THE HAZARDS OF BEING HALF RAPTOR

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

He'd gotten up that morning not feeling like his normal self, or as normal as a flying Kat ever got. He shrugged it off and prepared for work as usual. After kissing Sarena good bye, he took off from his condo's roof and flew toward Enforcer Headquarters.

He turned his mind to an investigation he had initiated on a suspected weapons pipeline into Megakat City. He pushed aside the feeling of something not quite right about himself and focused on what he needed to accomplish as soon as he reached his desk.

It was a cool morning and clear. It was only a fifteen minute flight but halfway there things got strange. His vision grew hazy, a headache began to beat at the back of his head and his wings began to feel like lead. It became a struggle to just stay aloft.

By the time he finally reached the end of the flight line, he couldn't maintain his flight any longer and felt himself fall to the hard concrete, face first, his wings splayed out and his chest heaving for air. His body felt hot and he was very thirsty. The loud sound of running footsteps and shouting voices startled him, nearly sending him jumping aloft again but his body wouldn't cooperate.

"Commander...sir?...someone get the medics...just lay still sir...help is on the way." An officer said in a worried voice as he knelt beside his stricken superior. A cool palm felt his forehead. "Crud! You're burning up, sir!" The officer said in concern.

The air control tower had seen Commander Feral soaring closer but noted something was amiss. They became alarmed when the big flying Kat began to appear to struggle to stay aloft and when he finally reached the flight line, cries of dismay flew around the room when he hit the runway hard and lay flat out on the concrete. They'd sent for a medical team immediately.

More running feet and the sound of something being rolled over the concrete apron rushed up to his supine body. Medics with a gurney came along side of him, shooing everyone back so they could examine him.

Another cool palm replaced the first one. "He's got a high fever. Better start an IV to prevent dehydration." The voice of a medic said as he took out a blood pressure cuff to check Feral.

"Blood pressure is high, pulse is rapid."

Feral felt a needle slide into his arm but he didn't flinch. He felt terrible and so very hot.

"Let's get him on the gurney. Someone prep a chopper to take him to Megakat Trauma Center." The medic ordered.

A voice nearby spoke into a radio, carrying out the medics request. Feral felt himself being carefully lifted and laid on the gurney chest first. They didn't want to try and put him on his back thinking it might be uncomfortable for him to lay on his wings. They carefully folded his wings over his back and gently strapped him down. An oxygen mask was fitted over his face.

"Let's put some ice packs around him to try and lower that fever some." The medic said.

Feral felt coolness against his sides and neck as the medics shoved cold packs under his clothes.

A chopper had roared to life not too far away and he was being rolled toward it. He struggled to stay conscious but his vision kept fading in and out as did his hearing. His head throbbed to the beat of the chopper's blades.

He felt the gurney being rolled into the back of the troop carrier chopper, the wheels were clicked into their floor cleats. The medics sat on either side of him, others were preparing the chopper for takeoff. The solid clunk of the door closing was nearly drowned out by the rotors picking up speed. A sudden lunge that didn't feel so good to his stomach, signaled the chopper had lifted from the flight line and was speeding to the hospital.

Feral's mind was bewildered. He had been fine yesterday but now...everything hurt, he was hot, and felt completely disoriented. It was fortunate he was so out of it or he would have reacted to the fact that he was inside something without his special glasses on. If he'd had more of his mind working, the crew would have been shredded or dying from a raptor going berserk in the confined space. The chopper would have fallen from the sky like a wounded bird.

As it was, he remained too ill to take note of his confinement. On route, the chopper hailed the hospital to warn them of their arrival.

"Enforcer 17, calling Trauma 1" The co-pilot barked.

"Trauma 1...what is the nature of your emergency?" Came a brisk male voice over the radio.

"Patient, Commander Feral, high fever, unknown illness. He landed on the flightline some fifteen minutes ago flat on his chest and unable to get up again. Patient is confused and unable to communicate. He hasn't noted he's in tight quarters yet but there is no saying how long that will last. Insure he's not in a small room. Better get the specialists that know about raptors on the phone, you may need them." The co-pilot said grimly.

