CLAUSTROPHOBIA

Author's Note: A short story based on my Viper's Revenge.

He had been afraid that this would happen one day. The criminals would use his weaknesses against him, of course, they never expected what would happen when they did.

Earlier that day, a call had come in about a theft of a new mini-jet Pumadyne had been developing. Despite the upgraded security, this thief had still managed to slip in and take off with it. There had been a suspicious power outage at the same time.

No matter how strange it had sounded, witnesses had positively identified Chop Shop as the thief and there was no doubt in Feral's mind that he had the assistance of Hard Drive to manage it.

His enforcers took off after the jet but it was living up to its name, Quicksilver. The SWAT Kats had quickly appeared on the scene but Chop Shop was managing to stay out of Razor's sharp shooting range.

There was one option and Feral made use of it. He had his chopper brigade hold a net made of steel hanging below them. It took three choppers, one of them being Felina, to carry the heavy net of steel. Feral had them hold their position hidden around some skyscrapers in the path Chop Shop was taking.

On a different frequency, he set his plan in motion.

"SWAT Kats!" He called.

"Yeah, what you want Feral, we're kinda busy here," T-Bone said tightly.

"I have a trap laid ahead of your quarry just herd him toward it and pull up quickly so you don't plow into it." Feral told them giving the pair a quick briefing and heading to take.

"Great idea, Feral. We'll get him there!" T-Bone said with grim humor.

"Where are you, Commander?" Razor asked in concern. His scanner had not picked up Feral's transponder.

"I'm on one of the skyscrapers staying out of the air for now." Feral responded.

Razor gave a sigh of relief. "Roger, two minutes to trap!" He warned as T-Bone forced Chop Shop to turn the direction they wanted him to go.

Moments later, Feral watched as the mini-jet whipped around the corner, "Now!" He shouted in his radio to Felina's crew.

Chop Shop had been laughing and enjoying his joy ride in this souped up little baby but when he flew around the building ahead of the SWAT Kats, his eyes widened in shock. He saw the hanging net too late. "Noooo..." he screamed when his jet hit the net that was instantly released by the choppers to drape over him. The jet kept going but the weight of the net pulled it toward the ground at a frightening rate.

Before he could plow into the ground, Chop Shop quickly cut the power back so that he could at least skim the surface, slowing his forward speed enough to slide over the ground to a stop.

He was immediately surrounded. "Way to go Commander," came T-Bone's congratulations over the comm. Feral looked up to see the Turbokat hovering to insure Chop Shop was captured.

"Fine herding!" He retorted back. The burly pilot just waggled his wings and turned the jet toward wherever their home was. Pleased with his plan, Feral prepared to give instructions to his niece when he received a rude surprise.

He was struck from behind with a bolt of energy that shocked him into unconsciousness.

When he woke sometime later, his head throbbed and his wings felt cramped. It took a bit for him to open his eyes. When he finally was able to, he was shocked to see Dark Kat leaning over him.

"You do excellent work, Viper. A flying kat! Too bad you weren't able to eliminate the weaknesses in this form." He commented to the lizard standing beside him.

"Could have if I'd had time." Viper said dismissively. "I sssstill don't know why you wanted him?" He asked in puzzlement.

Both his enemies had him, Feral's blood ran cold. 'Hadn't they done enough to him?' He thought angrily. He too needed to know why Dark Kat wanted him.

"I thought you would like to correct your mistakes. I guessed you would need the original experiment to do that," Dark Kat grinned evilly. "This form has certain advantages that I would like to explore and exploit."

Viper looked at the huge tom in surprise, "Advantagesssss! What advantagesss?"

"Why, my soldiers would be able to do so much more if they were capable of independent flight, Viper. I have many plans that that ability would be crucial for their accomplishment. So I suggest you get busy determining where you went wrong and correct it. I'll make it worth your while." Dark Kat said cooly.

"It had better be. I will have to ssstart over dessspite having him to experiment on. It will take time. What do we do with him when I'm through?" He asked off handedly, as his mind began to work on the problem.

"Ohh, I have plans for that, do not concern yourself with it now," Dark Kat said closed mouth on the subject.

Viper just shrugged his shoulders and headed for the lab he'd set up in Dark Kat's hideout. Creeplings picked Feral's helpless form up and followed the lizard kat.

"Put him there," Viper instructed the creatures pointing to a metal table. The creeplings laid Feral on the cold surface then strapped him down.

"I've been looking forward to getting even with you for the sssssevere clawing you gave me the lassst time we met, Commander." Viper gloated coming close to Feral with a needle.

Feral squirmed but couldn't free himself, his mouth had been taped shut so he couldn't yell as Viper plunged the needle into his arm and withdrew three vials of blood from him.

