BEYOND THE SHADOW OF THE MOON

Chapter 24: Recovery and Delivery

Monday morning, he did as promised, looked around for a counselor. He got lucky when he was taking some reports to Ms. Briggs.

"Here are those reports I promised on the Linrell Investigation, Ms. Briggs." He told her as he handed her the report file.

"Thank you, Commander. Oh . . . now that you're here, I need to ask you something personal. This isn't something I like to get involved with but the rumors I've received have been disturbing enough to catch my attention. I didn't think you wanted them to get to the ears of the Mayor. So, can you tell me if there is any truth to what I'm hearing about your behavior of late, specifically, a higher level of irritability, quicker temper and moodiness?" She asked bluntly.

He scowled and nearly lost his temper at such an invasion of his privacy. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. This was what T-Bone had meant that others had noted his more volatile temper of late.

"I am having difficulties dealing with what happened in Galanon. T-Bone brought it to my attention last night that those close to me were noticing I was depressed. He requested I find a counselor. I promised to do that today." He admitted with difficulty, his face flushing with embarrassment.

"Ahh . . . it's good to hear that you and T-Bone are seeing each other again." Callie said in relief, keeping her voice low. No one needed to know this besides them. "Fortunately for you, I just happen to know a counselor. She handles high profile clients and is extremely discreet. Here, let me write her name and number down." She said as she moved back to her desk and quickly wrote down the information and handed it to him. "Please contact her today. Tell her I referred you. Keep seeing T-Bone and this counselor and I'm certain you will be able to get on with your life again." She said warmly.

"I...Thank you . . . Ms. Briggs. I'll try. I'm not much for head doctors but I promised to give it a try." He grumbled barely civil about it.

"I know Commander. No one wants to admit that they need that kind of help but you've been through an emotional ringer. Let us help you. You won't regret it" She said encouragingly.

He nodded glumly and left her office.

He returned to his office and sat at his desk and studied the information, Ms. Briggs had given him. Sighing in resignation, he dialed the number.

The counselor happened to be free and had answered the phone herself. After talking in generalities for several minutes, she suggested a preliminary meeting between them two days hence to see if she could help him. He agreed and penciled it in on his calendar.

Now a month later, he was beginning to feel somewhat better. He still hated seeing a counselor but he had to admit she was very good and already helped him sleep better at night. Seeing T-Bone every few days had also elevated his mood significantly.

Dr. Milton was the one monitoring his pregnancy. He made time to see his unique patient after hours to keep his privacy. Thankfully, when he passed his third month, the nausea had finally abated. Dr. Milton had only one concern and that was if Feral's birth canal would be adequate for the delivery. He made plans on how he would handle that problem when the time came. Meanwhile, the pregnancy seemed to be going alright otherwise.

One thing about the pregnancy that really pissed Feral off was being restricted from being a pilot. He had to always use an enforcer to fly him wherever he needed to go. It was very annoying. He had also been banned from the front lines as well. Despite being the Commander, even he couldn't blatantly break the rule every female enforcer had to abide by. It really drove him bat shit to be stuck in the rear when everything within him screamed to be at the front as he had always been. He would be very glad when this was over.

T-Bone found himself becoming over protective of his pregnant mate. He tried very hard not to say anything that would let Ulysses know how much he wanted to keep Feral in the background where he would be safe. To ease some of his need to protect, he would unobtrusively come between situations that would endanger the Commander and even went so far as to work with the Sergeant to keep Feral from harm.

Razor just sighed and did his best to accommodate his badly distracted partner and keep them both alive when T-Bone was soo focused on protecting Feral from himself.

If it wasn't so dangerous a situation, he would find the whole thing hilarious. The only good thing Razor was really glad of was Feral's ability to teleport out of danger. This relieved much of the stress of keeping him safe.

A month before he was to deliver, he felt he had swallowed a beach ball.

"Kat's Alive! Nothing fits!" He growled in aggravation when he discovered his newly expanded uniform no longer fit.

