Felina felt herself watching from a distance as Commander Feral walked down the air strip at Enforcer Headquarters, several Sabres lined up outside the hangar, prepped for takeoff. The shift’s pilots were standing at attention by their planes. In front of all of them was Gorman, who exchanged salutes with Commander Feral. They exchanged words, but Felina couldn’t hear what they were saying.
Why can’t I hear anything?
Commander Feral walked away from Gorman and approached his two-seat Sabre. The aircraft was outfitted mostly for super-sonic transit rather than tactical operations, so the missile hard points had been removed. He walked up to the aircraft and saluted the uniformed lieutenant who was standing beside it.
Wait, that’s me. Why am I looking at me?
Felina watched herself salute back and both she and her uncle got strapped into the cockpit. Felina watched herself doing the usual pre-flight checks as the canopy closed above them, sealing shut and partially pressurizing. She flipped three switches and started the aircraft’s power-plant with a slow whir that eventually became a dull roar. Gorman’s fighter took the point and taxied first, getting into place on the catapult. The deck crew gave the all clear and he could be seen hitting his afterburner and launching off the edge and into the sky.
Commander Feral was distractedly going over something on a clipboard as he adjusted his helmet. Felina put her helmet on as well, and taxied forward. They were next. Felina stopped at the catapult as the deck crew positioned the gear into place. She pushed forward on the throttle, testing the afterburners, the brakes keeping the Sabre steady. The noise of the engine would be deafening to anyone nearby outside without ear protection.
Okay…why aren’t I taking off? And why do I hear that?
Abruptly Felina found herself in the pilot’s seat, no longer watching from afar, but she had no control over her actions, watching helplessly as she withdrew her sidearm, the familiar grips of a Glock 17 in her hand. She turned to face behind her, taking point-blank aim at her uncle.
Commander Feral’s face was full of surprise as she pulled the trigger. She heard the gunshot clearly as blood spattered on her helmet’s visor.
“No!” she screamed, sitting up, sweat dripping down her face. She awoke from the nightmare, sitting on top of a prison-style bunk in a small cell. She took in the unfamiliar surroundings, as the memories of the earlier events returned to her.
“So it wasn’t just a dream,” she said aloud rubbing the side of her face. Her black eye wasn’t going to be going away anytime soon.
Felina stood up and walked across the roughly ten foot square room. A lone 40-watt lightbulb hung from the ceiling, its amber glow casting odd shadows among the stalactites in the ceiling.
A cell in the caves…more like a dungeon then, Felina thought, approaching a cast-iron barred door that prevented her exit. A Creepling walked past, dragging its claws along the bars so they clanged and made noise as it went by. Felina frowned, the action of her captors upsetting her. Then realization struck, and soon turned to panic.
“My uncle…” she said, and began to pace around the cell, looking for anything that could aid in an escape. She didn’t know how long she had been unconscious, but the aching of her bruised body told her it had been a significant amount of time. Everything in the cell was anchored to the cave walls and floor, even the mattress-less cot. After several minutes frustration set in, and she grabbed the bars of the door, trying to shake them. They didn’t budge. She slammed her fists painfully on the nearest wall, and then slumped down to a sitting position on the floor.
The frustration soon turned to a new feeling: helplessness. Dark Kat’s stated intent had been to cause her suffering, and being trapped in a dungeon knowing that her uncle was going to be killed by something that looked like her was accomplishing that. She closed her eyes, and rubbed her temples, as a new thought came to mind.
My uncle’s last sight will be me killing him.
Felina now wished that Dark Kat had just killed her. It would have been preferable to knowing about his deranged scheme and being unable to do anything about it.
“You’re awake?” a familiar voice called from outside of her cell, across the cave.
Felina opened her eyes and scrambled to the door. Someone was in another cell across from hers.
“Yeah,” she replied.
“Good,” the voice said with some relief. “The way they dragged you in there, and for how long you were out, I thought they might’ve killed you.”
“I almost wished they had,” Felina said, the hopelessness of the situation lessening. With another prisoner came another perspective, a potential ally in an escape. “How long was I out?”
