didn’t care.

Their wanderings took them far down the beach and they walked through the sand watching the waves. When they turned around to go back Callie leaned against Feral and looked up at him. “So what did you do today?”

“Nothing.”

“Surely your business doesn’t let you get away with sleeping all day. What about those problems that were bothering you the other night?”

“They’re still bothering me.”

“You’ve never told me what kind of business you’re in.”

“You don’t need to know.”

“You need to know what I do every hour, but I don’t need to know the same about you?”

Feral realized that this pleasant evening was falling apart. Callie had a point, but, unfortunately, he couldn’t tell her what he really did. He couldn’t tell her if for no other reason than he didn’t want to get her in trouble or, worse yet, killed.

“Don’t worry your pretty little blonde head about it,” As soon as the words were out of his mouth he realized they were the wrong thing to say. He knew that Callie was not a she-kat to be patronizing with, but that’s what he’d just done, “Callie …”

“What?” Callie took several steps away from Feral and glared at him. She was upset at herself for letting this get to her. She knew that Ulysses didn’t really mean it as it came out, but it was done, “Obviously something has spoiled the evening. I’ll think it best we go now.”

“Callie, I …,” Feral stopped. Perhaps she was right, “I’ll drive you home.”

“I’ll take a cab.”

With that, Callie walked off, leaving Feral to look after her. Neither kat was satisfied with what had happened, but both knew they had found themselves in a corner there was no way out of.

**********************************************************

The next evening the three kats decided to let this day’s information session wait until after dinner as both Jake and Chance were really tired from the days’ dock work. For Jake the night wasn’t over, since he had to play behind Callie tonight. Fortunately that usually energized him.

With the dishes put up the three retired to the living room. Jake sat in a chair facing the couch on which Chance and Felina sat together.

“Sami tells me that the Manges aren’t too sure about Harlan either,” Jake started, “Apparently they want to see him again. I would guess that they’ll ask Harlan to take some of Dark Kat’s properties away from him and bring them to the Manges.”

“Wasn’t Harlan the drug kat?” Chance asked.

“Yep. That kat just keeps getting slimier doesn’t he?” Jake said.

“I don’t have much to say except that one of the Mange hookers told me Harlan is still pretty friendly with Dark Kat’s hookers,” Felina put in.

“Yeah, I’ve heard about another connection to Dark Kat. It seems that Harlan does a lot of business with Hard Drive, who is a lawyer that does work for Dark Kat,” Jake added.

“So who is playing with who?” Chance looked from Jake to Felina.

“I don’t know, Chance, but I have a way we could find out.”

Chance stared at Felina for a moment, then realized what she was implying, “No! That’s too dangerous. If he finds out about you, we’re all sunk. Besides, I don’t want his paws on you!”

“Look, he’s got his eye on me already and I’m someday going to have to give him an answer.”

“Tell him no!”

“Whoa, Let’s not get carried away here. Chance is right, it’s too dangerous to get mixed up intimately with Harlan,” Jake held up his paws towards Felina, “I am sure we can think of better ways to find out what we need to know. Why don’t we contact headquarters and see if they can put a tail on him?”

The other two kats nodded and Jake stopped holding his breath. He didn’t need Chance and Felina fighting, not now. They discussed a few other items before Jake told them he had to be going. He stood up and said his good-byes before going out the door.

**********************************************************

Harlan opened the door to his apartment slowly, glad to finally be home. He had spent most of the day wandering the docks, watching for any activity by the Manges’ thugs. He had seen plenty of contraband arrive on the docks, but nothing he was too interested in. He had called Sheila, hoping she would be able to join him for the evening, but she was out working. With a sigh, Harlan closed and locked the door, then removed his coat, carefully taking out the envelope Rosie had given him.

Taking time to get himself a stiff drink, Harlan sat down on the couch, contemplating the envelope in his paw. He had dropped off his first report yesterday morning, and was surprised to be told to come back the next day. Sure enough, there was an envelope from Dark Kat waiting for him. He slit the envelope and drew out a single sheet of paper. The neatly typed note explained to Harlan which areas of the drug business Dark Kat was willing to sacrifice – temporarily, of course – to help Harlan keep his cover. He had to admire Dark Kat, they were some choice areas, not garbage. The note also warned him to stay away from Dark Kat’s businesses, including Sheila, as that might blow his cover. There was no signature on the letter, it just ended with a veiled threat.

With a gulp of bourbon, Harlan considered the significance of the warning about Sheila coinciding with the fact he was unable to contact her. He wondered if she had already been removed. Shrugging, Harlan decided he’d have to find companionship elsewhere, and he knew where to look. It was definitely time to try out that little dark-haired beauty at the Fallen Angel.

Placing the letter in the ashtray, Harlan carefully used his lighter to set it on fire. As the paper burned, he searched under the couch for his latest project. Finally finding the box, he hauled it out to check the contents. Everything was still there, ready and waiting. Sliding the box back under the couch, he smashed the embers in the ashtray with his fingers, then rose to look out the window to see if the nosy kat who had been following him all day was still there. He didn’t know if his shadow had been sent by the Manges’ or Dark Kat, but Harlan wasn’t going to take any chances. After all, it was his hide on the line.

**********************************************************

“Hey, dollface. You in the blue dress. C’mere,” Molly called to the group of hookers standing by the bar.

Felina’s eyes widened. Molly had only spoken to her a couple of times, and then only to yell at her to get out of the way. She wasn’t sure she liked this, but knew it could only be trouble if she refused to go. Carefully not looking Chance’s way, but knowing he was watching her, she approached Molly.

“Turn around,” Molly commanded.

Felina revolved, a puzzled look on her face, “Is there something wrong?”

“Not exactly, dollface,” Molly nodded in approval, “It’s just that we got a request for your services from one of our new associates, a kat named Harlan. I checked, and found out you’re not on the payroll – yet. How’d you like to start earning some folding green? I think you got what it takes to turn more tricks than most of these she-kats dream of.”

Before Felina could reply, Chance appeared at her elbow, “What’s up, babe? Is there trouble?”

“No, everything’s fine,” Felina told him, “Go back and drink your beer. We’re just having a little talk here.”

Chance looked at her darkly, then turned and retreated to the table he was sharing with Jake. Felina turned back to Molly, “I’d love to work here, but my boyfriend’s really jealous. I’m afraid he’d cause problems.”

“I could take care of him for you,” Molly offered, “He works for us on the docks.”

“Oh, no! I mean, I can handle things,” She leaned over a bit, lowering her voice, “I might be able to accommodate your associate, Mr. Harlan, if we do business out of my boyfriend’s earshot. Besides, you don’t want to lose such a good dockworker, do you?”

Molly grinned, “I like your style, dollface. I’ll get back to you with the information about Mr. Harlan.”

Felina watched Molly leave, then dared to look at Chance. He didn’t look happy. With a sniff, Felina turned back to the bar. They had to get information somehow, and Harlan seemed to be the key. It wasn’t as if she had to sleep with him, after all. She could pump him for information, then drug him into sleep, slipping out before he knew what hit him. Nothing to it, she thought to herself.

**********************************************************

It was two days before Callie spotted Feral in the audience again. When she did she went over to her musicians and conferred with them for a couple of minutes. The audience didn’t need conferences and were getting rowdy again. Callie walked to the microphone and after she said hello the audience quieted down.

“We have some new songs we’d like to try out tonight. We hope you like them.”

The band started something that no one recognized until Callie put some words to it. Many in the audience knew the song and even those that didn’t know didn’t really care. All they cared about was Callie’s voice.

When they came to their last song before intermission Callie walked over to the right side of the stage and looked into the audience for a certain kat. When she found him she smiled and made eye contact. There were several tom-kats in that area who were certain that she was looking at them, but he knew who he was.

“We’d like to close this half of our set with another new song.”

The audience was waiting for the trio to start up and were surprised by Callie singing the first verse acapella, “When I look into your eyes … I realize what I’m looking for,” She finished the first verse on her own and then the trio came in. After the solos in the middle Callie and the trio finished the last verse together and then Callie finished the song up as she began and again sang the first verse by herself.

During all this time Callie stayed over on the right side of the stage and she lingered a moment as the trio left the stage and then with one last smile she too walked off to the sound of some members of the audience trying desperately to get her to return and sing some more. However, as soon as they realized she wasn’t going to be back for awhile, they rushed off to get some drinks.

After the second set was over Callie was back in her dressing room. She was sitting on the couch in her room in her dressing gown trying to let the adrenaline rush abate. She was also waiting for a hoped for visitor.

The door to her dressing room opened and she stood up. No one just walked into her dressing room and she wasn’t going to let anyone start now. The kat standing there was a tom-kat she’d never seen before. He was good looking, but there was something about him that put her on edge.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I wanted to introduce myself. I’m …”

Callie cut him off, “A kat with no manners. Now get out!” The other kat stared at Callie in disbelief. Was she really telling him to get out? “Out!”

He stared a moment longer and then turned away. This approach wasn’t going to work and there was no point continuing to make it harder to get to know her. He opened the door and turned in the doorway. He smiled at Callie and then left the room.

A moment later there was a knock at the door and a familiar gruff voice. When the kat entered Callie practically attacked him, “Ulysses, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me the other night,” She hugged Feral again and buried her head in his chest.

“I don’t remember the other night. It doesn’t matter,” He gently pushed Callie away so he could look at her face, “What was he doing here?”

“Who?”

“The kat who was just here”

“Oh, him,” the sound of dismissal was clear in her voice, and Feral’s mood lightened a little, “Some fan that doesn’t have any manners. He just burst in here and I told him to leave. I don’t who he is.”

“His name is Tom Harlan and I advise you to stay away from him. He’s bad news,” He paused just to look at her again, “Your place or mine?”

