The Enforcers’ Ball By Jade F. Callan
Felina awoke before her alarm and catapulted out of bed. She was on daylight shift, which suited her fine. She took a quick shower, toweled her thick hair as dry as possible, and donned her uniform. The extra time she had allowed her to linger over her breakfast and morning paper. One of the perks of living at Enforcer HQ, she thought to herself. Too soon, however, duty called. Felina put down her paper, placed her dishes in the sink, and left her small living quarters, locking the door behind her. She walked down the empty hall to the elevators and, when one opened, got on to ride down to the day room so she could get her assignment for the day. As the elevator door opened, she hopped out and moved easily down the hall.
Felina reported to the day room, where other Enforcers were waiting to log in or out, depending on their shift assignment. She exchanged greetings with some of them until it was her turn at the terminal. She stepped up to the screen and typed in her code to receive her assignment. With a sigh, Felina noted that she was again assigned to be her Uncle Ulysses’ pilot. She wished she could avoid being so associated with him. She cleared the screen and moved to one side to allow the next kat to step up to the terminal.
“Good morning, Felina. You’re looking well today,” a smooth voice came from her left.
“Steel! I thought you were busy writing parking tickets! It’s Lieutenant Feral to you, by the way,” Felina snapped, her eyes wide in surprise as she turned to face the former Lieutenant Commander Steel. Her uncle had busted Steel down to Major, but he had been bucking for promotion ever since.
“Oh, Commander Feral has forgotten all that unpleasantness by now, I’m sure,” Steel told her.
“My uncle still remembers catching me with my paw in the cookie jar just before dinner when I was five years old. I doubt,” Felina’s brows drew together, “he has forgotten you trying to steal his job.” She turned to go, but Steel put out an arm to stop her.
“May I be so bold, Felina, as to ask you to save me a dance at tomorrow night’s Enforcers’ Ball?” Steel inquired.
“That’s Lieutenant Feral, and sorry, but I’m allergic to those things. Guess you’ll have to try someone else, Steel”, Felina pushed by him and briskly walked out of the room, annoyed by Steel’s informality. Behind her, a few others gathered to watch her exit.
“Pretty brave, Steel, cozying up to Lieutenant Feral,” Officer Thorne observed, “Better watch it, though, her claws are sharp.”
“Yeah, but imagine how fast any he-kat she looked twice at would get promoted,” put in Officer Tailor, with a wistful gleam in his eye.
“See you at the party,” Steel said simply, a sly smile playing at the corners of his mouth as he walked away. Thorne could only shake his head in disgust. Naked ambition like Steel’s was sickening.
“What do you mean, of course you agreed to fix Callie’s car today?” Jake asked incredulously from under the hood of an Enforcer truck.
“What was I supposed to do, tell her no?” Chance shot back, surveying the backlog of work parked around the garage entrance.
“The thought might have crossed your mind. After all, we got at least two days backlog here. Now, it’ll be pushed back another day while we work on Callie’s car,” Jake finally popped his head out from under the truck’s hood, “You better be ready to hear from Feral about this truck if it’s not done today.”
“Don’t worry about Feral. You just keep working on that truck. I’ll take care of Callie’s car myself,” Chance reassured his partner.
With a bit more grumbling, Jake went back to work on the truck. With all the action the SWAT Kats had seen lately, things were piling up at the salvage yard, and Feral was expecting to get this truck back today. Chance’s weakness for Callie’s big green eyes had given them even more work to do. Oh, well, thought Jake, I probably would have said yes, too. He turned his full attention back to the job at hand.
Chance lifted the hood on Callie’s car, sure just a few adjustments would fix it right up. However, the more he looked, the worse it got. He soon realized that the engine needed a complete tune-up. Jake wasn’t going to like this. Still, how could anyone resist a request from Callie? Chance reached for a wrench, the image of Callie’s pretty face still in his mind as he worked.
“Well, Felina, it is certainly a beautiful day for flying, isn’t it?” Commander Feral asked his niece. He had been cooped up all morning doing paper work, and that infernal Steel had interrupted his lunch twice. It was a relief to be out of the office and in the blue sky.
“Indeed, Uncle, much better than sitting around in your office,” Felina responded, her eyes on the helicopter’s controls and windshield.
“So, are you ready for tomorrow night?” Feral wondered.
“What about tomorrow night?” Felina raised her eyebrows.
“Why, The Enforcers’ Ball, of course. I told you I had a special request from the Mayor’s Office that you attend. Mayor Manx wishes to acknowledge your service to Megakat City. You will be there, Felina,” Feral informed her with finality.
“You might have asked me first! I have no intention of……,” Felina began, but he cut her off.
“Consider it an order, Lieutenant,” Feral told her curtly, “I’ve already given you the day off tomorrow so you and your mother can go shopping or whatever. You will wear a dress instead of your uniform. I want you to make a good impression on the people there tomorrow night. The contributions they made by buying tickets helped pay for this new chopper, among other things.”
Felina was silent for a moment, scowling at the prospect of being on display for a bunch of socialites.
“You can order me to go, Uncle,” She said at last, “you can even order me to wear a dress,but you can+t order me to like it.”
It was Commander Feral’s turn to scowl.
“Just be glad I didn’t order Steel to escort you,” He snapped at her, “I intend for you to go with me, if it’s any consolation.”
“It’s not,” came her reply.
Jake sank into the couch with a groan. He had finished the truck just as a couple of Enforcers had showed up to get it, but it had been close. The next car he worked on hadn’t been as bad off as he thought, but it was slow going without Chance’s help. Jake had intended to do some work on the weapons systems of the Turbokat tonight, but he was just too tired.
“Ooooooo,” Chance lurched into the room, a paw on the small of his back, “I don’t know what Callie did to that car, but it’s a mess.”
“I just barely got that truck done in time, Chance. I could have used your help,” Jake watched Chance lower himself gingerly onto the other end of the couch.
“Well, you got it done, buddy, that’s all that counts. At least that’ll keep Feral off our backs for a while,” Chance reached for the TV remote and switched on the set.
“Shouldn’t you call Callie and tell her the car won’t be ready?” Jake wondered.
“Naw, she said she’d be by tomorrow afternoon to pick it up, and I think I can have it done by then. Hey, look, an old Katzilla movie. Cool,” Chance sat up and turned the TV up louder.
“I think I’ll go order us a pizza. Any requests?” Jake slowly stood up and headed for the kitchen.
“Lots of anchovies!” Chance called after him, “Let’s make some nachos to go with it, heavy on the hot peppers!”
“You got it,” Jake shouted back, smiling.
Felina again entered the day room, this time to log out. The room was nearly empty, since she was about an hour late getting off her shift. Felina was so furious at her uncle for ordering her to attend tomorrow night’s Enforcer’s Ball that she had argued all afternoon with him, making her late in filing her daily report. At least she had been able to convince him to call her mother and cancel the shopping trip. She was perfectly able to buy a dress by herself, thank you. Felina stepped up to the display terminal and entered her code number, then logged out, noting that she was still listed as ‘off duty’ for the next day. Finished, she moved to leave, when a familiar voice caught her attention. There was a group of kats off to one side, sitting at one of the small tables provided for those on break.
