Callie sighed as she dropped the last pawful of work into her secretary’s basket. She’d managed to get more done than she thought possible. It helped the Mayor hadn’t bothered to return until just thirty minutes ago.
“Callie… could you give me a run down on the Forstair Project?” Mayor Manx asked, walking into her office with a report in his paw.
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m required to finish my training along with Feral at one this afternoon, and it’s almost that time now. I also won’t be here tomorrow since it appears this training is so debilitating that Feral and I both end up sleeping twenty-four hours. I will be in on the weekend, though, to catch up,” Callie told him as she walked to her desk and retrieved her purse from the bottom drawer.
Manx frowned and looked put upon. “How am I supposed to get things done with you gone? I just don’t see why it was so important for you to be trained in magic. Feral, I understand, but you… that doesn’t make sense.” He huffed.
She barely managed to keep from rolling her eyes. “We’ve been over this, Mayor. I’m Feral’s back up. What if the Pastmaster sweeps in and Feral’s busy with that other world’s enemies, then what would we do?” she warned him. The fact the Pastmaster couldn’t be there at the same time as T-Bone’s enemies, she didn’t bother to tell him.
“No… no… you’re right,” Manx said quickly, holding his paws up as if to ward off the very thought of that evil sorcerer dropping in. “I just forgot for a moment. However, having you gone right now is a serious inconvenience.”
“I’m sorry, but you should have been in this morning so we could have covered the things you needed dealt with. As it is, I’ve got to go and you’ll just have to handle it yourself or call me here Saturday,” she dared to say, disgusted he had wasted most of the day playing golf.
She hurried past the shocked Mayor and made for the nearby powder room. As she changed her clothes, she fumed. She was hardily tired of putting her own needs on hold to do the things Manx wanted when it was convenient for him but not anyone else. He was a very selfish, self absorbed fool, but, unfortunately, he was the Mayor. Putting her business suit in a hangup bag she’d left in here for that purpose, she collected her things and went out to the elevator, taking it down to the lobby.
She garnered surprised looks from many that knew her as she hurried across the polished floor, her tennis shoes making no noise. They were used to hearing her high heeled shoes clacking a warning of her presence, but now she was dressed down, and, unless one was looking, her passage went largely unnoticed. Instead of her power suit of pink, she wore a dark green sweat suit with her thick blond hair ponied behind her head. Reaching the multiple doors leading out, she pushed one of them open and headed down the wide staircase for her car parked at the curb. After hanging the clothes bag on a hook in the rear section of her car, she climbed into the driver’s seat, tossing her purse on the passenger side. With her seatbelt on and engine started, she took off for Enforcer Headquarters and another torture session of learning magic.
Tossing another report into his out basket, Feral got to his feet but didn’t get far when, with barely a knock on the door, Lt. Commander Steele came in to take over. His superior grimaced unhappily at the sight of his incompetent second but only said, “I’ve taken care of all the urgent matters. Insure Mary gets the reports in that basket today. Anything that requires my review and/or signature, leave for me as I plan on coming in on Saturday to catch up.”
“You’ll be home recovering, sir?” Steele asked.
“Yes. Working magic is physically draining. Keep on top of things as you won’t be able to wake me,” Feral grunted, really not happy about being out of it a whole day. He finished stepping down from his pedestal to walk toward the door and his coat rack. Instead of putting it on, he carried it over his arm then strode out the door, hearing Steele’s faint ‘yes, sir’ behind him.
Steele sighed and went to check the basket and prepare to hold down the fort. Usually, he was thrilled to be in the command chair but not lately. All this magic stuff had made him afraid and uncomfortable. Give me an omega to magic any day, he thought sourly.
Feral walked briskly down the hall for the elevator. A car arrived moments later, and he stepped in, pushing the button for the flight line. He glanced at his watch and noted the time. Briggs and T-Bone should arrive within moments. A brief thought crossed his mind that Callie wouldn’t be looking forward to another grueling and uncomfortable session any more than he was. However, doing magic was kind of interesting he was forced to admit, and it could be a good weapon in the battle against whatever this city dished out from now on. The good news was at least it wouldn’t be the major omegas any longer. Having Dark Kat and Dr. Viper unequivocally dead was something he rejoiced in every day since their demise.
The minor omegas like Turmoil, who was still incarcerated in her own country last he heard, and, though he was still on the loose, Hard Drive… wouldn’t be as much of a threat as they used to be. However, there was still the Pastmaster… He grimaced in worried concern… Would his and Briggs’ abilities hold up against an experienced magic worker? He would just have to wait for the answer when or if the creep ever showed up again.
