MegaKat City University Hospital, early evening.
For a moment Commander Ulysses Feral wondered if a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer would be worth the trouble if he managed to hit a SWAT Kat with a hospital waiting room chair.
He decided to find out.
Feral hefted the uncomfortable metal chair closest to him and heaved it at the pair of vigilantes just entering the OR waiting room. Razor had the awareness and wherewithal to duck and roll, but the chair smacked full force into T-Bone, sending the pilot crumpling to the ground in a heap.
A smirk twisted Feral's face. It was worth it.
Immediately concerned with his partner's wellbeing Razor failed to notice Feral cross the waiting room at an abnormal speed and snatch him up by the scruff of his neck, throwing him against a nearby wall. Stunned the weapons officer had no time to defend himself when Feral closed his paws around his neck.
"Why did you ignore her warnings!" Feral shouted, nearly lifting the SWAT Kat off the ground. "Why did you continue to pursue?"
"Who?" Razor managed to get out as air was slowly being squeezed out of him.
"Felina you clown!" Feral tightened his grip around Razor's neck. "She warned you flying too close to that building would bring it down!"
Lieutenant Felina Feral's helicopter crash is what brought Feral to the hospital. Her injuries were severe, to the point he had to notify his brother Augustus soon. The fact she crashed due to factors beyond her control angered him. But the fact the SWAT Kats were directly involved enraged him.
Razor struggled in Feral's grasp. "Hard Drive's drones would have gotten away if we didn't go after him!"
"And that's more important than her safety? The safety of my Enforcers? Felina's copter went down trying to protect her fellow officers and it may have cost her everything!" Feral started shaking him. "She could die!"
"But Hard Drive-"
"Just what were you going to do before you found out Felina crashed? Gloat about it? Rub this in my face? What makes you think that sneaking in here will make it any better?"
Razor said nothing, his face becoming the same color of his G-suit. Nothing would make it any better. It was only a small consolation Felina was able to warn her fellow officers away from the collapsing building.
"Why can't you two ever accept any responsibility?" Feral roared.
Enforcer commandos suddenly spilled into the waiting room. Accessing the situation, they jumped in to pry Feral off the SWAT Kat. A commando tried to wrench Feral's paws away from Razor's neck. Others tried to physically separate the pair.
Feral was a breath away from ordering his officers off him. "Let me go!"
"Sir!" The commando continued to try to pry Feral's paws away from Razor's neck, "It's not worth it!"
Feral blinked. He noticed the blue SWAT Kat in his paws, felt his training kick back in, and released him. Razor slid down the wall, sucking in his breath as fast as he could.
"I want you gone. Both of you," Feral's voice was cold. "Do not try to visit Felina."
"If you do not leave immediately I will authorize my officers to hunt you down with extreme prejudice. " Feral snarled. "Do not tempt me."
In response the commandos moved between Feral and the SWAT Kats, forming a barrier. Razor picked himself up and made his way over to T-Bone, who was gathering himself.
"Officers, escort these two away from the hospital."
The SWAT Kats looked unhappy, but they made their way out of the waiting room with the commandos following close behind. Feral barely had a minute to himself when Dr. Edward Sphynx entered room. The Megakat City University Hospital's Chief of Staff considered himself a friend of Feral's which made what he was about to say difficult.
Feral cut him off. "Just tell it to me straight, Edward."
"Broken leg, cracked ribs, and a bruised wrist are some of her physical injuries." Sphynx sighed. "But what I'm really concerned with is the swelling of her brain. When she crashed she received a good blow to the head."
Feral sank into a nearby chair. He barely registered the rest of Sphynx's words.
"...We're running more tests but for now we put her in a medically induced coma and will place her in the ICU." Sphynx placed a paw on Feral's shoulder. "If we need to make any decisions..."
"I'm her medical power of attorney." Feral said flatly. "Her father wouldn't be able to get here in time."
"I see." Sphynx said. "I'll be continuously checking on Felina. You might want to go up the ICU, so you'll be there for her when she arrives."
Sphynx headed back into the OR. Feral numbly fished his personal phone out of his overcoat pocket. He needed to make the notification call he hoped he'd never have to make.
Sitting in the ICU's lobby, and waiting for Felina to be placed into her room, Feral scrolled through his phone's call log. He noted Felina's phone number was always at the top of the recently called list. She was always calling about something when she went off duty. Sighing to himself, he cleared the list.