"Hey, easy. It's not fat you know. As soon as the kitten is born, you'll be you're svelte self again. You only have a few weeks left and you don't need to get yourself so upset about minor stuff." T-Bone said, trying to put things in perspective for the rotund looking Chief Enforcer.

He had to admit privately, that Feral looked truly odd. He was fit and muscular everywhere except directly below his rib cage where a huge swelling pushed out looking exactly like the beach ball description he'd moaned about earlier.

"That's easy enough for you to say. You don't get odd looks everywhere you go. I even had a visiting military leader try to dress me down for looking fat. You should have seen his expression when I told him I was pregnant. You would have thought he'd swallowed his tongue." Feral snorted half amused half disgusted.

T-Bone couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, I know it's got to be tough, but you're not that bothered by what Kats say or you wouldn't be the Feral I know."

"Humph!" The big Kat snorted as he tried and failed to close his shirt and pants, finally giving up completely and switching to the special maternity uniform he had been given and had sworn he would never need. To his disgust it fit. His coat couldn't be buttoned and he felt positively sloppy. Shoving the irritation aside, he left for work as T-Bone slipped away as well.

He had been lucky through most of his pregnancy that only minor omegas had made an appearance to plague the city. But, of course, their good luck couldn't last. He was seeing his counselor who had her offices next door to Megakat University a couple of weeks later, when he caught sight of something odd from her second floor window.

He got up suddenly and went to the window, startling her. As he stared, he saw what had caught his eye. Groaning in angry disgust, he quickly pulled his radio out and called dispatch.

"This is Feral, send Alpha ground force and Alpha chopper squadron to the Megakat University campus. Dr. Viper has his vines surrounding a building on the north side of the campus across from the New Haven Medical Center office complex. Get here on the double!" He barked as he kept his eyes on the developing mess below him.

His counselor had gotten up and gasped at the sight through the window. Viper's mutated vines and flying plantimals were surrounding what he could only assume was probably a lab with something the mutated Kat wanted.

Less than five minutes later, his chopper squadron arrived. He quickly gave orders to see what was going on. The ground forces were just minutes away. A sonic boom shook the building heralding the arrival of the SWAT Kats.

Feral growled in annoyance but had to admit they could probably discover what was happening better than his enforcers especially since he couldn't be down there to lead his troops. He watched in growing consternation as Viper's creatures gave everyone including the SWAT Kats a lot of trouble.

Things went from bad to worse when Viper apparently decided to cause a distraction from whatever he was doing. Vines suddenly headed across the short parking area to the medical complex and crawled up the building. Feral barked at his enforcers to aid in the evacuation of the building. He went out into the hall with his counselor and found the fire alarm. Pulling it he hoped to get the Kats in the building to evacuate quicker.

His men blocked the exits where Viper's vines were and directed the frightened katizens toward the opposite side to safety. Feral had reached the ground and was directing the evacuation when he heard an explosion. He quickly made his way to that location and saw the SWAT Kats firing on the vines and succeeding in destroying some of them.

Before he could see what to do next something wrapped itself around his waist and hoisted him off the ground. He yelped in shock as a vine as thick as a tree had snuck up on him and was now holding him in the air and waving him like a banner. At first he was too shocked to react but when it decided to hurl him toward the Turbokat, he quickly reacted by teleporting himself to a safe spot on the other side of the building Viper was in but in view of the action.

Panting and trying to slow his breathing, Feral tried to see what could be done to stop Viper's rampage. The SWAT Kats had already destroyed many of the vines and plantimals but still had not been able to get close enough to find Viper.

The damage was escalating and Kats were getting hurt. The chaos was too much. Feral concentrated and 'ported all the mutated creatures his magic could find to an empty field he could see a block away. As soon as the creatures vanished, silence reigned as the defenders stood in shocked surprise.

T-Bone had guessed what Feral had done and turned the jet toward the bewildered critters just starting to try and come back to Viper. Razor quickly destroyed them.

Viper was shocked. He had witnessed his beloved creatures vanish into thin air. He quickly dashed out a side entrance to try and escape. He happened to choose the side where Feral was still standing alone.

