Trouble Comes in Threes
by Jade F. Callan
(For Feminist SWAT Kat fans everywhere – and for my friend Karen!)
Phineas adjusted his sun visor to block out the glare from the setting sun, then glanced over at his little sister. He had been surprised when she had asked him to drive her to dinner at their parents house. He had been even more surprised by her outfit, but had refrained from commenting, at least so far.
“What’s the matter, Phineas,” Felina asked her brother, “Don’t you like my dress?”
“Um, don’t you think it’s a bit…….short? And a bit fancy for dinner with our parents?” Phineas kept his eyes on the road.
“Not really,” Felina replied, “I was going to wear my uniform, but Uncle Ulysses threatened me until I agreed to wear a dress. Besides, you always said red is my color,” Felina shifted in her seat.
“It would be a better dress for the occasion if there were a bit more to it,” Phineas pointed out, “But you’re right, Mother and Dad would object more to the uniform.”
Felina giggled, then turned serious again, “What, exactly, is the purpose of this dinner? We’re not exactly the type of family to indulge in little get-togethers, you know.”
“To celebrate you getting out of the hospital, of course,” Phineas turned his car onto the tree-lined drive where their parents’ mansion was located, “You gave us all one hell of a scare, you know.”
“That was over six weeks ago!” Felina protested, “After the argument we had in my hospital room, I’m surprised Mother and Dad are still speaking to me. Unless they have an ulterior motive,” Felina glanced sideways at her brother, “This isn’t a set up, is it?”
“Well,” Phineas slowed the car as they approached the gate, “Mother did invite ol’ David Steel, but I kind of dis-invited him. With Uncle Ulysses’ help, I might add.”
Felina threw back her head and laughed as Phineas stopped in front of the gate to their parents’ mansion. He lowered the car window and punched in the security code, then stepped on the gas as the gate rolled open in front of them. Felina again sobered as they drove up the winding front drive to the grand Ionic columns on the front of the mansion. She had always hated this place. It had been in the Feral family for six generations, and, as far as she was concerned, it was nothing more than an oversized mausoleum. It had been a cold, ugly place to be a kitten.
“Oh, c’mon, sis,” Phineas reached out and pulled her ear, as he used to when they were young. There was only a year separating their ages, and they had been close as kittens, “You look like you’re being put in front of a firing squad.”
“I’m not so sure that’s very far from the truth,” Felina observed as Phineas parked the car off to one side of the front steps.
Phineas grinned at his sister, unfastened his seat belt, and got out of the car. Before Felina could follow suit, however, he had popped around the back of the car and opened her door for her. Phineas extended a paw as she hit the seat belt release, and she allowed him to help her out of the car.
“Next time, I drive,” Felina informed him as he closed the car door.
“Helicopter or jet?” Phineas offered her his arm.
“It’ll be a surprise,” Felina smiled as she slid her arm through his.
The pair walked toward the mansion, slowly climbing the marble steps and passing through the marble columns to the grand front door.
“So, what time is Sami supposed to be here, Jake?” Chance called from the living room.
“Soon. She said sometime around six,” Jake replied, fussing with something in a pot on the top of the stove.
Chance watched his partner puttering around in the kitchen, “I never knew you could cook. What’re you making?”
“Fish stew,” Jake told him while he added pepper to his creation, “It’s the only dish I can make from scratch. My sister, Evette, taught me how to make it.”
“Is she the younger one or the older one?” Chance always got Jake’s sisters mixed up. All he ever remembered was that Jake was in the middle.
“Evette’s the youngest, and Maria is the oldest,” Jake explained, “Maria is an engineer at Pumadyne, and Evette teaches grade school,” he looked over at Chance and smiled, “Why, you getting tired of Felina?”
“No way, bud, though I’m sure your sisters are nice,” Chance laughed, “Just curious,” he grew serious, “Listen, Jake, are you sure you want me here tonight? I feel like a damn chaperon.”
“Sami insisted,” Jake responded, “Besides, I might need some backup, you know.”
Chance grinned, understanding what Jake was too embarrassed to say. Even so, he wished Felina was there to make it a foursome.
Dark Kat growled low in his throat as he contemplated his latest scheme. He had been lying low since breaking out of Alkat-traz a few weeks before, but now the time was right to make his move. Turning his swivel chair around to face the interior of the cave he currently called home, Dark Kat watched as the creeplings finished loading his airship with the supplies needed for the final run later that night. An evil smile oozed across his face at the thought of destroying Feral and the Enforcers once and for all. Not even those infernal SWAT Kats were going to stop him this time.
Felina flopped down on the sofa in her father’s study. The butler who had answered the door had directed her and Phineas there to wait for their parents. Phineas wandered over to the bar and began rattling glasses.
“What a drink?” he offered, getting tonic water and lemon for himself.
“Just what you’re having,” she replied, “I better not indulge. No telling what I might do.”
“That’s true, with or without liquor,” Phineas said, fixing her drink and coming over to the sofa.
“Thanks a lot,” Felina took the glass he held out to her, “Did you bring a crash helmet?”
Phineas sat down beside his sister, “So, tell me, what’s new? Or should I ask whom?”
“What do you mean by that?” Felina kept her eyes on her drink.
“Well, you’re never home when I call on Friday and Saturday nights, and you get a secretive smile on your face when you think no one is looking. Either it’s love, or Uncle Ulysses is working you too hard,” Phineas took a sip of his own drink.
“OK, you got me. Maybe you’re the one who should have joined the Enforcers,” Felina looked over at her brother, “There is someone. Someone very special, whom I love very much. And that’s all I’m going to say about it, at least for now.”
“Whoa!” Phineas’ eyes widened, “This is serious!”
“Very,” Felina shot back.
Phineas was about to ask many more questions when they heard voices out in the hall. Both Felina and Phineas turned towards the door as their three brothers walked in.
“Felina!” Xeno roared. He charged across the room, pulled her up from the sofa, and gave her a hearty hug.
“Easy, bro,” Felina cautioned, trying not to spill the drink in her paw.
“Must you always be so demonstrative, Xeno?” Alex asked.
“Must you always be such a wet blanket, Alex?” Xeno snapped back as he released Felina.
“Do you two think you can manage to behave yourselves for just a few hours?” Castor walked over to the bar, “Hi, Felina. Phineas, good to see you again, little brother. OK, I’m bartender. Who wants what?”
Felina watched as Phineas got up and went to join the others, and her four brothers converged on the bar. She contemplated them all. Alexander, the oldest, was impeccably dressed and unbearably stuffy. He was a very successful attorney, a fact he reminded everyone of several times a day. Castor, second in line, was a financier. He was a partner in their father’s firm, and had just gotten engaged to Michael Manx’s daughter, Gabrielle. Xeno was third, with a successful architecture firm all his own and fancy taste in wine and she-kats. He had a new girlfriend every week. Last, but certainly not least, was Phineas. Sweet, sensitive Phineas, who’s art gallery was doing very well. He was a wonderful artist, and many of his paintings hung in the art museum, as well as most of the upscale houses, in Megakat City.
“Well, Felina,” Alex greeted her as he crossed the room, “How’s the Enforcer business?”
“It’s not exactly a business, Alex,” Felina’s voice was cool, “but it’s fine.”
“Hey, sis,” Castor joined them, “Too bad you got hurt. You missed my engagement party.”
“Where is Gabrielle? And Jenny, for that matter?” Xeno wondered, as he and Phineas sat next to Felina on the sofa.
“My wife took Gabrielle over to her family’s home tonight,” Alex explained, “She thought it would be good to start making some of the pre- nuptial social calls now.”
“Somehow, I don’t think she’ll like it at the Steels’ place,” Phineas said in a low voice, causing Felina to choke on her drink.
“What’s the matter, Felina?” Alex turned to her, “Don’t approve of my wife’s family? It seems to me her younger brother David would be perfect for you. Of course, Uncle Ulysses would have to return his rank of Lieutenant Commander…….”
“I think they should give that rank to Felina, myself,” Phineas put in.
“Promotions board meets in about three months,” Felina told him, “Wish me luck.”
“Why?” Xeno demanded, “I agree with Alex, amazing as that sounds. You should settle down, Felina. The Enforcers are just too dangerous.”
“Especially when you consider what all has happened to you,” Castor cut in before Felina could speak, “You’ve been kidnapped, shot at, just about electrocuted, and I’m sure there’s more we haven’t heard about. Not to mention helicopter and jet crashes, and dealing with homicidal maniacs, smugglers, mob flunkies, and other assorted weirdos.”
“All that happened over a long period of time,” Felina snapped, “Besides, danger is part of my job, and the oath I took to protect and defend the citizens of Megakat City. And it’s not up to you three to dictate to me what I do,” she turned to Alex, “or whom I marry, for that matter,” she slammed her glass down on the end table to her right.
“Go, sis!” Phineas laughed, looking around at his brothers’ shocked faces, “Maybe I should get you that drink now.”
“Dinner is served,” one of the butlers announced from the doorway before Felina could comment. Alex, Castor, and Xeno followed the butler out of the room, but Phineas hung back, and placed a paw on Felina’s arm.
“Yes, Phineas?” she turned to her brother.
“Just want you to know,” Phineas told her as he set his drink on the left hand end table and stood up, “I’m always here for you, sis. Now,” he held out his arm to her once again, “May I escort you to dinner, Ms. Feral?”
Rising from the sofa, Felina slipped her arm through his, “Delighted, Mr. Feral.”
Felina giggled as they made their way to the door.
“Now what’s so funny?” Phineas asked.
“It’s just that no one has called me Ms. Feral in a long time,” Felina answered, “It’s either Lieutenant, Felina, or Beautiful.”
“Beautiful?” Phineas looked at her in wonder, “Wow, you’ve really got that tom-kat hooked, sis. He’s right, of course, you are beautiful. Especially in red.”
The two laughed together as they exited the study and headed for the large formal dining room down the hall.
Chance was pretending to read the newspaper in the living room when Sami arrived. Peeking over the top of the paper, he watched as Jake shyly greeted the pretty she-kat. Chance had to admit, Sami was nice to look at, especially in the skirt and blouse she was wearing instead of an Enforcer uniform.
“Good evening,” Jake said to her, “Did you have any trouble finding the place?”
“No,” Sami answered him, “You gave me very good directions,” she smiled, and Chance noticed she seemed as nervous as Jake.
“Good. Come on in. Chance is here, you said you wanted to meet him. I asked him to have dinner with us,” Jake turned toward the living room as Chance hastily raised the newspaper again, “Hope you don’t mind.”
Wait a minute, Chance thought to himself, hadn’t Jake claimed having him at dinner was Sami’s idea? That sneak!
“Fine with me,” Sami, following Jake, was glad they weren’t alone. She had almost turned down his invitation to dinner, afraid he would find her boring. With Chance there, she would have more to talk about, she hoped.