“What, you don’t want to go to the beach again?”

Both kats started laughing and Callie found herself having to sit down. Feral sat down next to her and before long the laughter had been replaced by kissing. Eventually Callie was able to shoo Feral out of her dressing room so she could get dressed.

**********************************************************

“Do you mind sharing what, exactly, Molly Mange was talking to you about?” Chance demanded as Felina walked in the door.

“Oh, for kat’s sake, Chance! Let me at least get in the door before you start in on me,” Felina shut the door behind her and took off her jacket, “If you must know, she thinks Mac is cheating on her, and wanted to know if he had been chatting up any of the hookers.”

“You sure that’s all she wanted? No mention of you and Harlan?” Chance watched her walk towards him.

“I’m sure. Now, can we get some sleep? It’s been a long day, and I’m beat. And I don’t need you yelling at me the rest of the night!” Felina snapped, moving around him and heading for their bedroom.

“Will you two hold it down out there!” Jake’s sleepy, annoyed voice came from his bedroom, “Some kats are trying to sleep around here!”

“Sorry,” both Chance and Felina called out as they entered their own bedroom, Chance still looking worried and Felina still trying to convince him there was nothing he needed to worry about.

**********************************************************

Megakat News Service

At 3am this morning a bomb ripped through the Megakat Times building. Details are sketchy at this time, but apparently three employees of the paper were killed in the explosion and four were wounded, including the publisher, Ann Gora, who apparently was working late. Gora, who is well-known for her exposes of the mobs in Megakat City, is reported to have several broken ribs and a punctured lung. The seriousness of her injuries has not been commented on by doctors, and her current state of health is not known at this time. The paper itself is said to be out of business for an unknown length of time.

Johnny Birman, the chief photographer for the Times, had just arrived for an emergency strategy session with his boss when the bombs went off, and was lucky to escape unharmed. He claims that it was either Dark Kat or the Manges who were responsible for the bombing.

“Not that Manx would ever prosecute. They knew that Annie was going to lay both of them open from the ground up in an upcoming series of stories. I want both of them to know that this bombing is only going to cause a short delay. The truth will come out!”

**********************************************************

Feral was startled awake by his ringing phone. Looking at the clock, he saw it was just a couple of minutes after 3am. He snatched the phone up as Callie moaned next to him in her sleep. He was thankful she was such a heavy sleeper. He brought the receiver to his face and whispered into it, “Feral here.”

“We have a problem,” a voice came over the line. Feral recognized Cooper, the night supervisor at the Bureau.

“Can it wait? I’m not alone, nor at liberty to talk.”

“Then just listen. A bomb went off at the Megakat Times building a couple of minutes ago. It seems our boy Tom Harlan was seen in the area a few hours before, and there were no other known mob kats in the area in the past couple of days. With Harlan’s ambiguous loyalties, we can’t be sure who ordered the hit. This is one hot potato, and we need info,” Cooper said quickly, “Watch your back.”

“Got it. Anything else?”

“Nope, that’s it,” the line went dead.

Feral quietly replaced the phone to its cradle and resettled in bed. Callie snuggled up next to him, and he put an arm around her, but sleep was not his aim. He began to turn over the bombing in his mind, and Harlan’s probable involvement. This could be the beginning of something bad, he thought, and Callie and Felina could be caught in the middle of it. Feral smelled trouble, big time.

**********************************************************

Jake noted that there wasn’t much work being done on the docks that morning. He had gotten a late start, having slept in a bit after a hard night of playing in Callie’s band. When he left, he noted there was a blanket and pillow on the couch, and he had concluded that the conversation last night had not gone well between Chance and Felina. He figured he’d get the whole story from Chance later, but, as he approached the docks, he found Chance waiting for him.

“Somebody blew up the Megakat Times building this morning,” Chance informed him before Jake could speak.

“Any idea who?” Jake looked around to make sure no one was too close to listen in on their conversation.

“That damn kat who keeps putting moves on Felina,” Chance growled, “But, of course, there’s no proof. I think he’s trying to make himself look good to Mac and Molly.”

“That, or he’s trying to hurry along the inevitable,” Jake mused.

“What would Harlan have to gain from a gang war?”

“His life, for one thing. Control over both mobs for another.”

“I see your point. Unfortunately, we still have to wait on this one.”

Jake nodded, still pondering the situation. Other kats came over to join them at that moment, making further discussion impossible, but both Jake and Chance kept their ears and eyes open for more information throughout the day.

**********************************************************

Dark Kat sat in his office alone. This bombing had taken him by surprise and he didn’t like surprises. It was a good thing to be rid of that newskat, but the fallout was all the heat the feds were putting on him.

Of course, the Manges could have done it, but so far the feds’ suspicion seemed to be evenly divided. It would be unlikely that the Manges authorized the bombing either. They didn’t need the feds breathing down their necks any more than he did.

Another possibility was that there was a loose cannon. Somebody, in one of their organizations, may have taken it upon themselves to blow up the newspaper in hopes of currying favor with the boss. No one had come forward in his organization, but he felt he should check just in case the bomber was being shy.

Dark Kat thought that it would also be useful to have Harlan check out the Manges operation as well. Perhaps someone in that ill-run organization was responsible. If Harlan found this to be the case, then he knew how to deal with them. If it was not, then they could all sit back and bemoan the loss of a fine upstanding newspaper.

Dark Kat was smiling as he reached for the phone to call Hard Drive with instructions for Harlan. While he was at it he decided to ask Hard Drive if he could get anything out of Manx on what the police or feds were doing about the bombing.

**********************************************************

Felina awoke sometime around noon, feeling very groggy. She and Chance had argued for more than an hour, and finally he went out to sleep on the couch. They seldom slept apart, and Felina never slept well without Chance holding her. Stretching, she decided not to put off the inevitable any longer, and got out of bed. Things didn’t look any better vertical.

After a long, hot shower, Felina wandered into the kitchen and found some donuts for breakfast. Nibbling on one, she reached over and turned on the radio. The music played for a bit, then the noon news show came on. The lead story was about the bombing at the Times building, and that got Felina’s full attention, bringing her out of her grogginess.

She listened carefully to the report, wondering who might have set the bomb. She would definitely have to discuss this with Chance and Jake tonight. In the meantime, she decided to get dressed and go down to the club. Whenever anything like this happened, one of the best places to get information was the hookers. Even at this early hour, there was bound to be a few hookers hanging out, hoping to make some extra money.

**********************************************************

Tom Harlan smiled to himself. Everything was going well. The Manges’ had been pleased with the drug business he had brought them, and his own personal project had gone well also. That bomb should make things work a bit faster, and in his favor. He couldn’t wait to see Dark Kat and the Manges try to figure out who blew up Ann Gora’s newspaper. With a gleeful smile, Harlan dialed Mac and Molly’s private number. When Molly picked up the phone, Harlan asked her about that dark-haired hooker he had his eye on. She told him to stay put, he wouldn’t be alone much longer.

**********************************************************

“Who was that, Molly?” Mac asked as she replaced the phone.

“Harlan. He wants a hooker sent over.”

“No freebies,” Mac growled around his cigar.

Molly gave him a dirty look, “I know how to run the hookers, Mac,” she snapped, “He’ll pay. Besides, we got other things to worry about. We still don’t know who planted that bomb.”

“True, but it worked out well for us.”

“Might not be so good if the next place bombed was here.”

“Maybe we need to send Dark Kat a warning?”

“My thoughts exactly. Now, let me go see about that hooker, and we’ll plan something nice for Dark Krud,” Molly left Mac to his musings.

**********************************************************

Felina entered the back door of the Fallen Angel and began to make her way to the basement, when Molly’s voice stopped her.

“Hey, dollface, I got a job for you,” Molly said as Felina turned and walked toward her.

“Harlan?”

“Yep. Here’s the address. I’ll make sure your boyfriend’s kept busy the rest of the day. You make sure Harlan pays you good. You know the going rate?”

Felina nodded, taking the slip of paper Molly held out to her. Now that the time was here, she was a little nervous, but the bombing had made it twice as important to get close to Harlan. She was just glad she had some sleeping pills with her.

“OK, get going. Don’t want to keep him waiting,” Molly broke her train of thought, “Be nice to him, he’s doing a good job. You won’t mind him too much, he’s pretty good looking.”

Without another word, Felina turned and exited the club, biting her lip to calm herself. Molly smiled, knowing Felina would be an asset to her stable of hookers. Quite a looker, and the tom-kats paid extra for looks like hers.

**********************************************************

Chance looked at the forekat in disbelief, “All this, by myself?”

“You’re a big kat, Furlong, you can take it.”

“Can Clawson come with me?”

“My orders were for you alone. You gotta go out to the island, load the boat, and bring it all back, then unload it. You must’ve really pissed someone off, Furlong.”

“Tell me about it,” Chance wondered what he had done to merit such attention, and decided it was probably because he had horned in on Felina and Molly’s conversation the other night. With a pained look at Jake, Chance headed for the dock. It was going to be a tough day all around.

**********************************************************

Felina approached the door of Tom Harlan’s apartment, clutching her purse. She had to make sure she didn’t loose track of that purse, or the drugs inside of it. Reaching the door, Felina knocked loudly, calling out, “Mr. Harlan? Molly Mange said you wanted to see me?”

The door opened to reveal Harlan in a bathrobe, a drink in his paw, “Come in, my dear. You look lovely,” as Felina passed him, he reached out to brush her backside with his paw, “Very lovely, indeed,” he closed the door and waived her to the couch.

Felina sat down, “What exactly did you have in mind, Mr. Harlan?”

“Call me Tom. And your name again?”

“Felina.”