Angry, Viper charged the Commander. Automatically protecting his belly from attack, Feral made a warding off gesture sending Viper flying backward to slap against the building. The mutated Kat leapt to his feet and stared at Feral with narrowed, confused eyes. He took in the fact the Kat was pregnant and that his paws were still up in a defensive gesture.

Feral had no weapon since his had been shakened from his paws when the vine had snatched him. He eyed Viper cautiously.

"Give it up Viper. My enforcers will put you in jail where you belong." He barked coldly.

"They aren't here yet, Commander! And it appearsss you are in no sssshape to fight. I've never ssseen a hermaphrodite get pregnant before, interesssting." Viper hissed unintimidated. He suddenly leapt at Feral and was again flung backward.

"I can keep doing that until you're battered and bloody, Viper. Do yourself a favor and stay down." Feral snapped.

"How are you doing that?" Viper demanded as he once again climbed to his feet.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Came a familiar growl and a fist flashed out and slammed Viper against the wall knocking the lizard out cold. T-Bone snarled under his breath. His heart was still beating in fright at the danger his mate had been in. Knocking Viper out wasn't half as satisfying as beating the stuffing out of him but it would have to do.

Leaving Viper for the enforcers who were still cleaning up in front of the building, T-Bone walked over to Feral.

"Are you alright, love?" He asked in a low anxious voice. Razor was just walking up watching for anymore critters as his partner checked his mate.

"I'm fine . . . " Feral started to say as his mind raced ahead to the investigation as to why Viper was here in the first place but his plans were derailed by a sharp and intense pain that flashed across his belly. He gasped and placed his paws on his belly in shock.

"Crud! Doesn't sound like you're okay. Razor, we've got to get him to the hospital." T-Bone said sharply helping Feral walk toward the jet parked near them. They had to halt every few feet when Feral would nearly double over in pain. "Almost there . . . just a few steps more . . . " T-Bone encouraged his mate.

It was with great relief, they finally reached the jet and got Feral situated in a seat in the cargo hold. T-Bone quickly took the jet up but was careful not to apply too many g's. He headed for the Megakat Maternity Hospital and had Razor contact Dr. Milton to tell him that Feral was in labor.

Ten minutes later, the Turbokat landed on the helicopter pad of the hospital. Forewarned, hospital staff quickly wheeled a gurney out to carry Feral out. He was soon loaded and rolled into a treatment room. He was examined, stripped, and IV established before being taken to the labor and delivery floor.

Dr. Milton met the gurney as he arrived on the floor. T-Bone stayed close but Razor took the jet home leaving a cyclotron for his partner. Feral was quickly installed into a maternity bed and Dr. Milton shooed all personal except his own staff out of the room. They were still trying to keep Feral and T-Bone's privacy. It would be a media circus if it leaked out about the pair.

The doctor ordered an ultrasound since Feral had gone into labor prematurely from shock and fright. He breathed a sigh of relief that everything with the kitten seemed alright. Since Feral was within a week of delivery, he decided to allow labor to continue.

For the next few hours, Feral groaned and panted unhappily. T-Bone held his paw, offered ice chips, and rubbed his back . . . anything he could do to make Feral as comfortable as possible.

Finally, after five hours of labor, Feral felt the indescribable sensation of pressure to push. He growled and cried out in pain with each push. Here was when trouble reared its head. As Dr. Milton feared, the kitten was having trouble getting through the birth canal. It had made it nearly to the end then stuck. The next contraction caused Feral to scream. He'd never felt such pain before and he was terrified.

T-Bone was scared too. The doctor had a grim look on his face but stayed calm and cool. He ordered a special bar be lowered. Once it came down from the ceiling the metal bar hung just in front of Feral. Next the bed's lower end was dropped so that Feral's would have to stand up.

Sheets and protective covers were draped on the floor below the Commander as he was made to wrap his arms around the bar and squat. The bar was lowered some more until Feral was squatting and clinging hard to the bar. Another contraction hit and he was asked to push down hard.

