Original SWAT Kats Story

The Tournament

By C.L. Furlong & Felicia McFurry

  • 4 Chapters
  • 64,533 Words

A failed battle with Dark Kat nearly drives T-Bone insane while Razor is toyed like a marionette in Dark Kat’s paws. Will they manage to survive this deadly gamble?

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Author's Notes:

TITLE: THE TOURNAMENT – PART TWO

AUTHORS: C. L. Furlong & Felicia McFurry

DATE: July 30, 2001

FINISHED: August 10, 2001

FINAL REVISION: August 15, 2001

E-MAILS: Chance_lizard_furlong@aeiou.ptRiochet@msn.mail.com

RATING: R for violent content

SUMMARY: As an Enforcers’ strike to Dark Kat’s mansion is prepared, Dark Kat himself plays the role of the judge, jury and warder, strengthening his leadership near his ninjas while the Tournament approaches with wide steps.

DISCLAIMER: SWAT Kats and anything related to the series is the property of Hanna-Barbera. No infringement is intended and no profit is gained with this fiction.

COMMENTS: Okay, so here’s part two of this story. Hope you enjoyed the first one! Well, in contrast with Part One, Part Two was written at a stretch (okay, so I was inspired…). I have to say that I like this part very, *very* much. So far it is my favorite. It has given me real pleasure to write it (of all the stories I have written so far, this is the very first I’m actually truly enjoying myself!). Yeah, thank you *so* much, Felicia, for having the idea for this story! This is the very first story that I’ve felt satisfied with in writing. And, you know what? It’s such a nice feeling… Okay, so I’ll stop rambling and get down to it. Hope you enjoy yourselves reading this fiction at least as much as I did writing it. Besides my co-author, Felicia, my thanks go also to Helion for his reviews on the story, and to Glen Battilana’s fics, for I’ve inspired much on his vision of T-Bone (which I share completely with him). Time yet to say that this fiction is un! related to my “Final Resistance” series. Okay, that’s all. C. U. all, SK fans!

Chapter 2

“What was that call about, sergeant?” – Lieutenant Felina Feral asked to the telephone operator.

“Some she-kat heard a shot down by the salvage yard. I’m sending a unit there.” – he responded.

“Salvage yard? Ha! I’m not surprised. Whomever lives there must be nuts anyway…” – she said, walking away from the desk.

“Actually, two of our kats live there. They’re the ones who wrecked headquarters years ago after letting Dark Kat escape.”

Felina spun on her heel.

“The ‘Dynamic Duo’?” – she asked, suddenly interested. The operator snorted in amusement.

“The ‘Home-wreckers’, the ‘Hotshots’, the ‘Stampedes’… Whatever you want to call ’em, Lieutenant. Yeah, Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong.” – the operator informed. He shook his head and let out a short sigh – “Two of the best pilots I’ve ever laid my eyes on. It was a pity they were so insubordinate… They only recognized authority to one another…”

“Obviously, my uncle court-martialed them…” – Felina said thoughtfully.

“Yeah. He threw them off the force after they crashed their jet on headquarters. With all due respect, Lieutenant, Commander Feral never liked them. He used all his influence at the higher spheres of power, managing to make them pay for the damages they caused for the rest of their lives. He cut off their wings for good, sentencing them to waste their abilities away in that salvage yard, without hope for a brighter future.”

“Yes, I know the story but I never knew they…” – she said, still rubbing her chin, pensively. She suddenly darted away from the desk. – “I’ll check it out personally. Don’t send any unit, I’ll go alone.”

“But Lieutenant, it could be dangerous!” – the operator warned, rising from his chair. However, she didn’t pay attention to him.

“Just don’t tell my uncle, okay?” – she shouted as she turned a corner and disappeared from view.

“Your uncle’s gonna hang me, that’s what he’ll do…” – the operator muttered and returned to his chair, sinking in it.

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Meanwhile, in Dark Kat’s mansion, off Megakat City, Razor was in plain practice when his attention was deviated. He received a huge blow to his head from one of his fellow ninjas and fell in a heap on the ground.

“RAZOR!” – the doctor bellowed – “YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR ADVERSARY! DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY NOW!”

The slim SWAT Kat just stood his ground, staring towards the wall of the mansion.

“*RAZOR*! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?” – the doctor shouted while approaching the fallen SWAT Kat.

“Something happened…” – Razor murmured as he got up to his feet – “Something happened…”

The doctor approached without a sound and grabbed Razor by his shoulder. Razor acted almost by reflex, grasping the ninja’s arm and throwing him over his shoulder. The ninja fell onto his back on the ground and promptly jumped to his feet and faced Razor.

“Go back to practice at once!” – the ninja hissed.

Razor just smiled and returned to his place. The doctor passed by and bumped against Razor. He stood in front of his students and smiled to Razor.

– “Just for your knowledge, Razor, I could have killed you three times and you didn’t even notice it.”

Two tears opened up in Razor’s suit while his blood dripped from a scratch in his cheek. Razor looked at his garments astonished.

“Go change your gi! It’s in a deplorable condition. Besides, you’re soaking it with your blood.” – the ninja ordered.

Razor smiled. What a formidable opponent! – “Whatever the doctor orders…” – he muttered. He looked once again to the wall before heading for the locker room.

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Past the wall of Dark Kat’s mansion and following in a straight line across the fields, streams, hills, skyscrapers and the bustling traffic of Megakat City stood a calm place stuffed with piles over piles of metallic scrap, the wasted machines Megakat City’s katizens had labeled obsolete. Among the piles of katkind’s technological litter stood a green car, it itself constantly needing repair. Inside it stood the numb form of a she-kat, Megakat City’s Deputy Mayor, Callie Briggs. Her green eyes stared at the closed door of the body shop in front of her, not really seeing it, her mind a maelstrom of thoughts. All of a sudden, as though dominated by a sudden resolve, she opened the door of her car and got outside.

“The hell with the Enforcers. I gotta check what’s happening inside!” – she said to herself and approached the closed garage door. Upon closer inspection, she saw she couldn’t open it from the outside.

She backed away a few steps from the garage door and circled around the house. She found the backdoor a few seconds later and tried to open it. She made it.

“Okay… I’m in now…” – she whispered to herself, opening the door, which squeaked a wail due to a lack of oil on its hinges. The sound seemed *awfully* loud to her.

She entered the darkened house. The dust particles danced in front of her in the rays of light that penetrated through the open door and from some gaps in the closed windows, creating a profusion of semi-solid eerie beams meddling in her path and faintly illuminating the room. She was standing in the kitchen. She passed a finger over the table and left a streak on it.

“A maid here would be useful… Damn, what am I saying? I just heard a shot and I’m thinking about cleaning!” – she thought. She entered the next room, which she knew to be the living room.

The smell stung her nostrils when she took a step inside the living room. Gunpowder. She saw the glimmering flare and the babbling sounds of the TV set in front of her but the couch was in her way and she couldn’t see the receiver. Neither could she see anyone. However, judging by the pungent odor of gunpowder inside the room, she could bet the shot came from this room.

She approached the sofa, circling it to the right. Only then did she see the fallen arm hanging limply down the side of the couch. The fist was balled and a few red drops fell from it and to the small puddle forming on the floor.

She gulped and stumbled, suddenly feeling her legs turn to jelly. Gathering all her courage, she staggered the scant feet that separated her from the front of the couch, preparing herself mentally to see the blood-covered corpse.

What she didn’t know was that there wasn’t a corpse that stood on the couch but rather a sobbing curled form. The revolver was in the floor in front of him, abandoned and still smoldering.

Shock and relief simultaneously filled her face. He was all right. Chance was alive and well. – “Chance!” – she called to the big tabby, so softly that it was hardly louder than her breathing.

Chance sobbed and slowly raised his head. Bloodshot eyes filled with grievous tears looked at her angelic face. He mouthed some words and slowly shook his head as a stream of tears ran down his face.

“I… I couldn’t… I couldn’t do it… I just couldn’t…” – the big tabby sobbed.

Tears surfaced in Callie’s green eyes too. She lunged to Chance and held him tightly in her arms.

“Don’t say anything… Don’t say anything, Chance…” – she whispered in his ear, stroking his back affectionately.

“I’m a coward… I couldn’t even end my life…” – he moaned, sniffling.

“I don’t think that’s cowardice!” – a gruff voice said from behind them, startling both – “In fact, I think living is a constant act of bravery!”

They looked back and stared at the rigid military stance of Felina. Chance noticed her grim look. Her lips remained in a strict line. He could see she wasn’t amused.

“Lieutenant Furlong, on your feet! *Now*!” – she ordered, calling the tabby by his former rank.

Chance obeyed almost unconsciously and stood to attention. She approached with her paws behind her back and inspected him. She shook her head.

“You’re a mess, Lieutenant. How long since you’ve last taken a bath? And shaved yourself? And did some laundry?” – she punched him in his stomach. Chance didn’t even flinch. – “And did some working out? You’re falling out of shape, Lieutenant.”

“With all due respect, sir, but I’m no longer Lieutenant, sir.” – Chance stated, breaking off from attention. – “I’m a civilian like the Deputy Mayor here.”

