Chapter 1: It All Falls Apart

He couldn't stand it anymore. Day after day after day of intense loneliness. The darkness of his soul was swallowing any tiny shred of joy he attempted to harbor. The career he used to hide his pain no longer did. All he had was anger and emptiness. It seemed so easy to accomplish. His job was soo dangerous, a deliberate miscalculation could put an end to his pain but it never seemed to work out. So here he was again and the pain was even greater. A bottle or two seemed to deaden it some. Sleep was a dead dream followed by a groggy morning. Called in to say he was sick...lied for the first time...a bottle to nurse and oblivion to find...that was his day's agenda.

The day before...

Another criminal bit the dust. He should be satisfied and concentrating on the work to do in the garage. Instead what had happened less than an hour ago, disturbed him and wouldn't let him be. He couldn't articulate what it was that bothered him. Sighing, Razor finally set it aside and stripped with his partner for his work coveralls. He knew that whatever it was that troubled him would sort itself out later in the back of his mind.

It was the next morning when it came to him. Horrified he was right, he went and shook his still sleeping partner awake.

"Chance, wake up! Damn it buddy, wake up!" Jake said anxiously as he yanked and pulled at his partner.

"Huh! Whazzup?" Chance said groggily staring up at his upset friend.

"Come on wake up! I've got to talk to you and I don't think there's much time." Jake said urgently.

Startled by the fear in his partner's voice, Chance shook the cobwebs from his mind and sat up. "Okay, I'm awake. What's wrong? Why are you so upset?"

"Yesterday's action with Hard Drive had me thinking something was wrong but I couldn't put a finger on it so let my mind work on it overnight. Well, it came to me finally. Remember when we were just young enforcers and one of our group committed suicide? It turned out he was soo lonely and isolated that he couldn't handle it any more and ended his life by friendly fire." Jake asked his buddy.

"Yeah! How could I forget? We didn't see it coming." Chance said quietly.

"I know. That's when we received that lecture on how to spot this kind of behavior amongst our fellow officers. Well I just witnessed that behavior but because of who it was I didn't want to believe it. However, when I thought back on the other times recently and realized what I was seeing I couldn't ignore it or pretend it wasn't so. I think this kat is going to try again today. His pain is soo bad and no one has noticed. I'm nearly certain the failure to succeed yesterday will push him over the edge today. We've got to go see him and be sure he's okay even if he hates us even more for it." Jake said urgently.

Frowning at his partner, Chance asked, "Who are you talking about? I don't remember seeing anyone showing those symptoms?"

"It's Feral, Chance." Jake said grimly.

Shock rocked Chance back a moment. "Oh now wait a minute...Feral?...Come on Jake, no way!"

"Think a minute, Chance. The time with Viper, how he deliberately got in the way and nearly got skewered by that mutation, or the next time he flew his chopper directly in the way of that bolt of energy from the Metallikats, and finally yesterday, when he walked right up to Dark Kat and was almost bisected by dark crud's laser. Each time you or I pulled him away at the last second. Yesterday, however, he nearly went berserk at you for saving him. He wasn't furious because we interfered it was because we kept him from dying." Jake said tightly.

Chance sat there in shock as he ran those incidents again in his mind. Seeing it the way Jake had he could indeed see the indicators they had been warned to watch for. Though he didn't want to think about it, he also realized that Feral never seemed to be attached to anyone. He always appeared alone. Another marker of a depressed individual. Easy to anger, very rarely happy were other indicators. And yesterday's incident...oh God!...Jake was right they might already be too late. He jerked up from the bed and made for their secret entrance.

"Come on Jake. If you're right, we may already be too late." Chance was down the ladder and dressing in minutes. Jake was pulling his G-suit on quickly and the two of them raced for the Turbokat.

"We don't know where he lives and I don't want to waste time trying to get the enforcers to cough it up." T-Bone said anxiously as he took the jet out into the sky.

"I'm certain Ms. Briggs knows but this is too sensitive to say over the radio so we have to go see her. She should be just getting to work and she should know about this anyway." Razor told him.

"Right, City Hall then." T-Bone acknowledged and headed the jet in that direction. Within minutes they were landing on the landing pad behind the clock tower. They raced down the staircase to Callie's office. Their timing had been good, Ms. Briggs had just arrived and was taking her coat off when they came in and closed the door behind them.

"SWAT Kats?! What brings you here?" She asked in surprise.

"Ms. Briggs, we don't have much time so please listen carefully." Razor said urgently and quickly told her of his suspicions and his evidence to back it up.

Callie gaped at him in shock. She sat down heavily and ran over what Razor had said and her own observations. She realized he could be right and was horrified. "I'm going with you. You might need me. Let's go! I'll tell you on the way where he lives." She said decisively, getting up and grabbing her coat and purse. The SWAT Kats followed her as they hurried back up to the Turbokat.

Sitting next to Razor, wearing a spare helmet, she told them how to get to Feral's home. It was an anxious few minutes as T-Bone guided the jet to Feral's apartment building.

"T-Bone go high. We don't want Feral to hear us yet." Razor warned.

"Right." T-Bone answered and took the jet up a distance above the apartment building and went to VTOL mode. Razor used his X-ray machine to scan the building.