Chance lowered his newspaper and set it on the coffee table as the two approached, “Hello, Sami. Nice to see you again, especially under calmer circumstances,” Chance stood up and extended his paw.
“Nice to see you again too, Chance,” Sami shook his paw and gave Chance a bright smile.
“Um, you two have a seat here, and I’ll finish dinner,” Jake hurried back to the kitchen, afraid of burning his stew.
Chance sat back down on the sofa, and gestured for Sami to join him, “How’s flight school coming along?” he asked her.
“Pretty good,” Sami sat down and relaxed back into the sofa, “I’m top of the class,” she added shyly.
Chance nodded, “So was I. Tell me, is Wilson still teaching the flight systems course?”
Sami rolled her eyes, “Is he ever boring! My friend Felina said she used to have to drink at least two cups of coffee before his class just to stay awake.”
“Took me three cups,” Chance grinned at the memory, “Did you start learning helicopter flying yet?”
“Just started,” Sami told him, “Three months on helicopters, then three months of officer training. After that, I’ll be Second Lieutenant Higgins,” there was pride in Sami’s voice.
“With Jake helping you study, they’ll probably give you Steel’s old job,” Chance was amused at Sami’s exuberance.
“Unfortunately,” Jake’s voice came from the kitchen, “I didn’t get to study helicopters or officer training. That was the point when Feral bounced our tails off active duty and sent us out here.”
“No need to bring that up,” Chance pointed out before Sami could respond, “Is that stew done yet?”
“Uh, I think so,” Jake turned back to the stove and lifted the pot lid, looking critically at his concoction, “Looks good to me, and I did everything the way Evette taught me to,” he poked at the stew with a spoon.
“Evette?” Sami whispered to Chance.
“Not to worry,” Chance whispered back, “That’s his little sister.”
“Oh,” Sami looked relieved.
“Dinner is served,” Jake announced from the kitchen. He set about dishing up the stew.
Chance stood up and offered his arm to Sami, “Ms. Higgins, may I have the pleasure of escorting you to dinner?”
“With pleasure, Mr. Furlong,” Sami got up and took the arm he offered, and the two walked into the kitchen to join Jake.
Felina shifted in her chair, bored out of her mind. All through the first three courses of dinner, the conversation had revolved around Alex’s latest case and Castor’s latest investment strategy. In her usual place, at the end of the table opposite Phineas, she felt just about invisible.
“Heads up, Miss Felina,” Max, the butler serving dinner, whispered in her ear. Max had always been friendly to her, and she to him.
Acting on Max’s warning, Felina glanced over at her parents and saw her mother had a calculating look aimed right at her. Before Felina had a chance to strike first, however, her mother took the initiative.
“Felina, my pet,” Helen raised her voice, and the other conversations at the table stopped, “There are a few matters your father, brothers, and I would like to discuss with you.”
“I see,” Felina said, looking around the table, “Butting into my life again?”
“Now, Felina, let’s be fair,” her father, Menelaus, put in, “We’re having dinner tonight in honor of you getting out of the hospital in one piece after that nasty business down at the docks.”
Felina heard Phineas snort into his drink, and she kicked him under the table, giving him a nasty look.
“Indeed,” Helen continued, “And let us not forget why you were in the hospital, shall we?”
“No, Mother,” Felina turned again toward Helen, “I won’t forget. I was injured in the line of duty, while protecting the citizens of Megakat City.”
“Which is the point, Felina,” Helen pressed, “Why should you, a beautiful, accomplished young she-kat, continue to put yourself in such danger when you don’t have to? And all those rough characters you associate with!”
As her mother wrinkled up her nose, Felina wondered if she was referring to the criminals she arrested or her fellow Enforcers.
“Aw, c’mon, Mother,” Phineas cut in, “Do we really have to do this now?”
“What’s the matter, Phineas?” Alex snapped, “You get some sort of thrill hearing about how our sister tries to get herself killed every other second of the day?”
“No,” Phineas returned, glaring at his brother, “But I do know better than to poke into her life. Besides, she’s got more backbone than any of us.”
“Speak for yourself,” Xeno snarled.
“Jealous, Xeno?” Phineas moved his gaze from one brother to another, “I don’t see you out there protecting others like Felina does. Of course, that would entail you giving up that wine you’re so fond of……”
“Enough!” Menelaus’ voice boomed from the head of the table, “This isn’t about you, it’s about Felina,” he turned to his wife, “Please continue, my dear.”
Helen nodded to her husband, then turned her attention back to her daughter, “Felina, I don’t think I need to go over the events of the past few months to make my point. You’ve been associating with vigilantes, for kats sake! We saw it on the news!”
Felina’s mouth fell open. Apparently, her parents kept up with current events more than she thought they did. That, or big mouth Harry Snow had been talking to them again. She was just glad they didn’t know she was seeing Chance.
“Felina, close your mouth. That’s not ladylike,” Menelaus told her. Felina’s mouth closed automatically.
“I have been speaking with that nice David Steel,” Helen continued, “and he has agreed to marry you once you quit the Enforcers. He’s from such a nice family, and……”
“Don’t you think you should have consulted me about this before promising me in marriage to that twit?” Felina growled through clenched teeth as she rose from her chair.
“Felina, calm down,” Helen protested, startled by the anger in her daughter’s eyes, “All this is for the best. I guarantee you’ll thank me for it later. Now, your father will discuss you resigning your commission with Ulysses when he arrives here later tonight, and you and I can make wedding plans. I thought an intimate ceremony, maybe for 500 or so guests?”
Phineas looked at his sister as she balled up her paws into fists. She looked ready to explode, her eyes blazing with anger. He couldn’t believe their mother had been so bold to arrange a marriage for Felina behind her back.
“You always were a control freak, Helen,” came a cold voice from the doorway of the dining room, “But this time, you’ve gone way too far.”
Dark Kat smacked three creeplings out of his way as he approached his airship. an oxygen tank some of the creeplings had been carrying had slipped from their grasp and fallen against the landing gear, which Dark Kat was now examining. It hadn’t caused any major damage, but enough so that things were going to be set back a couple of hours. Dark Kat ordered the creeplings to repair the landing gear as he lurched back to his chair. Cursing under his breath, he turned to his computer console, making adjustments in his calculations to account for this latest setback.
Chance leaned back in his chair after finishing his dinner. The stew had been surprisingly good, much to his surprise. Jake’s going to make someone a good wife, Chance thought with a grin.
“What are you grinning at, Chance?” Jake asked as he finished his own bowl of stew.
“Oh, nothing,” Chance answered, his face the picture of innocence.
“Yeah, right,” Jake said, then turned his attention back to Sami, “More milk?”
“Oh, yes, please,” Sami handed him her glass, “Your stew was delicious, Jake.”
“Um, thanks,” Jake kept his eyes on her glass as he poured the milk, and Chance saw the color rise in Jake’s cheeks.
“So, Sami,” Chance turned his attention to their guest, “Jake tells me you were mixed up in that sniper case a few weeks ago?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Sami began, stopping to take her glass of milk from Jake and thank him. She then turned back to Chance, “It was quite exciting, and scary too. My friend, Felina, was injured, and Commander Feral issued a Code Eighteen call. The only problem was, I couldn’t find what Code Eighteen meant.”
Jake looked at Chance, afraid of what reminding him of that day and Felina’s injuries might do, but Chance merely nodded at Sami, his face unreadable.
“Luckily,” Sami continued, “the watch commander helped me, and things turned out all right.”
“Feral gave her the rest of the day off, too,” Jake put in.
“I thought you were in flight school,” Chance said, “What were you doing on duty in the radio room?”
“Well,” Sami smiled, “Since I’ve been on the force for a while, there are some days I’m allowed to skip class, so I usually end up on radio duty, or some sort of routine patrol, or desk duty.”
“That Feral always finds a way to get use out of any situation,” Chance grumbled.
“Still,” Jake cut in, “It was nice that Sami got the rest of the day off, and Snow got the rest of the week.”
“Yes,” Sami agreed, “and it was nice of you to spend the afternoon with me, Jake. Even if you did fall asleep.”
Chance, who had just taken a large gulp of milk, sputtered into his glass, choking and snorting. Jake pounded him on the back until the coughing subsided.
“You went to sleep?” Chance chuckled, wiping his eyes.
“Sort of,” Jake mumbled, “I did have an early morning, thanks to your girlfriend’s sunrise departure.”
“We were in the park,” Sami explained, not wanting Chance to get the wrong idea, “and we were lying back on the grass watching the clouds, when Jake drifted off. He looked so tired, I didn’t wake him until it started to get dark.”
“I hope you at least took the lady out to dinner after she stood guard over your sleeping form, Sureshot,” Chance looked at Jake with eyes that twinkled with laughter.
“He did,” Sami informed Chance.
Jake sighed, and began to clear the table. He knew Chance wasn’t going to let him forget about that little nap in the park for a long time, if ever.
“So, Chance,” Sami rose to help Jake with the dishes, “What’s your girlfriend’s name? Do I know her?”
Jake smirked and looked at Chance. It was payback time.
“Ah, yeah, you know her,” Chance wondered how much Felina wanted Sami to know, but he wasn’t sure there was any way to get out of this without her finding out.
“I do? What’s her name?” Sami placed an armful of dishes in the sink, then turned back to Chance.
“Unless, of course,” Jake’s voice was positively gleeful, “you’ve forgotten her name already?” Jake turned to the freezer to get out the ice cream he had bought for dessert.
“Very funny, Clawson,” Chance growled, “Her name is Felina Felicity Feral, as if you don’t know,” the words were out of his mouth before Chance could stop himself.
“Felicity?” Jake’s eyes were bright with merriment at this latest bit of information as he turned back towards Chance, clutching the package of ice cream.
“Felina’s your girlfriend?” Sami’s eyes were wide with amazement. She wondered why Felina had never told her about Chance.
Chance, for his part, could only moan and place a paw over his face. Now Felina had two more reasons to strangle him.
Commander Feral walked slowly into the dinning room as all eyes except Felina’s turned his way.
“Ulysses, you’re early,” Menelaus found his voice at last.
“It would seem to me,” Commander Feral replied as he walked up behind Felina, “that I’ve arrived just in time,” He placed a paw on Felina’s shoulder, and felt a tremor of anger pass through her, “Have a seat, Felina.”
“I don’t think so,” she spat, her eyes still on her mother.
“That’s an order, Lieutenant,” Feral shot back, applying pressure to her shoulder. Felina, after a moment’s hesitation, unclenched her fists and slowly sank into her chair, her eyes still glittering with anger.
“Thank you, Ulysses,” Helen said, smiling shakily at her brother-in- law.
“I wouldn’t be so quick to thank me, Helen,” Feral cautioned, moving his gaze from daughter to mother.
“Why, Ulysses,” Helen’s eyes widened, “What ever do you mean? We were all only looking out for Felina’s well-being!”
