While she had visited City Hall on numerous occasions in the past, today it was different. Today, Callie Briggs was the Deputy Mayor, and this was now her workplace. The ride up the elevator felt exciting, each floor number lighting up increasing the anticipation. It dinged, and the doors opened to show the hallway before her. Straight ahead was the Mayor’s Office, and to the left of that was her office.
She walked down the hall, passing several potted plants that did little to offset the somewhat dusty atmosphere. Presently she had no assistants, due to the city’s budget problems, but Callie felt hopeful that would change someday.
The door to her office was left open, inviting her to a new career filled with potential, but as she entered, she found that it was not unoccupied. A tall man wearing an overcoat was standing there, looking out the window.
“Do I know you?” Callie asked as she entered, setting her handbag down on the metal, stamp-pressed desk. Callie made a mental note to try to get something more stylish at the earliest opportunity.
“No, but we’ll be seeing a lot of each other,” the man said and then turned around, extending a hand. “I’m Commander Ulysses Feral.”
“Commander?” Callie asked, and extended her own hand to shake his.
“Yes, Commander Tremblay just sent in his paperwork for early retirement a few days ago,” Commander Feral said. “I’m his replacement, to be sworn in officially by Mayor Manx later today.”
“Well, congratulations,” Callie said.
“I appreciate the kind words, Deputy Mayor,” Commander Feral began, and turned his attention back to the window. “But there’s more to my visit than simple pleasantries.”
“Oh?” Callie asked.
“Over the past few weeks we have received a number of threats directed against the Enforcers and the city’s government,” Feral said. “We take these situations seriously, and upon further investigation into these threats, we found evidence of bomb-making materials.”
“What kind of evidence?” Callie asked, the tone of the conversation having completely removed her from the thrill of her first day.
“These threats were delivered via mail, and after working closely with the post office we determined the source to be a closed warehouse in the industrial district,” Feral explained. “After getting a search warrant, we raided the building.”
“What did you find?” Callie asked.
“We found lots of machinery, explosives residue, and these,” Feral said, as he turned to face her, and held out a folded paper. Callie took it and unfolded it, setting it on her desk.
“These look like blueprints,” Callie observed.
“They are, specifically to a GBU-43,” Feral explained. “It’s a large, conventional bomb, considered by many to be the most powerful non-nuclear bomb manufactured today.”
“Who would be doing this?” Callie asked, and a thought came to mind. “Is it him?”
“Until recently we thought he was just a myth,” Commander Feral said solemnly. “But after what we found, I can’t help but suspect that Dark Kat is real, and that he’ll try to make good on his threats.”
“But why the threats?” Callie asked. “Doesn’t that remove the element of surprise?”
“I know the type,” Commander Feral said. “He wants an audience, and he no doubt gets some kind of sick pleasure from causing anxiety in others.”
“Should we put out some kind of warning to the public?” Callie asked, and then reconsidered as she spoke. “No, that would cause a panic.”
“I agree,” Commander Feral said. “The bomb is designed to be deployed from a large aircraft, something the size of a C-130. I’ll be doubling air patrol shifts around the city.”
“Commander,” Callie asked, looking at the blueprints. “What kind of damage could this do?”
“I won’t let it come to that,” Commander Feral said. “I’ll be dealing with this personally, and I promise you that I’ll put the cuffs on this terrorist myself. You have my word.”
Callie brightened at the statement, the Commander’s confidence transferring over to her.
“Well, Commander,” Callie said. “In light of this potential crisis, I’m glad there’s someone I can rely on to protect this city.”
The Commander had disappointed Callie in the past, despite whatever his good intentions may have been. And now, years later, she wondered if there were going to be two fewer heroes she could count on.
Felina turned the knob and shoved the door open, taking aim at the interior. Within, a lone figure was standing, arms up and legs spread out. Callie instantly recognized the silhouette, and the individual just as soon recognized her.
“Callie!” the voice of T-Bone shouted with a mixture of surprise and relief.
“T-Bone!” Callie returned, as she raced across thre spartan office room, shoving past Felina. The SWAT Kat’s ankles were restrained in chains that were anchored through the floor and into the foundation of the building. His arms were chained at the wrists, the ends attached into the ceiling. He shuffled forward to meet her as far as he could, as she wrapped her arms around him in an embrace.
“I thought you were dead,” Callie said, holding back tears.
