FOR LOVE OF A PRINCESS

CHAPTER 4: Females can too fight!

Shaking off his ringing head, Firelain staggered after the Princess. Checking the hall, he spotted Rainstar as she disappeared through a door at the end. He tore after her.

Yanking the door open he saw her disappear through yet another door a short distance ahead. The small room he passed through held the enormous clockworks of the huge clock in the tower. The sight of it nearly made him stop and stare but he had to catch Rainstar.

Bursting through the door, Firelain nearly stumbled back into the room he'd left when he saw a huge flying monstrosity of metal rush rapidly closer to the rooftop he stood on, swirling up a hurricane of dust and dirt.

Princess Rainstar in her male persona stood waiting fearlessly nearby a painted circle, her coat flapping from the violent winds that whipped around them as the strange craft swooped in and landed, its odd wing twirling madly around in the air.

Though terrified of the strange mechanical beast, Firelain forced himself to run toward her. He managed to snatch a pawful of her flapping coat, yanking her away from the yawning doorway of the craft.

Screaming over the noise of the chopper he yelled, "You cannot go! I forbid it!"

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Managing to keep her feet Feral pulled against the drag behind her. Turning her head, she scowled fiercely at the fool of a knight trying to restrain her.

Dumb ass! She thought then paused, Wait... suddenly an evil smirk tugged at her lips before vanishing to be replaced by her normal stone face. If he's so determined to come along why not just let him. It might just freak him out enough to leave me alone. Anything's possible.

With a sudden whirl of her body, she forced Firelain to release her coat, then snatched a handful of the male's cloak as he started to fall, easily lifting his weight and tossing him into the chopper passenger section.

Climbing in after him, she snarled, "I have a job to do. And since you're so keen on going along, you get to see me in action. So get into a seat and shut up." Slamming the door closed, Feral stepped past the still startled tom on the floor and made her way to the passenger seat next to the pilot. She cinched her seat belt on then pulled on her helmet. Engaging her mike she barked at the pilot, "Take off!"

The chopper immediately responded to the pilot's swift pull on the yoke, heaving swiftly into the air sending the still unrestrained Firelain flying into the back half of the chopper.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Head and body throbbing from hitting the wall and part of the rear seat, eyes wide with terror, the knight struggled to right himself as the craft bounced around. He finally managed to pull his body into the empty seat. Once there he struggled to figure out how to use the straps he saw holding the Princess and pilot in their seats. But after several anxious minutes, he gave up trying to figure it out and chose to cling tightly to a nearby metal strut.

Noticing a window to the side of him, he looked out and promptly cringed at how far from the ground they were and how fast they were moving as if they were some flightless bird. It didn't help that the roar of the strange beast was deafening, making his ears ring.

Swallowing hard, he realized he dared not use magic of any kind up here. There was no telling what chaos he'd bring on them should he interfere with their ungainly flight. He had no desire to end up falling to his death so he grimly held on and prayed to their Gods for a swift end to this crazy and fur-raising trip.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

As for the Princess, she gave Firelain no further thought as her focus was solely on the battle they were fast approaching. Growling, she could see Dark Kat had rebuilt his nasty Black Widow and was engaging the Turbokat in an uneven battle. Despite everything Razor seemed to be throwing at him, Dark Kat's craft was easily shrugging it off.

Not good and something she'd been afraid would happen eventually.

Studying the battle scene, she noted the entire alpha flight had been destroyed. Par for the course, she sighed mentally. It seemed she always lost too many good Enforcers to this creature in every conflict.

Even though the SWAT Kats had managed to beat the omega in each battle, it didn't escape her that the mutant Kat was gradually improving the deadliness of his tech on each encounter to the point where even Razor, smart as he was, was having more and more difficulty coming up with stronger tech to defeat him. She was betting Razor had become worried about that very thing as well. Unfortunately, it seemed this battle was going to prove both their fears true.

So what to do now?

Perhaps it wasn't all that bad an event her people had found her at last. Perhaps now she could finally end the conflict with this damned omega since she wouldn't have to hide her abilities any longer. She had grown seriously tired of losing. Time to win. But first she needed to test Dark Kat's defenses. Just because she could do magic did not mean it could defeat tech. After all, she'd never tried it and there was no history for her to draw on to know if a battle between magic and tech would always win.

