By Jade F. Callan
For Don R. And Tazura – Thanx for all the encouragement!
Jake slowly unlocked the door to the garage and walked in. Securing the door behind him, he headed up the stairs, his thoughts on sinking deep beneath the covers on his bed. He had stayed out with Sami far later than he had intended to, and had to get up quite early the next morning. Entering the apartment on the second floor he shared with Chance, Jake tossed his jacket onto the couch and started down the hall. As he passed Chance’s bedroom, however, he noticed the door slightly ajar, and a dim light coming from the room unlike Jake had ever seen before. Stepping over to the doorway, Jake peeked in to check on his partner.
The strange flickering light was the result of several burning candles scattered throughout the room, probably brought over by Felina. In the dim room, Jake saw Chance and Felina lying on the bed, sleeping in the afterglow of making love. He contemplated the pair, leaning his thin frame against the doorway. Chance lay on his back, his arms encircling the she-kat on top of him. Felina lay on her stomach across Chance’s chest, her head resting on his breastbone, and Jake could see her engagement bracelet glowing on her arm. A blanket was sprawled across the couple, covering their lower halves.
Jake was struck by how right the two looked together, and smiled to himself as he backed away from the door. As he started again towards his own bedroom, he heard Chance speak.
“Felina?” Chance mumbled.
“Hmmmm?” Felina responded sleepily.
“C’mere,” Chance said.
Jake entered his bedroom and closed the door, still smiling to himself.
Commander Feral rolled over in bed and glanced at the clock. It was either very late or very early, depending on your frame of mind, and for some reason Feral had an uneasy feeling. He groped for the phone and pulled it over to himself. Picking up the receiver, he quickly punched in a familiar number.
“Hello?” Janine muttered into the phone, still half asleep.
“Janine? It’s Commander Feral. Sorry to wake you.”
“S’ok, Commander,” Janine woke up a bit more, “Is there an emergency?”
“Not exactly,” Feral explained, feeling slightly embarrassed, “I have an uneasy feeling. Could you please make sure all the nightly reports are on my desk right away tomorrow morning?”
“Of course, Sir. Anything else?”
Feral paused a moment, “No, Janine, that’s it. Good night.”
“Good night, Commander,” Janine hung up.
Feral replaced the phone and lay back in bed. As he drifted off to sleep, the uneasy feeling remained, competing in his mind with the memory of Janine’s touch on his head when he had been wounded fighting Dark Kat about three months before.
Dr. Abi Sinian unlocked the door to her office and stepped in. Her two young daughters, Megan and Julie, followed behind her.
“Now, you girls stay here until it’s time for school,” Abi instructed them. She had ended up bringing them in with her since her husband, Roy, had left early for work. Normally, she would have let the girls get themselves ready for school, but they had mentioned they had tests today, and Abi wanted to make sure they were on time.
“Sure, Mom,” Julie, her 15 year old, said.
“Hey, Mom, can we see the new exhibit you’ve been working on?” Megan, the 13 year old, pleaded.
“Please?” Julie added.
“Well….,” Abi looked from one anxious face to the other, “All right, but only if you promise not to touch anything.”
“We promise,” they chorused.
“Come along, then,” Abi turned and led the two down the hall and into one of the workrooms.
“What’s this one about?” Megan asked, as she surveyed a cross- section of wood from an ancient ship.
“Ancient pirates,” Abi informed her daughters, “This is the find I told you about last summer, when I was away for about a month.”
“I remember,” Julie said, her brows raised in puzzlement, “but I thought they found some gold coins, too. Where are they?”
“The coins are right over……,” Abi pointed to a large chest on her right, her voice trailing off as she looked over at it, “Oh, no!” The chest was broken open, its contents gone.
“What’s wrong?” Megan came over to her mother, worried by the alarm in Abi’s voice.
“Let’s go back to the office,” Abi told them, “I need to speak to Commander Feral about this.”
Jake wandered down the hall to find Chance and Felina at the kitchen table, absorbed in the morning paper. Felina had showered and dressed, but Chance was still in his bathrobe. Jake was amazed Chance was even vertical at this time of the morning.
“Morning,” Jake greeted them. Chance mumbled from behind the newspaper, but Felina put down the front pages and smiled.
“Good morning, Jake. How was your evening with Sami?” Felina reached for her coffee, trying to appear nonchalant.
“Very nice,” Jake told her as he got a cup and poured himself some coffee. When he turned back around, he found Felina looking at him expectantly.
“Felina,” Chance lowered his section of the newspaper, “Curiosity killed the kat,” he grinned at her.
“Satisfaction brought it back,” she returned, her eyes still on Jake.
“Behave yourself,” under the table, Chance put his foot on top of hers, pressing down slightly.
Felina made a face at her fiance, “That’s not what you said last night,” she observed.
“Tell you what,” Jake sat down at the table, “I’ll give you all the details of my evening if you tell me all about yours.”
“Is that a dare, Jake?” Felina turned back to him.
“Not on your nine lives, Felina,” Jake returned.
“Don’t you have to report for duty soon?” Chance put in.
Felina rolled her eyes, “Yes, and since I have to stop by my apartment to change and drop off the motorcycle, I’d better get my tail in gear,” she stood up, “I’ll see you two later.”
Jake nodded to her, and watched as Chance got up and escorted Felina to the door. As the two embraced for a goodbye kiss, Jake reflected on the scene he had witnessed last night. It was amazing how right the two of them looked together, and how simple it all seemed. Jake was still worried as to what was going to happen when Commander Feral found out about his nieces’ future husband.
After Felina had left, Chance returned to his seat at the table. He looked up to find Jake studying him, “What’re you smiling at, bud?”
“That goofy look on your face,” Jake answered, “I think Felina’s affecting your brain.”
“Among other things,” was all Chance would say.
“You’re sure the coins were in this trunk?” Commander Feral asked Dr. Sinian as he again scanned the exhibit storage area.
“Positive,” Abi replied, “I put them there last night. I also set the alarm system before I went home.”
Feral glanced down at his notes, “Nothing else is missing?”
“No, nothing, and none of the other exhibits have been disturbed.”
“We’ll need to seal off this room,” Feral told her, “And confiscate the tape from the security camera. Sorry, but your new exhibit will have to wait.”
“Without those coins, it isn’t much of an exhibit anyway.”
“Who has the security camera video tape?”
“I’ll get it for you, Commander,” Abi walked out, and returned a few moments later with the requested tape. She gave it to Feral, then spoke again, “Will you need to talk to my daughters again?”
“I doubt it.”
“If you will excuse me then, I have work to do. I’ll be in my office if you need anything else,” Abi again exited the room.
“I want this room sealed off,” Feral ordered, and the Enforcers who had accompanied him to the museum jumped to comply.
Felina had finished logging in, and was preparing to head up to the roof for her chopper, when she decided to stop in and say hello to her uncle. They hadn’t talked in a few days, and she was still trying to figure out how to tell him about Chance. Although Chance hadn’t mentioned anything, Felina knew he was beginning to wonder at her hesitation. What the hell, Felina thought to herself as she stepped onto the elevator, maybe I’ll just tell Uncle Ulysses about Chance right now.
Commander Feral leaned over the shoulder of a tech in the Electronics Division. They were trying to enhance the images on the rather fuzzy security tape Dr. Sinian had turned over. There were two kats stealing the coins, but the tape quality was poor, making identification difficult.
“Can you do any better?” Feral asked, exasperated.
“I’ll try, Sir,” the tech answered, “Perhaps if we concentrate on one figure at a time, it’ll work better.”
The tech focused on the smaller of the two figures on the screen, making several adjustments on the control board. Gradually, the figure became more recognizable.
“Deputy Mayor Briggs?” Commander Feral gasped in disbelief. Though the image was still fuzzy, it definitely looked like Calico Briggs.
“Do you want a hard copy, Sir?”
Still shocked, Feral nodded. The tech punched a button, and gave the picture to Feral after the machine spit it out. The Commander studied the picture as the tech turned his attention to the other figure on the tape. Flipping the controls, he finally brought the image into view. Surprise crossed his face, and he turned to Commander Feral, who was still staring at the picture in his paws, “Uh, Commander……”
“Hello, Uncle,” Felina called as she swept into the room and up behind Feral, “Janine told me where you were. What’s up?”
Feral turned around and looked at his niece, then held out the photo in his paw to her, “Tell me what you make of this.”
Felina scrutinized the grainy image, “Looks like Deputy Mayor Briggs to me.”
“Um, Sir,” the tech interrupted, “I really think you may want to have a look at this……right now.”
“Print it out,” Feral ordered, his eyes still on Felina. The tech did as ordered, and placed the second photo in Feral’s outstretched paw.
“Are you going to arrest her for something, Uncle?” Felina asked him, looking up from the photo.
“I’m certainly going to bring her in for questioning,” Feral raised the photo in his paw into his line of vision, “Her and……,” his eyes widened in shock and disbelief once again.
“What is it, Uncle?”
Feral took the other photo from her, “Report to my office immediately, Lieutenant….without your bullet proof vest and gun,” he stalked from the room, other kats scrambling to get out of his way.
Felina, curious as to what had caused her uncle’s strange mood swing, tried to get a look at the monitor the tech was sitting at, but he had already cleared the image. With a shrug, Felina turned and left the room, heading back up to the locker room. As soon as she was gone, the tech scurried over to a group by the water cooler. This was big news!
Callie Briggs had just started on a new speech for Mayor Manx when her phone rang. Her mind still on the speech, she answered on the second ring, “Deputy Mayor Briggs.”
“Deputy Mayor, this is Commander Feral. Please come to my office immediately.”
“I don’t really have the time right now, Commander,” she noted his odd words, and his tone had gotten her full attention, “Can we meet tomorrow?”
“This is not a request, Ms. Briggs. If you are not here in fifteen minutes, I will send some of my Enforcers to escort you,” with that, Feral cut the connection.
Callie stared at the phone in her paw. What could Feral want that was so important? And why threaten her? With a sigh, she replaced the receiver and gathered her purse. Callie figured she’d better go see Feral before he sent any Enforcers over. Leaving her desk as it was, Callie exited her office, sure she would be back shortly.