All of Feral's officers and flight crews had been trained on what to do around the Commander's changed form. Since he was soo unique, it was felt the more his people understood how to act and care for him the better his chances of survival should something happen to him. That training was paying off now.

"Acknowledged, Enforcer 17. We'll be ready for your arrival. What is your ETA?" The doctor asked as frantic activity swirled around him in preparation for their unique patient.

"We'll be in sight of your landing pad in five minutes." The pilot answered.

"Roger!"

The pilot landed the chopper carefully so as not to jolt Feral too much. Cutting the power quickly allowed the medics to approach within five minutes of his landing. The cargo door was opened and the gurney released from the floor cleats.

They rolled him out then the enforcer medics and the hospital trauma team surrounded the gurney and hurriedly rushed him inside to the room that had been set aside for him. It was a bay that could hold six patients. Patients had been moved out, excess equipment shoved back against the walls, and beds removed except for an overlarge one, before his arrival. All the divider curtains had been pushed back, giving the room a feeling of spaciousness. They hoped it would be enough to keep Feral from panicking.

The critically ill Kat moaned and tried to move his wings. His mind had gotten progressively more hazy as time passed and he was no longer able to make sense of what was going on. With a squawk that sounded weird coming from a Kat's throat, Feral began to struggle against the straps holding him to the gurney.

"Look out! Watch those claws and fangs! We'll have to tranquilize him. I hate to do that since it will mask whatever's wrong with him but I'm not about to endanger everyone here." The head of emergency medical said grimly as he barked to a nurse to get him a sedative. Moments later a loaded needle was slapped into his waiting palm and he swiftly injected Feral in the neck, narrowly avoiding the longer than normal fangs that snapped at him.

Everyone stayed back waiting for the tranquilizer to work. Feral was nearly free of his restraints when he suddenly slumped limply, eyes closing.

"Alright, let's get to it before that wears off." The doctor said sharply, snapping out spat of orders. His team rushed to the gurney and with the help of the enforcer medics transferred the Commander to the medical bed. He was placed on his back, wings carefully tucked under.

As his crew began to undress the Kat, take his vitals, and do a chem panel, the ER doctor asked for the report from the enforcers. The lead medic gave his account of what had happened and Feral's vitals taken at the scene and on the chopper.

After a few more pointed questions, the ER doctor thanked the medic and turned his attention to his patient. The medics rolled their gurney out of the room and returned to their chopper. The lead medic would have to make a report to the second in command and Lt. Feral as soon as he returned.

"I want an x-ray of his chest, ultrasound of his belly, and let's get more ice, these packs are already just water now. His fever is still elevated." The doctor ordered. He stared down at the huge Kat extremely concerned. Treating Feral under normal conditions was hard enough but being mutated had presented a whole new array of problems that challenged him constantly.

He remembered having to get the advice of a vet to treat Feral for a feather parasite just a couple of months ago. He was glad he'd begun a dialog with Dr. Neesom, a vet with raptor experience, so he'd be prepared for any future problems concerning the Commander's raptor half of his mutant makeup. Sighing worriedly, he reached for the phone and called the vet.

Meanwhile, at Enforcer Headquarters, Lt. Felina Feral was just being notified by Sergeant Falon, Feral's personal assistant, that her uncle had been taken to the hospital.

"Has anyone notified my uncle's wife?" Felina asked, preparing to leave.

"I don't know Lieutenant." Sergeant Falon said with a frown.

"I will then. Thanks. Better inform Lt. Commander Raslon that he's in charge." Felina told him.

"Yes ma'am!" The Sergeant said briskly. "Hope the Commander's going to be alright." He added worriedly.

She gave him a wane smile then left for the secretarial pool. Sarena worked there using her maiden name. That was for her own safety. If criminals learned who her uncle's wife was, her life would be in constant danger as it had been when they were dating and Turmoil had kidnapped her.

She reached the large room where the admin offices were located and stepped in. No one really paid her any attention since a lot of officers were in and out of here leaving reports to be done without the admin ever stopping to talk, usually.

Felina flashed a look around the room quickly and spotted Sarena not far away. She had to keep herself from calling out and hoping Sarena would look her way. Finally after several agonizing minutes, she did.

