Chapter 10No citizens, no voters

A few days had passed since Callie, Mayor Manx and Felina got on board the Leviathan. Callie already started to loose her sense of time since there was no day and night. Although the lamps on the ship were designed to emulate the light of day as good as possible, it still didn't feel like the real thing to her. Being inside a submarine and isolated from the outside world made her feel even more uncomfortable. She tried to avoid to think too much about it by reading every piece of literature she could find and by learning as much about the ship as she could. Lieutenant Sawet was always delighted to show her around or to answer her questions. He was a very kind kat.

Mayor Manx spent most of his time in the cargo bay practicing and improving his golfing techniques. But it was obvious that staying on the Leviathan also influenced his mood. He often cursed around when the ship suddenly changed course just before the ball hit the putting machine. Fortunately, he was all for himself most of the time, so he didn't disturb anybody when he let himself go.

Felina seemed to get along better than Callie and Manx as she had been trained to deal with situations like this one. Nonetheless, she came to the conclusion that she made the right choice when she decided to become a pilot back then. The sea was not really her kind of thing.

When they had lunch together with Lieutenant Sawet, Callie noticed that he seemed to be unusually reserved and didn't say very much. He also looked rather concerned. So Callie decided to ask him about what he had on his mind:

“Lieutenant, you seem to be rather quiet today. Aren't you feeling well?”

“No, I'm fine, Ms. Briggs.” Sawet answered. “But the current situation in Megakat City makes me feel uneasy.”

“Why? What's happening up there?” Callie asked further.

“I'm not sure if I should talk about it, but I think I can't keep this for myself forever anyway.” he started to tell. “Our forces weren't able to get the industrial area back under our control. The resistance was much too strong, especially from the drones. Now, Dark Kat has started mass producing them, like Lieutenant Feral had assumed.”

Felina sighed and said: “I knew I shouldn't have stayed here. I should be up there with my uncle.”

“With all due respect, Lieutenant, but I don't think it would have made much of a difference. The drones are adapting our strategies far too quickly, leaving us no choice but to give up Megakat City inch by inch.”

“But what about the citizens?” Callie asked concerned.

“Everyone who can, tries to flee from the city. The unlucky ones which get caught by Dark Kat's servants are enslaved to be working in the factories.”

“Then we can't just sit here and watch. We have to do something!” Callie replied, sounding very determined.

“I like your enthusiasm, Ms. Briggs. But what can we do?”

“Saving as much of the citizens from enslaving as possible, of course.”

“But how?”

“By getting them on board of this ship.”

“But this would reduce our food supplies dramatically.” Sawet remarked. “They probably wouldn't last longer than two weeks when we've reached the maximum capacity.”

“I think we should do it, nonetheless.”

“But what would we achieve if we do this?” Sawet asked, not being convinced. “And besides, Mayor Manx and you were brought to this ship in order to be out of harm's way. If Dark Kat would get his hands on you the situation would get even worse.”

Suddenly Mayor Manx joined the discussion: “This man is right, Callie. We shouldn't do anything we might regret later.”

Callie rolled her eyes as it was typical for Manx to care only for his own safety. So she had to convince him. “Think about it, Mayor. If everyone is enslaved by Dark Kat, there won't be anyone left to vote you during the next election period. There probably won't be even a Megakat City anymore if we just sit here and wait. I know that we won't be able to stop Dark Kat this way, but we can at least slow down his progress until the Enforcers hopefully come up with something... or the Swat Kats. We simply have to buy them some time.”

It seemed that Mayor Manx seriously started thinking about these arguments so she added: “And concerning our safety, I'm sure Lieutenant Feral can handle it.” Then she looked over to Felina. “This is what she has been assigned for.”

“Well,” Mayor Manx finally started to say. “That sounds reasonable. I think this would surely help ensuring my position as Mayor of Megakat City for another term.”

Callie relaxed a bit, knowing that Manx would no longer argue with her.