“Indeed you are!” – she closed her eyes and sighed, turning her back to Chance – “You’re disappointingly pathetic. I thought you were a great tom the way they painted you back in the academy. You and your partner were my idols. My goal was to be as good as you.” – she turned around to face the tabby with a sour expression on her face – “I didn’t know you were thrown in this dump. My gut knots when I think my uncle had something to do with this. But, here I find you, drunk, bearded, getting fat and attempting to kill yourself. How low can a tom go?”

“Don’t give sentences on what you don’t know, Lieutenant…” – Chance hissed, narrowing his eyes.

“I’m stating facts here. I’m not making anything up. When I think you were my idols… What a waste of time…”

“Well, you’ll have to work much harder to be like us, Lieutenant. To think we saved your tail so many times… and this is what we get in return… Disgust…” – Chance shot out.

“What?” – Felina snapped her head back – “You saved *me*?”

“It’s nothing, Lieutenant!” – Callie intervened, agitated, interposing between her and Chance – “He’s drunk, like you said. He’s not making any sense.”

“Ha! Pathetic…” – Felina said, turning around and waving a paw in the air.

“Callie, call the SWAT Kats…” – Chance ordered.

“What are you talking about, Chance?”

“Call the SWAT Kats… Now…” – Chance repeated, emphasizing each word he spoke.

“But…”

“NOW!” – he roared.

Callie winced. She complied and searched for her communicator, pressing the button in the center.

Chance’s communicator started emitting a frantic acoustic signal. He retrieved it from a pocket in his overalls and answered it.

“Yes, Miss Briggs.”

Felina had her mouth opened in disbelief. She couldn’t believe it. That drunken tom was a SWAT Kat? Was that tom part of Megakat City’s first line of defense?

“Now what, Lieutenant? Am I still just a drunken, bearded, fat tom?” – Chance queried, his eyes cold as ice, as was his voice.

“That proves nothing. You disappointed me, Furlong. Deeply!” – she stated and went out of the garage by the back door. Seconds later, Chance and Callie heard the sound of tires screeching.

“Good riddance, Lieutenant…” – Chance mumbled. He looked down at Callie and powered down, closing his eyes. – “Now you know we were the SWAT Kats too…”

Callie took Chance’s right paw in hers. – “Somehow, I always knew…” – she shook her head – “No, I never knew… But, I wanted so much to believe that you were a SWAT Kat, Chance… And, my wish came true… You are! You are a SWAT Kat! When you helped me that day I knew you two were well intentioned… I could see it in your eyes… Then, when you told me your story, I was touched… I really was… Then, the SWAT Kats showed up a few months later. Every time T-Bone would save me I wished he were you. In my mind, T-Bone wasn’t an abstraction anymore. T-Bone was you, Chance… Of course, both of you bore similarities but I never did make the connection. Such can be the magic of a mask…” – she turned her eyes, which she kept down so far, up to the tabby’s hirsute face – “I always dreamt to be saved by you, Chance… Now I know I’ve been many times…”

She caressed his two-week beard, feeling each black steel-hard fur. With an impressive strength for a she-kat of her size and stature, she snatched Chance’s head down and pressed her lips against his. Chance tried only half-heartedly to draw his head back but only raised his arms and embraced her, kissing her deeply. They broke apart a minute later and Chance smiled, blushing under his golden fur.

“My breath must stink… So does my body… I’m sorry…” – he muttered.

“Go take a bath and shave yourself. I’ll make something for us to eat.”

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After a half-an-hour shower and a close shaving, Chance went to the living room with a pair of jeans on. He was feeling better now. How could he have thought about killing himself? Jake would never have wanted that. On the contrary, Jake would kill him again if he ever committed suicide.

“A physiological impossibility, I think…” – he mumbled.

Still, he had tried to put an end to his life today. He picked up the revolver from the ground. He looked at it, the instrument of his destruction. He felt a shiver running up his spine. How close had he been to death today? Was he so desperate to the point he’d end his own life?

Yes, he was. He remembered Razor flipping through the air again, his blood sullying the white sand.

Razor’s blood.

He’d broken his promise not to shed the blood of innocents. He’d shed the blood of his own brother. Wasn’t that reason enough to die? What honor did he have left?

“None…” – he sighed. – “Then, why couldn’t I kill myself? Why?”

He glanced at the kitchen. Callie was still there, busy with pots and pans. He shook his head. That wasn’t the idea he had of her. He thought of her as an independent business she-kat and not a housekeeper.

He lowered his look to the revolver in his paws and decided to go upstairs, back to their bedroom. When he got there, he buried the revolver in the depths of one of his drawers. He went to the closet and opened the door, peering at his reflection in the mirror.

“Felina’s right. I *am* falling out of shape…” – he said, groping the few centimeters of fat that had accumulated in his abdominal area during the past two weeks. He flexed his muscles and saw them ripple under his fur. – “Though I’m not *that* out of shape…”

He picked up a clean shirt and dressed in it. Closing the closet’s door, he went to Jake’s bed and sat on it. He softly passed his left paw over the sheets. His own words came back to his mind.

“Why couldn’t I kill myself?” – he said out aloud – “I was determined… I was even a little drunk… So why? Why was I unable to kill myself?”

“Chance! Dinner is served!” – Callie said from outside the bedroom.

Chance jerked his head back, startled by the unfamiliar voice.

“Y-yes, I’m coming down right away…” – he stuttered.

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The molecules dispersed slowly but in a steady rate through the air. Some of them dodged the protective furs and bound to the receptors inside his nostrils. The chemical messengers were immediately released and an electric discharge sped up the nerve cords until it reached the brain nanoseconds later, where it released a few more chemical messengers that were rapidly interpreted, unleashing a true cascade of chemical events inside his body. Millions of nerve cells crackled as an electric discharge sped away through the intricacy of axons and soma that made up Chance’s brain just to tell him that he was sniffing the aroma of baked tuna. Another million-full of neurons ordered his salivary glands to commence their production of water and amylase in anticipation while another handful of those cells sent electric messages to his cerebrum with the mission to tell the big tabby that he hadn’t eaten anything in two weeks and that he was ravenously hungry.

“I hope you still have some appetite ’cause I’ve made spaghetti with tuna. I hope you enjoy it!” – Callie said when she saw Chance’s look.

He could barely contain the saliva inside his mouth.

“Spaghetti and tuna… My favorite… Ladies first.” – Chance said while retrieving a piece of the meal, sprinkling it with some tomato sauce and serving it to Callie.

“I think I made too much…”

“Don’t worry! I haven’t eaten anything in two weeks…” – Chance said as he served himself with a generous portion of the course.

Callie blinked as she watched Chance literally devour the contents of the plate in front of him.

“Well… I guess hunger *is* the best sauce after all…” – she said before taking a forkful of spaghetti.

They ate in silence for a while until Chance snapped his fingers.

“I almost forgot!” – he said after he swallowed what he had in his mouth. He got up and retrieved two stemmed glasses from the cupboard, placing one in front of Callie and another in front of his place. He then headed for the fridge and retrieved a bottle of a green white wine. – “This goes divinely with spaghetti and tuna…” – Chance served the wine and sat down again.

An hour later, they finished eating and drinking. With five glasses of wine, Callie was feeling a bit light-headed. Chance was light-headed too with all the alcohol he had drunk the entire day. They went to the living room and sat down on the couch. She rested her face against his broad chest. He stroked her golden hair lovingly.

“Chance…” – Callie started but stopped. She couldn’t find the right words and she didn’t want to break that moment but the question was in her throat, choking her.

“Yeah, what is it, Callie?” – Chance helped her, noticing her hesitation.

“Chance, what happened to Jake?” – she asked softly, so softly her last words were no more than a whisper. Chance’s paw stopped stroking her hair and she could feel his heart pounding harder in his chest. – “I’m sorry, Chance! I didn’t want to distress you…” – she said, looking up to the tabby’s face, her words coming out rapidly.

“It’s okay, Callie. You have all the right to ask. After all, you’re his friend.”

Chance remained silent for a few seconds until he found the necessary bravery to go on. He closed his eyes and let it all loose.

“We were called two weeks ago by Prof. Hackle. Dark Kat was attacking his lab. We went and we fought him. I went to fight Dark Kat while Jake fought his ninjas. The attack didn’t work out the way I was expecting and Dark Kat beat me up. Jake was doing well with the ninjas. Dark Kat had me on the ground. I wanted so much to finish off that purple bastard… I shot an explosive towards him, but that blasted purple crud kicked my arm and the explosive was shot into the air. The next thing I know, I saw Jake being hit by the blast of my explosive. Then, I just remember him lying in the sand, bleeding and unmoving. I ran to him, but Dark Crud’s ninjas stopped me and nearly killed me with punching and kicking. When I came to, I never saw Jake again. I think the tide carried him away to the sea.

So you see now why I wanted to kill myself, Callie? I wanted to be with Jake again, and the only way to do it was by dying… I killed him, Callie… I killed Jake…” – he finished with a gloomy sigh. A lonely tear slid down from his right eye.

Callie placed a paw on Chance’s cheek. He opened his eyes and saw her green eyes staring at him.

“But, it was an accident, Chance! It wasn’t your fault!”

“I still killed him! Accident or not, I still killed him! That shouldn’t happen! I was imprudent, blind! I killed him, Callie! Whether it was by accident or not, it doesn’t make any difference and it doesn’t make me feel any better! I still killed him… I don’t expect you to understand my pain. No one can.”

“Is it really pain, Chance? I think it’s more like self-commiseration! You’re only thinking about yourself, Chance! I know it’s hard to accept the loss of your partner but are you really crying his loss or the fact that *you* did it?”