God, I hope so or we’re truly screwed, he thought sourly. Then there was T-Bone’s enemies … They might not be as great a challenge if the iron weapons they’d cobbled together kept the dark Fae on their side of the portal. That would be the best scenario and the one he intended to make happen. If he could convince them it wasn’t in their best interest trying to invade Aristal, then the battle was half won.
Shaking his head, he shoved all that away as he reached the flight line and heard then saw the Turbokat arriving in the airspace above him. He watched as the pilot smoothly glided the jet on VTOL across the windy surface with ease, landing it but not shutting down the engines. The canopy shot back and the tabby leaped down and walked toward him. Almost immediately, the Turbokat lifted once more into the air, floated backward a short distance then ascended upward until it cleared the building before shooting off toward its hidden hangar, disappearing in seconds.
“Ready for another session?” T-Bone asked as he came abreast of Feral.
“No, but I don’t really have a choice,” Feral responded, a sour expression on his face as he turned about and led the SWAT Kat through the pilot ready area, many eyes watching them with curiosity and concern.
“Have you used it yet?” T-Bone asked bluntly as he stepped ahead of Feral into the elevator the other had signaled for.
Feral rolled his eyes as he pushed the button for the lobby. He knew what the SWAT Kat was referring to. “Yes, but I certainly didn’t intend to.”
T-Bone grinned. “Made an unconscious wish, did you?” he asked rhetorically, no doubt in his voice.
The big tom snorted, but, before he could respond, the door snapped open to reveal the lobby of his headquarters. He held a paw against the door to keep it from closing again and called to someone just entering through the main doors.
Callie heard him and hurried across the tiled floor, wending her way through the moving carpet of people going about their business. Reaching the open elevator, she stepped in and turned around. Feral released the door and pushed the button for the armory in the basement.
“Don’t think I’ve ever seen you in anything but that pink suit of yours, Ms. Briggs. You look quite fetching in that outfit and practical,” T-Bone commented, giving her an appreciative eye.
She blushed only a little. “I thought this might be more appropriate.”
Feral thought she looked good as well but refrained from commenting, though he did wish he’d done the same thing. His uniform was going to be a mess when they were done.
As they descended, Feral recalled himself to T-Bone’s question. “I didn’t realize I could use magic that easily. All I had done was wish I had a glass of warm milk, and, the next thing I knew, I smelled steaming milk near my nose. I opened my eyes to a mug hanging there. I was so stunned I nearly lost my concentration but remembered in time before having that hot liquid dump itself on my face.”
T-Bone laughed. “At least your famous reflexes didn’t desert you, which is a good sign you’ve adapted to your new abilities very well,” he complimented despite his amusement. Feral blinked at him in pleased surprise. The tabby then turned toward the she-kat who was eyeing Feral with something like commiseration. “So, did something similar happen to you?”
She blushed. “Not exactly, but it was a memorable night, which is all I’ll say about it.”
“Hmm, must have been really interesting,” the tabby said archly, amused, wondering what she’d wished for that caused her face to flame so brightly.
But, the elevator door snapping open prevented him from pressing her a little. As he stepped out ahead of them, his face fell into a more serious expression as he made for the room they’d used the last time. He opened the door and stepped in followed by the other two, Feral pausing to dump his coat and tie in the break room first before joining them and closing the door firmly shut.
“Shall we get started?” the tabby asked, moving to the center of the room and pulling out his medallion. The two nodded, separated a little so they had working space between them, and waited. Within seconds, two Fae stood there once more, and the lessons began again.
After spending more than four hours teaching the pair more defensive and offensive spells then making them repeat them over and over until it was nearly automatic on their part, Conall called a halt. “Take an hour break, refresh yourselves then return. Commander, you and I will go over tactics for dealing with the Dark Fae while Prince Lorcan will teach Ms. Briggs some offensive moves to keep herself safe from your lesser enemies so you won’t be distracted by your concern for her safety. After that, we’ll teach you both some specialty spells that should help you discourage the Pastmaster from ever desiring to visit your time period again.”
Groaning at the thought of even more intense training, the pair left the room barely able to put one foot before the other. Sweat dripped down Feral’s forehead, and his uniform clung to him like a wet blanket while his tail dragged the floor behind him. No strength in him to hold it up any longer.
