Pay The Piper
By Jade F. Callan
Dedicated to the Dover, NJ, Bowling for Sausage Club. Nice going, guys!
Jake finished the dinner dishes, stacking the last cup in the cabinet with a sigh. He hated doing dishes, and was always glad to be done, but knew if he left the job up to Chance, they would never have clean dishes. Tossing the towel onto the rack to dry, he headed into the living room. Finding his partner scanning the newspaper, Jake sat next to him on the couch, “Anything interesting?”
“Not really,” Chance replied, “Looks like a slow….Hey! It says here there’s a Scardey Kat marathon on tonight!”
“Oh, no!” Jake rolled his eyes.
“Is Sami coming over?” Chance cast the paper aside.
“Didn’t you know? She loves Scardey Kat.”
“She does? Since when?”
“I found out when Felina was in jail, and you left to go talk to her,” Chance explained as he reached for the remote, “We watched it while we were waiting for you to come back.”
“That was about three months ago,” Jake stared at his partner, “Nobody told me!”
“Hey, you just got a girlfriend with great taste,” Chance grinned as he turned on the TV. Soon, he was laughing at his favorite show, while Jake took refuge in the newspaper.
Sami sat in the radio room for what she hoped would be the last time. Her official graduation was tomorrow night, and she would finally be an officer. Until then, however, she was stuck with radio duty. With a sigh, she planted her chin on her upturned paw, keeping an eye on her scope. When her cel phone rang, she eagerly grabbed it, hoping for a distraction, “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Jake,” came a voice over the phone, “How’s your last night on the bottom of the totem pole?”
“Boring,” Sami informed him, “What’s up?”
“I’m watching Chance watch Scardey Kat.”
“Scardey Kat! And I’m missing it? Rats!”
“You mean, Chance was telling the truth about that?”
“Yeah,” Sami smiled at the distress in his voice, “By the way, my parents want to meet you.”
“Huh?” Jake was stunned, by both her change of topic and the topic itself.
“They want you to come to dinner tomorrow night, after graduation,” Sami explained, “They called a little while ago.”
“I see,” Jake swallowed hard.
“Um, you will come, won’t you?”
“Of course,” Jake squeaked.
“Don’t be nervous.”
“I’m not,” Jake’s voice was still squeaky.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
“Bye,” Sami hung up her phone, amused. She knew her parents would like Jake, she only hoped he didn’t faint during dinner.
“What’s the matter, buddy?” Chance asked as Jake slowly returned to the living room, “You look pale.”
“Sami wants me to have dinner with her and her parents tomorrow night,” Jake whispered, coming to a stop behind the couch.
“Don’t sweat it,” Chance said, returning his attention to the TV, “I’m sure they’ll like you. Look at it this way, at least you’re not in my situation.”
“True, but so far you haven’t had to meet any of the Ferals,” Jake pointed out.
“What do you suppose would happen if I did?”
“I’m not sure who I would feel more sorry for, you or them.”
“I’d feel sorrier for him,” Felina’s voice chimed in as she entered the room.
“When did you get here?” Chance stood up as she approached, “I thought you were sick.”
“I was,” Felina kissed him lightly, “I couldn’t keep anything down this morning. It seems to have passed, though.”
“Did you have a fever?” Jake asked as Felina and Chance sat down on the couch.
“No,” Felina smiled at his concern, “I must have just eaten something that disagreed with me.”
Jake’s brow wrinkled, “You’ve been sick quite a bit the past few days.”
“Maybe I’m developing an allergy to doughnuts,” Felina replied, then turned back to Chance. She found him howling with laughter and pointing at the TV.
“A Scardey Kat marathon,” Jake informed her.
“Good thing Sami isn’t here,” Felina watched Chance in fascination.
“How come everyone knows stuff about Sami but me?” Jake fumed, “I’m going to look like a real idiot in front of her parents.”
Felina turned to look at Jake, “Don’t worry, her parents are very nice. So, you are going? When I talked to her earlier tonight, Sami was afraid you wouldn’t go. ”
“Of course I’m going,” Jake’s voice threatened to return to it’s squeaky state, “I just hope Sami’ll still be speaking to me when it’s all over.”
“Will you two hold it down?” Chance growled, “I’m trying to watch!”
Instead of replying, Felina reached over and snatched the remote out of Chance’s paws. She pointed it at the TV and pressed the power button, making the screen go black.
“Hey!” Chance grabbed at the remote, but Felina rose off the couch and moved out of his reach, “No fair!”
“C’mon, Chance, we don’t want to watch you watch TV all night,” Felina shook a finger at him, “I’ve been feeling rotten all day, and I want to have some fun. Isn’t there something else the three of us could do?”
“I don’t know,” she cast a glance at Jake, “But something to take Jake’s mind off dinner tomorrow night.”
Chance was about to argue further, but the stubborn set to Felina’s jaw made him change his mind. He pondered some possible activities, then snapped his fingers as a solution occurred to him, “I got it!”
“Yes?” Jake and Felina asked in unison.
“We’ll go bowling!” Chance announced triumphantly, getting up off the couch.
Jake and Felina looked at each other, confusion on their faces.
“Bowling?” Jake’s eyes were wide.
“Would you rather watch Scardey Kat?” Felina grinned in spite of herself.
“Bowling it is,” Jake turned to find Chance beaming at them. What had he gotten himself into this time?
Janine knocked on the door to Commander Feral’s office. She was a little early, but she was anxious to get started. After a minute or so, Janine again raised her paw to knock, when Feral called for her to come in.
“You’re early,” Feral observed as she entered the room.
“Sorry, Sir,” she closed the door behind her, “But I wanted to get started.”
Feral gestured to the chair in front of his desk, and Janine settled herself in it as he cleared off the top of his desk. He looked up at her expectantly, “Well?”
Janine pushed a manilla folder across the desk at him, and Feral turned it around and opened it. Inside, he found a computer log sheet, along with a garage vehicle log covering several weeks. He studied them, then turned back to her, “Is there something special here?”
“Yes. If you take another look,” Janine rose from her chair and came around to stand beside him, “This name is very strange.”
“I dismissed him six months ago for insubordination.”
“I know,” Janine returned to her seat, “But his computer and garage privileges were never revoked for some reason, though the order to revoke them was issued. And someone changed the password on his computer account.”
“No chance it’s Callahan?”
“Doesn’t look that way.”
Feral mulled the information over, glancing again at the printouts, “Any idea on who is behind this?”
Sami was still bored, and her chin was again resting on an upturned paw. Her blue eyes were glued to her scope, and it took all her will to stay focused on the job. Just one more night, only six hours more, she kept thinking to herself. Suddenly, there was a strange noise from the speaker on her left. The message was garbled, but on a little used official frequency. Fiddling with the dials, Sami tried to bring the signal in, but had no luck. She was about to dismiss it when the signal came again. She decided, if she couldn’t bring it in soon, she would have to contact Commander Feral and advise him about the situation.
“If you even think about taking that shortcut, Chance….” Jake’s voice came from behind the seats in the cab of the tow truck.
“Take it easy, buddy,” Chance answered, grinning, “We’re not in any rush.”
“Especially since I don’t know how to bowl,” Jake returned, shifting in the small space he was confined to. For once, Jake wished he hadn’t been brought up to be so polite, and had let Felina sit back there instead when she had offered to.
“You really don’t know how? Well, it’s easy,” Chance told him, then looked at Felina, “What about you, rich girl?”
“I know how,” she informed him, “My Aunt Faria taught me.”
“Not the one who was married to Commander Feral?” Chance, even with his wild imagination, just could not see Feral in a bowling alley.
“Commander Feral was married?” Jake interjected, curious.
“I’ll explain about my uncle and his ex-wife later,” Felina promised, “Aunt Faria was married to Uncle Telemachus, not Uncle Ulysses.”
“Wasn’t he the rebel? The one that died young?” Chance recalled, his eyes on the road, “I wouldn’t have thought your parents would have allowed you to associate with them.”
“They didn’t know about it. Uncle Ulysses used to take me on visits about once every two weeks or so, whenever he could manage it.”
“I’m just finding out all sorts of things about Commander Feral tonight,” Jake muttered.
“What other activities did your Aunt Faria corrupt you with?” Chance ignored Jake.
“Well, let’s see,” Felina smiled, “We used to bake cookies, and work in the garden, as well as work on their car. Things my parents wouldn’t dream of doing themselves, or letting me do. Aunt Faria and I also used to watch soap operas. Our favorite was As The Fur Flies.”
Chance snorted, “You used to watch soap operas?”
“I still do, at least that one,” Felina returned, “Better than watching Scardey Kat.”
“That’s a matter of opinion,” Chance pointed out.
“That’s a matter of taste,” she countered.
“If your aunt taught you to cook, why don’t you do it more often?” Jake spoke up, trying to derail an argument.
“Well, she never taught me to cook, I just helped her in the kitchen,” Felina looked back at Jake, “She tried to teach me, but I almost set the house on fire,” Felina laughed at the memory, “Aunt Faria was so patient.”
“Sounds like you miss her,” Jake observed.
“I do, very much,” Felina replied, “Not just because going to their house was an escape from my parents, but also because my Aunt Faria and Uncle Telemachus were such a loving couple.”
“What happened to them?” Chance could just make out Felina’s sad face when he glanced her way.
“They died in a car accident late one night,” she told them, “I was about sixteen years old when it happened. My parents didn’t bother to tell me about it, since they hated Aunt Faria for being poor and taking Uncle Telemachus away from the family. Uncle Ulysses took me over to his house for the day, and gently told me what happened,” Felina leaned her head back, “That was a rough year for him. His wife left him, his brother and sister-in-law died, and his niece ran away from home.”
“You ran away?” Jake asked, amazed.
“Mmmmm,” Felina closed her eyes, “I was missing for a week when my uncle finally found me.”
“Where were you?” Chance inquired.
“On the docks, in a warehouse on Front Street,” Felina opened her eyes and sat up, “Some Enforcer on patrol spotted me, and reported me. It took my uncle an hour to talk me into coming to Enforcer Headquarters with him,” she laughed at the memory, “After we got there, I announced I wanted to be just like him.”
Jake and Chance both chuckled at the thought of a sixteen year old Felina making such a bold statement.
“I take it your parents didn’t like that,” Chance added.
“They were convinced I had been with my uncle the whole time, and thought he had corrupted me. If they only knew how hard he tried to talk me out of enlisting….” Felina trailed off, still smiling.
“Talk you out of it?” Jake prompted.
“Yep. For many years, and even after I qualified for officers’ training, he kept trying to get me to quit,” she explained.
“Then why does he defend you now?” Chance wondered, turning the truck into the parking lot of a rather small bowling alley.
“I’m not sure,” Felina answered, “Somewhere along the line, he had a change of heart.”
“Did you ever think that maybe he sees something of your Aunt Faria in you?” Chance asked as he parked the truck.