“Wha… What do you mean?…” – Chance muttered, his mind lost in some horrible maelstrom.

“Just what I meant. You’re just sorry for yourself, not for Jake.”

A few heavy seconds passed before either of them spoke again.

“I’m sorry but I have to go now. I still have work to do at home. Thanks for the lovely dinner, Chance.” – she grabbed her purse and went to the garage door, opening it up. The cold wind of the night lashed her features. – “Think about what I said, Chance. You’ll see I’m right. Goodbye.”

Chance heard the coughing of Callie’s car when she started it and heard her driving out the salvage yard. He rose from the couch and went to the garage door, stepping outside the body shop. The cold night wind stroke his face too. He looked outside, to his domains. The silvery light of the nocturne geoid cast long smudged shadows on the ground while softly illuminating the piles of metallic scrap. With his heart in his throat, Chance got outside and climbed up the closest pile of metallic litter. He stood upright onto the roof of a car and stared at the huge full moon. Heavy tears streamed down his face as his chest heaved up and down wildly, drawing air in and out of his lungs at a fast rate. Chance’s face, paled by the soft noctiluca planetoid, contorted in a mask of grief. He suddenly shut his eyes and arched his head back, roaring one painful and tortured word.

“JAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!”

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Felina couldn’t sleep. She was in her quarters, in the casernes adjacent to Enforcer Headquarters, lying in her bed. The moonlight penetrated through the glass of the window and drew a black net over the sheets. Her mind was a whirl. She didn’t know what to think. In her mind she had drawn a picture completely different from that which she had encountered that afternoon. She saw Chance and Jake as two honorable fighters, obeying only their own hearts. Now she had seen one of them. A drunk! Suicidal! Exactly the opposite of what she had expected. She went out of bed and to the window, opening it. The cold night air invaded her room and made her hair flutter slightly. A shiver ran through her nearly naked body, but she didn’t notice it. She stared at the moon.

“Is it possible that he really *is* a SWAT Kat? I can’t believe that! He’s… he’s not fit to be a SWAT Kat…”

She closed her eyes and dropped her head to her breast.

“What if he really *is* a SWAT Kat? If so, I know his identity… I’ll have to arrest him… But… Is it the right thing to do? As SWAT Kats they saved this city many times… I can’t possibly envision my fellow Enforcers handling Dark Kat efficiently… Or Dr. Viper… We try, oh, only the Holy Kats know that we try… But, they always seem to get the better of us… Maybe we’re lacking boldness… The SWAT Kats definitely have it… But, what do they have to lose? If Chance and Jake really are the SWAT Kats, what do they have to lose? Many of my fellow Enforcers have girlfriends and boyfriends. Some are even married and have kittens! If one of them dies, an entire family would suffer… What do the SWAT Kats have to lose? Each other?” – she paused for a moment – “Yeah, I guess that would be painful enough…”

She suddenly looked up to the moon again.

“Kats alive! Could it be that… Could it be that Chance has lost his partner? Fact is I haven’t seen Jake there… Holy Kats! I wonder if Chance wanted to kill himself because he lost Jake… If so… Damn it… Was I too hard in my judgment? Granted, he didn’t even flinch when I punched him… That was the attitude of a true soldier…” – she shook her head vehemently – “Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions… Go get some sleep, Lieutenant. You’ll have a busy day ahead of you tomorrow.”

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The next day, Chance got out of bed early. He decided not to reopen the garage yet. He wanted to exercise himself a bit. So, after having his breakfast and brushing his fangs, he went down to the hangar. He headed directly for his locker, opening the door and taking out a spare G-suit. Chance examined it closely and passed a paw over it affectionately. He put it on. Trousers first, followed by the sleeves. That done he slowly zipped it closed. The harness followed, like in a ritual. With a clicking sound, he finished suiting up. Now, the bandana. Adjusting it to his head, he tied it tightly behind his back, flexing his back muscles when he finished. The gloves were slipped on and his golden paws turned black. Finally, the helmet. Slowly, as if crowning himself, he settled the helmet in his head. The transformation was complete. T-Bone was reborn from the ashes, like a phoenix revived from its scorching pyre.

“I know you wouldn’t want me dead, brother. That’s another one I owe you!” – he whispered as he softly passed his paw over the door marked with a black ‘R’. He picked up his glovatrix and slipped it on his right arm, turning on his heel and speeding away to the Reflex Room.

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Felina entered Enforcer Headquarters with a lousy mood that morning. Despite the advice she gave herself, she hadn’t slept well. Accordingly to her night, her mood was lousy when she got out of her bed. However, headquarters seemed more bustling than usual on that sunny morning. She looked as everyone hurried upstairs. She stopped one of her colleagues.

“Chet, what’s going on?” – she asked.

“Your uncle summoned us all up there. Looks like something big is going on. C’mon. Race you up to the briefing room.” – the beige-furred tom in front of her informed.

“You’re on!” – she responded and both kats started climbing up the steps two at a time.

Eight levels up, they were practically dragging themselves.

“Whose stupid idea was this? Racing *up* a staircase?” – Felina panted as she stomped down the hall of the eighth floor, where the briefing room was. – “Even so, I beat you up, Chet! You’re falling out of shape!”

Suddenly, she remembered Chance. She had said exactly the same words to him. She rapidly shook her head to clear her mind. She didn’t want to think about that now.

“You… You ch… cheated… Lieutenant…” – Chet panted as he got alongside her.

“That’s what you all, toms, say. Fact is, I won! Now let’s get inside and see if we can still grab some seats.”

Both Enforcers stepped inside the big room, which was full of their fellows. The room was, in fact, a big amphitheater, like those one can find in any university. In the center, down the prone floor, stood an elevated stage. In the middle of the stage stood a wooden pulpit with the Enforcer’s badge carved in it.

Felina looked around, searching for a seat. She noticed Chet waving at her, letting her know he already found one for him.

“That’s fine for you, you little rat… What about me?” – she cursed under her breath. She sighed – “Looks like I’ll have to stay on the stairs… What a day… And, it has just started…”

She sat down on the stairs and, a few seconds later, Commander Feral stepped to the pulpit, entering the stage from its left, silencing the entire crowd. He adjusted the microphone to his height and tipped it with his finger, testing it. Grabbing both sides of the pulpit, he began.

“We’ve been informed by an anonymous source that a major underground event will take place in Megakat City in exactly five days. Apparently, the same event has been happening since quite a while ago.”

He paused and scanned the audience with his eyes. His kats remained expressionless.

“This event has a name. Perhaps some of you already heard about it. It’s the so called ‘Tournament’, the fighting championship among the criminal scum of this city.”

Now Feral got the audience’s undivided attention. A few heads nodded while some others turned to ask something of their fellow by their side. The murmur took only a few seconds before the audience turned its attention to Feral again.

“This ‘Tournament’ is an old event. We’ve been keeping a watch on it for quite a while now, but we never managed to get there on time. Now, however, the odds are turning to our side. Finally, we have a date and, most of all, a place.”

The room’s lights dimmed, and the huge screen behind Feral filled with an image, the image of a countryside mansion.

“The mansion you’re seeing behind me is Farrell Manor and is situated on the outskirts of Megakat City. According to our source, this year’s ‘Tournament’ will take place there. A calm place. Far from the city’s limits. Why care, you might ask? I’ll tell why we must care. Because it is illegal. Because the most wanted villains of this city will be there. Because they laugh at our faces every time they have such a meeting. Because we’ll still be sitting ducks no matter who wins that championship.” – he paused again and scanned the audience once more – “Well, I’m not gonna let them laugh at me anymore! They will not terrorize my city, my friends, my family *anymore*! I’ll stop this scum *once and for all*! I’LL PUT AN END TO THIS NOW AND FOREVER!” – he paused again. He could see the morale rising in each face – “NOW, WHO’S WITH ME?”

The entire crowd rose from the chairs and burst out in loud saluting to Feral. Everyone except one she-kat sitting on the stairs with her eyes closed.

“Good job, uncle… You really kicked their tails… They’ll follow you to hell, if needed…”

Feral, on the other hand, stared at the bellowing crowd in front of him, thinking about *his* own reason to command this strike.

“Because you’ll be there… And, I want to clip your little wings and send you to a little cozy cage, you big bird…” – he ground his teeth in rage and squeezed the wooden pulpit so tightly his knuckles turned white under his brown fur.

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Early that evening, T-Bone left the Reflex Room. After spending an entire day jumping pits, avoiding flames and circular saws, flipping over mechanical tentacles and spikes and rolling under closing sluices, his G-suit bore the stains of sweat and blood from a few rips. He unzipped the upper part and let it fall over his back. Taking off his helmet, gloves and a soaking wet undershirt, he threw the latter into a basket and put the first objects in their respective places inside his locker. He was about to retrieve his bandanna when a red light started blinking on the console to his left. He went to it and pressed a button. The aging visage of Prof. Hackle filled the giant screen in front of him.

“T-Bone, I have some news for you that you might find interesting.” – the inventor said. The screen flickered and an image of his beloved TurboKat filled the screen.

“It’s the TurboKat… I don’t get it…” – only then realization dawned on him. – “You rebuilt her, Professor?” – he asked, a smile spreading across his face. Prof. Hackle’s face reappeared on the screen, a paternal smile plastered on his face also.