Feral decided to call his brother's answering service. Augustus Feral, his older brother, was the Feral family attorney. At any time, he could be in some distant corner of the world protecting the family's shipping interests, working alongside their mother cultivating the family fortune. He swallowed heard. He was going to get yelled at, and receive a dressing down even he couldn't match. And that would only be the beginning. Bracing himself he tapped the number in and waited.
He cut the voice off. "This is Ulysses Feral, I need to talk to my brother immediately. It's an emergency."
"One moment please."
It took one long agonizing moment before the call connected. Finally, Feral heard the tenor voice of his brother.
"This is about Felina, isn't it?"
"She-" Feral blinked. He'd been practicing what to say to his brother for a good half hour. Augustus beating him to the punch caused him trip over his words. "How did-"
"You wouldn't call if it wasn't serious." Augustus' tone was even. "She's been hurt."
"She has a possible head injury. She's going to be in ICU for at least a few days."
"This happened in the line of duty?"
Feral braced himself. Here it comes. "Yes."
"I knew this would happen!"
"I was always going to get this call! She should have never become an officer in the first place!" Augustus continued without stopping, "This is your fault Ulysses! You made being an officer look great to her!"
"You know once Felina makes up her mind there's no stopping her!" Feral retorted. "I had nothing to do with that!"
"Oh really? If you hadn't tried to help her when her passed away this never would have happened!"
Anger raged white hot within Feral. Felina's mother passing away from feline leukemia hurt the family, but he was not going to take blame for trying to offer Felina comfort.
"I'm not the one who ignored his daughter when his wife passed," Feral shot back, "Maybe if you were there to comfort her instead of burying your head in your work and thinking about your own grief, she might have chosen to become an attorney instead of an officer!"
Silence crept over the line. It was a while before Augustus spoke again. "You promised..."
"I promised I would look after her and take care of her. And I tried. But Felina is her own she-kat and a very capable officer. She knew this would always be a possibility." Feral took a breath. "But she needs you here now."
"...I'll be taking the family plane to Megakat City," Augustus finally said, "I was closing a deal in Nekomata City, but I can be in the air within the hour.
Feral glanced at his watch. Nekomata City was halfway around the world. He hoped Felina wouldn't get worse while he waited for Augustus to arrive. "I'll see to it that you'll clear customs."
"Keep me posted. And Ulysses..."
Feral hung up and stood. Felina should be getting to her room now, and he wanted to be there when she arrived.
Feral stared down at Felina's unconscious form. It was hard seeing like that.
Felina looked like she'd been put through the wringer. She was covered in bandages and wore a cast on her leg. Her arm and face were bruised up. The most disconcerting thing were all the wires leading from her to the hospital monitoring equipment. If Felina was conscious she'd be freaking out. She hated staying in hospitals.
Feral brushed a stray lock of hair from Felina's forehead. Just today she was in his office, after barging in of course, talking about how she needed a haircut. She was struggling to keep her helmet on. He smiled. She always barged into his office, no matter how many threats he gave about insubordination and common courtesy.
"The majors were going to summon you before the selection committee to discuss a promotion to Lieutenant Grade Two. I just signed the papers myself." Feral told her, "I know you've been working hard for that promotion."
Felina would be so happy. A sticking point was the fact Felina would have to fight harder for promotions due to being the Commander's niece. Unfair, but accusations of nepotism and favoritism wouldn't taint the promotion. They both wanted her to go to a different city-state just for this very reason. If she wasn't an Enforcer, Feral figured she'd earn her captain stripes by now, leading her own unit. But her father...
Feral paused. Augustus forced them together just for the very possibility Felina would get hurt. He wanted his daughter safe, preferably in a non-combat role. The family fight over this was legendary.
In the end to keep the family peace Feral only accepted Felina into his ranks on the grounds she would be used to her strengths. He wouldn't put her behind a desk just to keep Augustus happy. But he did promise he would use everything in his power to keep her from serious harm.
He looked down at Felina again. He failed her and his brother, just as he failed before. All because he wanted to stick to the law. Maybe being so rigid with the application of the law wasn't to his benefit.
He kept losing those who mattered to him.
"I will not order you to wake up. But I will say that I will not award you with a star for your bravery posthumorously." Feral bent down and grasped Felina's paw. "So get well soon, Lieutenant Grade Two."
Feral squeezed Felina's paw one last time and put it back. He couldn't stand to be in her room any longer, so he decided to go to the lobby, waiting for any calls from his brother. As he left the room, he nearly ran into the one she-kat he didn't expect to see.
Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs stood before him, dressed as if she just left City Hall. She regarded him as she pulled her hair into a messy ponytail. "Commander."