Felina stared at Chance, “That’s one of the nicest things you’ve ever said to me.”
“Probably because it’s true,” Jake observed, “Now, can we get out of this truck while I still have some feeling left in my feet?”
Grinning, the three climbed out of the truck and made their way to the front door of the bowling alley.
Commander Feral leaned back in his chair, letting the darkness in his office settle around him. After their little strategy meeting, he had sent Janine home, asking her to turn out the lights on her way out. He didn’t want to be disturbed. Feral had his radio on low, turned to a little used frequency, and he was waiting for something specific to come over the airwaves. When the phone rang, he nearly tipped his chair over in surprise. Groping for the receiver, he finally came up with it, “This is Feral.”
“Commander, this is Officer Higgins in the radio room. I so glad you’re in,” Sami replied, “There’s some strange activity on one of the lower frequencies.”
“I see,” Feral reached over and turned down his own radio, which was already dialed to the very frequency Sami was wondering about, “I’ll take care of it, Higgins.”
“I said I’d take care of it.”
“Yes, Sir,” Sami cut the connection, still not convinced anything would be done.
Feral replaced the receiver, then turned his radio back up. After a few minutes, a garbled message came through. He listened carefully, happy to hear his plans were going so well. Only a couple of hours to go.
“Kind of a small place,” Jake observed as they entered the bowling alley.
“Yeah,” Chance led them towards the main counter, “I figured we’d better go somewhere small. Can’t have any Enforcers see us with their prodigal daughter,” as he spoke, Chance took off his red cap and plopped it on Felina’s head.
“Thanks. Nice to know you don’t want to be seen with me,” she told him sarcastically, pulling the hat down onto her head.
“Would you rather have your uncle find out about us through the grape vine?” Chance looked sideways at her, “Now, why don’t you two go grab an alley, and I’ll get us some shoes.”
Jake and Felina headed off to the right, while Chance continued on to the counter. Jake, in the lead, chose an alley in the corner. When he turned to ask Felina her preference, however, he found her two alleys back, doubled over in a chair and clutching her stomach.
“Felina,” Jake hurried over to her, “Are you all right?”
“Ugg,” she held up a paw, “Just give me a minute. That kat we passed back there had a cup of coffee, and the smell made me nauseous,”
She raised her head, and Jake saw a distinct green color in her cheeks, “I’m going to get Chance,” he told her.
“No, I’m all right. No need to worry him.”
Jake raised an eyebrow at Felina as she stood up, but he did note the green was fading from her face. Turning, he walked to the alley in the corner, Felina following behind him. A few minutes later, Chance joined them, and gave each one of them an exceedingly ugly pair of bowling shoes.
“Jake, why don’t you go last,” Chance said as they changed shoes, “That way, you can watch us first.”
“Sounds good,” Jake replied, “But it seems to me we should have something riding on this game.”
“Hmmm,” Chance grinned at his friend, “How about a kiss?”
“No, from Felina.”
“Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?” Felina straightened up and looked at Chance, “What makes you so sure I’ll agree to this?”
“What’s the matter, afraid you can’t beat me?” Chance returned.
Felina’s eyes narrowed, “It’s a bet, Furlong.”
“Good,” Chance produced the score sheet and sat down at the little table by their seats, “Now, since you’re providing the prize, why don’t you go first?” He wrote Felina’s name at the top of the sheet.
“With pleasure,” she selected one of the balls on the rack behind them, then walked to the top of their lane, lining up her feet in the proper place and raising the bowling ball.
Sami fidgeted with a paper clip, torn between duty and curiosity. After speaking to Commander Feral, she had switched her radio to a higher frequency, but what she had heard earlier on the lower channel still nagged at her. After a few more minutes, she could stand it no longer. Tossing aside the paper clip, Sami spun the dial on her equipment, fighting to tune in the weak signal.
“OK, like this?” Jake looked back over his shoulder at Chance and Felina, a bowling ball balanced on one paw.
“Hold the ball with both paws,” Felina instructed.
“Just aim for the space between the head pin and the second one,” Chance chimed in.
Jake took a deep breath, steadied the ball with his free paw, and stepped forward, imitating Chance and Felina as best as he remembered. Letting go of the ball, Jake watched it roll down the alley and strike exactly the spot Chance had instructed him to aim for. All the pins fell with a satisfying crash.
“A strike? No way!” Chance yelped, his eyes wide.
“Well, after all, you’re the one who calls him Sureshot,” Felina pointed out, laughing.
With a groan, Chance smacked his paw against his forehead. After writing down Jake’s score, Chance turned to look over his shoulder, “Hey, Bill, turn on the radio, will ya? I gotta have something to take my mind off this massacre.”
“Sure thing,” the kat behind the counter called as he switched on a large radio and turned it in their direction.
Feral had been listening to the transmissions emanating from his radio for quite a while when he finally decided to make his presence know. Picking up the unit, he pressed a button and spoke into the device, “It’s the top kat. Report.”
“Yes, Sir. Things are proceeding according to plan.”
“When will everything be ready?”
“In about an hour, maybe a little longer.”
“I see,” Feral’s face darkened, “I’m on my way. I want things to go smoothly tonight.”
Feral snapped off the radio and rose from his chair. As he marched toward the door, he jammed his arms into the sleeves of his coat, his mind turning over his plans for the evening. This had better work, he thought to himself as he stalked down the hall, or Manx would never let him hear the end of it.
Glancing around the room, Sami growled in frustration. There was no one here she could talk to, and neither Jake nor Felina were answering their phones. Fuming, Sami returned to her scope, her eyes not really seeing it. She continued to keep an ear on the transmissions from the radio, not liking the little bits she could make out from time to time.
Chance tallied up their scores, then double-checked his work. It still came out the same.
“Well?” Felina needled, changing her shoes.
“Jake won,” Chance grumbled, turning to glare at his partner before leaning down to remove his own shoes.
“By how much?” Felina pulled on her boots.
Jake, having already changed his shoes, leaned over Chance to read the scores, “You and Chance tied at 214. I got 274,” he backed away as Chance sat up.
“Guess you win the kiss, Jake,” Felina smiled mischievously, “Hope you don’t catch whatever bug I’ve got.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Chance began indignantly, but Felina cut him off.
“It was your idea, Chance,” she reminded him.
“Yeah, but….” Chance looked from one kat to the other.
“Tough luck, bud,” Jake grinned, but made no move towards Felina. He wasn’t going to insist on a kiss if it upset Chance too much. Teasing him about it, however, was an entirely different matter, “You shouldn‘t bet what you don’t want to loose.”
Chance was about to protest further when Felina shushed them both. They turned to see her attention had been drawn to the radio over on the main counter. There seemed to be some kind of emergency announcement in progress.
“….on Old Megakat Bridge. Commander Feral has refused comment, and The Enforcers have sealed off the bridge. Sources tell us it looks like an attack by The Pastmaster. We will provide updates when more information becomes available. Now, back to our regular music program.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Felina commented.
“Think we ought to help out?” Jake asked Chance with a grin. This would definitely take Chance’s mind off both Scardey Kat and the kiss from Felina.
“Probably,” Chance replied, then turned to Felina, “C’mon, we’ll head home and get the jet. You can get your bike at the garage.”
“I didn’t ride my motorcycle tonight,” Felina told him, “I was feeling a little light headed, and didn’t want to risk it. I took a cab instead.”
“Then we’ll take you home first.”
“No, that would take too long. You two go ahead. I’ll settle up here, then call Enforcer Headquarters for a ride. There’s a pay phone outside.”
“You sure?” Chance didn’t like the idea of leaving without her.
Felina nodded, “Meet you at the bridge.”
“You got it,” Chance turned and headed for the exit.
“Are you sure you’re feeling all right?” Jake wondered.
“I’m fine. Now, go,” Felina smiled at him.
Jake spun on his heel and followed Chance out, as Felina scooped up the three pairs of bowling shoes on the floor and headed for the counter. She plunked the shoes down and asked how much they owed for one game and three shoe rentals. Bill figured out the total, and put the shoes away as Felina dug in her pockets for her money. After she had paid for everything, she headed for the door.
As Felina reached the exit, however, she caught another whiff of coffee, and felt her stomach tighten. It was all she could do to make it out the door and into the clear night air. Clutching her stomach, Felina leaned against the front of the building, waiting for the nausea to pass. What is wrong with me, she thought, as her head began to spin. It seemed to her it was going to take a little longer this time for her to regain her balance.
“Is everything going according to my orders?” Feral growled into his radio. His jet circled the dark area where Old Megakat Bridge was located.
“Yes, Sir. Everything is ready, and Dr. Greenbox has assured us all will go well,” came the reply.
“Good. Let me know when anything shows up on the radar.”
Razor leaned back in the gunner’s seat behind T-Bone. It would take them a few minutes to reach Old Megakat Bridge, and he began to scan the most used Enforcer radio frequencies, hoping to find out what was up.
“Find anything?” T-Bone asked from the pilot’s seat.
“No, it’s pretty quiet, actually.”
“Yeah. Hey,” Razor turned down his receiver, “Maybe Callie knows something about it.”
“Worth a shot,” T-Bone flipped a switch to his left, opening a line to the communicator they had given Callie. After a few moments, she answered.
“Sorry to disturb you, Ms. Briggs,” T-Bone said, “But do you know what’s going on over at Old Megakat Bridge?”
“No, I haven’t heard anything about it,” Callie replied, “What’s the problem?”
“The radio mentioned something about The Pastmaster,” Razor cut in, “I would have thought Mayor Manx’d call you immediately.”
“Me, too,” Callie seemed to ponder things over for a moment, “I might as well meet you two at the bridge. If there is trouble, I better be on the scene.”
“Roger, Ms. Briggs,” T-Bone responded, “But stay back. We don’t want you getting hurt.”
“Right,” Callie cut the connection.
“Are you ever going to give up on that macho stuff with her, T Bone?” Razor asked, amused.
“Probably not. I just can’t help myself,” T-Bone chuckled, then he sobered as he glanced out of the cockpit, “Old Megakat Bridge coming up. I don’t like this,” he pointed off to the left.
Razor peered in the direction T-Bone was pointing. All that met his eye was inky blackness where the bridge should have been. He tried his radar, but got nothing, “If we go in, we go in blind. Something’s jamming all my equipment.”
“I say we go in.”
“Right behind ya, buddy.”
“They’re here, Sir.”
“Yes, Sir. Coming in at 2 o’clock.”
“Prepare to move in on my order! All jets, tight formation!”
Callie Briggs maneuvered her car through traffic, which was becoming heavier as she approached Old Megakat Bridge. Luckily, she didn’t live too far from the bridge, but traffic had really slowed her down. Finally, she pulled up near the road block The Enforcers had set up. Parking her car, she got out and walked up to the saw horses in front of her car.
“Sorry, Deputy Mayor,” Officer Brown greeted her, “We can’t let anyone through here. Commander Feral’s orders.”