“Steel thinks if he romances Felina,” Thorne was telling the other three Enforcers he was sitting with, “He’ll be back up to Lieutenant Commander in no time.”
“Well, can you see Feral letting his niece date anyone of too low a rank? Besides, Felina’s not exactly hard on the eyes, you know. I wouldn’t mind taking a tumble with her anytime,” Officer Tailor put in.
“She’d chew you up and spit you out without batting an eye. That hell-cat may be a quick ticket to promotion, but it would take a brave kat to try anything with her,” Corporal Brown said, then stuffed half a donut into his mouth while the others laughed at his comments.
Felina felt her cheeks and ears getting warm. So that’s how they saw her around here, a quick ticket to promotion! She quickly got up and left, moving out the door, down the hall, and into the stairwell to climb up several floors to her quarters. She was afraid of who she might run into in the elevator and, after all, Ferals never cry, do they?
Pizza and nachos demolished, Jake and Chance had just settled back to watch Litterbin when the phone rang.
“We’re closed!” Chance yelled at it, but the phone kept ringing.
“Megakat Salvage, Jake,” Jake answered it on the third ring.
“Jake? This is Callie. Sorry to call so late. Listen, about my car. I won’t be able to pick it up tomorrow, I have to help organize the Mayor’s appearance at the annual Enforcer’s Ball and write him a speech for it as well. I also have the dubious honor of escorting His Honor to the party. Would it be all right if I picked up my car day after tomorrow?” Callie said all in one breath.
“Um, ah, yeah, sure, Ms. Briggs,” Jake stammered, looking at the phone as if he expected it to bite him.
“Thanks, Jake, gotta run,” Callie hung up.
“Ms. Briggs?!?!” Roared Chance, across the room in two bounds. He snatched the phone from Jake, but all he got was a dial tone, “Aw, Jake, you let her hang up!”
“Well, at least you’re off the hook, partner. Callie said she wouldn’t be able to get her car until day after tomorrow. Some official thing with the Mayor and The Enforcer’s Ball,” Jake told Chance as they returned to the couch.
“We can get some of that backlog cleared up, then,” Chance said, turning up the TV.
“Correction, you can get some of the backlog cleared up, not to mention fixing Callie’s car. I got work to do on the Turbokat,” Jake informed him.
“What’s wrong with the jet?” Chance asked, one eye on the TV.
“Just some minor adjustments, that’s all. Turn it up, here’s Litterbin,” Jake turned his attention to the set.
In the inky blackness that enveloped Megakat City, little movement was apparent. Under the city, however, in the sewer system, was a different story.
“Now, my petsss, letssss move out!” Dr. Viper hissed, his eyes shining like lanterns, “Those wretched Enforcersssss are having a little party tomorrow night, and we’re going to crash it. Feral’ssss in for a night he’ll never forget. With him and all those other muckety mucks there to use as hostagesss, I’ll be able to demand anything I want….. including Katalyst XY4, to grow even lovelier mutations! Quickly now, into the Enforcer building. The party startsss at eight o’clock tomorrow night, and we can’t be late!” Viper moved into one of more than a dozen branches of the sewer, followed by several of his plant mutations, some creepy creeping vines, and other assorted horrors.
Felina sat on her window sill, looking out over the city. She wasn’t able to get much sleep, so she decided to see what Megakat City looked like on the other side of midnight. Not much to see, and certainly nothing exciting at this hour. Turning away from the window, she crawled back into bed, flopped over, and buried her face in the pillows. Not much to look forward to tomorrow night, she mused. Get all dressed up in some stupid getup to be pawed by Steel and any other kat trying for a promotion, shake Mayor Manx’s hand, all for what? A mention about what a good job she was doing? A promotion or a raise would mean more. Why not have one of these wingdings for the SWAT Kats? They’ve done as much as she had. Felina giggled at the thought of showing up at the party on the arms of T- Bone and Razor. That would get her uncle, and those other brown nosers as well. She was still smiling as she finally drifted off to sleep.
Chances’ alarm clock screamed for attention, and he obliged it by bouncing it off the far wall. With a sleepy growl, he rolled out of bed and groped his way into the shower. Jake was already up and showered, as the evidence of wet towels on the rack suggested. Chance showered, found a dry towel, and dressed in a leisurely fashion, in no hurry to start work again on Callie’s car. He ambled to the kitchen and fished some milk and cold leftover pizza of dubious origins out of the fridge. Munching on his breakfast, he went in search of Jake, finally remembering him mentioning something about working on the Turbokat today. Chance climbed down the access ladder to the hanger, and found the lower half of Jake sticking out from under the jet.
“What’s up, buddy?” Chance asked, polishing off the last of his pizza.
Jake slid out from under the Turbokat, “Just finished the adjustments,” He answered, “Weapons systems are back at 100%, maybe even 110%.”
“OK, Sureshot, next time you miss, it’ll be all your fault, not the systems’,” Chance teased, grinning at Jake.
“Just learn to fly straight, will ya?” Jake shot back good naturedly, “And stop sleeping all day, you got cars to work on.”
“What are you gonna do?” Chance headed back towards the access ladder.
“I want to check the cement gun and load some new missiles I just developed. I’ll be up later,” Jake told him.
“Right,” Floated back down at Jake, as Chance climbed back up to the garage. Time to get back to Callie’s car, he thought.
Felina woke up with a start – she was late for her shift! She jumped out of bed and was running for the shower when she remembered she had the day off. The only pressing thing on her agenda was to buy a dress and shoes for the party. Yuck! Slowing to a walk, Felina entered the bathroom in a funk. She showered, ate breakfast, and dressed in jeans and a button- down shirt, and set out to find a decent dress for the evening. It would serve them right, she thought to herself and she stalked down the sidewalk, if I showed up in my uniform anyway. Her uncle, however, had threatened to bust her down so far in rank she’d never see daylight if she even thought about wearing her uniform. What’s he gonna do, she wondered as she jerked open the front door of Megakat Mall, send me to the salvage yard with Furlong and Clawson?
Dr. Viper peered out of the ventilation duct and into the large meeting room that was being converted into a ball room for the evening under the watchful gaze of Deputy Mayor Briggs. The foolssss, he thought. Are they in for a surprise! Carefully, he removed a handful of seeds from his lab coat pocket and sprinkled them in the duct.
“Ssssoon, my lovelies, very ssssoon,” he whispered to the seeds, then slithered off to check on his other creations.
“Jake! Lunch!” Bellowed Chance down the access hatch. Two rather large sardine sandwiches sat on the table, accompanied by a bowl of chips and two cans of milk. Chance was rather proud of himself, even if it was actually a little late for lunch. He sat down at the table and opened the cans of milk.
“What gives, buddy?” Jake entered the kitchen, wiping his paws on a rag, “You goin’ domestic on me?”
“Not even close. By the way, what was that you said last night? Something about some party the Enforcers were having?” Chance asked, biting into his sandwich.