“At least a day, but it’s hard to tell down here,” the voice said. The dim light made it difficult to see clearly, but Felina finally saw who it was in the other cell.
“You’re the guy from the bar,” Felina said with surprise, and then felt her stomach rumble from hunger. If she’d been here for as long as her stomach seemed to be telling her then there wasn’t much time left.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” he said with a shrug. He was still wearing the backwards baseball cap and coveralls, but his clothes were torn and he had several visible bruises.
The momentary relief at seeing someone else quickly turned to suspicion, as Dark Kat’s words echoed in her mind.
My mole in the Enforcers…
“What are you doing here?” she asked, her police-mentality taking over.
He crossed his arms in response, Felina’s tone none too subtle.
“Look, I’ve got nothing to do with you being here, Lieutenant,” he said. “Though I can see why you’d have some trust issues at the moment.”
“You’re not an Enforcer,” Felina said. “At least not an active one like you lead me to believe. Gorman said you and your partner had been kicked off the force.”
“Well, technically I never said I was still an Enforcer,” he replied sheepishly. “But I did attend OCS, got my certification and everything. Though it didn’t last long.”
“Why were you really at the bar the other night, then?” Felina asked.
“Okay, I admit that I don’t know Jones that well,” he said. “But it was the excuse that let me in the door to poke around a little bit. Ask some questions about something unusual I noticed.”
“You work at a junkyard,” Felina replied dryly, recalling Gorman’s words.
“It’s a military salvage yard and auto repair shop,” he replied, somewhat indignant. “And that’s where me and my co-worker noticed a whole lot of parts being recalled.”
“What kind of parts?” she asked.
“Enforcer Sabres. Typically we get a number of them that are damaged out. We do an inventory of useable parts, disassemble and organize, and anything that’s too broken we crush and send to be melted down. The rest we send to the manufacturer for recycling or reuse. Occasionally we have to recover live ordnance from the wreckage. Hence the whole military salvage yard.”
“Nothing unusual about that,” Felina said, wondering if this story was going to have a point.
“That’s the thing, over the past month, specific parts were being recalled from our inventory. Not by the manufacturer, but by HQ itself. At first it was a fly-by-wire system here, a radar assembly there, specific sections of fuselage and then recovered live ordnance. We didn’t think much of it at first, until my co-worker said someone could literally build a Sabre from scratch with the parts that were individually recalled at different times,” he continued.
“So, having nothing better to do, I called our regular contact at Enforcer headquarters. Turns out these recalls weren’t going through them, but from some higher up named Ritz, and that the transactions were classified and we weren’t supposed to talk about them with anyone.”
“Classified?” Felina asked. “For a bunch of Sabre parts?”
“I know. There’s nothing in a Sabre that should warrant that. No stealth technology, no top secret weapons system. Nothing you couldn’t find out at a library,” he said.
Felina thought about that. What would Ritz be doing recalling a bunch of parts and keeping it secret? He was the CAG then. Something so mundane as dealing with inventory was below an officer of his rank.
My mole in the Enforcers…
“You still aren’t explaining why you’re here,” Felina said with a frown.
“Well, I got curious and decided to find some answers. I called around and found out about the retirement and promotion party at Shenanigans. Thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to ask some questions after everyone had a few drinks. I think I was a little bit too obvious, because that fight started and well…you know the rest,” he said, gesturing to her black eye.
“Anyway, after I walked you back to your apartment, I got on the L Train, and I was attacked by a bunch of those Creeplings. Tried to fight them off, but there were too many of them. Found myself bound and gagged, then here,” he said, pointing to the floor. “I think I’ve been here a day longer than you.”
“Have you tried escaping?” she asked.
“These cells are locked up tight. No way out of here. Not without some power tools, anyway,” he said.
It was then that a pair of Creeplings descended from above and landed between the two cells, both of them moving toward Felina. One of them held an AK-47 clumsily in its grasp, the end of the barrel pointed at her. She backed away from the door as the other opened it, seemingly gesturing her to follow it. She glanced at her fellow prisoner as she was ushered out of the cell.
“I’ll try to get us out of here, call for help somehow,” she said as she was shoved forward.
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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.