Title: Mission: Saving the World
Warnings: Mild profanity, some unpleasant imagery in an apocalyptic future.
Disclaimer: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
Feral had to stop and lean against the cement wall for a moment as pain and dizziness swept over him as it had so many times these past couple of months. As he rested, he heard a kitten cry, a voice trying to soothe it, other hushed voices talking urgently, and the sounds of frantic construction work going on further ahead of him.
When he felt marginally better, he pushed himself off the wall and trudged carefully into the large hangar. Sitting at the rear of the cavernous space on its platform was the Turbokat. It looked forlorn now since it had been reduced to little more than a skeleton as all of its usable parts had been stripped from it. It couldn’t be flown anyway since the skies above Megakat City were instant death.
And, just as the airspace was off limits so was the ground. Supplies needed for survival were a precious commodity now. But, before it became impossible to move about above ground, Clawson and Furlong had scrambled to collect anything of use from the yard with the help of their new allies.
Their allies also did their part in procuring survival necessities such as: food, a water source separate from the city, medical supplies, personal care items, some entertainment items (books, tapes, CDs, movies), computers and electronic gear, bedding, mattresses, boxes for belongings, flashlights, batteries, and lamps.
They had also hastily brought on-line parts of the old Mega World War II bunker Clawson and Furlong hadn’t used when they set up their secret base. Which meant connecting water sources to long disused bathrooms, cleaning and converting former offices into sleeping areas, a kitchen/dining area, and a medical bay as well as a playroom for the young.
They had very little time and had to be circumspect so that their enemy didn’t note them setting up a sanctuary right beneath their feet. Everyone pitched in, even their reluctant allies until the place was habitable once more.
When they were finally forced underground, Clawson sealed all the exits but one and that one was located underground and connected to the city sewer system which could only be accessed after opening a solid cement door.
So far, they were safe here. The enemy had not found this place thanks to the original builders and Clawson’s additional security measures.
He let those memories of their frantic early days fade from his mind as he moved closer to the frenzied activity going on in the center of a huge expanse of floor in this main hangar area where the few remaining defenders worked to try and save their world.
Clawson was wielding a screwdriver while Sgt. Fallon held a section of wiring out of the way for him. He heard but couldn’t see Furlong working with an arc welder on the far side of the weird looking machine they were all feverishly building. Just leaving a work bench to the dark tom’s left was Dark Kat, carrying some kind of complex device carefully in his massive paws to Clawson for installation.
Back at the bench where he’d come from, Feral could see Professor Hackle and Dr. Liter Greenbox building something that would be installed in this strange machine. Pouring over a book on Megakat City’s past as she sat beside the computer console was Dr. Sinian and sitting next to her, using the computer, was Dr. Konway. They had been very lucky he had survived so that they had someone with medical skills.
Turning back to the machine, Feral moved forward and offered his assistance.
“Anything you need me for?”
“Yeah! Come over here and hold this for me,” came Furlong’s voice.
The dark tom walked to the rear of the machine and took hold of a big piece for metal that the tabby was welding.
A short while later, a noise coming from the secret entrance behind and to one side of the Turbokat caught Feral’s attention. Turning his head, he saw Dr. Viper come in, looking even more worse for wear than when he’d gone out on his scavenging and scouting mission. His expression, which was hard to read even at the best of times, looked defeated and scared.
His plant creatures, severely diminished in numbers, came in behind him but stayed huddled nearer the hidden entrance as they had been told to do just as Dark Kat’s creeplings were ordered to stay up in the ceiling. Both types of creatures were being used as watch dogs outside the only escape route to this place.
Viper walked up to the busily working group and stood there watching them for several minutes.
“There are no more survivorsssss,” he hissed finally.
Everyone paused a moment to stare bleakly at him. Callie, who had just walked in from the living quarters, was the first to ask him for a report.
“So, how bad is it?”