“That’s what Callie told me. She has to write a speech for Mayor Manx, and be his escort. Guess that’s one of the perks,” Jake sat down and began to eat.
“For who, Manx or Callie?” Chance grinned, “Imagine, Feral throwing a party and not inviting us.”
“Yeah, I’m sure our invitations got lost in the mail,” Jake said, smiling, “It’s probably some charity thing. How is Callie’s car coming, Chance?”
Chance just nodded at his partner, concentrating on his lunch.
“I got the Turbokat all fixed, in case you were wondering,” Jake added, finishing his sandwich and grabbing a pawful of chips.
“Never doubted you would, buddy,” Was Chance’s response.
Felina returned to her quarters much later than she intended to, but mission accomplished. She was in possession of both new dress and new shoes and, in her opinion, had done quite well. She hung the dress in the closet and put the shoe box on the end of her bed. Wandering into her little kitchen, she poked her head into the fridge in search of lunch. What luck! Cold pizza in paw she walked over to the table and picked up the paper, flipping through the front section. The shipment of Katalyst XY4 was being delivered to Megakat Biochemical tomorrow, Felina noticed. Hopefully, she would be assigned to the escort for the shipment, and be able to get away from her uncle for the day. Finishing her pizza, Felina set the paper back down, got up, and headed for the bedroom for a quick nap before she had to get showered and dressed for the evenings’ torture.
“Callie? Are you ready? We mustn’t be late!” Mayor Manx called down the hall.
“Coming, Mayor,” Callie answered, stepping out of her office and into the hall.
“You look lovely, my dear,” Manx told her as they stepped into an elevator.
“Thanks, Mayor,” She answered, smoothing down her black velvet skirt as they reached the ground floor and stepped out of the elevator. The two exited City Hall and approached the limo waiting for them, “I’m sure everything will be just fine,” Callie reassured Manx as they climbed into the limo.
Commander Feral paced in his office, waiting for Felina. His dress uniform was rather uncomfortable, and he was worried about what his niece was going to show up in. Feral had wanted to let her wear her uniform, but his brother had insisted on more formal, not to mention feminine, attire. Feral supposed it would be good for the contributors to see them as regular kats, not just uniforms, but he didn’t like being caught between his brother and niece.
“Well, Uncle, will this do?” Felina’s voice came from behind him. Feral turned, and he just kept his mouth from dropping open.
Felina stepped into the office and slowly turned in front of her uncle so he could inspect her new dress. It was a color somewhere between tawny and copper, and shimmered in the light. The dress was gathered at the sides and hung in graceful folds, cut high on the leg and low (but not too low, Feral noticed) in the front. Low-heeled pumps of the same glittering material and a string of cat’s eye beads completed the effect. Felina looked at Feral expectantly.
“You look beautiful, and I’m very glad I’ll be your escort tonight. Shall we go?” With more grace than Felina ever thought he could muster, Commander Feral offered his niece his arm. She gently slipped her arm through his, and together they boarded the elevator and descended to the second floor, where the party had begun a little while before. Just a few more hours, Felina thought to herself as they entered the party.
Steel nearly choked on his glass of water when Commander Feral entered the room with Felina on his arm. I could get used to that, Steel thought, eying Felina up and down. Straightening his tie, Steel got up and moved in.
“Good evening, Commander Feral. And Felina, you look stunning. It’s good to see you,” Steel oozed.
“Can it, you conniving kat. And it’s Lieutenant Feral to you,” Felina snapped, pushing past Steel and taking her seat at one end of Mayor Manx’s table. Feral, giving Steel a dark look, walked over and sat by Felina.
“Trouble?” Feral asked her casually, lifting his water glass to his mouth.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” She answered.
Just then, all eyes shifted to the door as Mayor Manx and Deputy Mayor Briggs arrived. The Mayor went into instant schmooze, while Callie, after a few handshakes, came over to take her seat next to Commander Feral.
“Good evening, Commander, Lieutenant. Nice turn out,” Callie greeted them, looking out over the crowd.
“Yes, and good evening to you, Deputy Mayor,” Commander Feral responded. Felina simply nodded, noting that Callie’s hair-do is so high and intricate that they could all hide behind it and never be found.
Finally, Mayor Manx had shaken all the hands that needed it, and approaches the podium at the front of the room. While everyone is seated, Callie hands Manx a glass of water and the notes for his speech. The Mayor cleared his throat and made his opening remarks, commenting on the purpose of the gathering, “….and we are also gathered here tonight to honor one officer in particular, Lieutenant Felina Feral, niece of Commander Feral, who……”
“Et boring cetera,” Felina mumbled, tuning the rest of the speech out.
“Now, my petssss, while they are all dissstracted!” Viper proceeded to pour chemicals throughout the ventilation shafts, activating the seeds he had spread earlier. They quickly grew into assorted horrors, some with huge teeth, others with several tentacles, and they began to strain the confines of the ventilation shafts…………
Felina, bored beyond belief, began to look around the room. Several stiff society types sat rather rigidly at the tables closest to the Mayor. Farther back, Enforcers filled in the other tables, many in uniform but others, like that sap Steel, in formal clothes. Suddenly, a strange movement near the ventilation duct on her right caught her eye.
“Uncle, I think…..” Was all Felina managed to say, when the ventilation ducts popped out along the perimeter of the room. In an instant, the room was filled with vines. One grabbed Mayor Manx, and Callie was also lassoed as she tried to run. Almost everyone else, basically taken by surprise, was tied to their seats by the vines. Felina, however, had managed to leap onto the table when the vents had burst, and ran as fast as she could for the door. She almost made it……only to come face to face with Dr. Viper. A vine finally grabbed her from behind and lifted her several feet off the floor.
“Good evening, all, I bid you welcome to MY party,” Viper said, with an evil smile.
Unseen by Viper, Callie Briggs struggled against the vines until she could reach her purse. Plunging her hand inside, she found the precious communicator the SWAT Kats had given her by touch, and pulled it out.
Chance was just lowering the hood of Callie’s car when Jake walked in.
“Finished! What a job!” Chance groaned, wiping his hands off on a rag.
“Good! Now we can……” Jake began, but the alarm cut him off, “That’s Callie!”
“Let’s go!” Chance flew by Jake and snatched up the receiver, “Yes, Miss Briggs?”
“T-Bone? We’ve got trouble. Dr. Viper just crashed this party, and he brought a few friends along,” Callie whispered into the communicator.
“We’ll be right there, Miss Briggs. Hang on!” Chance replaced the hand set and turned to Jake, “Show time!”
A few minutes later, the Turbokat roared into the sky, T-Bone and Razor ready to rumble!!
“All right, Lisssten to me,” Viper demanded, “I want that shipment of Katalyst XY4 delivered here to me! Tonight! Let’ssss ssssee, who ssshould I sssend to give my messssage to Megakat Biochemical?”
While Viper looked around for a messenger, Felina took stock of the situation. Those vile vines were probably all over the building by now, and at least 3/4 of the Enforcers were trapped in this room, including her uncle, who was being quite securely held in place by several vines. Crud! Without her side arm, she was stuck wrapped in this vine, several feet off the floor.