Felina sat in a chair across from her uncle’s desk, fidgeting with the cuffs of her uniform. She was anxious to know what was going on. She had tried getting information out of Janine, her uncle’s secretary, but had no luck. Now, her uncle seemed to be waiting for someone. After a few more minutes, there was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Feral called. To Felina’s amazement, Deputy Mayor Briggs entered the office, closing the door behind her.
“Would you mind telling me what this is all about, Commander?” Callie demanded as she advanced to Feral’s desk.
“Have a seat, Ms. Briggs,” Feral instructed her coldly. Callie opened her mouth to protest, but the look on Feral’s face stopped her. She sat down in a chair next to Felina.
“Does this have something to do with the photos from the robbery, Uncle?” Felina asked, wondering where this meeting was going.
“Yes,” Feral said slowly, “I want to know where both of you were last night.”
“At home,” Callie told him, puzzlement on her face.
“Me, too,” Felina put in, not liking lying to her uncle, but not willing to discuss Chance under these strange circumstances.
“Alone?” Feral looked from one she-kat to the other. Neither of them answered, and Feral noted their silence on the report form in front of him. He gave them each a hard look, then spoke, “I see.”
“You still haven’t explained what’s going on,” Callie pointed out.
Feral picked up the two photos copied from the tape of the museum crime scene tape, “In that case, would either of you like to offer an explanation for these?” he held up the photos.
“What the……?” Felina sputtered. The photo showed her in the act of Grand Larceny, involving gold coins from the Natural History Museum.
“That’s impossible!” Callie gasped, staring at the image of herself assisting in what appeared to be a robbery.
“What is this?” Felina demanded, turning angry eyes on her uncle.
“I was hoping you could tell me,” Feral replied as he set the photos back down on his desk, “Neither of you have a decent alibi.”
“Those aren’t the clearest images, Uncle,” Felina pointed out.
Before Feral could answer her, an Enforcer entered the room, holding an evidence box in front of him.
“Commander, forgive the interruption,” the Enforcer said, “But I thought you should see this now. We found them at the crime scene at the museum,” depositing the box on Feral’s desk, the Enforcer turned and exited quickly.
“Well?” Callie obviously expected the contents of the box to clear up this little matter.
Feral opened the box and examined its contents, his face darkening. He drew out a gold pen, and read the name engraved on its side, “I believe this belongs to you, Ms. Briggs? It bears your name.”
“Yes, its……mine,” Callie seems subdued by the sight of her pen.
“And you, Lieutenant,” Feral’s gaze moved to his niece, “I noticed the bars are missing from one side of your collar.”
Felina’s paw traveled up to her collar, only to find the left set of her lieutenants’ bars missing. Looking up, she saw the silver bars in her uncle’s fingers.
“I’m afraid you are both under arrest,” Feral announced, putting the items back in the box and rising from his chair. The two she-kats could only stare at him in disbelief.
Abi, back in her office, was trying to figure out what to replace the confiscated exhibit with. She decided to extend the current main exhibit for another week, to buy time to set up an alternative display. If nothing else, Abi thought to herself, they could always do another prehistoric layout. Those always went over well.
Getting up out of her chair, Abi left the office and went over to the exhibition area, to get a better idea of what might fit there instead of the pirate exhibit. As she was studying the area, something caught her eye in one corner of the display area. Walking over and leaning down, Abi picked up a small object, then stood back up. Opening her paw, Abi found she held a gold button. Turning it over, she recognized it as a button from an Enforcer uniform, the familiar E’ emblem stamped on it.
How had an Enforcer button gotten in here, Abi wondered. Feral and his troops weren’t anywhere near this area, and she was sure the button hadn’t been there the night before when she had looked over the area in preparation for moving the exhibit into it. Puzzled, Abi pocketed the button and returned to her office to call Commander Feral once again.
Callie paced her cell nervously. She had been booked, photographed, paw printed, and her belongings had been confiscated. After all that, she had been escorted to her current abode, a cell in the Enforcer jail. She and Felina had been separated, and they seemed to be taking much longer with the Lieutenant. Finally, the door at the end of the corridor clanged open, and Felina appeared in the doorway. Callie watched as Felina appeared to stumble. As she regained her footing, two Enforcers entered behind Felina.
“C’mon, you traitor,” one of the guards growled, gripping Felina hard on her upper right arm. The other Enforcer grabbed the left arm just as hard.
Callie couldn’t believe the way Lieutenant Feral was being treated. The two guards half dragged, half carried Felina to a cell, opened the door, and none too gently threw her in, slamming the door shut behind her. Felina lay sprawled on the floor until the two guards left the cell block.
“Lieutenant Feral?” Callie stood on her toes to peer into Felina’s cell, which was across from hers, “Are you all right?”
Slowly, Felina got to her feet, dusted herself off, and turned towards the door of her cell. She looked at Callie through the bars, “I’ll be OK. What about you, Deputy Mayor?”
“I’m fine. They were more……gentle with me. Why were they so rough on you?”
“That’s an easy one,” Felina walked up to the door of her cell and leaned on the bars, “They think I’ve gone bad. News travels fast around here, and there must be one hell of a leak for something as big as this.”
“Why is Commander Feral doing this to us?” Callie wondered.
“I don’t think he had a choice,” Felina mused, “Too many kats know about the evidence against us. I’m sure he knows we’re innocent. Also, if another robbery takes place while we’re locked up, that would get us off the hook.”
“I hope you’re right,” the blonde said glumly.
In an airship high above Megakat City, another blonde was in quite a different mood, “Is everything going according to my plan?”
“Yes, Turmoil. The Deputy Mayor and Feral’s niece have been arrested,” came the reply.
“Excellent,” Turmoil smiled, “Has my double in Alkat-Traz been discovered?”
With a laugh, Turmoil walked over to look out the front viewscreen of the ship. The SWAT Kats may have delayed her plans of domination before, but they had never really stopped her. She had her freedom, a crew, a new ship, and most important, the money to buy what she couldn’t steal. It was all going so well, even better than last time. Let that treacherous tom-kat T-Bone try and stop her this time.
“I hearby call this meeting of the Enforcer Promotions Board to order. First Enforcer under consideration is Lieutenant Felina Felicity Feral. I might point out that she is Commander Feral’s niece.”
“She has a fine record…..”
“Wasn’t she arrested this morning? On charges of Grand Larceny and breaking and entering?”
Dark looks shot around the table.
“Promotion denied. Second Enforcer under consideration, Major David Christopher Steel.”
“Didn’t the Steels just make a rather large donation to the Enforcers?”
“He used to be Lieutenant Commander Steel.”
“Feral demoted him for insubordination.”
“That’s something Feral should know quite a bit about.”
“Steel is from a good family, and a generous one too. I’m sure he didn’t deserve the demotion.”
“All in favor of returning Major Steel to Lieutenant Commander, signify by raising a paw.”
All the kats around the table held a paw up.
Chance’s head jerked up and almost banged against the open hood of the car he was working on. Someone had just driven through the front gate at a rather excessive speed, and Chance was surprised to see a strange Enforcer car screech to a stop in front of the garage, the engine stalling under protest.
“What was that?” Jake asked, coming down the stairs.
“Some crazy Enforcer,” Chance called, walking over to his partner, “I suppose we’d better go see what’s up. It’s not a car I recognize.”
Before the pair could go out into the yard, however, the driver of the vehicle leaped out and raced into the garage, her blonde hair tumbling around her delicate face.
“Sami!” Jake exclaimed, his eyes wide.
“Jake!” Sami almost knocked him down as she threw herself into his arms, “Oh, Jake, it’s all wrong! It has to be!”
“What?” Jake looked down at her, puzzlement and concern on his face. She seemed so agitated.
“Felina’s been arrested!” Sami blurted out.
“What?” Chance’s eyes widened, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Sami still stood in Jake’s arms, “Paul Lynx told me about it. She’s been accused of Grand Larceny, along with Deputy Mayor Briggs.”
“Callie too? Feral must have really flipped to do this,” Jake observed.
“So, they’re in the Enforcer jail?” Chance asked, his paws balled up into huge fists.
“Easy, buddy,” Jake could tell his partner was ready to blow. He released Sami, and put a paw on Chance’s shoulder, “Let’s get the whole story first.”
Chance turned blazing eyes on Jake, then let the words sink in. Unclenching his fists, he nodded, and the three of them headed upstairs, Jake bringing up the rear least Chance try to slip off and save Felina.
Both Felina and Callie were sitting on their bunks, lost in thought. At the moment, they were the only occupants of the cell block, and it was rather quiet. Callie was thinking of the unfinished speech she had left on her desk, while Felina’s thoughts centered on the immediate situation, sparing an occasional thought for Chance. The she-kats jumped when the door at the end of the hall opened. Callie’s eyes widened as the figure of Harry Snow came toward her.
“I heard it, but I didn’t believe it,” Snow declared as he approached Callie’s cell.
“Believe it, Harry,” Callie replied as she got up and walked over to the cell door.
“What have you heard, Snow?” Felina asked from her bunk.
“That you and Callie were responsible for the robbery at the Natural History Museum last night,” Snow told her, “It’s all over the building, Lieutenant.”
“And everyone believes we’re guilty?” Felina made this more of a statement then a question.
“Not me, Lieutenant. Nor Paul Lynx or Sami Higgins,” Snow informed them, “Commander Feral’s secretary seems to be on your side as well.”
“What about Mayor Manx?” Callie wanted to know.
“He hasn’t commented on the situation, much to Ann Gora’s distress,” Snow grinned at her, “Probably because you aren’t there to write it for him.”
“What about my uncle?” Felina got up off her bunk and moved to the door of her cell.
“He hasn’t made any comments either, and Janine won’t let anybody get near him,” Snow answered.
Callie sighed, “This is ridiculous!”
“I still don’t understand, Callie,” Snow’s voice carried confusion, “Why wasn’t I questioned about your alibi? After all, you were with me last night.”
Callie bit her lip, and paused before answering him, “I didn’t tell Commander Feral that.”
“What?” Snow was incredulous.
“I didn’t want to get you into trouble.”
“So you let yourself be put in jail?”
“Look, Harry, I wasn’t sure if you wanted me telling Commander Feral about our friendship.”