“Not quite,” T-Bone said as Callie forced herself to let him go, taking a step back. His uniform was dirty and torn in places, but his mask was still in place.
“Where’s Razor?” Callie asked, noting that T-Bone was alone.
“He’s been having him keep this place from blowing up” T-Bone said with a sneer, his eyes narrowing as Dr. Viper was shoved through the door and into the room by Felina.
“Blowing up?” Callie asked, growing concerned, and then turned to Viper. “I’m getting really impatient.”
“Me too,” Felina said as she nudged Viper’s back with the muzzle of her rifle.
“It’s the reason I lured these two here,” Dr. Viper explained at the nudge. “This place has a self-destruct mechanism. I didn’t want my plans interrupted prematurely before I was ready.”
“He needed Razor’s technical expertise to keep this place from destroying itself,” T-Bone said. “Obviously, he’d never do that willingly, that’s why I’m playing the role of hostage.”
“Well, that’s about to change,” Callie said. “I’m giving you until the count of three to release him, or else I turn a blind eye to whatever the lieutenant has in mind for you.”
Dr. Viper chuckled.
“Oh, Deputy Mayor, it amuses me greatly that you think you’re in a position to make demandssssss,” Viper said.
“She’s not the one on the wrong side of my M16,” Felina said.
Callie crossed her arms, her expression turning hard.
“One…” Callie said.
“You know, have either of you stopped to consider how it is that you’re able to have this uninterrupted conversation with me?” Dr. Viper asked.
“Two…” Callie said, noticing the lieutenant casting her a hesitant glance.
“It’s really unfortunate that you’re fixated on me, when you should have paid more attention to your surroundings,” Viper continued.
As soon as the number left Callie’s lips, Viper’s tail wrapped around Felina’s waist and he spun around. Caught off guard, Felina flew off her feet and landed hard on her stomach.
“Lieutenant!” T-Bone shouted and struggled against his chains.
Callie took several steps back as Viper brought his restrained arms from behind his back, pulled them straight up, and then put them in front of him. His joints made a sickening popping noises as he did this; his reptilian mutation had apparently given him incredibly flexibility.
“You think a mere set of cuffs can keep me restrained?” Viper said as he brought his cuffed wrists up to his mouth and bit cleanly through the metal chain. It snapped into pieces, freeing his hands.
Across the room, Felina staggered to her feet, and brought the rifle up, but was too late as Dr. Viper exited the room and slammed the door shut behind himself. A metal grate dropped into place, covering the room’s only door, and Callie realized they were trapped.
“Now I have three hostages,” Viper said, his voice muffled from behind the door.
The dull thud of the lieutenant’s fist against the closed and now reinforced door sounded again.
“That was stupid,” Felina said under her breath, admonishing herself out loud as she leaned the rifle against the nearest wall.
“Don’t beat yourself up, lieutenant,” T-Bone said. “That lizard’s managed to get the best of all of us.”
Yes, he certainly has, Callie thought to herself as she walked over to the chained SWAT Kat.
Maybe, at the very least, I can help get him free.
“It’s no use,” T-Bone said as Callie tugged on the chains that were anchored into the floor. “Nothing short of a blowtorch is getting me out of this.”
“I could try putting a few rounds through them,” Felina suggested.
“Yeah, and take one of my limbs off in the process,” T-Bone replied.
Felina shrugged and started to move about the room, tapping the walls in various places, looking around for any kind of weakness or means of escape.
“Too bad I left all my stuff out there. Could’ve just blasted a hole in the wall…” Felina said. “Seeing as they’re all lined with steel reinforcements. Shooting the last rounds I’ve got into them won’t do anything.”
“Not to mention blow out our ear drums or kill us with ricochets in here,” T-Bone added. “I don’t think you’re going to shoot your way out of this.”
Callie sighed and sat down on the floor. The pain in her leg was starting to return.
“Well, some rescue this turned out to be,” Callie said, putting her chin in her hands.
“Hey, don’t sweat it,” T-Bone said. “We all have our off-days.”
“City Councilman James Anderson was murdered by the Metallikats,” Callie said. “I was there when it happened.”
“I’m sorry,” T-Bone said, his expression instantly changing as he lowered his head. “Razor and I should’ve been there to stop those two.”
“It’s not your fault,” Callie said. “It’s my fault for letting, no, shoving the burden of the city’s safety into your hands.”
