I've gotten back in touch with an old cartoon I loved as a kid, which was cancelled after just short of two seasons due to it being violent. Granted, it had moments where characters died, sometimes in large numbers, and a particularly gruesome scene in the episode 'The Giant Bacteria' where a villain with potential was turned into the eponymous bacteria monster, in what appeared to be a short but very painful transformation, which was followed by the bacteria later eating a cow and a farmer, and eventually a full subway train, so that episode alone had a high death toll. But I don't think it deserved to be cancelled just for that, as it was getting better.
Disclaimer: I, Lord Genesis Shadow, do hereby state that I do not own the rights to SWAT Kats.
I settled against the pilot seat of the new jet, looking over the controls, feeling each one carefully. The seat was genuine leather, padded, and equipped with a full ejector module. The pedals were also padded with high friction rubber, as was the throttle control and control grip. There were four machine gun Vulcans on the front by the nose, higher caliber than the older models, eight missiles, four under each wing, and a set of rocket pods beside each set of missiles. It was armed for the worst enemies we faced so often. If they showed up, we were going to tear them apart with these new jets.
My name is Leon Mane. I'm an Enforcer in Megakat City, a Captain, but I'm a special case. I'm only seventeen, but I passed the academy's standards and took down records that have stood for upwards of ten years. What really made it possible for me to get out of the academy nearly three years early was because I was actually flying better than the instructors, and they used to be among the best fighter pilots in the Enforcers. Due to my abilities, they taught me the rules I was to abide by, and they gave me the rank of Sergeant straight out of the barracks. In the last six months, I've managed to get to Captain for taking down some dangerous up and coming criminals, cutting their careers short by putting them in jail.
I'm six foot four and a half inches, and I weigh one hundred and thirty seven pounds without any equipment. Off duty I wear a black Enforcer cap, a pair of mirror sunglasses, a red tee shirt with a few rips and tears, a black leather jacket with the Enforcer's logo on the left shoulder, a pair of stonewashed blue jeans, a pair of steel toe boots with hollowed out heels, and a pair of fingerless gloves. The boots' heels have jackknives in them if I need them, and I keep a revolver strapped to my left ankle at all times. I always wear my kat tags, with my name, service number, and other important information, and a teardrop locket my mother gave me as a cub.
On duty I wear my typical uniform, including body armor with the jacket over it, with full leather gloves and the standard issue steel toe boots. I wear special contact lenses on duty, anti-glare with transition lens properties. I still keep the revolver strapped to my ankle, in addition to the sidearm I keep with me. One addition I made to my uniform was minor, a silver belt buckle with the Enforcer's logo. Due to the fact that I bring my Stetson to work, some of the others call me a cowboy, something that the commander sometimes calls me from the fact that I sometimes have trouble keeping a weapon operator. I don't need one, but I fly better with someone else handling the missiles and other weapon systems.
I'm young, but I'm one of the best pilots in the Enforcers right now, in the top three for six months in a row, but that's not the only thing that sets me apart. Among all the different breeds of kats in the world, there were some known as 'wilder' kats. Commander Feral and his niece were among four in Megakat City, before I arrived. I'm actually unique even with that. My mother was a Siberian white tiger, and my father was a Lion that lived a few cities over from Megakat. That makes me a special breed, a white liger with a light Russian accent. So light, you might think it's not even there. But the reason kats like me are known as 'wilder' is because we tend to be more aggressive than others, and while I keep that in check, there are times when I let my anger out when I'm training to keep in shape at the gym.
"Captain Mane." A male voice said from nearby.
"Ain't me." A gruff male said. I kept looking over the panels, specifically the secondary weapon system panel. I switched on the view screen and went through the weapons for a few moments. In addition to missiles, there was an onboard laser blaster that came out just under the nose, and a rear firing missile launcher.
'Perfect…' I thought. 'Just my luck I'd end up being picked to pilot this baby… I think I'm onto something.'
"Captain Mane?" The first male asked. I leaned up after turning the screen off as a kat pointed away, toward the desk.