Viper looked at her with nothing but emptiness in his gaze. “Those thingsss have leveled half the city. My ssswamp isss dried to nothing, the bay isss nearly gone asss they steal all the water. The reservoir ssstill hasssss water but not for long. We have very little time before our world isssss uninhabitable. On top of that, the sssewersss are becoming impassable asss they have their minionsss sssearching for anything living,” he said flatly.
“I ran into a group of ten near the mussseum. Assss you can sssee, I losst many of my petsss in the attack. I wasss barely able to essscape capture. We are truly trapped here now,” he said gloomily.
No one asked if he’d been followed; Viper was far too paranoid and very good at escaping danger, and they didn’t correct his assumption that they were trapped since he would know better than anyone else on that subject. Not having anything to say in response to Viper’s report, everyone returned to their work. The machine they were building was now their only hope.
Despite working twenty-fours nonstop, it took four more days before the machine was considered complete and ready for use. There would be no time to test it. So, all that was left was to choose the one who would be making this suicidal attempt.
“Perhaps we should draw lots among those qualified?” Callie suggested.
“No, I or Jake will go,” Furlong said determinedly.
“So noble of you,” Dark Kat drawled sarcastically, hating their holier than thou attitude.
“Hey! I don’t hear you volunteering,” Furlong sneered.
Before Dark Kat could make a scathing rebuttal, someone else spoke up.
“I’ll go,” Feral said.
Everyone stared at him in stunned shock except for the two criminals, who weren’t really surprised by his volunteering.
“You can’t. You might not survive the trip,” Dr. Konway finally said sadly.
Feral’s mouth firmed into a grim line. “I’m certain I could survive the trip if it succeeds in getting me where it’s sent. The fact I am dying makes me the perfect candidate since, if it fails, I won’t care. Besides, my enforcers will be less likely to object obeying me than if one of you showed up,” he pointed out.
“Except for meeting yourself and being too stubborn to believe what you say,” Furlong said bitterly.
“I won’t be that stupid. Anyway, if this thing doesn’t succeed, I’ll die sooner rather than slowly and painfully. You two, on the other paw, are needed here. If there is any chance of saving the others, you will be the ones to find it,” Feral said pragmatically.
“His reasoning is sound. As much as it pains me to agree with him, he has a better chance of getting them to listen, and he can’t help here since he will become far to sick to be of use,” Dark Kat rumbled flatly.
No one could find anything to say to refute that blunt statement, but that didn’t mean everyone liked it. However, despite how some of them felt, others were just as pragmatic as Dark Kat and Feral.
“They are right, Chance. I don’t like it, but he is the logical choice,” Clawson sighed, shaking his head.
Furlong threw up his paws in resignation, and that was the end of the discussion. Dr. Sinian briefed Feral on what events had been going on where he was going, then, an hour later, he was being cinched into the padded seat of the pod-like machine. Clawson gave him last minute instructions about how to read the instruments, make minor repairs and how to respond to an alarm.
Before the door was shut and sealed, Feral gave everyone a long, final look then nodded he was ready.
“Our hopes go with you, Ulysses. Good luck!” Callie called out, tears glimmering in her eyes as Furlong and Clawson shut the door with a loud clang then sealed it.
Inside the claustrophobic container Feral allowed his fear a moments’ free reign. He swallowed hard and prayed. All their hopes of survival rode on his shoulders. ‘Please let my luck hold out one more time.’
All the watchers moved quickly to stand behind the shield wall Greenbox and Hackle had constructed. Clawson and Dark Kat stood side by side behind a control console and began flipping switches and turning dials, muttering technical jargon to each other.
A loud hissing noise began along with a deep hum that rose to a fierce whine as the engine warmed then came up to speed.
When everyone’s eardrums felt like they would burst, the machine glowed like a star then disappeared with a loud boom.
They stared at the space where Feral had been moments ago, each wrapped in their own thoughts and memories of how much they had lost and how desperately important Feral’s mission was to the survival of their race.
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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.