Rock and a Hard Drive
By Jade F. Callan
(For John, who has a life – sometimes)
Felina awoke rather early, even though she had been planning to sleep in. She had spent yesterday moving into her new apartment, and all the cleaning and unpacking had really worn her out. No sense just lying around, she thought to herself as she threw back the covers. Felina got out of bed, showered, dressed in her uniform (leaving off the bullet-proof vest and gun for now), and wandered into the kitchen. Making coffee, she also got out a couple of donuts from the breadbox. As she was puttering around the kitchen, the phone rang. She picked it up on the second ring,
“Hello?” Felina spoke into the phone.
“Felina?” Commander Feral’s voice came over the line, “Didn’t wake you up, did I?”
“No, Uncle,” Felina smiled, “I was just making breakfast.”
“You’ve got food already? Impressive,” Feral said.
“What kind of an Enforcer would I be without my donuts?” Felina laughed.
“Indeed,” Feral joined in her laughter for a moment, then grew serious, “Do you still think it was wise to move out of Enforcer Headquarters, Felina?”
“Uncle, we’ve had this conversation before,” she replied, “It’s been almost seven weeks since we busted Konclyn, and he hasn’t so much as sent me a little love note from Alkat-traz. If he had been planning something, he would have tried to take me out during the trial.”
“All right,” Feral sighed, “But I’d feel better if you weren’t so far away.”
“Ten blocks?” Felina asked, “Besides, it was time for me to move. My housing allotment was going to expire next month anyway.”
“Only if I signed the termination,” Commander Feral pointed out.
“No special favors, Uncle!” Felina warned him.
“Your life was threatened, Felina. I don’t consider that a special favor,” he snapped back.
“Uncle, I’m not going to live my life under lock and key just because some criminal takes exception to being arrested,” she informed him, “Now, can we please stop arguing about this?”
“OK,” Feral gave in, “Just watch yourself.”
“I will,” she promised, “See you this afternoon, Uncle.”
“Goodbye, Lieutenant,” Feral hung up.
Replacing the phone, Felina smiled to herself. At least he cared, she thought. Her parents hadn’t called or stopped by, nor were they likely to. This place wasn’t upscale enough for a rich financier and his wife. Oh, well, Felina thought as she poured herself some coffee, at least I don’t have to worry about unannounced visitors. Just then, there was a knock at the front door. Setting down the coffee pot, she walked to the door and peered out the peep hole.
“T-Bone!” Felina exclaimed, unlocking the door and opening it.
“Good morning! I brought breakfast,” T-Bone grinned at her as he stepped through the doorway, “I hope you like chocolate donuts.”
“I do,” she told him as she shut and relocked the door behind him, “which is why I got some last night. But the more the merrier. Enforcers can never have too many donuts around. C’mon, I just made coffee,” Felina led him to the kitchen. T-Bone set a bag of donuts on the table as she poured another cup of coffee. The two sat at Felina’s small table, enjoying their breakfast.
“Nice place,” T-Bone commented, looking around.
“I like it,” Felina replied, “Good location, security, small and easy to clean. Of course, buying furniture, curtains, and other household items did set me back a bit, but the privacy’s worth it.”
“Do you think it was wise to move out of Enforcer Headquarters so soon after busting Konclyn?” T-Bone looked at her over his coffee mug.
“Don’t you start too,” Felina protested, “I just had this argument with my Uncle.”
“OK, OK,” T-Bone backed down, “I’m just worried about you, that’s all.”
Felina wasn’t quite sure what to do with this piece of news, “Why?”
“Why?” T-Bone put down his coffee and reached for her paw, “You really have to ask?”
“Not really,” Felina smiled at him as he took her paw in his.
“Have the nightmares stopped, Felina?” T-Bone asked.
“How did you know about that?” her eyes widened in surprise.
“Gee, you’ve had trouble sleeping for the past few weeks, you have dark circles under your eyes most of the time, and a lot of headaches,” T- Bone replied, “It wasn’t hard to guess.”
“Yes, they’ve stopped,” it wasn’t quite a lie. After all, she was down to one or two nightmares a week.
T-Bone gave her a sharp look, “Are you sure?”
When Felina bit her lip and looked away, T-Bone had his answer.
“They’re going away,” she told him quietly.