“And, if you believe that,” Phineas chimed in, quite amused by his uncle’s timely arrival, “She’ll sell you the Megakat Bridge, cheap!”
“Phineas, stay out of this,” Feral warned his nephew.
“Now, see here, Ulysses,” Menelaus stood up, “You can’t just come into my house and start issuing orders like that. This isn’t an Enforcer barracks!”
“Oh, can’t I? Just watch me,” Commander Feral, straightening his uniform, stepped back from Felina’s chair and drew himself up to his full height, “Lieutenant Feral, front and center!”
Felina instantly sprang from her chair, turned around, and stood at attention in front of her uncle, back ramrod straight and chin up, “Yes, Sir!” she said crisply.
“Do you have any wish, Lieutenant, to marry Major David Steel?” Feral questioned, hiding his amusement at Felina standing at attention in a red cocktail dress.
“No, Sir!” Felina’s voice was quite firm.
“Do you have any desire to leave the Enforcers, Lieutenant?” Feral continued.
“No, Sir!” she repeated, her voice just as firm.
“Very well, Lieutenant. You are dismissed,” Commander Feral held out his car keys, “Just leave the car at Enforcer Headquarters.”
“Yes, Sir!” Felina finally smiled as she took the keys, “Permission to speak freely, Sir?”
“Granted,” Feral smiled back at her.
Felina stepped forward, stood on her toes, and planted a kiss on Feral’s cheek, “Thanks, Uncle. Be sure to hide the bodies,” With that, Felina turned and exited the room, her head up and her tail lashing from side to side.
“You were saying, Menelaus?” Feral looked back at his brother.
While everyone looked at either Menelaus or Ulysses, Phineas slipped off his chair and silently followed Felina. He caught up to her at the foot of the front stairs.
“Felina, wait!” Phineas came up beside her, slightly out of breath.
“Yes, Phineas?” Felina was impatient to be on her way, and rattled her uncle’s car keys in irritation.
Once he got his breath, Phineas reached out and took her paw in his, “I just wanted to apologize for tonight. I should have known what Mother was up to.”
“It’s not your fault, Phineas. I should have realized it myself. Mother has been overly nice to me the past few days,” Felina reflected, “And Steel has been falling over himself to be what he considers charming.”
“Look, sis,” Phineas gripped her paw hard, “I just want you to know that Jocasta and I don’t think like the rest of them.”
“Jocasta?” Felina stopped rattling the car keys, her curiosity peaked.
“Uh, well, let’s just say you’re not the only one with something serious going on,” Phineas smiled at his sister, “And she’s a big fan of yours. Her motto is a she-kat belongs where she wants to belong.”
“I like her already.”
“I thought you would. Now, how about some info on this tom-kat you’re seeing?”
“Sorry, bro,” Felina extracted her paw from his and moved toward her uncle’s car, “Right now I need to see him more than you need to hear about him. I’ll call you later,” Felina got into the car and fired up the engine.
Phineas was halfway back up the front steps when he heard Felina calling his name.
“Tell Jocasta I think she’s great,” Felina called to him from the car, “And she’s got great taste in tom-kats!”
Phineas laughed heartily as Felina drove off down the driveway at a rather excessive speed.
After lingering over their ice cream, Chance, Jake, and Sami went back into the living room. Chance had spent much of the time dodging questions from Sami about his and Felina’s relationship. He hoped she had finally given up on the subject, but no such luck.
“How did you and Felina meet, Chance?” Sami asked as the three of them settled onto the couch.
“Ah, it was work related,” Chance answered, knowing that if he said they had met over a mutated frog, that would take more skill than he possessed to explain.
“Her car broke down?” Sami continued.
“Something like that,” Chance said, then turned as the phone rang, “I’ll get it!” He got up and walked into the kitchen, grateful to get away from Sami’s overabundant curiosity. He picked up the phone on the fourth ring, “Megakat Salvage Yard, Chance speaking.”
“Chance?” Felina’s voice came over the line.
“Felina? I thought you were having dinner with your parents,” Chance thought she sounded a bit depressed, and more than a little angry.
“I was, until they tried to marry me off to Steel,” she informed him.
“They what?!?!” Chance tightened his grip on the phone, “What happened?”
“It seems my mother had arranged the whole thing. She had already talked to Steel, and wanted to plan an intimate ceremony for 500. Of course, all this hinged on my quitting the Enforcers,” Felina began to fume.
“Just calm down, Beautiful,” Chance lowered his voice, “How’d you get out of it?”
“Uncle Ulysses showed up just in time,” Felina continued, a bit calmer, “He loaned me his car, and sent me home.”
“Is that where you are now?”
“No, I had to return my uncle’s car to Enforcer Headquarters, so when I got home I changed into my uniform and brought the car back here.”
“So you’re at The Enforcer Building?”
“Yeah,” Felina sighed, “I was going to take a helicopter out for a night flight, and I would really appreciate it if you could come with me. I know you and Jake have company, but,” her voice got very low, “I need you, Hotshot.”
“You got it,” Chance said immediately, “Where should I meet you?”
“At the usual place in the park,” relief flooded Felina’s voice, “In about an hour.”
“I’ll be there,” Chance promised, “Take care, Beautiful, I love you.”
“I love you too, Hotshot. See you soon.”
Chance hung up the phone and went back into the living room, “I hope you two will forgive me, but I’m going to have to leave. Felina just called, and she’s really upset.”
“What’s wrong?” Sami wondered, concern on her face.
“Felina had dinner with her parents tonight……” Chance began, but Sami held up a paw to stop him.
“Say no more,” she said, “I’m just glad you’ll be there to make her feel better. It was a pleasure to see you again, Chance.”
“Take it easy, buddy,” Jake put in, “Tell Felina I hope she feels better, and not to let it get her down.”
“Will do, and thanks,” Chance walked toward the door. He went out the door and down the stairs to the garage, and in a few moments Jake and Sami heard the tow truck pull away from the front of the building.
It was then that a terrifying thought struck Jake. He was alone with a beautiful she-kat! He glanced shyly at Sami, and she smiled at him. Now what, Jake thought to himself.
Dark Kat ran a final systems check on his airship, hoping he would soon be ready to go.
“Now, my creeplings,” Dark Kat growled deep in his throat, “My revenge against Feral and The Enforcers will be complete! Not only will I destroy The Enforcer Building and City Hall, but I also intend to blow up his house as well!”
The creeplings looked at each other, shrugged, then jumped up and down, howling merrily. They tried their best to keep Dark Kat happy. After all, he was a big fellow, and he did pay the grocery bill.
Dark Kat chuckled to himself, then got out of his chair and swept towards the hanger, creeplings following in his wake. He was going to enjoy this! After he took over Megakat City, he would have to think of a proper punishment for those blasted SWAT Kats.
Felina was already waiting when Chance made his way to the open area they usually met at in Megakat Park. He boarded the helicopter to find her slouched in the pilot’s seat, staring out the front windshield.
“Felina?” Chance called softly.
She turned in her chair, and Chance saw several emotions fighting for dominance in her eyes – anger, sadness, and weariness chief among them. Without another word, Chance held out his arms, and Felina rose from her chair and walked quickly over to him.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” She put her arms around his neck and pulled him close, feeling his arms around her. She leaned against his chest and sighed deeply.
“So am I, Beautiful,” Chance whispered in her ear, “Why do you let them get to you so badly?”
“Not now, Chance,” Felina protested, “Just give me a minute, then we can discuss it.”
“Take as long as you need,” Chance rested his cheek on her hair.
Felina closed her eyes and leaned on Chance for a few minutes, then opened them and leaned back to look at him, “Why do you put up with me?” she smiled at last.
“Because I love you, and you’re worth every moment,” Chance answered from his heart.
“I love you too, Hotshot,” Felina kissed him gently, then smiled at him once more, “C’mon, let’s do a little flying before we get arrested for indecent exposure, or whatever they call it.”
Chance released her, chuckling, “I’d like to see you explain that to your uncle,” He observed as the two of them walked over to the pilot and co-pilot seats, “If he ever caught us together, he might force you to marry Steel, just to get you away from me,” Chance sat down in the co-pilot’s chair and fastened his seat belt.
“I doubt Steel would be my uncle’s first choice, no matter what,” Felina sat down and fastened her own seat belt, “But Snow would be a possibility. He really impressed my uncle with his work on the sniper case,” She put on her Enforcer helmet, and handed a spare one to Chance.
“I didn’t know you knew Harry,” Chance said, watching Felina start up the helicopter and putting on the helmet she had given him.
“Just in passing,” she replied, her eyes on the controls.
“Uh, Felina, something happened tonight that you should be aware of…..”
“What, that Sami now knows we’re seeing each other?” Felina was intent on her flying as the chopper left the ground and headed over the trees, “I figured she would find out when I called. It’s OK, she’s a gossip, but she won’t talk about us.”
“Well, that was one thing…..Watch out for that tree on the left,” Chance pointed out the windshield.
“What do you mean, that was one thing?” Felina steered the chopper around the tree with ease, “There’s something else?”
“Yeah, um……Don’t you think you’re flying rather low?”
“Chance, if you don’t stop backseat flying, I’m gonna belt you one!”
“OK, OK,” Chance held up his paws defensively.
“No wonder Jake always lets you drive,” Felina observed, “You probably make him crazy with your backseat driving too.”
“Speaking of Jake,” Chance said, “That’s the other item of interest for the day.”
“He knows what your middle name is.”
“Big mouth!” Felina snapped. They flew on in silence for a while, until Felina began to giggle.
“What’s so funny?” Chance wanted to know.
“If you want to get back in my good graces, tell me what his middle name is. His middle initial was the only thing listed in his file.”
Chance grinned, “Jake’s middle name is Xavier.”
“Xavier?” Felina laughed, “That’s much better ammo than Felicity!”
Chance, relieved to hear Felina laugh, hoped Jake would forgive him for telling, but, after all, fair was fair.
Dark Kat maneuvered his craft low over the city, looking for his objective. It wasn’t far, he knew, but it would take a moment to pinpoint the exact location…..wait, there! The public school building. Who would have thought someone at Pumadyne would be clever enough to hide weapons in a schoolyard?
Evette Clawson closed her lesson planner and leaned back in her chair. She had been teaching third grade this year, and, as spring turned towards summer, it was getting harder and harder to get the kittens to sit still. After the summer term, she was switching to first grade, but that was still four months away, and she had to turn her lesson plans in by the end of the week. Rubbing her eyes, Evette had the feeling it was going to be a long summer. Getting up, she wandered over to the window that overlooked the playground and sat down on the sill. Idly, she wondered if she wouldn’t be better off working on cars with her older brother Jake instead of teaching third grade this summer, then laughed as she imagined his reaction to such a suggestion. Evette supposed such silly thoughts were what happened when you stay too late at work and have crackers and milk for supper.