“My robots rebuilt her, T-Bone. Once again, you must thank Cybertron, for he did most of the work…”

Hearing its name, the short robot came to Prof. Hackle and its frantic acoustic signals could be heard over the intercom.

T-Bone smiled.

“Thanks, Cybertron! Nice work!” – he said cheerfully. Cybertron’s squeaks got louder and then stopped. – “Is she operational, Professor?”

“She’s ready to be used. Her tanks are full. All that’s missing is some weaponry. As you might figure out, I don’t have those kind of things here…” – the old tom said, sheepishly, lowering his head a bit.

“Sure, I understand, Professor.” – T-Bone said in a soothing tone.

“But, I have more news for you, T-Bone! Unfortunately, there is some bad news mixed with some good news… I’ll air a tape I got from my security cameras. At a given point, I’ll make a zoom in.”

The screen flickered again and Prof. Hackle’s face was replaced by the bright image of a white sandy crescent rimmed by a steep orange sandstone cliff. T-Bone recognized the place instantly. It was the beach where they had fought Dark Kat that day. He saw the TurboKat landing on the beach. Seconds later, he saw a trail of smoke from his right and, a bit later, the TurboKat exploded. He saw two little blue spots getting up and facing three black spots. A fourth larger spot approached. The fighting sequence ensued. He kept his eyes on the blue spot speeding away from the ninjas, turning around and sweeping them one by one. He didn’t pay attention to his fight with Dark Kat. He knew all too well what had happened. The scars in his thigh were still there to prove it. He saw another explosion and a tear escaped from his left eye. He saw Razor flipping trough the air and lying down limply on the sand. He saw himself limping towards Razor and being stopped and beaten by the ninjas. The image zoomed in and he could discern Razor’s features perfectly.

He gasped and widened his eyes. He got so close to the screen his breath was dulling the image.

He saw Razor getting up and, after a few moments, limping towards his unconscious form. Tears of joy dropped from his eyes now as he drew his head back and softly touched Razor’s image.

“He’s… He’s alive… He’s alive… Now I understand why I couldn’t kill myself… You are alive… You wouldn’t let me…” – he whispered.

His lips returned promptly to a hard line when he saw the ninjas snatch Razor and drag the slim kat away from him. He gritted his teeth in rage when he saw Dark Kat approaching from behind Razor and delivering a blow to the back of his head, knocking Razor out cold.

Dark Kat approached T-Bone’s unconscious form and inspected him for a second, after placing his foot on top of the big tabby’s head and stomping his head down to the sand. Dark Kat walked back a few steps and headed in the same direction his ninjas had taken with Razor’s limp body.

He could see Dark Kat’s jaw moving in a familiar movement. He was laughing. He was laughing at them. T-Bone tensed every muscle in his bare torso.

An unearthly roar reverberated down the walls of the hangar and spread outside across the salvage yard while a fist punched through the screen right in the place where Dark Kat’s face had been a second earlier, making it explode in a shower of minute glass debris.

T-Bone retrieved his blood-covered fist from the shattered screen and clenched it tighter, blood dripping to the floor and down his brawny forearm.

“That’s the last straw, Dark Kat!” – he hissed, his eyes acquiring a bloodthirsty and ice-cold look – “Wherever you are, I’ll find you and bring my brother back. THIS I SWEAR!”

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

Later that night, three kats rushed into an alley and stopped dead in their tracks.

“No exit!” – one of them shrieked in despair.

“It’s a dead end!” – another said.

“‘Dead’ is right…” – a cold voice hissed from behind them. They spun around and saw two eyes flaring in the darkness.

“We’re not going down without a f…”

The words were clipped off his mouth by a powerful punch in his chin. The kat staggered back and banged his head against the wall, passing out.

“C’mon… Make my day…” – the same icy voice defied.

Another one of the punks headed for him, drawing back his arm. He punched the darkness and felt his fist hit something. When he tried to retrieve his fist, he couldn’t. It was stuck in something. However, the ruffian never had the chance to understand what had happened, since a knee rammed his stomach, making him double over. The next thing he felt he was flying against the wall. He too banged his head and passed out.

“Wanna try your luck?” – T-Bone said, stepping into the pale moonlight that lit one side of the alley.

“A SWAT Kat?” – the third thug gasped. He tried to punch T-Bone but the tabby grabbed his arm and twisted it behind the punk’s back, pinning him against the wall. The kat groaned in pain when his face hit the rough brick wall.

“I’ll ask only once: where’s Dark Kat?” – T-Bone hissed in the kat’s ear.

“Never heard of him…” – he answered.

T-Bone twisted his arm even more, making a short yelp escape from the kat’s lips.

“Wrong answer! Try again!” – T-Bone growled.

“I don’t knoAAAAAAAAGGGHHH…” – his arm was now twisted at almost an impossible angle.

“Last chance, punk… Where is Dark Kat?”

“I told you already! I swear I don’t know!” – the kat whimpered.

T-Bone just sighed.

“Why do these punks always want to do it the hard way?” – he asked rhetorically.

“NO! I’M NOT LYING! I SWEAR I DON’T KNOW!” – he shrieked out loud.

“Tsk, tsk… Shame on you…. A tom of your age crying… Say, have you ever flown with an explosive up your tailhole?”

“W-what?” – the kat stuttered, looking back to T-Bone, fear filling his eyes.

“Have you?” – T-Bone insisted. The kat slowly shook his head in a negative, whimpering. T-Bone grinned, a cruel grin that sent shivers up the kat’s spine.

“Y-you w-wouldn’t…”

“Wanna try?” – he drew his glovatrix lower.

“WAIT! Wait, please!” – the kat wailed.

“You were saying something about Dark Kat, I believe?”

“All… All I know is that there’ll be a fighting tournament… among the bad guys of this city…” – the kat blabbered.

“A tournament… *The* Tournament? Yeah, Dark Kat will be there, no doubt about it… Tell me where is that ‘Tournament’.”

“I-I don’t know, I *swear* to the Holy Kats I don’t know where…” – he never finished his sentence. T-Bone’s punch clipped the words off his mouth. The kat joined the two that were lying on the ground.

T-Bone climbed up the fire escape to his left and jumped to the roof, heading for the TurboKat. He released the canopy and jumped aboard. He sat in his place, thinking.

“The Tournament… I’ve heard about it since I was in the Enforcers… Dark Kat will be there, I’m sure of that… But so will be every other villain of this city… But, where? Where is this year’s Tournament? I don’t even know who won the last one, so I don’t even have the slightest clue where to look for… I certainly can’t look in every house in Megakat City…” – he thought, groping his chin. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. – “Maybe Callie knows something….”

He retrieved his communicator and pressed the button in the center. For the first time, Callie’s communicator started emitting its frantic beeping.

“What?” – She picked it up and answered – “Yes, T-Bone. What is it?”

T-Bone smirked. Usually it was the opposite: she kept calling them.

“Callie, I need some help. I’m on a clue, but I need more information. Have you ever heard about something called “The Tournament”?” – he asked.

“Who hasn’t? It takes place every four years in Megakat City but every time in a different place.” – she answered.

“Do you know where is it going to be this year?”

“I’m not particularly a criminal, T-Bone! How could I possibly know where is it going to be?”

He blushed – “I-I… I… I didn’t mean to imply that you were, Callie…” – he stammered.

“Drop it. I know you didn’t. But, I’m afraid I can’t help you, T-Bone. I just know what everybody else knows.”

“Okay… Well, thanks anyway, Callie…”

“Why are you so interested in the Tournament? Are you gonna be in it?”

“No… I won’t… I’m not a criminal, you know?” – he heard her chuckling softly on the other side – “No, it’s Dark Kat I’m after. He’s got Razor.”

“Huh? But, isn’t he…?

“No… He’s alive… See you, Callie!”

“What? T-Bone…” – it was too late. She could only hear the sound of static. She placed the communicator inside her purse again and stared blankly at the papers on her living room table.

“That wasn’t much of a help but what was I thinking? She’s not a criminal… It’s *obvious* she doesn’t know anything… But wait… Maybe that’s it!”

He engaged the VTOL engines and flew off the building.

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

Felina was in her quarters, lying in her bed with the light out. The room was only dimly illuminated by the moonlight. She hadn’t taken off her uniform yet. Besides the briefing reunion, it was a day like any other, with the usual amount of robberies, bank heists, husbands infuriated at their wives and vice-versa, some other wacko trying to throw himself off the top of one of Old MegaKat Bridge’s pillars… In short, a normal day of work!

She wasn’t thinking about those trivialities (other kats would call it ‘disgraces,’ some others would call it ‘awful events’… Pick a name you’re comfortable with, she would say to those people) or about the briefing. She was still cracking her brain with what she now called ‘The Chance/SWAT Kat Riddle’.

“Is it possible? Can he really be a SWAT Kat? Damn, it doesn’t fit! Even the attitude doesn’t fit!”

She suddenly heard a tap in her window. She sat upright and peered outside.

“C’mon, how can that be? I’m at the third floor and these windows don’t have balconies! It must be just my imagination doing some extra hours…” – she said to herself as she lay back on the bed.

A few seconds later, she heard the tapping again. There was no mistaking this time, she heard it distinctly! She got off the bed and went for her blaster, which was on its holster on top of the nightstand. She crouched near the bed and went to the window. She got up in a flash and trained the weapon on the window. There was nothing neither there nor outside. She opened the window and peered down. There was nobody there!

