~~~Forward~~~ Okay you kats, we’re about to embark on a journey of evil proportions: people in positions of protection and trust betraying the very people their supposed to protect and those that are actually doing the job.
I absolutely HATE people like that. This ain’t gonna be as cute-z pie as my others.
And, while you’re at it, drop by my SWAT Kats site. It’s puny and pathetic, but it’s there with some great links, er, excuse me lynx.
Katareena unlocked her apartment door and let it swing shut behind her. She let herself smile smugly at how well she was taking all of it and walked to the fridge for some milk. Detachedly, she watched her paw tremble as she picked up the carton, then her scar pulled painfully, making her drop and spill the milk.
Listlessly now, and minus her smile, she closed the refrigerator and watched as the puddle spread over her checkered kitchen floor and around her black high heels. After a few seconds of staring blankly, she bent down to pick up the carton. The face of a missing kat smiled up at her and blurred before her eyes.
Mad now, because she absolutely *hated* crying, she pitched the empty milk carton into the trash can. Reena was partially appeased by the solid thunk. “Nothing but net…” she half-joked, knowing if she tried, she could pull herself out of the slump she had let herself fall into. She got up and walked to her room, leaving the puddle of milk.
She went to her room and changed into a halter top and comfortable shorts. In a daze, she went though the motions of washing the make-up from her face and brushing out her honey-gold hair. Reena dropped her heels into the sink and ran cold water over them, not knowing or caring if it would ruin them. When she was satisfied that there was nothing else she could do, she set them on a towel under the fan to dry, then she went back to the kitchen to clean up the milk.
As she wiped up the milk, she grinned a little, the phrase ‘there’s no use crying over spilt milk’ spinning though her mind. Katareena finished and walked to the couch, dropping the sponge in the sink. She plopped herself in front of the T.V. and used the remote to turn it on.
Ann Gora was standing in front of the cemetery, looking about as sincerely grave as she always did – which wasn’t very grave at all. “This is Ann Gora at Megakat Memorial Cemetary where six brave Enforcers have been laid to rest…” she gave background information she had given for the past week, then almost leaned into the camera. “…but this is not a singular incident. Five years ago, Delta force B suffered an almost identical mishap.” The screen flashed with pictures of her brothers and their comrades.
A cry of pain escaped Reena’s lips, but she didn’t notice, she was watching as the news reporter dashed across the manicured lawn of the cemetery to catch up to Commander Feral. He almost seemed to move like he was trying to escape personal demons, but he halted abruptly and faced Ann Gora. “Commander Feral,” she panted, but was interrupted by Feral.
“Ms. Gora, other than the fact that I deeply regret the loss of Delta force B’s members, I have no comment.” His voice booked for no questions, as it always did, but there was a tone there that Ann Gora seemed never to have heard before. She gulped and nodded. Feral moved off and the reporter turned to the camera with another one of her fake smiles.
“This is Ann Gora, signing off.” Katareena sat staring at the television as the commercials belted out too-happy jingles.
The promo for her movie ‘The Flame Within’ came on and she watched half-heartedly as the clips from the movie were thrown across the screen, wincing occasionally at the slightly sappy dialog. Next time she would read every line before accepting a role!
When nothing else on looked good, she turned the T.V. off and turned on the CD player. Reena let the music lighten her mood to the point where she could think rationally about how exactly she could carry out what Salem had asked her to do.
Katareena sat there until she realized she was sitting in darkness. She looked at the clock. For four hours she had sat there, and for all nine lives of her, she *still* couldn’t find a way. Reena turned off the CD player and went to bed, hoping she would find the answer in her dreams. _____________s____________w_____________a______________t____________
The answer didn’t come though dreams, which wasn’t surprising considering all the nightmares that had kept her tossing and turning until she slept only from exhaustion.
Though the layers of sleep, she heard the phone ring. Awake and knowing there was no way out of it, Reena got up from the bed and answered it.
“It’s after one o’clock! What are you doing *there*?” Marma Lade, her agent, asked in an anguished voice.
Katareena groaned as she looked at the clock by her bed. She was supposed to have been at MBC studios preparing for the interview with David Litterbin she had never made up since the near-fatal incident a few weeks ago. “How long do I have?” She asked, rubbing her eyes and taking a mental inventory of her wardrobe.
“Let’s see…it’ll take you at *least* thirty minutes to get here though all the traffic that’s around her because of *you*. Another thirty for make-up…oh, I’d say you’d miss the taping of the show only by about *two hours*!”
Reena closed her eyes. “Why didn’t you call before?”
“I *did*!” Marma grumbled, “You know, if you had *tried* to make them mad, you couldn’t do a better job. The show is supposed to air the same day as ‘The Flame Within’, and *that’s* why we scheduled it for today!”
