I DON'T WANT A MATE!
Chapter 32: SWAT Kats Undercover
Leaving their orders from Feral on the desk for Burke and Murray to see, Chance went out the office door and locked it behind him then joined his partner who was waiting in the small, slightly beat up sedan they used for errands.
"Okay, we're set."
"Roger." Jake was the driver and took off through the gate which had to remain open for Burke and Murray to deliver the city's salvage.
"Feels weird doing undercover work and being back in the Enforcers," Chance muttered, staring at the passing scenery.
Jake snorted. "Your real problem with this is not being a pilot. Remember, we did do regular police work on the ground first as rookies before we were promoted to the flight squadrons, buddy."
The tabby rolled his eyes. "Of course I remember and that's not the problem. And besides, I get enough flying time in the Turbokat. No, it's just the thought of trying to work with people who still think we're bad apples even though we never broke the law since we left."
"We were put out for being rebels, Chance, not for breaking the law," Jake reminded him. "That isn't something our peers would forgive or forget."
"And makes them distrustful of us . . . I know buddy. Which is why this mission makes me antsy since I can't be certain our support will be there for us."
"Then we don't rely on them except for those things we have to as part of the mission. We've learned how to be self reliant and if our backups won't do their job because of how they feel about us, then we fall back on ourselves," Jake said, flatly.
"Besides, we're just as good as black ops at sneaking around and digging out information the less than legal way. So this won't be any different except we won't be hiding behind our masks. However, to be on the safe side, we have our secret comm unit with Feral so if the worst happens and our backup fails, we can still get the valuable information to the right paws."
Chance relaxed and nodded. "True and there's Callie if things go really fubar. I'm glad they both have communicators. So our only concern now is getting the dirt on Frostburn and getting it and us out of there with our fur intact."
Jake gave him a grim smile as he turned into the parking garage of Enforcer Headquarters. "You got that right, buddy."
Two hours later, Chance's jaw was beginning to cramp from keeping it tightly shut to prevent him from voicing his growing ire at the nasty remarks being hurled their way under many a soft breath because shouting would have been oh-so unprofessional, while they were being prepped for the mission.
As Chance had feared, none of their backup was happy seeing the two of them much less that they were being given such a sensitive op. It was plainly obvious they'd not been forgiven their disgrace and banishment from the Enforcers, nor, he was rather miffed and surprised to learn, about his mating with the Commander.
Crud! You'd think enough time had passed for that not to be an issue any longer, He thought, disgusted.
Their cold reception and treatment had begun the moment they'd arrived in the parking garage. Jake had parked in the spot they'd been previously given by Feral, however, before they could exit their vehicle, they were surrounded by the steely-eyed black ops team assigned to be their backup. Each armed to the teeth and with weapons drawn and pointed at them.
Keeping their paws in plain view, Jake and Chance waited for instructions. One of the team signaled Jake to roll down his window then shoved two black ski masks through as soon as the cinnamon tom complied.
"Put these on then exit the vehicle, hands up," the same tom ordered.
Without commenting, Chance and Jake did as ordered. Still surrounded by a circle of weapons, the two were hustled toward a nearby elevator. Another member of the team was holding the elevator so no one else would use it or see whom they were escorting. All loaded aboard and one of them pressed a button for the lower levels of Enforcer Headquarters.
For this mission to work, no one could know the pair had been reinstated so few knew they were here at all except for Feral, this ops team, and the RICO team at the mob boss' house which was the reason for the two to be masked and hurried through the Enforcer building.
On arrival to a lower basement floor, the two were kept surrounded as the group turned left and strode down a corridor, stopping a short distance from a heavily guarded door. The leader of the group stepped forward and said something softly to one of the guards who nodded and turned to use a special keycard to open the door. As soon as it slid aside the group hustled the pair inside. They passed through a large room with lighted maps and workstations that were only partially manned and on into a secured conference room. Once inside, one of the team closed and locked the door.
The ski masks were yanked off rudely, nearly pulling their ears off. Jake and Chance stood still and watched the team settle in chairs or stand against the wall opposite them, cold eyes watching their every move. At the far end of the huge conference table three technicians stood waiting, an array of equipment laying before them.
"Strip and put those on but leave the shirt off for now," a tom wearing captain's bars, snapped, his paw indicating a pile of clothing on the table. He eyed them expressionlessly as they walked to the table.
Without speaking, though they did trade an annoyed glance, Jake and Chance stripped and redressed quickly but holding the shirts in one paw. Only then did the technicians signal them to approach. Knowing what was next, the pair walked close then halted, waiting.
Chance had a hard time keeping his cool as he held the shirt he'd been given in a tight fist and stared at the far wall as one of the techs worked to affix a listening wire to his torso and fiddling a bit to make it as invisible as he could. All of them were treating him and Jake as if they were criminals and it sucked. However, even though getting into a row might make him feel better it would waste valuable time.
At least, despite their cold disdain, the ops team did maintain a professional decorum, doing their work briskly and efficiently, though that didn't stop the occasional nasty or snide comment being muttered from the more disgruntled members of the team.
The clothing they now half-wore, were ordinary to the extreme. This was what the thieves had worn during the blitz raid some three months past. The criminals had made themselves appear like the common folk to blended in. But underneath their attire had been all the high-tech stuff they'd used to cause the ruckus that helped them escape so easily with their loot. Someone had thought out all the details of this caper very carefully. Which meant a really savvy and smart opponent. They would have to be extremely cautious and on their toes all the time to keep from being discovered.