“How can this be? I heard it!”

“U-hum. Try to look up, Lieutenant…” – a gruff voice said from above her.

The voice hadn’t even finished the sentence and she was already looking up and aiming her blaster at T-Bone. The burly SWAT Kat fired a cement slug at her paw and she dropped the blaster. – “Didn’t your uncle tell you not to play with guns ’cause they’re dangerous?” – T-Bone taunted – “Just for your knowledge, I had more than enough time to kill you at least six times, Lieutenant.”

She clenched her teeth, showing them. T-Bone smirked. That attitude was so… Feral, he thought. – “Well, like uncle, like niece, I think…”

“What are you doing here?” – she asked in a low raspy tone.

“Comfortable as you and I may be, I think we should talk in another place, don’t you?” – he suggested, not without a heavy load of sarcasm.

“We have nothing to talk…” – she said and intended to go back inside her room again when a powerful paw snatched her right arm and took her out of her room. – “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” – she shouted.

T-Bone drew her close to him and placed his paw over her mouth while rapidly reeling both of them up to the roof. When they got there, he let her go.

“That’s kidnapping…” – she started but his determined voice put an end to the argument.

“That’s enough, Lieutenant! Can we *please* go somewhere else to talk? I wouldn’t be pleased if one of your colleagues found us up here!”

Felina powered down a bit. There wasn’t any reason not to trust T-Bone. After all, he had saved her some times before. She acknowledged, and T-Bone helped her to get inside the TurboKat. Seconds later, they were flying in the dark skies over Megakat City.

Felina broke the silence.

“I believe you wanted to talk to me.”

“I want…” – he paused for a few seconds. Felina was about to ask ‘So?…’ when he spoke again – “What do you know about ‘The Tournament’, Lieutenant?”

“I know it’s an und…”

“I know that part backwards already. Who was the last winner?” – he snapped.

“I believe it was Dark Kat.”

“So, he’s going to be in this year’s Tournament.”

“How can I know? I dunno the rules!”

“When will it be?”

“We know it will take place in five days.” – she peered at her wristwatch – “Sorry, make that four days.”

“Where?” – his heart was pounding so hard now he feared she could hear it.

“Indeterminate location.”

Two words had frozen his blood. His heart fell to his feet. Again, he was so close and again the truth was denied to him.

“Are you sure you don’t know where is it, Felina?” – his question sounded almost like a pleading. He hated himself for that.

“Even if I knew the location of the Tournament, it would be classified information. What makes you think I would share it with you?”

“I’ll take you back to your caserne.”

They flew back to the building where her room was. They got both out of the black jet fighter.

“You’re delivered, Lieutenant. Goodbye.”

“Wait. I wanted to ask you… Is it really you, Chance?”

T-Bone turned to face her. He looked from one side to the other. Nobody. He approached her as he took off his helmet. The mask followed. She placed her paw in her mouth. T-Bone rapidly put his mask on again. He didn’t want to take any more chances than the ones he took revealing his face. He went to the TurboKat and jumped aboard. Once inside, he put the helmet on and strapped in. The canopy closed and he fired the VTOL engines. When he was floating a few meters above the roof level, he engaged the rear engines and disappeared in the night.

Felina stood in her place, still in disbelief.

“He is… He really *is* a SWAT Kat…” – she whispered.

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

T-Bone arrived at the hangar already past 2:00 A.M. He yawned while the canopy slid back and he unstrapped himself from his seat, after which he jumped to the ground. Instead of going to his locker to take off his suit, he headed directly upstairs. He thought that, since the garage was closed and it was late at night, there would be no danger in doing so.

He was tired; he had to admit it. After a whole day of training, he still had had to drop by Prof. Hackle’s lab to pick up the TurboKat. Once inside the jet, he decided to pick on some small time criminals, beating around the bush, waiting for a certain purple kat to show his snout. But, he only managed to get himself even more tired. So, he headed directly upstairs.

“You’re late!” – said a female voice from the living room couch, startling T-Bone, who spun on his heels with his glovatrix ready.

“Who’s there?” – he ordered. The sudden rush of adrenaline had swept away any trace of weariness from his body. He was surprised to see Callie getting off the couch and heading his way. – “Callie? H-how did you get in here?”

“Same way I did yesterday. Backdoor.” – she answered with a smile on her face.

“Gotta fix that lock one of these days…” – he thought, lowering his glovatrix. – “What are you doing here this late?”

“Aren’t you glad to see me?” – she asked coquettishly.

“It’s not that!” – he said. After a hard day what tom wouldn’t be glad to see such an Aphrodite in front of him? – “It’s just that you startled me, that’s all.”

“Well, you got me dead curious! So, Jake is alive?” – she asked as she approached T-Bone.

“Yeah, he is. Prof. Hackle showed me a tape of one of his security cameras. I saw him being taken away by Dark Kat.”

“So, that’s why you want to find him?”

“Yeah…” – T-Bone was entranced by Callie. It was getting hard for him to think. Maybe it was the fatigue or maybe it was simply the beauty of her features, lightening up his mood.

“Any luck?” – she asked.

T-Bone didn’t answer. He was too busy looking down to Callie. Only after Callie had repeated her question a second time, he snapped out of his trance and answered.

“No, not much… I just managed to find out that the Tournament will be in four days.” – he yawned – “Now, I’m tired to death…”

“I see… I’d better be going.”

“Oh, no! You’re not driving back to your apartment alone at this hour of the night.” – T-Bone said, alarmed. Then, he put the most seductive tone he could manage at that late hour in his voice – “However, I’ll be happy to drive you home.”

Callie caressed T-Bone’s cheek. – “You’re a sweetie, Chance…” – once again, she snatched his head down to her lips for a long kiss.

T-Bone picked her up in his arms.

“I’ve got a better idea… Why don’t you sleep here?” – he seductively purred to her.

“I’d love to.” – she purred back.

They went upstairs to his bedroom. T-Bone didn’t even put Callie down to open the door. They entered in the darkened room, only faintly illuminated by the moonlight. T-Bone placed her gently over his bed. He took off his helmet and placed it on top of his nightstand. The harnesses followed, falling to the floor.

Callie grabbed the collar of his G-suit and pushed him down, making T-Bone kneel on the floor. Their lips touched again, and she unzipped his G-suit, sliding it to the tabby’s back. He raised his arms, allowing her to take off his shirt. Her paws wandered along the powerful torso of the big SWAT Kat, eliciting a long warm purr deep in the tom’s throat, which seemed to stimulate her more. T-Bone took off her pink sweater, kissing her on her neck. She too began purring deep in her throat. They lay down on the bed, side by side, in a warm embrace. The heat kept rising in their bodies and, later that night, they became one, reaching the highest stars in the most remote of the galaxies for a few magic moments.

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

The morning came surprisingly fast that day. Callie opened her eyes and looked up at Chance. She was snuggled to the big tom, resting her face in his broad chest. Chance was still asleep, so she turned around as softly as she could and peered at the alarm clock in front of the helmet. She widened her eyes in shock. 9:00 A.M.! She bustled out of bed, waking up Chance.

The tabby looked up at her naked back. What a better way to start a morning…

“The toilet is downstairs…” – he said seductively – “Good morning, beautiful…”

“Oh, damn it! I’m so *late*!” – she shrieked as she dressed up. Chance got out of bed and went to her. He embraced her from behind. – “C’mon, Chance! I’m *ages* late!”

“You’re not going anywhere before a good morning kiss…” – he purred in her ear. She turned back, her green eyes staring at him so lovingly it hurt. They kissed a swift kiss this time. She finished dressing and brushing her hair. And went downstairs.

Chance was in the kitchen, making breakfast.

“Sure you don’t wanna eat anything before you go?” – he asked her.

Her stomach rumbled softly.

“Sorry, but I really gotta go! I’ll call you later, Chance!” – she said and stormed out of the garage.

“I’ll be waiting!” – he responded to an empty garage.

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

The day passed, just like so many others, without any significant fact, without history. In Farrell Manor, Razor was sitting on top of one of the highest branches of a tree, staring at the setting sun. That day’s practice had been a particularly hard one, and his gi was soaked in sweat. He closed his eyes, savoring the fresh breeze caressing the fur on his face and chest, cooling down his sore and tired muscles.

He thought about Chance. He had been Dark Kat’s prisoner for almost three weeks now, and he never had any more news from Chance since the day he was captured and his friend was lying in the sand bleeding. He closed his eyes and sighed briefly.

“I wonder how are you doing, Chance? Last time I saw you, you seemed lifeless. Dark Kat told me you were alive and that gave me some comfort for a couple of days but… So much time has passed since I last saw you… I miss you, Chance. I miss you badly…” – he smiled faintly – “If I know you well, you must be wreckin’ the city lookin’ for me…” – his smile disappeared – “…if you’re alive…”.

Razor opened his eyes and stared directly to the huge red orb sinking indolently in the horizon. – “What was that feeling the other day? I can’t shake it out of my head! I just felt that something had happened… I can’t explain it better… Something happened… I don’t know what, I don’t know to who but… I just can’t shake off this bad feeling about you, Chance… Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe it’s nothing… I wholeheartedly hope so…”

He jumped directly to the ground and landed on his feet. He went to the showers. At least, he could wash himself everyday. It would have been unbearable not to after everyday practice. After the shower, he dressed in his G-suit, which still bore the same rips and gashes that were made the day he was captured. He looked to the door. There he was, waiting for him.