“Do I look like I take orders from Feral?” Callie marched around the sawhorses, only to run into three more Enforcers. She looked at them angrily, “Do you mind?”
“Sorry, Deputy Mayor,” Brown repeated, “We can’t let you go into the area.”
Callie appraised the situation, then turned back to Brown, “I’d suggest you let me through, before I have your badge.”
The four Enforcers exchanged worried looks, unsure if Callie could carry through on her threat. While they were thus distracted, Callie slipped by them and headed towards the bridge.
“I can’t see anything,” T-Bone grumbled, “It’s darker than midnight in here. Do you think our infra red scope would help?”
“Negative,” Razor replied, “I’ve already tried it. All of my systems are down.”
“What the hell is going on here? I certainly don’t see The Pastmaster anywhere.”
“I don’t see anything, not even the bridge. Are you sure….” Razor was cut off by a loud thump from outside the Turbokat, “Did we hit something?”
“I think something hit us,” T-Bone struggled with the joystick, “We’re being pulled into the bridge!”
Before Razor could answer, the jet jerked violently to the right, and the radio crackled to life.
“This is Feral,” boomed a familiar voice, “Give up, SWAT Kats! We have you surrounded!”
“Just what we need,” T-Bone was still fighting for control of the jet, “Got anything to get those Enforcers off our tails?”
“Uh, yes and no,” Razor said, studying his equipment, “I have the weapons, but I don’t think I should use them.”
“I can’t see what I’m aiming at,” Razor explained, still trying to get his radar back on line, “We’re totally blind. Someone may get hurt, and I don’t want to take the chance of hitting civilians.”
“You mean you want to surrender to Feral?” T-Bone was incredulous.
“No, I just need to think of a better…..” Razor was again cut off by a thump from outside the jet.
“Now what?” T-Bone wondered.
A jolt of electricity shot through the jet at that moment, taking both SWAT Kats by surprise. As systems began to short out around them, the pair raised their paws for protection.
“Time to eject!” Razor called out.
“The canopy’s stuck!” T-Bone yelled back, trying without luck to force the canopy release.
“Any other ideas? The bomb bay doors are stuck too!” Razor looked up at the canopy, and could just make out a black cable twisted around it.
“Damn,” T-Bone gingerly tried the joystick again, but it wouldn’t budge, “Where the hell is Felina? She wouldn’t let Feral get away with this!”
“No time to wonder about her now,” Razor noted, “We gotta decide what to do.”
Before a decision could be reached, another shot of electricity coursed through the jet. This time, both occupants were rendered unconscious.
“Well?” Feral spoke in a low voice into his radio.
“They’re out cold, Sir,” came the response.
“Good,” Feral sat up straighter in the cockpit of his jet, “Tow their craft to Enforcer Headquarters, then have Dr. Conway check them over……in a holding cell. I’ll meet you there,” he banked his jet, turning it towards Headquarters,” And have Greenbox disperse the cloud cloak. We won’t be needing it any longer.”
Feral smiled to himself as he steered his craft. Those inventions of Dr. Greenbox had certainly been useful, even if the good doctor was a bit on the strange side.
“I don’t believe this,” T- Bone grumbled, rubbing his throbbing head. He had come to in an Enforcer holding cell to find Dr. Conway leaning over him. As his head cleared, he recalled the events of the past few hours, and asked after Razor, who he discovered was still out cold on the other bunk in the cell.
“Sorry, T-Bone,” Conway muttered under his breath, “But there’s not much I can do for you, except assure you that you and your partner will be fine.”
“Thanks, Doc,” T-Bone replied, and he watched as Conway left the cell. Glancing down, he discovered The Enforcers had taken not only his gloveatrix, but his harness as well, leaving him with just a g-suit. He sat up slowly, perching on the edge of the cot.
“Mmmmm,” Razor groaned from the other bunk, “Anyone get the name of the tank that hit me?”
“Feral,” T-Bone answered him.
“No wonder I feel so rotten,” Razor’s eyes popped open and he took stock of the situation, discovering the same items missing as T-Bone had, “They mugged us!”
“Katnapped and mugged us,” T-Bone corrected.
“Sorry for the oversight.”
“How’re we gonna get out of this one?” Razor sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bunk.
“Dunno. Maybe when we find out what’s going on, we can figure out how to get out of here.”
“Don’t count on it, SWAT Kat,” Feral’s cold voice came from the front of the cell. Both occupants turned to find the big Enforcer outside the door, gloating over their capture.
“Feral!” ignoring the pain in his head, T-Bone leaped to his feet, “What’s the big idea?”
“Simple,” Feral smiled, “You two are finally going to pay for all the damage you’ve caused. Dr. Greenbox helped me plan that little surprise for you at the bridge, in return for getting a few years knocked off his sentence.”
“You have to give us a fair trial, Commander,” Razor rose to his feet, worried T-Bone would try or say something stupid, “That’s the law.”
“Oh, you’ll have your trial,” Feral’s expression grew even more smug, “Mayor Manx ordered that you be tried as soon as possible, first thing in the morning.”
“What about our lawyer?” Razor shot back, still keeping an eye on T Bone, who was shaking with rage.
“He’ll meet you at the courthouse,” Feral informed them, “He just passed the bar a couple of weeks ago, and offered to take your case for free, since it’ll be his first.”
“What!!” T-Bone sounded like a boiling teakettle, “You can’t be serious!”
Feral shrugged, “He made a reasonable offer, and Manx accepted.”
“I don’t believe this!” T-Bone said again.
“Now,” Feral motioned to two other Enforcers who were standing up the corridor, “Let’s see who you really are under those masks,” One of the approaching Enforcers withdrew a key from his pocket.
T-Bone and Razor glanced at each other, then took defensive stances. This might be a chance to escape. As the Enforcer put the key in the lock, however, another voice rang through the cell block.
“Stop right there, Feral!” Callie demanded as she advanced on the three officers in the corridor.
Feral motioned the other two Enforcers to step back, then turned around to face the Deputy Mayor with a patronizing look, “May I help you, Ms. Briggs?”
“If you put so much as one claw in that cell, I’ll have your badge,” Callie stopped in front of Feral, placing herself between him and the cell.
“Really?” Feral raised an eyebrow, “Then it might interest you to know Mayor Manx is the one who approved this little escapade.”
“Once his approval rating goes down due to you arresting the SWAT Kats, I doubt he’ll stand behind you,” she spat back at him, balling up her fists, “I’ve got half a mind to replace you with Steel.”
“I’ve got a job to do, Ms. Briggs. If you will step aside, I’ll get back to it,” Feral started forward, but recoiled in shock as Callie’s fist connected with his jaw.
“Did she just…….” T-Bone was stunned.
“Punch Feral? Yep,” Razor grinned.
For her part, Callie was staring at her stinging paw, not quite able to believe she had hit Commander Feral. The pain in her paw was real enough though, along with the shocked looks she was receiving.
“I take it, Deputy Mayor, that you are quite serious,” Feral was rubbing his jaw. He seemed to measure up the blonde politician carefully before he continued, “Very well. The masks stay in place…..until after the trial tomorrow.”
Callie nodded, then turned to the occupants of the cell, “I’ll work on getting you two out of here as fast as possible.”
“Uh, thanks, Ms. Briggs, but it’s almost been worth it to see you deck Feral,” T-Bone informed her.
With a grin in spite of everything, Callie left the cell block determined to wake up Manx and get to the bottom of all this.
Feral dismissed the other two Enforcers, then came to the door of the cell once again. The remaining three kats eyed each other warily.
“Will there be anything else, Commander?” Razor finally broke the silence.
“How about a nice, long explanation,” Felina’s steely voice came from down the corridor. The three tom-kats looked to find her stalking toward them, her eyes blazing with anger. She came to a stop on her uncle’s left and, when he looked at her, she arched an eyebrow at him, “Well?”
“I beg your pardon, Lieutenant, but I am not in the habit of explaining myself to lower ranking officers,” Feral informed her coolly, wondering if she would force him to discipline her for insubordination, “As long as you wear that uniform, you will show me the proper respect.”
Gritting her teeth, Felina just managed to swallow her temper. She realized she would get nowhere by confronting her uncle, “Yes, Sir.”
“You will accompany me as their escort to the courthouse tomorrow,” Feral continued, “And you will be called to testify for the prosecution.”
“What?” Felina’s temper escaped her control, “That’s ridiculous!”
“If you don’t appear, I’ll send two officers to bring you by force,” Feral warned her, “And I’ll bust your tail off the Force.”
“I won’t forget this, Uncle.”
“I’m sure you won’t, Lieutenant,” Feral brushed past her and left the cell block. He wasn’t sure he would ever be able to forget the hatred in Felina’s eyes he had seen her direct at him.
Felina watched her uncle leave, her paws clenching into fists. She jumped when T-Bone laid a paw on her shoulder.
“Easy, Beautiful,” T-Bone cautioned, “I’ve never seen you like this before. What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” Felina whirled to face him, “You’re stuck in jail because of Mayor Manx’s obsession with popularity and my uncle’s obsession with knowing your identity, and you have to ask what’s wrong?”
“Uh, OK, next question,” T-Bone backpeddeled, “What took you so long to get here?”
Most of the tension left Felina’s body, and she leaned against the bars heavily, “It, umm, took me longer to get a ride than I thought it would,” she carefully avoided Razor’s eye, knowing he had probably guessed the truth, “By the time I got changed and over here, you two were already being brought in.”
“What possessed Feral to waste all this time and money on capturing us?” Razor wondered, letting Felina off the hook for the moment.
“I don’t know, other than it has something to do with Mayor Manx,” Felina confessed, “And I’m sorry he got me involved as well. If possible, I’ll figure out a way to get you guys out of this.”
“Don’t, Felina,” T-Bone replied, “You don’t need to get kicked off The Enforcers or compromise your principles because of Feral’s vendetta against us.”
“I wouldn’t if he couldn’t prove I did anything. Besides, he’s bent the law plenty by what he did tonight, with or without Manx’s permission,” she mused, already turning ideas over in her mind, “Let me sleep on it a bit. I might just have a plan.”
“You better go, Felina,” T-Bone said gently, “If you stay too long, it might look suspicious.”
“You’re right,” she gave T-Bone a quick kiss, smiled at Razor, then left the cell block, ideas still racing through her head.
“Think she’ll get us out?” Razor asked, watching his partner return to his bunk.
“Dunno, but I wouldn’t bet against her,” T-Bone answered, lying back.
Felina, still thinking about The SWAT Kats and her uncle, got off the elevator and rounded the corner at a fast clip, only to run slap bang into Sami. Both she-kats stumbled backwards a few steps, then looked up to see who hit them.
“Sami,” Felina felt her head begin to spin again, but she fought it off, “What are you doing in uniform? Isn’t graduation tomorrow?”
“Uh, yeah,” Sami noticed her friend looked a little strange, “I was on duty tonight despite that. Are you OK?”