Katareena rummaged though her closet anyway as she talked, “I know, I know…it’s just after the funeral-”
“The *funeral*?” her agent squawked, “Didn’t I expressedly tell you *not* to go???”
Reena sighed. “Yes….listen, how many minutes do I have really?”
There was a pause as Marma apparently looked at a clock and counted. “They start taping in twenty minutes. Maybe they can save you for their last guest, have the ‘Stupid Tricks’ first or something….maybe an hour – but you’d still have to take time for make-up and-”
“I’ll be there,” Katareena said, and hung-up. She took the pink and green sundress she had been examining from the hangar and put it in a garment bag. At the bottom of the bag, she put the white sandals and a small pouch of the white plastic jewelry she was going to wear with it, then she reached behind the secret panel in her closet and laid her treasures by the bag.
She stripped and took a quick shower, wrapped a towel around herself, ate, and brushed her teeth. Reena let her hair hand loose to dry as she got dressed and laced up her sneakers, then grabbed up the garment bag and what she had pulled from behind the panel and raced though her apartment. The door was hurriedly locked and then she went full throttle up the stairs to the roof.
After a cursory inspection, she put on the Glove-a-Trex she had made herself and fired a rope to the building adjacent to hers. She gritted her teeth and swung to the next roof, she knew her muscles weren’t prepared for something like this. She was uncomfortable doing what she was by daylight, with so many eyes available to see her, but who would they see other than their newest vigilante, Klawz? As she raced across the roof to the next, she grinned and corrected her thought, Klawz with a garment bag.
In twenty minutes, she had made the trip from her roof top to the MBC roof top. She had only about thirty minutes left to get dressed and have her make-up done. Marma would be appeased.
Klawz looked around and was pleased to notice that there were no security cameras or guards on the roof-top. She unzipped her flight suit and stepped out wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. Reena made a bundle of the flight suit and the Glove-a-Trex and hid it, then jimmied the roof door open and went down to the studio. ______________s______________w_____________a_____________t__________
Jake sat on the beat-up couch watching his favorite show “David Litterbin”, listening absently as Chance moved around in the hangar below. Litterbin was closing up his program by telling what he was having the next day. Jake was about to change the channel when Litterbin started announcing his guests.
“…that funny little she-kat Paula Pound and here promoting her movie ‘The Flame Within’, Katareena Perkins!”
In a flash, Chance was at his side. “Reena, on Litterbin tomorrow? Great!” He moved off, slowly returning to the hangar.
“Sheesh…” Jake mumbled and changed the channel. ____________s_____________w_____________a_____________t____________
In some forgotten corner of the city, someone else was as pleased as Chance with the chance to see Katareena on the Litterbin show and he too changed the channel. ____________s_____________w_____________a_____________t____________
The next night, at least two pairs of eyes watched as Katareena glided on-stage and gave David Litterbin a hug. “Heard you found the place alright,” Litterbin said as they both sat, probably causing more than one head to be scratched from his non-sequitur. Katareena laughed and assured him that she had made it just fine.
Apparently just realizing that anyone at home wouldn’t get the reference, she smiled at the camera and explained. “I overslept.” She blushed a little as she dimpled.
“I hear your new movie,” Litterbin glanced down at a card, “‘The Flame Within’ opens tomorrow.”
“Yes, it opens tomorrow starring me and David Dukatny from the ‘M-Files’.”
Litterbin tapped his ever-present card on his table and grinned, “Great name…gotta have him on my show sometime. So, what’s the movie about?”
“It’s a romance based on ‘Katsablanca’, only set in more futuristic times. Instead of Megawar II, it’s Megawar III, supposedly ten years from now.”
Litterbin tapped his card on the table again and grinned at the camera, “Oh yeah…gotta love *that*…” The audience laughed and he chuckled himself a little before turning back to Katareena. “Got another movie comin’ up?”
She shook her head slightly. “No, several scripts have been offered, but none have interested me.”
“I’ve been in a movie once….’Wanna buy a monkey?’” The audience laughed and Katareena giggled along with them.
“I saw that movie!” she put a paw on his arm. “You were good, really!”
They chatted for a while longer until the commercial break and he invited her to stay though it. When the commercials were over, he brought out another of his cards. “You’ve been such a good guest that I want you to read the Top Ten List today. It’s called “Top Ten Reasons Katareen Perkins Will Do Nothing But Enforcer Movies”. Here you go.” He offered her the card and she laughed good naturedly as she took it.
“Number ten…the great wages…” the audience laughed and Katareena grinned to the camera. “Sorry all you Enforcers out there! Number nine…the cool uniform…….number eight…the company vehicle……number seven…constant interaction with the SWAT Kats…”
Her smile faded a little and she looked at the camera for a second before continuing. “…Number six…it’s better than the video game…..number five…it’s not – quote unquote – ‘another sappy romance’…….number four…Commander Feral constantly yelling, ‘The Enforcers will handle this!’……number three…all the free meals…..number two…get to meet new and *interesting* kats……and the number one reason Katareena – er… *I* won’t do anything but Enforcer movies is -three words -‘oh those flyboys!’” The studio audience roared their approval and Litterbin stood, clapping.
