Chapter 7A safe place

Down at the harbor, Matthew and Professor Hackle stood right next to Hackle's pickup. Both looked relieved when T-Bone and Razor were closing in.

“Surprised to see us?” Matthew asked, being happy that both of them were still alive.

“Actually, yes.” T-Bone replied. “But how did you find us?”

“Our little friends did.” Matthew pointed with his fingers towards the insect swarm which was closing in. “Impressive, aren't they?”

“They sure are.” Razor admitted. “But what are they exactly?”

“What you see here, young lad,” Professor Hackle started to explain. “Is one of my latest inventions. These very small drones are mimicking insects. I've designed them to collect spores from rare plants in order to save them from extinction. You see, many plants depend on certain insects to be pollenized. When these insects extinct, the plant normally also ceases to exist. But with these drones we can keep them alive.”

“That's quite fascinating Professor.” Razor responded. “But why did they behave like mosquitoes up there?”

“Matthew and I had the idea to modify my little friends a bit. Without their little drills they wouldn't have been a match against the drones.” Then Hackle sighed before he continued explaining. “I've never wanted to turn them into something aggressive, but Matthew convinced me that it was necessary.”

The mosquito drones had reached them by now and landed on the platform of Hackle's pickup in layers. Matthew looked into the pickup and said: “Looks like most of them have survived the encounter. That's great! But I'm afraid next time we'll suffer great losses, now that Sally is aware of them.”

Then he turned back to T-Bone and Razor and continued explaining where the Professor had stopped: “While Alfred was modifying the drones I went over to my former boss at Scratching Post Games and convinced him to give me the AI code I've developed for Airborne Kats. I was able to integrate a few behaviors from it into our little friends here, but their storage capacity is rather limited. So they wouldn't have lasted long against Dark Kat's drones on their own. This is where you came in.”

“Alfred?” Razor asked, being curious.

Matthew pointed towards Hackle and said: “Professor Alfred Hackle.”

“I see you've been busy getting to know each other in the last couple of days.”

“In order come up with something useful against these drones we had to.”

Suddenly Feral's car arrived at the harbor. When it came to a stop Commander Feral, Felina, Mayor Manx and Callie Briggs stepped out of it and joined the reunion.

“It's not really a surprise to see you here, Swat Kats,” Feral began to say and then turned over to Matthew “And you Mr. Doubt. I should arrest you on sight for what just has happened back at City Hall.”

“Hey! I had nothing to do with the attack,” Matthew justified. “And you know that! Alfred and I even helped to take them out! See.”

Matthew turned towards the pickup, took one of the mechanical insects and showed it to Feral.

“As we wouldn't have enough problems with the mess you've created already.” Feral commented Matthew's contribution.

“I see, you don't want my help. Fine!” Matthew bawled back. “ But I think there are others who actually appreciate what I'm trying to achieve here.”

“That's right, Feral.” T-Bone said to aid Matthew. “Razor and I owe him our lives. Without him we would be goners.”

“Without him, we wouldn't be in this mess.” Feral countered.

“Why did you brought the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to this place?” Razor asked to change the subject.

In that moment a gigantic submarine emerged from the sea in front of the harbor.

Everyone except Feral and his niece were looking surprised at the colossus which had just been risen.

“Is that...?” Callie started to ask.

“Yes, it's the Leviathan,” Felina answered. “Our latest addition to our naval force.”

“What is that thing?” Razor asked.

“It's a mobile submarine fortress,” Felina continued explaining. “Designed to stay underwater for weeks, even for months if necessary.”

“And this is where you want us to hide?” Callie asked as she turned over to Feral.

“This is the only place where you'll be safe.” Feral explained. “The drones aren't designed to operate under water.”

“Until Dark Kat gets the idea to upgrade them.” Matthew argued half-loud.

“That's why we should leave this place on the double!” Feral replied. “When Dark Kat isn't aware of the Leviathan they'll be safe.”

“Good thinking, Commander.” Razor complimented Feral for once on a rare occasion.

“I don't know.” Callie said rather unhappy. “I'm not feeling very comfortable with this.”

“Please, Ms. Briggs.” T-Bone encouraged her. “I think Feral got a point this time. You aren't safe here anymore and getting you out of the city another way could be too risky.”

Callie sighed and said to Feral: “Okay, then let's do this.” Then she turned over to Matthew and Hackle. “What about you? Are you joining us?”

“I don't think so, Ms. Briggs.” Matthew answered. “Although I find the thought of getting out of here appealing, I rather want to help setting things straight.” Then he suddenly got a serious look on his face and added: “And I still have a score with Hard Drive to settle.”

“Then let us not waste any more time.” Feral said to Callie and Manx. “Please follow us to the ship.”

As Commander Feral and his niece escorted the two city officials to the Leviathan, Matthew stepped over to the Swat Kats.

“As long as this situation lasts, we are partners.” he insisted and before Razor could protest he continued: “And don't try to argue again. As T-Bone has stated earlier I saved your lives. So I believe I can expect you to trust me in return. This is a desperate situation and none of us will get out of it alive if we aren't working together.”

“Alright, alright, you've won.” Razor responded and reached Matthew his hand. Matthew shook it and T-Bone put his large hand on top to seal the pact between the three.

“Now that this has been settled, we have to get the Turbokat back.” T-Bone noted. “I hope she's still in one piece.”

“I think Alfred's repair bots can take care of this.” Matthew assumed. “Let's head to his lab. There we can discuss what to do next.”

They waited to watch how the Leviathan descended back into the sea. Once it had vanished the Swat Kats climbed onto the pickup's platform. When the mosquitoes noticed them they moved aside such that T-Bone and Razor were able to sit down without damaging them by accident. Matthew and Hackle went into the driver's cabin. Matthew started the engine and drove away.