The doctor knelt on the floor and reached up to guide the kitten as its head crowned. Everyone including T-Bone urged Feral to push down as hard as he could with every contraction. Feral sobbed in pain but did as asked until his face turned red and he was out of breath.

He thought he was never going to get this kitten to drop as yet another excruciating contraction squeezed him in unrelenting pain and he cried out and pushed as hard as he could. Suddenly, the kitten cleared the canal and dropped into the doctor's paws. Feral nearly dropped in utter exhaustion but T-Bone and a nurse quickly supported him and pulled him back to the bed. It was returned to normal so that he could lay down.

While they were taking care of him, the pediatrician was checking the kitten who was blue from its prolonged time in the canal. Some minutes of nerve-wracking concern passed as the doctor and nurses worked over the kitten providing oxygen and massaging the tiny body.

Their efforts finally paid off when a tiny squeak was heard. They continued their efforts and were rewarded with a full throated wail of anger.

On the bed nearby, a smile of relief and joy spread across T-Bone's face as he turned to his exhausted mate to share his happiness but Ulysses was out cold. Sighing, a tender look on his face, he caressed his mate's face. "Way to go love!" He murmured to his insenate mate.

The female kitten was cleaned up, weighed, and bundled in a warm blanket before being handed to the grinning father. Feral finally regained consciousness as T-Bone held their daughter.

"Welcome back, love. Here's our new daughter." He said smiling warmly down at his mate as he lowered the blanket-covered bundle so that Feral could see.

Feral stared tirededly at the tiny face. Dr. Milton came to their side.

"That was a near thing Commander. I'm very glad it had a happy ending. You'll need to rest up from that rather traumatic delivery."

"Ahh . . . no I don't. I'd rather be healed than suffer one more minute of feeling like I'd been split open." Feral rumbled beginning to make a gesture before the doctor quickly reached out and stopped him.

"Wait! I agree that healing up the delivery would be a good thing for you but you can't return your breasts to normal. The kitten will need to nurse and mother's milk is far better than the instant stuff." He warned him.

"Oh, okay, leave breasts . . . " Feral said slurrily as he gestured but made sure it was his lower half that altered to normal. He gave a tremendous sigh of relief and sat up as if he hadn't just been through a grueling six hours of labor. "Much better."

"I'll say. That is the best gift you got from the magic you were given." T-Bone said, shaking his head at this really cool ability. He handed their daughter to his mate. Feral was a bit nervous taking the bundle but was captivated by the beautiful creature he had given birth too.

Dr. Milton was stunned by the complete healing Feral had wrought on himself. He insisted on checking Feral over to be sure and was just completely amazed at the pristine shape Feral was in. If only the talent could be given to others, imagine the number of people it could help but he knew if anyone learned of Feral's ability he would be hounded for the rest of his life. He would keep silent but would keep the info in the back of his mind for a time when it would truly be needed.

"Well considering how healed you are, you only have to stay overnight to insure your daughter is going to be alright and is nursing okay then you'll probably go home tomorrow afternoon." Dr. Milton said shaking his head and saying good evening to them all.

When they were situated in a room and everyone had left them alone at last, T-Bone kissed Feral in heartfelt joy. "Thank you. I know you didn't have a choice and I don't think you should do this again, but I'm still grateful to have a chance to be a father. She's beautiful, Ulysses." He said warmly.

"Yeah, she is isn't she. So what are we going to name her?" Feral rumbled softly hugging his daughter to his chest.

"Callista . . . remember . . . we said we'd name a daughter after the Queen for her help." T-Bone said positively.

Feral frowned a moment than sighed, "Well, why not. It's a pretty name and I've got nothing better in mind."

"Good, then it's Callista Feral." T-Bone said aloud but in his mind he said 'Callista Feral-Furlong'. 'Sometime down the road I'll tell her her full name.' He thought to himself as he smiled down at his new daughter. He would call Razor in a little bit and tell him the good news.

'The year may have started unhappily but this new life made up for that quite well,' Feral thought in wonder.

Fini