“Anything I can do to help?” his voice was softer.
“Yeah, you can take this,” Felina withdrew her paw from his, reached into her pocket, and gave him a set of keys, “It helps to know you’ll be able to drop by.”
“OK by me,” T-Bone dropped the keys into his own pocket, “Now, about those nightmares, Felina…….”
“I don’t want to talk about it!” she declared, getting up from the table and walking into the living room. T-Bone got up and followed her.
“All right, we won’t talk about it,” T-Bone said, “for now.”
Felina turned and looked at him, “I just want to put all of it behind me. A new apartment, a new day, a new start,” she smiled at him.
“Fine. Consider the subject closed,” T-Bone replied, silently adding for now’ to the end of that statement.
“Besides, I can think of better things to do with my time than worrying about Leo Konclyn,” Felina walked towards him.
“Such as?” T-Bone grinned at her.
“This,” reaching him, Felina wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close, kissing him long and deep. T-Bone’s arms slid around her, and he returned her kiss.
“Definitely a better use of your time, and mine for that matter,” T- Bone told her when they came up for air.
“Then why are we stopping?” Felina wanted to know.
“Good question,” T-Bone answered, and the two began to kiss again. Soon, it became obvious that they were headed for a lot more than just kissing, “Felina, either we move this somewhere else, or we stop,” T-Bone breathed into her ear.
“We’d better stop,” Felina backed out of his arms, rebuttoning her shirt, “I’m on duty in a little while. We’ve waited a long time for this, I don’t want to rush it now.”
“Sorry,” T-Bone straightened his own clothes.
“Don’t be,” she said, tucking in her shirt, “I’m the one who spoiled it.”
“I better go. Razor will be wondering where I am, and we’ve got a lot of work to do today,” he turned and headed for the door.
“OK,” she followed him, “T-Bone?”
“Yeah?” he turned to face her.
“You’re not angry, are you?” Felina asked.
“No,” T-Bone answered her, “but I wish reality had been a little slower in stepping in.”
“Me too,” Felina smiled at him.
“Take care of yourself,” T-Bone told her as he opened the door, “and watch your back,” he leaned over to kiss her, then walked out.
“You too,” she called as she watched him walk down the hall and out the stairwell door. Closing her front door, Felina leaned back against it.
“Crud!!” was all she could think of to say.
Hard Drive, his cap pulled down low over his brow, slowly walked past Enforcer Headquarters. The case holding his surge coat swung at the end of his right arm. The fools will never know what hit them, he thought to himself. Turning the corner, Hard Drive chuckled to himself, contemplating the fun afternoon he was going to have, not to mention the havoc he was going to cause for the Enforcers.
“Hey, Jake!” Chance called from outside the garage, “C’mere, I think I found something!”
“What’s up?” Jake asked, coming out of the garage to see his partner up to his elbows in the latest pile of scrap Burke and Murray had left that morning.
“Check this out,” Chance gave a mighty tug, and fell backwards as the guidance system from an Enforcer jet sprang free from the pile of scrap.
“Cool!” Jake walked over and helped Chance up, then examined the heap of circuitry, “I can use this!”
“I figured as much,” Chance smiled at his friend’s delight, “We can take it apart tonight and see if it’s totally blown or still salvageable.”
“It looks OK to me,” Jake told him as he carried the equipment into the garage.
“Just what you need,” Chance said, following Jake inside, “Stuff to make more gadgets!”
Jake looked up from the workbench he had set the guidance system down on and smiled at Chance, “Where would we be without some of my gadgets, might I ask?”
“No argument from me,” Chance walked over to the workbench to have a look, “How is it?”
“Not bad,” Jake answered, “There’s a lot here I can use. I’m gonna take it inside. We can take it down to the hanger later,” he scooped up the components and headed into the house, “Be right back.”
Chance watched his partner go, and he could tell Jake was already planning what to do with the components from that guidance system. Jake’s mind is always working, thought Chance, always turning something over in there. Wonder what he would make of me and Felina? Chance was still contemplating Jake’s reaction to his love life when his friend returned.
“What’s up, Chance?” Jake asked, “You look a million miles away.”
Chance paused for a moment. Should he tell Jake about Felina or not?
