“Now this is a look that suits you well,” a familiar voice said.
Felina, still wearing the same clothes, found herself once again standing in the Great Hall of Nebelung. Several of the ornate tapestries were smoldering alongside the giant stone columns they hung down from, with evidence of gunfire damage present. There were remnants of a broken barricade in front of the elevated platform the golden throne rested upon. Felina recognized the setting. It was where she had last dreamed being in battle alongside the original Enforcer Corps.
It was easy to recognize, as a lone figure was still resting on the marble floor, amid other dropped weapons. The figure still as a corpse.
Felina was looking at herself lying there, wearing the period clothing waistcoat and trousers. A tri-corner hat with a bullet hole through it was nearby. She was dead.
Felina grimaced and knelt down to one knee to take a closer look at the copy of herself.
“It’s too bad I can’t take credit,” the voice repeated, and Felina recognized it.
“What are you doing in my dreams, Ritz?” Felina asked as she stood up and looked toward the source of the voice.
She felt far more lucid than she had prior, which only added to the surrealism of the situation.
Ritz, with his silver-lensed aviator sunglasses, chevron mustache, and greying buzz-cut hair bordering on spiked looked just as he did the last time Felina had seen him at Megakat Caverns. He was sitting on the throne, and he smiled as he got up and walked down the few carpeted steps. He was sporting a white Enforcer’s T-shirt with the logo on the shoulders, along with olive-colored cargo pants and black, combat boots. He approached her, and Felina felt her fists tighten.
“Isn’t that a question you should be asking yourself?” Ritz asked and stepped up to her.
Both stood eye-to-eye.
“I guess you’re technically right,” Felina muttered, and then turned away.
“But, I’m feeling generous, so I’ll go ahead and explain,” Ritz said. “I’m not really Ritz, but I am a symbol of what it is that’s been bothering you.”
“Not a very subtle one,” Felina said over her shoulder.
“Well, you’re not a very subtle person, so what do you expect?” Ritz said, and then gestured at the surroundings. “The Great Hall of Nebelung. In many ways the battle that took place here was the real birthplace of Megakat City.”
“Some might say that,” Felina said, walking around her copy’s unmoving body, putting it between herself and Ritz.
“Because had the Enforcers lost here, then Megakat City would’ve never asserted itself as a real power, and would’ve been wracked by pirates or foreign invaders or worse,” Ritz continued.
“Those who fought and died here really represented the spirit of both defiance and duty,” Ritz said. “The kind of spirit that you’ve convinced yourself you have.”
Felina frowned, not appreciating the tongue-in-cheek analysis.
“Why do you keep imagining this place?” Ritz asked.
“I don’t know,” Felina replied.
“Well, I do,” Ritz said. “It’s because you’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Something with some notoriety. Gravitas. You think of this place because of its grand place in history and the connection you think it has to you now as a modern Enforcer.”
“But, the truth is, you and everyone else in the Enforcers today aren’t anything like them,” Ritz said scornfully. “What Jonas Spangle did with a handful of men two hundred years ago could never hope to be repeated with the bloated, self-righteous, nepotistic and contradictory institution it’s grown into.”
“The real Ritz had something similar to say,” Felina said. “And his solution was to ally with the enemy and try to kill a lot of people.”
“Ironic, isn’t it, that you were about to do the same thing?” Ritz asked.
Felina didn’t appreciate the comparison, and knew that things were different, though she couldn’t deny the similarity.
“I couldn’t do it,” Felina said, looking down. “Things aren’t good, but your way, Turmoil’s way, is wrong. I can’t ignore that.”
“It’s too bad you couldn’t have had that conviction earlier,” Ritz said. “Because just like two hundred years ago, a Balikirev threatens the city, and this time there’s no Enforcers who can stop her. Not even former ones.”
By former ones Felina knew he was referring to the SWAT Kats, whose involvement in things she didn’t fully understand. It didn’t make much difference, though, she thought. The end result was still the same. Turmoil had effectively conquered Megakat City in a day.
“This is what happens when a small person gets involved in big things,” Ritz said, and gestured to the body on the floor. “It’s all you have to look forward to. It’s just a matter of time.”