“Give her a paw, folks, she was a good sport!” The camera panned to the crowd of kats that leapt up and clapped and cheered for Katareena. When the camera came back, Litterbin was giving Katareena a hug and inviting her back some other time. _____________s____________w_____________a_____________t_____________
Katareena came back to her apartment feeling like she had been pulled though several wringers and then stomped on for good measure. When the taping was over, she had to call a cabbie who wouldn’t stop complimenting her on her movies. And to top it off, all the muscles that she hadn’t used in a week were sore now.
“I’ve got to go to the gym…” she muttered as she took off her sneakers and dropped to the sofa. Her head touched the pillow and for one second of the time she had been awake that day, she found peace. Then she heard the noise.
Reena kept her eyes closed as she just listened to the kat come closer to her. When the intruder was within reaching distance, she sprung from her resting place and swung her fist. She experienced the totally infuriating feeling of having her wrist caught before she had laid a paw on the kat.
“Salem, I swear one day you’re gonna – !” she growled, her eyes and nose level with his as she gritted her teeth.
He smiled smugly. “Hi Salem, it’s great to see you! Why, it’s wonderful to see you too, Taree, have you been having a good day?” Salem paused and grinned. “*That’s* how it was supposed to be. Do you want to start again?”
Reena smirked. “Only if you would consent to *not* catching my wrist this time…”
They stood there, her wrist in his grasp, staring into each other’s eyes for a second. “Well, have you?” Salem asked softly.
She tilted her head a little. “Have I what?”
“Been having a good day?”
Katareena pulled her wrist from his paw and slumped back to the couch, closing her blue eyes and covering them with her arm. “No,” she said, her voice muffled slightly. The sofa gave a little under Salem’s weight as he sat beside her.
“Tell me about it,” there was a pause and Reena could *hear* him grin. “I’ve got nothing better to do until I get a lead…”
“I stayed up late trying to think of a way to do what you asked, then didn’t sleep well, *then* overslept and nearly missed the-”
“The taping of the Litterbin Show. You know, Taree…if you were *trying* to make them mad you couldn’t have done a better job.”
“That’s just what Mar-” She uncovered her eyes and looked at him. “What Marma said on the phone this morning…” A chill went up her back and she tried to see what his expression was.
“I…er…had to put a bug on your phone, Taree…never know how much they know…” Salem hung his head a little. “I figured it was better you didn’t know.”
Katareena looked at him, knowing he was hiding still more, but decided that if what he was hiding was the fact that he had seen her as Klawz she didn’t want to know. “Okay, Salem. You had to bug my phone – now *un*-bug it!”
His dark head bobbed up. “I can’t do that.”
She stood and glared down at him. “You can, you will, or I’ll figure out how to do it myself!” Reena bit down on her lip so she wouldn’t reveal any more of her hidden talents, but she kept her look of hot anger on his green gaze.
Salem looked at her as if weighing the pros and cons and nodded once. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Katareena put her paws on his broad shoulders and leaned in until their noses almost touched. “What do you mean you’ll ‘see what you can do’?”
“I’m only a field agent, Taree. I have authority over everyone but T- uh…a higher up. I have to throw major decisions like this by him first.”
His eyes begged her to believe him and after a moment of doubt, she realized it made sense. “Okay Salem, but make sure you do *all* you can do, okay?”
“I promise.” They looked at each other for a second. “Now, let’s see what we can do about our plan -”
The phone rang and she put a finger to her lips before she picked up the receiver. “Hello?” _________s____________w ________________a_____________ t____________
Salem listened intently to the one-sided conversation, knowing he would be able to both hear the tape later and read the transcripts, but also knowing that the facial expressions could also be filed away in his brain for further reference. He had to know more about Taree than she let on, and more that he had discovered on his own.
“Hello?” she asked, then listened. Her face went from curious, to an expression of an idea just forming, to the joy of having a solution. “Really? Send it over right now – I want it in an hour, can you do that?” The authority in her voice defied any denials and she got her affirmative. “Good. One hour.” She hung up the phone and nearly bounced with euphoria. “Eureka! Our plan!”
“Our plan?” Salem asked and she moved quickly to the couch and sat next to him.
“Not just any plan, mind you – but a brilliant, great, splendiferous-!”
He laughed and waved his paws. “Okay, okay, we have a plan…mind telling me what it is?”
A small smile lurked on her lips and she said, “Oh, you’ll understand when you get the tapes of the call.”
Reena laughed. “Just kidding. Guess who’s been offered another Enforcer movie?”