“Ah, yes, Felina. Very pretty name.”

“Thank you.”

“May I fix you a drink, Felina?”

“Yes, please,” Felina smiled, trying to relax.

Harlan set his own drink down on the coffee table by Felina, and went to mix another. While his back was turned, she took the opportunity to dump four pills into his drink, where they dissolved nicely. She had just managed to put the pill bottle back into her purse when Harlan turned back around.

“I think you’ll find, Felina, that I’m not too hard to please,” he told her as he poured her some bourbon.

“Molly said to be sure you were happy – and that you paid.”

Harlan didn’t look too pleased when Felina mentioned being paid, but he let it drop, “Well, I guess looks like yours don’t come cheap. Don’t worry, I’ll pay, but you better be worth it,” he came back over to the couch and gave her the drink, and sat down beside her.

“Did you hear about that explosion this morning?” Felina began, as Harlan started to stroke her neck.

“Mmmmm. You seem a bit nervous. Here, turn your back to me,” Harlan gently pushed her around until she was facing away from him.

Felina felt Harlan’s paws massaging her shoulders, and also felt him unzipping her dress and sliding the straps down her arms. She had to find a way to get him to drink that drug-laced drink, “I wonder who planted that bomb? What do you think?”

“I think you talk too much,” he leaned over, slipping his paws inside the open back of her dress and nuzzling her neck.

“Um, sorry, I was just trying to….,” Felina trailed off as Harlans’ paws came around to her breasts. Desperately, her mind screamed that Chance had been right. If Harlan didn’t drink that bourbon, she was in big trouble. He pressed up against her, and Felina could feel that he had opened up his robe.

“You are very beautiful, Felina,” Harlan whispered in her ear, “I think you will be able to make me very happy. Shall we take this into the bedroom now? I think we would be much more comfortable there,” Harlan didn’t move away from her, “Of course, for the first time, we could just stay out here, and save the bedroom for later.”

“I….Whatever you want, Tom,” Felina stumbled, “But don’t you want to finish your drink? Liquor is so hard to come by these days….” Felina trailed off as one of Harlan’s paws left her body. She heard him gulp down his drink, and set the glass back down on the table.

“Happy now? Although, you are right, good liquor shouldn’t be wasted,” Harlan removed his other paw and turned her back around, “And neither should good company,” he pushed her down onto the couch, then stood up. Reaching down, he pulled her dress off her, then dropped his robe. He lowered himself down on top of her, and began to kiss her.

Felina forced herself to return his kisses, all the while waiting for the pills to take effect. She didn’t have to wait long, and was very grateful when Harlan finally passed out. Rolling him off her and onto the floor, Felina snatched up her dress and put it back on. She felt dirty where Harlan had touched her, but there was no time to worry about that now. Felina knelt down and started to drag Harlan towards what she figured was the bedroom, when something under the couch caught her eye. She finished dragging Harlan into the bedroom, managing to get him onto the bed and mess it up a little, and then returned to take another look under the couch.

Sticking a paw underneath, Felina was surprised to find a box hastily stuffed under the couch. Pulling it out, she removed the top to find what looked like pieces of a bomb kit. This certainly seemed to point to Harlan being the bomber. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough here to pin it on him. It was possible he could have just gathered this stuff up from somewhere else with the intent of informing on the Manges. Felina replaced the box when something else under the couch caught her eye. She reached under again, and this time came up with an envelope, the return address in the corner one Hard Drive, Attorney at Law. So, there was a connection to Dark Kat!

Replacing the envelope, Felina made a quick search of the apartment, but found nothing. She was about to leave, when she remembered Molly’s warning about making Harlan pay. Returning to the bedroom, Felina spied Harlan’s wallet on the dresser. Opening it, she removed the usual fee charged by the Mange’s hookers, plus a generous tip. She tossed the wallet back on the dresser, thanked Harlan for his generosity, and left quickly, determined to take another shower as soon as she got home.

**********************************************************

Feral drummed his fingers on his desk. There had been nothing new on the bombing incident, and he was getting more than a bit frustrated. He had been down to the destroyed building twice now, and still there was nothing. The bomb had been very simple, and this had all the makings of a gang hit. The trouble was, which gang? From the reports, Miss Gora had been no help, having angered every major mob figure in town at one time or another. What the hell was going on?

**********************************************************

Sol Panther had been following Tom Harlan for many days and a pattern was beginning to form. During the day Harlan would wander around the docks or other Mange property and then go back to his apartment. He would either stay there for the rest of the evening, usually accompanied by a she-kat, or he would go over to the Fallen Angel and listen to Calico Briggs sing. Just like many of the other tom-kats in Megakat City.

After making a return visit to Hard Drive’s office Harlan had gone to check on some of Dark Kat’s drug business. The Manges had told Sol they expected Harlan to woo some of this business away from Dark Kat, but this had been way too easy.

Then one day another kat had showed up to tail Harlan. This one might as well have been a herd of buffalo for his lack of ability to keep himself out of sight. Obviously this tom-kat was a fed, which was going to be something else to tell the Manges. At least this kat was so obvious that Harlan wouldn’t be looking very hard for a second tail. This would make Sol’s job easier.

The next time Harlan went to visit Hard Drive Sol decided the time had come to see if there was any evidence to what these meetings were about. He followed Harlan back to his apartment and then left Harlan in the fed’s paws while he went back to Hard Drive’s office.

For a lawyer’s office, especially one with mob connections, Sol found this one easy to break into. He smiled to himself as he thought that no one had yet made an office he couldn’t break into. Once inside, he spent a minute just looking at the splendor the office was furnished in.

As he searched through the secretary’s files he found financial records for Tom Harlan, but they seemed too clean. There was something about them that screamed phony. Whether they were real or not the Manges would no doubt want to know about them.

The files in Hard Drive’s office were harder to break into, but Sol got into them eventually. They were clean of anything with Harlan’s name on it, though Dark Kat showed up often. Included among them was a recent letter from Dark Kat explaining how a certain operative was to be dealt with: ‘I want you to set up weekly meetings so that you can exchange information. I am not to be mentioned at all. You can use as a cover that you are taking care of his finances.’ There was an almost indecipherable scrawl at the bottom in Hard Drive’s writing: ‘Have R set up account for H.”

This was it!

He went back to Harlan’s apartment and saw that the fed was still hanging out across the street, which meant that Harlan was probably still at home. No doubt he was spending the night with some she-kat. At least he got to spend the night in comfort.

Sol found a pay phone not far away Harlan’s apartment and called the Manges’ private number. From where he was Sol could keep an eye on the fed, and so could use him to tell if Harlan was going anywhere.

“Hello?”

“This is Sol. I have a report to make about Tom Harlan.”

After hearing Sol’s report Molly paused for a moment to talk to Mac, “Harlan’s a rat, or maybe I should say, a mole. Sol thinks this is a set up.”

“Bye-bye, Harlan.”

“My thoughts exactly,” She returned to the phone, “Sol, take him out.”

“That might not be so easy. There’s a fed tailing Harlan as well. As usual the fed sticks out like a sore thumb,” Sol replied.

Mac, who had been listening in, yelled at the phone, “So take the fed out too! Who needs ’em?”

“Now Mac,” Molly tried to sound neutral, “if we bump off the fed, the feds will come looking for the killer. Since Harlan is connected with us we’ll get even more heat, and with the recent bombing that’s the last thing we need,” She turned back to the phone, “Sol, I guess you’ll have to keep on his tail. However, if the opportunity arises, don’t hesitate.”

“As you wish,” Sol hung up and went back to spying on Harlan.

**********************************************************

Mac poured a drink for Molly and the two kats smiled at each other. While Mac was drinking his own drink Molly spoke up, “That certainly answers a few questions. I think we need to talk to our friend again.”

“Which river do you want to plant Harlan in?”

“I have a better idea. Let’s feed him some false information. Perhaps we can tell him that a big drug shipment is coming in. He tells Dark Kat and Dark Kat sends muscle to take it over. We ambush the muscle and blow them away. Harlan gets blamed for the mess by Dark Kat and Dark Kat kills Harlan for us.”

“Sneaky, Molly, very sneaky. Without his drug lieutenant to fix things the drug business is ours.”

“Not only that, but when Dark Kat’s army of muscle is depleted, we might want to consider taking over Dark Kat’s other businesses as well.”

Mac smiled again. He raised his glass and clicked it with Molly’s, “To winning!”

**********************************************************

Felina lay on the bed, wrapped in her robe, a towel around her wet hair. She had stopped by the Fallen Angel and dropped off the money for Molly, who counted it approvingly. Molly had asked if Harlan had gotten his money’s worth, and Felina said she had left him sleeping like a kitten. This answer seemed to please Molly, and she never asked Felina about any tip Harlan might have given her. After that, Felina had spent the rest of the day in the shower, trying to scrub Harlan off her. Finally feeling clean, she had dried off and taken to lounging on the bed. She knew she’d have to get dinner ready pretty soon but, then again, with the money she’d gotten from Harlan, they could afford to order in.

Getting up, Felina had just gotten dressed again when she heard Jake come in. Rubbing her hair with the towel, she came out into the main room, “Hi, Jake. Where’s Chance?”

“I don’t think he’ll be along for a while, actually,” Jake said as he sat down at the kitchen table, “He got picked for a long boat ride today, pick up and delivery. They sent him out by himself, which was odd.”

“I think I can explain it, but let’s order dinner first,” Felina produced some of the money she had gotten off Harlan that afternoon.

“Hit the numbers?” Jake’s eyebrows shot up.

“Um, not exactly.”

After their dinner arrived, and Felina had paid the delivery kat, the two sat down, and Jake looked at her expectantly over the containers of Chinese food, “Well?”