“Jake, what are you doing?” Sami asked, standing on the steps to the roof of the garage, eyes closed.
“Just trust me,” Jake called from out on the roof, “And give me just another moment.”
Sami sighed, and crossed her arms over her chest. She and Jake had, after a few false starts, been having an interesting conversation about positioning a jet via the stars under instrument blackout conditions Suddenly Jake had announced he had an idea, and led her up here with her eyes closed, then told her to wait. Since then, Sami could hear him dragging things around on the roof.
“OK,” Jake’s voice was coming from the doorway in front of her,” I’m all ready. Watch your step,” Jake took her by the paw and led her up the remaining steps and out onto the roof.
“Can I open my eyes now?” Sami felt a gentle spring breeze flow over her.
“Stop here,” Jake instructed, “lean your head back, then open your eyes.”
Sami did as Jake told her to. When she opened her eyes, a vast blanket of stars stretched out above her, and she gasped in wonder. Finally, she tore her eyes away from the sky and looked at Jake.
“It’s nice, huh?” Jake smiled at her look of wonder.
“It’s gorgeous!” Sami said, her eyes bright, “Thank you so much for showing it to me,” She turned her face back up to the sky, “This must be a nice place to come and think things out.”
“It is,” Jake also looked up at the stars, “This far outside the city, we don’t get much light pollution. It’s one of the few perks of this job.”
“I feel like I could touch them,” Sami sighed as she leaned back against Jake.
“Yeah,” Jake, after a moments hesitation, put his arms around Sami’s waist. They stayed like that for quite a while.
“Do you get lonely out here?”
“With Chance, Felina, and all these stars to keep me company? Only every once in a while,” Jake looked down at Sami, “And then I have a very pretty friend to call and talk to.”
“Who’s that?” Sami wrinkled her brow and turned in Jake’s arms to look at him, her blue eyes questioning.
“You,” Jake, before he could change his mind, leaned towards Sami and kissed her. After a slight hesitation, she slid her arms around his neck and returned his kiss.
“Now, let me get this straight,” Chance said, after Felina had described the evening she had spent at her parents’ mansion, “Your mother had already asked Steel to marry you if you quit The Enforcers?”
“Yep,” Felina kept her eyes out the windshield.
“And you had no say in this?”
“I wasn’t supposed to.”
“Your parents really thought you’d go along with this?”
Felina sighed, “You don’t understand, Chance. My grandfather used to control all the family money. He kept his three sons, Telemachus, Ulysses, and my father, Menelaus, all under his thumb. Uncle Telemachus rebelled, and died penniless, but happy. Uncle Ulysses stretched the rules by becoming an Enforcer, but he did very well and married whom he was instructed to, so he was forgiven. My father did exactly as he was told to do, and therefore inherited not only 1/2 the family fortune, but also most of the lands and properties my grandfather owned, with the rest going to Uncle Ulysses. My mother is from a similar type of family. It never occurs to either of them that a kitten of theirs would argue with them. Especially a daughter.”
Chance shook his head in wonder, then stopped, his eyes wide, “Did you say Feral’s married?”
“Was, Chance. She left him shortly after he made Lieutenant Commander. Aunt Adara claimed he loved his job more than he loved her,” Felina turned the chopper around over Megakat Bay, and headed back over the city, “Considering he was forced into the marriage by his father, he probably did love the job more. He busted his tail to make Commander after she left him, and is the youngest kat to ever hold that position. I’m just glad they never had any kittens.”
“Well,” Chance shifted in his chair, “That explains a lot.”
“He’s probably always in such a hurry to get the payments from me and Jake so he can pay his alimony.”
Felina smiled at Chance’s theory. She just couldn’t help herself.
“I take it your parents have some archaic ideas about the place of she-kats?” Chance returned to the earlier topic of conversation.
“Why, where do you think they belong?”
“Well, that depends,” Chance sensed this was a touchy subject for Felina, and hoped he hadn’t just gotten himself into trouble again.
“On what?” There was an edge on Felina’s voice.
“On their personality,” Chance stumbled to explain himself, “Take Callie Briggs, for instance. You wouldn’t put her in the cockpit of a fighter jet, would you?”
“Aren’t you the one who said she saved your tail from Dark Kat?” Felina pointed out, amused in spite of herself.
“Uh, yeah, actually,” Chance racked his brain for a better example, “What about Ann Gora?”
“What about her? She handled those ci-kat-as pretty well, not to mention that mega scorpion.” Felina grinned as Chance sputtered, looking for something to contradict her with, keeping her eyes on her flying.
“How about Sami?” Chance regretted that as soon as the name was out of his mouth.
“The same Sami who saved you from Mac and Molly? Give up, Chance. The score is now she-kats 3, Chance 0,” Felina giggled at him.
“What are you laughing at, Miss Can’t-boil-water? There’s two sides to this, you know,” Chance sounded a bit huffy.
“You’re one to talk, Mr. Let’s-order-pizza,” Felina shot back, “If you want to……Chance, what’s that?” she pointed out the front windshield off to the right.
“Huh?” Chance leaned forward, “I don’t see anythi…..wait, there’s a strange craft in the schoolyard. I’ve never seen it before.”
“Maybe we should go in and take a look,” Felina banked the chopper, and reached for the radio controls, “This is Lieutenant Feral, I’ve come across some suspicious activity in the playground area of the public school. Any action taken yet?”
“Affirmative, Lieutenant,” a voice from the radio said, “We got a call from one of the teachers who was working late, a Miss Evette Clawson, about some sort of suspicious activity. She called in about……” the rest of the response was drowned out as the strange airship fired its’ engines and took off like a streak into the night. Felina fought to keep her helicopter upright in the wake of the mysterious craft.
“Damn it!” Chance roared, “If I had the Turbokat, I could catch him in a minute!”
“Could you repeat that, Lieutenant? We couldn’t read you, there was some sort of interference,” the voice from the radio said.
Felina gave Chance a dirty look and spoke into her radio transmitter, “I said, the craft just took off, at too high a rate of speed to pursue in a chopper. Any jets in the area?”
“Was Miss Clawson still in the building?” Felina questioned.
“No, we told her to leave immediately, and she called from home to confirm she was safe.”
“Roger. Get a ground team over to the school and find out what’s going on!” Felina cut the connection, “Nice going, Chance. You could have gotten me in big trouble!”
“Sorry, Felina. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me,” he mumbled.
“No kidding. Is that Evette Clawson a relative of Jake’s?”
“Yeah, that’s his sister.”
“I wonder who’s ship that was,” Felina mused, “It sure could move. I’m curious as to what they were after in the schoolyard.”
“In some ways, it’s better we didn’t catch them,” Chance observed.
“Why, so we can see what they hit next?”
“I was thinking about what happened the last time we were in a chopper, saw something strange, and went to check it out,” Chance said.
“That was different,” Felina replied, as she turned the chopper in the direction of Megakat Park, “You were flying that time. That’s always trouble.”
“Very funny, Felina,” Chance growled good-naturedly.
Dark Kat cursed to himself as his airship sped over Megakat City. The information about the schoolyard had been false, and he had paid a lot of money for that tip. The new weapons must be at Pumadyne itself. The only thing to do now, Dark Kat decided, was to refit the airship tonight and hit Pumadyne in the morning.
Commander Feral was sitting in his easy chair, deeply engrossed in a book, when the phone rang. With a sigh, he replaced the bookmark, rose from the chair, and walked over to the phone on the sideboard, “Feral.”
“Hello, Uncle. Did you hide the bodies?” Felina inquired.
“Felina!” Feral was amazed at her good mood, “Did you return my car?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”
“You certainly seem in a better mood since the last time I saw you,” Feral observed.
“So, what happened back at the house?” Felina asked, unable to contain her curiosity any longer.
“My brother had the pleasure of throwing me out of his house,” Feral told her, “After my sister-in-law informed me how horribly I have ruined your life.”
“How’d you get home?”
“Phineas gave me a ride,” Feral said, “I’m continually amazed at how well you and Phineas turned out, in spite of your parents.”
Felina’s voice grew merry, “It’s your bad influence.”
“Must be,” Feral smiled, “Did you call simply to tease me, Felina?”
“No, Uncle,” Felina sobered, “I wanted to report a strange incident that happened when I was out flying tonight.”
“You weren’t on duty.”
“No,” Felina confessed, “but I needed something to take my mind off…..”
“Never mind,” Feral interrupted her, “I understand. That little trick you did learn from me.”
“True,” Felina agreed, then proceeded to tell her uncle about the strange craft she had seen in the schoolyard, carefully omitting Chance’s involvement.
“What did the ground team find?” Feral asked when she had finished her report.
“Not much,” Felina continued, “Whoever it was seemed to be looking for something. Half the schoolyard was dug up.”
“Strange,” Feral mulled over the situation, “We’ll discuss this again in the morning, after I go over all the paperwork.”
“And, Felina,” Commander Feral’s tone became stern, “I know you are rather touchy on the subject of the place of she-kats, but, in my opinion, your place is not behind my desk,” Feral smiled, “At least, not yet. Get your tail out of my chair, Lieutenant.”
“You know me too well, Uncle,” Felina laughed. She was, indeed, sitting in Feral’s office, in his chair, with her feet on his desk.
“Don’t you forget it, either,” Feral replied.
“Duly noted. Good night, Uncle.”
“Good night, Felina.” Feral hung up the phone and returned to his easy chair. He was unable to concentrate on his book, however. Felina’s report troubled him, and Feral wondered what was up now.
Jake had just picked up the newspaper Chance had discarded earlier when the phone rang. He picked it up in the kitchen on the third ring, “Megakat Salvage Yard, Jake speaking.”
“Hi, Jake,” a familiar voice greeted him.
“Hi, Tony,” Jake returned, “How’s it going?”
“Not too bad, and you?” Tony asked.
“Pretty good,” Jake answered, “Chance isn’t here right now.”
“He’s been tough to get ahold of lately,” Tony commented, “What’s her name?”
“Sorry, Tony,” Jake smiled, “That’s privileged information. Your brother would strangle me if I told you.”
Tony chuckled, “As long as he’s happy. Listen, Jake, tell Chance I called, but it wasn’t important. I just wanted to see how things were going. I’ll call again in a couple of days.”
“Will do, Tony,” Jake replied, “Take care of yourself.”
“You, too,” Tony said, “I’ll see you around.”
“Bye,” Jake hung up the phone. He always liked hearing from Tony, who was a pretty easy-going kat, unlike his older brother. It always made Jake wonder how Chance and Tony could be so close in age, but Chance was such a hothead and Tony was just the opposite. Chance always said Jake reminded him of Tony. While Jake was standing there musing over the brothers, the older of the two walked in.
“Hi ya, buddy,” Chance greeted Jake, “What’s up? Where’s Sami?”
“She had to go home,” Jake explained, “She has an early class tomorrow.”
