“You can count on us, Ms. Briggs,” the familiar voices of T-Bone and Razor echoed in Callie’s head.
“What took you two so long?” Callie said as her eyes slowly opened, and the harsh light of the world came pouring in.
Wincing, she reflexively brought her hand to cover her eyes, and noticed something attached to her wrist. An IV drip. Callie immediately recognized her surroundings as a recovery room at Megakat Memorial Hospital, and she was lying in a bed wearing a patient gown. But, no one else was there.
“Just another dream,” she said to herself, and felt the side of her head throb. “Or a hallucination brought on by brain damage.”
Callie’s stomach gurgled and she wondered how long it had been since she last ate, just as the door to the room opened. A nurse walked inside.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” she said cheerily, and walked to Callie’s side to adjust the IV drip.
“How long have I been here?” Callie asked.
“About two days,” the nurse said, completing her adjustments. “You hit your head pretty hard, but according to the doctors there shouldn’t be any permanent damage.”
“That’s a relief,” Callie said with a sigh. “I suppose it was the SWAT Kats who brought me here?”
“Well, uh, no, Ms. Briggs,” the nurse said, her tone changing. “It was the Enforcers who brought you here.”
Several doctors came in throughout the day, looking over X-Rays and MRI printouts, and made a point to remind Callie how lucky she was. But her mind was elsewhere as they spoke, as a deepening worry overcame her. Her earlier dismissive thoughts about the glitches her communicator had demonstrated seemed like awful warnings in hindsight now.
“Just make sure to take it easy for at least a week,” one of the doctors said.
“I’ll do my best,” Callie said flatly.
The doctor left, leaving Callie alone. Her IV drip had been removed, and her discharge papers were sitting on a table next to her bed. She was free to leave. Callie got up, and walked over to one of the unvarnished chairs in the corner of the room. Her clothes were folded semi-neatly there, torn in places, and covered with a few splatters of blood. Hers, she realized.
She quickly changed into them as the door to the room was knocked upon.
“Come in,” Callie said as she buttoned up her blouse.
The door opened, and Commander Feral walked in. He was carrying Callie’s courier bag under his arm, which he placed on the hospital bed.
“I recovered this from the crime scene for you,” Commander Feral said. “You’ll find all of its contents still within.”
“Thank you,” Callie said as she picked it up and glanced within. Her personal effects including wallet, computer, some beauty products and a few hard copies of pending legislation were all there. As was the communicator, which was still silently blinking red.
“It’s good to see you’re back on your feet, Deputy Mayor,” Feral said sincerely.
“It’s more than I can say for Councilman Anderson,” Callie said with a resigned sigh. “I know he and I weren’t exactly friends, quite the opposite in fact. But…”
“I’ve read the witness testimony from the other council members,” Feral offered. “He died bravely.”
Callie brushed away a tear, the severity of the Metallikat’s actions seemingly coming into full realization.
“I still don’t know what happened after they took me,” Callie said. “I know Molly attacked one of your men. Is he…?”
“Corporal Steven Myers,” Feral said. “He suffered a severe concussion and a broken collar bone. He’s in intensive care, but he’ll live.”
“That’s a relief,” Callie said, taking some comfort from that.
They both stood quietly in the room for a few moments, neither saying a thing. Feral walked over to the window of the room, spreading a set of the metal venetian blinds with his fingers to peer out the view, and began to speak again.
“Mac and Molly, upon realizing they had incapacitated you, began to argue,” Feral said. “During their disagreement, one of my Enforcers arrived on the scene and managed to get you away from them.”
“And then?” Callie asked.
“Realizing you had been taken from them, they pursued, and destroyed a good portion of Fifth Street in the process,” Feral continued. “Fortunately, your rescuer managed to lose them, and get you here.”
“And the Metallikats?”
“Still at large,” Feral said. “But I can assure you, we’re handling the situation.”
Callie sighed, and held back verbally expressing her disappointment, wondering if he was going to mention the obvious. She did not have to wait long.
“Where were they, Deputy Mayor?” Feral asked, his tone surprisingly neutral.
“I don’t know how to answer that question right now,” Callie said.
“I see,” Feral said, and he released the blinds, causing them to snap closed. “Well, Ms. Briggs, I’d suggest you take some time off to recover.”
“You’re not the only one,” Callie said.
Feral turned, and as he began to leave, Callie spoke up again.
“Please pass along my thanks to your man for rescuing me,” she said.
The Commander stiffened, and his voice changed ever so slightly. Callie thought she could hear just a twinge of irritation in his voice, but it wasn’t directed at Callie.