“Me. Guess who’s going to almost refuse saying that she has no idea how to be any type of Enforcer but a pilot?”
Salem grinned, liking this new mood. “You?”
She giggled and nodded. “Me. Guess who’s going to get some ‘training’ at Enforcer Headquarters when she’s done talking?”
“She just might! But I was referring to me!” Katareena said, laughing with him.
“So, that’s the plan, eh? Now, how are you going to find out inside information?”
Reena’s laughter faded from her eyes if not from her face. “I have my ways, Salem.”
He heard the subtle warning not to pry in her life and decided to abide by it, for now. “Okay…but you be careful, you understand? I’m supposed to be watching after you.”
“You are? Who says?” She asked, a hint of anger in her voice.
“Allie and Morris.”
“Oh….well….you know brothers….” Reena’s gaze skittered away from his. They sat in silence until Salem got up minutes later.
“I’ll be going now…see you soon, Taree.”
“Yeah….soon…” she said softly as the shadows lengthened. He let his eyes rest on her for a few more seconds before he left the apartment. ______________s____________w____________a_____________t_____________
When the script arrived, Katareena stayed up into the wee hours of the night reading it. Every line, every casual flick of the wrist was read and practiced. She was pleased with “Just a Desk Job”. It was about an Enforcer clerk who had to take care of a hostage situation that arose in the station. It was perfect. _________s____________w ________________a_____________ t____________
“You want what?” Marma Lade asked the next morning.
Reena grinned, knowing that Marma wouldn’t see. “I’ve only done Enforcer movies where I was behind the control panel of a jet or helicopter, Marm. You know that. I have no *idea* how to do a desk job! I mean, just where is this clerk chick allowed to go?”
Her agent let out a gust of breath. “Where ever the script takes her! C’mon, you can’t just demand that the local Enforcers Headquarters let you wander around!”
“I won’t, Marm. You will.”
“What?” the she-kat groaned, knowing she’d be talked into it eventually and giving up. “Fine. I’ll ask, but you’ll get no promises from me!”
_________s____________w ________________a_____________ t____________
An hour after the two had said their good-byes, Marma had called back saying that everything was set, an Enforcer would pick her up and take her on a tour.
“From ten to five for as long as you want. After they let the drunks go home and before the tougher crowd comes in. It’ll also be during the time your character would be working anyway,” Marma explained.
“Okay. When will the Enforcer ge-” The doorbell rang and she asked her agent to hold on. Reena pushed the button on the intercom. “Yes?”
“Patrolkat McFurrson, ma’am.” It was Salem’s voice. She hurriedly pushed the button to let him into the stairwell for her side of the building and went back to the phone.
“Nevermind, Marm, he’s here. ‘Bye.” Katareena hung up and went to the door to wait. A few minutes later, there was a knock. “Who is it?” she asked, too many years of caution overriding the fact that she was sure of who it was.
“Patro-” She didn’t even let him finish, she opened the door and pulled him in. When she turned to him, she realized the kat’s face didn’t belong to Salem. Reena was just about to think up an excuse when she noticed his eyes. His laughing grey-green eyes.
“Salem, what the heck are *you* doing here?”
He grinned and looked into the mirror that was hanging near the door. “What? Is the disguise not good enough?”
“If you can mask your eyes and your voice it would be perfect.”
“Crud. I knew I should’a gone for the contacts! Oh well.” Salem turned to her and continued. “Well, missy, we’d better-a get you to the station!” His voice had deepened and his speech pattern made him sound every inch the second or third generation Enforcer.
She grinned. “Well-a then,” Reena’s voice altered to a similar lilt. “Let’s get-a goin’!” She picked up a copy of the script and left the apartment. ____________s___________w_________a_______________t________________
They went throughout the whole station, him naming the floor, the room, and the reasons why she might be there if she were a clerk. Katareena stored them in her memory bank and tried to ignore the Enforcers and civilians in the building that stopped and stared. Because she seemed to be busy, she was spared the usual ask for autographs.
When they left, Reena was very pleased. He drove her back to the apartment and walked her upstairs. “You don’t need to take me around anymore, I think I’ve got what I needed,” she said causally as she unlocked the door. She could feel him looking suspiciously at her and turned, grinning. “What?”
“You’re up to something…”
She reached up to pat his cheek, grinning still wider. “It’s best you don’t ask.”
His eyes were all serious as he held her paw to his face, then brought it to his lips and kissed it. Conflicting emotions warred within her and she pulled back, confused. Salem’s grey-green eyes flashed hurt, then she could distinguish no emotion at all in them. “Good night, Taree.”
“Good night, Salem.” Katareena whispered, then broke eye contact and went inside. _________s_____________w___________a______________t________________
She just couldn’t handle it anymore. Everytime she was shown some type of affection by Salem, thoughts of T-Bone emerged and she felt guilty. Her first love versus her current one. It was tearing her up inside. What she was going to do was beyond her, but she knew she had to do something soon.
