Chapter 5: Taking the Queen
Author's Note: I had to make some major changes to chapters 2 and 3, only minor ones in four so you should reread as they change the story quite a bit. Thanks to all those reviewing. Glad you like this short bit of work.
The trip back to the castle was made in silence after they'd laid their plans. Riding deep within the forest kept them from being seen as they quickly arrived near the guardian oak. They dismounted and those with the prisoners headed somewhere else in the forest while the Princes, SWAT Kats and those supporting Prince Luther made for the secret entrance.
Once inside his hidden room, the Prince went and changed his clothing to some very fancy finery that made him look somewhat like a peacock.
"How do I look?" He asked posing like a fop for his brother's perusal.
Feral grimaced. "Ridiculous!"
Luther grinned. "But it works." His face returned to its grim expression. "Stay close behind me and make no sound. Let's go." He turned and led the way out of the hidden room and into the dungeon proper.
What a foul stench! T-Bone thought, his nose wrinkling at the smell of old blood, urine, and vomit plus mold and other unmentionable smells.
Feral's nose twitched at the nauseous smells, bringing back painful memories he would have rather kept buried.
The group moved soundlessly through the dark, dank place for the stone steps going upward. Their luck held as they met with no one on this part of the trek.
Reaching the main floor, the Prince halted his entourage then went ahead to scout the area. He returned some ten minutes later and signaled them to follow him down the richly tiled floors that gleamed in the light of the sun coming in from windows set high in the ceiling above them.
Only twice did the group have to hide when encountering nobles going about their business and the occasional servant hurrying with eyes down on some errand. Finally, they reached the throne room. The twin oak doors with gold handles were open, the room beyond appeared only partly occupied.
Huge draperies hung on either side of the huge doors and it was behind these the prince directed his army to hide and move quietly and slowly toward the throne across the huge expanse of floor at the back of the room and not far from a bay of windows and a balcony where sun streamed in.
In one corner, they noted a group of courtiers talking in low voices and dressed in high court fashions. Guards were posted at least ten feet from each other around the room but surprisingly, none noted the odd movement of the curtains from time to time.
Prince Luther was the only one to cross the floor boldly, pausing to gossip with the knot of courtiers leaving the females tittering and fluttering their eyes at him as he moved off showing every sign of regret as he headed off to greet his mother.
That worthy was in a fairly quiet mood. Apparently having sent for help to end her constant source of annoyance had made her feel more in control so her spirits were more genial than of late. This was a good sign.
He normally did not approach his mother, choosing instead to haunt its corners and avoid her as much as he could. Court protocol required that he attend his mother at least twice a day and he was rather late for the morning visit but his mother was in a forgiving mood.
She stood in her best blue gown, her gold crown set upon a mound of hair piled high on her head. Standing near the balcony, she listened as a minstrel played a lively tune sitting on a stool some feet from her. Two of her ministers were sitting at a chess table on the other side of the room, giving her watchful glances every now and then as they played.
"Ahh, there you are my son," her honeyed voice slithered over him making his fur rise.
"Mother..." he said, taking her extended paw and kissing it before releasing it. "Sorry for my delay. I overslept...had a late night of it I'm afraid," he said in a lazy voice, very unlike the one he used with them.
"You are forgiven. Isn't it a beautiful day," she purred turning away from him and looking outside, a gleam of satisfaction in her eyes.
"Yes indeed it is though I much prefer the night," Luther said, easily playing the courtly game as he smoothly and carefully maneuvered himself so that he stood between her and her mirror that stood to one side of the throne. Once there he made his move.
"Mother, if I may be so bold to ask...do you think my brother is still alive?"
Surprised, the Queen turned toward him and at that moment, Feral stepped from the curtain and fired his laser at his mother's feet while Razor fired a sleep capsule right in her face. She began to roar in fury which allowed much of the gas to be inhaled knocking her senseless in seconds.
While they were taking out the Queen, the Prince used his magical skills to incapacitate the guards and other members of the court as did his officers and T-Bone used his own formidable weaponry to take his half of the room as well as closing the throne room doors and preventing any more of her loyal army from rescuing the Queen before the Prince had taken command.
In less than ten minutes, the coup was over and Prince Luther was now in command of the throne.
"It's done and totally bloodless. I'm amazed, brother," Luther said shaking his head in wonder as his people gathered at his side.
"A lightening attack was something she was never prepared for least of all from you, Luther," Feral said, smiling wolfishly as he looked down at his hated mother who was now tied up firmly and her magic tightly clamped down by a spell his brother had learned just for this occasion.
Over the next few hours, Prince Luther, now King, set about cleaning house. In very little time he had convinced the royal army that he was now in charge and the Queen was firmly defeated. He called an immediate council meeting in the throne room. All nobles were required to attend.
Feral was asked to hide himself along with his strange companions until his brother called for him. He wanted to surprise and stun the court with his brother's return. So for a few hours, Feral and the SWAT Kats lazed about a richly appointed room.
"Well Commander, your brother got what he wanted. Will you stay here with him or go home with us?" Razor asked him bluntly.
Feral eyed them a long moment then said, "Go. This is his kingdom. What would I be doing here anyway. Besides, I'm not accustomed to living with magic nor do I want to."
"I thought you might say that so are you going to ask him if he can get us home again?"
"I already have and he said when all this hoopla is over, he'll query all the wizards in his mother's circle about how it could be done."