“Excuse me,” Snow turned and headed for the door, “I need to see the Commander,” the cell block door clanged shut behind him.
Through the bars, Felina grinned at the Deputy Mayor, “I didn’t know you were seeing Harry Snow.”
“We’re just friends,” Callie said, “We get together a couple of times a week to watch movies, or just to talk.”
“So why didn’t you answer my uncle when he asked where you were last night?”
“Like I said, Harry and I are just friends. That’s all. I didn’t want Commander Feral getting strange ideas about us. I probably should have spoken up, but everything happened so fast….”
Felina returned to her bunk, this time lying down on her back. She wished it would be as easy for her to tell her uncle her own alibi.
“Turmoil, the troops are standing by,” a small brunette, sitting at the status console, announced as the blonde swept onto the bridge.
“Very good,” Turmoil purred as she advanced to her command chair and sat down. She mused over the situation for a few moments, then turned back to the brunette, “Tell the troops to stay in ready mode. I want to make sure everything is perfect for my triumphant return!”
“Understood,” the brunette turned back to her console and began issuing instructions.
Turmoil continued to mull over her plans, a smile playing across her mouth. With both The Enforcers and City Hall under suspicion, it was going to be that much easier for her to take over. One more day ought to do it, she decided. And if those wretched SWAT Kats tried to interfere….. The smile melted from her face as the thought of T-Bone rose in her mind’s eye. He would pay for his treachery. Her good mood spoiled, Turmoil got out of her chair and swept from the room.
“Are you sure Feral arrested both Felina and Callie?” Jake asked Sami. They were sitting at the kitchen table, Jake holding Sami’s paw, as Chance paced in front of the table.
“Positive,” Sami replied, gripping Jake’s paw harder, “I just don’t get this.”
Chance turned and slammed his fist down on the table, “I don’t really give a damn why he did it! I just want to get Felina and Callie out of there!”
“Easy, Chance,” Jake warned him, “There must be a reason for this, especially since Felina didn’t tell Feral her alibi.”
“Alibi?” Sami looked from one tom-kat to the other.
“She was here last night,” Chance said shortly, his mind turning over Jake’s words.
“Then why didn’t she tell……oh, yeah,” Sami frowned in frustration.
“Maybe,” Jake got up, “I should go ask Felina myself. She’s allowed visitors, isn’t she?” Sami nodded at his question.
“Why you?” Chance demanded.
“Because,” Jake headed for the door, “I’m less likely to try and take Feral’s head off.”
Chance was unable to argue with that, but had another question for Jake, “Won’t Feral wonder why you’re going to see his niece?”
“I’ll sign in to see Ms. Briggs,” Jake informed him as he opened the door, “I doubt that will be questioned, since many kats know we’re friends, at least of sorts,” Jake then turned to Sami, “Keep Chance company, will you? Or do you have to be on duty?”
“No, I’ll stay,” Sami replied.
With that, Jake set off for Enforcer Headquarters, determined to get some answers.
Neither Felina nor Callie bothered to look up when the door at the end of the corridor clanged open once again. The sound of familiar footsteps, however, brought Felina to her feet and to the door of her cell. Her uncle, for his part, was not looking at her, but at the Deputy Mayor.
“Ms. Briggs,” Commander Feral’s deep voice filled the cell block, “I have just talked to Harry Snow. I also checked with your neighbors, and your local video store. Now, I ask you again, where were you last night?”
Callie got up and walked over to the door of her cell, “I was at home, watching videos with my friend, Harry Snow.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?”
“Concern for a friend.”
Feral reached over and unlocked the cell door, “You’re free to go, Ms. Briggs, but don’t leave the city limits. If you will follow these two,” Feral gestured to the two Enforcer guards standing behind him, “they will return your belongings and prepare the paperwork for your release.”
Callie exited her cell, head held high, then turned back to Feral, “What about Lieutenant Feral?”
“I’ll see to that,” Feral informed her.
With one last look at Felina, Callie turned and followed the guards out of the cell block.
“See to what, Uncle?” Felina asked finally.
Feral slowly faced her, “You still won’t tell me where you were last night, Felina?”
Felina bit her lip and looked at the floor, shaking her head.
“The evidence is mounting against you,” Feral informed her, “I got a call from Dr. Sinian a little while ago. Seems she found something else at the museum,” Feral raised his paw, and Felina saw a gold Enforcer button in his fingers.
“It’s stamped with my initials?” Felina knew the answer before she even asked the question.
“Yes,” Feral put the button in his pocked, “I don’t think you’re guilty, Felina, but I do have my duty to perform. I’m sure the real crooks will tip their paws soon.”
Felina simply nodded, then slipped away to lay back down on her bunk. Feral, knowing he could do no more for her at that time, sighed and exited the cell block. As he passed the processing counter, he signed out Felina’s possession envelope, taking it up to his office to examine the contents.
Callie slowly descended the steps in front of Enforcer Headquarters, blinking in the late afternoon sun. Reaching the sidewalk, she paused to relish her freedom, then turned in the direction of City Hall.
“Callie?” Snow’s voiced caused Callie to look back up the stairs, “I just heard Ann Gora and a camera crew are on their way,” Snow came down the stairs to her, “Want a ride home?”
“I should go back to the office,” Callie mused, thinking of the unfinished speech, among other things, still waiting on her desk.
“Probably not a good idea,” Snow said, “Besides, I managed to switch a few hours of my shift with someone so I could see you home. We can even order a pizza if you would like.”
“Well, if you put it that way….,” Callie smiled, and followed Harry to his car.
As they pulled away from the curb, Callie was surprised to see Jake Clawson climbing the front stairs of Enforcer Headquarters, but the sight of a news van down the street distracted her. Harry effortlessly avoided Ann Gora and her crew, setting off for Callie’s apartment building at a sedate speed while Callie hunched down out of sight in her seat.
Sami glanced over the newspaper she was pretending to read and tried to gage Chance’s mood. The big tom-kat was channel surfing, but she could tell he wasn’t really seeing the images flashing by on the TV screen. Finally, Chance switched the TV off, flinging the remote down in disgust.
“I know,” Sami said before Chance could move, “I wish I knew what was going on, too.”
Chance turned to the little blonde on his right, “You’re a good friend to Felina.”
“So are you.”
“Then why do I want to rip her uncle’s head off?”
Sami looked at Chance closely, and decided he was at least half- joking, “I’m sure that’s exactly why Jake wanted you to wait here.”
Chance nodded glumly, “Listen, no sense wasting time worrying. Do you like Scaredy Kat?”
Sami grinned, “It’s one of my favorites.”
“I knew there was a reason Jake liked you. You have great taste,” Chance picked up the remote and switched the TV back on. Soon, the two were engrossed in Scaredy Kat, trying to relax as best they could until Jake came back. After a little while, however, Sami excused herself and went into the kitchen to make a few phone calls.
Felina was surprised to hear someone enter the cell block again so soon, but didn’t bother to move. She figured it was probably a new occupant being brought in to fill Ms. Briggs’ empty cell.
“Hello, Felina,” Jake called softly as he approached her cell.
“Jake?” Felina leaped off her bunk and swung around to face him, “Is Chance with you?”
“No. I was afraid he might tear your uncle apart. I left him with Sami,” Jake saw the hope on Felina’s face drain away, and cursed silently to himself. Maybe he should have let Chance come too.
“You’re probably right,” Felina sighed, coming to the bars, “How’s he doing?”
“As you would expect, ready to put his fist through a wall. He wants to bust you out of here.”
Felina nodded and smiled sadly, “So, why did you come? How’d you get in here?”
“When I signed in, I just scribbled whom I was visiting. The guard kat was busy with some paperwork, and let me through. I came to see how you are, and to find out what the blazes is going on. Why did they release Ms. Briggs and not you?”
“How did you know Deputy Mayor Briggs was released?”
“Her cell is empty, but she’s not signed out in the book.”
“Oh,” Felina leaned heavily on the bars, “As for what’s going on, you’d have to ask my uncle. It looks like someone is trying to frame me and Ms. Briggs for a robbery at the museum. They stole some things from us and planted them at the scene of the robbery, and got a couple of ringers to steal the loot.”
“Does Feral think you’re guilty?”
“No, but he can’t prove it, and I haven’t given him my alibi yet.”
Jake looked at her hard, “You do have an alibi, Felina.”
“I know,” she reassured him, “But I only want to use it if I have to.”
Jake decided to accept her answer, at least for now, “What about my other question? How are you doing?”
“Just tell Chance I’m fine.”
“In other words, lie?”
“Yeah,” Felina looked at him, “Please?”
For an answer, Jake reached out and covered her paw with his for a moment, then turned to go. After taking a few steps, he stopped and looked back over his shoulder, “We’re going to get you out of this, Felina,” he vowed, “You’re too good an Enforcer to loose……and too good a friend.”
Felina, unable to answer, simply watched Jake exit the cell block. Leaning her head against the bars, she sent up a silent prayer of thanks to The Goddess for bringing Chance and Jake into her life.
Janine knocked on the door to Commander Feral’s office. She had seen him go in with an evidence envelope earlier in the afternoon, but hadn’t heard anything since then. She was beginning to raise her paw to knock again when Feral called for her to come in.
“Commander?” Janine opened the door and slipped in quickly, then closed it behind her, “Is everything all right? I just….you haven’t sent out any orders for the night shift, and….,” Janine trailed off as Commander Feral motioned her closer.
“I have some evidence here I want your opinion on, Janine,” Feral told her as she approached his desk.
“Me? But I’m not trained….”
“Precisely why I want your opinion,” Feral cut her off, then raised his paw, “What do you make of this?”
Janine studied the dark object he held aloft, “That? Why, it looks like an engagement bracelet to me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Like I said, that’s what it looks like to me. It’s the right shape and size, and kat’s eye is a pretty traditional stone to use for engagement bracelets.”
“Have you ever seen it before?”
“No, but it’s very beautiful,” Janine glanced down at his desk, trying to figure out which case the bracelet was connected to.
“Indeed,” Feral put down the bracelet, “Issue standard orders for the night shift, then bring it in for my signature.”
“Yes, Sir. Anything else?”
“No, that’s all.”
“Commander Feral,” Janine came around the side of his desk and was about to speak, when he raised a paw to stop her.