Felina paced, and put a hand to her forehead, feeling overwhelmed at Ritz’s words. How many times had she almost been killed in the past few days? How long would it be until Turmoil’s forces found her? Even if Chance or Jake had managed to survive, how long until they were gunned down permanently?
Felina noticed a white, rectangular light forming behind her, and she glanced at it. It was a door.
“Only way out of all of this is to run,” Ritz said. “Because there’s not a single thing you can do to help. You’re no hero. You’ve only made things worse. You’re just a scared little girl who’s been playing soldier her whole life. Only allowed to play along because of her name.”
For some reason the words seemed to ring true, and Felina felt herself walking to the door with a defeated gait. She had almost reached the door when her foot brushed across something metallic that clacked against the marble floor. She paused, and looked down to see what it was. As she did, she recalled her thoughts when Callie Briggs had visited her on her birthday.
In a way, that sword is the only thing I have left to show for all those years of work. They took everything else.
It was a Mameluke sword, and she reached down to pick it up by the hilt.
“Oh, great,” Ritz remarked. “You might as well just toss that thing away.”
Felina held it in hand, and tilted the blade left and right, seeing what little light there was in the cavernous room reflected along its length.
“Just let it go,” Ritz maintained. “It was all meaningless anyway. You can’t write a traffic ticket with it.”
Felina tightened her grip on the weapon, and let her arm rest at her side, the tip of the blade just an inch from the floor. She spoke over her shoulder.
“You know something, Ritz?” Felina began. “I never liked you.”
Before he could respond Felina turned around, leapt over the body that separated them, and brought the sword up in a winding arc, bringing it down like a hammer. His expression was one of genuine surprise as the weapon connected with him where the neck met the shoulder at about 45 degrees.
Ritz began to slump backward. The wound caused by the sword was not bleeding, but instead appeared as some kind of blackness that tore across his front. He was empty. A void. As his body hit the floor he was overcome by the expanding emptiness and disappeared.
“Now what?” a voice asked, and Felina recognized it as her own.
She looked down to see her copy’s body sitting up, looking up at her.
“I don’t know,” Felina replied distantly, not feeling surprised by the corpse suddenly coming to life, and then reached with her free hand.
Her copy took it.
“Thanks for not fighting with me,” the copy said.
“I’ll try not to do that so much,” Felina replied.
“…the New Order begins today, my friends, once the old has been disposed of,” the voice of Turmoil said.
Felina blinked groggily, feeling a pain in her back as she leaned forward to sit upright. Sunlight was coming through one of the hospital room’s windows. She had fallen asleep on the chair. She looked to find that Katy was still asleep and clutching her hand. Felina gently pried the fingers away as she stood up. The voice was coming from the television, no longer static filled.
On the screen, Turmoil was standing in front of a podium at the steps of Enforcer Headquarters, with what appeared to be a battalion of her troops standing behind her. Felina recognized the podium as the one her uncle had frequently used to give press interviews from.
“For far too long those guilty of causing this self-inflicted crime have gone unpunished,” Turmoil said. “That ends. While it is my intent to make this transition as peaceful as possible, I cannot ignore the wrongs that have been done by these charlatans.”
The camera panned to show four individuals tied to the flagpoles that lined the front of the building. Each was gagged, and Felina recognized every one of them.
Mayor Manx, Commander Feral, Deputy Mayor Briggs…and…T-Bone.
The SWAT Kat was not dead. His wounds appeared to have been treated, with fresh bandages wrapped over his shoulder. But he looked tired and weak, seeming to let the ropes support him rather than stand under his own power. Inexplicably, he still wore the mask.
Felina found the fact that his wounds had been tended to especially unsettling, as Dark Kat had received similar medical treatment upon his capture.
And look what had happened to him….
“At sunset, they will face a firing squad,” Turmoil said concisely. “I will grant them a quick death. Unlike the prolonged one they’ve intended for all of you.”
Turmoil walked out from behind the podium and paced as she spoke.