T-Bone sighed in relief. "Great, so all we have to do is wait."
Four days after the Queen's defeat, an aunt of theirs who had been kept prisoner in a far corner of the castle for many years, came forward when she was freed and told them a remarkable tale before the court that had just been told and introduced to the missing prince. Everyone gathered there were shocked and surprised by what she said.
"Your majesty. When you were but a wee kitten of three, the Queen had taken thee to show off to a visiting dignitary who she hoped to gain an alliance with by betrothing you to their daughter, the same age as you. Meanwhile, your brother Ulysses had been kept in the nursery. Oh how you cried when the two of you were separated, it fair broke my heart but the Queen was ruthless and shoved young Uly away and dragged your majesty off with her." She paused to sip some wine before continuing.
"Your Uncle Stephen was a powerful wizard but not as strong as his sister so he hid his skills to keep myself and our children safe from her cruelty and the hangman's noose. He learned his sister intended to kill Ulysses and marry off Luther as soon as she could. She was jealous and had no intention of letting her power and rule go to either son for any reason. Learning of this horror, Stephen was determined to save Ulysses. So that night when the Queen dragged poor Luther off, he slipped into the nursery through the door I left open for him and covered the lad's head so that the kitten wouldn't cry out and hurried him out."
The brother's looked surprised and shocked at this further evidence of their mother's total hatred for her children. The SWAT Kats looked sick and angry but also fascinated by the story.
Their aunt proceeded to tell them something even more shocking. "There be another mirror here in the castle, hidden away and unknown for centuries. Your uncle had found it and kept it hidden but learned its secrets. He figured out how to see into other worlds and it was into one of these he dared to travel and leave little Ulysses to hopefully thrive and live a better life than the one he'd been born into. It seems, my nephew, his hopes and mine came true. It is a wonder to see you again and looking just as fine a warrior as Luther," she smiled warmly up at him. Feral was choked with emotion as he leaned over and gave her a firm hug.
"Thank you. Though I missed my brother terribly, I am grateful for what you and my uncle did to save me," he whispered into her ear.
"You are very welcome, nephew."
"Aunt Sophie, could you show us where that mirror is and do you know how to use it since Uncle Stephen is dead?" Luther asked, hopefully.
Their aunt sighed and shook her head. "I am sorry your majesty. I can show you where it is but I have not the skill or the knowledge on how to use it."
"Well then I must study it for myself and pray I can figure out how it works," Luther decided.
It, unfortunately, took him more than two weeks to puzzle out the mirrors secrets then figure out how to call up other worlds but in the end he finally succeeded.
During the time it took Luther to figure out the mirror, he and Ulysses spent as much time with each other as they could. Feral also got to visit and be with his various cousins and other relatives, filling in the many gaps he had of his life before he was taken.
On the day of their departure, the brothers went off alone for several hours and when they returned, they hugged one last time then Feral prepared to leave with the SWAT Kats.
"Are you going to keep this mirror open so the two of you can visit?" Razor asked.
"Yes. I find I cannot bear to be apart from my brother again but we each have different lives now so it will be hard to keep in touch as often as I would like but we will see," Luther said, smiling.
"Well, I for one am glad for that. No one should be apart from family even if the distance is between dimensions," T-Bone declared, much to Feral's surprise.
"Just so, warrior. Thank you for your most valuable help in saving my kingdom."
"We were glad to help," Razor said.
"Hey, what are you going to do with your mother?"
"Yeah, I wouldn't think you'd want her hanging about even in prison. She's much too dangerous," Razor said.
The two brothers gave each other a small grin that was almost evil. It was Luther who answered. "Oh, we've been thinking about this for some time and have come to the conclusion that another dimension will have to do as her prison. It took some looking but we finally found a place where magic doesn't work. It's a simple but harsh place where people must work hard to live. It will teach her humility we think."
"Great idea." T-Bone smirked.
"Okay, time to go." Razor went to stand before the mirror. Through it they saw the museum. He didn't hesitate to step through, T-Bone on his heels.
Feral paused briefly to hug his brother again then he too stepped through. On the other side, he looked back and waved to his brother.
"Call you in a week, Ulysses," Luther said.
"I'll be here, around this time, alright?"
"Perfect. Until then, keep safe, my brother."
"You too." Then the mirror went blank and Feral felt a brief stab of sadness which he shook off. After all it wasn't like it would be forever before he saw his brother again.
"What an amazing adventure. To think there are two of you, Commander," T-Bone teased. He'd gotten a healthy dose of respect for their antagonist and planned on not riding the tom so much any longer.
Feral rolled his eyes. "Get out of my sight you pair of trouble makers," he said without heat.
Laughing, the pair took off. They were surprised and pleased to find the Turbokat right where they left it though there was an Enforcer guard set up around it.
"Hey, your boss is inside. Why don't you welcome him back and let us get on our way," T-Bone said, keeping his voice and manner light and friendly.
The Enforcers were surprised and relieved to learn their Commander had returned but were rather reluctant to leave their posts. Fortunately, Feral had followed them out of the museum and called out an order.
"Let them go."
Relieved, the small detachment quickly left their post and went to stand beside their Chief Enforcer.
Moments later the SWAT Kats were winging their way home and Feral was heading back to headquarters where he had a lot of questions to answer from the Mayor's office and his own officers but he didn't mind. He was home.