“That’s nonsense,” T-Bone said. “You didn’t shove anything on us.”
“You don’t understand,” Callie continued. “By supporting you, I’ve been driving a wedge between this administration and the Enforcers, a wedge that’s also transcended public opinion, so much so, that it’s left us helpless in your absence.”
All of the emotion that Callie had tried to keep contained from the past few days was now starting to well over. The stress of work, the criticisms from Feral, the feeling of inadequacy next to the lieutenant, the helplessness she had felt from the Metallikats, the guilt of Anderson’s death, nearly dying in a plane crash, being attacked by terrifying monsters and now the stupidity she felt after falling for Dr. Viper’s trap was getting too much to handle.
T-Bone didn’t respond, his mind apparently absorbing Callie’s words.
“I mean, I was ready to submit a budget that reduced our defense funds because I thought Megakat City was adequately protected by a pair of vigilantes whose real names I don’t even know,” Callie said, her voice getting choked up. “Just think about that for a moment.”
“Yeah, when you put it that way, it does sound a little ridiculous,” he said. “But, you have to keep in mind, we’re surrounded by ridiculous circumstances, which means sometimes you have to make choices that aren’t ideal.”
“You know, as narcissistic as it sounds, lately I’ve been looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, ‘that’s the future mayor of Megakat City,'” Callie said. “But when you two disappeared, I realized that the best I’ve done is scoop out buckets of water on a sinking ship that I’ve been working to become the captain of. No better than your average conniving politician scraping and clawing to get to the top.”
“Wow,” T-Bone said. “You’ve had a pretty rough couple of days, haven’t you?”
Callie smiled, and forced a laugh.
“You could say that.”
He smiled, and his voice changed. It wasn’t the overconfident T-Bone voice, but something more natural, one that Callie imagined was what, whoever was under the mask, really sounded like. It was also a very familiar voice, one she had heard before somewhere.
“Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about politics, budgets, public opinions or any of that stuff,” he began. “But, I do know a good person when I see one, and I know I’d follow you into any situation, rain or shine. You’re hard on yourself because you demand better, and that’s something every leader needs.”
“Thanks,” Callie said, and closed her eyes.
“I don’t know about any situation,” Lt. Feral said, piping up. “For instance, I don’t know if I’d still be here if you told me in advance I’d be stuck waiting to die in an underground box like we are now. But, I think I share his sentiment.”
Callie had nearly forgotten the lieutenant was still in the room, and she laughed.
“I appreciate that, lieutenant,” Callie said as she stood up. “Maybe, to change the subject, you can fill us in on what happened?”
T-Bone gritted his teeth, obviously feeling embarrassed about being captured. The softness in his voice evaporated.
“A week ago, Razor and I were doing weapons tests out here. We knew it had been used by places like the Defense Center and Puma Dyne in the past, so we knew it was a safe place blow stuff up,” T-Bone said. “As we arrived, we picked up a distress signal. Yours, specifically.”
Callie nodded, listening as Felina continued to move about the room.
“We tried to get a response from you, and when we got none, we homed in on the signal,” T-Bone continued. “It led us to that tunnel. After we entered and had a look around, we were ambushed by those creatures of his.”
“His Shriekmen,” Felina said as she tapped on a wall.
“Yeah, real nasty things,” T-Bone said. “No eyes, ears, or noses. Just all hands and teeth. I’m not a fan of that noise they make, either. One of them alone isn’t that big of a deal, but hundreds? We didn’t have much of a chance underground. We tried to retreat to the Turbokat, but we were cut off.”
“I saw one of your Glovatrixes out there,” Callie said. “Wish I would’ve brought it with me.”
“That’d of helped,” T-Bone said. “Could’ve cut through these chains and opened that door no problem with that thing. Razor’s a real genius with machinery like that…”
“You said Dr. Viper was having Razor keep this place from blowing up,” Callie said. “What’d you mean by that?”
“Well, before we were ambushed, Razor said this place looked like some kind of bio-weapon factory. All of those person-sized cylinders in the main chamber the size of a football stadium? Apparently each of those Shriekmen was grown in those. Razor said that with the proper chemicals, bio-materials and whatnot, you could use this place to grow yourself an army,” T-Bone said. “But, if Viper’s word is to be trusted, Puma Dyne never got it to work right and scrapped the project, but left this abandoned place mostly intact.”