“I’m sorry, but I have to say this. Why don’t you let your niece out of jail? You know she’s been framed.”
“How do you know so much?”
“I’ve known you for many years, Commander, and I’ve known your niece since before she even thought about enlisting in The Enforcers.”
Feral nodded, looking at Janine intently, “I appreciate your concern, Janine, as my niece would. However, I can’t just let her go. Too many kats have seen incriminating evidence against her. The best I can do is try and solve this before things get too far along.”
“I see. You’ll let me know if you need me to help?”
Feral paused, wondering about the extent of the meaning of that statement, “Don’t I always?”
“No,” Janine left his office. Once she returned to her desk, she let herself ponder the significance of the engagement bracelet found in Felina Feral’s property envelope. Strange, Commander Feral not knowing about his niece’s engagement. Not surprising, but strange, as those two didn’t tend to keep secrets from each other. With a sigh, Janine began to straighten her desk, and set about typing the orders for the night shift.
As the elevator doors opened, Jake found himself nose to nose with an Enforcer.
“You Jake Clawson?” The Enforcer questioned.
“Sami Higgins said to tell you she’s on her way, and to wait for her in the lobby.”
The Enforcer stepped back, and Jake entered the elevator. The two rode in silence to the lobby. When the elevator doors again opened, the Enforcer watched as Jake exited the car and sat down to wait for Sami. Satisfied, The Enforcer pressed the button for an upper floor, and the elevator doors closed again.
When Janine re-entered Commander Feral’s office with the orders for his signature, she found him on the far end of the room, looking out the window. Slowly approaching him, she could tell he wasn’t the least bit interested in the view, so completely was he lost in thought. She hesitated to speak, not wanting to disturb him.
“Yes, Janine?” Feral asked without moving.
“Here are the orders you requested, Sir.”
Feral sighed, and held out his paw. Janine placed the paper in his grasp, then moved to go, but found herself turning back to him, “Is there anything I can do, Commander?”
Feral looked at her, his face reflecting the anguish within. Involuntarily, Janine reached out and put a paw on his arm.
“What happens if she’s convicted, Janine? On evidence I helped gather? She won’t give me an alibi, and I can’t make one up for her.”
“We both know Felina’s innocent, Commander. You’re only doing your job….your duty.”
“If she’s sent to Alkat-Traz with all the criminal scum she’s help put there……..And Konclyn. How the hell do I protect her from Konclyn if she’s in the cell right next to him?” Feral covered her paw with his own, holding on tight, dropping the paper she had given him.
“We have to keep looking,” Janine told him, “Whoever is doing this will slip up eventually.”
“But will they do so in time to save my niece?”
Janine, finding she had no answer to his question, placed her free paw on his shoulder, “I’ll stay and help, if you need me.”
Feral nodded, regaining some of his composure, “I would appreciate that, Janine,” he said in a low voice, “I need someone to monitor the radio here while I have another look at that security tape.”
“Yes, Sir,” Janine smiled at the big kat’s determination, “I’ll be here as long as you need me. Shall I sit in here, or out at my desk?”
“Better stay in my office,” Feral told her, letting go of her paw and bending down to retrieve the orders he had dropped. He straightened up and headed for the door, then glanced back at her, “Could you order some dinner for us as well? I’ll leave these orders on your desk.”
“Yes, Commander,” Janine reached for the phone as Feral headed out of the room.
Jake was beginning to wonder what was keeping Sami when she and Chance came in the front door. Crooking a finger at Jake, Sami walked over to the bank of elevators and pressed the call button. When the elevator doors opened, Sami, followed by the two tom-kats, entered the car and took out her bypass key. Placing the key in the appropriate slot, Sami pressed the button for the sub-basement as the doors closed.
“What’s going on?” Jake finally broke the silence as the elevator began to descend.
“I talked Paul Lynx into letting Chance in secretly to see Felina. Paul owes me a couple of favors,” Sami explained, “He’s the one who sent someone to tell you to wait.”
“He must owe you big time,” Chance observed.
“That, and he admires Felina, and thinks she’s getting framed,” Sami replied.
“Yeah, but now he knows about Chance and Felina,” Jake pointed out.
“No, he doesn’t,” Sami removed her bypass key as the elevator came to a stop, “I didn’t give him any names, and he said he didn’t want to know anyway,” As the doors opened, she stepped out into the hallway, Jake and Chance once again right behind her.
They approached the sign-in desk, which was now empty. Sami sat in the chair behind the desk and looked up at Chance, “You’ve got twenty minutes. That’s the best I could do.”
“Thanks. Now I owe you big time,” Chance told her, reaching for the access door. Sami buzzed him through, and he quickly entered the cell block.
When they were alone, Jake, standing in front of the desk, looked quizzically at Sami, “Why?”
“Because Chance needs to see her, in spite of your careful nature,” came her response, “And I’m sure Felina needs to see him.”
“You’re a good friend.”
“Report!” Turmoil snapped from the observation platform above the hanger. The she-kats below scrambled to look busy as the wing commander approached the platform.
“All is ready, Turmoil,” the wing commander reported crisply.
“Very good,” Turmoil surveyed the hanger with pride, “I expect things to go better this time. Have all pilots ready for an assault run by ten o’clock tomorrow. I just found out from my associate that Lieutenant Feral will be on her way to her preliminary hearing at that time. We need to make it look like she ordered the attack as an escape plot.”
“Understood,” the wing commander saluted, then returned to her duties.
Turmoil stood for a moment, still surveying the hanger, mulling over her plans for the morning. She hoped The SWAT Kats would show up, so she could pay T-Bone back for his treachery. Scowling, she whirled on her heel and left the observation platform.
Felina stood in the rear of her cell, her back to the bars she had no wish to see. She was beginning to chafe under confinement, but found pacing a waste of time. The clanking of the cell block door caught her attention, but she figured it was just the guard coming to take away her untouched food tray. She heard footsteps approach, but didn’t turn around.
“Felina,” Chance called softly.
At the sound of his voice, Felina spun around, her eyes wide. She bolted to the door of her cell, reaching through the bars to grasp his paws. “Chance? How did you get in here?”
“Sami called in a favor,” Chance clasped her paws gently in his, “You’re in quite a mess, Beautiful. How’re you doing?”
“Better now that you’re here,” she told him, relishing the feel of his paws on hers, and the sound of his voice.
“What the hell is Feral doing?”
“I don’t think he has a choice. Someone is obviously trying to frame me, and probably Deputy Mayor Briggs as well. They managed to plant some pretty damaging evidence against me. Until the real crook is caught….,” Felina trailed off.
“You’re stuck in here,” Chance finished for her, “And Sami told us your preliminary hearing is tomorrow morning.”
“Not to mention the Promotions Board meeting earlier today,” Felina sighed, “I doubt they were too impressed by my arrest. Why does it seem everything is slipping through my fingers, and I’m powerless to stop it?”
“My main priority is getting you out of here…..right now.”
“You mean, escape?”
Chance nodded, squeezing her paws.
“I can’t, Chance.”
“Why not? We all know you’re not guilty.”
“I took an oath to uphold the law, Chance,” Felina explained gently, “I’m not about to break it just because it suits my purposes, and yours.”
“So, you won’t escape, and you didn’t tell your uncle you were with me at the time of the robbery,” Chance returned, “So, where does that leave you, Felina? In a cell in Alkat-Traz next to Konclyn?”
“Chance, please! I promise I’ll use my alibi during the hearing tomorrow. You and Jake had better be ready to testify, though. I just want to stay here overnight and give the real criminals an opportunity to screw up, and my uncle the opportunity to catch them,” Felina smiled hesitantly, “This isn’t exactly the way I wanted to tell the world, not to mention my uncle, about us. Sorry.”
“Sorry, hell,” Chance growled, “If you don’t speak up tomorrow, I will.”
“This isn’t exactly easy for me either,” Felina informed him, then changed the subject, “Any leads yet?”
The two, not sure what else to say, stood looking at each other until the watch on Chance’s wrist chimed.
“Gotta go,” he told her, leaning close to the bars. He kissed her as long as he dared, the slowly pulled back, “I love you, Beautiful.”
“I love you too, Hotshot.”
Chance quickly turned to go, knowing if he didn’t leave immediately, he would break down the cell door and take her with him by force. For her part, Felina returned to the far wall of her cell, not wanting to watch Chance leave her there alone, but knowing there was no other choice in the matter. She hoped her uncle and the others figured this out soon, before she completely cracked.
When Chance exited the cell block, he found Sami and Jake waiting up the hall by the open elevator.
“C’mon,” Sami motioned at him, “Paul will be back any second.”
Chance hurried onto the elevator, and Sami re-inserted her pass key, pressing the button for the lobby.
“How’d it go?” Jake asked Chance.
“She’s pretty high strung,” Chance answered, “It’s getting to her, being locked up and unable to do anything to prove her innocence.”
“Is she going to tell the court she was with you two?” Sami wanted to know.
“She says she will,” Chance didn’t sound convinced.
“Listen, Sami wants to go over to the museum and check the area out again after dinner. Why don’t we all grab a pizza together?” Jake didn’t want Chance brooding all alone at the Salvage Yard.
“No, thanks. You two go ahead,” Chance said, as the elevator doors opened, “I got something to do. Give me the keys to the truck, since Sami can take you home,” he held out his paw as Jake gave him the keys. With that, the big kat exited the car and walked out the front door of the building.
“Think he’ll be all right?” Sami asked as she and Jake stepped into the lobby.
“I hope so. Mind if I come with you to the museum after we have dinner?”
“OK with me.”
Walking the streets of Megakat City as the sun set, Chance was feeling very alone. He jammed his paws into his pockets with a sigh, and turned down Market Street. He was pretty sure he knew where to go, but needed to kill a little time before heading over there. Nothing like a long walk to drive you crazy, Chance thought sourly to himself.
Jake rushed to keep up with Sami. After grabbing a quick pizza, they were heading over to the Natural History Museum.
“What do you think we’ll find?” Jake panted, finally coming alongside the blonde.
“Dunno,” she answered, “But, hopefully, we’ll find something to clear Felina.”