“I think you’ll do just fine, dearie,” said Dr. Viper, pointing right at Felina. Without her uniform, Viper didn’t realize she was an Enforcer.
Felina bit back a retort just in time, and tried her best to simply look frightened, nodding in agreement with Viper. What she really wanted to do was rip his lungs out, but that would have to wait until later.
“Let her down,” Viper commanded the vines, who complied, depositing Felina back onto the floor. Viper slithered over to her, “All you have to do is go out front, dearie. I’m sure the few Enforcers not in this room will be gathered there running around like headless chickens. Tell them to get me that Katalyst XY4. Go!”
With a quick glance at her uncle, Felina ran through the door, Viper’s laughter ringing in her ears. The hall was full of vines, and she had to step carefully in the unfamiliar shoes to keep from falling. She finally made it to the stairwell, and ran down the stairs to the main floor. Bursting out of the front doors, she did indeed find about 25 – 30 Enforcers, as well as Ann Gora and a news team. Ignoring the press, Felina snapped at the closest Enforcer to give her a report.
“Who, exactly, are you?” the Enforcer asked peevishly, eyeing her up and down.
“Lieutenant Felina Feral, mister, now start talking,” she informed him coldly.
“Lieutenant Feral! I didn’t recognize you! What happened in there?” The Enforcer tried very hard not to faint.
“Viper’s in there, along with a bunch of his mutations. He wants Katalyst XY4 from Megakat Biochemical, and he has hostages to ensure that he gets it,” Felina told him.
“Katalyst XY4 won’t be delivered until tomorrow!” The Enforcer protested.
“Well, he wants the due date moved up!” Felina shouted, “Now, will someone please tell me what kind of fire power we have?”
Just then, the screech of jet engines filled the sky. The Turbokat hovered for a few moments, observing the situation.
“Gee, T-Bone, looks like Dr. Viper brought more than a few friends. There’s vines over half the building down there,” Razor observed.
“Yeah, and he’s got hostages. Touchy situation. Lets go down and get the whole story,” T-Bone answered, and circled for a landing spot. Finding one, he set the Turbokat down near a group of Enforcers by the entrance to Enforcer HQ. Quickly, they popped the canopy, jumped down, and jogged over to the group, where a she-kat was trying to organize things. Pushing their way through the crowd, the SWAT Kats stopped in front of the she- kat, who turned to face them.
“Lieutenant Feral?!?!?” They asked together, astonishment written all over their faces.
“Yes, it’s me, and am I glad you two are here. Wipe those silly looks off your faces and listen up,” she spat at them, pacing with anger, “Viper is in there, and I don’t know how mush of the building is under his control.”
“He’s not up to the roof yet, and a few of the upper floors seem clear,” T-Bone told her.
“Nor, strangely enough, are there vines in the stairwells,” Felina added, “Are there any choppers on the roof?”
“Just one,” T-Bone said.
“That’ll do. Can you SWAT Kats take me up to the roof? I can load up that chopper with weapons and bring them back down here. We gotta stop Viper, fast, and get those hostages out,” Felina looked expectantly at Razor and T-Bone.
“If there’s no vines in the stairwells, I’ll go in and look around. T- Bone, why don’t you take Lieutenant Feral up to the roof?” Razor suggested, looking at T-Bone, who nodded in agreement.
“I’ll leave a cyclotron down here for you, buddy, just in case,” T- Bone added, as Felina headed for the jet. By the time the SWAT Kats caught up with her, she was standing beside the Turbokat, ready to board.
“Need help, Lieutenant?” T-Bone offered, his voice as innocent as he could make it.
“I can manage,” she told him, hoisting herself into the gunners’ seat.
T-Bone and Razor exchanged thumbs-up, and then T-Bone leaped into the front of the cockpit. Felina had already strapped in and found Razor’s spare helmet under the gunners’ seat. T-Bone closed the cockpit and fired the engines.
“Is this a new look for the Enforcers, Lieutenant?” He couldn’t resist asking her.
“Just shut up and fly, T-Bone,” Felina responded as the jet lurched upwards.
Chuckling, T-Bone hit the release for the cyclotron, and Razor gracefully leaped onto the seat as it rolled by him. Firing the engine, Razor sped up the front steps and into Enforcer HQ, ignoring the protests of the Enforcers around the front of the building. As he drove through the lobby, Razor noted that the walls were thickly covered with vines. Reaching the stairwell, he drove in and brought the cyclotron to a stop. Razor reached up and activated his radio, “T-Bone, do you copy?”
“Affirmative. I was circling until I heard from you. Much to Lieutenant Feral’s dismay, I might add,” T-Bone sounded amused, while in the background Felina sounded anything but amused.
“Well, she was right, there aren’t any of Viper’s vile vines in the stairwells. They didn’t even try to follow me in here,” Razor reported, puzzled.
“Any idea why?” T-Bone asked.
“Nope. How about you, Lieutenant?” Razor questioned.
“They did just paint the stairwells a couple of days ago, but it’s the same paint as was used in the rest of the building,” Felina told them, “Now, can we go get that chopper?”
“Roger that. Razor, keep looking. There has to be some reason for those vines avoiding the stairwells,” T-Bone said, nosing the jet up. In no time, he landed on the roof of Enforcer HQ, next to a rather ancient looking helicopter.
“That thing’s an antique,” He observed, popping the canopy.
“As long as it flies,” Felina jumped out of the jet and ran over to the helicopter as fast as her heels would allow, “It’s got fuel! All right!”
“Lieutenant, are you sure this jalopy will hold together? I could fly you down in the Turbokat,” T-Bone offered, eyeing up the chopper dubiously.
“No, thanks,” she responded, sorting out the weapons she had gotten out of the locker located just inside the access door to the roof, “I intend to drop these off, then head for the main hanger to get a better chopper. It seems I’m the only pilot on the scene, besides you that is.”
“Why aren’t there more aircraft up here?” T-Bone wanted to know.
“The Mayor ordered the roof cleared so that if anyone wanted to come by helicopter, they could land here,” She told him, “I’m ready to go. Mind if I borrow the helmet?”
“Feel free. It looks better on you than Razor anyway. I’m going to circle the area and wait for Razor to check in. If you need us, use the radio in the helmet,” T-Bone waved down at her as the canopy slid into place. He activated the boosters and took off.
Felina jumped aboard the chopper and pounced into the pilot’s chair, activating the engine. With a cough, the propellers slowly whirred to life. She gently nosed the chopper off the roof and into the night.
Viper, meanwhile, had decided to divide up his group of hostages. Leaving the Enforcers tied to their chairs on the second floor, he moved the society kats up to the fourth floor, into the gym, making sure his vines held them tightly. Then, he ordered Manx, Callie, and Feral into the elevator. Holding Feral’s own gun on them, Viper took the three up to the sixth floor, into the maze of offices and computer terminals there. Of course, with all of Viper’s vines, it was more of a maze than usual.