"Hey." I called. The kat looked over and I gestured to the ladder as I sat down. 'Fruitcake. Just ask where I am next time.' I turned the screen on and went back through the list until he was at the top of the steps. "What do you need?"
"I'm, looking for Captain Leon Mane?" He said, as if unsure. "Is it, some kind of joke around here? Mess with the new guy the first week?"
"No, we don't do hazing around here." I said. "You just made a rookie mistake, and they're punishing you for it until you learn."
"You just said there's no hazing, though." He said.
"It's not hazing if you're teaching a lesson." I said.
"And, you are?" He asked.
"Does it matter?" I asked.
"I guess not, if you're a jerk." He said, somewhat bitterly. "I'm just looking for this guy, everyone's pointing me elsewhere, no one will tell me where he is, and it's like it's just one big prank! I earned the right to be an Enforcer, every step. Yeah, I'm the last guy on the chain of command, but I'll prove I'm worth at least sergeant rank."
"Why are you looking, anyway?" I asked. I looked down the weapon list.
"I'm his new weapon system operator." He said tiredly. "I'm not a great operator. I'm not a good operator." I looked at him, about to ask what he was doing, but he leaned over and pointed at me. "I'm the best weapon system operator to join the Enforcers in the last five years, and I'll bet you know what that means."
"Yeah, I do." I said. "It means they want the best operator with the best pilot after last Friday's little fiasco where Hard Drive sent a plane into a spin and the operator ejected after the pilot refused to give up on the plane. He got it back under control and shot down Hard Drive, but, it was still the loss of a good operator."
"So, that wasn't just a rumor." He said. "Leon Mane really is that crazy?"
"Crazy?" I asked. "Is it crazy to not want my jet to crash into a school?" He was silent for all of a moment.
"Your jet?" He asked shakily. "Y-you're, Leon… C-C-Captain Mane."
"Yup." I said. "A crazy jerk." I switched the screen off and looked up at him. "One thing, the next time you're looking for someone, don't go around to every guy or girl saying a name. Ask where the kat is." He looked down slightly, as if worried. "Lesson two, if someone asks you if who they are matters, always assume it does, because that means they're hiding something." He nodded after a moment. "Lesson…" I looked past him as a light began flashing. "Three. Get in the seat and learn the controls, now."
"Why?" He asked. An alarm klaxon began blaring as names were announced, and kats ran to their fighters.
"We're on." I said. He got in quickly and I closed the cockpit while we were taxied onto the flight deck. "I hope you're a quick learner. You'll need that in this jet."
"What kind of fighter is this, sir?" He asked, all nervousness gone.
"New model." I said. "Based on the Blue Manx design from a few years back, tweaked for mass production. This is the third one off the line."
"Third, sir?" He asked.
"The top three pilots are set aside to have a higher equipment budget." I said. "Better weapons, better fighters, better operators if they need them, in exchange for being set on the worst missions." My communicator beeped. "Pay attention to this."
"This is Commander Feral." He said. "Your target is attacking Megakat Biochemical. There's an unidentified aircraft on the roof. Captain Mane and Lieutenant Feral, you are to use your new fighters' hover mode to watch over the craft and deter the targets. Machine guns only, short bursts, and aim only for the area in front of them."
"Roger that." Lieutenant Feral said.
"Understood." I said. I readied the thrusters as she flew ahead, and after the minimum safe time, the catapult I was on launched us quickly, giving us a few moments to pull up and fly to her right.
"Sir, why are we behind a lieutenant?" The kat behind me asked.
"Because she's Lieutenant Felina Feral." I said.
"So?" He asked. "Just because she shares the commander's last name shouldn't give her special treatment."
"No, it doesn't." I said. "What does is her experience. She should be a major by now, but she's been denied by people before it got to the commander, and neither she or the commander want to be seem like they're giving her special treatment by him directly promoting her solely because her requests don't get to him." He was silent. "That's just the first reason, though. Second, she doesn't follow orders. She gives them, and if you're smart, you'll pay attention to her and follow her orders. Third, I didn't hear you introduce yourself."