The next day Katareena packed a bag and went to the gym. Thankfully, she had dressed down enough that except for a few questioning glances, no one bothered her.
She was stretching out when she noticed someone watching her. After giving him a warning look, he came over. It was Salem, again in disguise, but she could tell it was him. Reena kept stretching and mumbled, “I can’t go anywhere alone anymore…”
Salem smiled a little and joined her on the mat. “They know I’m alive for sure now. I don’t know how, but they do. They also know that I’ve got a civilian helping me. I’ve got to protect you ya know.”
Reena blew a stray hair out of her blue eyes and growled, “Well, if you weren’t always around, no one would know it was me!”
“I can’t help it, you know…” Salem was staring into her eyes with such intensity that she couldn’t take it anymore. She grabbed his wrist and whispered fiercely.
“The handball court, now!” Katareena got up and checked out a ball and the room and walked into the nearest handball court. Salem followed her and locked the door behind them. “Okay, Salem. Quit it now!” she said, her voice rebounding from the walls and becoming distorted. Anyone in the viewing room above wouldn’t be able to understand them.
“Stop what?” he asked, leaning against the wall.
She didn’t really want to answer the question, but she did anyway. “The flirting, the looks, following me around….just stop, okay?”
“Life’s crazy enough, eh?” he said, not really expecting her to answer this time.
The non-answer riled her and she squeezed the handball as hard as she could so she wouldn’t throw it at his head. “Yes, Salem. It is,” she said tightly. “If you want my help, I can’t be followed or bugged or watched or anything! You’ll have to find someone else if you’re going to do those things.” She paused, realizing that her alter ego, Klawz was speaking.
“I’ll see what I-”
“No Salem. You’ll do it or you won’t have yourself a spy. You’ll do it starting *now*!” She threw the ball at him, which he caught, and stalked out of the handball room, grabbing her gym bag and leaving the gym. The bag was thrown into the back of her car and she got in as fast as she could, then went as fast as the law allowed though the streets.
When she was sure she wasn’t being followed, she pulled into an alley way and checked her vehicle for homing devices. To her absolute disgust, there was one and she yanked it off. After a few seconds of looking around, she spotted a flower delivery service van pulling up in front of a set of apartment buildings. Grinning wickedly, she placed the device on the bumper and returned to her car…and her cell phone. _____________s__________w_____________a____________t_______________ “That jerk!” she seethed as she pulled into another empty alley way near the Enforcer station fifteen minutes later. “That litter chewin’ furball lovin’ *kat*!” she added as she stepped into a pair of coveralls. “Damn Salem!” she growled as she tied back her hair, put gloves on her paws, dark glasses on her nose, and grabbed a tool box from her trunk.
Katareena looked at herself in the car mirror critically and after a few smudges of dirt on the knees of her coveralls, she was happy with the effect. She took a glance at her watch and leaned against the hood of her car, waiting. After a few minutes, someone she could trust with her deepest secret pulled his van into the alley.
The old ex-Enforcer climbed out and joined her. “Hi’ya Kid.”
“Hi’ya Charlie. Here’s the key, take your wife for a drive.” She smiled widely.
His face wore a worried expression. “Katareena…..you sure you’re up to this? I mean…you don’t mind doin’ the real job, do ya?”
“Who? Me? I’m tellin’ ya Charlie, this’ll help me with my career.” She gave him a significant look. He knew what she was referring to, and she wanted to give him every reason to remember how much he liked the SWAT Kats…and those like them…
“Geez, Reena…if you’re father weren’t my partner and if I didn’t know you could do the job…”
She kissed him on the cheek. “You’d still have let me talk you into it!”
He ran one paw in a nervous gesture over under his cap. “Okay, here’s the work order and here are the keys to the van. The form says you’re Kathy Ross. You’re supposed to do the first floor lamps…”
“Thanks Charlie. I’ll be careful. Not only will you never have anyone ask if you sent me, you’ll get compliments on how good the lights work now – I promise!” They hugged and he got in her car, while she climbed into the van.
Katareena pulled up in front of the Enforcer building and climbed out. Then wearily made her way to the back of the van and retrieved her toolbox, then slaundered into the Headquarters.
At once she was assaulted by the hectic look of the office. It seemed that if someone wasn’t moving, they were neglecting to answer the shrill ring of the phone on their desk. She paused for a second, trying to get used to the utter chaos of her surroundings, then made her way to the nearest occupied desk. She dropped her toolbox on a clear spot and the Enforcer’s head popped up to investigate. “Ya got lights ta fix?” She dug around in one of her many dingy pockets and brought out the work order.
The kat took it from her gloved paw and examined it closely, then turned a speculative look to her face. “Ma’am…you’re going to fix our lights?”