Sarena blinked in surprise to see Felina. She rarely came here, being far enough up in rank to have others do the paperwork done at this level. Felina gave her a tense look then glanced to the door and back at her, conveying a silent message of obvious urgency. Her heart lurched. Felina would only do this if something had happened to Ulysses. She gave Felina a meaningful look and glanced back at the corridor.

Felina turned about and went out the door while Sarena collected her work, sorting it by importance, then gathered up some reports she had planned on taking to the main office later today. Holding them easily and not showing any sign of concern on her face, she made for the door. Once in the hallway, she picked up her pace and made for the main office.

Felina had gone in that direction hoping Sarena would too and was waiting just outside the main office's door. Sarena quickly reached her.

"What's wrong?" She asked anxiously.

"Uncle Ulysses had collapsed when he'd arrived to work. I don't know much more than that. Hurry and I'll take you to the hospital." Felina said tightly.

"Right, this will only take me a moment." Sarena said, her heart pounding with fear. She had taken a moment to put her wallet and keys in her pocket while leaving her purse in her drawer in her desk. Now she was glad she'd the foresight to do it. No one would think anything of her being gone. Many of them got tagged to do other things by officers whenever they ventured out of the admin room so they didn't make a habit of doing so very often but under these circumstances, it was a good thing that sort of thing happened.

She dashed into the main office and delivered her reports to the appropriate boxes then turned and left before anyone could tag her.

Outside again, Felina led her off to an elevator. No one was in the car with them.

Sarena's mind was reeling! "Felina, I don't understand. He was fine when he left this morning. How could he become so ill in such a short span of time?" She asked anxiously.

"I don't know Sarena. It could have something to do with his mutant form." Felina said, her face worried.

As soon as the doors to the elevator opened to the parking garage, the two she-kats hurried to Felina's vehicle. In moments, they were out in traffic heading to the hospital.

They said nothing more to each other during the drive, each wrapped in their own worries for the Kat they cared for. Felina drove at high speed, whizzing through traffic skillfully. They reached the emergency room entrance and Felina parked in a police spot. They trotted across the parking apron and into the noisy, busy, and filled emergency room. They approached a harried looking intake clerk.

"Excuse me, I'm Lieutenant Feral. Commander Feral was rushed here about forty minutes ago. Can you tell me what his status is?" Felina asked.

The clerk blinked at her a moment then something clicked. Usually, they simply got too many patients to remember any one person, but Commander Feral was simply too unique to forget.

"Just a moment, Lieutenant, I'll check!" She said as she called up the appropriate screen. "He's still in an emergency bay being treated. Dr. Tenslee is in charge of his case. I'll let him know you're here." She said quickly then picked up a phone and made a call.

Sarena and Felina waited anxiously for some five minutes before the clerk finally hung up and turned back to them.

"Someone will be out to see you in a few minutes." She told them then went to take care of the next patient.

Sighing, both she-kats moved to stand not far from the door to the treatment rooms. Some minutes later a nurse hurried into the waiting area. Seeing the enforcer uniform, she assumed she was here about the Commander.

"Lt. Feral?" She asked.

"Yes ma'am. This is my uncle's wife, Sarena." Felina answered gesturing to the she-kat at her side..

"Oh yes, pleased to meet you both. We're working to bring down his high fever and Dr. Tenslee is trying to determine what might be wrong with him. Could either of you shed some light on how the Commander seemed in the last twelve hours?" She asked.

"He seemed fine when he got up this morning. He kissed me as usual and took off for work. I didn't see any sign of illness and he ate his dinner with no problem last night." Sarena said trying to recall any little thing that might have been off with her husband.

"I saw him yesterday at work and he seemed fine." Felina added.

The nurse frowned. "Well it looks like its one of those things that strike quickly and without too much warning. Dr. Tenslee has done x-rays, ultrasound, and a variety of tests. But none of the test results can tell us what wrong so he's contacted the vet that's seen the Commander before. We hope he can shed some light on what could be wrong. I'm sorry you can't see the Commander right now because he's being restrained and has tried to break free when he arrived. He's considered quite dangerous. We're doing everything we can. I will keep you up to date on his condition." The nurse told them kindly.

