To Felina’s surprise the tower hadn’t made any attempts to re-contact them, which made her wonder just how far Turmoil’s influence went.
Does she have people everywhere?
Turmoil had instructed her to head in the direction of those coordinates that had been scribbled on the whiteboard. That was nearly an hour ago, and at Turbokat One’s current cruising speed they would be within view of the destination any minute now.
During the course of the trip thus far, Felina hadn’t felt the need to converse much, preferring to silently enjoy what may be the last time she’d ever fly a super-sonic jet. If it was indeed the last time she’d ever fly, she couldn’t imagine a better aircraft to do it in.
Despite being much larger than the Sabres she had grown accustomed to, it handled like an aircraft half its size, its controls feeling like a perfect balance between slippery and precise. Its fuel consumption was also more efficient, with a good 55% remaining, likely the result of the advanced supercruise system that allowed the jet to maintain super-sonic speeds without continuous afterburner use.
Which is important, because I’ve seen nothing but ocean below for the past thirty minutes.
“There it is,” Turmoil said, interrupting her thoughts.
Felina looked out toward the horizon, where an island grew larger as they approached.
“So that’s Cymric Island?” Felina asked, but before Turmoil responded the radar system bleeped loudly with several alerts.
Felina frowned and saw several aircraft on the screen. The heads-up display that filled most of the front of the canopy illuminated with several rangefinders, the distances in meters rapidly counting down.
“Friendlies?” Felina asked, feeling a growing concern. They were far outside the jurisdiction of Megakat City, in open airspace. It could be anyone out here.
“Probably not,” Turmoil said, her light tone not matching the seriousness of the situation at all.
Felina reached forward to the radio, prepared to send out a broadcast on all channels, when the launch-detection system blared loudly. Two additional blips appeared on the radar, coming in fast.
Out of reflex reinforced by years of practice, Felina yanked the joystick to the side while pushing forward on the throttle, causing an abrupt change in direction that threw Turbokat One into a corkscrew loop that sent them plummeting downwards.
The digital altimeter was counting down, the numbers ticking like a stopwatch but in reverse. 12,000 meters quickly turned to 11,000 meters. The abrupt descent made Felina feel weightless, and she could feel the g-suits bladders fill with air to keep the blood flow in her body stabilized.
The threat detection system was still blaring loudly, and at a glance Felina could see the missiles were still inbound. She quickly located a panel marked COUNTERMEASURES and flipped a switch labeled IR FLARES.
Felina hadn’t bothered to ask if Turbokat One had been stocked with a payload, and due to her overall unfamiliarity with the jet she couldn’t tell by its handling if it was being weighed down by one or not. The weapons system panel was currently inactive in front of her, so it didn’t provide any useful information about inventory.
Well, let’s hope we didn’t leave unprepared.
Felina glanced over her shoulder, the large bubble canopy providing a wide field of view. Behind her she saw the white phosphorous ignite in a pattern of lights, the contrails of which descended in varying directions.
She smiled, and threw the jet into another corkscrew turn, killing their descent and moving laterally. In their wake, two fiery explosions filled the sky.
In that same instant, two fighters streaked past, each painted red with black highlights. Felina couldn’t be sure, but they looked like F-16s. They were streaking around in opposite directions, and by their positions on the radar Felina could tell they were coming around to attack again.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Felina demanded into her mic.
“No time for explanations,” Turmoil said calmly. “Get us behind them and I’ll handle the rest.”
Felina was about to say more, but the threat detection system was once again blaring.
Alright, whoever you are. You want a dogfight? You’ve got one.
Using the superior speed and agility that Turbokat One offered, Felina recalled her course at OCS on basic fighter maneuvers and threw the jet into an aggressive turn while lowering the throttle again. The movement was just in time, as the sky lit up with the yellow lines of tracers. The F-16s had opened up with their canons, the large 20mm rounds narrowly missing. She felt the intense g-forces tug at her body as the world outside quickly rotated. A lesser-aircraft’s frame might have buckled at the severity of the turn, and Felina hoped the rush she felt in her head wasn’t an artery bursting.
The maneuver had apparently caught the aggressors off-guard, and likely with the assistance of the jet’s stealthy, radar absorbing abilities, managed to slip behind them.
Felina’s pulse was racing now, as perspiration built on her brow. From this vector, they had a firing solution.
Before she could issue an order to fire, Felina felt the mechanisms of the jet come to life. The bombay doors had opened, and two contrails streaked forward at the now vulnerable targets.
Much to Felina’s surprise, the F-16s did not explode as the missiles found their targets. Instead they were engulfed in an array of sparks, which caused their engines to go cold. Both aircraft just as soon careened out of control and dropped out the sky.