“But you’re -”
“I’m a she-kat. What of it?” Katareena leaned over his head with a tight mouthed frown. “Ya wanna make somethin’ of it, Buster?”
He seemed to consider for a second before leaning back a bit. “No. Here, you can start with mine.”
She opened her toolbox and picked up the lamp, bringing it closer to her eyes. “What’s wrong with it?” she asked as she turned it on all the settings. Everything seemed to be fine.
“Well…” he said lazily, his foot almost casually shifting to the power strip under his desk. “Sometimes it just flickers,” his foot joggled the plug. “Like that.” He added as the light blinked at her.
“It could be the Mandiza circuit,” she began, and when he looked appropriately confused and listened intently, she knew he didn’t know a thing about circuitry. She spouted off a few more imaginary terms. “Or….” she dragged the word out and put the lamp down, resting both arms on his desk and leaning towards him. “you can stop joggling the power strip. Maybe if you put it further away from where you can reach?”
He smiled and she smiled back. She knew she was in. _____________s______________w_____________a___________t____________
Katareena was lead around the still buzzing office room and the lamps were pointed out to her. Then she was taken to the kat’s locker room – after a few minutes delay of sending kats in to make sure it was empty – and was shown the row of overhead lights that wouldn’t work, no matter how many new bulbs were put in.
She decided to start there and assured the Enforcer that she would be fine…if someone would go to her van and get a few supplies. He sent a rookie after the inventory and she began by taking down the removable panels in the ceiling. Well, a more appropriate phrasing would be directing the taller Enforcer to which panels should be taken down, because she was much too short to reach them without the ladder she had asked for.
When the ladder was set up, she began working and after a few minutes was pleased to discover it was a very simple problem that could be corrected quickly and without a lot of effort. The Enforcer – Officer Bob he had asked her to call him – had been elected to try and help her, though it seemed he was really there to watch her and make sure she didn’t do anything funny. Katareena climbed down the ladder and fished though the small gadgets in her toolbox.
“What exactly was the problem?” Officer Bob asked, leaning against a row of lockers and staring wonderingly into the web of wires and pipes. She climbed the ladder and explained in as much technical jargon as she could remember, pointing out the key points and ended up completely confusing him. She fixed the problem and looked around from her perch, trying to decide where the best places were to plant bugs.
She hadn’t forgotten the job Salem had asked her help over. She just had her own ways of doing it. Katreena didn’t need little things like restrictions and codes putting her out of the way – and she didn’t want officially-recognized cover-ups to rob her of discovering just who had killed her brothers and the other Enforcers.
“Hmm….would’ja mind taking down the panels there…there…and there, Officer Bob?” The look on his face was priceless, it was determinedly set *not* to ask her just why those panels needed to come down. She hid her smile as she placed the first bug in among the wires she was facing.
Twenty minutes later she was shown the door to the she-kats locker room. Katareena grinned at Officer Bob. “What? You’re not c Katareena made very sure she wasn’t followed the next day as she went out of the city and to her hangar. Not that anyone would have suspected anything, but because if Salem had tracked her down he’d have ample clues to who she was. She was going to listen to the transmissions the bugs had picked up. ____________s____________w____________a___________t________________
After eight hours of being bored senseless with locker room talk and whispered words of love, she finally hit upon a thread of information. She was about to fall asleep when she heard it, so she stopped the tape and rewound it.
“Pssst! Adams….*he* says the chick might suspect something.”
“The actress? Her?”
Katareena’s heart stopped, and picked back up again. She *had* heard what she thought she had!
“Yeah. We’re supposed to watch her.”
“We ain’t gonna…do nothin’…are we?” the kat known as Adams asked nervously.
“Naw…well, not yet. Hey! Quiet, here comes Feral!”
There their conversation stopped and didn’t resume. She dashed to her computer and started typing in words, then pushed the ‘search’ button. After an hour, the computer had scanned all the tapes for the words ‘actress’, ‘Katareena’, ‘Perkins’, and ‘Adams’. When she played them, all were useless, so she dumped them and started listening to the tapes again manually, which was going to take some time since new messages came in every minute.
After two days of spying on the station, she finally got another lead.
“…..gotta destroy the tapes.”
“Tonight? But I thought we were going to use them to set Feral up for the crashes!”
“*He* says he thinks the actress is getting too close…”
The bug couldn’t pick up any more of the conversation because the two kats had moved out of range.
“I’m getting too close, eh? How does *he* know that?” She began to feel less secure about spying. “Where are you going to destroy them? Huh?” Katareena muttered as she rewound the tape and listened again. ______________s____________w__________a________t___________________
After another scan for ‘tapes’, ‘frame’, ‘framing’, ‘destroy’, ‘Adams’, ‘Katareena’, ‘Perkins’, ‘actress’, and ‘Feral’, she got another clue.
“You gonna bring the tapes?”
