PAYING A DEBT
By BookwormDragon, Beta'ed by ulyferal

Disclaimer: Neither the SWAT Kats Universe nor any of the Characters in the SWAT Kats Universe belong to me. No profit is made from this story on my part. No copyright infringement is intended.


The past...

Feral stretched and popped his neck, trying to get rid of his pounding headache.

This had been a totally awful day - not only had he fired his most promising team of pilots, but the brand new Enforcer Headquarters hadn't even made it a month before falling prey to disaster. He'd lost a 100 dollar bet on that. He had been so sure the new headquarters could remain undamaged for at least six weeks, but noo, not in MegaKat City! Damn it! Still, property damage was a way of life here, and the salvage and repair crews were already hard at work - life would go on, as it always did.

No, what really had his tail in a kink today was the pilots. He had been so sure they were ready, dammit! They were the most promising pair the Enforcers had seen in a long time - inventive, clever, and practically fearless. Combined with their sheer stubbornness, they would have been perfect as the leaders of the new squadron that he was planning.

He had had it all mapped out - choosing the Command Team was the only step remaining, and he had been positive that those two would be perfect for it! But the Enforcers had no place for kats who couldn't follow orders or trust their commanding officers.

Normally, he would never have taken someone else's 'kill' from them, but this had been the final test: could they set aside the thrill of the chase and their personal feelings to follow orders? Could they trust their commanding officers enough to follow orders they didn't really understand?

He had been so sure the answer to those questions was...Yes!

He had been wrong.

By asking them questions that they weren't ready to answer yet, he had failed them. They hadn't been ready to take command of others after all. You couldn't give orders until you had learned to follow them and you couldn't expect your kats to trust your orders if you couldn't trust them or your own commanding officers in turn. For some reason, Furlong and Clawson hadn't learned to trust anyone but themselves and each other. As their teacher and Commanding Officer, he had let them down.

And to compound the disaster, he had lost his temper and fired them. He had punished them for his own failure. A good leader doesn't ask his subordinates for more then they can give - he had expected too much, too soon. And when they had failed, he had taken it out on them, when it was really his own lack as a teacher that was to blame.

Because of his poor judgment, the Enforcers had lost two of their most promising pilots today, and that really rubbed his fur the wrong way. There was no way that he could make this right, too much damage had already been done, but, for future young pilots, he would do a better job of screening them psychologically to prevent this from happening again.

Furlong and Clawson's trust and authority issues should have been detected and dealt with while they were still in the Academy, instead of slipping through the cracks until now. Their present tests and training methods were obviously not sufficient to detect personality problems early on so that they could be corrected before significant damage was done. That would change in the future - never let it be said that he couldn't learn from his mistakes!

Taking four aspirin to drive off his headache, he turned back to the mounds of paperwork infesting his desk. If he didn't know better, he would swear that it bred whenever his back was turned!

Present Day...

Feral turned off the TV, not wanting to watch his latest public rant against the SWAT Kats. Yes, he had strong objections to vigilantes - they were a symptom of a failing government - but he owed them and not just for saving the city's tail again today.

He had failed them when they were under his command. Looking the other way while they lived their lives as best they could was the least he could do to pay back the debt he owed them.

Frankly, he was surprised that no one else had connected the dots - their flying style was distinctive and who else would be able to access the Enforcers' fuel supplies so easily?

Of course, he couldn't really blame the public for their blindness - he had done his best, after all, to insure that no one else would be able to connect the dots, hiding the regular fuel depletion in his own requisitions and asking no inconvenient questions. He hadn't even beefed up security at the fuel depot. And if he made sure that the city always hauled the best bits of salvage to their yard, well...

He owed them and Ulysses Feral always paid his debts.