Meanwhile on board of the Leviathan, Callie Briggs and Mayor Manx were escorted to the bridge of the ship by Commander Feral and his niece. On their way there they sometimes crossed path with a crew member. The crew members were wearing blue Enforcer uniforms instead of brown ones. As soon as they saw the commander they stepped out of they way and sprang to attention. Once the escort had passed by they carried on with their duties. Lieutenant Sawet, the captain of the Leviathan, was already waiting for them when they arrived. Commander Feral stepped forward in order to introduce him to Mayor Manx and Callie:

“This is Lieutenant Sawet, the commanding officer of the Leviathan. He is one of the most experienced mariners in our ranks and therefore the right kat for this kind of job.”

“Thank you for this very kind introduction, Commander Feral.” Lieutenant Sawet replied. “It was quite flattering, but my only intention is to fulfill my duties as any other member in our organization.”

Then he turned over towards Callie and Manx. “Welcome aboard the Leviathan, Mayor and Deputy Mayor. On behalf of my crew I like to say that we are very honored welcoming two such important guests on our ship. I hope you'll enjoy your stay. If you need anything while you're here, don't hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you Lieutenant Sawet, I think we should be fine for now.” Callie replied.

“Is there a place on this ship where I can practice my golf play while we wait until this crisis is over?” Mayor Manx suddenly asked. “I don't want to loose my touch.”

“Mayor!” Callie started to admonish but was interrupted by Sawet, who was slightly amused because he knew about Manx's interests.

“Of course, Mayor.” he said. “There is a cargo area on this ship where we have some free space left. You can set up a small golf course there if you like.”

“Wonderful.” Manx said satisfied. “This should make this trip more bearable.”

Having this settled Callie changed the subject: “Lieutenant Feral told me earlier that this ship can stay underwater for months if necessary. Can you tell me how this is possible?”

“Well certainly, Ms. Briggs.” Sawet replied gladly. “It basically works like as in many other submarine vessels by using water electrolysis, but in our case on a much larger scale. With this technique the water is separated into its components, namely hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then used as the fuel for the ship's engines and for the generators which are producing electricity. The unused energy is stored inside some very huge accumulators, giving us backup power in case the electrolysis process fails for some reason. The oxygen on the other hand is added to the air that you are breathing in here, of course. Like the hydrogen we also store the unused oxygen as backup in case of an emergency. If we wouldn't depend on food supplies we could stay underwater as long as we like.”

“Wow, this is fascinating, Lieutenant.” Callie said seriously impressed. “But how long does the food supplies last until we would have to ascent?”

“About a year, but we'll have to recalculate this, now that we have two passengers on board, of course.” Sawet answered winking.

“Really? I see that this ship is huge, but how can you supply all of your men for that long?”

Sawet suddenly looked proud and started smiling: “You see, Ms. Briggs, this ship is filled with the most modern technology imaginable. You won't find it on any other ship. This technology makes it possible that we only need about fifty men to fully operate it.”

“That's amazing, thinking that this ship seems to be able to transport hundreds of people.”

“Indeed it could,” Sawet started to answer, but suddenly stopped as he noticed that one of his crew members was approaching him.

“Sir, I have an urgent message for Commander Feral,” the crew member said to Lieutenant Sawet.

“Well, then give it to the Commander, Seaman.”

The seaman went over to Feral and started reporting: “Sir, we've received a message from the Enforcer Headquarter. It says that Dark Kat's followers have captured some factories in the industrial area of Megakat City together with the workers inside. Our forces were not able to prevent this as the attackers were accompanied by drones. The drones crossed all of our efforts to clear the situation.”

Feral suddenly got a grim look on his face: “Damn it! As we wouldn't have enough problems already. What is this lunatic up to now?”

Felina thought about it for moment and then assumed: “He probably wants to use the factories to build more drones in a shorter amount of time, uncle.”

“You mean he's going to mass produce these infernal machines? We can't let that happen!” Feral answered and then addressed the seaman: “Send a message back to HQ with the request to send a chopper over here. I need to get over to the industrial area immediately!”

“Yes, sir!” the seaman replied then turned around and walked away.

Feral turned over to Sawet: “Get this ship above water when the chopper arrives, Lieutenant.”

“Yes, Commander.” Sawet replied.

“I'm coming with you, uncle.” Felina said.

“I knew that you would say that, Felina,” Feral replied. “But you'll be staying here.”

“But uncle,” she started to argue, but was interrupted by him.

“This is an order, Lieutenant.” Feral commanded. “I know that you want to join the fight, but I want the Mayor and Deputy Mayor protected. And that's gonna be your assignment.”

“They should be fine as long as they are staying here. Why should they be needing additional protection in here?” Felina asked complaining.

“I gave you an order Lieutenant and I won't discuss it. You'll be staying here with them.”

Before Felina could continue to argue, Feral turned around and left the bridge. She looked after him with an angry look on her face.

“Fine,” she said half loud. “Then let Dark Kat take over the city while I'm wasting my time in here.” As she realized what she just had said she turned over to Manx and Callie.

“I'm sorry. I hope you didn't get me wrong here.” she started to apologize. “I wasn't saying that you are unimportant, but I think I would be more helpful back in Megakat City.”

“You don't need to apologize, Lieutenant.” Callie replied sympathizing. “I know what you meant and you didn't insult us. So, don't worry.”

“I don't understand why he still tries to keep me away from action sometimes.”

“Maybe because he is caring about you?” Callie guessed.

Felina started to look thoughtful.