Callie wasn’t much better. Stray blond hairs that had come free of her pony tail were plastered to her forehead and cheeks, and her sweat suit felt like she’d taken a sauna in it. Her glasses were fogging up, much to her annoyance. She followed Feral’s exhausted form, narrowly avoiding stepping on his tail as he turned into the break room for the armory. Three officers were already in there shooting the breeze and broke off to gape at the pair in shock. One of them snapped out of his astonishment to give the pair aid. Knowing they were most likely dehydrated, he went to the small fridge against the wall. Inside, he spotted bottles of water and sandwiches with a note attached that said ‘Don’t Touch – For Commander Feral and Ms. Briggs’ on white paper and signed by Sgt. Fallon. He fetched them out and carried the food to the pair that had dropped gracelessly onto the old worn couch.
The Commander had his feet straight out and his head resting on the back of the couch, arms limp at his side, eyes closed. His shirt was so sweat laden that one could see the t-shirt he wore beneath it. The collar of his shirt was undone, his sleeves were rolled up and his tie was missing.
The deputy mayor was sitting up and groaning as she struggled to peel her soggy sweatshirt top off to reveal a tight, damp t-shirt that left nothing to the imagination. The officer gulped but averted his eyes quickly from the beautiful she-kat, who paid him no attention as she took her glasses off and set them on the coffee table. Then, using her sweatshirt top as a pillow, she lay her head down on the cushion beside her, her butt pointed at the Commander and her tail draped along the big tom’s leg with the tip resting across his black boot like a limp rag.
“Uh… sir… ma’am… here’s some water and sandwiches for you,” he said a bit nervously, setting the food on the table before them.
“Thank you,” Feral slurred, not raising his head off the couch nor looking at the officer.
The deputy mayor just mumbled something unintelligible.
Taking that as a dismissal, the officer and his companions beat a hasty retreat from the room, leaving the brass some privacy.
“Wow! Did you see how wiped out they were? What the heck could they be doing to cause such exhaustion?” the one who had helped the pair asked his companions as they made for their duty section.
“Don’t know! No one does… it’s all hush hush stuff,” his sandy haired, rail thin friend said, shrugging.
“Whatever it is, it’s all tied up with that SWAT Kat somehow, at least that’s what the scuttlebutt’s been saying. Everyone agrees it has to do with that weird portal that appeared in the park,” the oldest of the three, a black, long furred tom said wisely. “Trouble’s obviously coming, and it isn’t what’s left of the omegas.”
They shivered at the thought of something worse than the omegas coming as they returned to their duties.
Back in the break room, Feral made a huge effort to sit up and grab a bottle of water. He downed it in one gulp and went for the second one, using it to run over his sweating brow.
“God, I wish I could take a nice hot bath right now,” Callie mumbled as she pushed herself back up and copied Feral’s actions. She lay back against the couch and used her second bottle of water to soothe her eyes.
Feral drank half of his second bottle then set it on the table. He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, face in his paws. “I ditto that,” he said thickly. “It really doesn’t help having to fight my desire to plant a fist in both their faces, though. The way my arms feel right now, I’d probably only manage to embarrass myself.”
“At least you want to fight; all I want to do when I’m in there is flee. I really hate that feeling. Makes me feel like a coward.”
“You’re no coward, Ms. Briggs. It’s just a physical reaction and nothing for you to be ashamed of,” Feral said firmly, though he didn’t look up at her, too tired to move.
“Intellectually, I know that, Commander, but my heart still feels like a traitor. Nothing I can do about it but keep working hard and ignoring those sensations,” she sighed resignedly.
“That’s a good idea,” Feral grunted then raised his head and reached for his sandwich. He opened it with little enthusiasm. Glancing over at her he said, “Better eat… you’ll need your strength.”
Rolling her eyes at him, she nonetheless sat up and listlessly opened her own sandwich and nibbled at it.
They ate their food slowly and let the silence stretch between them. They were so tired they didn’t try to understand how they felt about all this right now. Later, they might discuss it and what they would do when left in charge after T-Bone went through the portal.
Callie’s mind was nearly too tired to think, but the thought that T-Bone was just about to depart roused her to alertness. She feared what would happen the moment he left them and what would happen if he never returned. Razor, she knew, would be devastated and probably wouldn’t continue on as a SWAT Kat. Though that would make her sad, it wasn’t that dire a consequence as there were no more serious omegas to worry about, and, with her and Feral skilled at using magic, they should be quite prepared to handle the small fry that threatened the city.