He lay on the table for several hours as Viper continued to do tests taking hair, skin, and other specimens from his helpless body. Finally Viper had the creeplings unstrap Feral and take him away. They hauled him down a dark pathway in the mountain until they reached a rough hewn door covering a lasered hole in the rock wall.

When they opened the door, Feral had only moments to see it was pitch dark inside. His whole body went rigid in terror. His raptor instincts instantly reared up and frantically ripped and tore the bindings they had used to keep him helpless.

The creeplings screeched in anger which quickly changed to fear as Feral went completely raptor. Long claws and fangs ripped and savaged any creepling that dared to get too near. The corridor was too narrow and low for him to take off so he screamed in fury as he ran down his tormentors.

In moments he burst out into Viper's lab he had just left. Feral screamed in an eerie combination of kat and raptor that made Viper yelp in fear and duck under the tables trying to evade the sharp claws reaching for him.

This room was larger with a high ceiling and Feral wasted no time leaping into the air, unfurling his wings and lunging for Viper.

Viper's screams and the fear cries of his creeplings brought Dark Kat running from his outer sanctuary. Seeing Feral airborne and making lunging attacks on Viper, he reached for his laser cannon and began taking pot shots at the fast moving raptor/kat.

Feral evaded Dark Kats attempts to bring him down. There wasn't a trace of a kat mentality in the creature that attacked both criminals. DK was hard pressed to try and avoid the raking claws that came at him rapidly, his creeplings fled or dead, he made the decision to leave the field to Viper and escaped down a volcano tube, too small for Feral to follow.

Screaming in fury at the loss of his quarry the raptor/kat returned its attention to Viper. The lizard kat had wisely locked himself in a cage Dark Kat had had on hand. Infuriated Feral circled the cage angrily, finally landing on top of it and hissing down at the terrified mutant.

Meanwhile, Felina and her troops had witnessed the Commander's kidnapping but had been unable to catch the fast moving Black Widow that had snatched him from the roof and took off. Felina had managed to attached a new style tracker to the outer hull of the escaping vehicle.

It had taken them some time to catch up. They had landed in a field nearby and were cautiously ascending toward the cave mouth when they ran into the escaping Dark Kat. They managed to capture the surprised criminal. Felina had several of her enforcers take the omega to Enforcer Headquarters while her group continued into the cave to rescue her uncle.

Dark Kat had not been willing to tell them where her uncle was or what shape he was in so it was a shock when they walked through the outer room and into the makeshift lab to find her uncle in a fury, wings spread, fangs and claws extended, hissing down at a caged and terrified Dr. Viper.

Felina went close and called out soothingly, "Uncle, it's okay...calm down..."

Feral continued to hiss and glare down at his trapped prey. His enforcers stared uneasily at their incensed Commander. No one was willing to get to close.

Sighing, Felina looked around the lab. She spotted a hose attached to a makeshift water supply tank. Moving slowly over to it she fitted a spray nozzle nearby onto the hose then turned on the water. The hose was fortunately long so that she was able to drag it over to the cage. Taking careful aim, she fired a stream of water into her uncle's face.

Feral screeched and spat as he launched himself backwards from the cage and flew higher to the ceiling. Shaking his head, he grumbled to himself. The water had the desired effect though as Feral came back to himself and took in the scene below him.

Shaking the water off himself, he flew back down toward the floor and landed beside the cage.

"I hate being sprayed but thank you, Felina. I lost myself when they tried to throw me into a dark cell." Feral said in mild embarrassment.

"Yeah, I kinda guessed that must of been what had happened. We caught Dark Kat escaping but he didn't tell us what went on in here. You okay, otherwise, uncle?" She asked in concern.

"I'm okay, Felina. Glad you caught that creep. He had plans to make more creatures like me but without my 'weaknesses' he said. He had Viper here trying to figure out what he'd done wrong." Feral spat as Viper was taken into custody by his enforcers and dragged past him. Viper cringed away when Feral hissed at him.

"Then it was a good thing I was able to put a tracker on the Black Widow and follow him here. You might have severely damaged them," Felina said in grim humor.

Feral just snorted and followed his troops out of the mountain cave. On the ledge outside, he looked around. "I'll fly back to cool off. I'm still a bit irritable and won't be able to settle enough to go inside a building just yet."

"I understand uncle. See you when you return." Felina said understandingly. She made her way down the mountain side as her uncle took to the sky. She shook her head as she climbed into her chopper. 'Dark Kat was very stupid to forget how much of a predator her uncle had become from that experiment. Doubt he'll try that again anytime soon,' she thought as she piloted her way back to headquarters.