“Yeah, *he’s* going to give them to me tonight in the locker room.”
“Why do you need me?” the other kat whined nervously.
“As look-out. C’mon, let’s go get a donut.”
Katareena listened to the tape a few more times and tried to think of a way to get into Enforcer Headquarters again, this time, totally unnoticed. She couldn’t think of a single way, but she could think of many ways to get in *noticed*. Reena reached for the phone. _________s__________w___________a__________t_______________________
Commander Jun looked up as the door opened. A paper-pusher stood there, nervously clutching his paws and looking over his shoulder. “Yes?” she asked, hoping he’d get on with it quickly. Like Commander Feral, she didn’t like to have her time infringed upon.
“Uh! Ka-Katareena Perkins to see you!”
“Well, don’t just stand there – let her in!” Jun took off her bifocals and slipped them into her pocket. Katareena soon glided in with dark glasses on her nose and a scarf over her hair. “Hello Miss Perkins.” She said, standing and offering the actress a chair, an amused smile on her lips.
“Thank you. Glorious day, isn’t it?” The she-kat sat, smiling. “You got the flowers okay, right?”
“Yes, they were lovely, thank-you. You got my card…?”
“Of course!” she spotted the open briefcase on her desk and frowned. “You were about to leave when I called, weren’t you?”
“Yes, but I had a few more things to do, so I stayed…” Jun trailed off, inviting her guest to explain herself. But Katareena just jumped up, a guilty expression on her face.
“If you were about to leave we can do this another time!”
Commander Jun finally decided against pussy-footing around the issue. “Do *what*?” she asked bluntly.
“Why, I’m trying to get research for my acting! I might play a Commander one day!”
The older she-kat smiled and shook her head a little. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll buy you a drink and we’ll talk.”
“Oh no! I’d rather do it in the office, it’s so much more official that way! Tomorrow maybe?”
“Tomorrow would be fine, say eleven?”
“Sure! And – kats alive! What’s that noise?”
“Oh! Well, see you tomorrow!” The actress waved gaily and left. Jun sat back down having the suspicion that Katareena didn’t come to the Headquarters for a chat about being a Commander, but why she *had* come was beyond her.
Katareena hurried down the hall and to the stairwell. Quickly she made her way down the stairs and to the kat’s locker room. Thankfully, she met no one on her way and the locker room itself was empty of kats, who had just left and wouldn’t be needing it for another hour at least.
Because she had been there before, she knew exactly where she would hide, in the air shaft over the lockers in the far end. Without thinking what would happen if an Enforcer had left his wallet in his locker and walked in on her, she stripped and jumped into her Klawz uniform, stuffing the sundress – wrinkle free, thankfully – into her canvas bag.
It took some work to climb to the air shaft, then to fit even her slim body in there. She made her way to a turn around point pushing the canvas bag in front of her and tried to make the change as silently as possible, knowing any movements by her would be broadcast almost all over the building. Klawz crawled back to the air shaft she had entered though and waited. ______________s__________w____________a__________t_________________ By the time evening had rolled in and the time *he* and the two kats would meet approached, Klawz had seen enough male bodies to last her a lifetime.
“At least I know that our Enforcers are in shape…” she murmured to herself, a grin on her lips.
Not long after, two scrawny kats in uniform entered the locker room, obviously nervous. “Where is he?” One asked in a small voice.
“He said he’ll be here, so he’ll be here!” The duo moved in and out of her line of vision as they searched for listeners. She heard the door open before the other two and craned her neck to see though the slits. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see the newcomer.
“Here’s the tapes. Take them and burn them.” The voice was male, but hoarse to the point where it was unrecognizable. Klawz mentally snapped her fingers in vexation.
Adams stepped forward and squeaked out, “Why don’t *you* burn them?”
Klawz watched, almost detached, as an arm lifted, gun in paw, and shot the kat. He fell to the floor in a sprawl, blood gushing fast and furious enough from his chest for any MegaWood horror movie director’s approval. Klawz bit her lip so as to not let loose to the gasp that was forming. Not that it would have mattered, the fallen kat’s comrade made enough horrified noises to cover up the approach of a high school marching band.
“You killed Adams! You killed Adams in the locker room! The *locker room*!”
The murderer yanked hold of the kat’s uniform front and lifted him until his boots dangled helplessly an inch from the floor. “Do you want to be next?”
“Then shut up! You and Adams were cleaning your guns when his went off. Go call an ambulance, I’ll have to destroy the tapes myself. I should never have let you bring him in!”
“Cleaning our guns in the locker room?” the kat asked, but apparently received a cold look for his thoughts. “Yeah, cleaning our guns…” he muttered, and scurried off. The other kat paused for a moment over Adams’ body then left.
When the door closed behind the murderer, Klawz pushed open the door to the air shaft and slid halfway out before flipping over and landing in a crouch, one paw on the locker room floor for balance. She stood and glared down at the dead Enforcer.
