To Catch a Mastermind…
By James L. King
Summary: When the SWAT Kats are ambushed and T-Bone killed, can Razor keep ahead of Feral long enough to find the murderer and bring them to justice? Or is T-Bone’s demise part of a much larger, more intricate and ultimately more twisted plot?
Warnings: Violence, angst, cursing.
Legal: Hanna/Barbera owned ’em, Time-Warner does now, and I don’t.
The Turbokat screamed through the night sky over Megakat City. T-Bone, although occupied with the actual flight of the powerful fightercraft, kept glancing at the stars and moon. Finally, he remarked, “I love night patrols.”
A tired, “Ehh,” came from Razor’s position.
“On a night like this, it’s like you can see all the stars. It’s beautiful.”
Razor muttered something unintelligible and settled back into his seat.
T-Bone glanced back in the mirror and barked, “Hey, hey hey, I can’t have my wizzo napping. Wakey-wakey.”
“Not napping,” Razor mumbled, “Resting.”
“Need a coffee?”
“I think you do.”
“No, because you’ll pull nine gees when I’m trying to take a sip, and get it all over me, getting me wet and angry. I’m fine.”
“I ain’t gonna mess up my cockpit! Look, there’s a Wawa. I could go for a cup of Joe myself,” T-Bone replied as he suppressed a yawn.
Razor’s half-asleep response floated up to his ears, “As long as we’re not airborne while we’re drinking, then, yes, I could go for a cup.”
“Good. ‘Cause we’re landing anyway. I need to tinkle like anything.”
* * *
The night cashier and two patrons started in surprise as a black jet made a VTOL landing in the parking lot and the two masked vigilante pilots walked in.
“Bathroom?” T-Bone asked.
The cashier pointed, and T-Bone nodded. “Thanks.”
“Pea-sized bladder,” Razor said as he yawned his way over to the coffee pot. He made two cups and walked up to the counter with them as T-Bone walked out of the bathroom.
“You make sure mine’s straight black, Razor?”
“I added plenty of salt for ya.”
“Ewww,” T-Bone said, then sipped his coffee experimentally. “Liar!”
Razor grinned and pointed. “Gotcha.”
T-Bone harrumphed and started out the door.
Razor fished his wallet out of his g-suit. He pulled out a couple of bills and put the wallet back, then started toward the door.
“Keep it. Bad thing to have floating around the cockpit during nine-gee maneuvers.”
“Have a good night.”
They stood near the Turbokat, sipping their coffee in companionable silence as a car pulled up in front of the store and two masked kats sprang out and barreled inside. T-Bone and Razor looked incredulously at each other and set down their coffee.
T-Bone snuck up beside the car and tapped on the door, prompting the driver to look at him. A heavy fist rendered the kat unconscious as Razor peeked in and saw the two would-be burglars filling a plastic bag with money.
He gestured, and they took up positions outside the store. The doors swung open and both kat’s faces rapidly met the back of the SWAT Kats’ fists. T-Bone snarled as they looked up, “You’re under citizen’s arrest. Razor, have the clerk call the Enforcers.”
“Sure thing, bud.” Razor went inside with the money and handed it to the cashier, saying, “Here ya go. We’ll hold them until the Enforcers arrive. I assume you’re about to call them?”
“Y–yes sir, thanks, sir.”
Razor nodded and smiled as he replied, “You’re welcome.”
He stepped outside and asked, “Should we get sleeping ugly out of the car?”
“Yeah. You watch these two. I’ll get him.”
“SWAT Kats?” one asked.
“How could you not see the Turbokat? It’s sitting in plain sight!” Razor asked, “I swear people are getting more stupid every day.”
T-Bone walked up with the third kat slung over his shoulder, “Bet our coffee’s gettin’ cold.”
“If you wanna grab ’em while I watch these guys I’d be appreciative, buddy.”
T-Bone walked up and handed Razor his cup, and he sipped it to make sure it was his cup. Satisfied that it was, he started to drink.
Meanwhile, T-Bone took a big gulp of his coffee and his eyes bulged out as he spewed it out. Razor chuckled as he continued to spit and make disgusted noises.
Finally he snarled, “RAZOR!”
“Told you I put salt in it.”
Between spitting sessions, he interjected, “Gahh, that’s nasty!”
“I didn’t stir it up. Gotcha again.”
T-Bone narrowed his eyes and pointed at Razor, “I’ll get you for that.”
“No, that’s my payback for last time.” Razor pointed back.
“Huh, ‘Last time’ he says,” T-Bone retorted, crossing his arms.
“Yeah, last time. When you dumped a whole box of salt into the sugar, then made me a ‘nice cold glass of iced tea’?”
“Hey, that was a mistake.”
Razor finished his coffee and replied, “Like I believe that.”
Sirens sounded in the distance and T-Bone remarked, “Dollars to dimes it’s these guys’ ride.”
A few minutes later, two cruisers pulled up and several Enforcers jumped out
As the officers cuffed the burglars, a call came over the radio, “Silent alarm at Pumadyne Laboratories. Break-in in progress. All available units proceed to Pumadyne.”
“C’mon, Razor, that’s our cue!”
* * *
“Looks abandoned,” Razor said as they walked into the darkened building. At the same time, they both activated the light in their helmets.
“So, do ya think we should split up and search for the intruder or search together?” T-Bone asked.
“Well,” Razor paused and thought. Separate they’d be more vulnerable, but they’d cover more ground that way. Lack of sleep and a nice cozy bed back at the Salvage yard won out over caution. “Split up. We can maintain radio contact.”
T-Bone walked in one door, and Razor in another. After a moment, Razor heard T-Bone growl worriedly, “Razor?”
“You better get over–UHH!”