“I’m fine,” Felina shook her head to clear it, “Just upset at my uncle.”
“What else is new? What did he do this time?”
“He trapped and arrested The SWAT Kats.”
Felina nodded, “I know, it’s weird. Also, it seems that Mayor Manx is in on the whole thing.”
Sami bit her lip, “I think there’s more to this than meets the eye.”
“What do you mean?”
“I heard something over the radio tonight…..,” Sami glanced around, “Let’s discuss this somewhere more private. I was heading back to my quarters, why don’t you come with me?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“I’ve got some wine and snacks, too.”
“Ugg, no wine,” Felina protested, “but the snacks sound good.”
Sami tilted her head to one side, “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I felt bad this morning……it’s probably just stress,” Felina said, “Let’s go upstairs and hit those snacks. I’m sure I’ll be OK.”
Sami didn’t look convinced, but she led the way back to the elevators anyway.
Commander Feral slowly pulled into his driveway, watching for any sign of the media. He had sent Major Carstairs out to give an interview and announce the capture of The SWAT Kats while he himself slipped out the back. For some reason, the confrontation he had with Felina at the jail had taken all the satisfaction out of the capture for him. Putting the car in park and switching off the engine, Feral got out and headed for the front door, searching his key ring for the house key. Finding it, he looked up at the front door only to see a figure in his way. He stopped, squinting in the dim light.
“Good evening, Commander,” Janine greeted him. He could tell by her voice something was very wrong.
“Janine? What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Janine spoke quietly, almost in a whisper.
“Let’s go inside,” Feral moved around her and up the front steps. Unlocking the door, he motioned her inside, then followed, closing and locking the door behind them.
Janine switched on the lights in the living room as Feral joined her. Both kats had to blink quite a bit until their eyes adjusted to the light, as Feral preferred strong lighting.
“May I get you something to drink?” Feral offered, gesturing for her to sit on the couch.
“No, thank you,” she sat stiffly.
Feral carefully sat in the chair to the Janine’s left, “What is it, Janine? Have you uncovered something new about our traitor?”
“No, Commander. I’ve uncovered something new about you.”
“Yes,” Janine looked at him, her eyes showing both hurt and anger.
Feral shifted uncomfortably, but nodded for her to continue. He could guess what she had found, but wanted to hear her say it.
“You and Mayor Manx planned the capture of The SWAT Kats,” Janine accused him.
Feral raised his eyebrows, “I can see I picked the right kat to do some digging for me. That information was very well hidden.”
“This isn’t funny.”
“No, it’s not,” Feral sat back, “The SWAT Kats are dangerous vigilantes, and it’s time we took them off the street.”
“You executed that plan with no concern for the civilians in the area.”
“Dr. Greenbox assured us it was perfectly safe.”
“The same Dr. Greenbox who is in prison for creating Zed?” Janine countered, pointing a finger at Feral, “I thought you didn’t make deals with criminal scum.”
Feral shrugged, “He’s not exactly scum. He’s an eminent scientist, who simply fell victim to a momentary lapse of reason.”
“He and his invention almost destroyed the city!”
“All right, a rather large lapse of reason,” Feral conceded.
“I don’t find this amusing,” Janine snapped.
“Nor do I. If you dug far enough, Janine, you would have discovered this plan originated with the Mayor, not with me.”
It was Janine’s turn to nod, “Yes, I realize that, but you……..,” she stopped midsentence, and seemed to concentrate on something.
“Yes?” Feral prompted.
“Forgive me, Commander, if I seem impertinent, but we both know Manx isn’t the sharpest tack around.”
“Does it seem possible that he came up with this plan on his own?”
“Now that you mention it,” Feral sat up straighter, “No.”
“And I don’t think it would have occurred to Dr. Greenbox either,” Janine mused, “You said the orders came from the Mayor’s Office?”
“Yes. And they were signed by Manx himself, instead of Deputy Mayor Briggs.”
“I think I owe you an apology, Commander. And I think our traitor may have just tried another angle to get at your niece.”
Feral considered her words carefully, “But how are The SWAT Kats connected to Felina?”
“She’s testifying. That could have a big impact on her image, and her career.”
Feral’s face darkened, “I believe I need to have a long talk with Dr. Greenbox.”
“Can you give me some time to dig a little more first?”
“Not much, but I’ll wait until after the trial tomorrow.”
Janine stood up and came over to Feral’s chair, “I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions.”
“It’s all right,” Feral told her, “Everyone knows about my hatred for The SWAT Kats. It’s quite natural you would have made those assumptions.”
“I should have had more faith in you.”
“I’m glad I put my faith in you, Janine. You’ve proved your worth tonight,” Feral got out of his chair and turned to face her, “Now, shall I take you home?”
“No, my car is parked outside,” Janine replied, “I’m going to go back to Headquarters and do a little more digging anyway.”
“Don’t stay too late, and let me know if you find anything. Be careful.”
Janine was about to head for the door when Feral placed a paw on her shoulder. She looked up at him as he spoke, “I mean it, Janine. I don’t want you getting hurt.”
Before either kat knew what was happening, Feral’s other paw had moved to her cheek, and her arms were around his neck. They kissed each other gently, then slowly disengaged. With a soft smile, Janine left the room and let herself out. Feral sat back down in his chair, marveling at the many surprises the day had held.
Sami watched as Felina nibbled on cheese and crackers, concern obvious on her face. The two she-kats had raided Sami’s small refrigerator and come up with quite a spread, but Felina seemed to be sticking to rather bland items. True to her word, Felina had also refused wine when it was offered.
“Are you sure you’re OK?” Sami asked her friend.
“I’m fine,” Felina replied, reaching for another cracker, “Now, enough about me. Are you excited about graduation?”
“Um, yeah,” Sami sighed, looking into her wine glass, “It’ll be nice to finally be an officer.”
“But, I’m still troubled by what I heard tonight.”
“You mean on the radio? What’d you hear?”
Sami frowned, “It sounded like Commander Feral laying a trap for The SWAT Kats.”
“I know, but there was also some other interference.”
“Yeah, really weird,” Sami took a sip of wine, “Like I had picked up two different conversations about similar things.”
Felina sat up straight, “Officer Higgins, what exactly did you hear?”
Sami related the strange transmissions she had heard earlier, Felina paying rapt attention until she finished, “So, what do you think, Lieutenant?”
Felina sat back, pondering Sami’s words, “I think, if possible, you better pull another shift in the radio room tomorrow.”
Sami rolled her eyes, “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“Sorry,” Felina responded, “but we have no other choice. You’re the only one who knows what to listen for, and I have to be in court first thing in the morning.”
“My uncle’s making me testify against T-Bone and Razor.”
“Has he totally lost it?”
“I’m beginning to wonder that myself,” Felina confessed, finishing her milk with a last gulp, “Now, I better let you get some sleep. You have to report for duty tomorrow.”
“You promise this’ll be the last time?”
Sami watched as Felina stood up, “Are you sure you don’t want to stay here? It’s pretty late.”
“I can’t, but thanks anyway,” Felina headed for the door, “I’ve got something I have to do.”
“At this hour?” Sami rose and followed her friend to the door.
“No rest for the weary,” Felina smiled at the blonde, then grew serious, “Let me know if you find out anything tomorrow……just me.”
“Good night, and thanks for the snack.”
“Good night, Felina. Take care of yourself.”
“Yes, mother,” Felina left after making a face at Sami.
Sami closed the door after Felina, and locked it. It had been a busy night, and it was way past her bedtime, but suddenly she felt the need to hear Jake’s voice. Going back into the kitchen, she swept the remains of her and Felina’s repast back into the refrigerator, then picked up the phone, dialing Jake’s number. She hoped he was still up. The receiver rang and rang, but there was no answer. When the garage answering machine kicked in, Sami hung up. She needed Jake, not some dumb machine. With a sigh, she decided to finally go to bed, although she was sure sleep would be hard to come by.
“T-Bone, you awake?” Razor whispered into the darkness.
“Yeah,” came the reply.
“Think we oughtta try to get out of here?”
“Do you have a plan?”
“No,” Razor admitted, “They’ve changed things since we lived here.”
“I noticed,” T-Bone sighed, “We’ll probably have a better chance to get away somewhere on the trip between here and the court house.”
“Do you believe Feral will go through with prosecuting us?”
“I believe he’d rather just tear us apart with his bare paws,” T-Bone answered, “But that would get him bad press.”
“True,” Razor rolled over on his cot, “I wonder what’s really going on.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Ms. Briggs obviously has been kept out of the loop,” Razor observed, “And Felina didn’t know about all this either.”
“You think Feral knows about me and Felina?” T- Bone whispered softly.
“No,” Razor reassured him, “But he knows she’s our friend. Feral also knows Callie wouldn’t have gone along with a trap against us.”
“Can you believe Callie punched Feral?”
“Only because I saw it with my own eyes.”
Both tom-kats smiled int he darkness, then grew serious once again.
“You’re right, Razor,” T-Bone said, “There’s something really weird about all of this.”
“I just hope we get everything sorted out before tomorrow night, or Sami will never forgive me.”
“I thought you didn’t want to go to dinner with her parents.”
“I’d rather face them than hurt her.”
T-Bone smiled at his friends words. He was glad Razor had found someone, and hoped this mess Feral had created didn’t lead to disaster in more ways than one.
“Lieutenant Feral?” Charlie Harris was surprised to see anyone out on the roof at this time of night, let alone someone from the day watch, “Are you sure this is OK with The Commander?”
“Do you want to call and wake him up to ask?” Felina raised her eyebrows at the young officer, “Look, all I know is that I got orders to move this thing to a secure holding area. Is it my fault the paperwork got lost?”
“Um, no, but I’ still don’t like this,” Harris replied, looking from Felina to his clipboard, then back again, “I could be kicked off the force for this.”
“So call my uncle,” Felina demanded, “And get busted for waking him.”
Harris again looked at his clipboard, and bit his lip. The two Enforcers stood on the roof for a full minute, until Harris looked up again. He gave Felina a set of keys from off his belt, “Take it.”
With a grin, she took the keys out of his paw and walked quickly over to The Turbokat. Activating the canopy release, Felina jumped into the pilot’s seat and, after sparing a thought for Chance, fastened the seat harness and fired up the engines. After receiving the green light from Harris, she flew the jet off into the night, heading for the edge of town.
Callie Briggs lay on her stomach, still trying to puzzle this whole mess out. It was frustrating, finding such a plot right under her nose, and now Manx was nowhere to be found. She had spent over an hour calling all the places she expected him to be, but no luck. There has to be some way around this, she thought, rolling onto her back. It was at that moment Callie recalled her threat about Manx’s popularity rating to Feral. Of course, that was it! Reaching for the phone with one paw and her address book with the other, Callie soon had a sleepy but interested Ann Gora on the line.