Now Felina took over and asked: “Though I agree with you, Deputy Mayor, I'm not sure how we can save these people without getting noticed. The Leviathan would probably attract a lot of attention if she would appear on the surface.”

“That's true,” Callie agreed. “But the ship is equipped with some smaller submarine vessels which could be used as transports to get the refugees onto the Leviathan.”

Felina looked over to Sawet and asked him: “What do you think about this plan, Lieutenant? Since you're in command of this ship, it's your decision to make.”

Sawet who had decided to just follow the discussion without saying anything, sighed and kept silent for a while longer as he was thinking about it very carefully, playing with a fork in his hand. It seemed that several minutes had passed until he finally said:

“Under normal circumstances I would contact Commander Feral and discuss it with him first.” He made a another small pause before he continued: “But if I would contact him now, this might attract some attention to us. You see, we are only receiving messages from the HQ, but we never send any ourselves in order to keep this ship a secret.” He looked over to Manx and Callie. “I will order my personnel to get the submarines ready,” Then he lifted his hand in which he was holding the fork and added: “If you participate in taking over the responsibility for this operation. You see, I don't want to be hanged alone, if this turns out to be a bad idea.”

Before Mayor Manx could have said anything Callie replied: “You have our word. Thank you, Lieutenant.”

“Don't thank me yet, Ms. Briggs. You should wait until this is all over and everything went well.”

Later that day the Turbokat landed in the surroundings of Megakat City being as close to Puma-Dyne as possible without attracting attention. Razor had monitored the skies extremely carefully in order to avoid any contact with the drones. Being back on the ground T-Bone and the two Razors jumped out of the jet and started walking the rest of the way. T-Bone and Specter were carrying large knapsacks on their backs. When they were close to the fences of the Puma-Dyne compound Razor started looking for a place to hide. He noticed a formation of larger rocks and a bush which would provide them with enough cover. He signalized T-Bone and Specter to follow him over there. Once there he started whispering:

“Okay, we managed to get here unseen. Let's recap our plan one last time. Specter, what are our objectives?”

“First, we have to get inside the compound and then onto the roof of the building.” Specter started to recap. “From there we'll have to find a way into the ventilation shaft and get in there. Next we'll have to check the building for a computer terminal to get access to the blueprints of the Behemoth's shield. Once we've got it, we have to check if we already have all necessary components back at the lab to build the shield. If not, we have to gather the missing parts from the Puma-Dyne storage. For this I'll check the servers for an inventory list. When we have everything we need we get out of there quickly. While we are inside the compound, it's imperative that we stay out of site of security cameras and guards. We also have to take care not walking into a laser barrier triggering an alarm.”

“Good.” Razor said. “And don't forget, keep close to T-Bone and do what he says.”

“Affirmative.”

“I'll try to monitor your progress as good as possible from here. So, let's get this over with.”

T-Bone moved out of their hiding place and carefully approached the fences of the Puma- Dyne compound. Specter followed him closely. Once they've reached the fence they hid in a dark spot in order to wait for the patrolling guard to pass by. When the coast was clear, T-Bone used the buzz saw of his Glovatrix to cut a hole into the fence. Then they carefully went through their self-made entrance. Once through, T-Bone moved the fence back into its place, hoping that no one would notice the cuts. Then they quickly moved over to the wall of the building they wanted to infiltrate and hid in a dark spot once again. After the guard had passed by for another round they deployed the grappling hooks of their Glovatrixes which then got hooked into a small pipeline running along the roof. It was relatively easy for them to get onto the roof as their Glovatrixes just pulled them up.

On the roof T-Bone went directly to the ventilation shaft and used his buzz saw again to cut a hole into it that was large enough for them to squeeze through. Specter remembered that Razor had mentioned that they had been there before in another dimension. He still had no clue what this meant, but he knew that this was the wrong time to ask T-Bone about it as he followed him into the ventilation shaft.

“Razor, we are in. Do you copy?” T-Bone radioed Razor.

“Affirmative.” Razor answered. “I can hear you and see you through Specter's camera. You two did very well so far. Now you have to find the server room.”