“I wonder what’sss taking ssso long,” Viper hissed, motioning for the three of them to sit down. Vines wrapped around them and pulled them into chairs.
“Feral, do something!” Manx pleaded.
“I already have, Mayor,” Feral whispered, “The one Viper sent out to deliver his message was my niece, Felina. I’m sure she and the other Enforcers will be here soon.”
“I hope you’re right,” said Callie, who had overheard. She was wondering where the SWAT Kats were.
Dr. Viper snatched up the nearest phone and dialed furiously.
“Megakat Biochemical? Thisss isss Dr. Viper,” He announced into the receiver, “Where is my shipment of Katalyst XY4?”
“Sorry, Dr. Viper,” The voice at the other end of the phone replied, “Lieutenant Feral said not to give you XY4 under any circumstances.”
“Lieutenant Feral?” Viper roared, ripping the phone out of the wall, “She was supposed to be at that party! How did she get away?”
“When you sent her out with your message, Viper. Why don’t you just give up?” Commander Feral raised his voice to be heard over Viper’s howling.
“You forget, Feral, with all these hostages, I still have the upper hand!” Viper smiled in triumph. At that moment, a dark shadow fell over the window, and the Turbokat flew by.
“SWAT Kats!” Viper spat, his eyes huge, “If they try to get near the building, swat them, my petssss.”
Callie smiled to herself, sure they wouldn’t be there much longer, as Feral rolled his eyes and Manx sweated profusely.
Razor ditched the cyclotron on the third floor landing and used the grappling hook on his gloveatrix to move faster up the stairwell. He noted that Viper had divided up the hostages and, having listened to the movements of the elevator, guessed they were on at least three different floors. He still hadn’t found anything that explained why the vines wouldn’t come into the stairwells.
“T-Bone,” Razor activated his radio as he came to rest on the sixth floor landing.
“Yeah, buddy?” T-Bone answered.
“Nothing yet. Viper’s split up the hostages, so it’s too dangerous to fire on the building,” Razor told him.
“I copy. Still no vines in the stairs?” asked T-Bone.
“Nope. How’s Lieutenant Feral?” Razor wondered.
“She’s having trouble landing that antique she’s flying. She’s made three approaches, and had to abort each one,” T-Bone reported, “I’m gonna try to reach her. Keep searching, partner.”
“Affirmative,” Razor switched off his radio and reactivated his grappling hook, going up in search of clues.
“Lieutenant Feral, do you copy?” T-Bone shouted into the radio.
“Very loud and clear,” Felina answered, “I can’t make a clean landing in this thing, T-Bone, the cross winds down there are too much for it.”
In the glare of the city lights, T-Bone saw the chopper rise against Enforcer HQ.
“Listen, Lieutenant, why don’t you transfer those weapons to me, and then head for the hanger? I’ll drop them off,” suggested T-Bone.
“Roger, and thanks. I’m up at about the sixth floor. Can you come here, or should I head back up to the roof?” She asked him.
Before T-Bone could answer, however, a loud crash split the night, and a vine lashed out at Felina’s chopper through a broken window. The vine missed the blades, but managed to smash the side of the helicopter, sending it tumbling. Vipers’ laughter could be heard above it all.
“Felina!” Feral called in vain.
“Now for the Turbokat,” Viper scanned the skies in anticipation.
Felina struggled to regain control of the ancient helicopter, to no avail. The guidance system was destroyed, and the engine shut down. She pressed the eject button…..and nothing happened. The chopper, having reached the apex of the arc it was knocked into, began to plummet. Felina jumped out of the pilot’s chair and grabbed a parachute from the rack behind her. Strapping the parachute on her back, she kicked open the door and jumped into the night. She counted to five and pulled the rip cord. Again, nothing happened.
“This just isn’t my night!” Felina moaned, “Now, I gonna really hit bottom, stuck in this stupid dress!” She struggled with the parachute, trying to tear it open, as the ground got closer and closer……….THUMP!
“Welcome back, Lieutenant,” T-Bone Greeted her as the canopy of the Turbokat slid over them.
“Thanks. Nice catch,” Felina tore off the parachute and threw it down by her feet, “I really didn’t want to die in this dress.”
“Razor always says he offers his seat to a lady whenever possible,” He told her as he turned the jet back towards Enforcer HQ, “Better strap in, this could be a bumpy ride!”
“Can you take me to the Enforcer hanger?” Felina adjusted the seat harness, and winced as she heard the chopper finally crash into Megakat Bay.
“Negative. If those vines start breaking out, we’re going to have to contain them somehow. How are you at weapons?” T-Bone glanced back at her as Enforcer HQ came into view.
“Not bad, but this is pretty fancy stuff you got here,” Felina scanned the controls, “I think I can handle it.”
“I hope so, cause here we go!” As T-Bone got closer to the building, more vines appeared, trying their best to knock the Turbokat out of the sky. He was able to avoid them, but they seemed to multiply at will. He heard Felina ordering the other Enforcers to fall back, “How about some help, Lieutenant?” He asked, slightly irritated.
For an answer, Felina punched up a couple of slicer missiles, cutting a clean path for the jet across the front of the building, “Think you can fly straight now, T-Bone?” she inquired sweetly.
“Ha!” he spit at her.
“Ha!” she spat back.
“Ha!” he banked the jet.
“Ha!” she fired more missiles.
“Ha!” he dodged vines.
“Ha!” she fired again.
“Excuse me,” Razor’s voice cut in, “I hate to interrupt this hyena convention, but do you two think you can concentrate on the situation at hand?”
“What’s up, buddy?” Dodging more vines, T-Bone was now working his way up the building towards the roof.
“I think I found something. Lieutenant Feral, didn’t you day that the stairwells had just recently been painted?” Razor asked.
“Yes, that’s right. They started with the top few floors, mostly living quarters, then did the stairwells. They had to put the rest of the painting off, though, to get ready for that stupid party. Why, what have you found?” She wondered.
“And they stripped away the old paint with turpentine?” Razor continued.
“Yes, a special turpentine provided by Megakat Biochemical,” Felina told him, “It’s really powerful stuff.”
“You think the turpentine is what those vines don’t like in the stairwells, Razor?” T-Bone broke in.
“I’m not sure, but I found a batch of it in a supply closet on one of the upper floors. I’ll try it out and let you know. Oh, and Lieutenant Feral,” Razor said, “watch out for T-Bone, he tends to fly a little crooked when there’s a beautiful she-kat involved. Out.”
“Come up here and say that!!” T-Bone roared as he flew over the building.
Felina, not having a response, simply smiled to herself, amused at T- Bone’s rage.
Dr. Viper was getting nervous. So far, the SWAT Kats had managed to avoid his vines, and the Katalyst XY4 had yet to be delivered. Maybe it was time to start upping the ante.
“You,” Viper swung around, pointing at Callie, “You’re a ssspecial friend of those meddling SWAT Kats! Bring her over to the window, my petsss.”
Callie felt herself being lifted out of her chair by the vines. They carried her over to Viper.