The hatch leading from the hanger to the kitchen made a loud creak when Felina opened it, causing her to jump a bit. Exiting the hatch, she closed it, then turned to survey Jake and Chance’s kitchen. With a smile, she remembered all the fun they had had around that kitchen table. She then moved off into the living room, flipping on the lights as she went.
On the couch, Felina found the newspaper and the remote for the TV. Had it really been just a few hours ago they had sat here arguing about Chance’s viewing habits? It seemed longer. She sat down on the couch and pointed the remote at the TV, switching it on without hope of finding anything interesting. She knew she should go home and get some sleep, but she just wasn’t tired. After a little channel surfing, however, all the excitement of the day caught up with her, and her eyelids began to droop.
Switching off the TV, Felina placed the remote on the coffee table and stood up. She turned off the lights and made her way down to the garage. She got the spare set of keys for the tow truck from the desk, and headed home.
“T-Bone, you awake?” Razor called, as daylight filtered into their cell.
“Barely,” T-Bone mumbled, “Wonder what it takes to get some coffee around here.”
“Would you really want it? From what I remember, it’s closer to mud than coffee.”
“And yours is better?”
“I’ll remember you said that.”
Before T-Bone could defend himself, the door at the end of the corridor clanged open, and Commander Feral, followed by five other Enforcers, marched up to the door of the cell. T-Bone noticed that last in line was Felina herself, and she looked rather ill.
“All right, you two,” Feral growled, “On your feet, facing the back wall.”
The two SWAT Kats rose off the bunks and walked over to face the back wall of their cell. They glanced at each other, and T-Bone raised an eyebrow, but Razor shook his head. Too risky to try escaping inside Enforcer Headquarters.
“Put your paws on the wall, and spread your feet apart,” Feral ordered.
“I don’t believe this,” T-Bone mumbled as he complied with Feral’s orders.
“Just do it,” Razor whispered back as he did likewise.
“No talking!” Feral snapped, drawing his side arm, “Now, I’ve got my eye, not to mention my gun, on you two. If you even think about trying anything, I’ll fire.”
Feral nodded to the two Enforcers nearest him, and they unlocked the cell and went in, closing the door behind them. The two approached T Bone and Razor as the others watched from outside the cell.
“I still don’t believe you’re doing this,” Felina said, wincing slightly as the cuffs were snapped around T-Bone’s wrists.
Feral didn’t reply, but his eyes flickered momentarily in her direction. She didn’t look well, and that bothered him, but now was not the time or place to ask her what was wrong. Perhaps in the van he could ask – that is, if she would tell him.
“Ready, Commander,” an Enforcer from inside the cell called, moving aside so Feral could see both SWAT Kats had their paws cuffed firmly behind their backs. He opened the cell door, still keeping his gun trained on the two prisoners, and motioned them forward. The four from inside the cell entered the corridor, and Feral slammed the cell door shut behind them. With Felina and two other Enforcers in front, and Feral and the two guards bringing up the rear, the group started to move down the hall towards the exit.
Ann Gora stood at the staff exit of the TV Station, impatiently clicking her tongue against her teeth. She had wanted to catch The SWAT Kats as they were taken out of Enforcer Headquarters, but Johnny was running late. It was beginning to look like they should just head straight to the court house instead. After all, Deputy Mayor Briggs had promised her an exclusive interview, with lots of secret details about this case. Glancing again at her watch, Ann was about to request another camerakat, when Johnny came running into view. The two left the building, heading for the news van. Ann decided to go straight to the court house, and burned rubber out of the parking lot.
As they approached the waiting Enforcer van, T-Bone did a quick survey of the escort set-up. Apparently, there would be three motorcycles in front of the van, and three behind it. He also wouldn’t put it past Feral to have a chopper of two above them. T-Bone glanced at Razor, who shrugged. Things were not looking any better to him, either.
The group from the jail stopped at the back of the vehicle, and the three Enforcers waiting beside it opened the back doors. Feral ordered The SWAT Kats to get in, and they slowly complied. After they were inside, Felina sprang forward to close the doors behind the Enforcer climbing in to guard them. She managed to catch Razor’s eye, and winked at him. He nodded back, understanding she had a plan to get them free.
Once the back doors of the van were secured, Felina walked around to the driver’s side and got in. Fastening her seat belt, she glanced coldly at her uncle as she started the vehicle. The motorcycles in front of them moved out on Feral’s order, then Felina eased the van out of the garage and into the weak morning sunlight.
Shading her eyes, Callie could see Ann Gora among the other reporters straining across the barriers put up by The Enforcers. Callie approached the nearest Enforcer and told him to let Ann through. The officer hesitated, then did as Callie told him.
“Quite a turnout,” Ann said, as she and Johnny walked over to the Deputy Mayor.
“Yes,” Callie replied, scanning the crowd, “You remember what we discussed?”
“This was all Manx’s idea, and I want to make sure he gets full credit for it.”
“Here they come, Annie!” Johnny cut in, pointing to the approaching Enforcer van. Johnny trained his camera on the unfolding scene, while Ann began her voice over, relating how Mayor Manx had ordered the unfair capture of Megakat City’s two favorite heroes.
Callie took some satisfaction in hearing the jeers that erupted when Commander Feral came into view. She was glad to hear the loud cheers when T-Bone and Razor got out of the van, and the shouts of encouragement that followed them into the court house. Ann wrapped up her voice over, then turned to Callie.
“You won’t forget our interview this afternoon, Deputy Mayor?”
“I’ll be there,” Callie promised, then turned to climb the court house stairs quickly.
“C’mon, Johnny, let’s head inside to the media room,” Ann told her camerakat. Johnny tucked his camera under his arm and the two entered the court house. Johnny headed straight for the media room, but Ann decided to check her makeup, and headed for the bathroom. Once inside, however, she heard the most dreadful retching sounds coming from one of the stalls, “Hello? Are you all right?”
The retching stopped, and Ann heard the toilet flush. The stall door opened to reveal Lieutenant Felina Feral, looking distinctly ill.
“Lieutenant? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Felina mumbled as she walked over to the sinks. Ann watched as the Enforcer splashed cold water on her face and dried herself off. After composing herself, Felina looked again at Ann, “I’m just…..stressed.”
“I, um, had better get back to the court room,” Felina quickly left the bathroom before Ann could ask anything else.
For her part, Ann knew there was something up with the Commander’s niece, and she wanted to know what it was. Checking her makeup in the mirror, Ann made a mental note to keep an eye on that particular Enforcer, and perhaps even to ask the Deputy Mayor about it.
“This court will now come to order!” bellowed the bailiff, standing to the right of the judicial bench.
“Here we go,” whispered Razor. He was glad to get those stupid cuffs off his wrists, in any case.
“Goddess help us,” added T-Bone, watching their lawyer, Jeff Wheels, scribble furiously on a yellow legal pad. The kid had assured them he could get all the charges dropped, and had then proceeded to drop his files all over the floor. T-Bone knew they were doomed. His attention was diverted from those gloomy thoughts as Felina slipped into her seat next to Feral, one row back from the prosecution’s table. She looked even worse than she had earlier, and T-Bone wished he could speak to her. He then realized Feral was glaring at him, and turned back around.
Callie had taken refuge in the back of the court room, wondering if she would be called to testify. She would have preferred to sit near T Bone and Razor, but knew she had a better shot at getting to the reporters before Feral if she sat in the back. Craning her neck, she could just make out the two SWAT Kats, who looked rather glum.
“The honorable judge Josephine T. Kittery presiding,” the bailiff announced, as a tall, slender she-kat in a black judicial robe came out of a door behind the bench.
“Judge Kittery!” Callie gasped, watching the she-kat take her place and call the court to order, “Oh, no!” Callie recalled that this particular judge had a hard line reputation when it came to law breakers. Things were not looking good for her friends.
“What case is this?” Judge Kittery asked the bailiff.
“Case number 22 – 9781, Your Honor. Megakat City versus The SWAT Kats.”
As the prosecuting attorney rattled off the many charges against them, Razor leaned over to see what Jeff Wheels was scribbling so furiously about on his legal pad. The paper was full of doodles. Razor leaned back and wondered what the food was like in Alkat-Traz.
While their attorney bumbled his way through his opening statement, T-Bone risked another glance at Felina. She was slumped in her chair, her arms folded across her chest. She still looked ill, and T-Bone was hoping to catch her eye when Razor poked him. Their lawyer was sitting down, and the prosecution had just called Commander Feral to the stand.
“What are you doing here, Sami?” asked Harry Snow, as the blonde entered the radio room to relieve him, “Or should I call you Lieutenant?”
Sami felt herself blush slightly, “I, uh, I have to fill in for someone The Commander took with him to the court house,” she blurted out.
“OK, by me,” Snow grinned, “By the way, congratulations.”
“Thanks,” Sami smiled as she sat down at her usual station and fiddled with the radio controls. She knew what she was looking for, but part of her hoped she wouldn’t find it.
T-Bone and Razor could only watch tensely as the prosecutor led Feral through his side of their story. Feral made sure to impress upon the court the amount of damage The SWAT Kats had caused over the years, and how much repairing that damage had cost Megakat City.
Finally, it was the defenses’ turn to cross-examine Feral. T-Bone and Razor watched as Jeff Wheels got up and strolled over to the witness stand.
“Commander Feral,” Wheels began, “Were you actually present for all of this alleged destruction?”
“I see. No more questions, Your Honor.”
“You may step down, Commander Feral,” the judge intoned, as T-Bone covered his eyes with a paw, and Razor laid his head down on the table.
“The prosecution now calls Lieutenant Felina F. Feral to the stand.”
Both SWAT Kats sat up and watched as Felina got slowly out of her seat and walked towards the witness stand. Halfway there, however, she suddenly stopped, then fell to the floor in a dead faint.
“Felina!” Feral yelped as he started forward.
T-Bone also moved in her direction, but Razor reached out and stopped him. When T-Bone turned angry eyes on his partner, Razor spoke low and fast, “Easy, bud. She’s faking. Now’s our chance. Quick, before the guards get here.”
T-Bone glanced once more at Felina, then nodded to Razor. If she was giving them a chance to get away, no sense wasting it. T-Bone leaped over the table, laced his fingers together, then looked at Razor. With a graceful leap, Razor cleared the table, then put a foot in T-Bone’s cupped paws. T-Bone then katapulted his partner up towards the windows to the right, beside the empty jury box. Razor shattered the glass with a karate kick, then leapt through the frame from the sill. With a mighty jump, T Bone followed, just slipping under the fingers of the guards behind him. The two ran as fast as they could, rounding the nearest street corner and slipping into the sewers.
Even though he had heard The SWAT Kats escaping, Commander Feral didn’t move to recapture them. At the moment, he was too concerned about his niece. She was out cold, and her color was not good.
“Commander,” one of the guards called, “The SWAT Kats got away!”
“Get me an ambulance,” Feral demanded coldly, cradling Felina in his arms, “And I mean now!”