“Jake to Chance, come in Chance,” Jake waved his paw in front of Chance’s face.
“Huh?” Chance looked at Jake, and decided now was not the time for revelations, “Nothing. Let’s get back to work,” he headed back outside.
Jake leaned against the workbench, watching Chance return to the yard. He’s been awfully preoccupied lately, Jake thought.
Felina quickly scooped up the leftover donuts and tossed them into the breadbox. She turned off the coffee maker and stacked the dishes in the sink. Hurrying into the bedroom, she put on her bullet-proof vest and strapped on her gun. After T-Bone had left, she had lingered at the table, reading the paper and thinking about this and that, and now she had to hurry or she would be late. Rushing out of the bedroom, Felina snatched up her keys and charged out the door, locking it tightly behind her. Eschewing the elevator, she ran down the seven flights to the main door of her building. Felina tore down the front steps and dashed down the sidewalk in the direction of the Enforcer Building. At least this’ll be good for me physically, she thought.
Hard Drive slunk through the shadows in the alley behind the Enforcer Building, clutching his case tightly. Time to pay the Enforcers a little visit. Setting the case down on the pavement, he popped the lid, took out his surge coat, and slipped it on with a sly grin.
“Party time!” he announced. Clenching his fists, Hard Drive activated his coat, converting himself into electronic impulses. Like a bolt of lightning, Hard Drive shot off the pavement and into the power lines above. Finding the correct wire, he zapped himself into the Enforcer Building – and straight into their main computer. Soon, Hard Drive was sifting through the computer files, copying sensitive information, not to mention causing other sorts of havoc throughout the building.
Felina charged up the stairs of the Enforcer Building, only minutes to spare before the start of her shift. She punched the electronic release for the door, but it didn’t open.
“Crud! The door’s broken again! Just what I need!” Felina groaned. She banged on the door, but no one answered.
“Commander Feral!” the intercom on Feral’s desk screeched to life, “There’s a hacker in our computer system!”
Feral’s fist came down on the response button, “Shut down all systems! We can’t afford to……..a hacker? How did he get through our computer fire wall?”
“I don’t know, sir,” came the reply, “Shutting down all systems.”
“This sounds like one of Hard Drive’s schemes,” Feral growled, “I want a full report on all the files he came in contact with as soon as possible.” Feral snapped off the intercom as he rose to his feet.
Hard Drive was joyfully scanning the files in the Enforcer main computer when a new message interrupted his information feed, access denied – system going down’. With a howl, he realized they were going to try to trap him inside the computer. His only escape was to zap his way through the secondary systems, back to the power lines, and out of the building. Now, which way to go………….aha!
“Don’t lose him!” Feral growled into the ear of the computer tech. He had come down to the main computer room to observe the situation first hand. The tech had been chasing the intruder through system after system, trying to box him in. Suddenly, a familiar face appeared on the screen to Feral’s left.
“Tag, Commander,” Hard Drive purred, “You’re it! Catch me if you can!” With that, the face disappeared.
“Hard Drive! I knew it!” Feral yelled, “Don’t let him get away!”
“I’m trying, sir,” the tech told him, “but he’s very fast.”
“I know, I know,” Feral growled, still watching the screen.
Felina considered blasting the front door open, but didn’t really feel like explaining it to her uncle. Well, there’s always the garage, she thought, charging back down the steps and around the side of the building. She was late already, so the extra time it would take to get clearance through the garage sentry wasn’t going to make that much of a difference. Arriving at the main entrance, however, Felina was stopped by three guards.
“Sorry, Lieutenant,” one of the guards said, “No one’s allowed in.”
“But I’m on duty!” Felina protested, “What’s going on?”
“Hard Drive broke into the computer system,” the guard told her, “Commander Feral’s shut everything down and closed the building.”
“Crud!” Felina looked beyond the guards, up at the Enforcer Building, and saw lights flashing on and off, undoubtedly the work of Hard Drive. She folded her arms and squared off against the three guards, ready to bluster her way in, when a loud crash made all four turn toward the garage entrance……..
Hard Drive raced through the Enforcer computer system, dodging the traps set for him and trying to cause as much damage as possible. Finally, though, it became obvious that he had little room left to maneuver, and he began to search for an escape route. Finding one, he quickly zapped himself into the garage on the main floor. Looking around, Hard Drive found just what he was hoping for. Transportation!