Razor smiled.

“Besides doctor and instructor, he’s also my baby-sitter…” – he thought to himself.

“Hurry up! I don’t have all day!” – the ninja bawled to the slim kat.

Their relationship had cooled since that incident with Dark Kat’s creeplings but only in one way. Razor respected the ninja even more than initially and obeyed his every command. He was truly fascinated by that tom, not only by his speed and strength but also by his wisdom.

“I’m coming, don’t choke on a furball…” – Razor said as he went to the door.

The ninja escorted Razor to his cell. Once Razor stepped inside, he closed and locked the door, sentencing Razor to his confinement of darkness.

“I don’t get it…” – Razor thought – “He seems to hate Dark Kat as much as me or Chance, but he obeys his every command… Sure, Dark Kat cannot be played with… I know the purple crud well enough to imagine what he would do… And, it’s not a pleasant thought… Still, I think Doc would have a pretty good chance to defeat Dark Kat in an individual combat…”

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

Sweat flew off his fists and ran down his unclothed upper torso as he applied another series of punches to the sandbag. Chance had been down by the hangar the entire day, punching and kicking the sandbag. The upper part of his white gi was lying in the floor, discarded. Swinging his body to dodge the sandbag, he threw his left fist in an uppercut to the sandbag, sweat dropping from his forehead when he did so.

His muscles were sore and aching from the continuous effort he had made today. His legs and arms were numb and threatening to turn into jelly at any moment. But, he kept on punching and kicking. The lactic acid had already reached alarmingly high levels in his muscles, meaning they were working in anaerobiosis and were not giving their best already. The knifing pain the lactic acid caused was a warning signal of exhaustion. But, Chance didn’t pay attention to it.

A closer inspection would reveal his jaws tightly clenched. His black irises were misty, and he was totally concentrated on what he was doing. Each punch and kick hit the desired part of the sandbag with an almost surgical precision.

If one could see through his eyes, one wouldn’t see the sandbag in front of him. Instead, one would find a gloomy figure, much larger than the sandbag. Much larger than Chance himself.

One would see Dark Kat.

His gritted his teeth even more tightly, grinding them. He applied a huge blow to Dark Kat’s ribs. He could hear the villain’s bones cracking under his powerful fists. A jumping roundhouse kick would break the purple kat’s jaw. A huge punch to his gut would cause enough internal injuries to make him die by internal hemorrhaging.

Chance saw Dark Kat delivering a blow to the back of Razor’s head. He clenched his fists even more, piercing his skin with his claws and making blood spray out of the cuts he had inflicted on himself in his right fist when he punched the screen the day before. With a guttural roar he drew back his right arm and smashed it against Dark Kat’s face with all his might. He saw Dark Kat’s face turn into a black fleshy pulp under his powerful fist, the villain’s black blood spurting from and to everywhere.

Chance remained in the same position for a few moments while he recovered his breath and his control, panting. His eyes returned to their normal translucent tone. The tabby blinked twice and drew his arm back, relaxing his muscles. He peered at the open cuts in his right fist for a single second. He didn’t pay attention to them. He looked down to the blown sandbag at his feet, the sand spattered on the ground. His eyes closed while he drew in a deep breath.

“I’ll find you Jake, don’t worry… Now I understand what you were trying to tell me in my dreams…” – he mumbled in a bitter tone. He remembered his nightmare when Razor was impaled against the gray boulder. He saw the slim kat’s mouth movements and shook his head. It was so simple… And, he took all that time to figure it out… Razor was asking for Chance’s help. – “You were mouthing ‘save me’ all that time and I didn’t realize it… But, don’t worry! Even if I have to tear this city apart, I’ll find you and bring you home, lil’ bro.”

————————-S———-W———-A———-T—————K———-a———-t———-s——————–

Later that night, in Farrell Manor, the gloom of Razor’s cell was broken when the ninja/doctor opened the heavy wooden door, allowing the glimmering light emanating from the torches burning outside in the corridor to ooze inside the small cubicle. The ninja stood at the door, his dark silhouette outlined in the orange flare.

“Get up. Dark Kat wants to see us all.” – the ninja said.

Razor complied and jumped from the cot. He passed by the ninja and waited for him in the corridor while the black-dressed kat closed the door of the slim kat’s cell.

“What does Dark Crud want?” – Razor asked, falling in a steady pace alongside the ninja.

“Beats me. But, whatever that purple crud wants, must not be a good thing…” – the ninja responded.

“Why do you do it?” – Razor asked.

“Do what?”

“Why do you obey him?”

“It’s my duty…” – the older tom said, his tone not leaving room for any more questions.

They walked in silence until they reached a large room, where all of Dark Kat’s ninjas stood. The room was indeed large, with more than fifty square meters. The walls were painted in a very bright shade of beige and stuffed with paintings and tapestries representing everyday scenes from the Dark Ages. A shield with a family crest carved and two crossed swords adorned the far-off wall. Standing underneath the shield and the swords, on an elevated platform made of mahogany, stood a king-sized chair, like a throne, also made of the same wood. The floor was composed of waxed pieces of mahogany with some intricate drawings on them, disposed in a spine-like motif. Two huge candelabra made of crystal pendants provided all the light needed.

The ninja took Razor to the front row and stood by his side. Somewhere from behind the crowd, the two big mahogany doors opened up wide with a loud clanging. Dark Kat stormed between the ninjas, passing over the red carpet and heading to the chair. Before sitting down, he stood upright before the crowd of black-dressed masked kats, which bowed to the purple kat. All except Razor. Dark Kat finally sat down. All the remaining kats in the room stood to attention.

“Betrayal…” – Dark Kat started in his thundering voice – “… is an act that throughout time has been considered abject in every civilization. Although, in every civilization and in every epoch there have been traitors, two-faced kats, turncoats, kats who changed faction when they thought the time was right. And, in every civilization, in every epoch, the punishment have always been the same…”

Dark Kat scanned his audience with his pupil-less orange eyes, his brows furrowed and a distasteful grimace in his lips.

“Death…” – he concluded his train of thought. A few kats flinched almost imperceptibly. Dark Kat rose from his throne.

“The reason I called you here is a simple one. You are about to witness a judgment.” – he raised his left arm and moved it in an arc, so that he could forestall the entire crowd. – “In this room, one among you, will be accused… of treason.”

A few ninjas looked at each other. Razor wasn’t liking the course the monologue was taking a single bit. By his side, the ninja/doctor never flinched.

“And, that one is none other than…” – he scanned the room with his left forefinger until he pointed it directly to the doctor – “…you.”

The ninjas gulped and widened their eyes. So did Razor. The doctor never showed any expression. He just took two steps forward.

“You gave our position to the Enforcers. I, Dark Kat, charge you of treason, consider you guilty and sentence you to the capital penalty. Take him away.” – he stated out.

“I challenge you to a duel of honor. To the death.” – the doctor stated in a firm and loud tone. That simple sentence froze his warders in their tracks. Dark Kat noticed it.

“What are you waiting for to comply with my orders?” – he bellowed in his booming voice. The kats shuddered and dropped their heads to their chests, turning their backs on Dark Kat and stepping away.

“If you want me dead, Dark Kat, then *you* will have to kill me. I challenged you to an individual combat, and they know they can’t interfere. The only way you’ll kill me is by doing it yourself.” – the ninja defied Dark Kat.

The purple kat narrowed his eyes and suddenly started laughing. – “You really think you’re skilled enough to match me? Very well, I accept your challenge.” – Dark Kat said as he walked down the stairs.

The ninja narrowed his eyes and disappeared. The next second, he was near Dark Kat, ramming his knee against the huge kat’s midriff, disappearing again. Dark Kat doubled over, saliva escaping from his mouth. The ninja reappeared behind Dark Kat and hit the huge kat in the back with his elbow, causing Dark Kat to crash into the floor.

Razor had his eyes opened up wide. He didn’t even see him. Dark Kat was on the ground on all fours.

“Cursed…” – he stammered, getting to his feet – “You caught me by surprise, but I assure you I won’t make the same mistake…”

“You already did.” – the ninja said, appearing beside Dark Kat again and punching him in the face.

Dark Kat spurted some black blood from his mouth. The ninja lunged to him again, preparing a flying kick, but, this time, Dark Kat was aware. He grabbed the ninja’s foot and threw him like a doll to the wall to his right. The ninja twisted his torso and landed on all fours on the wall, boosting from it and towards Dark Kat.

“Old trick…” – Dark Kat said when he threw a punch upward, catching the ninja in mid-flight and delivering a huge blow to the kat’s stomach.

The ninja went flying up to the ceiling and rammed his back against the concrete. The gravity pulled him down to the ground again, where Dark Kat was awaiting him. He rammed his knee in the gut of the ninja and, in a swift motion, slammed his closed fists on the kat’s back, making him crash to the ground and spurt some blood, soaking his mask.

Dark Kat grabbed the kat by the neck and took off his mask, revealing his snout stained in red. The purple kat drew back his fist and punched the ninja’s snout, eliciting some more spurts of blood from his nostrils. He let the ninja fall helplessly to the ground and stomped his back. Suddenly, a soft cracking sound was heard coming from the ninja’s back and a heart-rending scream of pain echoed in the room.