“Too bad,” Chance pocketed his keys, “Judging by the amount of lipstick on your face, you two managed to have a good time without me.”
Jake raised a paw to his face, wiped his cheek and lips, and gasped when he saw Sami’s pink lipstick staining his fingers. He glanced at Chance, but his friend was now engrossed in the interior of the refrigerator.
“Want some milk?” Chance offered. “Uh, yeah, sure,” Jake answered, “Listen, Chance, about Sami….”
Chance handed Jake a can of milk, and took one for himself, “Sorry to tease you, bud. I just couldn’t resist. She’s nice, and very pretty, you lucky kat you.”
“Yeah, she’s great,” Jake was relieved Chance had realized how important Sami was to him, “How’s Felina?”
“She’s doing better. I tell ya, her parents are really a piece of work,” Chance headed into the living room and sat down on the sofa, “They had already arranged for her to quit The Enforcers and marry Steel.”
Jake followed Chance into the living room, “That’s pretty wild. Why are they so hung up on Steel?” He sat down next to Chance.
“From what Felina tells me, the Steels are pretty high up on the social ladder, right up there with the Manxs and Ferals. Too bad brains doesn’t automatically accompany money,” Chance answered.
“True, especially in Steel’s case,” Jake took a drink of milk, “By the way, Tony called.”
“What did he want?”
“He said it was nothing important, and that he’d call back in a few days. He also asked who it was that was keeping you out late.”
Chance sighed, and took a gulp of milk. Tony was the only one of his six siblings that would still speak to him since he was removed from active duty on The Enforcers. Tony and their mother were his only sources of information about his family. Last Chance had heard, his father still wouldn’t allow his name to be mentioned.
“Speaking of siblings,” Chance said, “There was something weird going on tonight at the school where Evette teaches,” He proceeded to tell Jake about the strange craft in the schoolyard.
“Was Evette there when the thing took off?” Jake’s eyes held concern. He was very protective of his little sister.
“No,” Chance told him, “She was back at her apartment by then. When she called The Enforcers, they told her to go home. You gonna give her a call?”
“She shares an apartment with Maria,” Jake replied, “And I really don’t want to get into another argument with my older sister tonight. If Evette told The Enforcers she’s fine, then she is,” Jake reflected on his situation. At least all of his family were still speaking to him, unlike Chance. They weren’t happy about the situation, but he did have dinner at his parent’s house every once in a while, and it wasn’t too bad…….except for Maria.
“Who do you suppose was flying that ship?” Chance interrupted Jake’s thoughts, “I’d never seen anything like it before.”
“Can you describe it better?” Jake turned his attention to the more pressing matter of the mysterious airship.
“I think I can draw a pretty fair picture of it……” Chance pulled a pencil from his pocket and began to sketch a picture on the back of an envelope. The two speculated on who might be at the controls of such a craft, but came up with nothing concrete. They also took the precaution of going down to the hanger and loading extra missiles into the Turbokat, just in case.
“C’mon, I got some wine in the refrigerator,” Felina told Sami as she unlocked the door of her apartment. The two she-kats had run into each other on the steps of Enforcer Headquarters, and decided a good old- fashioned gab session was in order. Sami had moved back into the barracks in The Enforcer Building when she started flight school, so she simply went upstairs, packed an overnight bag with her uniform and a few essentials, and walked with Felina over to her apartment.
“Where should I put this?” Sami held up her overnight bag.
“Next to the couch,” Felina called as she went into the bedroom, “It folds out into a bed.”
“Clever,” Sami set her case down, “I’ll get the wine.”
After Felina had changed out of her uniform and into jeans and a white turtleneck, she joined Sami in the kitchen, “Wow, what a spread!”
“Well, I thought we might like some munchies,” Sami smiled, “After all, weren’t they our mainstay all through Basic Training?”
“I remember,” Felina surveyed the crackers, cheese, and chocolate Sami had laid out along with glasses of red wine. She sat down on one end of the table and picked up a wine glass.
“Whom shall we discuss first, Jake or Chance?” asked Sami as she sat down and took the remaining glass.
“We’d better take Chance first, before I get too much of this wine in me and say things I shouldn’t,” Felina said, taking a sip from her glass.
“OK with me,” Sami took a small drink of her wine, “So, what’s he like?”
Felina studied her wine for a moment before answering, “Like you, he accepts me for who I am, not whom I’m related to.”
“That’s a good start,” Sami commented, waiting for Felina to continue.
“He’s such a hothead,” Felina took another swallow of wine, “And then he can be so sweet and caring. He makes me feel special……..and important……and beautiful…….and loved.”
“Hasn’t anyone ever made you feel those things before?”
Felina shook her head, “No, not really. None of my past boyfriends quite measure up to Chance. I guess my uncle did provide some support, but that’s not really the same. I’ve never been in a relationship like this before.”
Sami reflected that Felina was, in many ways, Commander Feral’s daughter just as much as she was her parents’, but kept that observation to herself, “Any thought to making the relationship permanent?”
“Of course I’ve thought about it,” Felina drained her glass, and reached for the bottle to refill it. She also topped off Sami’s glass, “I don’t want to be without Chance. But, Sami, how do I explain it to my uncle? Chance isn’t exactly who he would pick for his favorite niece.”
“I didn’t know it was up to him,” Sami said, “Look, Felina, it seems to me you’re going to have to make a choice, either making Commander Feral or yourself happy. What’s it going to be?”
The two she-kats sat in silence for a few minutes, Felina deep in thought. Finally, she spoke, “I hope there’s room for me over that garage,” she smiled at Sami.
“I’m sure Chance will make room,” Sami smiled back, “He really loves you.”
“Think so?” Felina reached for a cracker.
“Judging by what I saw tonight, he’s yours, lock, stock, and tow truck!” Sami reached for some chocolate.
“Just as long as I don’t try to drive his tow truck,” Felina giggled.
“Territorial, is he?”
“That, and he’s a really bad backseat driver! Now,” Felina raised her eyebrows, “about Jake?”
“What about him?” Sami countered.
“Judging by your smeared lipstick, you know quite a bit about him.”
Sami blushed a deep rosy color, “Actually, he’s rather shy.”
“Obviously not that shy.”
“Sorry, it’s just so much fun to turn the tables on you for once!” Felina laughed, “Look, Jake’s a really nice tom-kat, and I want to make sure everything is going OK between you two.”
“So far, so good.”
“Oh, no you don’t. I want details.”
“Only if you tell me more about you and Chance,” Sami shot back.
“I think we’re going to need a lot more wine,” Felina observed.
Chance rolled over in bed onto his back, and looked over at the clock – 3am. He and Jake had been up late, discussing the strange craft that had been in the schoolyard. They had finally gone to bed around midnight, but Chance missed having Felina in bed with him. She hadn’t wanted to come back with him since she was on duty early tomorrow morning. Her presence when he woke up during the night was always a comfort to him, and he felt like there was something missing when she wasn’t there. Chance put his paws behind his head and stared at the ceiling until he finally drifted off, dreaming of a certain dark-haired beauty his world seemed more and more focussed on.
Sami finished putting on her uniform and exited the bathroom. She had woken up early, and decided to go on in to Enforcer Headquarters without waking Felina. They had been up late talking, and Felina had stayed up reading in her bedroom after Sami had gone to bed. Sami dumped her stuff into her overnight bag and zipped it close, then folded the bed back into a couch and replaced the cushions. She then went into the kitchen and searched for some paper and a pen. Finding both by the phone, she quickly scribbled a note to Felina and attached it to the refrigerator door with a magnet. Walking back through the living room, Sami scooped up her bag and headed out the door.
Dark Kat leaned over the controls of his airship, an evil smile spreading over his face. Even with the setback in the schoolyard last night, things were going well. He had gotten confirmation that the new Enforcer weapons were indeed still at Pumadyne, where he would be heading in just a few moments. Behind him, the creeplings were completing final systems checks and mumbling among themselves. Dark Kat growled at them to hurry up. He was impatient for his revenge to begin.
Jake slowly opened one eye and looked at the clock. He had forgotten to set his alarm clock, and it was getting late. With a sigh, he threw back the covers and got out of bed. Leaving his bedroom, Jake went down the hall to the bathroom, but found the door locked. He heard the shower running, and wondered what Chance was doing up so early. Wandering back down the hall, Jake entered the kitchen in search of breakfast. He started the coffee pot and poked around in the cabinets until he found some donuts and a couple of jelly rolls. By the time Chance finally finished his shower and dressed, Jake was on his third donut and second cup of coffee.
“Morning,” Jake greeted his friend, “Did you leave me any hot water?”
“A little,” Chance helped himself to some coffee.
“What’re you doing up this early?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Chance surveyed the donuts, and selected one.
“You couldn’t sleep?” Jake wondered, “Are you sick or something?”
“Nope, just lonely,” Chance sipped his coffee, “I sleep better when Felina’s here.”
Jake grinned, “You could always try a teddy bear.”
“Somehow, bud, ” Chance looked at Jake over the rim of his coffee cup, “I don’t think it’d be the same.”
Jake got up from the table, “Think I’ll go shower, before this gets a little too personal!”
Felina groaned as the alarm clock rang in her ear. Silencing the clock, she rolled out of bed before she could drift off again. Wandering out into the living room, Felina was surprised not to find Sami on the fold-out bed. She decided to check the kitchen, and found Sami’s note on the refrigerator. Taking it in her paw, she tried to decipher Sami’s cryptic penmanship as she made coffee. Finally, she figured out the gist of the message, that Sami had left early in order to prepare for her first helicopter flight that morning. With a smile, Felina headed for the shower, remembering her own excitement at her first helicopter flight.
Commander Feral leaned back in his chair, reading the reports left on his desk. It had been an unusually busy night, but mostly the reports dealt with petty crimes. Leafing through the papers, Feral plucked out the ones dealing with the incident Felina had called him about the night before. Skimming over her report, he made note of certain details, then turned to the other reports dealing with the incident. He continued taking notes and comparing reports until Janine brought in his morning coffee. Thanking her, Feral set the papers aside and sipped his coffee, deep in thought.
“Commander?” Janine said after a moment. She was hesitant to interrupt his thoughts, but needed his attention.
“Yes, Janine?” Feral turned his attention to her.
“Um, this may not be a good time to ask this, but can I have tomorrow off?” Janine, who was usually pretty good at reading Commander Feral’s moods, had found him quite unreadable this morning.
“Of course. I’m sure you have a good reason,” Commander Feral told her, “Just don’t be gone too long. Some kats are under the impression I run The Enforcers, but we both know the truth.”
“Yes, SIr,” she smiled at him, “Do you need anything this morning?”
“Yes, Janine,” Feral picked up one of the reports, “Could you please ask the members of this ground team to advise me if they think of any other details?”
Yes, Sir,” Janine took the report, “Anything else?”