“It’s not uncommon for research and development to be stored for future use,” Callie said. “Though in this circumstance it seems rather nefarious.”
“You’re telling me,” T-Bone said. “But, to give them some credit, they set up a system of Semtex charges all around the supports that could be remotely detonated to bury this place.”
“And, Dr. Viper is using Razor to disrupt that?” Callie asked.
“Pretty much, though knowing him, he’s doing the bare-minimum,” T-Bone said. “And, even negotiating. Originally, Viper had me stuffed into one of those cylinders, threatening to do who knows what to me.”
“Until Razor agreed to keep the charges from detonating,” Callie finished.
“Yeah, that’s how I got the presidential suite,” T-Bone said sarcastically, referring to his surroundings. “I heard gunshots the other day. Thought it might be a rescue of some sort, but nothing happened.”
“Viper said he killed a team sent by Puma Dyne,” Callie said, recalling the carnage just down the hall.
“Then I’d imagine they’ve sent their signal to blow this place up by now,” T-Bone said. “Since I’m still alive, I’m guessing that whatever Viper had Razor do worked.”
“Well, glad you haven’t been turned into some kind of science experiment,” Felina said. “I expected the worst when we saw a helmet with an active radio in one of those cylinders.”
“Huh, I must’ve bumped our channel open when they drug me out of there,” T-Bone said. “Is that how you found this place?”
“Those creatures’ shrieks kept coming through to my communicator,” Callie said with a shiver. “At first I thought it was broken, but after I spoke with Professor Hackle he filled me in on the details and how to track it.”
Callie held up the communicator to show the professor’s modifications.
“That Hackle’s a real mad scientist,” T-Bone said. “But still, I’m flattered both of you came.”
“I just wanted to see what two SWAT Kats in trouble looked like,” Felina said in a joking tone over her shoulder. One particular segment of the wall had caught her attention.
“Well,” T-Bone said as he held his hands open. “Hope you brought a camera.”
“Have you found anything useful over there?” Callie asked, turning her attention to the lieutenant.
“I might’ve,” Felina said as she reached forward with both hands and pulled on a loose panel. “If I can just-.”
The panel abruptly broke free and clanged to the floor. On the other side was an ominous looking black circle. A portal, no more than 18 inches across, was open like the mouth of a beast waiting for prey to walk past. It reminded Callie of the tunnel entrance on the surface, with nothing but pitch blackness within.
Come on in. There’s certainly no monsters waiting for you on the other side…
“Must be some leftover part of the ventilation system,” Felina guessed. “It’s way too small for me to get through.”
Callie had already realized that and walked over to the wall where the portal was. The air was circulating from their makeshift cell into it, causing just the slightest moan. Judging by the sound, this access port, or whatever it was, went on for quite a distance. A shiver ran down Callie’s back.
“Well, I guess it’s obvious that I’m the only one who’s got a chance of fitting through there,” Callie said, her voice uncertain.
“If only I hadn’t left my stuff out there, we could’ve used that spool of detcord I brought along,” Felina said, sounding irritated at herself.
“Detcord?” T-Bone asked with a laugh. “What kind of camping trip did you pack for?”
“Let’s just say after one too many times being stranded behind enemy lines, I pack a lot of things,” Felina said.
Callie sighed. It was going to have to be her to make the trip into a cramped tunnel that could lead to anywhere. Felina seemed to understand what Callie was thinking as she unholstered her sidearm and handed it to Callie.
Callie held the black firearm with both of her hands. Despite it being what looked like half-plastic, it felt heavy and large in her hands. She considered for a moment, but handed it back to the lieutenant.
“I’ll just wind up shooting myself in the foot,” Callie said. “Besides, if I can just get around to the other side and grab those items of yours, I won’t need it.”
“That’s a pretty big ‘if,'” Felina said as she re-holstered the gun.
“I hate to say it, but if we’re going to do anything, we’ll probably have to do it fast,” T-Bone said. “If Razor’s been causing delays, he’s less likely to continue doing so with extra hostages now, especially you, Ms. Briggs. No offense, lieutenant.”
“None taken,” Felina said. “And, he’s right. Viper pretty much said so.”
“Just be careful,” T-Bone said.
Callie leaned forward, and gazed face-to-face with the darkness that lay ahead of her, and gulped, gathering all of her courage.
This is my responsibility.
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.