“Some of you may think this a cruel action, but I assure you, it is not,” Turmoil said. “This city has made a habit of withholding appropriate justice to those who seek to destroy it. Unlike them, I will always be honest with you. As your leader, I will not allow a threat to this city to live. Dark Kat discovered this yesterday. And so too shall they.”
Turmoil gestured to her prisoners, all of whom squirmed. Even through the television Felina could see that Callie and her uncle did so with a fury in their eyes.
“Many of you have rallied to the cause,” Turmoil said. “And to all of you early adopters, I thank you for your courage. I ask that you do not hold the late-comers in disdain, for they will be needed to help bring about our shining example to the world. The new Megakat City, filled with hope and promise, guided by a steady, unflinching hand. No more crime. No more poverty. No more greed. A whole working toward a greater good. A testament to the will of the people.”
It was at that moment Felina felt her anger boil over, as someone came into the camera’s view, standing adjacent to the tall self-proclaimed leader of Megakat City, looking as uncomfortable as she had ever seen him.
“The city thanks you, Lt. Commander Steele, for your foresight in agreeing to our terms of cease-fire,” Turmoil said cooly as she approached him, a hand extended.
“It was the least I could do,” Steele replied, perspiration visible on his brow, as he raised his hand hesitantly to return the shake.
It was obvious that he didn’t want to be there, and Felina suspected that in her uncle’s absence there had been a failure of leadership. Whether or not Steele was truly working with Turmoil or a victim of circumstance, it was still a sharp blow to Felina’s morale.
No one’s going to do anything. They’re all just going to stand by.
“So modest,” Turmoil said, and then turned to face the camera again. “Eventually all things will fall into place, and you will all look back on this day with fond memories as the first day of a better life. Dark Kat is dead, your debts a $100 billion fewer, and the parasites formerly at the top will soon be stamped out. Yes, remember this day well, for these changes are just the beginning.”
The television once again filled with static as the transmission ended.
Felina wondered how long the broadcast had lasted, as she had only caught the tail end of it.
Cease-fire. That’s what she said.
Things must’ve gotten really bad if her fellow Enforcers had already thrown in the towel, and then Felina recalled an earlier observation she’d made.
Turmoil had assembled a capable fighting force that was easily on par with the Megakat City Enforcers. Probably more so if one factored in the capabilities of the six Turbokat copies that had been made and the budget crisis that had taken its toll on defense.
Felina imagined that a few strategically placed insiders, along with some precision attacks and an overwhelming display of force would’ve been enough. And, from what Felina had seen, Turmoil seemed to be capable of anything.
Outside in the hall, seemingly in response to the televised broadcast, the hospital staff seemed to be hurriedly going about their business. The looks of fear and uncertainty plainly on their faces.
“Is my mommy back yet?” Katy asked groggily from behind, and Felina turned to see her rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“No, not yet,” Felina said and then walked over to her, kneeling by the bed. “Katy, remember what I told you about needing to be brave?”
“Well, now’s the time to be brave,” Felina said.
“You sound scared,” Katy said.
Felina swallowed, and realized that her hands were shaking, and she quickly pulled them back out of view.
“Well, maybe a little bit,” Felina said. “But I need you to just….just be brave. And stay here.”
“Where are you going?” Katy asked.
“I have to find someone,” Felina said. “A friend I brought here. I need to make sure he’s okay.”
“Is he your boyfriend?” Katy asked with a bit of childish mischief.
It was so unexpected, and a statement made in such stark contrast to the circumstances that Felina laughed out loud. Katy’s face lighted up with amusement as well.
“No, he’s not my boyfriend” Felina said. “But, can you keep a secret?”
“My friend is the SWAT Kat, Razor,” Felina said.
“He is?” Katy asked, sounding amazed. “But the nurse said the scary lady killed them…”
“No, she didn’t,” Felina said.
Though not for lack of trying…
“They’re in trouble, though,” Felina said. “Razor is here in the hospital, and I need to find him. That’s why I have to go now.”
Katy nodded again, her earlier fears of abandonment seemingly abated.
“You can help them like you helped me,” Katy said.
Felina nodded as she stood up.
“Remember, stay brave,” Felina said.
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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.