Those must’ve been the SWAT Kats’s electricity missiles, whatever they’re called. So, she not only copied the Turbokat, but the weapons, too…
Felina watched out the canopy below as the pilots ejected, their parachutes opening successfully as the disabled aircraft fell into the ocean.
While not overjoyed by the fact that her attempted killers survived, she hadn’t woken up this morning with the desire to kill anyone, either.
“Bring us in low, a wide arc around the island, but maintain a distance of at least 100 meters from anything on the surface at all times,” Turmoil instructed.
Felina frowned, upset that she had been thrown into this situation without warning, but followed the commands anyway.
Coming in low, just 50 meters or so above the water, the island looked much larger and imposing. Smoke billowed out of the top of Mt. Dragon Li, which now seemed to take up the entirety of the forward view. It was an amazing sight to behold, and Felina followed Turmoil’s instructions, keeping at least 100 meters away from anything on the surface, tilting the jet an an angle as she brought it around the island.
At the base of the volcano, the tropical forest branched out, though there were several open areas including bodies of water every so often. It matched the description, though there were extra items Felina noticed that seemed very out of place.
In regular intervals, several large satellite dishes were erected, their tops poking out of the treetop canopy. But, they didn’t seem like they were meant for communication purposes. She squinted, and could swear that it looked as though the air was distorted just above them Like the picture on a television when interference make things look rippled. And then Felina realized what they were.
“Are those forcefield emitters?” Felina asked.
“Very astute,” Turmoil complimented.
“With that many spread about like that…” Felina started counting the ones she could see mentally, stopping when the number exceeded thirty. “You could cover the whole island.”
“That’s why we’re maintaining a distance of 100 meters,” Turmoil said.
“But, why?” Felina asked. “Why’d you build something like this way out here?”
“Who said I built this?” Turmoil asked.
Felina frowned, and recalled the words from earlier.
That’s what the occupant would like to hear. Just who is this occupant?
As Turbokat One rounded the island and came up to the opposite side, a half-moon shaped bay appeared. What appeared to be several palm trees lined the perimeter, with an extensive sandy beach leading into crystal blue waters that were so clear Felina could see the movement of undersea life within it.
She did not get the opportunity to appreciate the view long, as something more surprising was also in the bay. Four large ships were at rest, at least 200 meters offshore. And they weren’t just any ships. Judging by their appearance, one of them was a destroyer, an Arleigh Burke class or an equivalent, another appeared to be a cruiser, probably a Ticonderoga class missile ship, and the third a resupply cargo vessel.
The fourth ship, however, was the one that really caught Felina’s eye. It was the largest of the group, and it appeared to be a Wasp class amphibious assault ship. It was an aircraft carrier, medium sized, with several Chinook helicopters like those in the hangar back at Megkat International Airport resting on the deck.
“Balikirev, this is Turbokat One,” Turmoil spoke into her mic.
Named a ship after your ancestor. That’s cute.
“Copy that, Commander,” a female voice returned. “You’re cleared for approach.”
“Well, Miss Feral,” Turmoil said. “Why don’t you take us down?”
Felina’s mind was filled with questions.
Who’s this “occupant?” Why is there a giant forcefield surrounding the island? Why does Turmoil have a carrier strike group waiting just offshore? How can she afford all of this?
But, she knew now wasn’t the time to ask, and forced herself to concentrate on the task at hand. Felina knew that a Wasp class carrier like the Balikirev wasn’t designed like it’s larger, nuclear-powered Nimitz class sister to receive traditionally landing aircraft. Felina throttled down and adjusted an extra lever to control Turbokat One’s thrust vectoring system. This would reverse the intake flow, and in tandem with the third engine angling downward, create a stable hover which would allow for vertical takeoffs and landings.
It was a system Felina had briefly been exposed to when she had rescued the SWAT Kats from the clutches of Dr. Viper alongside Callie Briggs last year. It had been simple enough for a pilot like her to operate then, and it proved no more difficult now.
Within minutes she had brought the jet around, hovered above the carrier, deployed the landing gear, and descended into a light touch-down, made easier by the deck crew that was holding signaling beacons to guide them down.
Felina let out a sigh of relief as she flipped several switches and powered down the engines, thankful that the weather conditions were pristine and didn’t offer any additional challenge.
“You make it look easy,” Turmoil said as Turbokat One’s canopy slid open.
As soon as it did Felina’s senses were awash with the new climate, the salty breeze from the ocean filling her nostrils, and the tropical sun feeling warm on her face. She unstrapped her flight harness and took off her helmet, standing up to take in the view.
It’s winter in Megakat City, but out here it’s summertime.
The crew attached a ladder to the side of the jet, allowing both herself and Turmoil an easy descent onto the deck of the Balikirev. It was incredibly similar to the goings-ons of the uppermost levels of Enforcers Headquarters. Right down the role-specific attire everyone wore.