The plan was for them to frequent some of the locations where recruitments had taken place, the information having been squeezed from the few prisoners they'd managed to catch. What wasn't so surprising were these locations were in the most mundane of places: cafes, restaurants, pool halls that catered to families, pizza parlors. Unfortunately, they were also locations where a stranger would stand out.
In this the Enforcers had gotten lucky. The neighborhood they'd chosen for this op was one Chance had been raised in. So him appearing there wouldn't raise any alarms. All Chance had to do was spread the word of his need for a job. Word, by way of the press, had already spread that Jake and Chance were persona non-gratis with the Enforcers for doing something so bad that their last link with their former life had been taken away, meaning the Salvage Yard, further cementing their cover story of needing work and a place to live.
Chance's ruminations were interrupted by a particularly loud comment about 'using guys that couldn't follow orders', reaching his ears and making him grit his teeth anew.
We'll show them! He growled to himself. We'll get the job done so well they'll have to believe we're not the same rookies that left disgraced years ago. Especially when the rest of the force learns of what Frostburn's ultimate plan had been for their city. That alone should redeem our reps in their eyes and, hopefully, allow them to handle finding out we're also the SWAT Kats and not freak out and want to shoot us.
Standing a feet nearby was Jake who wasn't any happier than his partner about their treatment but was better able to ignore all the hurtful remarks and just focus on why he was there.
The wire tapping gear, to Jake's mind, were woefully inadequate but he was smart enough to know better than offer any suggestions on how to improve them. He wanted to avoid letting anyone realize just how tech savvy he was. That was still his ace in the hole. When they were out of here, he would quickly upgrade.
"Alright, they're set . . ." one of the techs announced then turned to the pair, "... say something so we can test it."
"Ready to be done with this . . . " Chance growled, ill-temperately.
"Testing . . . " Jake said calmly, giving his partner a warning glance.
Sitting at a mini-command center set up in a corner of the room, the third tech gave a nod and fiddled with the dials on his console for a moment before announcing, "We're live, quality's good!"
"Fine. Time for you two to head out," Captain Refur barked. His team gathered themselves, preparing to escort their two spies back out of the building.
Quickly pulling their shirts on, Chance made the effort to, at least, sound respectful when he responded with a brisk, "Yes, sir!" Jake echoed him.
The reverse procedure was followed, with their heads again covered with the ski masks, they were hustled out and back up to the parking garage. When the two were again aboard their vehicle, the black ops team simply melted away leaving the two to exit the garage on their own.
With Chance at the wheel, they headed toward the west end of the city. Jake fiddled with his wires, attempting to improve their reception. He would fix Chances when they stopped again.
Meanwhile, they had to school their conversations. When they needed to say things that the Enforcers shouldn't hear, Jake tweaked the equipment so that it would emit static to the listeners, but that had to be done infrequently or risk making their allies suspicious.
Their focus now was on enticing Frostburn's people to take the bait and hire them. And it couldn't just be a low level job either or they wouldn't be able to get close enough to the main operation to hear anything important. Now that was going to take some convincing acting work.
"First stop is Pop's News Stand," Chance said quietly as he drove. "He's the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. He'll know where the shady deals are going down."
"And here we are. Stay in the car and let me do the talking." Chance pulled up next to the old wooden news stand and parked. Before he left the vehicle though, he turned and lifted his shirt. Jake quickly fiddled with the wire then gave a thumb's up. Pulling his shirt down carefully, Chance exited the vehicle and walked around to the front of the stand.
"Chance . . . Chance Furlong . . . been a long time there, youngster," Pop said in a rather rough voice.
"Not really. Don't you remember, I was by getting my comic just last month," Chance said, smiling warmly at the oldster.
"Ah yeah, you were. But it ain't time for the next edition so what brings you here," Pop asked, sorting some magazines onto his counter as he talked.
"Well, you see, me and Jake need new jobs. We were unfairly booted out of the salvage yard and we need a new place. We heard someone was hiring, some kind of easy work, good money . . . you heard about it?"
Pop stopped what he was doing and eyed the young tom warily and with some distaste. "Don't be looking for easy work . . . that leads to a road full of trouble. You were always a good tom, Chance. Don't be turning away from that upbringing just cause times are bad for ya!"
Chance put on a fake look of anger and bitterness. "Oh yeah! And what did being good get me? A boot out of the military followed by a shit job for something we didn't do. Save your platitudes, Pop. Now ... have you heard about these people or not?" He growled, hating himself for being the old tom.
Pop reared his head back and hissed. "If you want to die young then look no further than James Doogan's BBQ place down on 4th!"
Chance nodded his head and turned away.
"Think hard what you're doing, Chance! There's no turning back from that bad place!" Pop shouted.
Chance ignored him and climbed into the car. Jake drove off quickly. Neither said anything for some minutes then the tabby muttered, "I hated doing that."
"Yeah, I know, buddy. But think how he'll feel when he learns what we actually did when it all comes out. He'll be grinning from ear to ear and shouting to one and all that he knew Chance Furlong personally," Jake murmured, comfortingly.
Jake just smiled. Chance drove them off to meet the possible mob connection.