“You remember I mentioned I had a way to get close to Harlan?”

Jake dropped his chopsticks, “You didn’t!”

“Not exactly, no. Let me explain,” Felina related the afternoon’s events to Jake, ending with her discovery of the box and envelope, “I got us some good information, Jake, and nothing happened.”

“Doesn’t sound like nothing to me. I doubt Chance will see it that way either.”

“You don’t have to tell him how I got the information,” Felina pointed out, “We can just say I broke into Harlan’s place.”

“What happens when he calls and asks for you again, Felina?”

“I tell Molly I don’t feel well, or something. I’m sure I can get out of it. If not, I’ll just drug him again.”

“You might not be so lucky the next time.”

Felina didn’t get an opportunity to answer him, as Chance entered the room right then. He greeted them, taking off his jacket and coming over to the table. Felina smiled at him, letting him know her anger from the night before had passed. Chance returned her smile, and then helped himself to the food on the table. Jake was glad they had the foresight to order enough for all three of them. Felina filled Chance in on the information she had gathered that afternoon, claiming to have broken into Harlan’s apartment.

“You better be careful, Felina,” Chance warned her, “Harlan could have caught you. I don’t like you taking stupid chances like that.”

“I’m fine,” Felina protested, “Now, we better get a move on, or we’ll miss Harlan’s usual night at the Fallen Angel.”

**********************************************************

Felina approached the back door of the Fallen Angel, Jake and Chance having gone on ahead without her since she had wanted to take extra time with her makeup. The real reason, Jake realized, was that she didn’t want to run into Harlan while with Chance, and so he had gotten Chance out of there pronto. Felina smiled, pleased with herself and the information she had gathered. She was so busy thinking over her accomplishment, she failed to notice someone was following her. As she reached for the door to the club, however, she found herself being pulled into the alley across the street. Rough paws flipped her around and pressed her back against the wall, and she found herself staring into the angry eyes of Tom Harlan.

“Just what the hell did you pull on me today, you slut?” Harlan spat, gripping her roughly, “What kind of scam are you running? I gave you a good report to Molly to save your hide, but mainly because I want an explanation for myself. Now, start talking.”

Felina gulped, “Um, you know how it is……Molly takes all my money. If I can turn more tricks than she’s aware of, then I make more money on the side,” She looked up at Harlan, willing him into believing her.

Harlan smiled, “Enterprising. I like that. What I don’t like is being cheated, however. You still owe me, and I’m going to collect,” Felina felt Harlan’s paw moving up her dress, and realized he meant to collect right there in the alleyway. Before she could react, however, his paw stopped, and he stepped back, “I’ll call you when I’m ready for you to pay up, Felina. And you better be ready. If I didn’t have a meeting tonight, I’d take you home with me right now. I paid for you, and I always get what I pay for.”

Felina watched as Harlan walked away and entered the club. What had she gotten herself into? In debt to Tom Harlan, and unable to tell Chance what was going on. This was not good, and it was only going to get worse. Right now, however, Felina didn’t have time to worry about it. Harlan had mentioned something about a meeting, and that took top priority at the moment. She had to find out what was going on, and somehow get a message to Jake and Chance. Perhaps she could talk to that bartender, Sami. Maybe she could help, after all, Jake seemed to trust her. Straightening her hair and dress, Felina once again headed for the door to the Fallen Angel, carefully looking around as she crossed the alleyway.

**********************************************************

Harlan was unhappy having to meet with the Manges again. They kept wanting to know what he was up to. He’d have to tell them about the tail, who was undoubtedly a fed since he was so obvious. Maybe he could put them off stride by accusing them of sending someone after him.

This time Mac was sitting behind the table and Molly was leaning against the nearby wall. Mac’s paws kept playing with a cigar that was on the table in front of him, but he never lit it up. Even though Mac was seated at center stage it was Molly who began talking.

“We like the drug properties you got for us from Dark Kat. We may have to put you in charge of our own drug business.”

“Well, you must not like me that much. Some kat seems to be tailing me everywhere I go.”

“What?”

“There’s some kat who seems to be hanging around me. I usually see him every night from my apartment window.”

“Why would we need to put a tail on you? We can see what you’re doing just fine with the results you get. If this tail is that obvious he must be a fed. They probably want to know why you jumped ship.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“One of our hookers told me that she saw you going in to Hard Drive’s office. Do you know he’s an attorney for Dark Kat?”

“He is? He was just doing a little financial work for me. Can you recommend someone else I can go to? Do you suppose Dark Kat has got a tail on me?”

“It’s possible.”

Mac finally spoke up from the desk causing Harlan to reorient himself in the room, “We’ve got another job for you.”

“Another loyalty test?”

“No. There’s a drug shipment coming into our private docks three days from now, at 6pm. We want you to be there and take charge. See that everything gets unloaded and properly distributed.”

“Okay.”

“Good,” this from Molly, “I think you’ll fit right into our long range plans, Harlan.”

The Manges offered Harlan a drink of their good liquor and the three kats drank in silence. Mac finally got that cigar lit, and Harlan thought it was a miracle that these two kats had ever gotten to be mob leaders.

**********************************************************

Felina carefully walked down the dark waterfront street. She had left the club later than she had intended to, having found Sami a very interesting source of information. No wonder Jake spent so much time with her. The surroundings began to make Felina uneasy, and she soon realized why. This was the area Tom Harlan lived in. Deciding this shortcut had been a bad idea, Felina spun in her tracks to retrace her steps, only to run headlong into Tom Harlan directly behind her.

“Hello, Felina,” Harlan purred, holding her tight by the elbows, “I think it’s time you paid what you owe me. How convenient I live on the next block. I’ve had a bad night, and I need you to make me feel better.”

“Um, I have another appointment,” Felina tried to break his grip, but he was too strong. She could take him out, she knew, but wasn’t sure he didn’t have a bodyguard, “Molly will be expecting me back.”

“Let her wait. You owe me, and I always collect on my debts.”

“I can pay you the money back,” Felina offered, as Harlan pulled her against his chest, still pinning her elbows to her sides.

“I don’t want the money back, babe. I want you, and I’m not adverse to taking what you owe me by force, if necessary.”

“I don’t think that would be advisable,” came a deep, menacing voice from behind Harlan.

“I’m doing business here, if you don’t mind,” Harlan snapped, not turning around.

“Not with my niece, you’re not.” With that, Harlan felt someone take a hold of his arms and remove them from Felina. Finding herself free, Felina stepped back from Harlan, but didn’t leave the scene.

“Just who the hell do you think you are?” Harlan twisted out of Feral’s grip and finally turned to face the big kat. Feral’s size surprised Harlan, but he didn’t let it show.

“As I said, I don’t believe you have any business with my niece,” Feral looked down at the hoodlum with cold eyes, “Felina, how much money do you owe this scum?”

Felina told Feral how much she had stolen from Harlan, and Feral dug into his pocket, coming up with his money roll. Counting out the money, Feral flipped it to Harlan, “Now, get out of here. If I ever catch you with your paws on my niece again, I’ll rip you apart.”

“You and what army?”

“Do I look like I need an army?”

Deciding not to answer that obvious challenge, Harlan turned to go. As he passed Felina, she took the opportunity to slap him across the face and give him some advice, “Learn to take no for an answer, you creep!”

Harlan thought about explaining to her the dangers of making promises you don’t intend to keep, but held his tongue. He would deal with this insolent hooker later, when her uncle wasn’t around to interfere. Slowly, Harlan continued down the street, feeling the eyes of both kats on him as he went. Not looking back, he walked to his apartment building and climbed the steps, his mind turning over recent events. By the time he entered the lobby, the hooker and her uncle were far from his thoughts, but Dark Kat was not.

Felina, after watching Harlan enter his building, turned to face her uncle. He looked at her with disappointment in his eyes, causing tears to well in her own.

“Felina, I’m…”

“Disappointed in me? What’s new about that?” She blinked back her tears furiously, finally succeeding in clearing her eyes.

“Actually, I was going to say I’m concerned about you. What possessed you to steal money from a no-good dirt bag like Harlan?”

“Rent money,” Felina lied, biting her lip.

“Isn’t that punk you’re sleeping with providing for you?”

“As best he can. You know how it is.”

“Yeah, right,” Feral took her paw in his, “Felina, you could have such a bright future. Why don’t you come with me now, and get away from all this? Stealing and turning tricks isn’t the life for you, nor the one your parents would have wanted for you. Come on.”

Felina retracted her paw, “I can’t.”

Feral sighed, “Look, Felina, you’re over legal age, I can’t make you come with me. But, remember, I’m always here for you. Especially if that punk Furlong ever…..”

“He’s not like that!” Felina’s eyes blazed, “He’s good to me!”

“Making you turn tricks is good for you?”

“He doesn’t, and I don’t. It’s just that….” Felina started, but Feral waived at her to stop.

“I don’t want an explanation, Felina. I just want you to be safe and happy,” Feral again dug in his pocket, “Here, take this. Maybe it’ll keep you off the streets for a while,” he held out a wad of cash.

“No, I can’t,” Felina protested, but Feral forced the money into her paw, then turned and walked away quickly, fading into the shadows as he rounded the corner. Felina stood there, looking at the money in her paw, until a shadow fell across her. She looked up to be startled once again.

“Long night?” Chance greeted her, “I’d suggest you put that money away, unless you want to draw a crowd.”

Felina stowed the money in her purse, “What are you doing here?”

“When I saw Harlan follow you, I smelled trouble, and followed the both of you. I saw him grab you, and was going to step in eventually.”

“Eventually?”

“I thought you might need to learn a bit of a lesson first. Jake told me the truth about how you gathered your information from him earlier.”

“You were going to let him rape me?”

