Chapter 5: Recovery
Feral was disgusted. He was trying to relax at home for the first time in weeks since the cleanup of the city had begun and was watching the news. It was that which had him grimacing unhappily.
Katseye News was doing a series of stories on what had happened during the hurricane. Some were about the people that had been trapped and their harrowing experiences, others were about the brave Kats that had tried to hold back the flood waters with sand bags, scenes of enforcers helping people escaping the storm and fighting to keep the city running when the high winds made that nearly impossible, scenes of looting by unscrupulous Kats, and other pics of enforcer tanks forcing their way through a ruined city.
Then there were the more personal interest stories.
A quick piece was on the SWAT Kats and how they were the ones to brave the hurricane itself to give the city as early a warning as possible then helped to rescue stranded enforcers, volunteers and victims. How Deputy Mayor Briggs single-handedly kept the city running during the crisis. But the most surprising news was the stories by rescuees of the SWAT Kats and the Chief Enforcer working together aboard the Turbokat and saving them.
This story plus another caused a real buzz around the city. It helped to take their minds off their problems for a little while. The second story that had caused eyes to widen and tongues to wag was what Feral had done while trapped in a school basement with the SWAT Kats, teachers, and kittens.
On the screen, Ann Gora was shown interviewing a small group of kittens. "So you say that while you were trapped in the school basement the SWAT Kats and Commander Feral appeared and tried to help you?" She asked a ten year old.
"Yeth! We were really scared but they showed up and we thought we would be leaving but then there was a big boom and everything shook and....and .....it was scary.....I was crying with the others even after the noise stopped. T-Bone found an old guitar and gave it to the Commander. We were so surprised when he began to sing and play the guitar for us. It helped keep the younger kittens quiet and helped pass the time until we were rescued." The little she-kat said excitedly, nearly running her words together.
Ann smiled down at the kitten whose mother pulled her back and hugged her. "Well, there you have it folks. Apparently, our Chief Enforcer has been hiding a special talent that helped keep a group of kittens calm until their rescue. According to witnesses, the Commander has a very beautiful voice and the songs were ones he'd written when he was very young. All I can say is, its nice to know there is a warmer side to our gruff Commander. This is Ann Gora at Katseye News and now back to you Tab."
Feral scowled and savagely flicked the image away. 'Great! Now everyone knows about my 'hobby'.'
Though annoyed by this new notoriety, Feral just shoved it aside in his mind for a later time. He was bone tired. He'd spent the day as he did most days lately, working to repair the Enforcer Building. Since damage in one huge section of the city was extensive, contractors were swamped trying to keep up with the work, necessitating some to do the work themselves if they were skilled enough. Those that weren't, did the clean up work.
Feral was a dab hand at electrical stuff and light carpentry so was working with the more skilled artisans around their building. In between doing that, he kept up with his increased workload in his office while staying on top of the mini-crime wave that was going on by small minded Kats trying to make a buck.
Many of these petty criminals were scamming people on construction work, insurance claims, suing claims, car repair, or just plain looting damaged homes that people couldn't return to. It made for a nightmare of paperwork and a pain in the tail to monitor.
Oddly enough, as promised, the SWAT Kats proved to be a bigger help in keeping most of the burglary stuff down and helped with the heavy lifting around the city. Just their presence alone as they zipped around the city helping, deterred most of the criminal element.
The most recent things they'd done was help lift the repaired spire on the top of city hall while workers reattached it to its base; lift damaged trees away and carry them to a sawmill; pull power poles into place so power and phone could be connected again more quickly; carried civil engineers around the city to assess the sites that needed major repair, such as canals and the Megakat Bridge. They helped there as well by hauling away the damaged span before it could fall and pollute the bay. Later they would help put a new span in place when it was finished.
They also helped right the huge tanker that had been shoved over so its keel was visible and was leaking fuel out the huge rent in its side. Though the environmental clean up crew was getting the oil up, the SWAT Kats helped by using a tarpedo followed by cement to seal the hole in the tanker then righting it.
Though loathe to admit it publicly, privately he thanked them for their valuable help and personally, he was relieved at how fast the city was able to recover the basics due to their assistance.
Sighing, he ended his ruminating and shoved himself from his chair with a groan. A hot bath would be great right now to ease his aching muscles.
On the far side of the city, a pair of exhausted heros were also taking hot showers to relieve aching bodies.
"Crud! I haven't been this tired and sore in a long time." Chance grumbled as he dragged himself to the kitchen to fix something to eat.
"Me either!" Jake mumbled as he tried to stay awake long enough to eat the tuna sandwich and milk he'd made himself. "Glad no one's wanted their cars back that we have in the shop or brought any work to us, though I feel bad that we can't do any towing. We've gotten so many calls for it that I had to disconnect the machine for now."
"Man, that's going to cost us! We probably would have made enough money to pay a good chunk on our debt." Chance groaned unhappily as he dropped into his seat and began eating.