“You deserved better than to be offed in the locker room, but not much,” she snarled at him, then left the locker room.
Klawz peered around the corner, thankful she hadn’t brought her helmet, just the mask and uniform. She could hear raised and excited voices coming from one direction, so she chose the other, hoping the kat with the tapes had done the same. Each time she was faced with a decision about which way to go, she tried to think of herself as the kat, carrying something he’d rather destroy than be seen with.
Soon she found herself in an abandoned part of Enforcer headquarters. From the noises coming from outside, Klawz could tell that they were near the place where a jet had crashed a few years back. It had never been rebuilt because of the lack of funds. A small noise *inside* called her attention towards a blocked off section. She followed cautiously, seeing the prints in the dust and hoping they would warn her if the kat was aware of her.
She looked up. His silhouetted form stood by the window which had been closed off with a plastic tarp. The dying sun muddled it’s way though, creating shadows that wouldn’t have been there normally. The kat reached into his pocket and drew out three tapes and a lighter. As he flicked it on, his face was briefly visible. It was Salem.
An anger that she didn’t know she was capable of forced a yell of fury as she leapt for him, knocking the lighter from his paw and the tapes soon followed. Her own paw closed around his throat and pinned him against the wall by the window before he really had a chance to react.
“Who?” he croaked out.
“Klawz. I’m Klawz. You’re supposed to be dead. You’re not supposed to be here burning evidence that could convict you of twelve, no, make that *thirteen* counts of murder!”
“Didn’t!” he gasped as she squeezed his throat harder.
“Don’t tell *me* your crap!”
Klawz let go and backed off a few feet. “What? What did you say?” She was pissed that he had probably known who she was from the get-go.
Salem leaned over and rubbed at his throat. “Taree, I didn’t do it.”
“How dare you stand there, telling me this after I saw you murder that kat and start burning the tapes? Do you think I’m *stupid*? Do you *think* I’m *playing* with you?” He shifted so he was once again framed in the light of the window. “You’re right. I did it, okay?” His voice was that hoarse growl from the locker room.
“Why?” The word wasn’t so much a word as a cry of pain. “Why? He was your *friend*!”
“Ha! Friend! I was willing to let him in on some deals. Allie was going to turn me in! How’s that for a friend?”
“And the last time?” She had to ask, or she’d go for his throat again and strangle him.
“I offered one of them a cut, guess I don’t learn from my mistakes, eh?” He smiled a happy-go-lucky grin which seemed almost evil in the light of what a monster he really was. Then before she had an inkling of what he was going to do, he jumped at her.
Klawz threw herself to the dusty floor and let him sail over her. She pushed herself up and was ready for his next attack. As he rushed her, she stepped to the side and grabbed his shoulders. Salem didn’t know what had happened from the time she side-stepped, to the time his momentum laid him flat in the air, to the time he landed with a breath-robbing ‘thud’ on his back on the ground.
As he rolled over and gasped for air, she gathered the tapes and put them safely in a pocket. “Salem, you’re though. You’ll never see the light of day again – you’ll be thrown into a jail cell so deep and dark that the rats won’t even come to visit!”
Salem got up and made as if to come at her. “Don’t try anything stupid,” Klawz ground out.
His usual smile graced his face. “I’m doing the smartest thing I’ve done in the past five years. You’ll never see me go to trial!” He rushed at her again and she leap frogged over his shoulders and behind him.
Salem wasn’t so fortunate as to find a way out of the situation. He went though the plastic on the window and yelled his surprise all the way down. About ten stories of it. ________s_____________w___________a_________t______________________
“This is Ann Gora live on the scene of a most unusual incident! The sabotager of the Enforcer jets has been discovered…after he met his grisly end on the street in front of Enforcer Headquarters earlier tonight…..Commander Feral! What happened?”
“Mark ‘Salem’ Nealson had been making deals with criminals since he made Patrolkat. Five years ago, he offered his partner Allie Perkins a cut. When he refused, Nealson arranged for the accident on the mission his squadron was on.”
“So Nealson also arranged the more recent crashes, and faked his own death?”
“Yes. After the first crash he was given a position in Internal Investigations, to discover who was making deals within the force. He used his rank and authority to con other Enforcers into his deals. Once again he offered a friend of his a cut, and again he was refused. Telling his superiors that he knew of the planned attack on the squadron, he arranged it so that some of our older and out of date jets would be piloted from the ground, saying he knew which pilots were targeted. It was a cover he used when he again downed many loyal Enforcers, all to cover up his own illegal actions.”
“And how can you know all this?”
“Some tapes…arrived…at my office soon after his body was discovered. A note was attached to explain some of the details.”
“Do you know who brought you the tapes?”
NEXT BOOK: VERNES
Navigate This Author's Stories
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.