Feral sat back and watched the shadows creep across his desk. He had sent Janine back out to her desk, and told her not to disturb him until their dinner arrived. He then had technicians set up a portable video analyzer in his office, and had been reviewing the tape of the museum robbery over and over. With a sigh, he reached over and cued up the tape once again, hoping to find something he had missed before.
Chance carefully approached the construction site, keeping an eye out for falling objects. Entering the main area, he made his way up to the large trailer off to his left. Smiling sadly at the sign on the door of the trailer that read Furlong & Son Construction’, he recalled that he, not his brother, was supposed to have been the son the sign referred to. Mounting the steps, Chance lifted a paw and knocked loudly at the door.
“Office is closed,” came a voice from inside the trailer.
“Got time for a reprobate?” Chance called back.
After a moment, the door jerked open, and Tony motioned his elder brother inside. Closing the door behind them, Tony turned a puzzled face to Chance, “Taking a big risk, aren’t you? What if Dad had been here?”
“Why do you think I knocked?” Chance settled into one of the three chairs in the cramped office.
“Same old Chance,” Tony, shaking his head, sat in another chair, “What prompted this visit? Must be pretty important.”
“It is. You keep up with current events, Tony?”
“I try. I did watch the news at lunch today.”
“Did you see the story about Felina Feral?”
“Yeah, why? As I recall, kats named Feral aren’t too high on your list,” Tony was wondering where this conversation was heading.
“Well, Felina is top of the list. She’s going to be your sister-in- law.”
Tony took a moment to let that little piece of news sink in, “I see. That’s why Jake wouldn’t tell me her name. Why are you bringing this up now, of all times?”
“Because she’s having her preliminary hearing tomorrow, and I’m her alibi,” Chance explained, “I wanted someone in the family to know. Dad’ll undoubtedly have another fit at this.”
Tony began to chuckle, “You and a Feral? I would never have believed it unless you told me yourself.”
“Believe it. She means the world to me, and I can’t stand her being wrongly accused and in jail like this.”
“So,” Tony sobered, “She’s innocent?”
“Of course. Like I said, I’m her alibi – her honest alibi.”
Tony studied his brother for a minute, “You really love her, don’t you?”
Chance met Tony’s eye, “More that anything, more than I ever thought possible.”
The two brothers sat in silence for a bit, then Tony finally spoke, “I’m glad you found someone.”
“When do Mom and I get to meet her?”
“When all this mess is sorted out,” Chance rose to his feet and started for the door, “I better get back to the garage,” he reached for the door knob.
“Yeah?” he looked back at Tony.
“Thanks, little brother,” Chance said as he left.
Tony sat for a long while, pondering his older brother. He hoped Chance wasn’t making a mistake with this Feral she-kat, but he knew it was useless to argue with him. Perhaps, Tony mused, Chance had finally found what he had always seemed to be searching for.
“Well, this is the place we were storing the display in,” Abi Sinian said as she led Jake and Sami through the dark hallway and into a large room, “Let me get the lights.”
Jake and Sami waited in the doorway until Abi switched on the lights. They had been lucky Abi had agreed to stay late tonight. As the lights came on, the two blinked in the sudden glare. Their eyes adjusting to the light, they joined Abi by the canceled display.
“So, this is where the coins were stolen from?” Sami asked, leaning over to examine the empty chest.
“Yes. As you can see, the lock has been forced,” Abi pointed to the twisted metal padlock lying on the floor nearby.
“Is this where the evidence against Lieutenant Feral and Ms. Briggs was found?” Jake put in, scanning the room for signs of forced entry.
“Most of it,” Abi told him, “I did find a button from an Enforcer uniform in the display hall as well.”
“We’ll check that out after we’re done in here,” Sami responded, still engrossed in the trunk.
“In that case, I think I’ll return to my office. I need to call Roy and tell him not to wait up for me. Let me know when you are ready to see the display hall,” Abi left them to make her call and finish up some paperwork.
Sami was so involved in examining the trunk and the display she didn’t even notice Abi leave. She also failed to note that Jake had slipped from the room as well.
Chance wearily climbed out of the tow truck and entered the garage. He had driven around for a while, hoping Jake and Sami would be back by now, but the place was still dark. He trudged up the stairs to the apartment and walked into the living room without bothering to turn on the lights. He flopped down on the couch, feeling the beginnings of a headache at his temples. As he lay there fighting off the headache, different images began to dance in front of his eyes – Felina smiling, flying a helicopter, the way she looked in the morning just before she woke up – Finally, Chance couldn’t take any more. Getting up off the couch, he switched on the lights and wandered out to the kitchen for some dinner, even though he was far from hungry.
Commander Feral turned off the tape analyzer with an angry motion. He still hadn’t found anything to clear his niece, and his eyes burned with fatigue and strain. Noting the time, Feral realized it was high time he went home and got some sleep, especially since he was planning to join Felina’s escort to the court house tomorrow morning. Standing up, Feral stretched and reached for his coat. He walked to the door of his office, slipping his arms into the sleeves and pulling on the coat. With one last look around, Feral flipped off the lights and closed the door. After passing by Janine’s desk, glad he had sent her home earlier, he entered the hall and walked to the elevator, pressing the call button. Once on the elevator, however, instead of pressing the button for the garage level, Feral chose the one for the prison level.
Sami was finally done examining the chest and the display, and was about to ask Jake his opinion, when she realized she was alone in the room. Going back out into the hall, she called for Jake, only to find Dr. Sinian, who had just returned to the area from her office.
“Is there a problem?” Abi wondered.
“Well, not exactly. Jake’s wandered off, but I’m sure he’s around here somewhere.”
“Hmmmmm,” Abi was slightly annoyed at the thought of some kat wandering around her museum, but he seemed like an OK sort, “I’m sure he hasn’t gone far. Let me show you where I found the button, and then we can use the intercom to locate your friend.”
Abi led Sami down to the display area, where the two she-kats were surprised to find Jake standing just inside the doorway.
“What are you doing here?” Sami demanded as she entered the room.
“Um,” Jake turned to face her, “Just looking for you and Dr. Sinian.”
Sami gave Jake a sharp look, then moved deeper into the room while Abi turned on a few more lights.
“Find anything interesting, Mr. Clawson?” Abi inquired as she approached Jake.
“Nope, other than the castle exhibit,” Jake replied, “My sister brought her class in to see it last week, and they really enjoyed it.”
“Oh, you’re Evette’s brother,” Abi smiled warmly, “She’s such a good teacher.”
Jake smiled back, pleased to hear nice things about his little sister.
“Where did you find the button, Dr. Sinian?” Sami interrupted, coming over to them.
“Over here. Let me show you,” Abi led Sami across the room, leaving Jake to his own devices.
Jake watched the other two kats for a few minutes, then glanced around the room. He was anxious to leave, but knew he had to wait for Sami to finish, or she would get suspicious.
“Well, that’s about all I need for now,” Jake heard Sami say. He looked around to see the two walking back towards him, “I’m going to go back to Enforcer Headquarters and compare my notes to the file,” She looked up as the reached Jake, “Coming with me?”
“Uh, no,” Jake replied, “I don’t think I want to go back to Enforcer Headquarters unless it’s absolutely necessary for me to be there.”
Sami nodded, “OK,” she faced Abi once again, “Thanks for your help.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Abi responded, “I hope everything works out for your friend.”
“Good night,” Jake and Sami said together as they left the room. They continued out of the museum in silence, the guard opening the front door for them and locking it behind them. Jake insisted on walking Sami back to Enforcer Headquarters, even though she couldn’t give him a ride home due to a garage curfew recently imposed by Commander Feral.
“Will you be all right?” Jake asked as they stood near the stairs at the front of Enforcer Headquarters.
“Yeah, but I probably won’t get much sleep tonight,” Sami responded, withdrawing something from her pocket and holding it out toward him, “Here, Jake, take this. It should pay for a cab to get you home.”
“Sami, I can’t take your money.”
“Look, Jake, I’m mad at myself that I forgot about that stupid curfew. Besides, it’s not like I have to pay rent anymore. I can spare it, and your taking a cab home will keep me from worrying about you as well as Felina. Please take it.”
Jake smiled and kissed her lightly, not caring who saw, and took the money she held out. Sami smiled back at him, then dashed up the steps and into the building. Jake watched her go, then walked to the curb, seeing a cab parked up the street. Waving to the cabby, Jake impatiently waited for the vehicle to reach him. He was in a hurry, and had news for Chance.
Feral got off the elevator and approached the sign-in desk for the jail. Nodding to the Enforcer on duty, he used his master key to enter the cell block. The kat at the sign-in desk started to speak, then thought better of it. If Commander Feral wanted to know about the visitor in there, he would have checked the guest log, the guard reasoned.
Feral walked slowly up the corridor towards Felina’s cell. He was dreading the sight of her behind bars, but knew he had to talk to her. Approaching her cell, Feral could see her curled up on the bunk, her little white feet just peeking out from under the blanket.
“Hello, Uncle,” a soft voice came from behind.
Feral spun to find Phineas leaning against the cell door opposite Felina’s. He must have missed seeing Phineas in the dim light, “What are you doing here?” Feral asked his nephew.
“Same as you, I’d imagine,” Phineas came to stand beside his uncle, and both of them looked at Felina, “How did this happen?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ve been trying for hours to find a way to clear her.”
“Any luck at all?”
Feral shook his head sadly, “She looks so…….”
“Did she tell you anything?” Feral turned to Phineas hopefully, “Anything at all?”
“She mentioned something about an alibi, but I couldn’t get any details out of her. She seemed tired and upset, so I suggested she rest a while. She went to sleep just a little bit ago.”
“So, she does have an alibi?”
“Yeah, but she said you won’t like it,” Phineas finally met his uncle’s eye, “She said she hadn’t told you about it yet because she was hoping you’d solve the case.”
Feral swallowed hard. He had let Felina down, as well as himself, “Have your parents been here?”
Phineas rolled his eyes, “Are you serious, Uncle? If they could, they’d deny even knowing Felina. Everyone is supposed to meet for a so- called strategy session later tonight.”
“Are you going?”
“I told them what they could do with their strategy meeting. There’s no way I want any part of that. I’d suggest, Uncle, unless you really want to be tempted into katiside, you avoid it as well,” Phineas wondered if he had been right to even tell his uncle about that idiotic meeting, but better he find out from Phineas than some other way.