"Can't be helped!" Jake sighed.
"I know.......glad we're getting the city on its feet so quickly. Think we'll be done soon?"
"Hard to say......maybe in a few days we'll know for sure." Jake said, shrugging.
"Hope so." His partner mumbled then yawned.
They both finished, put their plates in the sink and went to bed.
It took over four months of hard work to make the city functioning again and another two months to make it look like the hurricane had never happened.
The aftermath though was another matter. When people had time to focus on their lives again rather than survival, questions began to arise.
Most notably was why the Deputy Mayor was the one taking care of the city in the crisis and not the Mayor? Why the SWAT Kats had to be used for storm monitoring rather than the Enforcers or civil air patrol?
These question caused a rumbling of discontent and a demand for answers from the public. Mayor Manx found himself in an uncomfortable position trying to explain his absence.
Without actually pointing blame, Feral managed to convey that lack of funds was the reason the enforcers couldn't fly in hurricane winds due to outdated jets.
One thing the public didn't find fault with was the enforcers quick response to the danger. They were pleased at how the enforcers got the city prepared as fast as they could, continued to do their duty under extremely hazardous conditions, kept looting down, and aided victims as fast as they were able.
The Deputy Mayor's quick action to get out warnings to the public then her unwavering devotion to duty that kept her at city hall trying to keep it running twenty-four hours a day was nothing short of amazing to them and definitely appreciated.
Then there were the SWAT Kats. They were already heros in the eyes of the public but they fairly shone brightly now from their unselfish duty to the city, but what surprised everyone, was the public felt Feral and Briggs deserved that limelight as well.
Though he was a little tight-jawed about sharing the spotlight with the SWAT Kats, he kept his behavior cordial since the attention could lead to things improving for his enforcers and he'd do anything to see that happen, even kissing up to the public by standing by the SWAT Kats. He still made it clear that the enforcers could not accept the pair as legitimate due to their vigilante status, but that he could thank them for their assistance.
The press were all over the major flap that was occurring in the city council chambers about Manx's behavior. He'd finally done something none of them could accept. Impeachment was the word of the day and spread like wildfire around the city.
Manx protested as loudly as he dared but even he was shrewd enough to realize his days as Mayor were numbered.
Calico Briggs was not really happy about being considered the next Mayor. The position was full of political bullshit work that she despised. The hobnobbing with the wealthy to beg for funds wasn't something high on her list either. Such things prevented her from doing the real work of running the city, she felt. But the steamroller that was public opinion felt she could. Seeing the writing on the wall, Callie hurriedly looked for a competent, deputy mayor that could pick up the scut work she'd done for years.
It took a couple of months, but the council and the public managed to oust Manx. They did allow him a modest pension and mandatory retirement rather than punishment. After all, he did run the city fairly well for ten terms. They wouldn't have been so magnanimous if they'd learned he'd squandered most of the treasury's funds on money making schemes. But Callie felt it wise not to bring that up at all.
So here it was, a new Spring and Calico Briggs was being sworn in as the new Mayor pro tem, until official elections could be held, later that year. Everyone felt she would be a shoe-in for the position. Meanwhile, Callie had managed to find a competent and personable replacement for Deputy Mayor and he stood nearby to be acknowledged.
"Thank you, katizens of Megakat City for giving me this honor to serve you. I promise to do my best and my first action in office is to select Jarret Freebolt as your new Deputy Mayor." Callie turned to Jarret who came forward and nodded to the public then stepped back. "My next promise is to review the budget and meet with the council on increasing the budget for the enforcers that will help them upgrade their badly outdated equipment and training programs."
The crowd near the city hall steps, cheered wildly. The press conference went on for over an hour before finally being brought to an end by the new Mayor.
With all the changes going on, Feral hoped the information about his singing would just disappear in all the hoopla. At first, that seemed to be happening and Feral went about his duties with a lift in his step at the prospect of finally getting on even footing with the SWAT Kats tech.
Unfortunately, there were those that were just waiting for the right time and it wasn't long before he was being badgered by record companies to record his music. The argument most of them used was it would be great PR for him in the public's eyes. A Commander who was a songwriter and singer would put their city on the map and help Katizens regain their spirit after the beating they took from the hurricane.
Feral personally thought that argument to be a low blow. If he refused, he would be labeled a curmudgeon and many would once more think of him as cold and unfeeling now that peace reigned again. He never really cared how the public perceived him. Respect was good enough but ridicule that he suffered often by the SWAT Kats and touted loudly in the press, that he could do without.
So now he was caught in a political net that said he should do this no matter how he felt personally. And, actually, personally he didn't like his private pleasure to be commercialized and force fed to the public. To him it felt like he was seeking publicity for his own use.
It didn't seem he could win no matter what stance he took. Troubled, he finally went to see the new Mayor. Perhaps she would have an idea how he could reconcile this dilemna.