"Richard Arden Jenkins, PFC." He said.
"Well, Jenkins, welcome to the Enforcers, now hold onto your lunch." I said. As expected, the lieutenant sped up, and I pushed the throttle forward slightly. Being in the same type of jet, I could keep up, but I trusted her instincts. Like her uncle, she was of a wilder, more aggressive breed of kat, but she was more in control of it than her uncle, who often let his temper get the better of his judgment. My communicator beeped again so I touched the side of my helmet, the button for it. "Go for Mane."
"I wanted to make sure you're not flying alone, Captain." She said. "Rules are that unless there's a special reason, all pilots have a weapon officer to maximize the pilot's focus on flying. Is the new guy there or did you have to head out too fast?"
"He's here, ma'am." I said. "Richard Arden Jenkins, PFC. Says he's the best in his class. I didn't get that memo." She grunted quietly.
"There wasn't one." She said. "No name passed around, just that we were getting a new guy to replace the one that chickened out thanks to your last minute decision, not that I condemn your choice to risk your life to save those kittens."
"I don't regret what happened." I said. "He left, I stayed, and he got to play with the kids while the car was sent out to pick him up." Jenkins stifled a laugh behind me.
"I see the target." She said. "They're running along the roof toward the, thing… What is that?" I flew faster and went immediately to hover mode, as the manual had explained. She did the same just as I peppered the roof in front of them for a quarter of a second. They stopped and looked up at us as I picked up the PA.
"This is Captain Mane of the Enforcers!" I said in an authoritative tone. "We have you surrounded. Set the stolen goods down and raise your hands immediately." One dropped a box while the rest ran in, and he pulled out a rocket launcher and fired it at me. I dodged it easily. The lieutenant fired on him, hitting him, but as he hit the ground, I saw that it was only his legs that were hit as the strange jet took off. It had landing legs, covered rotors to let it take off vertically, and thrusters that moved it quickly, narrowly fitting through a dozen choppers as they told them to stop. "I'm going after them!" I put the mic down and switched modes in perfect synch with the lieutenant, though I was in mid turn. She flew over the choppers while I went under, and we caught up to one another quickly.
"Don't think I was going to stay around." She said. "They're not getting away with whatever they stole."
"Captain Mane, Lieutenant Feral, I've just learned of what was stolen." The commander said. "They created a batch of the mutagenic compound that created Dr. Viper!"
"What?" The lieutenant asked.
"My guess is that they're trying to create a race of lizard-cat hybrids." He said. "Fans of his work, no doubt. Your orders are to take that plane down as soon as possible with minimal collateral damage. Do you read me?"
"Understood, sir." I said.
"Got it, uncle." She said. The line went silent as I pushed the thrusters a little faster. "Mane, be careful, I see three turrets on top!" I looked to see them and dodged a set of high intensity lasers, so I stayed under. "This isn't good, you don't have a lot of room!"
"I don't need a lot." I said quietly. "I just need enough." I turned sideways down an alleyway into a wide area of the park before righting the jet, and I heard a sound.
"Sir, can you get ahead of them?" Jenkins asked.
"Too risky." I said. "They'll have those lasers, or worse, on the front end."
"We only have one missile system that fires up to target, and I can't get tone otherwise." He said. I began thinking.
"Damn!" The lieutenant called. "I can't get close enough for my operator to get a lock! Those lasers are short range, but they're too powerful!" I finished the plan.
"How good is your blind fire aim, Jenkins?" I asked.
"I can do it, if I had a few seconds and an idea of what we were doing." He said. "Why?"
"I'm going to fly ahead at top speed." I said. I fell back a good distance. "If I give you a few seconds run-up, can you take them out?"
"Get a little higher and I promise, it'll take them out." He said.
"This is Commander Feral, to Captain Mane and Lieutenant Feral." He said. "You are authorized to destroy the craft and its contents. We can't risk anymore of that mutagen to be made. Take it down, hard."