"Thanks for telling us. We'll wait here." Sarena said tensely.

"Sure no problem. You might want to wait in the family area just around the corner there." She suggested then hurried off.

Felina wrapped a comforting arm around Sarena as they walked to the family waiting area.

In the medical bay, Feral was beginning to come around. Dr. Tenslee had finished checking his belly with the ultrasound and x-rays had been taken. He was waiting for the chem results and for Dr. Neesom to arrive.

Feral moaned and began to thrash displacing the ice packs from around his body.

"Easy Commander. Can you hear me?" Dr. Tenslee asked in concern. He didn't need Feral to be flailing out of control again.

Feral didn't answer and continued to thrash. Frowning worriedly, Dr. Tenslee asked for another sedative and ice packs.

Pain flared all over his body, adding to the fire that heated his blood and made him soo hot, he couldn't think, he couldn't really see. The only thing pounding through his brain was to escape. With a scream and sudden lunge, he broke the restraints and struck out around him.

"Everyone down! Watch his claws and fangs! Summon security!" Dr. Tenslee shouted as he crab walked out of the bay with his crew to safety. Feral continued to strike out blindly as he stumbled off the bed and fell to his knees for a moment before lurching to his feet.

Unable to see, he banged into walls and equipment, the bed and anything else in his way. His wings brushed the ceiling and swept things off counters to the floor adding to the mess that was tripping him.

The commotion reached the waiting area causing Felina and Sarena to jump to their feet in alarm. When security guards came running, Felina knew her uncle was the cause of the commotion.

She was right, when moments after the security guards charged into the bay they came back out in a panic followed closely by a stumbling and blind raptor in full fury.

Her uncle made a deadly sight with his wings spread, claws extended and a wild animal look in his blind eyes. She had no weapon she could use that wouldn't hurt her uncle further. She and the security guards frantically hustled the helpless patients, visitors and medical staff away from the rampaging creature.

Feral finally managed to find his way to the ER doors and, feeling the sun on his face, jumped airborne. He flew in one direction which happened to lead toward the bay.

Felina was already on her radio summoning help.

Over at the Megakat City Salvage Yard, a pair of familiar toms were working on an engine when the alert comes over their enforcer band radio.

"Crud! Feral's gone bonkers?" Chance said in confusion.

"He's just very sick, buddy. We'd better see if we can catch him before he hurts someone or himself." Jake said hurriedly. He moved to the garage door and shut it, putting out the temporarily closed sign.

They run to the hatch leading to their hangar, change clothes and jump aboard the jet.

In minutes, the Turbokat heads for the last known sighting of the fleeing Commander.

They met up with the enforcer choppers searching the area and were informed the Commander had been seen heading for the bay. They were told he was blind and doesn't really know what he's doing so extreme caution was needed to manage him.

Razor acknowledged and told them they would keep an eye out as they headed toward the bay. They leave the enforcers behind and reach the bay in minutes, immediately beginning a grid search pattern. It's more than twenty minutes later when...

"Razor, at four o'clock!" T-Bone shouts.

"I see him buddy. Crud, he's struggling to stay airborne. Quick, get closer T-Bone." Razor orders.

T-Bone sends the jet toward the floundering Commander. As he reaches him, Feral loses his ability to stay airborne and lands in the water. Bringing the jet to hover above the struggling Kat, T-Bone holds them steady while Razor lowers a net to scoop up the sick raptor.

He pulls the wet creature into the bay and uses a gas to stop the Commander from continuing his struggles.

"Head for the hospital and notify the enforcers we've got him. Tell the hospital I had to gas him, T-Bone." Razor told his partner.

"Roger, Razor!" T-Bone acknowledged. "Attention enforcers, SWAT Kats here. We've found and rescued the Commander from a dunk in the bay. Razor had to gas him. We're heading to Megakat Trauma."

"Roger, SWAT Kats, thanks!" Came the enforcer dispatcher, relieved he could call off the search.

As the hospital landing pad came into view, T-Bone notified them of Feral's return and his present condition. As soon as he landed and shut his engines, he opened the cargo bay as medical personnel came running to the jet.