“Now, dangle her out of the window, into the light, so those SWAT Kats can get a good look at her,” He commanded. The vines did as they were told, and Callie found herself hanging six stories above the pavement. She closed her eye and wondered if plants could be butterfingers.
Felina was just locking two more missiles in on the ever-increasing amount of vines when a startled cry from T-Bone stopped her.
“What is it?” She asked him, easing her thumb off the firing button.
“Viper’s got Deputy Mayor Briggs dangling out of the sixth floor window!” T-Bone shouted, pointing at the building.
Sure enough, when Felina looked over, there was Deputy Mayor Briggs, “Now what?” she asked T-Bone.
“Come in, Razor,” T-Bone thumbed the radio, “Listen, Viper’s got Callie on the sixth floor, and he’s hanging her out the window. Did you test that turpentine yet?”
“Affirmative. I dropped a little of it on a piece of vine just outside the stairwell door, and it shriveled up like a dry leaf,” Razor responded, “Lieutenant, do you think they have any more of this stuff at Megakat Biochemical?”
“I’m sure they do, since the painting isn’t done yet……Wait, I have an idea. Is there any way to talk to Viper?” Felina wondered.
“Well, there’s always the direct route,” T-Bone told her, banking the jet and moving closer to the smashed window where Callie dangled. Dr. Viper lurked just behind her.
“Great, now open the canopy and activate the loudspeaker,” Felina ordered. T-Bone obliged, willing to go along with her for now.
“Viper! Can you hear me?” Felina spoke into the mike. Viper nodded, so she continued, “We are going to Megakat Biochemical to get you what you want. Just don’t hurt Deputy Mayor Briggs!”
“Are you crazy?” demanded T-Bone, but Felina shushed him.
“Trust me, OK?” she whispered to him under her breath, then turned back to Viper, “We will be back in one hour!”
“Thirty minutes, or my petsss let your precious Deputy Mayor drop!” Viper shot back.
“Let’s go, T-Bone,” Felina said, replacing the mike.
“Would you mind,” he asked in a very controlled voice, closing the cockpit, turning the jet, and hitting the thrusters, “explaining what’s going on, Lieutenant?”
“Sure,” she told them both, “While you fly us to Megakat Biochemical, Razor calls ahead and has them ready up the rest of that turpentine, but label it Katalyst XY4. We pick it up, bring it back, and the sight of it placates Viper long enough for us to drop it down to Razor on the ground floor……”
“Ground floor?” Razor interrupted.
“Yes, the ground floor. You’re gonna hook it into the sprinkler system and flood the lower seven floors with it. Meanwhile, T-Bone and I’ll grab Deputy Mayor Briggs!” Felina finished triumphantly.
“Uh, Lieutenant, won’t that turpentine be a little hard on the hostages?” Razor wondered.
“In a choice between a few turpentine burns and Viper’s vines, which would you choose? You can always use the building intercom to warn them,” she told him.
“Roger. Good luck,” Razor cut the connection and headed down the stairs, making sure to call Megakat Biochemical from a phone on one of the upper floors.
“Not bad, Lieutenant, not bad at all. So far tonight, you’ve proven you can fly, shoot, and think on your feet better than most kats. Are you sure you’re related to Feral?” T-Bone laughed.
“Very funny,” Felina glared at the back of his head as they circled Megakat Biochemical.
T-Bone landed on the roof, and very soon a couple of techs wheeled a large container of turpentine out of the roof access door. Felina and T- Bone attach it to the Turbokat with cables and, as an afterthought, Felina attaches the parachute from her demolished chopper.
“What’s that for?” T-bone asked, pointing at the parachute.
“It’s in my way,” She explained, as they climbed back into the cockpit, “Let’s go, not much time left!”
“Right!” He slammed the controls to maximum, and the jet screamed away from Megakat Biochemical.
“Somehow or other, I never thought this dress would have to double as a g-suit,” Felina mumbled, plastered to her seat by T-Bone’s flying.
Dr. Viper paced the floor. Only five minutes left, and then he would splatter Deputy Mayor Briggs on the pavement below. He wasn’t sure which pleased him more, the thought of getting Katalyst XY4, or of dropping Briggs whether he got the delivery or not. Smiling to himself, Viper stepped over to the window.
“Only a few minutes left, Deputy Mayor! Perhaps you’ll sprout wingssss on the way down!” Viper spat at Callie.
“Here comes the SWAT Kats and Lieutenant Feral, Viper,” Callie informed him as the Turbokat came into view.
“At last! At last! Katalyst XY4 will be mine!” Viper jumped for joy, “When they get close, knock them down, my petsssss! And dump Ms. Briggs while you’re at it!”
“No!” Callie cried as she struggled against the vines helplessly.
T-Bone brought the jet in close, and opened the canopy. Felina lifted the mike for the loudspeaker to her mouth, pressing the control to drop the container at the same time. Before she could speak, however, the vines dropped Callie and lashed out at the Turbokat. T-Bone, caught by surprise, was cut viciously on the right arm by the vines that lashed into the cockpit. He slammed the controls, lifting the jet to safety. Felina was unharmed, but startled.
“Are you all right, T-Bone?” Felina asked, trying to regain her bearings.
“Never mind about me, what about Ms. Briggs?” he snapped back. They looked down, to see both Callie and the container of turpentine floating to the ground under Felina’s discarded parachute.
“Now it opens!” Felina groaned.
“Just in time,” added T-Bone, reaching for the radio, “It’s up to you now, Razor. Lieutenant Feral and I’ll keep Viper and his vines busy,” The canopy closed over them, and T-Bone wiped some of the blood from his arm, trying to keep the controls clean.
“Roger, I got it,” Razor responded.
“Let’s get those weapons up, Lieutenant,” growled T-Bone, “and kick Viper’s tail!”
“You got it!!” Felina whooped, switching on the targeting controls.
T-Bone whipped the Turbokat around the building, and Felina fired on any vine that dared to poke out of the windows. Soon, the area below was littered with bits of vine.
“Lieutenant Feral, you’re beautiful!” T-Bone informed her.
“Thanks, you’re not so bad yourself,” she told him.
Razor, after checking to make sure Callie was all right, enlisted three Enforcers to help him untangle the container of turpentine from the cables and the parachute. At first, Callie objected to taking the container into the building, noting it was labeled Katalyst XY4, but Razor explained Lieutenant Feral’s plan.
“You see, it’s really turpentine, Ms. Briggs,” Razor explained, cutting the last cable.
“Well, I’m going in with you. I can make the announcement on the intercom while you hook up that stuff,” she informed him, “and don’t argue!” Callie ran past the cyclotron Razor had parked by the steps and up to the door of the building. Razor and the three Enforcers had no choice but to follow her.
“Here, Ms. Briggs,” Razor handed her a metal container, “this has a small amount of turpentine. Use it on the vines if they try to stop us.”
“Right,” Callie said, and pushed open the front door. Almost as soon as they enter the lobby, the vines mover toward them. Callie quickly throws the turpentine at them, and the vines back off, their ends shrinking and crackling. Razor and the Enforcers make it to the stairwell, followed by Callie.