“He’s gone, Commander,” the tech said, scanning the screens.
“Gone where?” Feral wanted to know.
“He exited the system in the garage,” came the answer.
“The garage? Oh, no!” Feral groaned, “Shut down all systems in that area!”
“I can’t, sir,” the tech informed him, “Hard Drive changed all the passwords.”
“All right, I’m going down there,” Feral marched out of the room and headed for the elevators.
Felina and the other three Enforcers could only stare as one of the new tanks broke down the garage door.
“That must be Hard Drive,” Felina said.
The tank turned and headed straight for the four Enforcers, who just managed to scramble out of the way as it crashed through the gate and out onto the street.
“Oh no, you don’t, Hard Drive!” Felina, with a graceful leap, managed to get a ride on the top of the tank. She drew her weapon, popped open the hatch, and was just about to leap down into the tank when Hard Drive turned from the controls and zapped her with an energy burst. Blacking out, Felina fell forward into the tank, the hatch slamming shut behind her.
“Just what I need, company,” Hard Drive spat as he programmed the tank’s auto-driver. As the vehicle careened down the street, Hard Drive burned the seat belt off one of the chairs in the tank and used the straps to tie up Felina. He propped her up in a corner, then turned his attention back to the tank controls.
Commander Feral surveyed the damage to the garage. Clenching his fists, he turned to the three guards who had been stationed by the gate, “What happened?”
“Hard Drive stole one of our new tanks, sir,” one guard told him, “and simply drove through the gate.”
“Let’s get after him!” Feral shouted. He reached for the radio on the wall, “This is Feral. I want choppers in the air and after Hard Drive! Have my chopper ready!” With that, the Commander stomped over to the elevators and punched the button. When the doors opened, he entered the elevator and pressed the button for the roof.
“Hey, Chance,” Jake leaned out the kitchen window on the second floor of the garage and called to his partner, “Time for lunch!”
“OK,” Chance’s voice drifted over the salvage yard, “Be right there.”
Jake pulled his head back in and walked to the refrigerator, opened it, and got out two cans of milk. Closing the fridge, Jake leaned back against it. He was beat, and it was barely afternoon. Chance had uncovered a few more gems out in the salvage yard that morning, and Jake began to contemplate spending the afternoon examining circuitry instead of working on cars.
“Now who’s a million miles away?” Chance’s voice boomed into the kitchen.
Jake, shaken out of his reprieve, smiled at Chance and walked over to the table, depositing the two cans of milk, “Turn on the TV, will you? I want to watch the news,” he sat down at the table.
“Sure,” Chance went over to the TV and flipped it on, picked up the remote, and then returned to the kitchen. On the table, he found a large tuna pizza, nice and hot. Sitting down, he grinned at Jake and grabbed a couple of slices of pizza.
Jake reached over and got his own lunch, and opened his can of milk, “Find anything else?” he asked Chance, biting into a piece of pizza.
“Nope,” Chance replied around his own pizza, “just junk. What are you gonna do with that stuff, anyway?”
“I got an idea for some new missiles, but I need to build a couple of prototypes first,” Jake answered.
“Hey, what’s this?” Chance picked up the remote and turned up the volume on the TV.
“This is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News, here with a special report,” came from the TV, “Today, Hard Drive, that high tech hood, broke into Enforcer Headquarters and gained access to sensitive information. He then escaped in one of the new tanks just delivered from Pumadyne yesterday.”
“Leave it to Feral to lose a crook who broke into his own building!” Chance commented as they watched.
“Yeah, I wonder how long it took Feral to notice Hard Drive was there,” Jake said. The two turned their attention back to the TV.
“The runaway tank had caused extensive damage,” Ann Gora’s voice reported over pictures of chaos from downtown Megakat City, “The Enforcers are in pursuit, and ….,” the TV went dark.
“Think we should give Feral a hand?” Chance asked, tossing the remote into the living room as he stood up.
“Why not? It beats working on transmissions,” Jake got up and headed for the access hatch to the hanger, Chance hard on his heels.
Felina slowly became aware that just about every nerve ending in her body hurt. What the hell had Hard Drive hit her with? She came to the realization that she was still in the tank, but her paws were tied behind her, and her gun was gone.