“Not now,” he replied, and watched his pretty secretary exit his office. Feral smiled as he thought about what a mess The Enforcers would be without Janine.
Dark Kat’s ship hovered for a moment over Megakat Bay, then headed in the direction of Pumadyne. After the final system checks had been completed and the ship had been refueled, Dark Kat had wasted no time in getting started, anxious to take control of the city before noon. In his opinion, it was going to be a glorious day!
Felina had showered, dressed, and just turned on her radio and was thinking about breakfast when the emergency signal screeched from the radio, “Attention all Enforcers! There is an attack in progress at the Pumadyne Research Facility! Commander Feral has ordered the next shift to report early and rendezvous over Pumadyne! Please acknowledge this signal! Over!”
Felina snatched up her radio, “This is Lieutenant Felina Feral, on my way!” Setting the radio aside for a moment, Felina leaped up from her chair, yanked the cord for the coffee pot out of the socket, and caught up her blue bullet-proof vest from the chair on her right. Donning the vest, she then buckled her holster around her waist and secured the thigh strap as well. Snatching up both her keys and the radio, she dashed into the living room and retrieved her gun from the recharger by the TV. Felina placed the gun in her holster and was ready to go when a thought struck her. She went back into the kitchen and jerked up the phone, dialing furiously.
“Megakat Salvage Yard, Chance speaking,” Chance said as he answered the phone.
“I’m afraid it’s T-Bone I need this time,” Felina told him.
“What’s up?” Chance was surprised by the call, but could hear the serious tone in her voice.
“An attack at Pumadyne,” she informed him, “and dollars to donuts, it’s that same ship we saw last night.”
“We’re on our way. Watch your tail, Beautiful. I love you.”
“Love you too, Hotshot. See you at Pumadyne.”
Dark Kat howled in anger. Attacking Pumadyne had proved quite simple in his new ship. Finding the weapons, however, was not so easy. As the workers at the research center scattered, he took aim at another building and launched missiles, blowing the front off it. The contents seemed to suggest he had finally found the right place, when his ship shuttered. Looking out of the canopy, Dark Kat saw the sky teeming with Enforcer helicopters and jets.
“Give up now!” Commander Feral’s voice boomed from a loudspeaker, “You’re under arrest!”
Dark Kat chuckled deeply, and brought his ship in close to the ground. That damn Feral would soon be on his knees begging for mercy. He ordered his creeplings to search the building for the new Enforcer weapons, while he dealt with The Enforcers. After the creeplings were on the ground, Dark Kat fired the engines and steered the ship up into the sky to face the assorted jets and helicopters waiting for him.
The Turbokat sped over Megakat City, T-Bone pushing the engines to the max as he turned the jet toward Pumadyne.
“You know, T-Bone,” Razor’s voice came from the gunner’s seat in the back of the jet, “You didn’t have to break down the bathroom door to get my attention. You could have knocked.”
“Yeah, But my way was faster. Besides, you probably wouldn’t have heard me over the shower.”
“Except now you have to replace the bathroom door.”
“True, but right now we have other things to worry about,” T-Bone said, “Target in sight, and Felina’s hunch was right on the money. That’s the ship we saw in the school yard last night.”
“Looks like The Enforcers could use some help against that thing,” Razor observed, “Locking missiles on target.”
Commander Feral was growing concerned. Having seen creeplings emerge from the strange ship while it was close to the ground, he was positive they were dealing with Dark Kat. The trouble was, the ship seemed impenetrable, and five Enforcer helicopters and six jets had already been shot down. He banked his own jet and prepared to fire again.
“Uncle,” Felina’s voice came over the radio, “Should we call for back up?”
“I did,” Feral told her as he fired at the enemy. His guns had no effect, “but many of our auxiliary aircraft are being used for training today.”
“I know, Uncle,” Felina said, “That’s how I ended up in a chopper and not a jet,” She too fired the Dark Kat, with no better luck than Feral.
“We don’t seem to have that problem,” observed a familiar voice cutting into The Enforcer radio band.
“T-Bone!” Felina exclaimed, “It’s about time!”
“Just what I needed,” Feral groaned, taking a moment to look over at The Turbokat. That look proved to be a mistake. As Feral turned his head, Dark Kat fired, and lasers clipped the engines of Feral’s jet. The Commander turned back to the controls, but it was too late. The nose of his jet began to turn downward, and the craft headed for the ground. Feral hit the eject button just in time. Unfortunately, he struck his head as the ejector seat blasted out of the cockpit, and knocked himself unconscious.
Dark Kat, observing Commander Feral’s situation, decided to make the best of things. Gunning his engines, he came up beside the ejector seat and opened the side hatch. A mechanical arm reached out, cut the seat belt, and drew Feral out of his chair and into the ship.
“Uncle!” Felina cried, as she watched from her chopper. She had backed off when The SWAT Kats had arrived, and now was completely out of range to help Feral.
“Aw, crud!” Razor said, “Now he’s got a hostage!”
“Any idea who it is, bud?” T-Bone asked.
“Judging by the technology, I’d say Dark Kat,” Razor ventured.
“Considering that there are creeplings all over the place, that’s a pretty good guess,” Felina snapped, “Now, what are we going to do about my uncle?”
“I could make some suggestions,” T-Bone offered, “But I don’t think you’d like them.”
Sami was having trouble hearing the orders over her radio. Something about the airspace above Pumadyne, as far as she could tell. As she set the controls of her chopper, Sami wondered why they would send her so far out on her first semi-solo flight.
T-Bone had been right, Felina hadn’t liked his suggestions regarding her uncle, and the three decided someone, namely Razor, should sneak aboard Dark Kat’s ship when he went down to pick up the creeplings. T- Bone turned the jet around and came in low, as Felina and the other Enforcers provided cover fire to keep Dark Kat distracted. Razor bailed out of the Turbokat and into the shadow of the building the creeplings were searching.
Dark Kat returned fire at The Enforcers, and also took a few shots at the news chopper that had just arrived on the scene, causing it to fly erratically and crash into an Enforcer helicopter. In the ensuing chaos, Dark Kat managed to land and allow his creeplings to get back on board the ship. Lifting off again, he grew angry when the creeplings reported no sign of the weapons. Ordering them to tie up Feral, Dark Kat flew the ship above the scattered Enforcer defence force and started to punch in the course back to his cave.
“This is Officer Higgins, does anybody read me?” Sami called into the radio. She was not able to control her damaged helicopter very well, and hadn’t had time to check on Ann Gora, who was sprawled in the co- pilot’s chair. Sami had managed to rescue Ann after their choppers had collided, and the pilot of the news helicopter had escaped via parachute. Now, however, Sami had no idea how to land her damaged helicopter, and she was a helpless target for that maniac who had attacked Pumadyne. She tried the radio again, hoping someone was listening.
“I read you, Sami,” Felina’s voice came over the radio, “What the hell are you doing out here?”
“I don’t know!” Sami was so relieved to hear her friend’s voice, “There was radio trouble, and I thought they said to meet over Pumadyne. Listen, can we talk about this later? This is my first flight, and I’m having trouble keeping this thing airborne. I managed to save Ann Gora, but I don’t know for how long!”
“Roger. Prepare to transfer to this craft on my order,” Felina instructed her. She brought her chopper along side of Sami’s, and in a few minutes both Sami and Ann Gora were in Felina’s helicopter, watching as their craft plummeted to the ground.
“Whew! That was close!” said Ann, who had regained her senses.
“T-Bone, do you read me?” Felina called into the radio. She had suddenly realized the Turbokat and Dark Kat’s ship were nowhere in sight.
“Just barely,” came his garbled reply, “Something’s wrong. I’ve lost contact with Razor. Dark Kat seems to be heading out into the desert.”
“I’m right behind you,” Felina declared, getting a fix on his signal.
“See you soon,” he said, then cut the connection.
T-Bone followed Dark Kat, dodging the occasional missile that was fired at the Turbokat. He managed to keep up with Dark Kat until they reached an area with many large rock formations. T-Bone fell sightly behind, being unfamiliar with the area, and Dark Kat used the lapse to turn into a large cavern. Dark Kat activated the drill mechanism his ship was equipped with, and, when T-Bone caught up, all he found was a hole.
“Aw, crud, Razor,” T-Bone grumbled as he landed the jet, “Now I have to come down after you!” he popped the canopy and jumped down to examine the hole. As T-Bone leaned over the edge, however, a mechanical arm shot up and grabbed him. Before he could react, T-Bone was jerked downward into the inky abyss.
Sami leaned forward in the co-pilot’s seat, watching Felina, “What are we going to do, Lieutenant?”
“We’re going to follow Dark Kat, that’s what,” Felina answered, “After all, he has the Commander.”
“Don’t we need permission to do that?”
“Not in an emergency situation,” Felina replied, then looked back at Ann Gora, “I’m afraid you’ll have to come with us, Ann.”
“OK by me,” Ann smiled, “This’ll be one great story!”
Felina turned back toward the front windshield and rolled her eyes. She hoped she wouldn’t regret bringing the reporter along, but she didn’t have a choice. Also, she wasn’t about to abandon T-Bone, her uncle, and Razor to Dark Kat. As her chopper headed over the desert, Felina began to look for signs of the Turbokat.
Razor slowly lifted his head as he came to. The last thing he remembered was coming across Commander Feral’s unconscious, bound form in Dark Kat’s ship. After that, it all was a blank. Opening his eyes, Razor found himself tied up, his back against a rock wall, in some sort of underground cavern.
“How nice, our guests are now all awake,” Dark Kat’s evil hiss come from the dark depths of the cave, “Just in time to watch me take control of Megakat City!”
“Just try it, you hood!” Razor spat, struggling to free himself. He heard Dark Kat chuckling in the blackness, the sound infuriating him. Then he realized Dark Kat had said guests, meaning more than one. Razor looked to his left, and in the dim light saw both Commander Feral and T-Bone also tied up and propped against the wall. On closer inspection, he noticed Feral’s forehead was bloodied, but T-Bone seemed to be OK.
“About time you came around, bud,” T-Bone greeted Razor, “What’s the big idea, leaving me here with only Feral to talk to?”
“You sound like you handled the situation OK to me,” Razor observed, then turned to Feral, “Are you all right, Commander?”
“I’d be a lot better if you two hotshots would keep your tails out of Enforcer business,” Feral growled.
“You sound like your old self,” Razor returned, “That looks like a nasty wound on your head.”
“I’m fine,” Feral said, a bit calmer but still hostile, “But I’d like to know what Dark Kat has planned.”
“Oh you would, would you?” Dark Kat’s imposing form stalked out of the interior of the cave and towered over the three captives, “I assure you, it will be glorious!”
“For whom?” T-Bone asked dryly, “How’d you get out of Alkat-Traz, anyway?”