Razor dashed out of the room just as an explosion sounded. He skidded and watched in almost slow motion, as the walls and door of the room T-Bone had entered blow outward, and in the midst of the explosion, he saw something big fly out of the room and through the opposing wall, and he heard it land with a meaty ‘thump’.
As the sprinkler system activated, he leaped into the room and yelled, “T-BONE!”
He saw the scorched body laying on the ground, blood and water pooling around it, and recognized the remains of the uniform as his partner’s.
“No! T-Bone!” He skidded over and felt for a pulse, even though he knew by the amount of damage that there was no way he could be alive.
Razor sagged and whispered as began to sob, “No, T-Bone… Chance.”
Feral’s rough voice came from outside, “Get teams in here and get those flames out!”
He stopped outside the hole and looked in to see Razor kneeling by a body. He walked through the hole, followed by Felina and another Enforcer.
“I should have figured you two were behind all this!”
“No, we responded to the call…” Razor began, but Feral cut him off and snapped, “Your meddling has caused damage to this facility, and killed your friend. You’re under arrest for Property Damage and Murder. Felina, cuff him.”
“No, wait, it’s not like that!”
“I’m sorry, Razor,” Felina said.
He raised his glovatrix and fired a net, “So am I, Lieutenant.”
A second net flew out and entangled Feral, then a third pinned the other Enforcer.
“You won’t get away for long, SWAT Kat!” Feral yelled as Razor ran past them and through the darkened building, toward the entrance.
Razor skidded to a halt near the doors and saw a dozen Enforcer cruisers outside. He cursed inwardly as they opened fire on him. He dodged and went down another hallway and ducked into what he at first had assumed to be an office door. He stopped upon smelling the cleaning chemicals and turned on the light.
“Floor wax. Slick stuff when wet.”
He poured it into a mop bucket, then pulled the bucket out of the mop room and took it to the nearest junction. He saw light from the Enforcers’ flashlights heading toward his hallway.
He pulled a mini-missile out of his pocket and buggered it so it would explode, then dropped it in the bucket and ducked back into the mop room. The Enforcers paused at the junction and started toward him.
The bucket exploded and its contents splattered all over. As the Enforcers all panicked, and slipped, Razor barreled past them, skidded and smacked into the wall, then ran out the entrance and toward the Turbokat. He stopped as he saw it lift into the air and fly away.
He ran for the nearest Enforcer cruiser and jumped in, praying the keys were still in the ignition. They were! He started the car, put it into gear and floored it. Tires squealed and smoked as he fishtailed around a corner and blew past the gates at top speed.
Tears filled his eyes and he snapped to himself, “You can mourn later. Concentrate on the now. Concentrate on finding the murderer and bringing them to justice.”
On the other side of the Pumadyne compound, a large, hawk-like craft silently lifted into the air and flew away.
* * *
Felina finally managed to cut through the net with her claws and was working on her Uncle’s net when she heard a muffled explosion and went to investigate, much to her Uncle’s chagrin. She stepped into the hallway and saw Razor driving off in a cruiser, then turned to see half a dozen Enforcers staggering and slipping toward the entrance.
Feral had managed to free himself and joined Felina. “Report!”
Barely able to stand, a Sergeant said, “The SWAT Kat ambushed us when we tried to pursue him, sir. He got away.”
“How did he get away? Did he get back to the Turbokat?”
“I don’t know, sir. We sent Mickey to fly it to HQ – he might’ve taken off before the SWAT Kat got out.”
“He drove off, Uncle, in a cruiser.”
“I’ll be adding Resisting Arrest and Grand Theft Auto to his list of charges,” Feral growled, then turned toward the Sergeant and asked, “Do we have the jet then?”
“I don’t know, sir. My radio’s not working now.”
“Get cleaned up, Sergeant.”
Feral stalked out of the building and called Enforcer HQ. He smiled grimly as he said, “We have the Turbokat. I want an APB out on the SWAT Kat Razor. And blockades on all routes in and out of the City.”
* * *
Commander Feral’s car came to a screeching halt at the base of the Enforcer Headquarter’s entrance steps. He got out of his car and leaped up the steps by threes. He burst into the lobby and started to bark orders.
“Get Steele and Jacobson. I want them in my office now. Call Konway and tell him he’ll have another body, and get Smitty on the horn and tell him to get a space cleared in the lockers. We’ll have a large amount of evidence that needs to be cataloged and stored.”
Feral stalked into an elevator and pressed the button that would send the elevator to the floor his office was on, then swiped an access card to activate emergency express mode. The elevator flew up its shaft at twice its normal speed and did not stop at any other floor that was calling it.
Feral was in the middle of putting on a back holster and arming himself when Lieutenant Commander Steele and Major Jacobson walked into his office.
The gray Major asked in a light tenor, “You called us, Sir?”
“Yes, as you know, we have an All-Points-Bulletin out on the SWAT Kat Razor and the City is blockaded. It’s only a matter of time before we have him,” Feral replied, “Steele, get to Pumadyne and take charge. You’ll need to have the body shipped to Konway and get the evidence bagged up for Smitty.”
“Jacobson, you’re in charge here until Steele or I get back. Secure the Turbokat, comply with Steele’s requests, and, Jacobson, I’ll need systems access to ‘Project Diablo’ when I return. Thanks to the SWAT Kats, I have to redesign it now.”
Steele barely winced. Jacobson’s green eyes widened slightly, then he nodded and replied, “Yes, Sir.”
“Dismissed, both of you.”
* * *
Razor, still in his stolen cruiser, barreled down a side-street as several interceptors followed him. He turned on the lights and siren, then cut the wheel hard and floored it, making the car fishtail as he merged into traffic.
He began to weave around cars to put some distance between his car and his pursuers. Finally, he spotted an on-ramp for the MegaKat City Beltway and took it. He cursed as he saw the blockade ahead and veered off the road.