“Welcome, Lieutenant,” Hard Drive greeted her.
Felina looked up to see the techno-weasel grinning at her from the driver’s seat of the tank, “You’re under arrest, Hard Drive!” she snapped.
“You are hardly in a position to make threats, Lieutenant,” Hard Drive pointed out, “Now, just stay right there. As soon as we get out of the city, I’ll drop you off – for a price.”
Felina bit back a retort, reminding herself to think. There had to be a way out of this. What were Hard Drive’s weaknesses?
Commander Feral leaned forward in his seat, craning to see the tank Hard Drive was running amok in.
“There he is, sir,” the pilot said, pointing to the right out the windscreen of the chopper.
“I see him,” Feral answered, “Don’t loose him,” Feral briefly wondered why Felina wasn’t his pilot, as she had been assigned to be, but dismissed the thought quickly and concentrated on Hard Drive, “Get closer, I’m going to blast that tank!”
“Yes, sir,” the pilot brought the chopper down close to the ground, just behind the runaway tank.
“Hard Drive, this is Feral,” the Commander spoke into the radio, “You’re under arrest! Give yourself up!”
“Not today, Commander!” Hard Drive replied, as his tank took out two parked cars.
Feral’s thumb hovered over the firing button, “I’m taking you in, Hard Drive!” he growled. Before he could press the button, the screech of jet engines filled the air. Feral turned to scan the sky.
“Need help, Commander?” T-Bone asked as the Turbokat came in low over the Enforcer helicopter.
Feral turned back towards the scene below, only to find that Hard Drive had moved out of range down a side street, “What are you two hotshots doing here?” he demanded.
“We thought you could use the help,” T-Bone told him, “Especially since you let Hard Drive not only break into the Enforcer Building, but back out again.”
Feral’s jaw set in a stubborn line, “Why can’t you two just stay out of the way?” he demanded, as his pilot again closed in on the tank below.
T-Bone turned away from his radio and said to Razor, “Think you can stop Hard Drive’s joy ride?”
“Already got him in my sights,” Razor told him, “Missiles locked and loaded. Get us in a little closer……,” Razor flipped up the cover on the firing button.
“Looks like Feral’s closing in, too,” T-Bone observed as he brought the jet in low.
“I wouldn’t be too quick to fire if I were you,” Hard Drive’s voice came over the radio in both the Turbokat and the Enforcer helicopter, “I’m not alone in here.”
“Do you really expect me to believe that, you con?” Feral wanted to know, his thumb on the firing button.
“Did you think we’d fall for that old trick?” Razor put in, his missiles still locked on target.
“Ask her yourself,” Hard Drive turned around to face Felina, “Unless you want to be blown apart, I’d suggest you make your presence known,” he held out the radio microphone to her.
Felina hesitated, but realized Hard Drive was right, she had to speak, “This is Lieutenant Feral,” she called into the microphone, “Hard Drive has taken me hostage.”
“Felina?” Commander Feral couldn’t believe his ears. Carefully, he lifted his finger off the firing button, “Fall back, we can’t risk hurting Felina,” he instructed the pilot, who complied.
“Wait a minute,” T-Bone said, “How do we know this isn’t a trick? Prove that’s really her.”
Hard Drive looked at Felina expectantly. She drew her brows down and spoke again into the microphone, “When Viper crashed the party at Enforcer Headquarters and I bailed out of my helicopter, you caught me.”
“Not good enough,” T-Bone shot back.
“I was wearing a dress instead of my uniform,” she added, “Convinced yet, T-Bone?”
Razor eased his thumb off the firing button, “Sure sounds like Lieutenant Feral to me, T-Bone.”
“I think your right,” T-Bone lifted the jet higher into the sky, still keeping the tank in sight.
“Well, now,” Hard Drive’s voice came over the radio, “Perhaps a deal is in order. You Ferals have lots of money, Commander. How much is your niece worth to you?” Behind him, Felina’s face darkened. She started to mumble something under her breath.
“How much do you want, you scum?” Feral’s voice was cold.
“Oh, how about five hundred thousand? I’m not greedy,” Hard Drive replied.
“If you hurt her…….” T-Bone cut in.