Feral returned his gaze to Felina, “Perhaps you’re right. I wouldn’t want Felina to find out I had anything to do with something like that,” Feral leaned on the bars of Felina’s cell, “If only there was something I could do to get her out of this.”
“Drop the charges?”
“She’d live under a cloud the rest of her life,” Feral answered, shaking his head, “And her career would be in shreds. I have to clear her somehow.”
Phineas realized the pressure his Uncle Ulysses was under, and stepped forward, laying a paw on the big kat’s shoulder, “I know how you feel, Uncle,” Phineas said softly, “She loves you just as much as you love her.”
Feral didn’t reply to Phineas’ words, but the young kat knew how remote his uncle could be. With a last squeeze of his uncle’s shoulder, Phineas turned and left the cell block, confident his sister was going to be released soon.
Jake crept up the stairs to the roof. When he had gotten home, he had found the remains of Chance’s partially eaten dinner in the sink, but there had been no sign of Chance. While he had been sitting at the kitchen table mulling things over, however, Jake became aware of someone pacing above his head. Putting two and two together, he headed for the roof. Reaching the top of the stairs, Jake opened the door and stepped out onto the top of the garage. Sure enough, there was Chance. He went over to where Chance sat in a lawn chair, noticing that his partner seemed a million miles away. Jake quietly sat in another lawn chair nearby.
“Hey, Jake,” Chance said after a few moments.
“Hey, Chance,” Jake returned.
“So, did you and Sami find anything?”
“Sami and I, no. Me, yes.”
Chance now gave Jake his full attention, “What did you find?”
“Well, while Sami examined the chest the coins were stolen from, I took a little trip to the roof.”
“Someone had landed an airship up there recently. Also, I found traces of a forced entrance into the air ducts. I followed the trail, and iy led me to the room where Dr. Sinian found one of Felina’s buttons.”
“Did you tell Sami?”
“Nope,” Jake smiled, “Not to say she didn’t wonder how I got into that room ahead of her.”
“Any idea who it was that framed Felina and Callie?” Chance seemed a bit more animated now that they were making some progress.
“I thought we might try and figure that one out together,” Jake told him, “Let’s go through the list of likely suspects. What about Viper?”
“Nope, no gross plants involved. How about Dark Kat?”
“I didn’t see any creeplings, nor any sign of a bomb,” Jake observed, “He’s still a possibility, but I doubt it. Mac and Molly?”
“Naw. Too complicated for them,” Chance replied, “How about Ringtail? After all, he was after Callie before.”
“I don’t think so,” Jake carefully broached the next subject, “Do you think this might be an attempt by Konclyn to destroy Felina?”
“I thought of that,” Chance answered, “But why involve Callie? And why go to all this trouble when it would be simpler just to hire a hitkat?”
“You’re probably right. Who does that leave? Mutilor?”
“Him and Turmoil,” Chance said casually. As his comment hung in the air, both tom-kats grew still.
“It fits, Chance,” Jake whispered, as if afraid to speak too loudly.
“I know, Jake, but she’s in Alkat-Traz.”
“Are you sure?”
“If it is Turmoil,” Chance went on, “What do you think she’ll try next?”
“My guess would be she’ll try something while Felina’s being taken to her preliminary hearing,” Jake mused, “That would make Felina look even more guilty.”
“Then I’d suggest we get the Turbokat ready to rock and roll, bud,” Chance got out of his chair and headed for the stairs. Jake, hard on his heels, was happy to see his partner’s smile back.
Felina rolled over on her bunk, staring up at the ceiling. She had no idea how long she had been asleep, and was disappointed Phineas had left.
“About time you woke up,” a low voice came out of the semi- darkness.
Felina sat up quickly. She thought she recognized the voice, but couldn’t quite believe he would be here, “What do you want?”
“To make a deal with you,” David Steel said as he came over to the door of her cell, “I figured, after you cooled your heels in here for a while, you might be more receptive to my offer.”
Felina rose slowly off her bunk, “What the hell are you talking about?” She faced Steel, her body tensed.
“It’s very simple, really,” Steel leaned on the bars, “All you have to do is claim you were with me the night of the robbery. I’ll corroborate your story.”
“In exchange for?” Felina’s eyebrow arched.
“You quit The Enforcers and marry me,” Steel replied, “You’ve already been passed over for promotion. They made the announcement earlier today,” he visibly puffed himself up, “I’ve been returned to Lieutenant Commander.”
“Whether or not I got that promotion, I’d never agree to your deal, you creep. I don’t need you or your alibi, and I’m not about to compromise myself for you,” her voice lowered to a growl, “Now, get out.”
“You might rethink your position after your hearing tomorrow,” Steel commented lightly, moving away from the bars, “And after your family denounces you. I heard from my sister they had a big meeting about you earlier this evening. However,” he threw over his shoulder as he walked off down the corridor, “My offer still stands when you change your mind. You know where to find me,” the door clanged shut behind him.
Felina still stood in the middle of her cell, trying to digest all the tidbits of information Steel had thrown at her. She decided not to worry about either the promotion board or her family at the moment. The thing that worried her was that Steel felt brave enough to make such an offer. Her uncle and Chance must not have come up with anything. Releasing the tension in her body, Felina flopped back down on her bunk, waiting for the morning to come.
As the rosy fingers of dawn stretched over the horizon, Commander Feral rolled out of bed with a sigh. He headed for the bathroom, since it was apparent he would have to make do with the small amount of sleep he had been able to snatch. After a quick shower and shave, Feral moved toward the kitchen to make some coffee, when a knock at the door made him change course. This better not be the media, Feral thought as he unlocked the door and jerked it open. Instead of Ann Gora, he found Janine Hayes standing there with a large bag of groceries in her arms. A cab was driving away from the curb in front of the house.
“Janine?” Feral became aware that all he was wearing was his bathrobe, which he drew tighter around himself, “What are you doing here?”
“I thought you might need some breakfast, Commander,” Janine explained, “May I come in?”
“Of course,” Feral stepped back, allowing her to enter. He closed and locked the door, then turned to her, “What made you decide to stop by? And why in a cab?”
“I was worried about you, and my car wouldn’t start this morning,” she informed him, “Now, where’s the kitchen?”
Feral pointed off to the left, watching as Janine made her way through his house. As she disappeared around the corner, Feral went back to his bedroom to get dressed.
Jake’s eyes slowly opened to the sound of Chance knocking on his bedroom door.
“C’mon, buddy, let’s go!” Chance shouted.
“I’m coming,” Jake called. He sprang out of bed and jumped into his coveralls, ignoring the shoes at the end of the bed. Emerging from his bedroom, Jake followed his nose to the kitchen, where Chance had just made a fresh pot of coffee. Getting a cup, Jake walked over to Chance, who was studying a map spread out on the table of the city and the surrounding area.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three possible directions Turmoil could strike from,” Chance told him, “Either here, from the north, or here, from the west. The south is a slight possibility.”
“We still don’t know it’s Turmoil,” Jake pointed out as he leaned down to take a closer look at the map.
“C’mon, Jake. You said yourself it fits.”
“Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” Jake pointed at the map, “I think north is our best bet.”
“Right, we gotta stop her.”
“No, wait,” Jake straightened up and turned to his partner, “We have to bring her down, but in front of Feral. Otherwise, we may never be able to prove Felina’s innocence.”
Chance nodded, “I see your point. Do you think we should tell Feral what’s going on, so he’ll be there?”
“Not yet. He may jump the gun and scare Turmoil off.”
“Good point,” Chance drained his coffee cup, “Let’s hit it!”
Placing his cup on the table, Chance headed for the access hatch to the hanger. After downing his coffee in one gulp, Jake followed.
Felina opened her eyes, hoping to find herself in her own bed. No such luck, she thought to herself, as the bars of her cell came into focus. She sat up, idly wondering what time it was. As if on cue, the door to the cell block clanged open, and Harry Snow came down the corridor.
“Morning, Snow,” Felina greeted him warily.
Snow stood in front of her cell, “You look like hell, Lieutenant.”
“Sorry, but it’s the truth. Here,” Felina noticed the tray in his right paw, “I brought your breakfast with me,” he slid the tray through a slot in the cell door.
“Um, thanks, I guess,” Felina took the tray and set it down on her bunk. She nibbled on a piece of toast, but couldn’t bring herself to contemplate the eggs, which were distinctly green in hue.
“We’re taking to the court house in about an hour,” Snow informed her, “We need to get there a little before your hearing is scheduled.”
“We?” Felina, having finished the toast, now concentrated on her cup of coffee.
“Me and Paul Lynx are your escort.”
Felina stared at him, “But you’re a foot patrol kat, and Paul’s a…..”
“Pencil pusher?” Snow interrupted, amused, “True, but Ms. Briggs wanted to make sure someone she could trust not to take out their frustrations on you escorted you to court. She wanted to include Sami Higgins as well, but trainee officers are ineligible for escort duty.”
“Ms. Briggs intervened on my behalf? Why?”
“Callie didn’t like to see the other Enforcers pushing you around,” Snow explained, “She’s a pretty fair-minded she-kat. She said anyone with such a distinguished record deserved better treatment.”
“Sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact my uncle’s the Commander?” Felina finished her coffee with a gulp, then leaned over and pulled her boots on over her cold feet.
“Positive. Now,” Snow motioned her closer, and she complied, puzzled, “I slipped a comb under the plate on your tray. Be careful, you’re not supposed to have anything like that in here. I thought you might like to straighten up some,” he whispered.
Felina nodded, then returned to her bunk. Sliding the plate aside, she found not only the comb, but a small bar of soap as well. She moved quickly to the sink, scrubbed her face, and combed the snarls out of her hair. The crumpled uniform couldn’t be helped, but she straightened it as best she could. Leaving the soap on the sink, she slipped the comb back under the plate, picked up the tray, and gave it back to Snow through the slot in the door.
“Much better,” Snow grinned as he took the tray.
“I’m grateful to you, and to Ms. Briggs,” Felina said in a low voice, her eyes cast downward.
Snow realized how hard all this had been on Lieutenant Feral, and wished there was more he could do for her, “Don’t mention it. Lynx and I’ll be back in about an hour.”