Through sheer luck, he avoided damaging the car as he narrowly missed a guardrail and flew down an embankment…
…right into oncoming traffic. After several near-misses, he got out of traffic and took to the shoulder. He stayed there, accelerating again as traffic whizzed past him.
“At this speed, a crash could definitely be fatal,” Razor remarked to himself. He saw a service road and took it, escaping back into the maze of city blocks. He needed to abandon the car soon and try to get out of the City on foot. He needed to get some rest, then try to hunt down Chance’s murderer.
* * *
Feral’s office phone rang, and Felina answered it.
“Lieutenant, is the Commander around?”
She leaned back in Feral’s office chair, “No, he’s out searching for the SWAT Kat.”
“Hmm… Not that I trust him, but is Lieutenant Commander Steele in charge here?”
She yawned and replied, “He’s still appraising the damages at Pumadyne.”
“You then?” he asked.
“Watching the fort. Jacobson’s in actual executive control. What do you need, Konway?”
“Well, we found some interesting evidence on the body you brought in earlier.”
She sat forward, her expression intense. “Interesting how?”
“It’s easier to show than tell. Could you come down for a moment?”
“Sure. Should I bring Jacobson?”
“I can’t explain why, but, no.”
Several minutes later, she walked into the infirmary and followed Konway to the morgue.
Felina was loath to touch the cadaver that still bore a shredded and burned suit. Its features weren’t even clear as most of the exposed flesh on the front of it had been seared off.
“This isn’t a SWAT Kat,” he said as he gave her a folder.
“How do you know?”
“Only the back of his hands were burned off. His palms and fingers were intact enough to get a set of prints.”
He took a piece of paper off of his clipboard and handed it to her. “Look at the results yourself.”
She pulled a paper out of the folder and compared the prints to those Konway had taken. “I see. So, that solves the mystery of your prison break last week. So, you’re ‘Claws’ McGuire?” she asked the corpse.
Konway replied, “Like I said, there’s no way he could be a SWAT Kat.”
“I’d have to agree. But, why was he dressed in one of their uniforms, and why did he die?”
Konway flicked on a small screen that showed several X-rays, then produced a plastic bag with a bullet in it. “He was killed before he was blown out that door. He took a bullet to the face. Here’s the slug we fished out of his brain, and, if you look at the X-ray, the pattern of fractures that make up the bones that were his face.”
“But, who did it?”
“That’s where I think this piece of evidence comes in handy,” Konway replied, holding up another bag with some pink fuzz in it.
“Still waiting on analysis, but I’d say yes. I found it on the uniform.”
“I’ve gotta get this evidence to Uncle ASAP.”
Konway laid the bags back on the nearby cart and grabbed Felina’s arm. “I trust you and your Uncle. I recommend you don’t tell anyone but your Uncle. There’s been system intrusions lately, and data’s come up missing. I won’t be putting this information in the system quite yet. In fact, take it all with you.”
As they gathered all the evidence and packed it in a satchel, she nodded and replied, “Continue your analysis, Konway, and get me the final results. I’ll look up ‘Claws’ to see if he had any dealings with Dark Kat.”
* * *
Razor peeked up and down the street. An Enforcer cruiser, lights on, made a turn onto the boulevard, and Razor ducked back into the alley and hid behind a dumpster. When it was clear, he dashed across it and into another alleyway, all the while mumbling to himself.
“…But, they’d look there. Damn it, I gotta do something. I can’t try to continue in this condition,” Razor muttered sleepily to himself as he crept down the narrow space between high-rise apartment buildings. “Callie’s apartment it is. Now, to get in the building without being seen.”
He found an emergency exit and entered it, tripping the alarm system. He barreled down the stairs into the basement, then down into a sub-basement.
Several hours of skulking around later, after ensuring that the exit was not being monitored, he crept up the stairwells to Callie’s floor.
He knocked on her door, and she opened it.
“May I come in?”
“They’ve got a massive search going on for you, Razor. This is the last place you want to be.”
“I need sleep, and I need to know who was it who ambushed T-Bone so I can try to bring them in before I turn myself in.”
“You thought I could help you on both fronts?”
“Yes. I just need a couple hours sleep and whatever leads the Enforcers may have found on T-Bone’s killer.”
“I haven’t heard anything, but I might soon,” she said, then bit her lip and nodded. “You can sleep for a while here.”
“Thank you, Ms. Briggs.”
“You may also want to consider a shower.”
He visibly brightened and replied, “That would be wonderful, but I don’t have anything to change into.”
“It’s the least I could do for one of my heroes. I don’t have anything either, so you’ll just have to put that back on.”
“That’s fine. Thank you.”
* * *
He was bound. Bound and gagged. The last thing he remembered was falling through a trap door and the sight of creeplings rushing toward him as an explosion thundered above him.
The body hanging from the device was intended as a ruse, a trap and evidence for Razor to think him dead. He opened his eyes, and as T-Bone looked up, a dark face swam across his vision.
The deep voice tied to the face chuckled and said, “Ahh, you’re awake. Good. I have someone who would dearly love to see you.”
T-Bone growled at Dark Kat. A massive screen came on and a familiar female glared down on him. “So, you’ve held up your end of the bargain. So will I. I will deliver the IPG plans to you when you hand him over to me. I will meet you in the Warehouse District as previously agreed, Dark Kat. Turmoil out.”
The screen went blank, and T-Bone continued to growl in rage as Dark Kat walked to a tarp-covered device.
“The IPG is the last thing I need to complete my latest Creation of Destruction.”
T-Bone glowered and struggled against his bonds as he continued to snarl, and Dark Kat smirked in response. “You shouldn’t be so kind, SWAT Kat. Very few see my weapons before I use them. This is the Mega-Imploder. It will create a shockwave that will level the city, and when the dust settles, I will create a new city, from which I will begin my conquest of this world!”
A signal came up on the main console, and Dark Kat pressed a button. “Go ahead.”