“Any suggestions where we should look?”

“Wish I knew. Best make your way through the ventilation shafts and leave them only if necessary. This way you avoid running into guards or get into the sight of a camera.”

“Affirmative. I hope this doesn't take all night. T-Bone out.”

After moving through the ventilation shafts for a while Specter heard noises. He guessed that they were coming from a large conglomerate of ventilators. Although they sounded rather weird from inside the shaft they reminded him of the server room in Megakat Tower.

“T-Bone, do you hear that?” he asked. “I think we are getting closer to the server room.”

After listening to the noises T-Bone answered: “Yes, you could be right.”

“Then let's try to find out from where the noises are coming from.” Specter suggested. “It should also get warmer when we get closer.” Then he joked: “These servers probably produce enough heat to supply the whole building with it.”

“Yeah, probably.” T-Bone answered slightly amused and then tried to contact Razor again.

“Razor, I think we are getting closer to the server room. Do you copy?”

Razor's voice came in with a lot of static: “Affir... can barely... you. The signal... weaker. You... on... own.”

“Alright, we contact you as soon as we can. T-Bone out.” T-Bone answered and then turned over towards Specter as far as it was possible in the ventilation shaft. “Seems that Razor can't help us from here. We are on our own now, so stick close to me.”

“Affirmative.” Specter shortly replied.

They continued crouching through the ventilation shaft. The noises were getting louder, but the closer they came the more difficult it was to determine from where they came from exactly. Luckily, Specter was right about the heat as it got warmer the closer they came to the server room. Finally, they reached the opening which lead to their destination. T-Bone turned off the large ventilator in front of it and watched through the grate for a while. After he was sure that it was safe he cautiously used the buzz saw to cut the grate from its mounting and then quietly pushed it into the room with the ventilator still attached to it. Then he crawled through it, closely followed by Specter. The shaft entrance was near the floor of the room which was filled with server racks, so they were able to continue to crawl without risking to get spotted. Once inside the room, Specter noticed a terminal.

“T-Bone, there it is.” he said excited and pointed with his finger at it.

“Good, but stay down.” T-Bone warned him. “This room is probably monitored by cameras. So don't do anything stupid now.”

“Alright, alright. So what do we do now?”

“I'll check it out. Gimme the fiber optic camera from my knapsack. It's in the side pocket.”

Specter crawled closer to T-Bone, grabbed the camera from the knapsack and gave it to him. T-Bone used the camera to look past the server rack. After a while he said: “Just as I had suspected. There is a camera ahead and it's spinning around rather quickly. I guess it will focus on a target as soon as it gets into the line of sight.”

“Now that's just great.” Specter said ironically. “How much time would I have to operate the terminal before it would notice me?”

“Maybe five seconds.” T-Bone guessed. “Not enough time to do anything.”

“Then I'll have to hack it remotely.” Specter deduced.

“How?”

“You remember the laptop I brought here on my first visit?” Specter asked. “I plugged it into the drone and the scientist's terminal. I can do the same here, but I still need to get at the terminal for a moment to do so.”

T-Bone thought about it for a short while and then said: “I don't like it, but I haven't got any better ideas.”

“Then let's do it!” Specter said. “Tell me to run as soon as the camera doesn't look into our direction. I'll plug my laptop into the console as quickly as possible. The cable should be long enough for this. When I'm done I'll return here. If I need too long and the camera is about to turn into our direction tell me to retreat.”

“I wonder if Razor would agree to this.” T-Bone said skeptical.

“We can't reach him from here,” Specter noted. “And we have no idea how long it would take to find a spot where it is possible. And the more we move around the more likely it is that someone might notice us.”

T-Bone thought about it again and then sighed shortly.

“Alright then. When I say 'Move' you run as fast as you can, when I say 'Move' again you run back here even faster and get down. Understood?”

“Affirmative.”

Specter changed into sprinter position and focused on the terminal. “I'm ready, T-Bone. Just give me the signal.”

“Move!”