"Understood." The lieutenant and I said together.
"Jenkins." I said.
"Missile system open and ready, sir." He said. I pulled up to give him just enough distance that we wouldn't get caught in the blast. I pushed the engine to the limit, and after a moment he made a sound. "Ready!" I flew under it and all of two seconds passed before I heard the explosion. I pulled up as we slowed down, and I saw the jet flying toward the ground, in a field out of town. "Confirmed kill?"
"Confirmed kills." I said. "No one's walking away from that with their tails intact."
"This is Lieutenant Feral." She said. "Good shot, boys. Looks like Jenkins was accurate about being the best. Good work."
"Thank you, ma'am." He said. "I'm just glad they didn't get a chance to go Viper." She laughed while I smirked and turned back, flying a fair distance behind her, but at an angle toward headquarters as I opened a line.
"This is Captain Mane for Commander Feral." I said.
"This is Feral." He said. "What is the status of the thieves' transport jet?"
"Destroyed, sir." I said. "Anti-missile lasers on the top prevented an attack from above, so I went under. Jenkins used the new top mounted, rear firing missile battery. Confirmed that it does what it's meant to, and confirmed takedown of the enemy transport."
"I'm sending choppers out to confirm the destruction of the mutagen." He said after a moment. "Good work, you two. Jenkins, remind me to pat you on the back when you return."
"Y-yes sir." He said somewhat proudly.
"And Felina, good work drawing their attention." Commander Feral said. "If you weren't such a good pilot, you would have put that jet at risk."
"Thank you, sir." She said.
I polished my boot just a little more before setting it on the newspaper and capping the applicator. Standing up, I walked over to the kitchen and checked on my eggs, in the oven. After moving the spatula for a moment, I pulled the pan out and pushed the now scrambled eggs onto the plate and turned off the oven. A little salt and pepper later, I sat on the couch with my plate and fork and began eating while watching the news.
"Today marks a turning point for the Enforcers of Megakat City." Ann Gora said. "A new model of fighter was unleashed today against a group of bio-terrorists claiming to be 'The Sons of Dr. Viper', a group of criminals who believed in the deranged former kat's 'mission' to mutate all forms of life into monsters, calling it 'evolution' that the world needs. They attempted to create the formula that made Dr. Purviss into Dr. Viper several years ago, and while successful in the creation process, their theft was foiled not long after by the new fighter jets of the Enforcers." A picture of our jets appeared, and I smiled a little. "Seen here are two of the three known to be at the ready. Zoomed photos reveal the pilots to be well known Enforcer, Lieutenant Felina Feral, her weapon system operator, Sergeant Maxwell, and new pilot Captain Leon Mane, who has apparently only been around for six months as an Enforcer. Records indicate that he started as a Sergeant straight out of the pilot's academy at the young age of seventeen, which would normally be considered illegal, but Mane is, indeed, a special case due to his extraordinary, almost impossible skill that would normally take a pilot at least five to ten years to become so capable. Pictured here…" An image of Jenkins' face appeared, his visor raised. "Is his weapon system operator, Richard Arden Jenkins, and it is apparently his first day on the job. Despite this, thanks to incredible teamwork between both pilots, one of the jets shot down the terrorists today only four minutes after having taken off. Eight other terrorists were found on site, and resisted arrest. Several Enforcers were injured, and four were left in critical condition, but the terrorists, save for the leader, were confirmed dead on arrival at the local hospital. The leader, name unknown, escaped from the roof, but by the amount of blood found in the trail, he is considered dead, but a body has yet to be found at the end of the trail." I finished my eggs and set the plate down. "This is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News. Back to you…" I turned the TV off and grabbed the plate, taking it into the kitchen and washing it.
"No corpse…" I said. "And we recovered all but one bottle of the mutagen… I hope two plus two doesn't equal four in this case…" I put the plate and fork in their places before walking to my bedroom, removing my shirt and tossing it in the hamper before laying down and turning on the alarm. "Wake me up bright and early, now. I need to get in early to deal with, that…"