A disguised voice said, “Feral has the City blockaded in his search for the SWAT Kat. He believes it is only a matter of time before he can capture the vigilante. I heard him say that Project Diablo will have to be redesigned because of tonight’s events.”
“Excellent. Continue with your mission.”
“Agent Yellow out.”
“Well, my friend, it looks like everything is going exactly to plan,” Dark Kat said grimly. “I’ll drop you off with your ex-girlfriend, then kill your partner.”
T-Bone snarled through the gag and struggled against the ropes binding him. He felt a rope start to give, and stopped.
‘Best to bide my time,’ he mused as Dark Kat turned away and rumbled, “Now to plan my next steps.”
* * *
Razor made sure both bathroom doors were locked before he took off his mask. Jacob Clawson, no longer Razor, stripped off his clothes and stepped into the shower, reluctant to touch any of the many unidentifiable bath ‘things’ that Callie had there. He found a bottle of fur cleaner among them and started the water running.
After showering, he toweled off and with great reluctance, sat on the floor. He groomed his fur like his ancestors had, foregoing the use of Callie’s fur brush and the subsequent wrath of the she-kat.
He knew how she could be – they had dated during his college years. “I never thought I’d be doing this after our breakup.”
That break-up had been messy, to say the least. He wanted to join the Enforcers, and she didn’t want him to. They’d argued, parting ways after many, many stinging, hurtful words on both sides. A few years ago, after their chance meeting at HQ, and their second encounter where he and Chance had fixed her car, they’d talked.
She apologized, as did he, but he made it clear he didn’t want her back in his life like that. What was said was still too hurtful for him to so easily let go.
He started dressing as the inevitable coughing fit took him. Callie pounded on the door and called his name. He finally hacked it up into the toilet and called, “Sorry, Ms. Briggs, hairball.”
Her annoyed voice filtered through the door, “You could have used my brush!”
“You’ve been too kind already, Ms. Briggs. Besides, we kats have been grooming ourselves like that for thousands of years.”
She harrumphed, and he finished getting dressed. He spared a glance at her bathtub, then began the process of cleaning his fur out of it. There was nothing worse than standing in ankle deep water because the previous occupant hadn’t cleaned their fur from the drain.
* * *
He stepped out of her bathroom feeling refreshed, yet still exhausted. She gestured toward her bedroom.
“I can’t, Ms. Briggs.”
“If you sleep out here, I can’t stall for time for you to get away. If you sleep in there, I can. Bed. Now.”
“Yes, mother,” he mumbled. He crawled onto her bed and curled up in a ball on top of the covers. Almost immediately, he was asleep. She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, then bent down and kissed him on the cheek.
She straightened, several memories coming back as his scent filled her senses. She recognized it. Could he be Jake? He smells like Jake.
She was torn between unmasking him and walking away. She opted for the latter, and left her bedroom. As she settled onto her couch, thoughts flew into her mind, and she reeled under their weight.
“But that means T-Bone would be Chance. No. He can’t be dead. Not Chance. They haven’t saved me from the past yet.”
* * *
Feral’s cell phone rang, and he checked the number. It was Felina’s personal cell phone. Intrigued as to why she’d call his cell from hers, he picked it up. “This is Feral.”
She sounded worried as she asked, “Are you somewhere where I can talk to you alone?”
“Very well,” he replied, then got in his car and locked it. “Go ahead.”
“The kat we picked up isn’t T-Bone.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, unless ‘Claws’ McGuire was able to fly a jet while under guard at MegaKat Max, we don’t have a SWAT Kat here.”
“But, why was he dressed as one of them?”
“Someone killed him and dressed him like that, then blew him out the door. He was dead from a bullet to the face over four hours before he was scorched. Konway also found creepling fur on the corpse. I’m still trying to dig up any criminal associations. So far, I’ve only found one that links him to Dark Kat–”
“Dark Kat’s ship has been sighted twice tonight, and several other times this week. I’m not entirely sure, but it’s a lead worth investigating. Is Jacobson still in Command at HQ?”
“Konway didn’t even want to tell Steele, Uncle. He said there’s been data tapped and tampered with in the system. He only told me because he felt he could trust me. The data I have isn’t in the system yet. Konway lent me the only copy, and I’m keeping it with me.”
“This is very troubling about information missing in our computers. I think I have just the kat to get in, but it’ll have to wait for now.”
“So, what are we going to do about Razor?”
“I’ve got several hunches as to where he may be. I want you to go to the Kondracki Building on Twenty-First Street.”
“Isn’t that where Deputy Mayor Briggs lives?”
“Yes. Meet me there. I want to show Ms. Briggs the evidence so she can call and tell the SWAT Kat that his partner is alive. I’m not lifting the blockade out of the city or calling off the APB just in case there is a leak.”
* * *
Incoherent mumbling from her bedroom woke her, and she went in to look at him.
Callie stared at Razor as he dozed fitfully on her bed from what seemed to be a dream. She heard a knock at her door and the deep, gruff voice of Commander Feral. She walked out of her bedroom and closed the door, praying that she could help Razor.
Feral’s knock sounded a second time and she called, “Be right there, Commander.”
She opened the door to see Commander and niece standing outside.
“May we come in for a moment?” Feral asked.
“Sure. What’s going on, Commander?”
“No doubt you heard about the ABP put out on the SWAT Kat Razor.”
“Felina, you show her the evidence.”
“The kat we took to HQ for an autopsy wasn’t T-Bone, but rather an escaped convict named ‘Claws’ McGuire. We found that he’d died from a gunshot to the face several hours before the real T-Bone found him and disappeared. The best lead we have is Dark Kat. Not only has Dark Kat’s ship been sighted at Pumadyne last night, but we also found creepling fur on the uniform, and McGuire had a previous association with Dark Kat.”
“So, this means, what?”