Specter made a quick sprint towards the terminal with the cable in his hand. Two seconds had passed. He plugged it into the terminal which turned out to be more difficult for Specter being under pressure. Three seconds had passed. T-Bone shouted “Move!” again while Specter turned around. Four seconds had passed. He made a stage-dive alike jump and landed on his belly, panting for air afterward. Five seconds had passed. Still being filled with adrenaline, he didn't move and just waited to hear the sound of an alarm. But the only thing he could hear were the noises from the servers.

“You're okay, Specter?” T-Bone asked.

“I am.” Specter answered. “I just need a moment to calm down.”

When his adrenaline level had been back to normal, he grabbed his laptop and started hacking into the system. After a few minutes later he said: “I'm in.”

A short while later he whistled shortly and said: “I should download everything and sell it to the highest bidder. I'd make a fortune with that stuff.”

“I guess Hard Drive thought the same when he visited this place.”

“Probably.” Specter replied. “Ah, here it is: the Behemoth Tank. Now, let me check the subsystems... primary weapon, targeting system, shield system. There it is! This is what we came for.” Specter said excited. “Okay I download it onto the laptop.” One minute later he continued talking: “Alright, download completed. Now I have to check if it needs any parts we don't have.”

After the check had been completed he looked a bit disappointed at T-Bone. “Like I suspected. We don't have all the parts in our stock. I'll check the Puma-Dyne's stock. Hopefully they got everything. If not this might have been a complete waste of time.”

“Don't tell me we wasted our time to train you and infiltrate this building for nothing.” T- Bone replied.

“Relax, T-Bone. Let's see what they've got in stock before jumping to conclusions.”

Specter continued hacking into Puma-Dyne's system. After a while he looked at T-Bone again and started smiling. “They've got everything we need. Bad news is that they don't do deliveries.” he joked. “We have to get the stuff ourselves.”

“Very funny, Specter.” T-Bone replied, not really being in the mood for jokes. “I'll laugh about this one later when we're out of here, okay?”

“Alright, alright, let me just remove my cable from the terminal and then let's move on to the storage area.”

“Stop!” T-Bone said. “Just hold it right there.”

“What's the matter, T-Bone?”

“When Razor and I went to the storage area the only way led to a corridor which was filled with laser barriers. It wasn't easy to get passed them without triggering an alarm.” Then T-Bone looked at Specter for a moment. “Don't get me wrong, but I don't think you're up for it. I'll have to do this alone.”

“I won't argue with that. But please let me check the security systems first. Maybe I can deactivate these barriers.”

Specter immediately started hacking deeper into the security systems and turned the barriers off.

“Okay, that should do it. We have two hours before the system resets and the barriers are reactivated. I've also sabotaged their surveillance system. It will show a footage loop for the next two hours.”

“Impressive, but remember that we still have to be aware of the personnel though.”

“I know. Just let me get back my cable.”

Specter stood up and walked right in front of the terminal. T-Bone was shocked as Specter suddenly let his guard down. When Specter got his cable unplugged and came back, he noticed that T-Bone suddenly looked very angry at him.

“What's wrong, T-Bone?”

“Never, ever do something like this again, rookie!” T-Bone replied, almost shouting. “Did I make myself clear?”

“T-Bone, I don't understand. Don't do what again?” Specter asked intimidated and confused. “Walking right into the line of sight of a camera, damn it!”

Specter looked at the camera and then at T-Bone again.

“But I told you that I've sabotaged them.” Specter explained. “So what's your problem?”

“I'll tell ya! What if you forgot something and this camera is still active? What if it would have triggered an alarm?” T-Bone asked and before Specter could say anything he added: “What could be seen on the camera footage? A Swat Kat messing around with a terminal, damn it!”

“But T-Bone, I assure you that,” Specter started to say.

“Crud!” T-Bone said almost shouting again. “Just shut up and behave like Razor would, for crying out loud!”

“Okay, okay, sorry.” Specter replied, trying to calm T-Bone down. “Please stop shouting at me. I won't do it again, okay?”