Felina raised her eyes to watch his retreating back, still amazed that the Deputy Mayor had intervened on her behalf.
Commander Feral and Janine rode to Enforcer Headquarters in silence. After he had gotten dressed, and they had eaten breakfast, Janine had suggested they go in early, as not to miss Felina’s trip to court. Feral marveled at the way Janine could read him so well. They hadn’t said much over breakfast either, Janine sensing his need for quiet time.
For her part, Janine wondered how long Commander Feral would remain calm. She knew how much all this business with Felina was gnawing at him, and figured his silence at breakfast was some sort of quiet before the storm. She wished he would let her do more for him, but realized that, most of the time, he was used to doing things for himself.
“Anything on the scanner, Razor?” T-Bone asked as he banked the jet and pointed the nose northward.
“No, I don’t….wait, correct course to heading eight-one-six-niner- niner. I think I’ve got something,” Razor peered into his radar scope.
“You got it,” T-Bone made the course correction, “What do you see?”
“A large airship, and a squadron of fighters.”
“Turmoil’s calling card.”
“Exactly. I wonder how she escaped from Alkat-Traz?” Razor mused.
“No time to wonder about that now,” T-Bone flipped some switches on the control console, activating the Speed of Heat engines, “In a few seconds, you’ll be able to ask her face to face.”
Both tom-kats were pressed back into their seats as the engines kicked in, taking them northward.
Felina stiffened as the cell block door opened. She turned as Lynx and Snow came down the corridor to her cell. Lynx walked up to the bars and stuck a key in the lock on the cell door. The door swung open, and the two tom-kats entered the cell.
“Sorry, Lieutenant Feral, but I’m going to have to ask you to put your paws behind your back,” Snow said gently.
Felina complied with his request, facing the door of her cell. As the cuffs were snapped on, however, Felina’s attention was diverted to a figure in the corridor. Her eyes widened as the figure drew near.
“You really didn’t think I’d let them take you without me, did you?” Feral asked his niece in a soft voice, “Ms. Briggs isn’t the only one concerned about your welfare.”
Snow and Lynx stood on either side of Felina, and Feral knew he couldn’t put off the inevitable, “Ready?” Feral looked at the two tom-kats.
“Yes, Sir,” they replied in unison.
“Let’s go,” with Feral leading the way, the three escorted Felina out of the cell block, into the elevator, and down to the garage, to the waiting Enforcer van. Felina and Feral sat in the back, with Lynx and Snow up front in the cab of the van. As the van made it’s way to the courthouse, the photographers outside tried to get some pictures of the accused, but the darkened windows in the back made that impossible. Inside the vehicle, meanwhile, Feral tried to comfort his niece, but she remained silent, preparing herself for the ordeal ahead.
“Are you ready to party, Razor?” T-Bone growled as the jet neared the airship.
“Let’s hit it!”
As Turmoil’s fighter pilots realized who it was in front of them, they peeled off from the mother ship and headed towards the Turbokat.
Inside the airship, Turmoil leaped out of her command chair as the fighters moved out of position. She marched over to the main control console, towering over the techs seated there, “What’s going on?” she demanded.
“It’s the Turbokat,” a bridge officer told her. Turmoil moved to the front viewscreen.
“Is the new vertigo beam ready yet?” Turmoil snapped. She had planned on taking revenge on T-Bone, but not quite so soon.
“Then hurry it up!” her eyes now blazed as the Turbokat came up fast, “We are so close to victory. I can’t be defeated now!”
“Turmoil, there’s no way the new vertigo beam can be ready in the next few minutes,” a tech on her right said. That piece of news only served to infuriate Turmoil, and she whirled and slapped the tech viciously across the face.
“Tell the fighters the Turbokat must be brought down at all costs. We will continue on with the mission.”
“Understood, Turmoil,” the bridge officer scurried to do as ordered.
Turmoil turned back to the front viewscreen in time to see two of her fighters taken down by Razor’s buzzsaw missiles. If looks could kill, the Turbokat would have burst into flames at that moment.
“I think they’ve noticed us, Razor,” T-Bone took evasive maneuvers as Razor launched more missiles.
“Good. I need some target practice,” Razor peered into his targeting scope, “Now, let’s lead them in the direction of the court house.”
“Towards the court house?”
“Yep. Feral will never take out word for this, even to save his niece,” Razor lined up another fighter in his sights, “We gotta take the evidence to him, remember?”
“That might not be too hard. The main airship is already heading in that direction,” T-Bone informed his partner. He turned the jet as Razor fired a slicer missile, taking out the lead fighter.
Snow and Lynx carefully drove up to the front of the court house, glad the press was being held at bay across the street by other Enforcers Snow spotted Ann Gora and her camerakat, Johnny, in front of the crowd of reporters, and he picked up a jacket from beside him on the seat. Lynx parked the van in its designated space, and then turned to Snow.
“Let’s get this over with,” Snow muttered, opening his door. The two tom-kats exited the van and walked to the back of the vehicle. Snow placed his key in the door and unlocked it. Opening the van doors a small bit, Snow stuck his head in to find the Commander and Lieutenant Feral sitting in an anxious silence. They turned to look at him in unison.
“It’s a bit of a madhouse out here,” Snow informed them, “I thought you might want something to cover your face with, Lieutenant,” he held out the jacket.
“That won’t be necessary,” Felina said in a steady voice, “I have nothing to hide, or to hide from.”
Feral took the jacket from Snow, laying it down on the bench next to himself, then rose from his seat, “We had better go in.”
Felina also rose, and Lynx and Snow opened the back doors of the van all the way. As Felina stepped out, she was temporarily blinded by the wave of flashbulbs that exploded from the media across the street, as well as the bright light from Johnny’s camera. Feral’s appearance caused a similar display, and the reporters shouted questions from across the street, straining against the Enforcers holding them back.
“Let’s get inside,” Feral growled, motioning for the other three to move towards the court house. They were just turning in that direction when an explosion from above caught their attention.
“Look! The SWAT Kats!” Ann Gora cried, pointing skyward.
All eyes turned upward, towards Megakat Bay where, indeed, the Turbokat could be seen. Right behind the jet came eight fighters, the squadron’s number cut by Razor’s skill. Feral instantly jerked his radio off his belt and brought it to his mouth, “This is Feral. I want a jet squadron over Megakat Bay now!” he ordered.
“Uncle, those fighters look familiar,” Felina observed. Before Feral could answer her, his radio crackled to life.
“Commander Feral,” Razor’s voice came over the radio, “I think it would be a good idea if you were to check on whether or not Turmoil is still in her cell on Alkat-Traz.”
“I don’t take orders from you, SWAT Kat,” Feral snapped. His attention was diverted when the large airship behind the fighter squadron came into view.
“Suit yourself,” came Razor’s response as he fired a matchhead missile, which took out two more fighters.
Feral changed the channel on his radio and ordered a check on Turmoil’s cell, and instructed that the she-kat in the cell be checked to be sure she was really Turmoil. In a few moments, a message came back that there was an imposter in Turmoil’s cell. Feral looked again at the sky as his Enforcer squadron arrived.
Turmoil seethed with rage. Her plans were in ruins, her ship exposed, and T-Bone was flying rings around her pilots. He would pay for this, she vowed, her eyes on the air battle in front of her ship.
“Turmoil, a squadron of Enforcer jets is approaching,” a bridge tech yelped.
“Have our fighters deal with them,” Turmoil’s face darkened, “I will deal with the Turbokat.”
“Razor, they’re breaking off,” T-Bone watched as the remaining six fighters moved off on either side of the jet.
“Probably going after the Enforcers,” Razor responded, “We’d better….. Uh, buddy, I think we’ve got a bigger problem now.”
“Huh?” T-Bone scanned the skies, “Holy kats!! Turmoil must be crazy,” through the canopy, he could see the large airship bearing down on them, “Let’s get out of here, now!”
Razor braced himself as the jet swooped into a barrel roll and then a power climb, and just managed to remain conscious. As the jet leveled out, he shook his head a bit to clear his vision.
“You OK, buddy?” T-Bone asked.
“I think so,” Razor returned his eyes to his targeting scope, “See how close you can get us to Turmoil. I’ve been saving something special just for her.”
“Closer? Crud, first we go one way, then the other. OK, you got it,” T-Bone brought the jet around and pointed it down at Turmoil’s airship.
On the ground, Feral watched as his fighters took on Turmoil’s squadron. Even though they outnumbered the enemy, his Enforcers were not doing too well. Not surprising, Feral thought, since his best pilot was standing next to him in cuffs. With a sigh, he brought his radio up to his mouth once again, “Send in more jets!”
“What are you waiting for, Razor?” T-Bone demanded as the jet shook, taking a partial hit. He had managed to dodge most of Turmoil’s shots, but the closer they got to the airship, the more difficult that was to do.
“All I need is one clear shot at the engines,” Razor’s eyes were glued to his scope, “Steady……steady…..there!” he punched a button on his console, and a very special missile headed Turmoil’s way. She ordered evasive maneuvers, but it was too late. Razor’s new missile slammed into the engines of the airship, flooding them with sand.
“Bingo!” Razor cried as Turmoil’s engines sputtered out, “My new Sand Missile worked perfectly!”
“Way to go, buddy,” T-Bone congratulated him, “Now, we better make sure Turmoil doesn’t get away.”
T-Bone flew the jet around the rapidly descending airship, and found an escape pod fleeing the underside. Deftly, Razor deployed two grappling cables, latching onto the escape pod and stopping Turmoil’s flight.
“No!” Turmoil’s voice came over the radio, “T-Bone, how can you do this to me, of all kats?”
“You did it to yourself, Turmoil,” came T-Bone’s cold answer.
Razor manipulated the controls on the grappling cables, throwing Turmoil’s flimsy craft back and forth until it began to show stress fractures. T-Bone maneuvered the jet over to the front of the court house and, when he changed to hover mode, Razor released the cables, letting the escape pod fall to the ground.
The stress fractures gave way upon impact, and the craft came apart to reveal not only Turmoil, but a box of gold coins as well. It didn’t take anyone more than a moment to realize they were the coins missing from the museum. Without a word, Feral removed the cuffs from Felina and stepped over to the dazed Turmoil, snapping the cuffs on her instead.