The way she looked made Feral remember the time he met her after she'd been installed as deputy mayor. Same messy, yet pulled together look, born out of trying to heed all of Manx's demands.
Lovely, messy look.
Feral nodded. "Calico."
Callie looked pleased. "Are we back to being on a first name basis now?"
"...Should we be?" Feral adjusted the sleeves of his overcoat as he walked over to her. "It might make things easier, but it's been awhile."
"You know you're the only tom who would call me by my full name instead of shortening it like others tend to do."
"It's a lovely name. I like saying it." Feral felt himself smiling a bit. He bent over her slightly. "In the right situations."
Callie blushed slightly before quickly recovering. "Are you alright?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"You're flirting with me...in public." Callie placed a paw on his arm, "Felina's hurt badly, isn't she?"
"Yes. Her worst injury is her head injury. She's in an induced coma to prevent further trauma," Feral sighed, resuming his more stoic look. "I've already notified my brother."
"The SWAT Kats..."
"Don't you dare apologize for those idiots!" Feral's anger bubbled back to the surface. "They-"
"They caused Felina to crash. I know. Major York allowed me to listen to her last radio call." Callie looked away. "We've come full circle, haven’t we?"
Feral rapidly cooled. This had to be hard on her as well. "Calico..."
She smiled at him, and immediately he felt a bit better. "Can I see her?"
"Of course. She considers you a friend."
Callie gave Feral's arm a squeeze before walking past him to go into Felina's room. He watched her go, squelching any lingering feelings rising to the surface.
Rigid application of the law...
Later that evening....
Callie opened her car's trunk and pulled out the overnight bag she always carried with her. She never knew when she would have to pull an overnighter at city hall, so having an extra change of clothes and toiletries helped. She slung the bag over her shoulder. Hopefully Ulysses would receptive to her sticking around.
Ulysses. It had truly gone full circle. The day she stopped calling him by his first name was the first time she defended he SWAT Kats to him. And now when she can't defend them, they were on first name basis again. He even flirted with her, but she knew it was stress. He wouldn't do it where other kats could hear him.
Felina getting hurt seemed to him hard. Callie knew it did for her. It was difficult seeing her lay in her hospital bed. But it was equally difficult know the SWAT Kats put her there.
She didn't know the reasoning behind their actions. Hard Drive's drones plagued the city for weeks, but why did the SWAT Kats have to capture now? Especially over Felina's warnings? The Commander did mention he was working with Pumadyne to engineer a shutdown code for the drones. Did that galvanized them into trying to capture Hard Drive somehow?
Slamming the truck shut she was about to head back to the hospital when she felt a paw on her shoulder. She whirled to face the threat, only to come face to face with T-Bone and Razor.
"What are you two doing here? If Feral finds out you're nearby it'll be your tails and he's in the mood to make good on his threat!" Callie grasped the strap of her bag. "What were you two thinking?"
The SWAT Kats exchanged guilty looks. T-Bone rubbed his shoulder. "Thinking about-"
"I heard Felina's last radio call! I know what happened!"
"But Ms. Briggs..."
"You ignored Felina! The she-kat who routinely goes against her uncle where you two are concerned." Callie crossed her arms. "I get ignoring Feral at times, but this..."
T-Bone spoke up, "Hard Drive would have gotten away if we didn't chase after his drones!"
"Why were you set on capturing him tonight?" Callie asked. " Didn't he escape anyway?"
More guilty looks. Razor looked down. "He escaped during the chaos of Felina's crash."
Callie just stared at them. "Did you at least try to apologize?"
More silence. Suddenly Callie realized what Feral felt every time she stood up for them. She sighed. "You know I would defend you guys if I could, but I won't for this. I can't."
"But we didn't mean to hurt Felina!" T-Bone said. "It was an accident!"
"Feral could lose his niece. The very least you can say is that you're sorry."
"Why do we have to tell that tom we're sorry?" T-Bone suddenly snarled. Razor placed his paws on him.
"No T-Bone!" Razor hissed.
"Feral will never get any apology from me!"
"Why not?" Exasperated Callie dropped her bag to the ground. "What has Feral done which merits no apology from you?"
T-Bone stared at her, apparently coming back to his senses.
"If this is just to get me back on your side after defending you all these years, you are mistaken."
T-Bone shook off Razor's paw. "...Nothing."
"If you're not going to at least apologize the very least you can do is go out there and get Hard Drive." Callie retrieved her bag. "Don't come back here."
Callie turned her back to them. This was harder than she thought. She realized now this is probably what Feral felt all those years ago. She began to walk away, but Razor's question stopped her in her tracks.