“Not on my nine lives! Holy kats, Felina, what kind of a kat do you think I am?”

“One who wants to teach me a lesson?”

Chance grinned at her at last, “I was about to teach Harlan a lesson when your uncle stepped in. Now, can we go home?”

“Sure,” Felina took the arm he offered, and the two moved quickly down the street, anxious to get out of the neighborhood before Harlan put in another appearance, “So, what happened when Jake told you what I did with Harlan?”

“You know that retaining wall Jake and I built downstairs at the Fallen Angel?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, tomorrow we gotta replace it.”

**********************************************************

Harlan sat in his apartment seething with anger as he poured himself a drink. He’d get that slut if it was the last thing he did. He would show her who gave orders when he was in control of the Manges’ outfit. And that uncle of hers …. Harlan recalled that he was the one who hung around the singer, Calico Briggs. Getting rid of him would solve two problems at once. For the first time in the last few hours Harlan actually smiled a real smile.

He knew that those petty annoyances would have to wait. He got up and walked over to the couch. He knelt down and reached under the couch to find the box with some equipment in it. He pulled it out and took it back to the table and his drink. The next step was to get rid of that psycho Dark Kat.

Dark Kat was a megalomaniac, and never saw the big picture – he saw only his picture. It would be a good deed to blow up Dark Kat. Of course, with the bombing of the newspaper and then of Dark Kat’s offices, all of the suspicion would fall on the Manges, and both the feds and the remains of Dark Kat’s mob would be after them. All he had to do was wait it out and both mobs would be his for the taking. Even if some of Dark Kat’s mob survived, the Manges would be gone and he could easily pull that one together out of its disarray.

He would have to tell Hard Drive about the drug shipment. That should stir up Dark Kat’s interest. As soon as Hard Drive told him Dark Kat was going to raid the shipment he would know when to set the bombs. He should call Vincent and tell him to take his place at the docks. He could just tell Vincent that he would be along later to help with the distribution part of the deal.

Grinning with delight, Harlan poured himself another drink.

**********************************************************

Mac was sitting at the desk in the office going over the books. Business seemed to be doing quite well these days. It was, in no small part, due to all the kats Calico Briggs brought in. For awhile, there had been some doubt whether or not he and Molly would be able to get her, but a little muscle applied here and a little extra money given out there solved that problem.

If only the Harlan problem was so easy to take care of. Hopefully Molly’s plan would do it. Mac couldn’t wait to see the look on that kat’s face when he realized what had been done to him. He took a long draw on his cigar and smiled.

The door opened to reveal Molly. She had been getting the hookers lined up for the day and, unlike her usual demeanor after talking with the hookers, she was smiling, “Guess what I heard?”

“Dark Krud’s left town? Or do you have some other reason to smile?”

“No, you idiot. Several of the hookers told me that the kat that hangs out with Briggs is apparently the uncle of that new hooker we got. He roughed up Harlan because Harlan was laying paws on his niece. One of the hookers thinks this kat even threatened Harlan’s life.”

“So?”

“So, we tell Sol to take Harlan out and if he gets the fed tailing Harlan, so what. We tell the feds about the fight the hookers’ uncle had with Harlan and we’re home free.”

“You know, Molly, I think things are really beginning to go our way. When Sol calls in again we’ll give him the word,” Mac leaned back in his chair and took another long draw on his cigar.

**********************************************************

Callie had come to the club early that night, around 4pm, to make sure everything was set up right for her trio. They had taken a few nights off, at Mac’s insistence, and she was worried the stuff on the stage had been fooled with. After checking over everything, she was about to go back to her dressing room when the bartender came up to her.

“Excuse me, Miss Briggs,” Sami said, “Has Jake arrived yet?”

Callie looked the little she-kat up and down. Sami was pretty, with big blue eyes and long blonde hair, but she seemed a bit timid for Jake. Still, who was Callie to judge, “Nope, I don’t expect him until at least seven or so. He said he had a lot of work to do today.”

“Oh. Thank you,” Sami returned to the bar.

For some reason, Callie felt a wave of jealousy inside. What she was jealous of, she wasn’t sure. That little bartender had never shown an interest in Ulysses, and as for Jake…..Callie let it drop for now. It was getting close to six, and she had to get ready to perform.

**********************************************************

Vincent was confused. Harlan had called him to take care of the coming drug shipment, but he had no recollection of there being a shipment coming. When he called the Manges to clarify the situation he was told a completely different story.

“We want you to arm the dock workers. We believe that Dark Kat will be sending some thugs in to liberate the shipment.”

“What do you want me to do about the shipment if it shows up during the shoot out?”

“Don’t worry. It will take care of itself.”

“Should I tell Harlan about Dark Kat’s forces?”

“No. We’re sure he will find out as he needs to.”

It sounded to Vincent like the Manges were setting Harlan up, but he had no idea why. The Manges were his bosses and what they told him was the bottom line. If he got in contact with Harlan later, he would have to remember to keep silent.

Fortunately for Vincent, as 6pm grew closer, Harlan never checked back with him. It was a good thing since he was having enough trouble dealing with the dock workers and didn’t want to deal with Harlan thinking something was wrong as well.

When 6pm came and went the ship hadn’t arrived and no one seemed to know of one coming in. Dark Kat’s kats hadn’t arrived yet either. Vincent sat in his chair in a warehouse office on the docks wondering who was crazy this time out. Just as he was about to give up the phone rang.

“Vince, this is Harry. I’m at 5th and Elm and there are several cars and two trucks heading toward the docks. They look like they belong to Dark Kat. Are these the party crashers you were expecting?”

“I guess so. Stay at your position and keep me alert to any changes.”

“Right.”

They were coming. Vincent quickly notified the dock workers via runners and grabbed his shotgun. Cars and trucks meant a sizable force armed to the teeth was coming. This was going to be a bloody battle, but if they had surprise on their side, they might be able to end it soon.

Five minutes after Harry’s call Vincent heard gunfire.

**********************************************************

Marlow Snowshoe was in charge of the small army Dark Kat sent to take over the drug shipment. He assumed that with the number of kats they had with them, as well as the armament, this should be a walk in the park. Not only would the Manges’ kats be busy unloading the ship, but they wouldn’t expect anyone to get this close to their home base.

However, the shock was on Snowshoe’s shoulders when the second truck pulled onto the dock area and all of them were suddenly under fire. This had been a set up, and now they were going to have to fight for their lives. Snowshoe gave the word to retreat since it appeared that they were surrounded. Short of diving into the bay he was not sure how they were going to get out of this.

After watching three kats fall around him Snowshoe realized they weren’t going to be able to retreat very easily. He decided that it might be better to try a little offense. He ordered one of the trucks to be driven into the closest warehouse with it’s gas tank set alight.

The resulting explosion destroyed one of the walls of the warehouse and gave Dark Kat’s forces some maneuvering room. They burst in as soon after the truck as possible and caught most of the Manges’ kats off guard in the confusion. This gave Snowshoe’s forces a foothold on the docks.

**********************************************************

Chance and Jake were slowly making their way home. It was close to six, they were anticipating the dinner Felina would have ready for them. After staying out of Harlan’s way for the last couple of days, they were going back to the Fallen Angel tonight. Chance wasn’t sure how happy he would be to see the club again, but there hadn’t been any news gathered at the docks for the past couple of days. Everyone was close mouthed, for some reason, and it was making Chance uneasy.

As they rounded the corner, however, they saw Felina coming towards them, dressed in slacks and a sweater. Stopping, they waited for her, wondering what had brought her out. She had been lying low after that little dust up with Harlan.

“I was worried I had missed you,” Felina said, trying to catch her breath, “When Sami told me, I ran home to change and get our guns, and then hoped you would be coming home this way,” she reached into the pocket of her slacks and produced Jake and Chance’s guns.

Chance quickly took his gun from her, Jake following suit. Chance took Felina by the arm, offering support as her breathing finally slowed, “What’s up?”

“I was at the club,” Felina told them, “When some of the hookers began complaining that there wasn’t much business tonight with some big drug shipment coming into the docks. I went upstairs to check with Sami about it, and found her on pins and needles. Seems she found out the shipment is a set up for the Manges’ to ambush Dark Kat – and Harlan.”

“Damn it!” Jake spat, “How’d we miss that?”

Before anyone could answer him, some of Dark Kat’s forces roared down the street in cars and trucks. All three kats looked on wide-eyed as the vehicles rounded the corner and disappeared.

“Let’s hit it!” Chance ordered, “Jake, you call into headquarters and let them know what’s going on. Meet us later,” He took off down the street, following the vehicles, Jake and Felina hard on his heels. At the corner, Jake headed for the nearest diner, where he knew there would be a pay phone. Chance and Felina continued on towards the water front.

**********************************************************

Feral was seated at his desk when word came in from field operatives that war had broken out between the Manges’ forces and Dark Kat’s forces. As he prepared himself to go to battle word came down that the feds would sit this one out, at least for the time being.

The rationale was that it would be better if the two opposing forces tire themselves out first before the forces of law and order step in to clean up. Feral was certain that someone upstairs was worried about a high body count and was perhaps hoping that the two gangs would mutually annihilate each other.

Feral sat at his desk, not happy with this decision. In principle he might agree with it, but the docks were too close to where Felina worked. What Felina might do to earn money or what her choice in scummy boyfriends was didn’t matter to Feral. Felina was his niece, his kitten, and he did not want her to come to any harm.

**********************************************************

A large brown kat holding his wounded arm spoke, “Marlow, we’ve got to do something.”

“I know, but they’ve surrounded us again. Do you think they’d let us surrender?”