The members of the media, led by Ann Gora, charged out of their assigned area once it became apparent there was more than a trial going on in the court room. Reaching the large oak doors, they found their way blocked by four Enforcers.
“What’s going on?” a reported from Megakat Times called out, holding a tape recorder aloft.
“There’s been some trouble,” one of the Enforcers said, “and an escape.”
“The SWAT Kats got away?” Ann gasped.
“I’m not at liberty to confirm that,” the Enforcer answered.
As one, the reporters all turned and fled the court house, eager to be the first to report this development to their respective editors. Ann and Johnny decided to do a live feed on the steps outside, and were just about all set up when the doors behind Ann flew open. The pair turned to see Commander Feral running down the steps, cradling his niece in his arms. They watched as Feral loaded Felina into the back of an Enforcer squad car, then jumped into the driver’s seat and sped off.
“Johnny, you go call the story about The SWAT Kats in, and tell Tom to make the announcement,” Ann instructed, “I’m going to check out what’s up with Lieutenant Feral.”
“Give your story to Tom Kat, Annie?” Johnny was wide-eyed, but Ann was already heading back into the court house. As she got close to the main court room, she could see that the doors were now thrown open, and the windows on the right were shattered. Stopping just outside the doors, Ann could hear two Enforcers talking.
“Ol Feral sure was moving.”
“Yeah, well, the Lieutenant is more like a daughter to him than a niece.”
“He didn’t even react when The SWAT Kats got away. Just scooped up the Lieutenant and ran out.”
“Guess he was tired of waiting for the ambulance.”
“Where do you suppose he took her?”
“Megakat General’s the closest.”
That was all Ann needed to hear. She spun on her heel and ran out of the building, down the steps and out to the news van, where Johnny had just finished calling in the story on The SWAT Kats.
“C’mon, Johnny,” Ann flung open the door and leaped into the driver’s seat, “We’re going to Megakat General!”
Johnny barely had time to fasten his seat belt before Ann tore out of the parking lot, tires screeching in protest.
Sami sat glumly in front of the radio panel. She still hadn’t been able to pick anything up. With a sigh, she again tried boosting the signal, but still got nothing. As she was fiddling with the radio, the door flew open, and Paul Lynx stuck his head in.
“What?” Sami snapped, turning from her scope.
“Did you hear? The SWAT Kats escaped!” Lynx announced, “And Lieutenant Feral fainted right in the court room!”
“What?” Sami repeated, concerned for her friend.
“She’s at the hospital now. Commander Feral took her himself.”
“Any word on what’s wrong?”
“Keep me posted, would you, Paul?” Sami was torn, but knew there was little she could do at the hospital.
“Sure,” with that, Lynx backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
After he left, Sami reached over and turned on another console, tuning it to a local news station. She knew that was against regulations, but felt she had to know what was going on. Hearing a lot about The SWAT Kats, but not much about Felina, she fished her cel phone out of her bag under her chair and dialed Jake’s number. If anyone would know anything, Jake and Chance would – if they weren’t already at the hospital.
Feral sat in the waiting room, watching the doors leading into the examination area. Felina had come to in the car, but Feral had insisted on taking her to the hospital, and surprisingly she had gone along meekly. A nurse had recently come out to tell him his niece was doing fine, but that the doctor wanted to run a few more tests. Feral had asked to see her, but the nurse said Felina was up in X-ray. So, he waited.
“Sir?” a voice on his right came. He turned to see a young Enforcer standing there.
“Sir, we need you. We’ve mounted a search for the escaped prisoners, but Lieutenant Commander Steel has us running in circles. I know this isn’t a good time……”
Feral held up a paw, “It’s all right. My niece is fine, and I do have a duty to Megakat City. Give me a minute to let the nurses know where I’ll be, and to call me when I can come get Felina.”
“Megakat Salvage Yard, Jake speaking.”
“Jake? This is Sami. Where were you last night? And for the past few hours, for that matter.”
“Um, Chance and I had a late call,” Jake explained, trying to collect his thoughts. He and Chance had made it back a little while ago, and had just gotten changed and cleaned up.
“Then I guess you don’t know.”
“The SWAT Kats escaped from the court house today, after Felina fainted. There’s a big hunt on for them, and Commander Feral took Felina to the hospital,” Sami told him in one breath, “I thought you and Chance might know something about her condition.”
“You mean, Felina really fainted?” Jake nearly dropped the phone.
“Yeah. She hasn’t been feeling well lately.”
“Sorry, babe, we didn’t know about this,” Jake babbled, wondering how he was going to tell Chance.
“OK. If you find out anything, will you let me know?”
“See you tonight,” Sami hung up.
Jake was just replacing the phone when Chance walked in.
“What’s the matter, buddy?” Chance asked, leaning on the door frame, “You look a bit shocked for not quite noon.”
“I’m not sure how to tell you this,” Jake turned to face him, “But Felina wasn’t faking.”
“What?” Chance stood up straight.
“That was Sami on the phone,” Jake continued, “She said Felina’s at the hospital now.”
“I gotta see her.”
“Wait, we don’t even know what hospital she’s in,” Jake protested, raising his paw, “Besides, Feral’s with her. She probably only has the flu. She has all the symptoms.”
“What if it’s more serious than that?”
“What if you go charging in there and it’s not?” Jake countered, “How’re you going to explain that to Feral?”
“I don’t like this,” Chance growled.
“I don’t either, but let’s just sit tight for now. Sami’ll let us know what’s up, if Felina herself doesn’t.”
Felina looked up as Doctor Jackson came into her room. She raised an eyebrow at him, “Well, can I go now?”
“Yes, but there is something I need to tell you first.”
“What, that I’ve got the flu?”
“It’s a bit more complicated than that,” the doctor replied, “You’re about two months pregnant.”
“Your blood tests confirmed it. That’s why I canceled your X-rays.”
Felina mulled over his words for a moment, “Could you send my uncle in, please?”
“I’m afraid your uncle had to leave. He left word to call him when you are ready to go,” Dr. Jackson moved to the door, “Before you go, however, I’d like to send up one of our OB nurses, to advise you on the options regarding your pregnancy and on taking care of your health. Can you stay?”
Felina nodded, and the doctor left the room, almost tripping over Ann Gora, who was standing just outside in the hall. She carefully moved away from the doctor, then made a bee line for the elevators. Time for a live feed – What a story!!
“Chance?” Jake called into the living room while he made lunch, “Can you turn on the TV? We better watch the noon news, to see what Feral’s up to.”
“OK,” Chance leaned forward on the couch, picked up the remote from the coffee table, and switched on the TV.
“Wow, look at that!” Jake exclaimed, entering the room holding two plates. He gave one to Chance as he sat down on the couch, “Feral’s really going all out for us.”
“I’ll say,” Chance replied, “He’s even called in a couple of tanks.”
The pair ate in silence, listening to Tom Kat drone on about the big hunt for The SWAT Kats. Seeing that none of Feral’s troops were heading for the salvage yard, they concluded they must have gotten away clean. Chance lifted the remote, and was about to change the channel, when Ann Gora broke in with a special live report.
“Wait,” Jake took the remote, “I wanna see this,” he turned up the volume a bit.
“This is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News, with a special report. I’m here at Megakat General Hospital, where I’ve been following the story of Lieutenant Felina Feral, who fainted during the SWAT Kat trial this morning.”
Both Chance and Jake sat up, leaning towards the TV. Jake set his plate down on the coffee table.
“This reporter has just learned that Lieutenant Feral is two months pregnant, and that condition led to her fainting. There is no word at this time as to the identity of the father.”
Chance’s mouth dropped open, and the color drained from his face. The plate in his paws fell to the floor as his fingers went limp.
“More details as they develop. Back to you, Tom.”
Jake turned off the TV, then looked at his friend, “Chance…..”
“I need to think,” Chance blurted out, then rose off the couch.
Jake watched him head toward the door to the roof, wishing there was something he could do or say to help. After Chance left the room, Jake leaned down to clean up the remains of Chance’s lunch, then reached for the phone. He wanted to be the first to tell Sami the news.
Phineas Feral was in his tiny office, feet up on his desk, munching on taco chips. He had just finished a light lunch, and flipped on the TV to check out the noon newscast. He was having a reception at his art gallery later in the week, and he wanted to check on the weather forecast.
He watched the story on The SWAT Kats with mild interest, but paid more attention when he heard his sisters’ name mentioned. As soon as Ann Gora’s report concluded, Phineas’s phone began to ring. He ignored it, knowing it was undoubtedly one of his brothers. When the phone finally stopped ringing, Phineas picked it up and dialed his uncle’s office number.
Shaking his head, Tony Furlong switched off the tiny TV in the office trailer. He was glad his father wasn’t there. He hadn’t heard from Chance in a couple of weeks, but his brother hadn’t mentioned anything about Felina expecting a kitten. Tony wondered if he should call Chance, but decided to wait a while.
“Pregnant? Jake, are you sure? Did you and Chance know about it before now?”
“No, we didn’t know until Ann Gora told us,” Jake told Sami, “I doubt the TV station would take a chance on being sued if it wasn’t true.”
“What am I going to do?” Sami sounded quite forlorn, “I can’t leave, but I need to talk to her, and I’m damn worried about her.”
“I’m sure her uncle will look after her.”
“No, it’s not just that,” Sami continued, “I really need to talk to her,” she briefly filled Jake in on the strange transmissions she had heard.
“Have you heard anything new?”
“Well, sort of. It’s too faint to make out. Radio transmissions travel better at night.”
“If she asked you to keep and eye on the situation, I’m sure she’ll call,” Jake tried to soothe her, “Give it a little time. Felina’s not likely to forget, no matter what happens.”
“What hospital is she in?”
“OK, thanks, Jake,” Sami sounded a bit relieved, “How’s Chance?”
“I think the word stunned sums it up nicely.”
Janine knocked on Commander Feral’s office door, not sure what was going on. One of his nephews was on the phone, insisting there was an emergency and that he had to speak to his uncle. When the Commander called for her to come in, she opened the door to find him leaning against his desk, studying a large map of the city. Janine knew Feral was trying to coordinate the search for The SWAT Kats, but she could see his heart really wasn’t in it.
“What is it, Janine?” Feral looked up from his map.
“Your nephew, Phineas, is on the phone, Sir. He says it’s an emergency.”
“I’ll take it in here,” he reached for the phone, “Have a seat. This probably won’t take long, and I have some orders to dictate.”
Janine sat in a chair on the other side of the desk and watched as he took the call. It quickly became apparent there was something wrong, as Feral sat heavily in his chair, concern flooding his face. When Feral hung up the phone, Janine leaned forward, “What’s wrong?”
Feral covered his face with his paws for a moment, then looked up at her, “The reason Felina fainted in court this morning is because she’s two months pregnant.”
Janine raised her eyebrows, “I thought she’d been looking a bit under the weather lately.”