"Why are you defending Feral? Why now?"
"Years ago, Feral tried to apologize for not being able to rescue me from Dark Kat, but he had to adhere to the law. I was too busy trying to get him to accept my two saviors and break the law to accept."
She continued to walk away. "Be safe, you two."
"What do you mean you jumped on the plane?"
Feral needed to get some air so he decided to head to the hospital's heliport. Members of Felina's unit wanted to start a watch for her, so he posted a couple at her room door and in the ICU. Others roamed the hospital. He gave instructions to engage if a SWAT Kat showed up at the hospital. For those Enforcers out in the city, he ordered a strict Do Not Engage command. The last thing he wanted was his officers getting in trouble for taking a pound of fur out of the SWAT Kats tails.
Though he appreciated the sentiment.
While at the heliport he decided to call the family plane to give Augustus an update about Felina. But he was surprised when Octavian answered.
Octavian Feral, the kitten brother of the family, was an award-winning globetrotting reporter. The tom interviewed dignitaries to dictators, and he had his own television news show. He could talk his way in and out of everything.
"I caught the wire about Felina's crash so I caught a redeye to Mao City." Octavian said." I knew Augustus would have to refuel the plane there. That's what we're doing right now."
"You're in Mao City? How fast are you going?"
"Mother started to negotiate with some far-reaching city-states so she decided to get a faster plane. Plus, our pilot got a good headwind." Octavian voice suddenly had a teasing tone. "You've been skipping regular chats with her."
Feral cringed. He was lucky he survived so far without regular talks to his mother. "I've been busy."
"I bet she started asking about her again, didn't she?"
"Don't play dumb. I'm talking about the Deputy Mayor of your fair city." Octavian chuckled. "So, what is your status with her?"
"It's complicated, and that's enough questions from you!"
"Okay, okay. But one last thing..."
Feral could hear Octavian's smirk over the line, "Did you ever get to the Twenty-One Shots stage of the relationship with her?"
"...Do you want me to commit fratricide the minute your plane lands, Octavian?"
"I'll take that as a yes!"
Feral heard Octavian laughing as the phone being wrestled away from him and soon he heard the voice of Augustus. "Is it true?"
"And have you violate attorney-client privilege later? No comment!"
Augustus chuckled, and Feral was glad his discomfort was making his brother feel better. "How's Felina?"
"Some of the swelling has gone down so the doctors might try to let Felina wake up on her own." Feral replied. "I'm going to go stay with her until visiting hours are over then get some rack time. I've stayed up too many shifts."
"We should be in Megakat City in the early morning. Keep me posted."
Augustus hung up, and Feral switched from his phone to his radio. He keyed it.
"Give me customs."
Brief static, then a voice Feral recognized came through. "Customs here."
"A private plane with an Ailuros designation will be arriving in our airspace in the morning. Please expedite the occupants' clearance through customs."
A voice spoke up from behind him, "The Commander I know would be insisting on making sure his customs officers would be going through protocol. Especially since Manx closed the border."
Feral turned around to find Callie standing there, dressed her in athletic outfit instead of her suit. Was she staying? "You've changed."
"I thought I'd stay and keep you company. Do you mind?"
Although he was exhausted he felt a bit better. "No."
"So why are you bypassing protocol?"
Feral simply shrugged as he walked over to her. "No use for it now."
"Maybe if I wasn't so rigid with the law, the SWAT Kats would have actually listened to Felina instead of ignoring her."
"Don't you have to be? You are the Commander."
"I'm a Commander who had to inform his brother that his daughter was critically injured in the line of duty. Someone I promised that I would take care of her. Those laws I was proud of aren't exactly helping me now." Feral flicked an ear. "They're costing me everything."
Had he even told her what he was about to say? Feral swallowed hard.
"My stance on the law," Feral regarded her sadly. "cost me you, too."
Silence crept between them. Feral continued.
"Do you know how hard it was to tow the company line and 'not negotiate with megalomaniacs' only to see the SWAT Kats save you?"
"Tell me, Calico, what has the law done for me? It cost me you, it didn't prevent Felina from getting hurt. Just what am I doing this for?"
Callie grabbed Feral by his uniform and pulled him down to her level. "Have you ever considered maybe I was trying too hard to be politician like Manx at the time and tried to save face? "
Feral was confused. "Save face?"
"When Dark Kat kidnapped me that night, the one tom I wanted to save me, couldn't. I really wanted you to treat me as if my nine lives were worth more than any other katizen in the city."