Oh sure, they'd won against the Pastmaster and Mad Kat but they'd simply been lucky. Those two had weaknesses they were able to exploit which was how their side had won. But against the smartest tech enemy they had, she just wasn't so sure she could best him.

Thinking furiously and watching the battle play out below her, she came up with a tentative plan then called dispatch. "Send backup choppers and jets to my location. Hurry up the evacuation of civilians in the area below Manx Boulevard and Megakat Park Avenue. Notify me immediately when that's done. Have a tank perimeter set up to block the intersections to those streets asap!" Acknowledgement echoed in her ear.

Changing frequencies, she reached out to the SWAT Kats. She knew they always monitored the battle frequency so as to know where she and her Enforcers were. It annoyed her most times but not in this instance.

"SWAT Kats! This is Feral. Respond!"

"What do ya want, Commander? We're kinda busy here!" The familiar gruff tones of the pilot growled through her headphone.

The sound of something hitting the jet came through to her ears loud and clear.

Ignoring his surliness, she asked, "Razor, you having trouble penetrating the shield on that thing?"

Razor's clipped response held strain, "Yes ... nothing seems to work!"

"What have you tried?"

"Feral we've got no time to talk!" T-Bone interrupted, veering the jet away from yet another near strike.

"It's important!" She insisted.

"Scrambler, laser, ice, thermal, explosive," Razor shot back.

"I have a plan! Keep him busy! Evacuation of civilians is underway but still need time. Copy?"

"You've got a plan?" T-Bone fired back, disbelief plain.

"Never mind, buddy. I have a feeling I know what Feral's got in mind," Razor cut his partner off. "You do know tech and magic may not play well together," he warned the Commander.

"I know but it's all we've got left. Just do as I ask."

"Roger! Let's go play chicken, T-Bone and hope Feral's idea pans out," Razor ordered.

"I think you're both crazy," T-Bone spat but stopped arguing and sent the jet back into battle. It was going to take all his skill to keep them from dying.

Feral gave a tiny sigh of relief that the pair were willing to follow her lead. Now wasn't the time to be at odds with each other.

Changing her radio frequency again, she barked into her mike, "Climb high enough to avoid the battle. We need to wait until reinforcements arrive." The pilot acknowledged and headed upward at a steep angle then leveled off before halting the chopper in a hover above the battle site. Now they could see the entire battle easily. Someone else could see them more clearly as well. A swarm of mini-jets appeared on the scene and began picking off the rest of her meager forces.

"Take evasive action," she yelled as she fired up her weapons console and aimed her first volley at the small and super fast mini jets.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

The loud whine and explosive rounds her weapons spat made Lord Firelain want to cover his sensitive ears. All around him utter madness reigned.

Surrounding them were much smaller and faster machines that fired glowing red lights at all the bigger flying machines causing them to explode and rain down to the ground. What he could determine of this type of battle was that both sides fired solid and light-like ammunition at the each other until a hit sent the party falling from sky or blowing up spectacularly.

Not all died though if those strange white blossoms with a warrior hanging helplessly beneath them were any indication. Some of them made it to building rooftops while others were killed by the mini machines. It was sheer mayhem out here.

It hadn't taken him long to determine whose side was what and who the main enemy was. A truly ugly and strange clawed aircraft was at the center of the conflict and seemed impervious to the defender's weapons. Meanwhile, an aircraft that looked different from the ones he'd determined were the Princess' fought against this strange ship which lead him to believe it belonged to those two strange warriors, the SWAT Kats.

The battle was unlike anything he'd ever imagined even in his most fevered dream. Turning his eyes away from the chaos outside, he focused his attention on Princess Rainstar. At the moment, she was using some kind of weapon that spat odd ammunition. He watched as she dispatched the enemy very efficiently.

He hated to admit it but she was indeed a skilled warrior and utterly fearless. She killed with efficiency and deadly accuracy as she had earlier with that odd hand weapon. And she was every bit a leader as she ruthlessly sent her people into what was turning into a hopeless battle while sending others to defend the helpless on the ground.

But despite her obvious skills, Lord Firelain feared she would not be good enough to win against such terrible odds. It did not look as if either of them would survive this encounter . However, if by some miracle they did, he had no idea how he was going to convince her to return home with him. It was becoming very clear taking her against her will would not be a healthy nor wise idea.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

While Firelain brooded and waited until the battle ended, Feral's hoped for confirmation that the civilians were safe came through her headphones. She gave a tiny sigh of relief.

