TREMBLING ON THE EDGE OF SANITY
Chapter 1: A Shocking Discovery
He had been missing for more than a month. The SWAT Kats had been hunting for a reported omega sighting when they found him.
"I don't see that creep anywhere! You sure he was supposed to have been here, Razor?" T-Bone grunted questioningly over his comm as he searched a lower section of the dank and very old weapons storage facility.
"That's what an eye witness reported buddy. The enforcers haven't managed to get their act together to respond thanks to that idiot Steele." Razor said in annoyance as he searched the front part of the facility. T-Bone grunted an agreement and kept searching.
It had been closed for over a decade. Heavy layers of dust were everywhere as well as mold and fungus where water had managed to seep in. It stunk. There had been reports of Dark Kat having been seen here. They couldn't take a chance he wasn't still here or had left a nasty surprise for an unsuspecting kat to be harmed by so they had to make sure it was safe.
"Well he was here!" Came Razor's grim words over the radio. "There's foot prints from his creeplings in the area. Be very careful, T-Bone." He told his partner.
"Roger!" T-Bone acknowledged as he moved into a hallway of lead doors. He checked each vault. Most were unlocked some were rusted part way open. It was pitch dark down here so he was using his high powered flash. Near the end of the hallway he stopped and stared at what looked like a new lock. Frowning he raised it up a little to study it.
There was no dust on it and it did look new. Still frowning, he dropped the lock which made a loud clank as it hit the metal door in the otherwise silent hallway. He used his flash to study the door carefully but could see nothing unusual about it except for the lock.
Using his laser, he cut the lock off. Holding his glovatrix up in a defensive posture he carefully opened the door with his other paw. It was dark and silent. T-Bone raised his flash and passed its light around the windowless room, a strong odor wafted out making him wrinkle his nose.
"What is it T-Bone? Are you alright?" Razor asked anxiously.
"Get to my location on the double, Razor. I've found Feral!" T-Bone said quickly as he moved to the tight ball in the corner of the room.
Feral's head was buried in his arms and his legs were tucked against his chest, his tail wrapped around him making himself as small as he could. As T-Bone knelt down beside the silent form he could smell fear, sweat and urine. The dark tom was nude. The tabby tom carefully reached out to touch the Chief Enforcer to see if he was alive.
He wasn't prepared for Feral's reaction when his fingers touched the kat's neck. A scream of sheer terror and anguish ripped from the huddled form and it whirled up knocking T-Bone backward off his feet and sending the flash rolling away.
Feral continued to scream, turning wildly from side to side as T-Bone leaped back to his feet and reached down for the flash, flicking it up to Feral's chest trying not to blind the panicked kat.
He was horrified to see Feral's pupils were all black and his face held nothing sane only sheer terror. The kat was now sobbing and trying to escape but obviously unable to see where he was going.
T-Bone stood paralyzed for a moment as the big tom threw himself from wall to wall continuing to scream the whole time. His voice was rough and hoarse as if he had been screaming a very long time. Shaking himself out of his shocked stupor, T-Bone quickly rushed to the tom and grabbed him about the waist.
"Easy, easy...it's alright...come on...it's okay..." He kept saying soothingly trying his best to calm the terrified kat who continued to swing his arms and struggle for a moment longer.
When Feral finally registered he was being held, he froze, heaving for air. He had a confused look on his face and he began shaking his head as if he couldn't believe he wasn't alone anymore. T-Bone didn't let go and continued to make soothing noises.
Feral began to tremble then shoved his face against T-Bone's, whimpering in distress like a helpless kitten. Razor finally arrived and halted in the door at the strange scene.
"T-Bone?" He asked hesitantly.
T-Bone was hugging Feral, caressing his back and swaying side to side to try and comfort the shuddering and now sobbing kat. He looked over at his partner, a grim expression on his face.
"It looks like Dark Kat just threw him in here and left him. I don't know if he's even sane anymore." T-Bone said heavily as he continued to do what he could for the kat that clung to him.
"He stinks!" Razor said wrinkling his nose. He shone his flash around and saw where Feral apparently made his toilet. There was no sign of food but there was an empty bowl on the floor, bone dry. "I think you may be right T-Bone. He was left to rot. I may not have liked him but no kat should have to suffer something like this. We'd better get him to a hospital." Razor said gravely.