“Oh, it gets better,” Feral continued, as he stood up and put on his uniform coat, “Her parents are on the hospital board, and are there for some sort of reception this afternoon. I have to get there before they find out about this, or Felina may find herself with some very unwanted company.”
“How would they find out?”
“It was just all over the noon newscast, thanks to Ann Gora.”
“She certainly doesn’t miss a trick, does she?”
“No,” Feral growled, “Tell the day shift to continue searching for The SWAT Kats. They must be somewhere. I’ll be at the hospital.”
“Yes, Sir,” Janine watched as he left the office. She wondered how long Lieutenant Feral’s mysterious fiance would be in one piece.
“What do you mean, you can’t put me through? I told you, this is Enforcer Headquarters, and I have to speak to Lieutenant Feral!” Sami fumed into the phone. The switchboard operator again told her she had been instructed by Commander Feral to let no calls through except those from himself. Sami hung up in frustration.
Jake looked up from the paperwork he was doing in the garage office. After talking to Sami, he had gone down to the garage to take stock of everything. Burke and Murray had been there, but luckily there was only one message on the machine, something about a tune up. All that took second place to Chance’s current situation, though, “Yeah?”
“You wouldn’t be too upset about sharing this place with one more kat, would you?”
Jake grinned, “Don’t you mean two more kats?”
“Yeah, I guess I do,” Chance came over to stand next to Jake’s chair, “I just can’t figure out how it happened.”
“The usual way, I would guess.”
“Not that! I mean, Felina and I were always very careful…..extra careful, in fact.”
“Nothing’s one hundred percent,” Jake observed.
“True. Do you need me here?”
“I thought I’d go over to Felina’s place and meet her there.”
“OK by me. It’s also OK to share this place with her.”
“Thanks, Jake,” Chance turned to go.
“Just one thing,” Jake added.
“I don’t do diapers.”
Chance grinned, “I guess I do now.”
“Guess so, but, with your big family, at least you’ve had practice.”
Jake watched his friend get into the tow truck and drive off.
Feral got off the hospital elevator and started down the hall. Unfortunately, the voices coming down the corridor let him know he was too late. Helen Feral was letting Felina have it with both barrels. Feral quickened his pace.
“You are a disgrace, and utter disgrace!!” Helen accused Felina, pointing a finger at her daughter, “First, you join The Enforcers after we strictly forbade you to do so! Then, you get yourself arrested on felony charges! And now this!”
“Now, dear,” Menelaus tried to calm his wife, “I’m sure Felina didn’t do this on purpose.”
“Not on purpose?!?!?!” Helen sputtered, “It takes a deliberate act to get pregnant, Menelaus! Felina has been acting like a slut, and now she refuses to get an abortion or to reveal the father’s name! This behavior is Ulysses’ fault!!”
“Not quite, Helen,” Commander Feral said, entering the room and walking to Felina’s bedside. He took her paw in his, and found her to be trembling, “Is there some reason you two are torturing my niece? Especially in her condition?”
“In her condition?!?!?” screeched Helen, “Her condition, as you put it, has caused us no end of embarrassment!!” She took a couple of deep breaths, and seemed to try to compose herself.
Feral took that moment to check on Felina. Looking down at her, he noted she strongly reminded him of the kitten she once was. Her eyes were open wide, and Feral knew she was trying to keep from crying. Felina had stretched her free arm over her abdomen, as if trying to protect her kitten from Helen. Feral knew that feeling all too well. He looked up as Helen spoke again.
“From now on,” Helen’s voice was very cold, “We have no daughter.”
Feral heard Felina gasp, and he held her paw tighter as he turned to his brother, “Is this how you both feel?”
Menelaus nodded, “I’ve already instructed Alex to write her out of our wills as well. She never existed, as far as we’re concerned.”
“I see,” Feral released Felina’s paw and drew himself up to his full height, “Then I must ask the two of you to leave my daughter’s room.”
“What?” Helen and Menelaus asked together.
“You heard me,” Feral replied, “Felina is now to consider herself my daughter, if she wishes. And I want you two out of her room, and out of her life.”
“You can’t do this!!” Helen protested.
“Watch me,” Feral countered, moving toward them, “Now, get out of here before I arrest you for disturbing the peace!”
Helen and Menelaus, unsure if Ulysses would carry through on his threat, hastily left the room, not looking at Felina. Feral closed the door after them, then walked back over to sit on the bed beside Felina.
“Uncle,” Felina began, swallowing hard and looking up at him, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yes I did, Felina,” Feral answered, smiling and stroking her cheek, “I love you like a daughter, and I wasn’t about to let them hurt you anymore.”
“I, uh, are you sure you want me for a daughter? After,” she gestured to her midsection, “this?”
“I’m sure,” Feral responded, “Now, what are you going to do about that?”
“I need to talk to……the father before I decide anything.”
Felina bit her lip, “I’d rather not say. It’s not like we weren’t careful, we were, but……”
“And you are engaged,” he added.
“Your engagement bracelet was in your property envelope when you were in jail.”
“You really love him, don’t you?”
Felina nodded, not looking at her uncle.
“I won’t interfere, Felina. Unless, of course, the bum abandons you. Then he’ll answer to me!”
Felina finally smiled, and looked at him, “He won’t do that, Uncle. He’s a fine, upstanding kat. Actually, he reminds me of you somewhat.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Good, of course!”
Feral patted her shoulder, then stood up, “Do you need a ride home?”
“Yes, Lieutenant, home. You are dismissed for the rest of the day, until graduation at 7:30 tonight,” Feral told her, his tone not inviting argument, “I would dismiss you from that, but, as an instructor, you have to be there.”
“Then I guess I need a ride,” Felina got out of bed and went into the bathroom to change back into her uniform.
Sami’s fingers drummed on the console in front of her. She had tried to call Felina at home, but had only gotten the answering machine. She had left a message, but didn’t dare say anything specific. The strange transmissions had started again, and she needed to find someone to confer with. Finally, she decided she had no choice, and dialed Commander Feral’s office. When Janine answered, Sami asked to speak to Feral.
“He’s not available at the moment. Do you want to speak to Lieutenant Commander Steel?” Janine replied.
“No,” Sami knew she wasn’t that desperate…yet, “Can you have Commander Feral call down to the radio room as soon as he’s available?”
Opening the door to her apartment, Felina thought she had never been so happy to be home. She set her keys and the bag with her medicine in it on the table to the right, then closed and locked the door. Turning around, she scanned the living room, “Chance?”
“How’d you know?” Chance came out of the kitchen.
“Enforcer training,” she told him as she sat on the couch, “Besides, I saw the tow truck in the alley.”
“I tried to hide it,” he sat next to her, “How’re you feeling?”
“Better than this morning. Glad you two got away.”
“Sorry to run out on you.”
She shrugged, “You had the chance, and you took it. What else were you going to do.”
“I should have been with you,” he took her paw in his.
“I take it you saw Ann Gora’s report. My uncle told me about it on the way home.”
Chance nodded, “Look, we’re already engaged, why don’t we just go get married?”
Felina looked him in the eye, “Chance, I don’t want to get married just because I’m pregnant.”
“I originally asked you to marry me because I love you, not because you were pregnant.”
“I know you love me, and I love you. I just don’t want to rush things because we’re going to have a kitten,” she squeezed his paw, “Can’t we wait until after our kitten is born?”
“If that’s what you want, Beautiful. A kitten needs two parents, though.”
“I know,” she smiled at him, “As if you would ever not live up to your responsibility.”
“You’d hit me if I didn’t,” he grinned at her.
“And I’d tell my uncle, uh, father……”
“Let me tell you a story,” Felina related the scene in her hospital room for Chance.
“You mean, I’m now engaged to Feral’s daughter instead of his niece?” a look of mock horror crossed Chance’s face.
“And you got her pregnant,” Felina added.
“How did it happen?”
“You have to ask?”
“No, I mean, we were so careful.”
“Nothing’s one hundred percent.”
“That’s what Jake said.”
“Felina,” Chance’s voice took on a serious tone again, “Do you want to have an abortion? It would solve everything. I would really love to have a kitten with you, but I won’t stand in your way if you don’t want to have it.”
“No, Chance, I don’t want to have an abortion,” she answered softly, “It wouldn’t solve anything, and it’s not necessary. I want this kitten, and have the resources to take care of it. I appreciate you asking, though.”
“C’mon,” Chance stood up, then pulled Felina to her feet, “Let’s get out of here.”
“Because you need some peace and quiet,, and are not likely to get it around here,” Chance headed for the door, “Let’s go back to the garage.”
“But I need to get ready for the graduation ceremony tonight. Besides, why should I leave my own apartment?”
“I didn’t want to tell you,” Chance stopped and turned back around, “While I was waiting for you, Your brother Alex called. He left a message on your machine that was……less than sympathetic.”
Felina stood still for a few moments, her isolation from her family sinking in, “Let me get my stuff together. But I’m riding my bike. I don’t want to be stranded again.”
Chance nodded, and leaned back against the wall to wait for her.
“This is Feral.”
“Commander? This is Officer Higgins, in the radio room.”
“Higgins? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for graduation?”
“Yes, Sir. I mean, no, Sir.”
“Higgins, what exactly do you mean?”
“Well, Sir,” Sami cleared her throat, “Do you remember those strange transmissions I informed you about last night?”
“Higgins, I told you I’d take care of that. It had to do with the capture of The SWAT Kats.”
“I’ve picked up those transmissions again,” Sami explained, “And it definitely has nothing to do with The SWAT Kats.”
“What does it have to do with?”
“Pumadyne, and some hood named Fango.”
“Fango! He used to work for Mac and Molly Mange. Higgins, are you sure?”
After Sami told him, Feral dismissed her, then hung up the phone. He reached for his radio, but, before he could switch it on, Janine came charging into his office.
“We just got an emergency call from Pumadyne,” she announced, “They are being attacked!”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Feral groaned, “Dispatch choppers!”
“I can’t. All available units are hunting for The SWAT Kats.”
“Damn!” Feral snapped on the radio, “This is Feral. All units, break off search and head for Pumadyne! Emergency situation!”
“They’ll never make it in time,” Janine observed, “And they’ll be low on fuel.”
“Any suggestions?” Feral looked at her sharply.
“Is it still on the roof?”
“No, but I can guess who has it.”
Feral gave Janine another sharp look, “Get me Deputy Mayor Briggs on the phone.”
“Should I throw rice?” Jake asked from the couch as Chance and Felina walked into the living room.
“She turned me down, at least for now,” Chance grinned as he set Felina’s stuff down on a chair.
“Wonder why,” Jake rolled his eyes.
“Still want your kiss, Jake?” Felina stood behind the couch.
“Sure. You’re not married yet.”
Felina giggled, then reached out and took off Jake’s hat. Planting a kiss firmly between his ears, she plunked the hat back on his head.
“Ooooo, baby,” Jake fanned himself, “I can’t stand it!”