“Woman, Deputy Mayor,” Commander Feral said. “My niece was the one who rescued you.”
The hospital checkout was uneventful, though Callie did wind up having to pay a $2500 deductible for her emergency room visit.
I’ll just have to reschedule my sedan’s tune-up for next month, she thought to herself as she walked down the sidewalk. Money was going to be a little bit tighter for the next few weeks. Still, it was a small price to pay for a mostly clean bill of health.
Fortunately, the City Hall parking garage was only a few blocks away from the hospital, so she wouldn’t have to worry about hailing a cab.
The aching in Callie’s head had subsided thanks to the ibuprofen she had been given, which cleared up her mind to consider the situation. The SWAT Kats had failed to appear. Callie considered that maybe her communicator was malfunctioning, but that wouldn’t explain why they didn’t show up when the Metallikats had made a public spectacle.
The shadows of skyscrapers began to elongate as the sun began to set, engulfing the city in a reddish hue. Other pedestrians passed by, the foot traffic minimal on a Sunday evening. Callie’s weekend was shot, a thought that quickly made her feel guilty and selfish.
There would be a memorial held for Councilman Anderson, and she would have to coordinate a response with the Mayor, factoring in what kind of political effect it would have on the administration. It was not a notion that Callie liked to think about, but it was the price of being Deputy Mayor in Megakat City.
As Callie neared the parking garage, a familiar face was waiting for her just outside of its entrance. Callie realized she must have just narrowly avoided an assault from reporters when she exited the hospital. Ann Gora, being the seasoned journalist she was, had likely deduced where Callie was most likely to go.
“Deputy Mayor Briggs, would you care to comment about your recent experience with the Metallikats and why the SWAT Kats were not present?” Ann Gora, reporter for Kat’s Eye News asked, holding out a microphone. Her cameraman was at her side.
“Well, Ann,” Callie said, any irritation she felt hidden by years of media training. “I’d first like to say that I am deeply sorry for the loss of Councilman Anderson, and my condolences go to his family.”
Ann Gora patiently waited for Callie to continue.
“As for the SWAT Kats, I can’t really comment on that at this time,” Callie said. “But I’ve been told by Commander Feral himself that his Enforcers are on the case, and that the Metallikats will be taken into custody soon.”
A perfect few seconds of B-roll, Callie knew, and Ann seemed satisfied as she lowered the microphone.
“That should do it, Johnny,” Ann said to her cameraman. “You head back to the van and get that prepped for the 11 o’clock segment. I’ll catch up.”
Johnny nodded and headed into the parking garage, while Ann turned to Callie again.
“Off the record, is there anything you know about the SWAT Kats disappearance?” Ann asked.
Callie sighed, and looked at Ann with a defeated look on her face. She had fostered a professional relationship with the reporter over the years, and knew that “off the record” with Ann Gora was always honored.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Callie said. “I haven’t heard from them in over a week now, and with the Metallikats making a public scene and they still don’t make an appearance…”
“You don’t think they quit, do you?” Ann asked.
The thought had never crossed Callie’s mind, but she considered it a moment and shook her head.
“No, I don’t think they quit,” Callie said. “I don’t think they ever would, and even if they did, they’d tell me.”
Ann Gora nodded, knowing that left another option, but she didn’t mention it out loud.
“Well, at least Lt. Feral was able to help you out,” Ann said. “I’d love to get an exclusive with her, but she doesn’t want to talk with the press.”
“Yeah,” Callie said. “That sounds like her.”
“Well, thanks for the statement, Callie,” Ann said. “And-.”
“Get some rest,” Callie finished. “I know, I know.”
Callie managed to make it to her sedan without further interruption. She unlocked the door and slid into the driver’s seat, closing the door. She sat there for a few moments, and then opened up her bag. She rifled around briefly and withdrew the triangular communicator, and pressed the button.
“SWAT Kats, come in,” she spoke into it, and waited,
Nothing happened. Callie pressed the button again.
“T-Bone, Razor, are either of you there?” she asked.
Again, nothing. Callie held the gadget up to her ear to listen, and she could hear a faint noise of static coming through it.
“This thing’s on,” she said to herself, and frowned.
As Callie prepared to speak into it again, the communicator came to life, and a loud feedback noise screeched loudly. Callie jumped in her seat, and dropped the communicator. It fell onto the empty passenger seat, and as it did, the noise abruptly stopped.
“What is wrong with this thing,” she said as she collected herself and reached to pick it up. Before it was in her grasp, she paused, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end. A new sound was coming from the communicator’s speaker. It was slow, and barely audible. Who, or even what made the noise, Callie didn’t know, but it was unmistakable.
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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.