“Do you really think I’d let those puny Enforcers stand in my way?” Dark Kat smiled, “Soon, not only will I have destroyed The Enforcer Building, but City Hall as well. Of course, then I will have no use for you three, nor this cave, so I can simply take care of both problems with one bomb.”
“The Enforcers will stop you!” Commander Feral vowed.
Dark Kat simply smiled wider, “I’ve already planted bombs under both buildings,” he told them, “Now, I’m just waiting for that idiot Manx to hand over power to me. If he doesn’t comply within one hour, I press this remote,” he held up a small device, “and no more Enforcers or City Hall! Either way, I win!”
“What makes you think Mayor Manx will just give you control?” T- Bone snapped.
“We are talking about the same Manx, are we not?” Dark Kat laughed as he slunk back into the shadows.
“Wait! What was it you were after at Pumadyne?” Feral called.
“A bad tip from your friend Fango,” Dark Kat’s voice drifted back to them, “Some rumor about new weapons. I wanted them to destroy the Feral Estate, as well as your private home.”
“Great,” T-bone mumbled, “We got ourselves captured for nothing,” He struggled with the ropes on his wrists, to no avail.
“Any ideas on how to get out of this one?” Razor asked his partner.
“Felina was following me out here,” T-Bone said, “She should be arriving soon.”
“I hope she makes it in time,” Feral added, leaning back and resting his aching head.
Felina spotted the Turbokat tucked in a recess next to a rather large hole. She saw no sign of T-Bone, however, and he didn’t answer the radio, so she decided to land her craft off to the side. No telling what was going on when Dark Kat was involved, other than he would have some plot to take over Megakat City. Slowly, she landed her chopper.
“Now what?” Sami asked as the helicopter engines came to a stop.
“We walk,” Felina told her, “You stay here, Ann. I don’t think those high heels of yours are suited to this terrain.”
Sami and Felina unbuckled their seat belts and got out of their chairs. They exited the chopper, and hadn’t walked more than a few feet, when Felina realized that Ann Gora was right behind them.
“I thought I told you to stay in the chopper,” Felina snapped, turning around to look at the pretty reporter.
“No way!” Ann protested, “Look, either you take me with you, or I go in on my own. I have no intention of missing out on this story!” Ann folded her arms across her chest and looked at Felina with defiance.
“All right,” Felina sighed, “I don’t have time to cuff you to the chopper. Just stay back!” The three continued on their way to the Turbokat.
“Where do you suppose everyone is, Lieutenant?” Sami wondered as they reached the jet.
“I’ll bet we’ll get answers somewhere at the bottom of that hole,” came the grim reply.
“Looks pretty deep to me,” Sami leaned towards the edge of the hole, but Felina reached out and pulled her back.
“Careful, it may be booby-trapped,” Felina warned her, “We better go in slow,” Felina turned toward the Turbokat and leaped up into the open cockpit. Climbing into the gunner’s seat, she rummaged around until she found a coil of rope, which she slung over her shoulder. Jumping back down, Felina secured one end of the rope to the landing gear of the jet, and played out the rest as she moved to the edge of the hole, “Me first, then you,” Felina instructed Sami. She drew her gun and added, “Be on your guard!”
“What about me?” Ann wanted to know.
“This time, stay put!” Felina ordered as she threw the rest of the rope down into the hole. Grasping the rope with her left paw, she began lowering herself down the side of the hole. Sami quickly followed. Ann gave them a five minute head start, then also started down the rope.
Felina found herself in a dark cavern about thirty feet down. Lowering her feet to the floor, she discovered why she and Sami had encountered no resistance. All the machinery near the hole was covered in tar, undoubtedly the work of T-Bone and his gloveatrix. Holstering her gun, Felina turned to help Sami down, then stood by the rope, looking up.
“What are we waiting for?” Sami asked impatiently.
“The media,” Felina informed her as Ann Gora came into view, “Why is it no kat I know can stay put longer than five minutes?”
“I told you I’m not going to miss this story,” Ann reminded Felina as she dropped to the ground, high heels and all.
“Fine,” Felina snapped, “Just stay out….”
“Lieutenant, listen,” Sami interrupted. Some familiar voices drifted down the corridor to the left.
“That sounds like Dark Kat,” Felina whispered, gesturing for the others to follow her as she moved in the direction of the voice. As they got closer, Felina also heard T-Bone, her uncle, and Razor.
“At least they’re all together,” Sami said in a low voice.
“Get down!” Felina instructed them as they unexpectantly came out into an open area. The three she-kats knelt behind a pile of rocks, and were just in time to hear Dark Kat’s plans.
“Orders, Lieutenant?” Sami turned to Felina.
“We rescue the hostages and stop Dark Kat,” Felina was craning her neck to try and see the captive tom-kats in the dim light.
“How? Just walk up to Dark Kat and slap him one?” Ann asked.
“I’m working on a plan,” Felina told them, “And I’m sure these will come in handy. I stumbled on them in the dark,” she held up T-Bone and Razor’s gloveatrixes.
“Maybe I can help,” Ann offered. To Felina’s amazement, Ann stood up and approached Dark Kat before the two Enforcers could stop her.
“She’s going to get herself killed!” squeaked Sami.
“No, wait a moment,” Felina said, “I think I know what she’s got in mind.”
“Excuse me?” Ann stood by Dark Kat, “I’m Ann Gora, Katseye News. I’d like a few words with you.”
“The press? Here?” Dark Kat whirled on her, eyes huge, “What is the meaning of this?”
“Mayor Manx sent me in to discuss your terms with you,” Ann informed him.
“You?” Dark Kat seemed skeptical.
“Deputy Mayor Briggs is out of town,” Ann replied, thinking fast.
“I see. Here are my terms, and there will be no negotiations,” he began to spell out his demands to Ann, who kept nodding attentively.
“C’mon, now’s our chance,” Felina crept around the perimeter of the room. Sami, after one last look at Ann Gora, followed. The two went about twenty-five feet, and finally found what they were looking for.
“I was wondering where you were,” T-Bone greeted her as she bumped into his legs.
“RIght behind you, like I said,” Felina reached down to untie him, while Sami tended to Commander Feral.
“We’ve got to stop Dark Kat,” Razor put in as Felina finished with T- Bone and moved in his direction. She didn’t want Sami getting too close to Razor, or there might be trouble.
“We heard,” Felina told him as she pulled out the knots around his wrists, “Ann Gora is keeping Dark Kat busy while…..”
“Ann Gora?” Feral was horrified, “What’s she doing here?”
“I didn’t have time to take her back, Uncle,” Felina explained as she handed T-Bone and Razor their gloveatrixes, “Now, could we……Uncle, you’re hurt!” Felina noticed the wound on his forehead and blood on his face.
“It’s not bad,” Feral reassured her, “And we’ve got other things to worry about now.”
“What was that noise?” Dark Kat demanded, turning away from Ann and looking in the direction of his captives. Seeing the situation, he ordered his creeplings to attack.
“No, you don’t!” Razor leaped into action, launching himself at Dark Kat. The large villain managed to ward off the attack, knocking Razor into Ann and sending the two of them sprawling.
“Higgins, get down!” Feral ordered, then he tackled Sami as three creeplings converged on the young Enforcer. The pair rolled under Dark Kat’s airship, managing to avoid the creeplings in the process.
“That leaves just you and me, Felina,” T-Bone winked at her, “Ready?” He grinned in anticipation.
“I was born ready, Hotshot!” Felina grinned back at him. The two braced themselves against the back wall of the cave, T-Bone raising his gloveatrix and Felina drawing her gun.
“Stop them, my creeplings!” Dark Kat shouted, somewhat unnecessarily.
Razor and Ann, after untangling themselves, found they were in front of Dark Kat’s computer console.
“Think we can do some damage here?” Ann asked him.
“I’m sure of it!” Razor raised his gloveatrix and took aim at the CPU, “Stand back!”
“Wait!” Ann laid a paw on his arm, “There’s an easier way,” She pointed to an outlet on their left, “If we just unplug it, instead of destroying it, The Enforcers can find out what else he’s been up to.”
“Good point,” Razor conceded, lowering his arm. Reaching over, he yanked the plugs from the wall. The computers in front of them went dark – all but one.
“Why is that one still on?” Ann wondered.
“I don’t know,” Razor answered, walking over to the active terminal, “But I’m going to find out.”
Commander Feral, after making sure Sami was all right, surveyed the surroundings. Somehow, they had rolled under Dark Kat’s airship, and Feral decided it was time for some retaliation, “Higgins, let’s ground this ship for good!”
“Yes, Sir!” Sami responded.
Feral motioned for her to follow him as he carefully crawled out from under the craft and moved to the open access ramp. The two disappeared from view as they headed towards the front of the ship
T-Bone and Felina stood shoulder to shoulder against the cave wall. Most of the creeplings had been neutralized, and they now turned their attention to Dark Kat.
“Give up, Dark Kat,” Felina shouted, aiming her gun at the large kat, “You’re under arrest.”
“You heard her, scum,” T-Bone raised his gloveatrix at the imposing figure before them.
“Don’t make me laugh,” Dark Kat growled, “My ship is more than…..”
“Not any more,” Commander Feral interrupted him.
Dark Kat turned to see both Sami and Feral standing by his airship, their guns drawn. At their feet lay the wiring from the bridge of the ship.
“As the Lieutenant said, you’re under arrest!” Sami added, raising her gun and taking careful aim.
“You fools!” Dark Kat roared, “Did you really think you could stop me?” He raised his paw, “Say goodbye to Enforcer Headquarters and City Hall, as well as each other!” He brought his thumb down on the trigger of the remote control. As he did so, he also pressed down on a certain spot on the floor with his cane. A section of the floor beneath Dark Kat fell away, and he dropped out of sight.
“No!” Felina cried, leaping forward. She was too late. Dark Kat was gone, and the floor closed up before her eyes.
“We’ve got other things to worry about,” Feral told her, “He’s just activated bombs under City Hall and Enforcer Headquarters.”
“Not to mention one in here!” Sami pointed to the back wall, where a timer strapped to an explosive device was counting down to destruction.
“Razor! We could use your help with this!” T-Bone called.
“Already working on it, bud,” Razor called from his seat in front of the computer terminal. Ann Gora looked on over his left shoulder, “I already had deactivated the two bombs in the city. All that’s left is the one in here,” Information scrolled down the screen.
“No, wait!” Ann pointed at the screen, “There it is! That’s the control program!”
“Razor,” T-Bone eyed the timer on the wall nervously, “Could you please hurry it up?”
“Just a few more seconds,” Razor said, leaning toward the screen.
“That’s about all we have,” Feral pointed out.
“Almost there…….” Razor mumbled to himself, typing furiously.
“Why would Dark Kat keep the controls for his bombs on a separate computer system?” Sami wondered.
“So they couldn’t be hacked into by The Enforcers,” Felina explained, “That’s an independent unit. That’s why it didn’t shut down with the other units, it’s got it’s own power supply.”