“NO! STOP IT!” – Razor shouted and lunged to the fallen kat, but his fellow ninjas stopped him. He looked back, incredulously. What was wrong with them? Weren’t they aware that their master was in trouble? One of the ninjas that were holding him sadly shook his head no.

“It’s an individual combat. We *cannot* interfere or our master would be dishonored… All we can do is… stare…” – the ninja said. Razor noticed a single tear trickle down the little patch of fur that wasn’t covered by his mask. The slim kat settled down and looked with anguish to his master.

“I-I… I can’t… feel my legs… I can’t feel my legs…” – the doctor thought as tears slid down his eyes. Dark Kat picked up the limp form by the back of the ninja’s head. His paw was so huge that he managed to lift the ninja’s body completely from the ground, his feet dangling a few inches above the floor.

“You weren’t even a worthy opponent…” – Dark Kat oozed, looking at him askew. He grinned, a chilling grin. – “However, I will let you die condignly.”

His huge paw tightened the grip around the ninja’s skull. The ninja never had time to vocalize a scream before his head exploded due to Dark Kat’s pressure in his skull. The vital fluid sprinkled over the closest ninjas, Razor included.

“Justice is served.” – Dark Kat said, looking down to the beheaded body. The huge kat looked to the ninjas. They were terrified with the macabre scene in front of them.

“My kats!” – he started in his rumbling voice – “Before you is the dead body of your former master. He thought he could betray me. He thought he could take on me. He paid for those errors with his life.” – Dark Kat made a dramatic pause, scanning the room with his eyes – “Take a good look at him. Think well on the fate he had. It will be the fate of everyone who opposes me.”

One by one, every ninja observed the decapitated corpse, a visible tremor ravaging each organic form, like a transient wave.

“All of you came here because you believed in something. Because we shared a goal. I rewarded you by transmitting the ancient indoctrination of the ninjutsu. To all of you I ask to think carefully on what I am now about to demand from you.

Swear to me that you are resolved to conquer this pathetic city!

Swear to me that you will follow my leadership!

SWEAR ABSOLUTE AND ETERNAL LOYALTY TO ME!”

Every ninja raised his right arm and shouted, the sound reverberating down the walls of the room.

“HAIL, DARK KAT, SUPREME COMMANDER! WE WILL BREATHE SOLELY FOR YOU!”

In a corner of the room, a thunderstruck Razor whispered – “Hail, Dark Kat, supreme commander… I will breathe solely for you…”

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Razor went back to his cell. The hours dragged, but the slim kat was unable to sleep. It was about 3:00 A.M. when he retrieved his mask and cried a silent cry.

“I-I… I can’t… I can’t believe what I saw…” – he thought as he cleaned the wetness off his face with his sleeve – “Doc… I never came to know his name… The only kat that has helped me since I came here… And, he killed him! He killed him cold-bloodedly! Dark Kat is a psycho… Who does he think he is? The Holy Kats?” – a new wave of commotion and anguish overwhelmed him when he remembered the explosion, the fragments of brain and the blood splattered everywhere. He almost threw up when he remembered it. He leaned against the wall.

“This world is a tough one… I only fought it, but I never knew how things were in the world of crime… Now I know: obey or die… And die in the most horrible way possible… This is what’s expecting of me in the Tournament! Either I win… or I die… I’ll have to face single-handedly all of this city’s criminals! And the Tournament is already just after tomorrow! Dark Kat moved it up one day because of the Enforcer’s strike! I only have one more day to get myself ready…” – he closed his eyes and tears ran down his facial fur – “Chance, if I don’t come back, I hope you’ll somehow know that I died fighting the enemy… As a true soldier, like you are…”

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Chance was in his bed for quite sometime now, but he couldn’t sleep. He was restless, as if sensing Jake’s agitation in his cell in Farrell Manor. His whole body hurt now, that stinging pain we all experience the next day after a hard workout. But, he wasn’t paying attention to it. He knew the pain would go away. He got out of bed and headed downstairs, for the hangar. He suited up and got aboard the TurboKat.

Minutes later, the darkened skies were filled with the roar of the jet’s engines, the black silhouette of the fighter outlined against the moon. Again, the great vigilante was out for some trouble. The criminals had better watch their backs tonight ’cause wherever they would be, they could rest assured that T-Bone will not be too far behind…

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The dawn came unannounced. Razor looked up to the barred window and saw the first morning rays of light clearing the skies. The slim kat hadn’t slept one minute the previous night. He kept seeing the doctor’s head blow up in a red explosion. Razor knew he would have nightmares for several nights because of that. He tried to think about the Tournament and that made him even more restless.

“What kind of punks will I face? Dr. Viper? The PastMaster?” – he gulped, sitting upright – “The Metallikats? How can I beat the Metallikats with my bare paws?”

Razor’s thoughts and worries were interrupted when someone inserted the key in the lock of the heavy wooden door and opened it. Razor gulped. Dark Kat was at the door.

“You haven’t slept.” – he stated. Razor just shook his head in a negative. – “Go out and practice. This is your last day of practice before the Tournament.”

Dark Kat stepped forward towards the slim kat. All the defiance and the acid responses had disappeared from the slim kat’s heart as he flinched slightly when the huge kat approached.

“I hope you do not disappoint me. I won every Tournament I was in, and I don’t expect to lose this one… Now run along.” – the purple kat ordered.

Razor had no other choice but to obey.

If his face were unmasked, if it was Jake and not Razor that stood in front of Dark Kat, the huge purple villain would have seen a new feeling in the slim kat’s eyes. He would have seen fear. Granted, spending three weeks with that maniac were affecting Razor’s mind. And fact is, last night’s macabre show triggered all of Razor’s hidden fears.

True, Razor was a very good fighter, an excellent warrior, to be precise. But that didn’t mean he *liked* to fight. No. Razor was a fighter but only if he had to. Razor would only resort to his fists when he saw there was no other way out. And, he dreaded every blow he gave. His worst fear was losing control over himself and ending up killing – or even worse, crippling – someone.

Yes, Razor hated violence, however, he had one of the most violent lifestyles he could have – crime fighting. And, presently, he was in the most violent of worlds… He was inside the world of crime… There he would have to fight constantly just in order to survive. Now, he was experiencing a new kind of fear. The fear you feel when you find someone much stronger, violent and vicious than you. He feared for his own life. Against that fear there was only one way out: to struggle harder, stronger, more violently and more viciously than the other. And, that took him to his other fear, completing the circle.

But, he was determined not to go down without a good fight. He had gained a new respect for Dark Kat but only because the purple kat was stronger than he was. He didn’t share his sickly thirst for power nor his distorted ideas about justice. He was sure of two things, presently: one, that he would give his best in the Tournament; two, that he had to kill Dark Kat, sooner or later, and rid the world of his malefic presence.

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T-Bone returned to the salvage yard late in the morning. He was falling apart. The sleepiness finally began reaching his exhausted body, and he forced himself to go back to base despite the fact he hadn’t learnt anything new about the Tournament’s location. He jumped out of the jet and staggered across the cold concrete floor. The freshness of the place woke him up a bit from his stupor. He undressed and headed upstairs in his shorts and undershirt. After practically dragging himself upstairs, to his bedroom, he finally sank in the bed and instantly fell asleep.

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“Lieutenant Feral reporting, *sir*!” – Felina saluted her uncle after she entered his office in Enforcer Headquarters and closed the door behind her.

“At ease, Lieutenant.” – Feral said as he shuffled through a few papers. She had to wait five minutes before her uncle addressed her. – “Felina, come here.”

She went to his huge desk. On top of it was a military chart, with its familiar brown curves, red spots, blue lines and light green areas. The title on it only said ‘MegaKat – West side; 1:25 000′. She noted a pencil-made circle around one particular red parallelepiped.

“Farrell Manor?” – she asked. Her uncle nodded. – “It’s really out of the city’s limits.”

“Yes. If they wanted tranquility, they’ll find it there.”

“How’s the attack gonna be?” – she asked. Feral took another sheet from under the map. It was the schematic of a building. – “How did you get this?”

“I have my sources.” – he simply replied. He pointed to the center of the big house. – The fights will take place here. There’s an underground passage that leads to a large cave underneath the mansion. The arena must be down there.”

“So, where are we gonna break in?”

Feral pointed to the entrance of the underground cavern. – “That’s a problem. The cave only has one way in, which is, simultaneously, the only way out. I’m thinking a group of kats will break in and wreck havoc while another two groups will be situated here and here, in the middle and at the end of the access corridor. The ones who escaped from the first group will fall in the paws of the second. Besides, the corridor will end in a large room. I want another group there to round up any remaining punks. Finally, I want a ring of kats surrounding the mansion.”

“But, that will mobilize most, if not all, of our force! MegaKat city will be defenseless!” – she stated.

“I’m well aware of that. It’s an acceptable risk.” – Feral said, clenching his teeth. – “This time he *won’t* escape!” – Feral rumbled, smacking his closed fist on the desktop.

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The day passed fast, giving way to the dark cloak of the night. And, a bad night it was. A strong, cold wind started blowing after the sunset, carrying heavy storm clouds to the periphery of Megakat City. The flashes of lightning illuminated the air around the Megakat Mountains. Undoubtedly, tomorrow it would rain in Megakat City.

In Farrell Manor, Razor was lying back on his cot. The practice that day wasn’t as hard as he would have wanted, but he was tired. He had made a resolution during practice. He would win the Tournament, no matter the cost.