Callie poured them some coffee and handed a cup to Ulysses as she returned to the couch they both were sitting on in her new office. She took a sip and eyed Feral over the rim of her cup. He looked truly unhappy and her mind raced over what could be done about this situation. Suddenly, she had an idea.
"Ulysses, I may have a way that will satisfy the public and give you autonomy over how your music is produced and whether you wish to do more beyond that." She said thoughtfully.
Feral's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Oh, how?"
"Well, I happen to be very good friends with a small record producer. She handles singers that like a small venue for their music and aren't interested in performing concerts. These are people like you that just like doing these things without much fanfare or monetary concern. The producer and owner of Peaceful Tunes is Kelly Strongfur and she insures you get only what you want out of this and nothing more. She does the recordings, the pressing, advertising, and distribution while giving you the control on how much and how far you want to go." She explained.
"That does sound like what I want, even though what I really want is for everyone to just forget about it, but I know that won't happen. Guess I should see her." Feral sighed in resignation.
Callie smiled in sympathy. "I'll give her a call and set up a meeting for you both. When will it be convenient for you?" She asked, rising to her feet and going to her desk.
Feral followed her and pulled out a planner from his pocket. Looking it over, he named a date and time and Callie wrote it down.
"I'll call her today, sometime and let you know. Don't worry Commander, Kelly will take care of you and I can't wait to hear the cd when it comes out." She said warmly.
Feral blushed a bit at that and thanked her, returning to work.
Less than two months later, a small record company published a cd of some sixteen tunes and distributed them to a handful of places around the city. To no surprise of the producer, the cd called 'Music That Soothes the Soul' by Ulysses Feral became an overnight sensation. She was forced to produce more copies quickly.
Feral made an embarrassing amount of money which he quickly invested into his new training program for the enforcers. That added to the funds he was now getting from the city budget, was already showing in the new, more advanced equipment, tanks, jets, and choppers that were being produced for them and in the new influx of young Kats joining the force. Feral was happier than he'd ever been since he took office.
Callie sat in her office, a full four months since becoming Mayor, and listened to a cd while she worked. Her door opened to reveal some very welcome guests.
"T-Bone, Razor! Welcome to my new digs." She smiled warmly at them, rising from her seat to give each a kiss on the cheek.
Both males grinned foolishly, Razor blushing from the kiss.
"We never got a chance to congratulate you. Way to go Mayor Briggs. The city is looking good." Razor said warmly.
"Yeah, you deserve it and we intend to vote for you in the next election." T-Bone added with a grin.
"Thanks guys." She said, smiling hugely. She was about to say something more when T-Bone interrupted her.
"What's that playing?" He asked cocking an ear toward the music he'd just noticed.
Callie grinned. "Just listen."
They stood quietly and listened to the music.
"Wow! That's Feral! How did you get a recording of him?" T-Bone asked in surprise enjoying the music.
"It's his cd. It's all the rage. He really didn't want to record himself but public pressure forced him to. He's keeping it low key though and not going on concert tours or producing more of this for a while." Callie said.
"Oh wow! I've got to get a copy. What's the title." T-Bone said excitedly.
Callie couldn't help but be amazed at how much the big tabby enjoyed his antagonist's music. She had to admit it was more pleasant around here when Feral and the SWAT Kats cooperated together. Made for a better working environment and was better for the city as well.
"It's called "Music That Soothes the Soul'." She told him.
"Perfect title for that kind of music." T-Bone said. "So what did you want to see us about?"
"Oh, I have a little surprise for you." Callie smirked. She went to her desk and unlocked a drawer. From it she withdrew a small but heavy bag. Walking back over to them she handed it to Razor. "Here you go. This is a reward by the Katizens of Megakat City for all the great work you've done for it. Hopefully, it will recoup any income you lost by doing your duty." She said warmly.
Razor frowned and looked into the bag. His eyes widened in shock as he saw what was in it. "We can't take this?" He finally blurted.
T-Bone was puzzled and leaned over to look in the bag as well and gasped.
"Crud! How much is in there and why cash?" He asked in shock.
"Yes you can accept, its free and clear. The monies are from a fund drive run by the school children you helped protect. It is yours legally and it's $5,104. 16. They set little cans all around the city and people put their change in it. They started it some months ago and presented the total proceeds to me to give to you." Callie said firmly.
Both SWAT Kats blushed, embarrassed by this show of support from a grateful city.
"Uhh.....gee this is wonderful. Please convey our deepest gratitude to them Ms. Briggs. They didn't have to do this but we certainly appreciate it." Razor said, emotion roughening his voice a little.
"You're entirely welcome."
Overwhelmed, they gave her a hug and left with their unexpected treasure. Callie sighed and smiled to herself as she went to the window and watched the Turbokat fly off over the city. 'What a difference a disaster can make.' She thought before returning to her duties.