"I put you in a horrible position and took it out on you. The SWAT Kats were an easy out." Callie said softly. "Everything fell apart after that. I'm sorry."
Feral couldn't say anything. It felt as if a huge burden lifted from his shoulders. He considered not saving her that day one of his greatest failures as commander, and their relationship breaking up because of it always gnawed at him. He fumbled for his words.
"I-We should get back to the ICU...We should-"
Any other words he was about to say was stolen away by Callie's kiss.
Feral paced the floor of the ICU. His officers stopped saluting him an hour ago. The deputy mayor went to the cafeteria to get him some coffee. His uniform was ill fitting and outdated because it was the spare one he always kept on paw, and he adjusted his collar for the tenth time today.
His brothers had landed and were on their way to the hospital. Felina improved through the night and now the doctors hoped she would wake up on her own. Apparently, someone leaked the information, and now the press were swarming the hospital lobby. He no desire to give a press conference.
The elevator doors slid open, and Augustus and Octavian stepped out. Augustus was stockier version of himself, dressed in a three-piece suit. Octavian favored their mother so he was slender, and his fur shade was lighter. He also wore a suit, though a slightly less stuffy version of Octavian's.
To their credit, as Feral passed his officers on his way to greet his brothers they stiffened their spines and saluted, only relaxing when he acknowledged them.
"That never get old. I keep forgetting we're related to someone who welds that type of power." Octavian said.
Augustus stared at the door guarded by Enforcers. "How is she?"
"Better. The doctors hope she'll wake up." Feral paused, bracing himself in case Augustus started yelling again. "I'm sorry, Augustus. My watch, my fault."
Augustus patted him on the shoulder. "Felina would kill me if she thought I'd take any of this out on you."
"Does mother know?"
"She was brought before the Council before I left for Nekomata City and sequestered. So that means she's been granted a new shipping route or she's being made ambassador. I heard rumors of those." Augustus said. "She's going to have a fit when she finds out."
Feral watched as Octavian pulled a small stuffed toy from his pocket. "What's that?"
"Stuffed toy pig. I saw it at the airport before I hopped on a plane bound to Mao City and I grabbed it." Octavian grew quiet, a rare thing for him. "When I started travelling on assignment I'd find one and send it back to her as a joke. She swore she'd set fire to the lot when she left for the Academy."
"Believe or not, she has a trunk full of them in her apartment now."
Feral nodded moved over to Felina's room door and opened it. "I think she's planning for a bonfire soon."
Octavian grumbled and followed his brothers into the room. Felina still lay in bed, off a lot of monitoring equipment since he was recovering nicely. Augustus moved over to her side as Feral and Octavian hung by the foot of the bed.
"She looks..."Augustus choked up. "...like her mother."
Feral and Octavian exchanged looks, knowing what their brother meant. Augustus brushed some of Felina's hair away from her face.
"Asteri mu, it is time for you to wake up."
Felina stirred and her eyes slowly opened. She looked over to where Augustus stood. "Dad?"
Relief washed over Feral. Octavian excused himself to go grab a doctor. Augustus sat down at the edge of her bed.
"If Dad's here I must look like crud." Felina closed her eyes again. "I certainly feel like it."
"Your helicopter crashed of course you feel like it, too." Feral said.
"I know." Felina eyes suddenly snapped back open with righteous fury. "Those two-"
"Not now, Felina." Feral cut her off. "Save it for later."
Augustus was confused. "Who?"
Feral knew if he explained the SWAT Kats to his brother the tom would turn the city upside down to find them. He did not want to deal with the ramifications of that right now. "I'll explain later."
Felina settled back into her pillows. "I am definitely on light duty now."
"I don't want to hear you talk about work right now." Feral eased his authoritative tone back into his voice.
"Don't make me order you."
Felina began protesting when Octavian popped back into the room. "I summoned the doctor. I also came across your Deputy Mayor. Lovely she-kat. I managed to ask her some questions."
"I asked if the number twenty-one meant anything to her. She said it was a fun number."
Feral slowly shrugged out of his overcoat. Octavian looked confused.
"What are doing?"
"I'm going to throw you off the hospital roof." Feral advanced toward him. "I don't want to get my uniform dirty."
"Need any help?" Augustus added.
Octavian turned and fled the room. Feral smirked, knowing he'd come across the Megakat City press corps and turn them on their ears. He returned his attention back to Felina, who finished talking to Augustus. She regarded him in wonder.
"So you and the Deputy Mayor..."
Feral smiled, feeling his mood finally lighten.
~ End ~