Feral was rubbing his face and trying to read through the night’s reports from the facility besides ones from his Enforcer night shift when an irate SWAT Kat stormed into his office.
He blinked in surprise as Razor stalked angrily up to his pedestal and stared at him across the expanse of Feral’s paper laden desk.
“You have to send some of these volunteers home!” Razor said without preamble.
The slim SWAT Kat scowled. “I have strong suspicions that some of the people we were sent came here on false pretenses.”
Feral frowned. “Why would you think that?”
“By their inability to think flexibly, which is what we asked for. Their only interest, obviously, isn’t to save our world as much as it is to make a name for themselves or curry favors with their governments. It’s apparent to me they forced their leaders to send them regardless of the fact they haven’t the mindset we needed. They hid their agendas well, but, over the past six months, they’ve revealed their true intent by preventing progress.”
“How are they doing that?” Feral asked, a little skeptical. He didn’t disbelieve Razor, but personalities were bound to clash in such an eclectic group.
“By refusing to open their minds to many of the rather off the wall ideas put forth by some of the more radical of the inner group, which is exactly what we needed, but not something these few are capable of entertaining,” Razor fumed. “Instead, they argue incessantly on how impossible the ideas are, which starts fights. I’ve wasted valuable time acting as mediator… which, by the way, I didn’t volunteer for … to try and keep the peace, but it’s become a losing battle, and, frankly, I’m tired of trying to handle it. Besides, it’s seriously derailing all the free thinkers from the task at paw. If we are to get designs finished so prototypes can start to be made by end of this year, then those waste-of-space individuals must go home.”
This was serious, and it was a measure of their new cooperative partnership that Feral didn’t question or disbelieve Razor’s accusations and concerns. He trusted the SWAT Kat’s judgment in this critical area. So, shaking his head in disgust, he said, “Fine. Give me their names, and I’ll see that they’re removed and returned home, immediately.”
Actually surprised but not showing it, Razor nodded tightly, inwardly very relieved as he handed over a list he’d made. Then, with no further words, turned and hurried out. He was glad Feral hadn’t quibbled about this as he didn’t have time or patience left to argue why these scientists were just plain trouble. With a freer mind, he hastened to return to his own interrupted work.
When the SWAT Kat vanished out the door, Feral rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. Kat’s Alive! Now I have to act like a damn diplomat and send these guys packing without stepping on too many political toes doing it, he thought irritably. Opening the folded sheet of paper, he glanced at the list and groaned at the sight of a couple of names but didn’t let it stop him from reaching out for his phone and punching in numbers to make the first of many calls to some soon to be angry leaders.
By late afternoon, he had his Enforcers unobtrusively round up the individuals on Razor’s list, had them quickly whisked to their temp quarters to pack then driven to Enforcer Headquarters for transport. Normally, such delicate matters would take several days to accomplish, but Feral was relieved to discover, these individual’s leaders were very quick to understand the problem and agreed to retrieve them without argument. Some even apologized for the problems their person caused (most likely the ones who had been coerced against their better judgment in the first place). All promised that secrecy would continue to be maintained when their people returned home so security would not be compromised by a disgruntled scientist’s complaints to their fellows, friends, or family.
With the last scientist’s jet departing his flight line (shock of shock, jets had been sent to retrieve their people quickly, which meant they were just as upset as Feral at their people’s shameful behavior), Feral could return to work, albeit with a headache he hoped lunch and aspirin would take care of.
He sighed when he sat down at his desk and saw the container with the delicious aroma rising from it. A fresh cup of coffee and a bottle of aspirin were also waiting for him. Smiling, he opened the white box and saw a roasted tuna sandwich with all the trimmings. His stomach growled angrily, and he responded by picking up the sandwich and taking a healthy bite.
What a lucky tom I am to have such a thoughtful and efficient assistant. He didn’t know how on earth Sgt. Fallon found the time, but he never forgot to try and care for his superior’s needs despite his own hefty workload.
That tom deserves a raise in rank and pay! he thought, his hunger pangs easing. I’ll be sure to take care of that when all this is over. Setting his sandwich down, he grabbed the aspirin bottle, shook out several tablets then downed them with a large slurp of coffee.
Feeling much better, he slowly ate his late meal and went back to work. A hurriedly written note came to light when he got down towards the bottom of the messages and reports from the facility.
He didn’t recognize the handwriting at first. All the note said was, “Sir, know giant creeplings are a problem but think they will be a great benefit in the mission as cannon fodder. Consider they be cared for carefully and guarded well for this possible use, sincerely, Dr. Konway.” Feral blinked at that for several seconds before exploding into laughter.
When he could control himself again, he pulled his notepad out and wrote up an order for the creeplings to be taken to the zoo. He would call the director and request that the zoo keep the creeplings in a hidden enclosure and keep them healthy. He didn’t know of anyone else that could be equipped to handle those things… they certainly couldn’t at Megakat Prison where they were at the moment. Normally, the things were killed, not kept alive, and the prison had already been demanding he get them out as they were far too dangerous and impossible to feed and care for.