“Now,” Razor told them, “Let’s get this stuff downstairs.”
“T-Bone? Not to be a wet blanket,” Felina said, “but there’s only two missiles left.”
“Razor should be downstairs with that stuff by now. Check on him while I make another pass,” T-Bone told her, wiping away more blood with one hand while steering the jet with the other.
“Razor, this is Lieutenant Feral. Can you give us a status report?” Felina spoke into the radio.
“Affirmative. I’m hooking this stuff up now. Neat set-up you got here, Lieutenant,” Razor responded, -Deputy Mayor Briggs is standing by with the intercom.”
“Ms. Briggs? What’s she doing there?” T-Bone asked as he banked the jet for another pass.
“She insisted,” Razor answered.
“Last missile!” announced Felina, punching the launch button.
“Razor….” growled T-Bone.
“That’s got it. Now, Ms. Briggs!” Razor stepped back from the sprinkler system’s main feed, ready to throw the main switch.
Callie flipped on the intercom and leaned over the mike, “Attention, please,” she began, in her best Deputy Mayor voice, “The SWAT Kats and Lieutenant Feral have figured out a way to defeat the vines, and will be releasing turpentine into the building. Please take the precaution of closing your eyes and take cover if possible.”
As she finished, Razor threw open the release valve, and the lower seven floors were soon being sprinkled with turpentine.
“No! This can’t be!” protested Viper, as all the vines around him began to shrivel. Released from their chairs, Feral and Manx sprang up. Manx ran to hide in a closet, and Feral confronted Viper.
“You should never have underestimated my niece, Viper. You’re under arrest,” Feral said, shading his eyes with his paw.
But Dr. Viper was too quick. He dodged Feral’s outstretched arm and ducked out through the maze of offices and dying vines. Feral gave chase, but lost Viper in the hallway.
“We’ll meet again, Dr. Viper,” Feral vowed, ducking into a doorway to escape the turpentine pouring out of the sprinkler system. He reached into the ruined interior of someone’s office and grabbed the phone, punching in the extension for the ground floor.
“Look, he did it!” Felina exclaimed, as she and T-Bone watched the vines wither and crumble off the building.
“I never doubted he would,” smiled T-Bone, absently swiping at the blood still running down his arm.
“Where’s Viper?” Felina asked.
“Don’t see him. Hopefully,” T-Bone swung the jet around once again, “Commander Feral didn’t lose him. Again.”
In the basement, Callie jumped when the phone rang. She reached for it, Razor watching expectantly. Neither of them, or the three Enforcers standing off to one side, saw Viper slink into the shadows and lower himself down into the sewer.
“Deputy Mayor Briggs,” Callie answered crisply, “Yes, Commander Feral?…….Yes……All right……..Yes, I’m sure Lieutenant Feral is fine, I saw her with T-Bone in the Turbokat……..Yes…….The closet?……OK, I’ll be right there,” Callie hung up the phone.
“Well?” Razor asked.
“You can shut off the sprinklers now,” she told him, “the vines are dead. I have to get up to the sixth floor and rescue Mayor Manx, and then sort out all those high society kats on the fourth floor. Commander Feral’s gone to check on the Enforcers on the second floor.”
Razor leaned hard on the valve, and, with a squeal of protest, it moved to the ‘closed’ position.
“OK, everything’s shut down,” Razor said, -Whew, I’m glad that’s over!”
“Thanks for all your help, Razor,” Callie smiled at him, then turned and began to climb the stairs. The three Enforcers followed her, and Razor brought up the rear. When they reached the lobby, Razor left the group and headed for the cyclotron still parked on the front steps. Reaching it, he activated his radio.
“T-Bone?” Razor called.
“Yeah,” T-Bone’s voice sounded a little tired.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to pick me up down here with all these emergency vehicles around,” Razor told him, “Nobody seems to be seriously hurt, but there are a lot of kats with minor burns, not to mention more than a few hysterical society types. I’ll ride the cyclotron back to the hanger and meet you there.”
“Right. See you soon,” T-Bone answered.
Razor started the cyclotron and weaved his way through the controlled chaos in front of Enforcer HQ. Finally out of the mayhem, he headed along back roads back towards the salvage yard.
“Well, I guess this is it, Lieutenant Feral. Thanks for the help,” T- Bone landed the Turbokat on the roof of Enforcer HQ.
“Thanks for the lift,” She smiled at him as she unfastened the seat harness and removed the helmet, placing it back under the seat.
“Any time,” he offered, opening the canopy.
“I may just take you up on that,” she countered as she stood up to jump out of the cockpit. She froze, however, when she saw the wound on T-Bone’s arm.
“It’s nothing,” he told her, wiping the blood away.
“Nothing my Uncle Ulysses! You have to let me take care of that, it’s the least I can do,” Felina insisted, leaning over to take a better look at his arm.
“Don’t worry about me, Lieutenant, I’ll be fine,” T-Bone protested.
“Either you come with me, or I’m not leaving this jet,” Felina informed him calmly, still examining his arm, “Look, all we have to do is cover the jet, and go down the stairs to my quarters. It was recently painted, and above the seventh floor, so we’ll be in the clear. I’ll patch you up and you’ll be on your way in no time. Or, you can simply take me with you. It’s your choice.”
T-Bone sighed and nodded, knowing he might as well give in. Besides, his arm did hurt pretty badly. He got up and jumped out of the cockpit, cradling his injured arm. Felina dropped down beside him. Together, they covered the jet with one of the tarps from the store room just inside the access hall, then T-Bone followed her down the stairs to her quarters.
“Told you we’d be fine. No one uses the stairs – except me,” she said, opening her door and pointing him towards the bathroom. She then went back out into the hall and got the first aid kit from it’s case on the wall, and returned to her quarters.
“All right, Steel, tell me again what happened,” Feral said, still rubbing his eyes, which burned from the turpentine.
“Well, you see, sir, it was like this……” Steel began, while the others around him rolled their eyes.
Feral had the feeling this was going to be a very, very long night.
When Felina reached the bathroom, she found T-Bone soaking his wounded arm in the sink. He had removed his harness and unzipped the top of his g-suit, letting the top half hang to his waist. His t-shirt sleeve was torn where the vine had struck high on his shoulder. Felina could see the wound was a bit deep, and stretched all the way from the top of his shoulder to just above his elbow.
“Here,” She said, handing him a towel, “Dry your arm, and I’ll put some antiseptic on that wound, and wrap it up.”
T-Bone took the towel and dried his arm, noticing the blood that came off onto the towel. He apologized, but Felina dismissed it with a wave. She motioned for him to sit on the edge of the tub, and perched next to him, unrolling the first aid kit into her lap.
“Now, this’ll probably burn like crazy, but hold still anyway, or I’ll punch you,” She told him, hoping to make him smile. It worked.
“Some bedside manner, Lieutenant,” T-Bone grinned, then winced as she painted on the antiseptic.
“Well, you held still, didn’t you?” Felina pointed out as she bandaged his arm. Carefully, she taped the ends of the bandage in place, “There. How’s that?”