“Who are you and what have you done with Jake Clawson?” Felina wondered, “A few days ago, if I had done that, you probably would have fainted.”
“Not from getting a kiss from my soon to be sister-in-law, and future housemate,” Jake replied.
“Yeah,” Chance put in, coming up beside her, “Twice over.”
“Twice over?” Now Felina was really confused.
“Sure,” Chance smiled at her, “Jake and I are like brothers, and you said before Sami is like a sister to you. Family is what you make it.”
Realization dawned on Felina, “You called Jake while I was in the bedroom getting my stuff together!”
“Busted!” Jake laughed.
“I just want to make sure you know you’re not alone, Beautiful,” Chance said softly.
“I don’t think being alone is going to be a problem,” Felina patted her midsection, “But sleep might.”
Chance was about to answer her when the alarm claxon went off.
“Think it’s another trap?” Felina looked from one tom-kat to the other.
“Only one way to find out,” Chance fished a communicator out of his pocket, “Yes, Ms Briggs?”
“Thank the Goddess you answered,” came Callie’s voice, “Guys, we’ve got a problem.”
“A gang of thugs managed to break into an Enforcer weapons storage area at Pumadyne. They stole what they could carry, and are fleeing in a tank out of the city. The Enforcers were busy hunting you two, and can’t get it together to catch these fiends. We need your help.”
“How do we know this isn’t a trap?”
“I just had Manx sign pardons for you both.”
Chance looked at Jake, who nodded. He then turned back to the communicator, “We’re on it, Ms. Briggs. Which way were they headed?”
“North. Thanks, T-Bone. I promise I won’t let Manx slip something like this past me again.”
“No problem,” Chance switched off the communicator, “Ready to rock and roll, buddy?”
“You bet,” Jake stood up.
“What about me?” Felina protested.
“Stay here,” Chance called as he and Jake headed for the hangar, “If this is a trap, we may need backup.”
Felina started to protest, then decided Chance might be right. Besides, she’d only slow them down. Next time, however, they had better take her with them, pregnant or not.
Feral leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. It had been a long day, and he still had to catch Fango and attend the graduation ceremony. His chopper should be ready soon, he reminded himself. Opening his eyes, he found Janine standing next to his chair.
“The SWAT Kats are in pursuit of Fango,” she told him, “You did the right thing.”
“Turning the safety of Megakat City over to those two vigilantes? I’m glad you think it was the right thing, because I certainly don’t.”
“What other choice did you have?”
“Taking care of it myself,” Feral sat up.
“With no choppers or jets available, and all your Enforcers on the wrong side of town?”
“You’ve made your point, Janine,” Feral growled, “I just hope those two don’t get any ideas that we’re friends now.”
“I’m sure they won’t,” Janine smiled at his gruffness, “Your chopper is ready and waiting, Sir.”
“Thank you,” Feral stood up and headed out the door.
“Do you see what I see, Razor?” T-Bone asked, banking the jet.
“Criminal scum at two o’clock? Yep,” Razor replied, his eyes on his targeting scope, “Looks like they swiped a nice tank.”
“Wonderful,” T-Bone grumbled, squinting with the sunlight in his eyes, “I wonder what else they got.”
Razor didn’t get the opportunity to answer. Before he could open his mouth, the tank below fired a high-powered laser at The Turbokat. It took all T-Bone’s skill to react in time, and the bolt passed harmlessly under the left wing.
“You had to ask,” Razor mumbled, resetting his scope.
“Sorry,” T-Bone brought the jet around for another pass, keeping an eye on that laser cannon.
Razor drew a bead on the tank, “Almost got it.”
“Pretend it’s a bowling pin,” T-Bone suggested.
“Buzz-saw missiles, away!” Razor called, punching a button on his console. The two watched as Razor’s missiles did their work, shearing off the front and back of the tank, stopping it cold.
“Strike!” Razor grinned.
“Nice shooting, buddy,” T-Bone congratulated him, “Think we should mop up down there?”
“Naw, let The Enforcers deal with it,” Razor pointed to the three helicopters landing near the remains of the tank.
“This is Feral,” came a familiar voice over their radio, “You two are under arrest!”
“Hey, Feral, your buddy Manx pardoned us, remember?” T-Bone snapped into his microphone.
“For past crimes,” Feral pointed out, “You two just destroyed an Enforcer tank.”
“While stopping a major crime!” Razor cut in.
“Nevermind, bud,” T-Bone switched off the radio, “Feral’s always gonna find something to blame us for,” he pointed the jet towards home.
“You sure you want to marry into that family, T-Bone?”
“I’m sure I want Felina to marry out of it.”
Sami sat nervously in her seat, not really listening to Commander Feral’s speech. Graduation was finally here, but she was too worried about Felina to care. Even the pep talk her parents had given her before the ceremony hadn’t helped, nor the quick kiss from Jake. She knew Jake and her parents were proud of her, and she was proud of herself, but she couldn’t get her mind off Felina.
In the back of the room, Jake was craning his head to get a glimpse of Sami, who was sitting in the first seat, since she was the top student. He and Chance were stuck against the back wall, trying to stay out of sight, or at least out of Feral’s sight. Still, Jake was worried about her. Sami had seemed down in the dumps tonight.
“Careful, Jake,” Chance pulled his friend back into the shadows, “It’s almost over. Then you get to meet her parents.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” Jake leaned against the wall, “What are you and Felina gonna do while I’m gone?”
“I’ve got plans,” was all Chance would say.
After Feral was finally finished, he introduced the instructors from the Officer Training School. Each one received polite applause, until Felina’s name was called. She stood up to silence, her proud bearing crushing Chances’s heart. Suddenly, with a loud war whoop from Sami, every Enforcer and cadet in the building stood up and gave Felina a thunderous standing ovation. It was no secret who’s side they were on. Chance and Jake laughed and joined in. It was Jake who pointed out to Chance that Felina was now wearing her engagement bracelet out in the open.
“She’s one in a million,” Chance informed Jake, “As a matter of fact, both Felina and Sami are.”
“Bingo!” Jake grinned back.
After Felina returned to her seat, and Feral managed to quiet the crowd, he had a special announcement to make, “I have become more and more impressed over recent months with our top cadet, Sami Higgins. She had shown excellent marks in the classroom as well as in the field. Further more, she thinks fast on her feet, and shows concern for her fellow Enforcers and civilians alike. Because of her recent actions, many dangerous criminals were apprehended just hours before this ceremony.”
It wasn’t lost on Jake, Chance, Callie, Felina, or Janine that Feral didn’t mention who did the apprehending, but they were all in too good a mood to care.
“In light of her outstanding record,” Feral continued, “I will be assigning Second Lieutenant Higgins to one of our top squadrons, in a very important position. And now, please, let’s all give a warm welcome to our newest Enforcers,” Feral stepped away from the podium and gave the cadets their moment in the spotlight.
“We better split, Jake,” Chance whispered, “You need the truck?”
“Yeah,” Jake turned reluctantly and followed Chance out, taking the keys from his partner, “How you gonna get home?”
“Felina’ll take me.”
The two stopped at the bottom of the stairs outside The Enforcer Building, and Chance turned to survey Jake’s outfit, “Hey, you look great in a suit, you know that?” he reached out to adjust Jake’s tie, and got his paw smacked, “Just be yourself, Jake. You’re every mother’s dream. You’re polite, quiet, respectful…….”
“A mechanic,” Jake snapped back.
“Now you sound like me.”
“You come close.”
The two friends smiled at each other before going in opposite directions, Jake heading for the truck and Chance for a diner a few blocks away.
Felina threaded her way through the crowd, looking for Sami. Spotting her friend across the room, Felina felt a momentary pang of jealously as Sami’s parents fussed over their only child.
“Feeling better?” Feral’s voice came from behind her.
“Yes, Uncle,” she turned to face him, “Much better.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” he moved closer to her, “And what was you know-who’s reaction when you told him the news?” He gestured to her engagement bracelet.
“He wanted to get married right away.”
Feral’s eyebrows shot up. He fought to keep his voice low, “You refused?”
“Yes, Uncle. I don’t want to rush into marriage because I’m pregnant.”
“But he will be responsible for the kitten?”
“Of course. You raised me better than to get involved to a kat with no sense of responsibility.”
Finally, Feral smiled at her, “You seem to have good judgement, Felina. In friends as well as fiances.”
“Speaking of which, what’s Sami’s new assignment?”
“To be your wingkat.”
Felina’s eyes sparkled with glee, “Seriously?”
“What better place for her? Teach her well, Felina. I’m counting on you. Now, I better go see Deputy Mayor Briggs, before she hunts me down.”
“Shouldn’t you find Janine as well?”
“What do you mean by that comment, Lieutenant?”
“Nothing, Commander, not a thing,” Felina smiled as she turned and moved toward her new wingkat.
Finally getting out of the crush of kats, and promising Sami she’d call later, Felina took a deep breath of the cool night air. She really felt like going home to bed, but had promised Chance she’d meet him first. Descending the stairs, she headed for a diner a few blocks away. It was the one Harry Snow liked so much. Walking in, she looked around to see Chance sitting with another tom-kat. Curious, she tried to figure out who he was, but couldn’t place him.
“Here she is,” Chance motioned her over. Felina approached the table, smiled at Chance, then slid into the booth next to him. After a moment, she looked over at the other kat.
“Good evening,” she greeted them both.
“Felina, meet my brother, Tony. Tony, this is Felina Feral,” Chance made the introductions.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Tony said, smiling warmly, “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Same here,” Felina sized up Tony, noting the younger kat’s resemblance to Chance.
“Congratulations, by the way. To both of you.”
“Excuse me?” Felina was startled out of her examination of him.
Tony gestured to her wrist, “On your engagement, and the little one on the way.”
“Oh,” Felina blushed slightly, “Thank you.”
“Now, when are you two gonna get married?” Tony wanted to know, “A kitten needs two parents.”
“You two are definitely related,” Felina grinned.
“Don’t be giving me any lectures, little bro,” Chance waived a finger at Tony.
“Why not? Besides, she’s a damn sight prettier than you, so I won’t mind admitting she’s part of the family,” Tony paused for a moment, then continued, “Now, in your case, a paper bag might help.”
Chance looked over to see Felina laughing, her eyes twinkling at him and his brother. He grinned at her, “You’re not helping.”
“I can’t,” she gasped between giggles.
“Does this mean you approve, bro?” Chance turned back to Tony.
“Of course, I approve, as if you needed my approval,” Tony returned, “Although, I still think you must have drugged her, to get her to say yes,” he grinned wickedly at Chance, then held out a paw to Felina, “Welcome to the Furlong family. Hope you brought your crash helmet.”
“Thanks,” Felina shook his paw, “That’s one of the best offers I’ve had all day.”
“Better than mine?” Chance asked her, putting his arm around her shoulders.
“Nothing’s better than you, Hotshot,” Felina informed him, kissing him right in front of Tony.
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