He was forced to agree, and the zoo did seem the better option. He also wrote a return message to Konway. “Excellent idea, doctor. Creeplings will be sent to zoo for their care and maintenance. Keep the ideas coming! Commander Feral.” He reached out and flicked his intercom on.
“Mary, I need something typed ASAP.”
Moments later, his secretary walked briskly into his office and up to his desk. He handed her his notes as he used his other paw to reach for the phone again. “Normal number of copies, Mary,” he told her before turning his attention to the voice that answered his call. His secretary said nothing as she accepted the papers then hurried off to carry out his order.
“Yes, this is Commander Feral. I need to speak to Director Clawburn, please.”
“Commander Feral, is something wrong? It isn’t normal for you to call us,” a light tenor voice asked, concern in the tone.
“I know, and it’s an unusual request I’m making of you.” Feral explained what he needed.
“Absolutely not! Those… things… aren’t even natural creatures, and we have no knowledge of their needs or food requirements much less anywhere to keep such dangerous creatures,” the director objected hotly.
“I understand your objections, but it doesn’t matter. The situation we’re facing is unusual and a threat to the city’s welfare. I know we normally put these things down, not keep them alive, but alive is what we require this time. The reason is secret and on a need to know basis, so I’m unable to tell you why they are so important, only that they are and you are the only place capable of keeping healthy something that is very much alive even if unnatural.”
A snort of disbelief and anger came over the line. Truthfully, Feral didn’t blame the tom.
“Commander Feral, your reasons are so nebulous and open ended that I can’t legally justify doing what you ask nor get the board of directors to agree to it either. Plus, there’s the funds needed to make special housing, provide whatever it is they eat, and figure out what kind of care they might need. Do you see what I’m up against?”
Feral sighed. “I do indeed, but it must be done…” He started to say then paused… The director was right… He did have to answer to a board, but there might be a way to get what he needed, force the zoo to take the creeplings on, and get the board to cooperate. But, he needed to verify if his hunch was correct. “…Excuse me, but I had an idea that will help us both. I need to check it out first. I’ll get back to you by end of today, so please stay available.”
“By the sound of that, I’m going to learn more about creeplings than I ever wanted to know,” Clawburn moaned bitterly.
“Think of it as a new subject you could tell the public when this all over. It would make for an interesting draw for the zoo,” Feral suggested more to say something conciliatory rather than truly serious about it.
“Hmm, you might have something there, Commander,” Clawburn said thoughtfully. Feral rolled his eyes. Now that should be something to see… not! Oh well, whatever made the tom happy; he really didn’t care.
“I’ll call you later,” he repeated, ending the call. A sigh of annoyance and resignation was the last thing he heard. Though he understood the tom’s position, it didn’t matter. This had to be done, and the zoo was the only option. Hanging up, Feral then put in a call to Ms. Briggs.
“Ms. Briggs, I have a small problem I need some advice on,” he said the moment the deputy mayor came on the line.
While retaining the secrecy needed, he explained, “Dark Kat’s creatures need to be kept alive, but the prison isn’t the place to hold them for the duration. The zoo is the better option, however, they are understandably resistant. We need something that will force them to do this as well as appease their board of directors plus funding the things’ care. I think there’s something in the city’s emergency plan that will allow this, but it will require the Mayor’s executive order to enforce it. Since this doesn’t fall under my purview, I’m calling you to get this accomplished.”
At first, Callie didn’t know what part of the plan he meant, but then it clicked. “Oh right, I think I know what section you’re referring to. Let me check it out, and, if it’s what we need, which I’m fairly certain it does, I’ll get the order written up quickly and have Manx sign it. Funds aren’t a problem as this falls under the program already set up. I’ll get to it immediately and call you when I have it done.”
“Perfect, thank you, Ms. Briggs.” Satisfied, Feral hung up. Another issue on its way to being solved.
Callie put her other work aside and went to her file cabinet to retrieve the city’s emergency plan. The fairly thick file was a bit heavy and unwieldy, but she managed to get it to her desk and dropped it with a thunk. Knowing about where the section she needed was located, she flipped through the file quickly then stopped at the right page. She spent the next fifteen minutes reading the section in question and smiled in relief when she found it would indeed work for what they needed.
Quickly, she wrote up a draft of an executive order using the passage from the plan and sent it off with an urgent flag for her secretary to get it done immediately. Within a half hour, the document was ready and Callie was taking it into Manx. Explaining what it was for, she wasn’t surprised when he grimaced in distaste about keeping the creeplings around at all but did reluctantly admit the idea was brilliant.
“I know Director Clawburn isn’t going to like this, but I’m forced to agree that’s the best solution for all. And, I find it ironic that we’ll have a better use for those disgusting creatures than Dark Kat intended them for,” he snorted, grimly amused as he signed the paper.
“I certainly agree with that, and thank you, Mayor. I’ll get this copied right away and delivered to Feral,” Callie said, equally amused. Returning to her secretary, Callie had her copy the document while she put in a call to Feral.