That question didn’t get an answer, and Snowshoe still had more questions. The water route was beginning to look more attractive all the time. The warehouse gambit hadn’t worked as well as he’d hoped. It had given them more room, but they were still surrounded.

He decided that the only way to get out of here was going to be on a one by one basis. Every time they’d tried to get a group free it had only resulted in more slaughter. If he could get kats outside the Manges’ ring of fire, perhaps they could provide fire from behind the lines to allow more of their kats to get away. It was his only idea now and he began spread the word.

After about fifteen minutes of kats sneaking out things began to look up. Not all of them had made it, but apparently enough for now their attackers were beginning to look over their shoulders. Dark Kat’s troops were able to make some headway in finding a way out of the trap they were in. Snowshoe was about to give another order when an explosion somewhere in the city shook the ground he stood on.

**********************************************************

When Jake found Chance again they were both in the thick of the gunfire. Chance looked expectantly at his partner, “So, buddy, when are the troops coming?”

Jake shook his head. This was not the response that Chance was waiting for, “Well, Chance, I didn’t get to stay on long enough to get things really straightened out, but the few remarks made seemed to indicate that our friends are waiting until everybody on both sides are dead before they show up.”

“Great! You know this is probably the only time I would welcome seeing Feral’s ugly face.”

“Of course, he’d probably aim for you first.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“Where’s Felina,” Jake wondered.

“I sent her to find out who’s directing this mess, specifically Harlan. She went towards the warehouses. I feel sorry for him if he gets in her way.”

Both kats tried to stay out of the battle as much as possible, but it wasn’t always possible. Since, however, both sides of this conflict constituted the bad guys as far as they were concerned, they weren’t quite as discriminating about who they shot at. While they were creeping around they heard an enormous explosion that actually rocked the ground they were on. They looked at each other wondering what had blown up.

“You better go see what’s up, bud,” Chance said, “If you can, try calling headquarters again, and tell them we need help!”

“You got it,” Jake replied, separating from Chance. He decided to call first, then go check out the explosion. Carefully, Jake headed for the Fallen Angel as fast as he dared to go. Chance watched him go, covering his back. As senior agent, Chance was responsible for everyone’s safety.

**********************************************************

Harlan was sitting in his apartment preparing the bombs for Dark Kat when he heard on the radio that a battle had broken out on the docks. As he stopped working on the bombs and listened closely it became clear that the Manges had set him up. The reports mentioned nothing about a ship docking or being delayed in the harbor.

In the end, this meant that he couldn’t go back to them nor could he go back to Dark Kat. However, this might work out even better for him. If he killed Dark Kat, as planned, then with Dark Kat’s forces in ruin he should have an easier time taking over Dark Kat’s mob. With what he had learned of the Manges’ operation it would be easy to infiltrate and eventually grab their setup as well.

Harlan finished working on his bombs with a little more speed. He had to get to Dark Kat’s place before the fighting on the docks ended. That way he would be able to demoralize Dark Kat’s forces even more. As soon as he was finished he slipped everything into a large suitcase and made for the street and his car.

As he was going down the stairs he remembered the tail the feds had on him. He would have to shake him off, but that would be easy. He could quickly lose him in the bus station, especially since the fighting no doubt was going to cause a few citizens to decide to leave town for a while.

He parked his car in the lot and looked for his tail. As soon as Harlan spotted him he began to wander through the bus terminal using the kats already there as screens to hide where he was going. He had done this before with much better tails than this fed, and so he was not worried.

**********************************************************

Sol had no idea what Harlan was up to, but when he stopped at the bus terminal carrying a suitcase it became reasonably clear. Harlan had probably realized that the Manges had set him up and he was going to blow town. Sol knew there was no place Harlan could go that he couldn’t follow.

When he got inside Sol watched Harlan’s seemingly erratic behavior for a moment and then realized that he was trying to shake the fed on his tail. Sol smiled and thought that this might almost be fun to watch.

As he was keeping track of Harlan and watching the fed get more and more confused a large kat who wasn’t watching bumped into Sol. Suitcases went flying, as did Sol. The kat was extremely apologetic and kept asking Sol if he was okay. It did not take Sol long to realize he was not okay – he’d lost Harlan.

**********************************************************

Harlan was chuckling to himself and he drove the rest of the way to Dark Kat’s. The car radio told him that the warfare on the docks was still going on so he felt he still had plenty of time. He thought about the lay of the building and tried to think about where to place the bombs. He had it fairly well planned out before, but it never hurt to check. He was still chuckling when he arrived at Dark Kat’s.

Harlan was so intent on getting to the right place that he didn’t notice Sheila trying to get his attention. She finally gave up and decided that her lover was no doubt concerned with whatever he had to tell the boss. She went to her room to wait for him since he almost always came to see her after meeting with Dark Kat, no matter what his mood was.

Instead of going to see Dark Kat, however, Harlan had gone down into the basement. He was going to do a thorough job of destroying this building and most of Dark Kat’s empire, he hoped. Placing the bombs was easy since almost no one ever came down to this part of the building.

This time Harlan had run into someone else shortly after setting the last bomb in place. From behind him he heard a familiar voice, one that always grated on his nerves whenever he heard it. It was Victor, Dark Kat’s favorite musclekat. Harlan had no idea what Victor was doing down in the basement, and at this point, he didn’t really care.

“Whatcha doin’ here? Dark Kat said youse was spose to stay away from here.”

“Checking for termites. Come here and look.”

Harlan listened for Victor’s footsteps, and when he heard them he pulled out his stiletto. He felt Victor’s breath on his neck and the large kat leaned over his shoulder, “Where?”

“Right here!” Harlan spun around and thrust his knife as far into the kat’s heart as he could. Victor was so surprised he offered no fight. He blinked at Harlan twice and crumpled to the ground. Harlan didn’t care whether or not Victor was dead now because he’d be dead soon, “Welcome to ground zero, Vic. Your boss will be joining you soon.”

Harlan warily found his way back out of the building and into his car. He did have the problem of where to go for the next hew hours. When he had planned this originally he was going to go back to the docks and do what the Manges had told him to do. Now, however, that wasn’t an option.

He thought briefly about leaving town, but that would mean that he’d be out of touch when the time came to grab the reins of power. He’d have to stick around. He finally decided to stay with some of his drug contacts. They might even provide an alibi if he needed one. Perhaps while he was hiding out he could discover where that hooker who stiffed him lived.

**********************************************************

Hard Drive very seldom went to meet Dark Kat face to face, but there were times when a phone would not do. With interests as vast as his and his fanatic need to keep his paws on everything Dark Kat needed to be seen face to face now and then. Still, a meeting with Dark Kat was never pleasant, no matter how opulent the setting.

Hard Drive was about three blocks from Dark Kat’s place when an enormous explosion ripped through the area. His car actually jumped off the road momentarily and there was a fair amount of flying glass in the air. He drove on for another block and a half until he got a flat tire and was forced to continue on foot. By this time he knew what had blown up.

He might have gone back to his office, but he had to make sure that when the feds sorted through the rubble they weren’t going to find anything that could connect him directly with Dark Kat. If someone asked him what he was doing there he’d just tell them he was just trying to help.

The building had been leveled and it was unlikely any kats survived. As he watched the remains burn he felt a calm overcome him. He realized that kats weren’t the only thing not likely to survive this blast. This was a more powerful explosion than the one that had hit the newspaper. This time the bomber wanted to make sure.

The feds arrived soon and Hard Drive was forced farther away from the ruins, but he didn’t mind at this point. All he wanted to do was survey the ruins and see if he could spot anything that might give him any cause to worry. He couldn’t imagine what it could be as there was total destruction in front of him.

When he was satisfied Hard Drive decided to cut through an alley that was still intact and get to his car. He’d have to change a tire, but no matter. As he walked by a darkened doorway he heard someone weakly call his name. He turned to see who would know him in this neighborhood.

What he saw was a large kat that was obviously a survivor of the explosion. The kat was barely able to stand and as Hard Drive got closer he could see that the kat was covered with blood. This kat wouldn’t be likely to live much longer.

“Hard Drive,” The voice was very weak.

Hard Drive walked a little closer to try and identify who this kat was. Then he knew, “Dark Kat?!”

**********************************************************

When word of the explosion reached the office Feral decided he had no choice but to go to the Fallen Angel. He was certain that Felina was there and it was a good bet that Callie was there as well. He was saved from disobeying orders when he was told to get ready. The feds were moving in since the blowing up of Dark Kat’s headquarters clearly pointed to the Manges.

To begin with Feral had been assigned to the dock detail, but he managed to get himself shifted over to one of the details that was going to hit the Fallen Angel. Feral knew his first objective was to secure the safety of Callie and Felina. After that, anything else, like Mac or Molly Mange would be gravy. Making sure he had at least three guns on him, Feral went to join the first wave of feds heading for the Fallen Angel.

**********************************************************

Felina crept along the alley, keeping the waterfront in sight. She was trying to circle around toward the Fallen Angel, sure she would find out who was in charge once she got there. It was too bad she hadn’t been able to find out more earlier, but she had only gone to the club on a whim, to check out the atmosphere, when suddenly she found herself sitting on important information.

As she moved through the shadows, the ground heaved under her, and she heard an explosion in the distance. She was curious as to what had happened, but knew she didn’t have time to stop. She only hoped no one had been hurt in the explosion.

Felina dashed across the street, hearing a couple of stray bullets ricochet off the wall to her right as she ducked into another alley. It might have been better for her, she mused, if she was still in her cocktail dress. It would have made it easier to blend in with the hookers. Slowly, she made her way to the end of the alley. The Fallen Angel was just across the street. Now, how to get to it.