However, it was the war on Alaria that had her worried right now. Fighting anyone coming through the portal was a daunting and frightening thing. Would she and Feral be able to hold back a whole army determined to cross over to their world? The very idea made her shiver with fear. They would just have to do their best as there was no one else left to stop the enemy if they didn’t.
In the room the two had left, T-Bone had remained with his uncle and conjured a meal and some milk for himself. The two discussed the progress of their students.
“They seemed to be nearly ready, Uncle,” T-Bone said, taking a bite of his sandwich.
“They are indeed, my prince. It pleases me to see such courage and fortitude in one as lovely as Ms. Briggs. Despite nearly dropping with exhaustion and fighting her real desire to flee the room, she has persevered. She has a formidable will,” Conall said, admiringly.
T-Bone wasn’t sure how he felt about the sound of interest for the deputy mayor in his uncle’s voice. Though he’d not made any claims on the she-kat, he always thought of her as his.
“Yes, she’s a brave one alright, though she has a bad habit of getting into trouble all the time,” he said a bit more sharply than he’d intended.
His uncle eyed him intently. “Do I detect an interest in the fair maid, my prince?”
“There’s no room in my life for a relationship, Uncle,” the tabby said by way of answer.
Conall snorted. “Nonsense. Your lives on this world are short, so thinking it is better to deny oneself the company of a mate or lover is wrong headed thinking. There are no guarantees in life, so one must seize that moment of happiness and enjoy it for however long it might last. To stay celibate and alone for some lofty ideal is foolish and serves no purpose. Besides, you insult the one you love by denying them the right to make their own decision about whether the risk is worth it to them or not,” he admonished his nephew. He’d seen this hero complex too many times. All it brought was suffering and unhappiness for no good purpose.
T-Bone stared at his uncle in angry disbelief. “How can you say that? The danger I put myself in is my choice. It’s not right to bring someone else into that life so it is threatened by my enemies.”
“Who says? You? You’re not a God to make that choice for someone else. No one is. If a person chooses to be with you and risk the danger living with you represents, then that is their choice. You have no right to dishonor that person by denying what each of you feel for some ridiculous ideal. Better to accept their decision graciously and enjoy one another. That is what love is all about,” Conall insisted.
T-Bone had no answer to his uncle’s certainty and wasn’t sure he should question it in the first place as the tom had lived centuries and should know what he was talking about. But, it still felt wrong to him. It would take him a long time to accept such a thing. Sighing he shoved that thorny idea aside and returned to the previous subject.
“I’ll have to think about that awhile, Uncle. Anyway, what do you think of Feral’s progress? Is he ready to hold back an invasion from the portal?”
“Yes,” his uncle said decisively. “He may have doubts, but he hides them well and has determination and courage. You may not like him, my prince, but he will defend his world with his life.”
“Yea, I think so too. I never thought of him as a coward, Uncle… a bit narrow minded and hidebound, but never someone who’d turn his back on his duty. So… they are both ready, and that means I leave tomorrow morning. I want this to be over as soon as possible,” T-Bone sighed, finishing his food then vanishing the leavings.
“As do I, my prince. The war has gone on for so very long, and your people are hardily tired of it. I would not be surprised if the Dark King’s own advisers are also tired of this mad course of action and choose to aid us,” Conall said shrewdly.
T-Bone blinked in surprise, such a thought had never occurred to him. “You actually think they might?”
“Peace between the dark and light had existed for centuries. This sudden lust by Gareth, the Dark King, to be leader over all was unexpected and without warning. I rather imagine his own advisers and generals were taken aback by this desire to make war on the light. Yes, I believe they are already plotting to find a way to aid your cause, my prince, wanting to end this conflict as badly as we do.”
“Wow, then this could be a really fast battle after all, and, with my more modern technology, I might be able to tip the scales in our favor,” the tabby mused, thoughtfully.
Conall eyed his nephew a moment. “I begin to think it will be science rather than magic that will end this war, my prince.”
T-Bone nodded. Their conversation ended as a very tired pair of unlikely magical warriors reentered the room, determined to finish their training. The tabby hid his smile of admiration as he saw how much effort it took Callie just to stand upright and how rigid Feral’s posture was, pretending he wasn’t as tired as his face and trembling limbs indicated he was.
They’re ready to fall over, but here they were, ready to finish their training, despite their bodies screaming with the need to curl into a ball and sleep. I really underestimated them both, he thought bemused, preparing to put them both through more hell.
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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.