“Commander, I found the passage, and it will work. I’ve already written up the executive order and the Mayor has signed it. If you’ll send a messenger to pick it up, you’ll be able to get what you need done quickly.”
A grunt of approval greeted her ear. “Thank you for the quick work, Ms. Briggs. Steele happens to be out already, so I’ll have him swing by to pick it up then take it to the zoo for me.”
“Glad to be of service, Commander. Good evening to you and remember to leave and get some rest,” she reminded him warmly.
“Only if you will,” he retorted, amused. She laughed, and they both hung up.
When Lt. Commander Steele picked up the order from city hall, he was highly amused and pleased with the reason behind it. When the Commander sent him on this errand, he’d explained what had prompted it. Steele had been surprised to learn it had been Dr. Konway who had suggested keeping the creeplings so they could be used as a weapon against the future enemy. What an elegant solution, he thought with a smile. He had to admit, he wouldn’t have thought of it.
When he handed the order over to Director Clawburn, the tom was decidedly unhappy but acknowledged the legitimacy of the Mayor’s signed command and told Steele he would need time to prepare what was required to hold these things.
“I understand. As we don’t want this to be a hardship for you, sir, we’ll provide you with copies of notes taken on the creeplings by Dr. Konway of our Biotech Lab and Warden Denton of Megakat Prison, in whose care the creeplings are now,” Steele offered politely.
“That will certainly be a help as no one here has any idea about these things except how dangerous they are and that they apparently eat meat?” The last a wondering question.
Steele grimaced but did know the answer. “It’s true, I’m afraid.”
“We have no real problem with that except we’ll need an increase in our meat budget to handle them.”
“Not a problem, sir. The city is picking up the tab.”
Clawburn relaxed somewhat with that assurance. “Well, that’s a relief. Understand… it will take a some time to convert one of our holding cages to handle these things. You did want them hidden as well, so we have to consider our options then reinforce our choice.” Steele nodded his head. The director was talking more to himself then the Enforcer at the moment. “If you have a moment, sir, it would be appreciated if you would talk to my people about what these things need… that’s if you know enough to answer their questions?”
Steele nodded. “It so happens I do…”
“Good. Wait there and I’ll contact who we need to talk to.” Clawburn made a few calls then, over the next thirty minutes, Steele briefed the director’s hastily gathered designers and zoo managers on the needs of their unusual temporary guests.
By the time he left, Steele felt reasonably certain the zoo could take care of the creeplings. He made a note to get the information the director needed from Konway and the warden ASAP too. As a matter of fact, since he would have to tell the warden he would be losing the creeplings very soon, he might as well take care of that right now. It took him about thirty minutes to reach the prison, but soon he was in the warden’s office. The slim, but powerfully built tom was happy the creeplings would be gone but unhappy about how long he’d have to wait to be free of them.
“Oh, no way! We’re not equipped to handle these things. They’ve already injured some of my officers while we try to care for them,” the warden growled angrily. “And, it’s costing a lot to feed those things the raw meat they eat.”
“Easy, I understand, believe me. However, it won’t be that much longer. Only until the zoo can make quarters that are strong enough to hold the creeplings safely. You’ve done a good job so far, just hold out a bit longer,” Steele soothed him.
Warden Denton sighed in defeat. “Yeah, okay. At least I know they’ll be gone, but you’d better find a way to get more meat to us. Those things are ravenous eaters, and we’re just not equipped to provide them with that much raw meat.”
“I’ll see if I can find a way to get some from either butchers or through the zoo resources since they have to feed meat eaters too. I’ll get right on it, promise. By the way, I know you’ve been keeping notes on what you’ve been doing to keep the creeplings healthy and contained. Director Clawburn at the zoo could use that information. Can I get a copy for him?”
“Sure, no problem, and thank you for helping us out. Let’s go see my secretary and get you that information.”
“Thank you. I’ve got to be getting back soon, so I’m glad it won’t take long to get the info,” Steele said as he rose from his seat.
“Sure, understand. By the way, just why are we keeping these things instead of disposing of them as usual?” the warden asked as he escorted the Lieutenant Commander out the door.
“Sorry, that’s classified. All I can say is they’ll be put to good use very soon,” Steele smirked.
Giving Steele a puzzled expression, the warden shrugged and accepted that he wouldn’t be told anything as he turned to his secretary and asked her to make a copy of the required info. He said goodbye to the Commander’s second and returned to his office. Only minutes later, with info in paw, Steele made his way out of the prison and was soon on the road back to the city.
On the drive back, satisfied with how his mission had gone so far, Steele made a note to get the notes Konway had and to contact the zoo about getting food to the prison for the creeplings and prepared what he was going to say in his briefing to the commander. Feral would be pleased with what he’d gotten done and maybe that would be enough to convince the big tom to go home. Feral was bad about taking time to relax, but with all that was on his shoulders, who could blame him. However, it was his and Sgt Fallon’s sworn duty to see that their leader got his rest, and he took that duty very seriously.
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