While her Enforcers and the SWAT Kats had been fighting a losing battle against the Black Widow and his mini jets flown by ninjas, she noted Dark Kat had not made any real effort to end the Turbokat but continued on to his destination carrying the battle deeper into the city. It appeared he intended to land on city hall's landing pad. This Feral could not allow. Once that creep managed to get into the building they would have high casualties getting him out again.

Taking stock of her surroundings, she determined more than half her fleet was gone, even the reinforcements, leaving only her and the SWAT Kats with just a few jets surrounding her own chopper left in the sky.

"SWAT Kats time to end this thing. Listen up!"

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Inside the cockpit, T-Bone's face held a grimace of determination and anger. The Turbokat was getting battered. Nothing his partner seemed to do could make a dent in Dark Kat's ship or beat back his formidable weapon's strikes. It didn't help that more of Dark Kat's army had suddenly appeared making things even more complicated and suicidal.

Switching to private communication, he asked, "Razor, what do we do now? We're out numbered here and he's ignoring us completely."

Razor was scowling at his weapon's board in fierce concentration. All his newest weapons were having no effect against the arsenal Dark Kat had fired on them and his new shield was effectively deflecting all Razor attempts to pierce it or shut it down which was why the omega was no longer bothering with them. He knew Razor had nothing left to toss at him except munitions that would have no effect ... useless.

Feeling cold and defeated, he gave his friend the only answer he had. "I have no damn idea! Nothing I have has made a dent in his shield so he feels totally confident in ignoring us. At least his mini-fleet doesn't have those same shields but there are so many of them that Feral and us may not get out of this alive. Certainly, we can't stop Dark Kat from reaching his goal."

"Yeah, I can see him nearly reaching city hall and it makes me sick that we can't stop him," T-Bone agreed. "So, what do you want to do? Feral wanted us to keep mutant puss busy until the civilians are safe and by the looks of things down below we seemed to have succeeded but now what do we do? Besides keep battering at these mini-ships till we're out of ammo."

"Except for the laser and a few missiles, we are out of ammo, buddy. This may be it for us." Razor's voice was bitter with resignation and anger.

Hearing his best friend admit defeat made T-Bone's heart sink and his blood go cold. This was exactly the scenario Razor had feared for some time now. This very subject had come up while they had been repairing the Turbokat after their last encounter with Dark Kat.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Some months ago...

"I'm worried buddy."

"Huh? About what?" Chance eyed his partner in surprise pausing in his work to loosen a strut in the wheel well beneath the nose gear. He'd been leaning out to grab another tool when Jake spoke up. The smaller Kat had been finishing up work on a malfunctioning missile at his work bench.

Staring bleakly over at his friend, Jake sighed. "No matter how many modifications I make to the jet or how many new weapon designs I come up with, Dark Kat is out stripping me. I'm beginning to fear the next time we cross paths, he will out-tech me and that will be it for us."

Chance stepped out of the wheel well and walked slowly over to his friend. He stared down at the missile then up at his Jake's worried face. "Actually, I was beginning to worry about that too," he admitted. "So what do you suggest we do?"

"Honestly?" Jake shrugged his shoulders. "I have no idea."

"You sound as if you want to toss in the towel?"

Jake rolled his eyes. "Not even close! I just wanted you to be aware that we're on borrowed time."

Chance smiled sadly. "Yeah, but then we always were. So fight on...right?"

Jake gave him a fierce grin back showing lots of fang. "You bet your ass we will."

And that was the end of the discussion. But then what else could be said? They had chosen to do this no matter what the cost.

And the situation was so dire, Jake had even suggested telling Feral just how serious things had gotten. That had been an interesting conversation.

During another tango with an omega, they had managed to corral Feral for a private word. When finished his warning, which Feral listened to without interruption a new first, he didn't appear surprised at all. He thanked them (shocking!) for the information and left them without another word.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

His mind returned to the present with a jolt as a stray blast from one of the mini-ships managed to strike the left wing. Cursing, he took evasive action as Razor used the laser to turn the mini jet into a spinning star of damaged metal that hit a sister aircraft before both disappeared from view.