“As long as I get my money, she’ll be fine,” Hard Drive programmed a new course into the tanks’ computer, “I’m heading out towards the foothills, why don’t you pick up the money, Commander, and meet me there? See you soon,” Hard Drive cut the connection.
Behind Hard Drive, Felina continued to mumble, “1000111, 110010, 1110100….”
“Follow him,” Feral instructed his pilot, “I have a few arrangements to make.”
“Yes, sir,” the pilot replied. Both the Enforcer helicopter and the Turbokat followed the tank as it sped out of Megakat City.
“What do you want to do, bud?” Razor asked.
“I guess all we can do is follow him,” T-Bone answered, “and wait for a chance to nail that geek. We can’t risk hurting Felina.”
“Right,” Razor replied.
The Turbokat flew in lower, over the Enforcer helicopter already trailing the runaway tank.
Feral leaned back in his chair, contemplating the situation. He had contacted Enforcer Headquarters and ordered backup, but told them to hang back. Those wretched SWAT Kats were an irritant, but he was more concerned about Felina at the moment. Feral had the money on one of the backup choppers, but hoped it didn’t come down to giving it to Hard Drive. Not that Felina wasn’t worth it and more, but it rubbed Feral the wrong way to give into blackmail.
Behind Hard Drive, Felina was still mumbling, “1100001,…”
Hard Drive began to notice his surge coat systems were getting a little slower. As he approached the outskirts of Megakat City, the tank began to weave a bit.
“Hey, T-Bone,” Razor said, “Check out Hard Drive’s driving. He’s all over the place!”
“You’re right,” T-Bone replied, looking down at the weaving tank, “He’s been getting worse since he left Megakat City.”
“Wonder if Lieutenant Feral’s up to something?” Razor speculated.
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” T-Bone grinned.
“Commander,” Feral’s pilot called for attention, “the tank’s movements are becoming quite erratic.”
Feral turned to the pilot, “I noticed. Don’t lose him. Something is either wrong with the tank, or with the driver.”
“Do you suppose Lieutenant Feral could be affecting the situation somehow?” the pilot asked.
“I certainly hope so,” Feral answered.
Hard Drive struggled to keep the tank on an even course. The systems in his surge coat seemed to be slowing down even more, and he couldn’t figure out why, “Gotta think, gotta concentrate,” he muttered to himself.
From her corner, Felina continued to speak in a low voice, “1101100, 1101001, 1100110, 1100101…..,”
With a growl of frustration, Hard Drive snatched up the radio microphone and spoke into it, “Got my money yet, Feral?” he asked as the tank careened along the rural road.
“If I refuse?” Feral’s voice came over the radio, hard and cold. Felina’s eyes widened, but she kept on mumbling.
“I’ll zzzzaaappp yourrrr niece but gooooddd!” Hard Drive replied, his speech slurring.
“You’ll get your money, Hard Drive,” Feral reassured him, “Just don’t hurt Felina.”
Hard Drive snapped off the radio and threw down the microphone. What the hell was wrong with his surge coat? He started to run a systems check, but found it was impossible to do that and drive the tank at the same time, too many of his systems had slowed down.
Felina realized she was having an effect on Hard Drive, and began to speak even slower, “1111001, 1101111, 1110101….”
“What’s wrong with this guy?” T-Bone wanted to know, watching the tank swerve and weave along the road below.
“Dunno, but whatever it is, he’s in trouble,” Razor replied.
“Good thing he’s out of the city,” T-Bone said, “I just wish there was a way to stop him without hurting Felina.”
“Roger that,” Razor responded, “I hope he doesn’t crash that tank, though.”
T-Bone nodded grimly as the two continued to follow the tank’s erratic course across the countryside.
“I want that road block established about ten miles from our current location,” Feral snapped into the radio, “That should be far enough outside the city to prevent any civilians from getting hurt.” Feral switched off the radio.
“Um, sir?” the pilot piped up, “What about Lieutenant Feral?”
“I have faith in her,” Commander Feral answered, his jaw again set in a stubborn line, “and I’m sure she knows, as an Enforcer, what has to be done.”
“Yes, sir,” the pilot gulped.
“What’s Feral up to now?” T-Bone wondered, “Look up there, Razor.”