Feral said, “Because we’ve found a leak at HQ, I’m not going to call off the hunt for Razor, but I want you to tell him that I won’t get in his way if he wants to use what we’ve found to find his partner and bring in Dark Kat.”
“Would you care to tell him that yourself?”
“You… have him here?”
“He asked me not to turn him in until he’d gotten a lead on T-Bone’s murderer. Since it looks like T-Bone’s alive, well…” She opened the bedroom door, and they saw Razor twisting in his sleep from a nightmare.
Felina pushed a pang of envy away and walked up to him. Was this simply his last option, or… does he have… don’t be silly, Felina. He can’t love her – T-Bone’s the one with a crush on her. She gently placed her hand on his shoulder, and he started in surprise.
“Razor, you are not under arrest. Uncle and I just want to talk to you. We’ve found out that T-Bone was kidnapped, not killed…”
He sat bolt upright in bed as she spoke and he interrupted, “But, I saw the body.”
“That was an escaped con named ‘Claws McGuire’.”
Razor paused, his mouth open slightly as he digested the information. He’d been one of McGuire’s arresting officers back when he was Lieutenant Jacob Clawson. The best thing he could do was to keep his mouth shut, because if he didn’t, he might end his SWAT Kat career much like his Enforcer career had been ended – forcibly and badly.
He shook his head and rubbed his temples. Didn’t Claws have dealings with Dark Kat? Razor mused, then he mumbled, “This smells like Dark Kat.”
“That’s exactly who it is, Razor. McGuire had a previous association with Dark Kat, one that did not end well,” Felina said. “That and we found creepling fur on the Gee-suit.”
“So, Dark Kat killed him, dressed him in a copy of our uniform and then blew him out the door that T-Bone had walked in to make it look like T-Bone had died.”
“That’s exactly what it looks like,” Feral replied.
Razor started in revelation, “Don’t call off your APB on me. I’ve got a suspicion Dark Kat has an informant in the Enforcers, and if I’m not in custody, Dark Kat will wonder why the APB was revoked.”
Feral snorted in derision. “We already know we have a leak. We’re just not sure where.”
“I see. Well, I’ll need a map. I need a detailed map of the City, with the locations that Dark Kat has burgled marked on it. I also need a list of what he’s stolen so I can figure out what he’s up to.”
The massive tom’s yellow eyes narrowed. “And, why should I do that?”
Razor stood nose to chest with Feral, his face set. “Because he’s got my best friend and partner, because whatever he’s planning isn’t gonna be good. Could you have defeated General Katton in Megawar 2?”
Feral raised an eyebrow, then finally replied, “No.”
Razor nodded and stepped back. “I know. Dark Kat is like Katton. He is a supreme tactician and excellent strategist. However, I can defeat him. I’m enough of the same personality that I can anticipate him. Give me the help I need, and I’ll help you catch Dark Kat.”
“So, is this how you see it? Two generals fighting a war?” Felina asked, her head tilted to the side and her hand on her hip.
Razor turned and locked his gaze on her. She did her best to keep her expression neutral, but she melted as she gazed in his eyes. She barely heard him reply, “In a very real sense, it is a war, Lieutenant. A war between us and him. Despite what you might think, I’m on your side. I just want T-Bone back, and Dark Kat put in prison.”
“Keep him here while I get the map and list from my office,” Feral said. He turned toward the door.
Razor called, “Commander?”
Feral paused and turned to face the tiny tom. “Yes?”
Razor smiled a little bit and said, “Thanks.”
Feral harrumphed and stalked out of Callie’s apartment.
Callie shrugged and asked, “Pizza anyone?”
* * *
Feral’s car pulled to a stop, and he got out. He started up the steps to the main lobby as Steele came out the doors and rushed toward Feral, calling, “Sir, where’ve you been?”
“Out. Report, Steele.”
“Still no sign of the SWAT Kat.”
“I know. I’ve been listening to the Radio. We’ve got him boxed in, and there’s no chance for him to escape the City. Since it’s only a matter of time before we capture him, I want to re-allocate some of our patrols to keeping an eye out for Dark Kat.”
“As you no doubt know, he’s the one behind the recent string of burglaries. The SWAT Kats merely had bad luck in their last encounter with him.”
“One’s now dead, and the other’s well on his way to being captured. Dark Kat is now a priority. With any luck, the SWAT Kat will try to go after Dark Kat, and that’s when we’ll nab him.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll get our sky patrols searching for Dark Kat’s ship.”
“I need to retrieve a few things, then I’ll be back in a few more hours. I have my own leads on the SWAT Kat.”
* * *
Callie, Felina and Feral watched Razor pace as he leafed through a list and muttered to himself. He snagged a piece of pizza from the box on the table and chewed on it thoughtfully as he continued to pace. Finally, he looked up and said, “I’m not entirely sure, but it looks like he’s trying for an Implosion bomb.”
Feral lowered the newspaper and asked from Callie’s Barcalounger, “Implosion bomb? Isn’t that the name of a nuclear device?”
Razor shook his head. “Yes, but he’s not building a nuclear one by any means. No. I could go into technical detail, but to be brief, it looks like he wants to build a bomb that will cause all the buildings to collapse in on themselves, leaving the city itself a ruin.”
Callie shuddered as she clasped a glass of cola in her hands. “Sounds nasty.”
“So, what do we do?”
“If I were building this device, I’d attack MegaKat Superconductors next. I’d need several lengths of cabling to create a Shock Impulse Generator, sometimes called an Implosion Pulse Generator. It causes the energy wave that would tear through concrete and stone like a chainsaw through butter and make buildings fall in on themselves. The Altarkans perfected the technology, and if I were Dark Kat, I’d hire an Altarkan scientist or use one of their designs.”
“You’re a scientist as well as a tactician. Reminds me of Clawson. And, that reminds me, I need to get a hold of him to track down the leak,” Feral replied, then yawned and stood.