“Take her away,” Feral growled. Snow and Lynx hurried to comply.
“So close,” Felina whispered, as Turmoil was taken into the court house. Dimly, she heard her uncle give orders to pursue Turmoil’s fighters, and to contact Dr. Sinian.
“Felina?” she looked up to find her uncle beside her once again, “Do you need me to take you home?”
Felina straightened up, looking her uncle in the eye, “No, thank you, Sir. I have to retrieve my things from Enforcer Headquarters. Am I free to go now?”
Feral nodded, “I want you to take a couple of days off, Lieutenant. I think your fellow Enforcers need time to reflect on their behavior,” he stepped out of her way.
“Is that an order?”
“If it has to be.”
She sensed she would get nowhere arguing, so Felina, drawing herself up proudly, walked away from the court house in the direction of Enforcer Headquarters. Everyone got out of her way, and even The SWAT Kats seemed frozen, watching the proud figure walk away.
A few of hours later, after returning Turmoil to her cell on Alkat- Traz, Feral returned to his office, thankful the day would soon be over. He had missed lunch, but found a sandwich waiting on his desk. He smiled at Janine’s thoughtfulness, sat behind his desk, and was preparing to devour his lunch when there was a knock at his door. Annoyed, Feral called for whomever it was to come in, setting down his sandwich and leaning back in his chair. He sat back up again, however, when Felina marched into his office. She had replaced her gun and bullet-proof vest, Feral noted, as well as putting on a clean uniform. She came to a stop on the opposite side of his desk.
“Felina, I……,” Feral began, but she held up a paw to stop him.
“I went down to get my stuff from the jail impound, but they told me you had the envelope with my possessions in it,” she said, “May I have my belongings, Commander?”
Feral opened his desk drawer and drew out a large manilla envelope with Felina’s name written on it. He gave it to her, and she peered inside, making sure everything was still there. Satisfied, she tucked the envelope under her arm and raised her eyes to Feral, “Uncle, I appreciate all that you did, and tried to do, for me. I just need to sort out my feelings right now before…….,” she trailed off.
“Take all the time you need, Felina. I’ll still be here.”
“Uncle, I……I love you. Thanks for standing by me when……,” unable to continue, Felina turned on her heel and exited the office at a fast clip, the envelope clutched tightly in her paws.
Feral stared at the office door his niece had just closed behind her, amazement on his face. That was the first time since she was a kitten Felina had told him she loved him. He felt a warmth slide over him he hadn’t felt in a long time. With a slight smile, Feral returned his attention back to his lunch, and the pile in his in basket.
Sami sighed as she climbed the stairs of the garage up to the second floor. It had been one hell of a day, and she felt really drained. She had been tempted to call Jake and cancel their date tonight, but decided she really needed to see a friendly face. Reaching the top of the stairs, Sami found a note on the door. Taking the note down, she squinted in the dim light to read the small print. The note instructed her to come in and go up to the roof. It figured, since that was Jake’s favorite place. Sami folded the note, tucked it into her pocket, then opened the door in front of her.
After closing and locking the front door behind her, Sami scanned the living room for any sign of Chance and/or Felina, but found none. Walking across the dim room, she made her way to the stairwell to the roof. As she climbed the stairs, Sami heard soft music drifting down to her, and saw a rosy glow at the head of the stairs. Emerging from the stairwell, she stopped and stared in wonder. Along with the soft music, there were flowers and candles scattered all over the rooftop, and Jake was sitting in the middle of this enchanted garden on a big, puffy, comfy futon.
“Good evening,” Jake greeted her wide-eyed look with a gentle smile, and patted the space next to him on the futon.
“Good evening,” gulped Sami, as she moved in Jake’s direction. For the first time she noticed the low table sitting in front of the futon. Carefully, so as not to disturb the contents of the table, she settled herself beside Jake.
“Hope you like tuna souffle.”
“Jake, I think you outdid yourself. It’s completely breathtaking up here!” Sami gasped, “The roses and carnations are gorgeous, and the candles make such a beautiful light.”
“I’m glad you like it,” he said, giving her a wine glass, “I figured you needed something extra special tonight.”
“Every night with you is special.”
It was Jake’s turn to be wide-eyed, but Sami just laughed at him and sipped her wine. They turned to the food, and Sami pronounced it utterly delectable. Eating mostly in a comfortable silence, the two presently finished dinner, and Jake removed the table and dishes, placing them in the stairwell to take down later. They had also finished off the wine, and Sami wondered what Jake had in mind next.
“Sami,” Jake began, as he settled down beside her, “There’s something I want to say. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to say it, but there hasn’t been a good time until now.”
“It’s just…..well……,” he stammered for the right words, “I love you, Sami. You are so sweet, and gentle, and……beautiful,” Jake looked deep into her big blue eyes.
“I love you too, Jake. And have for quite a while now,” she answered softly, “I’ve been waiting for you to let me know you felt the same way.”
Jake leaned closer and kissed her, his arms sliding around her waist and drawing her to him. After a moment, Sami’s arms slid around his neck, and she heartily returned his kiss. More than a few kisses later, they reluctantly took a breather.
“Doesn’t this thing fold back flat?”
“Um, yeah, but we don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.”
“I want to.”
Jake reached around the back of the futon and carefully lifted up the catch, and the back fell down flat. The two slowly lay back, and Sami gazed up at the stars for a few moments, until she felt Jake’s paw on her cheek. She turned to smile at him, and he again kissed her.
Chance carefully entered Felina’s apartment, closing and locking the door behind him. There had been no answer to his knock, and he was beginning to think he should have called first, when he saw a shape on the couch in the dim light, “Felina?”
“Yeah,” came her quiet voice. The tone disturbed Chance, and he groped for the lamp on the end table beside the couch. Finding the lamp, he switched it on, and was startled by her appearance. She was wrapped in her bathrobe, wet hair hanging down her back. Felina’s eyes were dull, and she refused to look at him. Chance sat down next to her, careful not to touch her.
“How are you doing, Beautiful?” his eyes searched her face, and he yearned to take her into his arms.
“I can’t seem to wash enough,” Felina mumbled, “I’ve taken at least three showers, but I still smell like that damn jail.”
Chance’s eyes fell onto the paw holding her robe closed, “Felina, where is your engagement bracelet?”
She nodded toward the coffee table in front of them, “I didn’t bother to put it back on. I figured it would be easier for you to take it bach that way.”
“What if I don’t want it back?”
“Did I tell you they passed me over for promotion? That little weasel Steel was returned to Lieutenant Commander, but I’m still a damn Lieutenant.”
“You’re still the she-kat I love.”
“My whole family, except Uncle Ulysses and Phineas, had some big meeting about me last night. I’m sure they decided I’m not worthy to be a Feral, or something like that.”
“Do you know their opinion doesn’t matter to me?”
Felina swallowed hard, and finally looked at Chance, “If you want to leave, I’ll understand.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Beautiful, unless you want me to,” Chance reached out and picked up the bracelet from the coffee table, “Felina, I love you. I want you for my wife. Please don’t push me away,” he held out the bracelet to her.
“You’re sure?” she looked at him hesitantly. Chance nodded, and she tentatively took the bracelet from him, returning it to her right wrist.
Chance exhaled loudly, “For a minute there, I thought I’d lost you.”
“Thank you for catching Turmoil today,” Felina murmured. Chance wasn’t going to let her change the subject so easily.
“Felina, why did you doubt I’d still want you?”
“I don’t know. I just feel so…..unwanted, unworthy….like a failure….,” she trailed off with a shrug, and rose from the couch.
“Felina,” Chance stood as well, “C’mere,” he held out his arms.
Felina walked to Chance, and felt his arms enfold her. She rested against his chest, closing her eyes. Only a few hours before, she had thought she would never feel his arms around her again, “Chance, I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Felina.”
“Stay with me?”
“As long as you want.”
She pulled back and looked up at him, “Even with me in such a state?” a tear slipped out of the corner of her eye.
“Like I said, as long as you want,” he brushed her tear away, then kissed her gently.
“I love you, Jake. That was wonderful.”
“I love you too, Sami.”
“That was OK for my first time, wasn’t it?”
Jake’s eyes widened as her words sunk in, “First time? Oh, babe, I wish I had known…..”
“Why? It was wonderful. I was just concerned about your enjoyment.”
“Believe me, I enjoyed it.”
The two lay in silence for quite a while, until Sami again spoke,
“Where is Chance?”
“Spending the night with Felina.”
“In that case,” Sami snuggled closer, “Can we make love again?”
“Sure,” Jake looked down at her, “Wanna go inside?”
“No, I prefer it here in our own private garden,” with that, she kissed him gently, pulling him close.
Janine gently knocked on the door to Commander Feral’s office. Hearing him call to her to come in, she opened the door and stepped inside. Pulling the door closed, she found herself in semi-darkness, the only light provided by the glow of the city seeping in through the windows.
“Janine,” Feral’s low voice came from in front of her, off to the left, “Thank you for coming.”
She saw him standing by the left most window along the far wall, “You said it was important,” she walked over to stand by him.
“It is,” Feral replied, “I’ve been going over the events of the past couple of days, and I have come to a rather disturbing conclusion.”
Janine nodded, waiting for him to continue.
“Turmoil had to have help, and that help had to have come from inside The Enforcers.”
Janine’s eyes widened, and she took a few moments to consider what Commander Feral had just told her. His words, as well as the anger and sadness in his voice, troubled her, “You are probably right, Commander. But how can I help you? Wouldn’t your niece be a better choice?”
Feral shook his head, “No, because I believe she might be the ultimate target of the saboteur. I need someone discreet to keep their eyes and ears open,” He looked her in the eye, “Will you help me, Janine?”
“Of course,” Janine responded at once, “You knew I would. And, you’re right, I am a bit more discreet than your niece.”
Feral smiled at her, then did something he had never done before. He took her paw in his, holding it very gently, “Thank you, Janine.”
“You’re most welcome, Ulysses,” she used his first name without thinking, but Feral was pleased to hear her say it.
“May I see you home?”
“I would appreciate that, since I really don’t like cabs.”
Even after making arrangements to leave, the two stayed where they were for quite a while, simply taking in the measure of each other, and liking what they saw.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.