Razor looked out of the cockpit as T-Bone flipped the jet upside down, “Some sort of road block. Probably a good idea, considering the way Hard Drive’s driving.”
“What about Felina?” T-Bone asked as he flipped the Turbokat back over.
“I can’t believe Feral would hurt his niece,” Razor pointed out, “But, then again, he is a bit slow.”
“I don’t like this,” T-Bone announced, “Let’s get closer.”
The Turbokat swooped down low over Feral’s helicopter.
Inside the tank, Hard Drive was becoming frantic. More and more of his systems were slowing down, and it was now close to impossible to control the tank, or even to shut it down. He desperately tried to figure out what was wrong, and, for the first time, heard Felina mumbling behind him. Hard Drive turned to find Felina staring at him.
“1000111, 1000101, 1000101. 1001011….,” she raised her voice, aware that her scheme had been discovered. Felina was determined to cause as much damage as possible before Hard Drive could stop her.
“Damn you!!!” hard Drive screeched. He turned his attention from the tank to the she-kat behind him, “I’ll fry you for this!!”
“0100001…,” Felina continued, speaking as slowly as she could under the circumstances.
The SWAT Kats, Commander Feral, and the Enforcers at the road block watched as the tank thundered closer to the barrier in its path. Suddenly, the tank veered sharply off course, and ran into a rock wall off to the right.
“Quick, land as close as possible to that tank,” Feral instructed his pilot, who complied.
The Turbokat landed right beside the helicopter, both only a few feet from the smashed tank. T-Bone, Razor, and Commander Feral exited their crafts and advanced slowly on the tank, weapons up. The hatch of the tank popped up, and a very bedraggled Hard Drive climbed out.
“Don’t shoot!” Hard Drive cried as he dropped to the ground, “I give up!” Sparks were flying from his surge coat as he threw himself at Feral’s feet, “Just get that crazy she-kat away from me!!”
Commander Feral looked incredulously at the criminal groveling at his feet, “What the……..”
“Felina!” T-Bone called as he leaped up onto the tank and looked down the open hatch. He saw Felina sprawled on the floor, face down, her paws tied behind her. Quickly, he dropped into the tank and knelt beside her, putting a paw on her back, “Felina?”
“T-Bone?” Felina asked, “Untie me, will you? My fingers are cramping!”
“You got it, beautiful,” T-Bone quickly set her free, “Are you OK?”
“I’m fine,” she told him, “How’s Hard Drive?” Felina picked herself up off the floor of the tank, rubbing her wrists.
“Come see for yourself,” T-Bone answered with a chuckle. He stood up and pulled himself out of the tank, then gave her a paw up. The two dropped to the ground as two Enforcers were putting handcuffs on a sniveling Hard Drive.
“No! No!” Hard Drive yelped, struggling against his guards, “Get her away from me!”
“Put him in my chopper,” Feral ordered, walking over to Felina, “and watch him carefully,” he turned to his niece, “Are you all right?”
“Fine,” Felina answered.
“Gee, Lieutenant, what did you do to Hard Drive? He’s pretty rattled,” Razor asked her.
“Simple. I kept up a steady stream of conversation especially for him,” she replied.
“Huh?” Razor was puzzled.
“You know, a bunch of zeros and ones,” Felina grinned.
Razor threw back his head and laughed, “Binary! Of course!”
“Um, could you two elaborate on that?” T-Bone put in, a bit confused.
“She spoke in binary, causing all his systems to slow down in order to receive her signal,” Razor explained, still laughing, “The voice is much slower than a computer transmission, so his systems were eventually at a virtual standstill. How perfect!”
“That’s why his driving became so erratic!” T-Bone grinned.
“Bingo!” Razor said.
“Unfortunately,” Feral spoke at last, “It cost me one tank.”
“And saved you one niece,” Razor pointed out.
“True,” Feral responded, “but I didn’t sign the purchase order for her.”
“You could always bill Hard Drive for it, Uncle,” Felina told him, “Besides, I think it’s just banged up a little. No need to send it to the salvage yard yet. I’ll stay and check it out.”
“Fine. See you back at Enforcer Headquarters,” Feral turned to go, “And you two, stay out of the way!” he threw back at T-Bone and Razor.