Razor paused, a worried look on his face as Feral mentioned his other self. He’d have to be much more careful to prevent Feral from taking the next step and figure out who he really was. Razor cleared his throat, then leaned over the map on Callie’s table and said, “Commander, do you want to fly the Turbokat?”
“What do you have planned?” he asked.
“I can’t rescue my partner if I’m flying, and despite T-Bone’s opinion of you, you’re better than I am at flying.”
“So, what else do you need?” Felina said between bites of her pizza.
Razor smiled. “I hear that you like high explosives. Would you want to fire a bazooka at Dark Kat’s ship?”
A maniacal grin appeared on her face and she replied, “Would I ever!”
Razor tapped on the map. “Good, you’ll set up on this skyscraper. Since he’s flying the Fear Ship again, you’ll aim for the wing between the engine and fuselage. That will destroy the hydraulics and damage the engine, crippling the craft.”
“What about you?” Callie asked.
“I’ll set up here. I’ll get first strike, then use my jetpack to fly over to the other building while the Lieutenant fires.”
Feral nodded slowly. “With two strikes, you’ll cripple his means to escape and force a confrontation.”
“Yes. Turning a passive hostage situation into an active hostage situation. He’ll be forced to use T-Bone as an active pawn. I’ll barter his escape, but you’ll use the net-thrower on the Turbokat to snag him.”
“What if he doesn’t barter?”
“I’m already formulating a backup plan.”
* * *
Steele met Feral in the HQ Lobby. He fell in lockstep with Feral as he started to report. “Sir, the chopper patrols are back watching the city perimeter, and two wings of Shrikes are on standby at the airport.”
“Excellent. Anything else to report?”
“No news on the SWAT Kat, Sir.”
“I know. I have an idea that will do us good in two ways. I’m taking the Turbokat, and I’m going on patrol.”
“But why, Sir?”
“The SWAT Kat may decide he wants to rescue his jet from us. Hard to do if it’s airborne. Secondly, it has the firepower, speed and maneuverability to handle Dark Kat’s ship.”
“Tell no one that I’ve left with the Turbokat. Close off and lock maintenance bay D-12 and place guards at each entrance. If anyone asks, tell them that we moved the Turbokat there.”
“Yes Sir. Excellent plan, Sir.”
“No. It’s rather foolish, but we need to bring both matters to closure as soon as possible. You have your job, now do it.”
“Also, have Konway meet me in my office in ten minutes. I need to be brought up to date on his findings on the dead SWAT Kat.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll get him to report to you A.S.A.P.”
“Oh, and Steele?”
“Don’t let it go to your head, but good job so far tonight. You might just make a good Commander someday.”
Steele blinked and looked taken aback, but promptly nodded and replied, “Thank you, Sir.”
* * *
Steele walked away, pondering why Feral had complimented him. Could it be he had found the leak? Did Feral suspect him? It didn’t matter. Soon, he could move.
Maybe this way he could gain the rank of Commander and get his own city.
With these thoughts, Steele went to his office and powered up his computer. While it was booting, he set Commander Feral’s orders in motion.
* * *
“So, did you ever expect to see me again, T-Bone?”
“I figured you’d have to escape some time, and that I’d have to fight you again. I don’t see my death, so I know, no matter what you do to me, I’ll live.”
“Big words from one about to die.”
He leaned forward and growled, “Goes beyond you. It’s something ancient. Something in my blood.”
“Something powerful,” he said, then flexed his arms and broke the rope Dark Kat had bound him with.
He placed his hands on his knees and leaned forward, a death’s-head grin on his face as she stepped back in shock. He asked, “So, why’d you deal with Dark Kat?”
“He could get you for me, and in turn, I had something he wanted.”
She nodded and focused on him. “Da. It’s flawed, and will explode when he activates it. Through it, I will kill him and avenge the deaths of my parents.”
He leaned back and sized her up, his hands gripping his knees as he asked, “He killed your parents?”
“When I was a kitten.”
He shook his head slowly and locked his gaze on her eyes. “I was five when my parents both died from a car bomb.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I know your grief, Turmoil. I know it all too well.”
She hissed, “I don’t want your sympathy. Only your head on my wall.”
“You aren’t my death, Turmoil. Try as you may, you can’t kill me.”
She set her stance and rocked back and forth, readying to pounce as she purred, “Always the hero, aren’t you? Tell me, does this hero hit only males?”
“I would never hit you, unless I had no other choice. Defend myself, yes. Turn you in, also yes. But, I will not hurt you, unless I have to.”
“That, dear T-Bone, is your weakness.”
She unsheathed her claws and rushed him, a sneer on her face. Faster than she could see, he ducked under her lunge and wrapped his arm around her neck, pulling her to him.
She clawed at his arm, but it remained where it was. She felt his hot breath, and his words echoed in her ear as she lost consciousness.
“I could have loved you if you weren’t such a bad gal.”
She slumped, and he picked her up. “I’ll give you a sporting chance to get away, Turmoil, dear.”
He carried her over to her bed and left her on it with only the lightest kiss.
After writing a note using paper and a pen from the nearby table, he crept out of the room and started down the narrow passageway.
* * *
Konway stepped into Feral’s office, and the Commander nodded. “I know what you sent Felina with already, Konway. Since you’ve proven your ability to be quiet, I want you to take this message, unopened, to MegaKat Salvage Yard and deliver it to Jacob Clawson.”
“One of the two that you cashiered?”
“Yes. He’s the best computer person we’ve ever had. If he can’t find out the leak for us, no one can. The note is self-explanatory. If he’s not there, leave it on the door, then head home. The other is an authorization to pass the blockade checkpoints without being stopped and searched.”
“Yes, Sir, Commander.”
Feral grinned widely and went to the the Pilot Lounge to get his flight suit on and take the Turbokat for a spin.