But, Felina noticed there was one obvious difference: there were no men in sight.
As soon as Turmoil stepped foot on that deck, the present members of the crew stood at attention and saluted.
“At ease,” Tumoil said upon returning the salute. “And carry-on.”
The deck crew collectively relaxed their composure and went back to their duties.
Turmoil began to walk across the deck, heading for the most distinctive feature of the ship: it’s superstructure, where the bridge would be.
“I’m a little late in mentioning this,” Felina said as she followed along, still wearing the g-suit. “But you seem to have a fairly strict hiring policy.”
“You could say that,” Turmoil said with a smile as she approached a closed bulkhead hatch. There was little activity on the deck, with each of the helicopters securely tethered. Felina glanced over her shoulder to see Turbokat One being similarly secured.
A female armed guard wearing fatigues similar to the group back at the airport opened the hatch, allowing the two to enter. As Felina passed, she couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be a Stechkin automatic pistol in the guard’s holster.
“Seriously, though, do you have any men working for you at all?” Felina asked, as Turmoil led the way up a narrow flight of steps. Felina had to keep her head low to avoid hitting various conduits and supports that ran just overhead.
“Only when the situation requires it,” Turmoil replied, and soon the two emerged into a more open area, where large glass view ports ran all around the perimeter of the room, giving a wide view of the carrier’s deck and the nearby island, with the puffing Mt. Dragon Li ominously ahead.
Several women dressed in tan, short-sleeved, officer-style uniforms stood at various control consoles, their hair cut short, with dark-blue caps atop their heads. Some of them were speaking in a foreign language into microphones.
As soon as Turmoil stepped into view, one of the officers snapped to attention.
“Commander on deck!” the officer called out. She wore a white peaked cap that rested atop her short brown hair, with a less ornate pattern than Turmoil’s, signifying a lesser, but still important rank.
The other officers in the room stood at attention and saluted.
Felina was starting to have flashbacks of BCT where the importance of saluting one’s superior officers was beaten into each recruit’s mindset. Having been an officer herself for much of her career, and with the more informal atmosphere the group of Enforcer fighter pilots offered, Felina had rarely found herself saluting someone of higher rank outside of public or ceremonial occasions.
“At ease, and back to your stations,” Turmoil again said as she turned her attention to the officer who’d made the announcement. “Lt. Durov, what is the status of the interdiction?”
“Sir, nothing has been allowed in or out,” Lt. Durov reported. “Several enemy F-16s have attempted to come within attack range, but our missile ship made short work of them.”
“Excellent,” Turmoil said. “Though, I think you missed two of them.”
Lt. Durov’s expression changed ever so slightly to one that was a mixture of disappointment and concern.
“Sir, those enemy fighters appeared just as you entered the local airspace,” Lt. Durov said. “We could not engage them without risk to yourself.”
“Perfectly understandable, lieutenant,” Turmoil said. “They were no match for our guest.”
Lt. Durov glanced at Felina.
“Hi,” Felina said and gave a halfhearted wave.
“I’ll expect a full report by this evening, lieutenant,” Turmoil said. “But, I can already tell you’ve done an excellent job. Dismissed.”
“Thank you sir,” Lt. Durov said, and saluted once more before returning to her post at the far end of the bridge.
“So, I’ve been patient, and I’ve seen the things you wanted me to see,” Felina said as she crossed her arms. “But, I’m still no closer to understanding what’s going on. In fact, you’ve almost gotten me killed, too.”
“You give the opposition too much credit,” Turmoil said as she walked forward, her back to Felina.
“Can we cut the flattery, please?” Felina asked.
“Alright, Miss Feral,” Turmoil said as she turned around to face Felina, and gestured toward the island. “I told you that I am going to make a positive difference in Megakat City.”
“Yeah,” Felina said. “And I asked you what some island in the middle of nowhere has to do with that?”
“There has been a presence in Megakat City that has grown in its viciousness over the years. Like a cancer it’s gotten stronger as your city has grown weaker,” Turmoil said. “Despite the combined efforts of the Enforcers and even the SWAT Kats, it persists.”
“If it’s something they couldn’t solve, what makes you think you can?” Felina asked, tiring of the guessing games.
“Because they were lacking,” Turmoil said. “Perhaps they had the tools, but they lacked the discipline. Or maybe they lacked the vision. Or perhaps, they lacked the will.”
Turmoil stepped forward, walking up to Felina, standing less than a foot away.
“I have the tools, and I have the will,” Turmoil said. “And, I can see it in your eyes, that you possess it, too. That spark. You can do what needs to be done.”
“Why did you bring me here?” Felina asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Turmoil asked. “I’m here to put an end to Dark Kat. And you’re going to help.”
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