“Fine. It feels much better. Thank you,” he again grinned at her.
“The least I can do, after putting you through that, is to offer you some milk,” Felina leaned over to pick up the first aid kit, “I want you to stay a few minutes, to make sure you don’t soak through the bandage.”
T-Bone started to protest, but, actually, he thought a short rest might do him some good, and he was thirsty, so he agreed.
“C’mon, I even have some cold pizza if you’re hungry,” Felina led the way, depositing both the first aid kit and her shoes by the couch as she went.
“Cold pizza? That’s one of the best offers I’ve had all day,” He followed her into the kitchen, “A she-kat after my own heart.”
“We can watch the news, too,” Felina pointed to the TV, then turned to the fridge. T-Bone flipped on the set, and Felina deposited milk and pizza onto the table. The TV hummed to life.
“This is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News. With me is Commander Feral of the Enforcers. Commander Feral, is it true that your niece, with the help of the SWAT Kats, saved all the kats trapped by Dr. Viper at Enforcer Headquarters tonight?”
“Yes, Ann, my niece devised the plan that stopped Viper. She’s a credit to the Enforcers.”
“And where is Dr. Viper now?”
Felina snapped off the TV.
“What’s wrong, Lieutenant?” T-Bone asked, startled by her anger.
“I’m just tired of being considered as ‘Commander Feral’s niece’ all the time. I do have a first name,” she fumed, pacing the floor, “All the other Enforcers just see me as a quick ticket to promotion. Barely a blip on the screen.”
“Oh, come on, Lieutenant. This whole party tonight was to honor you,” T-Bone put in, having risen to his feet.
“This whole party was to raise money for new choppers. I was incidental,” she informed him, her eyes bright with anger, “I was forced, or rather ordered, into this!!” she stormed over to the window in the next room, afraid that, should she stay in the kitchen, she might start throwing dishes in frustration. T-Bone followed her.
“Now wait a minute, Lieutenant……..”He began.
“No, T-Bone, you wait a minute,” she cut him off, “Who am I? To my uncle, not to mention my father, I’m a chance to show off. To the other Enforcers, I’m a ticket to promotion. To you SWAT Kats, I’m simply another Enforcer, who is usually in your way. You ever tried living your life being Commander Feral’s niece?”
“Can’t say as I have,” he answered, watching her, “nor would I want to.”
“Don’t make fun of me,” she warned.
“I’m not. Look here, Lieuten…….Look here, Felina,” T-Bone walked over to her and laid his paws on her shoulders, “you want to know who you are to me? You’re a skilled pilot. You’re smart, dedicated, dependable, funny, caring, brave, tough, and beautiful. Never sell yourself short. If others can’t see beyond Feral, then you don’t need them,” T-Bone told her, realizing how much he meant all of it.
“Do you mean that?” She asked.
For an answer, T-Bone pulled her to his chest and kissed her. Shocked, she didn’t react at first, but then found herself wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer. He finally pulled back.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, moving to turn her loose.
“I’m not,” Felina answered, kissing him again.
T-Bone resisted at first, but he to eventually pulled her closer and returned her kiss. Soon, Felina no longer had to worry about how she looked in her new dress, because she was no longer wearing it……………
Jake was worried. It wasn’t like his partner not to at least check in. He reached for the clock. 3am. He toyed with the idea of going out looking for his buddy, but decided against it. If there was trouble, someone would get word to him. He rolled over, but sleep was slow in coming.
Felina awoke, and felt her cheek resting on T-Bone’s soft orange fur. She had been careful to lie against his left side, so as not to bump his wounded arm. She sighed, and rolled onto her stomach, resting her chin on his shoulder and looking up at his face. With all the lights out, she couldn’t see him, so she began to trace the contours of his face with her finger. She traced his mouth, his nose, his eyes…….and stopped. Felina was touching fur. He had taken his mask off. T-Bone trusted her that much. Felina moved her paw back down to his chest and leaned against him, listening to his heart beat until she drifted off to sleep. It never occurred to her to turn on the light, and violate his trust.
In the dim light of early dawn, T-Bone carefully took the cover off the Turbokat. He had gotten up carefully, not waking Felina, dressed, and slipped out via the stairwell. Since most of the Enforcers were out with turpentine burns, there was no guard up on the roof. Jumping into the cockpit, T-Bone strapped in and fired up the engines. He hoped Jake wouldn’t be too mad that he spent the extra money he had on him, but he’d sort that out later. With one more glance back, T-bone activated the thrusters and headed home.
Felina again awoke, this time alone. Fighting disappointment, she got up and showered. Putting on her robe, she wandered into the kitchen and stopped in surprise. On the table sat a vase, with a dozen roses in it. She snatched the card up and opened it, quickly scanning the lines. Smiling, she went back into the bedroom and put on her uniform, slipping the card into her pocket.
Jake was eating breakfast when Chance entered the kitchen.
“Just coffee for me,” Chance said, grabbing a cup.
“Where were you last night?” Jake asked, “I was worried something happened after I left. Or that you were throwing me over for Lieutenant Feral.”
“Naw. I mean, she looks good in your helmet, but she can’t shoot as well as you can,” Chance grinned at him.
“Besides, she’s not Callie,” Jake added, finishing his breakfast.
“Speaking of Callie,” Chance changed the subject, “Did she come get her car yet?”
“Yeah, you missed her,” Jake told him, getting up and putting his dishes in the sink, “Poor Chance.”
Chance, finishing his coffee, didn’t know what to say. He did like Callie, but then again, Callie was no Felina, either. He settled on dropping the whole matter, at least for now.
“C’mon, buddy, let’s get to work,” was all Chance had to say. The pair headed down to the garage, to work on that backlog.
“Good morning, Uncle!” Felina called as she entered Commander Feral’s office.
“Good morning. You are looking chipper today, in spite of your adventure last night,” he told her, his eyes still red, “We have to flush out and repaint most of this entire building, and get new furniture for the lower seven floors, thanks to those infernal SWAT Kats. I’ve assigned you to escort that shipment of Katalyst XY4 to Megakat Biochemical today, by the way. You’re one of the only pilots left uninjured. Get moving to the hanger, Lieutenant,” he growled good-naturedly at her.
“Yes, sir,” Felina saluted and turned on her heel, heading out the door.
Feral wondered what had happened to put such a spring in her step, and made a mental note to read her report once she filed it. Right now, other things needed his attention. His intercom buzzed.
“Sir, Major Steel is here to see you,” his secretary informed him. Feral put his head down on the desk.
Felina waited in the ready room at the hanger for her chopper to be fueled up. Slowly, she fished out the note from her roses, to read it again:
‘To Felina, the smartest, most dedicated, most dependable, funniest, most caring, bravest, toughest, and most beautiful Enforcer in Megakat City – and the best pilot. Watch your back, -TBone.’
She carefully returned the card to her pocket, and headed for her chopper. For some reason, she just couldn’t stop smiling.
The End……and the beginning.
“It’s a cruel, crazy, beautiful world…..It’s your world, so live in it!”
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