* * *
The Fear Ship settled onto the roof of a skyscraper, and, predictably, the Turbokat appeared within a couple minutes.
“The SWAT Kat is right on time for his own funeral,” Dark Kat stated, and on the roof of a nearby skyscraper, Razor growled.
“I got your number, you sonuvagun. Now, you’re goin’ down.”
Dark Kat gloated, “Just…”
“Like…” Razor smirked as he hefted the bazooka.
“Clockwork,” Dark Kat finished as he activated a launcher and fired a missile at the TurboKat.
Razor fired as Dark Kat did. The missile streaked through the air, and the kats on the ramp were thrown free as it hit. The TurboKat’s pilot rolled and dodged the missile.
“What’s going on!” Dark Kat bellowed as he threw a creepling off.
Smoke billowed from the engine. A second later, a missile from Felina’s bazooka was fired at the ship.
Dark Kat stood and was thrown backwards into a console as the ship shuddered from a second impact.
Razor lowered his visor, slapped a new missile in the bazooka, slung it over his back and said, “Deploy jet pack!”
The unit slid out and it lit off, raising him into the air. He flew over to the ruined craft and saw Dark Kat stumble off the back ramp, holding a data disk aloft.
He landed and unslung his bazooka, aiming it at Dark Kat.
“Hold it right…”
“You hold it, Dark Crud. Let T-Bone go, and I’ll let you go.”
“That’s the thing, SWAT Kat. I don’t have him any more.”
Razor muttered, “Did you kill him?”
“No, but when she’s done with him, he’ll wish I did kill him.”
* * *
T-Bone crept along, avoiding the kats searching for him. He sneaked up behind two she-kats and rendered them unconscious by thumping their heads together. He dropped them and continued through the long, narrow metal passageways.
He peeked around a corner and saw four armed she-kats in body armor guarding the exit.
T-Bone bent down and opened a grate that was just barely big enough for him to squeeze into. He crawled through the ventilation duct and peeked through a grate on the other side of the door. Four more heavily armed and armored she-kats stood on guard.
He couldn’t go forward; he couldn’t go back. He could only bide his time and wait.
* * *
“Who has him, Dark Kat?”
“Who else? Turmoil.”
Razor visibly sagged and lowered his bazooka slightly. “No.”
Dark Kat took a step forward, and Razor snapped back as the bazooka was aimed again at Dark Kat. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m going to kill you, then take what I want from this place.”
“Like hell you are.”
Dark Kat smirked and called out, “Get him, my creeplings!”
Razor fired, and the blast threw the villain backwards. Several creeplings rushed toward him, and he netted them. Dark Kat rushed Razor, but the tiny tom side-stepped and tripped the Mega-villain as more creeplings flew toward him.
He stood up, turned and started forward to try to fight Razor when a massive force slammed into him and threw him to the ground. He found himself trapped in the pincer arms of an octopus missile and looked up to see Felina grinning at him, smoke still trailing from her bazooka’s muzzle as she released the Turbokat’s grappling cable and landed on the rooftop.
“Dark Kat, you’re under arrest for burglary, murder, attempted murder, assault, battery, kidnapping and resisting arrest. You have the right to remain silent…” Felina snapped as she lowered the launcher and loaded another missile.
Razor subdued the creeplings as she finished the miranda.
“Thanks, Lieutenant,” Razor said, and she replied as she blew a kiss at him.
“I like your rockets, Razor.”
The Turbokat came in for a shaky landing, and Feral debarked as Razor blushed and replied, “Uhh, thanks.”
“How’d you get over here so fast?” Razor asked, and Felina smiled.
“Well, after I fired, Uncle used the Turbokat’s grapple to grab me and drop me off here so I could help.”
Feral climbed out of the jet and started toward them as he looked around. Despite himself, he smiled broadly. “Well done.”
“Commander, Turmoil’s escaped. Dark Kat said he gave T-Bone to her. I need to get him back. Please, may I have my jet back?”
“I’ll go with you to rescue him then, SWAT Kat.”
“You take care of my Uncle, Razor,” Felina called, then grabbed Feral’s arm and whispered in his ear, “And, you take care of him for me, Uncle, or I’ll never forgive you.”
“Get him to HQ, then lock onto my signal and follow me with at least eight choppers and however many S.W.A.T. Personnel we can fit in them,” Feral said in a low voice, then stepped away, nodding gravely.
They leaped into the Turbokat, took off and flew away.
Felina called HQ for chopper backup and some way to transport Dark Kat, missile and all, to a high security cell at HQ. She then leveled the bazooka at him and waited, a patient, yet aggressive smile on her face.
* * *
T-Bone heard the distinct sound of the Turbokat doing a flyby and knew it was his time to act as the guards stepped forward and fired their rifles at the jet. As quietly as he could, he slid toward the grate, feet first. He felt it with his feet, and as he heard the Turbokat scream in, he kicked it out. He slid out behind the preoccupied guards and stood up.
Two guards fell as their heads were thumped together, and the other two turned to face him. He balled his fists and punched both of them, sending them flying backwards as the door behind him slid open.
The sounds of cocking rifles made him pause, and he saw the Turbokat coming in for landing, cement machine gun out. He’d have to time this perfectly, or things would get real sticky.
The barrel began to revolve, and he threw himself forward as the Turbokat fired, and the four guards got splattered with fast-setting cement. The jet came in for a shaky landing, and T-Bone stood and ran toward the jet. Halfway there, more guards rushed out of the door, firing weapons.
He rolled to the side as Razor fired again and got to his feet, running toward the Turbokat. He leaped up on the wing and saw Commander Feral in the pilot’s seat.
Feral unstrapped and got out of the jet. “Felina should be getting a few choppers here within a few minutes. I suggest you take off and get away from here now.”