Somehow, it registered with Felina that this was the alley Harlan had pulled her into the day she had drugged him. That stray thought didn’t do much to put her at ease. Where the hell was Harlan anyway? Taking a deep breath, Felina ran for the stage door, having to put extra spring in her step when a truck roared down the street straight at her. Reaching the door, Felina hurried inside, then paused, listening for voices.

**********************************************************

Mac and Molly were pacing back and forth in their small office, and it was a miracle they didn’t run into each other. Every report they got from the waterfront had been encouraging, then, suddenly, the reports stopped coming. The sounds of battle seemed to be getting closer as well.

“I don’t like this, Molly,” Mac announced, puffing on his cigar.

“Me neither,” Molly answered, still pacing, “Wonder what’s goin’ on.”

Mac stopped, and seemed to consider the situation. He then went over to the gun cabinet, and took out his favorite gun, a long-nose revolver. He loaded the gun, then turned back to Molly, “I’m gonna go upstairs and stick my nose out to see what’s going on,” he told her.

“Mac, are you crazy?” Molly became still, staring at the gun in her husband’s paw, “You can’t go up there! The feds’ll be looking for us.”

“This’ll take care of them,” Mac waived the gun, “Better load one up for yourself. It could get ugly.”

Molly watched him exit the office, then made her way to the gun cabinet, taking out a revolver of her own and loading it.

**********************************************************

Chance, who had been trying to keep out of the battle as much as possible, turned the corner to find himself in the thick of things once again. It looked like some sort of war over a warehouse. Looking closely, he saw that a truck had exploded at some point, taking out a wall with it. Each side kept trying to hem in the other, and the ground was littered with dead bodies. Chance leaned over a couple of kats who looked like they might not be dead yet, but found his efforts in vain. It seemed neither side was willing to allow survivors.

Staying on the outside of the gun battle, Chance watched, waiting for some indication that one side or the other was weakening. He felt he was in for a long wait. Suddenly, he became aware that the battle was shifting, and he didn’t like the direction it was going. Why did everything seem to come back to the Fallen Angel?

**********************************************************

Callie Briggs was just settling down to fix her face for the evening’s performance when the door of her dressing room flew open. She spun around, expecting to find that ill-mannered tom-kat she had seen a few nights ago, only to come face to face with Mac Mange.

“Um, Mac,” Callie began, but Mac interrupted her.

“You seen any thugs around here, blondie?”

Callie shook her head.

“I’d suggest, for your own good, you stay put here. Things are gettin’ ugly out there,” Mac turned and headed for the door, closing it behind him.

Well, thought Callie, that explains all the noise earlier. She carefully moved to the door, and opened it a crack, peeking out into the hall. She saw Felina Feral coming out of the shadows, looking around as if she was afraid to get caught there. Callie closed the door and went back to her dressing table. Sitting again, she reached out involuntarily for her purse, and felt the gun she kept tucked inside it. She hoped she wouldn’t have to use it, but it’s presence comforted her somewhat.

**********************************************************

Hard Drive struggled to help Dark Kat down the hall of the hospital. The big kat had pulled his hood over his face, and was wrapped in a blanket, but there was still the danger he would be recognized. Finally, they reached the office of Dr. Conway, Dark Kat’s private physician. Hard Drive kicked the door open, and dragged Dark Kat inside, depositing him on the couch. He then shut the door behind them.

“Hey,” Conway’s voice came from the other room, “What’s going on out there?”

“I got a patient for you, doc,” Hard Drive said coldly, “A damn important one.”

**********************************************************

Jake finally made it to the Fallen Angel, and stumbled in the front door. He had a tough time convincing the guards he worked there, but finally Abi and David had arrived, and Sami had come out front to verify that they worked there. While Abi and David went up to the stage, Jake followed Sami to the bar.

“Hey, babe,” Jake spoke in a low voice, “Got a phone back there I can use, or would that get you in trouble?”

“Did you get my message?” Sami asked as she produced a phone from behind the bar.

Jake nodded, waiting for her to move away before he called in.

“You can go ahead and call, Jake,” Sami told him, wiping the bar in front of him, “I know you’re a fed, and so are Chance and Felina.”

“You knew?” Jake’s eyes were wide.

“Of course, I knew,” Sami replied calmly, “I watch kats day in and day out. I’ve learned to read body language. Besides,” she looked up at him from under her long lashes, “Did you really think I’m so stupid not to notice you pumping me for information?”

Without another word, Jake picked up the phone and started dialing.

**********************************************************

Felina found the area where the hookers usually hung out very crowded. She didn’t approach them, but stayed in the shadows, just listening to see what she could pick up. From the snatches of conversation she was able to catch, she found out Dark Kat’s headquarters had been blown sky high, and that Harlan was nowhere to be found. Damn, she had been hoping to be able to take him down.

Felina leaned back against the wall, considering her options, and decided to go see what Molly was up to in the office. She thought about following Mac, but wasn’t quite ready to go back out to the streets. There was something going on here, she was sure of it. As she turned to go the other way, however, her ears picked up the distinct sound of gunfire from above her head and outside the club. Something was wrong, big time. With a glance back at the panicking hookers, who were fleeing out of the basement door, Felina took off at a run, heading for the stairs.

**********************************************************

Jake had just hung up the phone and turned to Sami when the front door exploded inward. Bullets started flying, and the few kats in the main room of the club dove for cover. Sami tried to pull Jake behind the bar, but he was trying to get his gun out.

“Jake, c’mon!” Sami tugged harder. Suddenly, she felt Jake’s body jerk in her grasp, and he gave a small cry. With one last pull, Sami managed to get Jake over the bar and onto the floor below as the main thrust of Dark Kat’s goons entered the room.

“Ow!” Jake protested.

Sami turned to see the left shoulder of his shirt was red, “Jake, you’ve been hit!”

“You noticed,” Jake snapped, “Sorry, babe. It’s just a flesh wound. Some kat with a .22 caliber mouthpiece. I’ll be fine,” Jake shoved a bar towel into the shoulder of his shirt. He then looked up to find Sami with a huge machine gun in her paws, “Where the hell did you get that?”

“It was a gift from my mother,” Sami replied, struggling with the large weapon. Finally getting a shoulder under it, Sami popped up from behind the bar and took out the front line of goons with it, managing to spray the whole room, and almost hitting Felina, who was trying to exit the stairwell, in the process.

“Holy kats!” Jake squeaked, astonishment on his face.

“Can you still shoot?” Sami asked.

Dumbfounded, Jake nodded.

“Then get up here!” Sami let loose with another round as Jake took out his gun and joined her, leaning his good shoulder against the bar and firing a bit more cautiously than her. Jake stopped momentarily when he saw the body of David Steel sprawled across the piano. David was a pain in the backside sometimes, but Jake was still upset to see him killed like that. He began to fire at the thugs with renewed vigor.

“You do a good job, kid,” Mac’s voice came from behind Jake, “When all this is over, you got a spot as a lieutenant in my gang.”

“Um, thanks,” Jake muttered over his shoulder, wondering what could go wrong next.

**********************************************************

Chance had just cleared the docks and was trying to get to the Fallen Angel when the feds roared up to the docks in several black cars. About time, Chance thought to himself as he backed down an alleyway. He decided to leave the mop up at the waterfront to his fellow agents, and turned and headed for the club at a dead run, his mind on Felina’s safety.

**********************************************************

Feral was urging the driver of the car to go faster. All he could think about were the reports they had gotten from the docks, and the last frantic phone call Cooper had said came in just before they left. Things were dying down on the waterfront, but heating up at the Fallen Angel. Feral knew he had to get Felina and Callie out of there. That last phone call had come from inside the club, and the action was shifting in that direction.

As the club came into view, however, a bullet slammed into the windshield, and the car careened into a lamp post on the left. Agents leapt from the car as bullets sprayed the area, and Feral found himself crouching behind the smashed car. He reached in to check on the driver, but found no pulse. Retracting his paw, Feral decided to circle around and try getting in through the stage door. Asking another agent to cover him, Feral slipped off into a side street.

**********************************************************

Felina had decided not to try entering the main room of the club after all. She didn’t like the idea of entering blind, and there was no way to get in that room other than the stairwell and the front door. She had seen Jake behind the bar with Sami and her machine gun, and figured they’d soon have everything under control. Perhaps now would be a good time to try and find Molly.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Felina returned to the basement door. There were no hookers in sight, and no sign of Molly either. Felina was about to go back towards the office when a muscle kat entered the building. Spotting Felina, the kat raised his gun, but she was too fast for him, and fired first, bringing him down.

Felina quickly ran over and dragged the kat out of the doorway, then struggled to close the heavy door. She found herself shooting a couple more thugs in the process, as word of an alternate entrance to the club must have spread. Finally, she got the door closed, and slid the heavy bar into place. Stepping back, she took the gun off the kat lying behind the desk, checking to see how many bullets were left. While she was checking the gun, she heard some shots outside the door, then silence. For some reason, she could tell there was someone on the other side of the door, and she approached it carefully, “Back away, or I’ll shoot!”

“It’s me,” came a familiar voice.

Frantically, Felina raced to lift the bar from the door, and open it once more. As she did so, Chance entered the club, then helped her re- secure the door. After the door was closed, Chance took her in his arms for one moment, thankful she was safe, then stepped back, once again a senior FBI agent, “So, did you find out where Harlan is?”

Felina shook her head, “He’s disappeared, according to what I’ve heard. No one seems to be in charge anymore. Dark Kat’s headquarters has been leveled, I can’t find Molly or Mac, and Sami is tearing the place up with a machine gun.”

“Sami?” Chance looked at her, grinning in spite of the situation.

“Yeah,” Felina smiled back, “She’s one hell of a she-kat.”

“Our reinforcements just pulled up outside,” Chance said, “Maybe we need to let them know about the way in down here.”