He only prayed that whatever Feral had planned would save their bacon. He was still shocked to learn Feral that not only was the Commander a fugitive but he wasn't even the correct sex in appearance. A Princess of all things! Who the hell would have guessed it? He hoped they all survived for him to learn more about this mysterious Princess and why she had fled her homeland for Megakat City.

Speaking of a certain Commander, the radio came alive with that familiar baritone, gruff voice.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

"Civilians are safe! I need you to lead those mini-ships away from Dark Kat while I take him on," she ordered.

"Roger. I hope you know what you're doing, Commander," T-Bone responded.

"I'm not certain it will work but we have no other options." Not waiting for a response, she continued on, "Just keep above me and behind if you return. If my plan works, our enemy will be gone for good. You copy?"

There wasn't a response for several seconds, then ... "Roger, acknowledged and good luck ... Princess!" T-Bone answered not being able to resist a dig at her.

Feral felt a blush burn her cheeks for no darn reason as she watched the arrogant pilot take the Turbokat straight up and like she hoped, most of the mini-ships hounded after the fast jet. The sporadic bloom of weapon's fire told her Razor still had enough ammo to deal with them. Within minutes the battle field was cleared for her own attack.

Relieved, she directed her pilot to close in on Dark Kat's ship ignoring his shocked glance. Discipline made him obey and soon her chopper was making quick erasure of the distance. When the Black Widow loomed large in the forward windshield, Feral opened a side wing window.

"Halt here!" She barked over the roar of the wind and engines of the chopper. The pilot obeyed with alacrity though he swallowed with no little fear. She spared him a grim smile. "Don't worry, I'm not crazy but what I do next is going to freak you out. Take evasive action when deemed necessary but keep me in sight of that ship until I tell you otherwise. Got it?"

"Y-Yes sir!" The pilot stuttered.

Turning away, Feral took a deep breath and released it then raised her paws toward the window. Okay, here goes everything.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

In the rear area of the chopper and completely forgotten, Lord Firelain's eyes widened in horror as he watched the Princess' aircraft close in on the abomination they'd been fighting.

By the stars, she is crazy! He thought, trying desperately to keep his stomach contents where they belonged. What madness is she contemplating attacking such a strange vessel without hope of defeating it? Even if I know not the rules of this strange battle, I can see her fleet is hopelessly out matched. I'm not even certain our magic could win out against such a formidable enemy. Yet she has sent her fleet away and is going to take on this enemy alone. I must stop her!

Though terrified, he released his hold on the metal cleat he had been clinging to and lunged for the back of her seat.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Meanwhile in the Black Widow's cockpit, Dark Kat was monitoring the battle behind him as he approached his ultimate destination. However, things weren't going exactly as planned.

Frowning, he was beginning to think Feral had lost his mind when his instruments indicated the Enforcer had sent away his entire fleet. Not only that but the insufferable thorns, the SWAT Kats had also left the battle hounded by his fleet of swift killers. They should make quick work of them.

But how had Feral made them leave? He knew the pests didn't like the Commander and certainly wouldn't obey any order given. Yet it seemed they were indeed working together.

Shaking his head, Dark Kat shrugged off the feeling of unease and continued his plan of attack. "If that fool wants to commit suicide who am I to dissuade him," he growled aloud.

Nothing could stop him now! For the first time since he began this war of domination, he was within seconds of taking over the city. His first act would be to force that pompous fool, Manx, to make him Mayor of the city. His next act would be to kill those pests, the SWAT Kats (if they weren't dead already) along with Feral then destroy the Enforcers but hold onto the building and arsenal. He might need those to hold the city.

Ignoring the suicidal Enforcer coming at him from behind, Dark Kat continued onward to city hall.

AN: I stopped writing due to family issues more than two years ago. Now that things have settled once more in my life I decided it was time to get back to writing. And did it by doing this year's NANOWRIMO Challenge and chose this story to do it with. It's still not finished but it certainly got my creative juices flowing again. This has not been beta'd or proofread so please forgive any grammar mistakes. I also may have veered off course so I would appreciate some input on the direction this story seems to be taking. Thanks to all my loyal readers that have stayed with me despite my absence. I have missed you. P.S. I did win the challenge with over 51,309 words two days before the deadline. Whoo Hoo!