* * *
Jake took the envelope off the garage door and opened it. He muttered to himself as he read it, “Well, Feral said he wanted to contact me. May as well call him.”
He dialed the number on the paper and braced himself for the worst.
“Hello?” the gruff voice asked on the other end.
“Commander, this is Jacob Clawson. I just got home. I was trapped in the City while you had it blockaded off.
“Never mind that. I want to discuss something with you, and if you accept my offer, I’ll take a large portion of your debt off.”
“I’ll be in to see what you want in a few hours. I need a nap first.”
“No rush, just be here after seven.”
“Plenty of time. See you after seven, then.”
* * *
“That’s odd,” Jake muttered as he started digging through logfiles under Feral’s identity, “Very odd.”
“What?” Feral asked.
In the dim light of the screen, Jake looked up at Feral and replied, “All I can tell is that the intruder has super-user privileges.”
“Which means what?”
“They log in as ‘root’. I need more data. I need to be able to log in as root myself to lay a trap for the intruder.”
Feral reached for his radio. “Jacobson’s in charge of I.T. He’ll know the password.”
“No. Don’t even tell him. I’ll get in… somehow,” Jake said.
“Any way to bypass it?”
“I can hack in. If you would run to the tow-truck and grab my laptop, I’d be appreciative.”
Jake sighed and explained, “I can log in remotely from my laptop and hack the password. It may take a while because of how secure the root password is. I can’t do it from here, however. Your identity doesn’t have high enough access.”
“Don’t worry, Commander, I know who the leak is, and I’ve been aware of it for quite some time now,” a thin, nasally voice came from behind them.
Feral and Jake both turned to see Lieutenant Commander Steele standing in the entrance, rifle in his hands, pointed at them.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” Feral growled.
“As interesting a scenario as that may be, it is false.” Steele lowered the rifle and said, “I detected an intrusion in the mainframe and decided to arm myself before investigating.”
“Then you’ve known about the leak.”
“When some of my data was accessed and some went missing. Luckily, I keep backups. I set up a traceback program and found out that it was someone who had root access of the mainframe.”
“Someone who calls himself Agent Yellow. ‘Agent Yellow’ is someone who knows about Project Diablo.”
“But that’s only you, me… Jacobson…”
“Precisely, Commander – you, me and Jacobson.”
“What’s Project Diablo?” Jake asked.
“You’re not authorized to know, Clawson,” Steele retorted.
“But, he could easily find out the information if I let him. So, I guess I’ll trust him. It’s not like he can warn the SWAT Kats. Project Diablo is actually two projects. One is a jet capable of matching or beating the Turbokat. The other is an advanced guidance missile that jet launches.”
Jake hid his despair by smiling. He said, “Get me my laptop, and I’ll fix the leak for you, Commander.”
“Steele, leave the rifle here and get his laptop computer from his tow-truck.”
Jake dug out the truck keys and handed them to Steele. “Level two parking, in the dark corner.”
“How can you hack the mainframe?”
“It’s easier than you think. If you can set up a traceback routine on your terminal, you could’ve hacked the password yourself.”
Several hours later, Jake logged out of the mainframe and grinned tiredly at Commander Feral. “This is the plan. I found out where he’s broadcasting to. You remember the Dickinson case four years ago? Since it’s been rebuilt, he’s apparently taken up residence in that warehouse again.”
“So, what are we doing?”
“Do you mind me giving orders for this, Commander?”
“‘Cause I’ve got a plan that’ll catch him.”
Feral grimaced and said, “I’ll consider it. Go ahead.”
“It goes like this, Commander. I’ve placed two sets of scripts on root. One is in the startup sequence, where it silently alerts the SWAT Teams to arm themselves and find Steele. The second set of scripts initializes when he tries to access communications. It sends a signal to Steele’s computer telling him to lead the teams to the mainframe here.”
“He’s using our radio tower?”
“He is. Here’s where the orders are. You go to Dark Kat’s lair and wait for the signal. Keep your face out of view until Steele arrives. That way he doesn’t know the trap has been sprung until it’s too late. Before he disconnects, Steele intercepts him and places him under arrest.”
Feral looked at Steele. “Will you follow those orders?”
“To the letter, Sir.”
He nodded. “Then, we’ll follow your plan, Clawson.”
“I hope this works,” Feral muttered as he settled back in Dark Kat’s computer chair. He spun the chair away from the screen and waited, reading a book.
After a few hours, a signal came in, and he hit a button on the arm of the chair and growled in his deepest, lowest voice, “Go ahead.”
“Agent Yellow here. Commander Feral has yet to find the SWAT Kat Razor. He was fuming this morning after finding the Turbokat missing. He is also convinced that the replacement is the SWAT Kat T-Bone.”
“Good job,” Feral snarled, then spun the chair around and leaned toward the screen, “At getting caught, Jacobson.”
The other kat jumped back in shock.
“You’re under arrest for being an accomplice to murder, an accomplice to attempted murder, an accomplice to…” Steele droned from behind him as the sound of a dozen rifles being cocked filtered through the link.
“Good job, Steele,” Feral said, then cut the link.
Back at HQ, a tired looking copper tom kat stepped into the mainframe room, held up his laptop and said, “Nice job I did, wasn’t it?”
The tall blond she-kat re-read the letter that T-Bone had left for her.
I know you probably hate me even more now, but I feel I must say
this. I was honest when I said I could have loved you if you weren’t
bad. It is only because of that that I gave you a fair chance to
escape. That is something I will only grant you once. Next time,
I won’t hesitate to turn you in.
The best course of action for you is to return to Altarka, or
return to prison here and serve your sentence. Either way, keep
your whiskers clean, beautiful.
Always your Ace,
She tore the note into shreds and hissed, “I can never return home, and I will not go back to prison. I will make you pay for your betrayal, T-Bone, no matter what it takes.”
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.