**********************************************************

Molly was sitting behind the desk in the office when the fight upstairs came to her attention. Grabbing a couple more guns out of the cabinet, she rushed out of the room and up the hall. She saw that new hooker, strangely dressed, heading for the back door. Well, Molly didn’t have time to waste on a damn hooker right now. Mac needed her. She sped up the stairs, threw open the door, and ran right into the middle of the shootout. Within seconds, she was on the floor, a bullet wound in her left arm and another in her stomach. She had managed to take a few of them with her, though.

Mac, seeing Molly on the floor, leapt over the bar and fought his way to her. Miraculously, he wasn’t hit, and managed to drag his wife back into the stairwell. After closing the door after them, he knelt by her side, “Molly?”

“Yeah,” she replied, “I’m all right. Go shoot some goons for me.”

“You got it, Molly,” Mac told her. He figured she’d be safe here, and prepared to go back into the main room, when something made him stop. From behind the door, he heard someone announce that the feds were there, and everyone was under arrest. At that point, Mac decided it might be better to live to fight another day. Dashing down the stairs, Mac called to Molly that he would bring the car around, and get them out of there. When he turned around to face the bottom of the stairs, however, he found himself looking down the barrel of Ulysses Feral’s gun.

“What d’you think you’re doin’, chump?” Mac asked, bringing his own gun to bear.

“Just a little housecleaning,” Feral responded.

The two tom-kats fired at the same time, and both fell. Only Feral got up again, though he was very badly wounded. Something inside him made it impossible for him to die until he knew Callie was all right. Slowly, he limped along the hallway towards her dressing room, not noticing that Molly was coming down the stairs, a gun in her paw.

**********************************************************

Callie was in her dressing room when the gunfire started. She knew she was as safe, at this point, in this room as anywhere else since no one was firing guns in here. She did however, decide to sit on the floor with the couch between her and the wall.

When she heard gunfire outside the room she wished she remembered to grab her purse with her gun. She stood up to get it when the door flew open and in stumbled Feral.

Feral hit the floor before he could get to the couch, landing on his back. The impact knocked his gun out of his paw and it skittered along the floor to stop at Callie’s feet. Before long blood began to trickle out from under Feral. Callie closed the door on the gunfire outside and knelt by Feral’s head.

“Ulysses?”

In a weak voice he choked out, “… get away … Molly … here somewhere……. can’t find her………”

Callie tore some strips off of her blouse in an attempt to patch up her lover and slowly succeeded in getting the bleeding to stop. He didn’t speak again, and his breathing was labored.

“Don’t go, Ulysses, please.”

Callie got up to see if there was anything on her dressing table that she might use to help with the wound. She kicked Feral’s gun, picked it up, and put it on the table. She was still searching when her door opened again. It was Molly Mange.

She looked battered and seemed to be favoring her left arm so much that she was holding her gun in her right paw. Even it was shaky.

“So this is where you’ve come to die,” She pointed the gun at Feral and then changed her mind. She looked at Callie standing by the dressing table, “He isn’t going anywhere. How about you? Who’s side are you on?”

“Mine, of course.”

“Then you won’t mind seeing him dead?” Molly waved her gun vaguely in Feral’s direction.

“Why should I? I don’t need him to support me and as for the rest, well, tom-kats are a dime a dozen.”

Molly smiled weakly, “Not all of them. Well, then I’ll just put him out of his misery.”

“Could you do it outside? My room’s enough of a mess as it is.”

“It’s going to be a bigger mess soon. The feds are all over the place.”

“Then why don’t you just leave?”

“And miss my chance at him?” Molly pointed the gun at Feral again, “For all the trouble he’s caused? For killin’ Mac? No!”

She aimed her gun at Feral, but found that she needed both paws to hold it steady and even that wasn’t a sure thing. Callie picked up the gun off of her table and fired at Molly. It had only two bullets in it, but at least one of them hit Molly as she crumpled to the floor at Feral’s feet. Callie fell back into the chair still holding the gun in her paws.

A few minutes later Felina burst into the room and saw first the bodies on the floor and then Callie sitting in the chair holding the gun, “What have you done to my uncle?”

“Nothing,” Callie felt really tired.

A moment later Chance Furlong came in. He still looked like a broken down dock worker to Callie, but now he seemed to carry himself with more authority than she’d ever seen him do before. Chance knelt down next to Felina and did a quick check to see that Feral was still alive. An even shorter check revealed Molly to be dead. Chance stood up to look at Callie. Callie noticed that the gunfire had stopped. It was quiet, at least for now.

“What happened here?” Chance asked Callie.

“Why should I tell you? I try to stay away from your type.”

Chance shook his head, “What type would that be?”

“Gunsels.”

Chance sighed. If he told her, Feral would find out, and if he didn’t, she would never talk. Chance leaned down to give Felina a quick kiss and then left the room in search of Jake. Hopefully, his buddy had survived up in the main room.

**********************************************************

Jake sat in a chair in the emergency room at the hospital. The slug had been dug out of his shoulder, and the doctor had stitched him up, pronouncing him good as new. He wished he felt half that good. He still wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital on his own, and had no idea who to call to come get him. Chance and Felina, he knew, were hiding out on the waterfront until things died down, to protect their cover. For all Jake knew, his own alias had been blown sky high, just like Dark Kat.

“Need a lift?” a familiar voice broke into Jake’s thoughts, and he looked up to see Sami standing in front of him, “C’mon, I just sprung you from this joint.”

“How’d you manage that? Don’t they want to question me?”

“Nope,” Sami pulled him to his feet by his good arm, “I told them you were there with Abi and David to play behind Miss Briggs. They bought it hook, line, and sinker. Poor Jake, just a musician in the wrong place at the wrong time. The slug in your arm helped convince them, by the way. Also, I have news about David. Seems he was pretty shot up, but it looks like he’s going to make it.”

“I guess I better go on home,” Jake muttered as they walked down the hall together, “With Chance and Felina hiding out, the apartment’ll be empty, and I don’t want any snoopers in there.”

Sami laughed, shaking her head, “Chance and Felina are there. The feds caught up with her in Miss Briggs’ dressing room, so she played drunk, and convinced them she couldn’t remember anything. Chance simply went back out to the docks and blended into the crowd. The feds decided not to deal with such small potatoes as those two.”

Jake smiled, thinking about how funny Felina was when she played drunk. He had to give her credit, she usually was pretty convincing, “So, then, where should I go to recuperate?”

“You could just leave yourself to my tender mercies,” Sami offered as they left the hospital, “After all, I’m going to be free for a few days before I start working at Charlies’ place.”

“You got a new job already?”

“Yep.”

“Uh, Sami,” Jake looked at her sideways as they made their way to the taxi stand, “About that machine gun…….”

Sami’s laughter echoed through the hospital parking lot.

**********************************************************

Felina got out of the shower, and heard Chance hanging up the phone. She quickly dried herself, put on a robe, and wrapped a towel around her wet hair. Heading into the kitchen, she saw him sitting at the table, brooding over a cup of coffee. Felina sat down beside him, and laid a paw on his arm, “So, what’s the story?”

“Your uncle is in bad shape, but he should recover in a few days. They only found the bodies of Mac and Molly,” Chance growled, “Dark Kat is presumed dead, as is Harlan, but they have no proof of it. That lawyer, Hard Drive, hasn’t been seen since Dark Kat’s place went up, and his secretary has also disappeared. Of course, Manx isn’t going to prosecute.”

“What about Jake?”

“Jake’s fine. That was him on the phone. He’s going to stay with Sami for a few days while his wound heals.”

“Wound?” Felina’s voice carried concern.

“He took a hit in the shoulder,” Chance told her, “Just a .22.”

“I’m sure Sami will take good care of him,” Felina smiled gently, “Thanks for finding out about my uncle.”

“Can’t you thank a kat better than that?”

Felina leaned over and kissed him, “Is that better?”

“Much.”

The two headed off to bed, relieved that the gang war was finally over and, at least for a few days, they could simply enjoy each other’s company – until it all started again.

**********************************************************

As Callie walked down the hospital corridor she could hear Feral yelling at someone. He was obviously feeling better. She almost ran into a nurse who was stalking out of the room.

As soon as Feral saw Callie his mood changed. He hadn’t seen her since the raid and was not sure that he was ever going to see her again. Felina had told him that she had disappeared before help arrived for him and all he knew was that she hadn’t been arrested.

Callie gave Feral a peck on the cheek and sat in a chair next to the bed, “You’re feeling better, I hear.”

“I thought you’d left town.”

“You should know I wouldn’t go without at least saying goodbye,” Feral’s mood changed again and Callie went on, “Not that I plan on leaving, though it might not be a bad idea to clear out of this town for awhile while things sort themselves out.”

“You’d abandon me to this hospital?” Feral tired to wave an arm about the room, but winced in pain about half way through the gesture and had to put his arm down.

“I assume you’ll get some time off.”

Feral nodded.

“Maybe we could go up to the mountains while you get better? Or you could let Felina look after you.”

“I don’t think she can provide the care I need,” Feral pulled Callie to him and kissed her hard.

“Let’s not start that. You are still a hurt kat and I don’t want you to relapse.”

Feral’s expression went from a grin to seriousness, “What happened in your dressing room? Felina couldn’t tell me anything, she was too drunk to remember, as usual.”

Callie stood up and stepped away from the bed, “It’s simple. You stumbled into my room and flopped down on the floor. Then Molly came in after you. She was apparently in worse shape than you were since she just collapsed and died.”

“So what were you doing with my gun?”

“I picked it up for protection. I didn’t know who else was going to want to use my room as a morgue,” Callie paused for a moment, “So where do you want to take our vacation?”

The End

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