"I agree!" T-Bone said as he began to move Feral to the door. It was a little awkward since Feral wouldn't let go of him.
As they moved down the dark hallway, it was slow going as Feral was very weak and wouldn't stop crying and whimpering.
"God! He's a mess," T-Bone murmured upset by Feral's condition. "He's lost a lot of weight and he seems to be blind!"
"Yeah, looks like Dark Kat was going to let him die a slow painful death and being in the dark soo long could be why his sight is gone. Hope it's temporary." Razor said quietly as he led the way out of the place.
Dusk was falling as they walked slowly to the jet and when they got close, Razor opened the cargo door. T-Bone aided Feral up the ramp and settled him onto a jump seat. He tried to pull away so that he could put a seat belt on him but Feral cried out in terror and clung tighter.
Razor looked at his partner worriedly, "I think he's too afraid to let go of another kat after being untouched for so long, buddy. You better just sit with him. I'll take us to the hospital." He said grimly.
"Yeah, I guess you're right." T-Bone said in resignation as he sat down next to the tightly clinging tom. Razor seat belted them both, found a blanket to wrap around Feral then climbed up to the cockpit after closing the cargo door.
Feral cried out in fright when Razor started the jet's engines. T-Bone winced at the scream in his ear as he pulled the tom's head to his chest and caressed the face with his fingers while hugging the tom tighter to him. It seemed to work as Feral stopped screaming and went back to whimpering, pressing his head hard against the other kat as if his life depended on it.
Thankfully, it was a short trip to the hospital. Razor had called ahead and warned the medical team of Feral's condition.
They were waiting for them when Razor put the jet down on their heli pad. After shutting down the engines, Razor opened the cargo door then jumped down to help out. The medics rushed forward. A physician began to examine the Commander while he remained clinging to T-Bone.
"Alright, let's get him inside!" The doctor ordered. A gurney was rolled up and pulled close but when they tried to pry Feral from T-Bone, he clung tighter and squealed in terror. There was such a look of fright on that haggard face that searched blindly for something to hold onto that made T-Bone feel sick at heart. He'd never seen anyone so desperately afraid. Instead of pulling away, the tabby tom leaned forward and made a soothing rumble and mewing sound.
Feral halted, cocking his head to listen while his chest heaved and he panted. The big tom lowered his face and brushed it against T-Bone's cheek before burying his nose in the tabby's neck fur seeking comfort.
Frowning, the doctor shook his head. "I need two cc's of hydrazine," he requested from a med tech. A filled needle was handed to him, he turned and injected Feral. Moments later, the big tom sighed and went limp. T-Bone helped the medics lift Feral onto the gurney.
The Commander was rushed into a trauma bay. His clothes were stripped off, he was examined, cleaned, IV's inserted and blood drawn. Based on the conditions he was found in and the way he was behaving, the doctor decided to send him to the psychiatric ward where they would assess his mental status.
After insuring Feral was being taken care of and giving a description of how they had found the Commander, the SWAT Kats departed, wrapped in their own thoughts.
Arriving at their hangar, T-Bone stripped off his clothes and redressed in his coveralls. He tossed his G-suit in the laundry basket nearby. Still badly shaken, he didn't speak as he made for the ladder to their garage above.
Razor watched his upset partner disappear up the ladder. He took his time changing his clothes before following Chance. When he reached the garage, he didn't see Chance anywhere. He continued on up the stairs to their quarters. There he found his friend holding a drink and staring down at the floor.
"Chance?" He asked quietly as he went to the fridge and got himself a drink. He turned and studied his silent partner. "Buddy?" He asked again reaching out a paw to touch his friend's shoulder questioningly.
"I can't get over the way Feral looked." Chance said in a hushed voice. "And the way he clung to me like I was his lifeline."
"Yeah. I know. It shook me too." Jake said softly.
Chance finally looked up at his friend, his eyes haunted. "Do you think he's even sane?"
Wincing, Jake sighed. "I don't know. He certainly didn't act like he was...but I'm not a doctor."