T-Bone still looked angry at Specter for a short while, but then tried to focus on the task ahead.

“Let's go, rookie! Remember to stick close to me.” he ordered.

“Yes, sir!” Specter replied, getting back into his role.

T-Bone went into the ventilation shaft while Specter followed him closely.

“Put the grate back into its place and turn the ventilator back on.” T-Bone ordered. “We shouldn't risk drawing any attention to it in case somebody checks the room while we're still in the building.”

Specter put the grate into a position such that it wouldn't fall over when the ventilator was running again. Then he turned it on and checked if everything would stay in place.

“Good.” T-Bone commented Specter's actions. “Now follow me.”

About ten minutes later, Razor's voice came through their radio transceivers: “I see that you got what we were looking for.”

“Affirmative, Razor.” T-Bone replied. “But we need to get some stuff from the storage area before we can leave.”

“Confirmed, T-Bone. Specter, some of the parts are probably stored inside a specially fortified vault. You can use the lock pick integrated into your Glovatrix. This should be faster than hacking it with your equipment.”

“Roger.” Specter shortly responded.

A few minutes later T-Bone and Specter reached the opening to the ventilation shaft that T- Bone and Razor once used to get into the storage area. The laser barriers had been deactivated, just like Specter had said. But T-Bone didn't want to take any chances and kept out of the sight of the cameras. Specter did the same in order to avoid T-Bone getting mad at him again. Having the inventory list made it much easier for them to find all the parts they needed. Finally the two stood in front of the heavily fortified door. Specter approached it and used his lock pick. A moment later the vault door was unlocked and opened. T-Bone and Specter went inside and started looking for the remaining items on their list. While browsing through the shelves Specter noticed a large cylindrical object which seemed to be quite heavy.

“What's this one? It looks dangerous.” he asked without really expecting an answer from T- Bone.

“A Mega-Detonator.” T-Bone said to Specter's surprise.

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure.” T-Bone answered and before Specter could ask another question he added: “Now let's get what we came for and leave.”

After they had everything they needed T-Bone closed and locked the vault door again. Then they left Puma-Dyne without a trace. Outside they reunited with Razor and headed back to the Turbokat. About two hours later they were back at Professor Hackle's laboratory.

Specter was still wearing the Swat Kats' flight suit when he gave the laptop to the professor. “Here, Alfred, take it. It contains the blueprints for the Behemoth's shield. We also have the parts from Puma-Dyne which you don't have in your stock.”

“So, you three have been successful. That's a relief.” Hackle replied and then just kept looking curious at Specter.

“What is it Alfred? Do you want an explanation for this?” Specter asked, pointing towards himself.

“Lad, you probably had a good reason for dressing up like him.” Hackle said, pointing at Razor. “Actually, you almost look like twins when not looking too closely.”

“That was the idea.” Specter replied. “Can you please check the blueprints now and tell us if you need any help?”

“Certainly, Matthew.” Hackle said with a smile on his face. Specter smiled back at him and then turned over to Razor. “Razor, do you have a minute?”

“Sure.” Razor said. “What do you want?”

“Listen,” Specter started to apologize. “I'm sorry what happened back at Puma-Dyne earlier. I've impersonated you and screwed up. T-Bone has a point. If I had made a mistake manipulating the security systems and the camera would have focused on me, T-Bone and especially you would have taken the heat for it.” Then he looked down at the ground and said: “I'm sorry, Razor.”

Razor put his hand on Specters shoulder and replied: “It's okay, Specter. Everything worked well and even better than we could have hoped for. You're right, maybe I should be mad at you. But as a matter of fact I'm proud of you. You did well back there, you know?”

Specter was relieved as he raised his head. He even started to smile a little.

“Thanks, Razor.”

Then Professor Hackle's voice came from a corner of the laboratory. “Lads, I've finished examining the blueprints. This may take some time and I'll need all of you in order to build it.”

“We'll be with you right away, Professor.” Razor replied.