"Oh my God!" He hissed in horror. "He's on the ledge outside a sixth floor window, probably his apartment. Crud, T-Bone we dare not get too close or he'll jump or fall off. Nothing I have will be able to pluck him off without him trying to avoid it. I could try to catch him as he falls but I'd really rather not have to." Razor said troubled and at a loss as to what to do next.

"Take me down. Let me try to talk him in." Callie said grimly.

"Okay, he certainly wouldn't listen to either of us." T-Bone acknowledged the wisdom of her request. He took the jet down slowly and made sure he was over the opposite side Feral was clinging to. Razor helped Callie out and went with her to Feral's apartment. It was locked and Razor used his glovetrix to open it. "Good luck, Ms. Briggs. I'll get back to the jet. If we have to, we'll catch him in a net." Razor whispered to her. She nodded and slipped into the apartment.

Her heart in her throat, she quickly moved through the silent apartment till she reached the open window in his bedroom. She saw empty alcohol bottles near the bed. She hoped he'd listen to her. Carefully, she leaned a little out the window so that she could see which side of the ledge he was on. She found him a few feet to the right. He was huddled up and clutching another bottle. His eyes were closed and he was rocking silently. The rocking frightened her, the ledge just wasn't that wide and each rock had the Commander leaning out into space.

Shaking inside, she gathered her courage and gently spoke to the distraught kat. "Ulysses? Can you hear me?" She thought his first name might reach him than saying his rank. "Please, Ulysses, talk to me. It's Callie. I want to help you." She pleaded.

He didn't acknowledge her. Callie didn't know that he was already lost inside himself and was no longer hearing anything. He raised the bottle to his mouth and discovered, foggily, that it was empty. He dropped it and watched it fall and smash on the sidewalk below. He was so dead inside that he didn't react to its impact or the distance it took to get there. Only a blank fascination was left and the single thought of following the bottle down. He leaned forward and fell. He made no sound and wasn't even aware any longer when the SWAT Kats caught him. Winching him up to the cargo hold Razor pulled him aboard and gently untangled the unconscious Commander from the netting as T-Bone went back down to retrieve a badly shaken Callie.

They took him to Megakat General where they met with a psychiatrist. They told him what they knew and suspected. Callie gave her observations of his prior behavior and what she'd witnessed on the ledge. The psychiatrist thanked them and said it may be a while before Feral would be talking. He said that Feral was completely withdrawn but that drugs and therapy should help him come back but he couldn't say when that would be. Callie thanked him and had the SWAT Kats returned her to her office.

On the roof of City Hall, Callie stood, still numb about what had just happened. "Thank you for saving his life, though he might not be happy you did. I'm going to have to tell Lt. Feral about her uncle and you two will have to do a little more extra patrolling due to his absence." She said pleased her voice was steady even if she didn't feel that way.

"Sure no problem, Ms. Briggs. We kinda guessed that we'd have to anyway. Felina is going to be very upset by this though." T-Bone said quietly.

"Yes, I know. She may have suspected her uncle was in trouble but like the rest of us we just couldn't believe it so didn't allow ourselves to see it until it was nearly too late." Callie said unhappily. "I'm not looking forward to telling the Mayor, either."

T-Bone and Razor grimaced in sympathy then waved good bye as they hopped aboard their jet and went home.

Later that morning, Callie took Felina aside and told her of the morning's events. Felina was shocked and upset. This would affect the morale of the enforcers if word got out. She and Callie decided to release a public statement that Commander Feral was very ill and had been hospitalized but not for what reason. Only the second in command, Felina, Callie and the Mayor would know the true story.

Felina tried to go see her uncle but was informed that he was still withdrawn and not speaking. She spoke at length with her uncle's assigned psychiatrist. She left in anguish. Dr. Woodard said this kind of depression usually occurred because of an unresolved trauma in the patient's past. He'd asked her if she knew of anything that had happened to her uncle when he was young or during his time as an enforcer but she didn't know of any. She promised to ask her father about her uncle's childhood.

It was a sad Felina Feral that confronted her father that evening at her family home. She hadn't been home since last summer. She left work early and hit the road reaching her destination by late evening. Her parents were surprised to see her. Sharing coffee at the kitchen table, she bluntly told them what had happened. Her father was shocked and anguished. Her mother was surprised and looked to her husband for answers.

"The only incident I can think of was when Ulysses was sixteen. He'd been set upon by a group of thugs. He was beaten pretty severely. He managed to drag himself home and our parents rushed him to the hospital. He wouldn't talk very much about what happened and my parents didn't see a need to get him counseling. Uly never talked about that day but I could see him changing. He became harder and more focused on his goals. He didn't make very many friends and even those he cut off when he enlisted in the enforcers. This just doesn't make sense." Her father said in frustration.

"It does if something more actually happened during that attack, Dad." Felina said grimly. "Unfortunately, the only one who knows is Uncle Ulysses." She sighed and looked down at her cup. "Well, I can at least tell Dr. Woodard about this and see if he can get Uncle Ulysses to tell him more."

"I hope so. Poor Uly! He's never been very happy and now this." Her father shook his head sadly.

After hugging her parents good bye, Felina returned to the city the next morning. After calling in that she would be a little late reporting, she went to see Dr. Woodard. She relayed the information she'd obtained from her father. He thanked her and said it should be helpful with her uncle's case. She left for work and prayed that her uncle would recover soon.