Feral was quickly loaded onto a gurney yet again and rushed back to a new area to be cared for as the original room he'd been in was too damaged to be used.

Felina had stayed with Sarena and received word from her dispatcher that her uncle had been found and the SWAT Kats were delivering him back to the hospital. They were relieved and waited word on her uncle's condition.

The SWAT Kats appeared and came to their side. "Hi, Lieutenant. Sorry about Feral. Glad we were able to find him so quickly. I hate to think what would have happened if we'd been too late and he vanished beneath the waters of the bay." T-Bone said grimly.

"I am so relieved you were there. Thank you!" Sarena said, tears running down her face as she hugged them both.

"You're welcome, Sarena." T-Bone said. "We'd thought we'd stay in case he got away again."

"Good idea!" Felina sighed. They returned to the family room and sat down to wait, keeping an ear out for trouble.

Inside the medical bay, Dr. Neesom had finally arrived and was going over the test results with Dr. Tenslee.

"The best diagnosis I can come up with is he has some form of Aspergillosis, a nasty fungal disease that afflicts only raptors. It's really hard to treat but since he's not really a full raptor, a course of AmphotericinB with Clortrimazol should break the fever and arrest the condition. To kill the fungus, spray his entire body and wings with a Lotrimin solution once a day for five days. If he develops congestion in his lungs, which can happen, use a nebulizer with a mix of Clortimazol and water. We can only hope it will help." He said shaking his head. "This was actually the worst thing Feral could have possibly caught. Full raptors never recovered from this disease." He added.

"Then I guess we're glad he's not really a bird." Dr Tenslee sighed. "You gonna hang and see how he does?" He asked as he headed back into the room with his unique patient.

"Yes, for a little while anyway. I'd like to see if it works. If it does, we should see some improvement by morning." Dr. Neesom said, hopefully.

Over the next few hours, Feral was watched closely. He couldn't be moved to a ward so his room was guarded by security and the SWAT Kats. Sometime during the night, Feral developed difficulty breathing and was put on the nebulizer which opened his lungs.

Finally, as dawn broke over the city, Feral's fever broke and his breathing eased. The SWAT Kats went home to get some sleep as did Felina, Dr. Neesom and Dr. Tenslee but Sarena insisted in staying by her husband's side. She was allowed to be in the room with him when it was determined he was no longer a danger.

She sat by his bedside and caressed his forehead for hours as he struggled against the invader that had struck him down so swiftly. By dawn, she succumbed to sleep next to his paw.

It wasn't until late morning that he finally began to awaken, blinking his eyes in confusion. The smells told him he was in the hospital. He looked for a window and began to pant when he didn't see one. As he started to panic, Sarena woke suddenly, guessed what was wrong and quickly reached in her purse for his glasses. She'd made sure she had been given them just in case this happened. She placed them on his face then leaned close so that he could smell her and calm down.

His breathing was harsh and fast for several minutes before evening out and calming again, that is until he tried to reach for her but found himself bound to the bed, starting a new panic but she gently soothed him with her voice as she quickly undid the restraints. He fought down his panic and finally relaxed when he was free to move again.

"Thanks love. What happened? I can only remember bits and pieces." He said softly.

"Oh Ulysses, you got soo sick with some kind of disease that strikes only raptors. Dr. Neesom and Dr. Tenslee developed a treatment to help you. Dr. Neesom said you are lucky not be a complete raptor because the disease kills them. Your kat side is the only reason you are recovering now. I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you, my love." Sarena finished, tears of relief running down her face.

"I'm sorry I frightened you, Sarena. I guess there are some bad things that can strike me in this form. I wonder if I should take back my original form." He said musingly.

"Don't you dare!" Sarena said, smacking him lightly on the arm. "You love flying too much. Things happen. We'll deal with them as they occur. Only if you truly want to return to normal should you do it but not because you are scared of catching something due to your mix. Understood?" She demanded of her mate.

"Understood, love. I won't mention it again unless I really intend to go through with it and only if I'm tired of being this." Feral reassured her.

"Good. Now rest and get better fast. I hate hospitals." She said firmly.

Feral grinned in amusement. "Yes, love." He said obediently.