“Can we save the lecture for later?” T-Bone asked, his eyes glued to the timer, “Razor…….”
“Bingo!” Razor tapped the enter key, then turned to the others with a triumphant smile as the timer came to a stop.
“Cut it a little close, don’t you think?” T-Bone pointed at the timer, which showed three seconds left.
“If you were so scared, why’d you stick around instead of running?” Razor teased as he got up.
Instead of answering his partner, T-Bone looked at Felina, who smiled at him.
“Thanks, Razor,” Felina said, “I had faith in you.”
“Don’t thank me,” Razor came over to the other four, Ann following behind him, “Ann is the one who stopped me from blowing up the computers. If I had, we never would have been able to stop those explosions.”
“Seems to me,” Felina observed as she, Sami, and Feral put away their guns, “You tom-kats put on a poor show today. Getting yourselves captured, injured,” she glanced back at her uncle, who was absorbed with his radio, “And trying to blow things up that were needed. I guess you need she-kats in all sorts of places, huh?”
“Of course,” Sami put in, “We could always read meters and give out parking tickets. Or, better yet, stay at home and bake cookies.”
“Or stand in front of a weather map, looking cute,” Ann added.
“Don’t look at me,” Commander Feral had finished issuing orders over the radio and had heard the last few comments, “There’s plenty of she-kats on The Enforcers.”
“More of them could be of higher rank, Uncle,” Felina pointed out.
“Talk to the promotions board,” Feral replied. He and his niece had this argument about once every two weeks or so.
“What about you, T-Bone?” Sami turned to the big SWAT Kat, “Any thoughts on the place of she-kats?”
“I……uh……..well…….,” T-Bone stammered, remembering the argument he’d had with Felina the night before.
“Hey, I, for one, am very glad all you she-kats were here,” Razor cut in, “We couldn’t have done this without all of you, and both T-Bone and I owe a lot to Lieutenant Feral,” Razor smiled at Felina, “The Enforcers wouldn’t be the same without her.”
“True enough,” agreed Commander Feral.
“Maybe I should have you come talk to my parents, Razor,” Felina giggled at the thought.
“Oh, no,” Feral objected, “I’m not cleaning up that mess. Now, let’s get out of here. There’s a ground crew on the way, and my head’s killing me.”
Felina led the way out of the cave, followed by Feral, Ann, Sami, T- Bone, and Razor brought up the rear. As he watched Felina, the words of a poem written by his old Enforcer buddy, Thomas O’Malley, rang in Razor’s head, and he thought how appropriate they were for Felina:
You who call it dishonour, To bow to this flame, If you’ve eyes look but on her, And blush while you blame. Hath the pearl less whiteness, Because of it’s birth? Had the violet less brightness, For growing near dirt?
Dark Kat sat in another cave, deep below his original location. Those accursed SWAT Kats had managed to upset his plans yet again. Brooding, the big kat growled deep in his throat. It would take a long time before he was ready to make another attempt to take over the city, but try he would. Getting up, he moved deeper into the cave, melting into the shadows.
Commander Feral leaned back in his chair, and pressed the intercom button on his desk, “Janine, could you ask Dr. Conway to come up here, please? Oh, and will you please send a dozen roses to my niece?”
“Yes, Sir,” Janine responded, wondering how the Commander had gotten past her and into his office without her seeing him. He must have been in there since lunchtime.
Feral rested his head back against the chair and closed his eyes. He was still waiting for the final report from the ground crew he had dispatched to Dark Kat’s lair. After a few minutes, he heard the door of his office open.
“Commander, I sent the flowers, but Dr. Conway is out at the moment,” Janine told him as she entered the room, closing the door behind her, “I brought the first aid kit if….Oh!” Janine was startled when Commander Feral sat up and she saw the blood on his forehead.
“It’s nothing,” Feral said, “I washed up earlier, and it’s not as bad as it looks.”
“Still, you need to see a doctor,” she insisted, coming over to the desk, “I can clean it up and bandage it for now, but you should stop by Megakat General Hospital on your way home and have a doctor look at it.”
“I have to stop,” Feral replied, “Felina’s going to check and make sure I do.”
“Good,” Janine came around the corner of the desk, setting the first aid kit down and opening it, “Now, I may be exceeding my authority, Commander, but hold still.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Feral’s head hurt too much for him to argue, and it was amusing to hear her order him around.
Janine, after examining Feral’s wound, selected some antiseptic from the kit. Sprinkling it on a strip of cloth, she then applied the antiseptic to the wound, simultaneously taking his paw in hers. Feral winced as the antiseptic stung against his raw skin, and squeezed her paw until the burning subsided. Extracting her paw from his grip, Janine began to dress the wound, carefully taping the bandage into place. After she had finished with the bandage, she continued to rub Feral’s forehead, working her way to his temples. Commander Feral, his headache receding, closed his eyes and relaxed against her warm, firm touch. If he had been feeling better, Feral would have objected to such familiarity, but for now he simply enjoyed her touch, her fingers rubbing the pain in his head away.
Sami was in her tiny kitchen, pondering what to make for dinner. It had been a long day. She had gotten in big trouble for disobeying orders, even though she hadn’t been able to hear those orders, and only intervention by Commander Feral had saved her tail from being put on report. She thought about skipping dinner and hoping in the tub, but the phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. She reached over and picked up the receiver, “Hello?”
“Sami?” Jake greeted her, “How are you? How was your first day in a helicopter?”
“Don’t ask,” Sami moaned, “It’s a long, painful story!”
“In that case, would you like to come over for pizza and a sympathetic ear to complain to?”
“Sure,” Sami smiled in what seemed like a million years, “Will Chance be there?”
“Uh, no,” Jake replied, “He’s got something to take care of. Is that all right?”
“Of course,” Sami responded, “I’ll be there in about an hour or so, after I get cleaned up.”
“See you then.”
Felina walked down the hall to the door of her apartment. She had finally gotten her reports in order and filed. Having left work far later than she had intended to, figments of pizza delivery danced in her head. As she opened the door, however, a tantalizing aroma came from the kitchen, and she heard Chance muttering to himself.
“Chance?” Felina called as she closed the door. Flipping on the lights, she was startled to find her living room spotless. Even the dusting was done, and a dozen roses sat in a vase on the coffee table.
“I was wondering where you were,” Chance came out of the kitchen wearing, to Felina’s amusement, a large barbecue apron over his jeans and polo shirt, “Your uncle sent the flowers.”
“Well, sort of. It’s just spaghetti, so, technically, I boiled water and heated sauce. I did clean, though.”
“I can see that,” Felina looked around again, “What prompted this?”
“Just keeping in my place, Felina,” Chance grinned at her.
“In that case,” Felina walked towards the bedroom, “I’ll have to dress more appropriately for the occasion. Pour the wine, and I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“You got it,” Chance went back into the kitchen, still grinning.
Sami again stood on the stairs leading to the roof of the garage, her eyes closed. She wondered if she was going to have to go through this every time she came over.
Almost done,” Jake’s voice came from the roof.
Sami sighed, and rested against the wall. The evening had been going well. They had eaten shrimp pizza, and Sami had told Jake about her strange day. After that, Jake had announced that he had a surprise for her, and led her up the stairs again.
“OK,” Jake came down to her, and took her paw, “C’mon. I think you’re going to like this. At least, I hope you do,” he led her out onto the roof, “OK, open your eyes, Sami.”
Sami did so, expecting to again see the blanket of stars stretched out above them. Indeed, the stars were there, but Jake had also placed several candles on the roof, and a portable radio was playing softly, perched on a crate in one corner of the roof.
“Oh, Jake,” Sami looked around in amazement at all the trouble Jake had gone to, “It’s beautiful!”
“Chance thought I was crazy when I asked him to get all these candles on his trip to the store. Now,” Jake moved over in front of her and bowed low, “Ms. Higgins, will you dance with me among the stars?”
“With great pleasure, dear Mr. Clawson,” Sami smiled at him as he straightened up.
Jake, with only a slight nervous hesitation, took Sami in his arms, grateful that Evette had taught him how to dance when they were younger. Slowly moving to the music, the couple danced across the roof of the garage, as if they were walking on air.
Chance nearly dropped the platter of spaghetti and meatballs he was carrying when he saw Felina reenter the living room. Setting the platter carefully on the table, he removed his apron and set it on a chair. He then went into the living room for a better look.
“Red is definitely your color, Felina,” Chance informed her, “You look stunning.”
“I’m glad you like it,” Felina replied with a smile, “My parents certainly didn’t.”
Chance walked over to stand in front of her, “Listen, Felina, there’s something I want to give you. I was going to wait until after dinner, but I think this is a better time.”
“What is it, Chance?”
Chance reached into his pocket and drew out a dark object. He held it up, and she could see it was a kats-eye bracelet, about 1 1/2 inches thick, with scalloped edges, “I hope you like it. I carved it myself, from a piece of kats-eye Jake and I found a couple of months ago in the desert.”
“It’s beautiful,” Felina whispered. She made no move to take the bracelet, “What are you trying to say, Chance? That looks like an engagement bracelet to me.”
“It is,” he took her left paw in his, and drew her close, “Felina, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I love you,” he looked deep into her brown eyes, which were wide with surprise.
“Yes,” Felina said softly, “but the honor is mine. I love you too, Chance,” She held out her right paw, and he slipped the bracelet onto her wrist, where it seemed to glow.
“It looks nice on you,” Chance told her.
“It’s beautiful,” Felina repeated herself, looking down at the bracelet on her arm, then back at Chance, “What prompted this? Why now?”
“Last night, I couldn’t sleep without you there,” Chance let go of her paw and put his arms around her waist, “I then realized that there’s never a time I don’t want you near me. That, and the fact I love you more than anything, made me realize I want you as my wife.”
Felina’s arms encircled his neck, “I love you, Chance, but there’s a problem.”
“It’s OK if you want to change your mind, Felina.”
“Not on your nine lives,” she tightened her arms around his neck, “I’m just asking for a little time to tell him,” she gave him a wry smile, “About seventy years should be enough.”
“Whatever you need, Beautiful. I’m still trying to believe you really said yes,” there was relief in Chance’s voice, “Hey, at least you have someone in your family that cares.”
“Oh, they’ll care, all right,” Felina rolled her eyes, “It’s simply that their opinions aren’t going to stand in my way.”
Chance finally pulled her to him and kissed her, then smiled, “That’s the Felina I know and love!”
“Um, would you object to having a traditional wedding? Nothing huge, just you, me, Jake, Sami, and a few others, but with a priestess there instead of having Mayor Manx do it?” Felina bit her lip, “It would really mean a lot to me.”
“Whatever you want,” He said, “From now on, it’s you and me against the world, Beautiful!”
“Sounds good, Hotshot” Felina smiled back at him, “When do we attack?”
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