Grimacing suddenly, as an unpleasant realization hit him, Chance groaned, "Crud, that means we may be stuck with that hopeless idiot Steele. The enforcers might mutiny if they have to put up with his stupidity and pompousness."
Jake grimaced as well, "Ugh! You're right there but even if Feral does recover it won't be for quite a while, Chance."
"I know! Even if I couldn't stand the big lug he was still a strong leader. The city's been screwed since he went missing and now he'll be out a lot longer. What a mess!" Chance said in disgust. Jake just nodded in agreement.
At Enforcer Headquarters, early the next morning, temporary Commander Steele was going over reports and was thoroughly enjoying his position of importance. There was a knock on his door and he called an imperious 'come in'.
Commander Feral's loyal Sergeant strode in looking both relieved and grim which made for an odd expression to Steele's mind. He eyed the Sergeant warily. He knew this kat held no love or respect for him but he did follow orders well.
"Yes! What is it?" Steele demanded.
"Sir! We've received a call from Megakat Trauma Center. The SWAT Kats found Commander Feral yesterday evening. He had been taken by Dark Kat and made a prisoner at an old weapons storage facility. Apparently he was locked inside a storage room with no light, food, or contact for a very long time. He is temporarily blind, very weak, and has reverted to the mind of a kitten. The doctor reports that it was probably the only way he could survive the severe deprivation Dark Kat had left him in." The Sergeant reported, the last he nearly choked on. The horrible conditions Feral had been forced to survive and the state he'd been found in had sickened him.
Steele sat there in shock for a long moment. 'That's just nasty' he thought in horror. Dark Kat was a vicious, smart and quite mad omega and he never wanted to cross paths with him. But thanks to that omega he was now Commander for much longer maybe permanently. Now that he could live with though he was sorry about Feral's condition.
"That's terrible. Did the doctor say anything about the Commander's chances of recovery," Steele asked, properly concerned, though all he really cared about was how long he would be keeping his position.
Grimacing, the Sergeant said, "They didn't really know. More tests needed to be done. All Dr. Fresco said was it might be a while."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Keep me informed of his condition. Dismissed." Steele told him.
The Sergeant nodded, about-faced and left the office.
'Humph, with any luck, Feral might never come back.' Steele thought smirking a little as he returned to the work on his desk.
Later that same morning...
At city hall, Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs, received a disturbing call. She hung up and walked into the Mayor's adjoining office. Manx was putting as usual, he had just made a hole in one into a water glass when she entered the room.
"Mayor Manx, I just received a call from Megakat Trauma Center. The SWAT Kats found Commander Feral and they took him to the center for treatment yesterday evening." She told him.
"Wonderful! Have him come to my office and brief me on where he's been. The citay's been a mess since he's been gone." Manx said in relief.
"Uhm...I'm afraid that won't be possible, Mayor. It seems Commander Feral is suffering from extreme deprivation. According to his doctor, the SWAT Kats found him locked in a dark room without food and water for a very long time. He's thin, temporarily blind, and functions at the level of a frightened kitten." Callie said unhappily.
Manx gaped at her then stuttered, "Bbblind...craazy...bbbut that means we have to find another Chief Enforcer."
Already upset by the news of Feral's horrible condition, Callie was not happy about Manx's response. "He's been the best Chief Enforcer this city has ever had. Don't you dare write him off so quickly!" She snapped at him.
He blinked in shocked surprise at her vehemence. "But Callie, he may be out for who knows how long," he tried to get her to see reason.
"We don't know that yet! Besides his second in command is in charge. It's not like the position is completely unmanned," she said angrily, though she knew Steele was worse than useless as a substitute but she wasn't about to tell Manx that.
"Very well. We'll just hope Feral recovers. You probably should go to the hospital and see him yourself to get a better idea of the truth of the matter," he said backing down and letting Callie handle it for now.
"I think I'll do that." Callie said tightly turning on her heel and leaving the room. Manx sighed then shrugged and went back to his putting.
She stopped in her office only long enough to grab her purse and tell her secretary where she'd be. She wasted no time getting to her car and driving through lunchtime traffic toward the hospital. She was very afraid of what she'd find once she got there.