“Guess we might as well head home, T-Bone,” Razor walked back over to the jet and, with a last glance at Felina, T-Bone followed him.
“Thanks for the help,” Felina called after them.
“What help?” T-Bone shot back from the cockpit as the canopy slid over him and Razor.
Felina waved as the jet lifted into the sky, then turned her attention back to the tank, climbing back inside it. To her relief, it did still run, so she turned it around and headed back to Megakat City, the members of the roadblock following in her wake.
“Pretty clever,” Razor said.
“What?” T-Bone asked, as the salvage yard came into view.
“Lieutenant Feral. Poor Hard Drive, she really fried his circuits!” Razor began to laugh again.
“Definitely not a she-kat to cross,” T-Bone agreed, activating the hanger door.
“Hard Drive’s been booked,” Felina reported, standing in front of Commander Feral’s desk, “and the garage is working on the tank. It was a little tough to drive, but I think it’ll be OK.”
“And the money’s back where it belongs as well,” Feral added.
“What money?” Felina asked, puzzled.
“The ransom money, of course,” Feral told her, “I had it taken out of my account and held nearby, just in case.”
“You mean………….,” Felina trailed off, staring at her uncle.
“You didn’t think I’d let Hard Drive fry you, did you?” Feral wondered.
“Um, well,” Felina stammered, “I guess I never thought about it.”
“I see,” Commander Feral changed the subject, “Are you on duty, Lieutenant?”
“Uh, yeah,” she was thrown by his change of direction, “but I never got a chance to login, the computer went down.”
“Well, you were supposed to be my pilot for the day,” he informed her, “However, I’ve had enough flying today, so I’m reassigning you to oversee the repairs to the computer systems. We will clear up the login problem tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir,” Felina walked over to the door.
“Felina, could you please give priority to getting that damn front door open?” Feral added.
“First thing!” Felina laughed as she exited Feral’s office.
-Later that Night –
Felina leaned back on her couch and propped her feet up on the coffee table. Her eyes burned from staring at computer screens all afternoon, and her back was sore from hunching over a keyboard for hours. Felina closed her eyes and leaned her head back, relaxing for the first time since that morning, when she heard a key in the lock of the front door.
“Felina?” T-Bone called as he opened the door.
“I’m here,” she responded, not moving.
T-Bone closed and relocked the front door, and walked over to the couch, “Long day?” he asked as he sat down next to her.
“Mmmmmmm,” she replied, “I’m beat. We spent the rest of the day fixing the damage Hard Drive did to our computer systems.”
“I could’ve loaned you Razor,” T-Bone offered.
Felina opened her eyes and looked at him with a grin, “Does Razor know you have a lending policy for him?”
“I doubt he’d pass up a chance to explore a computer system,” T- Bone answered, returning her grin, “On the couch, huh?”
“Yeah,” Felina sat up, “After dinner, it just sorta called to me,” she put her feet on the floor.
“Pretty clever what you did today,” T-Bone complemented her, “You really got to Hard Drive.”
“Thanks. Actually, it was kind of fun,” Felina said as she scooted across the couch until she could lean back against him.
“Comfy?” T-Bone asked her.
“No, there’s something missing,” she moved again, and now faced him, “Ah, I got it,” Felina reached out, pulled him towards her, and kissed him.
“Much better,” T-Bone commented, wrapping his arms around her. T- Bone kissed her again and the two sank deeper into the couch.
“I think we’d better move to a better location,” Felina murmured to him after short while, “like the bedroom.”
“You sure?” T-Bone pulled back and looked her in the eye.
“Very sure. C’mon,” Felina got up and took T-Bone’s paw in hers, pulling him to his feet. As she led him into the bedroom, she turned off the lights in her apartment. The bedroom was pitch dark, all the shades tightly drawn.
“Felina,” T-Bone’s voice was low, “I’m not objecting, but you know I’ll be gone in the morning.”
“I know,” Felina said, closing the bedroom door, “but I also know that I love you, T-Bone,” she walked over to him, reaching up to remove his mask in the darkness. He allowed her to do so, as he again embraced her.
“I love you too, Felina,” T-Bone whispered in her ear. Gently, he kissed her as they lowered themselves onto her bed.
As she sank down onto the bed, Felina knew she wouldn’t be troubled by any more nightmares.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.