He was still in those daydreams when he heard the already familiar noise of the key being inserted into the lock and being turned. The orange flare of the torches burning outside invaded the small cubicle. Dark Kat was standing at the door with a torch in his right paw. He entered Razor’s cell and closed the door.

“Mind if I join you for a while?” – he asked.

Razor sat up in the cot, making room for the huge kat. Dark Kat sat down on the cot by Razor’s side, passing the torch to his left paw. Razor looked at the purple kat. In the weak glimmering light of the torch, Dark Kat seemed an ancient demon taken from some horrid dungeon in a fairy tale. Razor noticed that Dark Kat’s eyes glowed with a flare of their own rather than reflecting the light like his pupils did.

“So… You think you’re ready for tomorrow?” – Dark Kat asked the slim kat, looking directly to him.

“I am…” – he simply responded. A few heavy seconds passed before Razor spoke again. – “Who will I face?”

“We don’t know that yet. The fights will be decided tomorrow first thing in the morning in front of all fighters. But, I can give you a list of those I think are more likely to enroll in the quarterfinals. The Metallikats, the PastMaster, Dr. Viper…” – he growled when he mentioned the scientist – “… Hard Drive, Chop Shop, Rex Shard, Turmoil and MadKat. I don’t think any of the small time criminals will manage to surpass the trial matches.” – the huge kat boomed.

Razor shifted his position in the cot uncomfortably. That was what he feared: only the stronger ones would pass…

“How many contestants are there?” – the slim kat asked.

“Not many… We only have sixty-two this year. The first time I was in the Tournament they were about two hundreds…”

“I see… So, what do I have to do to win?”

“You have four ways to win a bout in the Tournament: by knock out, by ring out and by forcing your opponent to give up…” – Dark Kat said as he counted each way of winning by his fingers.

“What’s the fourth way?” – Razor queried, cocking one eyebrow under his mask.

Dark Kat grinned.

“My favorite… Death…” – he oozed while the roar of thunder rumbled softly in he distance.

Razor narrowed his eyes until they were nothing but thin slits.

“You’re a murderer… You’d prefer them all dead, wouldn’t you?” – the slim kat hissed.

Dark Kat rose from the cot and walked to the wall with the barred window. The gap stood at his eyes’ level and he stared at the dark skies. A lightning ray crisscrossed the stormy cloud. Seconds later, the crack of a distant thunder came to their ears.

“Would I surprise you if I said that I don’t prefer them all dead, SWAT Kat?” – Dark Kat asked, still gazing outside. Razor didn’t answer. – “Well, I don’t want them dead. Though stonehearted and ruthless I may seem, I still have a heart pounding inside my chest. A heart as dark as the night itself, but still a heart.

I am not the bloodthirsty megalomaniac you and every one else thinks I am. Sure, I have a predilection for a nice killing, but I do *not* murder indiscriminately. I don’t expect you to understand my reasons… No one does…

My goal is not to destroy this city… or this planet… I don’t have the power to do so… yet…” – he completed before the rumble of thunder growled in the distance.

Razor flinched and jerked his head towards Dark Kat. The purple kat had his back turned to Razor. He could attack him now…

“Don’t even try!” – Dark Kat boomed, turning his head to Razor just enough to look askew at the slim kat. Again, with the glimmering reddish flare of the torch behind his head obscuring his face, Razor saw his eyes glowing with an orange light of their own, making Razor gulp. The allegory of the ancient demon came back to his mind.

“No, my goal is not total destruction.” – Dark Kat continued his train of thought – “My goal is domination. I want to rule this miserable planet. I want to rule katkind. Many casualties will have to be made in order for me to keep my promise of revenge upon this miserable, sordid and narrow-minded civilization called katkind…” – he growled as he clenched his left fist so hard his bones popped. Razor saw a few black drops stain the earthy ground. Dark Kat loosened the grip on his own fist before continuing his monologue.

“However, I know there are many kats out there that share my viewpoints… Those will survive if they submit to my will… My perfect world will begin with the complete annihilation of the justice machine that only apparently protects Megakat City… To the katizens of Megakat City who accept my leadership will be given peace… My peace… Pax Nigrufelina… All of those who swear loyalty to me will be blessed by the Pax Nigrufelina!”

“What about us, the SWAT Kats?” – Razor asked.

“So you see, I don’t want to kill everyone!” – Dark Kat continued, ignoring Razor’s question – “I don’t ant to kill all my opponents as well. I want them to respect me… to fear me… And, that kind of domination, by fear, is the most powerful of all! A few will have to be sacrificed in one way or the other… I do not tolerate felonies… Like that miserable ninja tried… Like Viper did…” – he growled.

If Dark Kat’s face weren’t facing the wall, Razor would have seen his eyes flare brighter for a moment when he mentioned the reptilian scientist’s name. The purple kat abruptly turned on his heel with a swirl of his cloak, the draping sound cutting the air so loud it seemed a storm, the torch leaving a trail of sparks behind.

“As for you, SWAT Kat, you will do *exactly* as I command… Otherwise…” – he retrieved the vial with Razor’s blood from an inner pocket of his robe – “…this will be analyzed and the results will be compared…”

“Shouldn’t my blood be clotted already?” – he asked sardonically.

“Not if the vial in which it is stored contains some heparin, it won’t…” – Dark Kat responded as he hoarded the vial again – “Have a good night’s of sleep. The combats will begin first thing in the morning.”

Dark Kat headed for the heavy wooden door and opened it as though it just weighted a few pounds. He paused and spun back to face Razor once more.

“Don’t fail me, SWAT Kat… I do not tolerate failures…” – he boomed. With another swirl of his cloak he abandoned the cell and locked the door, leaving Razor delivered to the darkness once again.

“Seems like there’s a lot of things you don’t tolerate, Dark Crud…”

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Chance had slept the entire day to compensate for being up all the previous night. He woke up when it was already after sunset. After taking a bath and his breakfast (though at that hour it should have been called a dinner instead), he stubbornly headed downstairs and suited up again, fleeing from the salvage yard and into the stormy night. The winds were strong but weren’t threatening, at least for someone as experienced as T-Bone. Besides, the storm wasn’t centered over Megakat City yet, but that the next day would be a wet one, no one would have a doubt about that.

From his privileged place above, he could see the streets below punctuated with hundreds of red and white lights. He got away from the main boulevards and headed for the poorest districts. There, the scenario changed. Few cars circulated through those narrow streets, filled with alleys and dead ends here and there. The public illumination was very poor if it existed at all.

He landed the TurboKat on top of one of the neighboring apartment buildings and got out of it. The cold winds lashed his facial fur. It was getting really cold, and the winds turned more vigorous by the moment, with sudden gusts that took the dust off the gravel of the rooftop and flogged his face. No way could he use his delta backpack to swish to the ground. He decided to use a more conventional way and headed for the fire escape.

Minutes later, he was on street level. The winds weren’t so lashing there, and the temperature was somewhat warmer. He went to a dark alley to his left and inspected it. It was empty. However, he went to it and fired his grappling hook to the rooftop to his right, reeling himself up. Again, he went to the border of the roof and studied the situation before him.

“Crud… It looks like that even these thugs are afraid of a little bit of wind…” – he mumbled through gritted teeth to himself after inspecting another empty alley. He crouched on top of the border of the roof, waving his hips as he patted the border, measuring the distance between the rooftop where he stood and the next. He crouched a bit more and jumped over the void, landing perfectly on the other side on all fours without a sound. He straightened up and repeated the procedure. Five alleys ahead he finally sensed his luck was changing.

“Dark Kat’s ninjas talking to someone… Great!” – he muttered under his breath. Without thinking, he jumped to the street, two stories down.

The three ninjas spun back on their heels when they heard a powerful thump behind them. They saw T-Bone stepping to them with decisive stomps, his eyes nearly glowing, brows furrowed under his mask, teeth gritted. The black-dressed kats were not intimidated by T-Bone’s threatening pose and were assuming fighting stances when T-Bone attacked.

One ninja just saw one huge black leather paw rushing to his face and grabbing him. T-Bone grabbed the ninja’s face and rammed the back of his head against the wall. A red burst splattered on the wall and the kat hung limply in his powerful paw, falling to the ground. He would later be found and taken to a hospital, where he would stay for thirty days recovering from the blow before being arrested.

The second ninja punched T-Bone’s ribs, but the big SWAT Kat seemed possessed and backhanded the ninja’s face with his paw clenched. The black-dressed kat turned his head to the other side and spurted some blood, which soaked his mask. T-Bone took advantage of that moment of distraction and applied a one-two punch into the kat’s midriff and chin. Pinning the ninja against the wall T-Bone rammed his knee in his gut, making him double over. A few moments later, the ninja looked up but only saw T-Bone jumping in the air and delivering him a huge blow to the face that sent him spinning three times over himself before crashing to the ground.

T-Bone spun on his heel and looked askew at the third ninja, who was near the fire escape. The thug they were talking to had taken advantage of the turmoil the big tabby had created and was far from there already. T-Bone stepped calmly to the ninja. The black-dressed kat attacked T-Bone with a flying-kick. The big tabby’s mind flashed back to the day when he fought Dark Kat in the beach. Almost by reflex, he grabbed the ninja’s leg and sank his claws in the muscle of his thigh, dragging them and opening big gashes from which the blood spurted and fell on the floor. A bloodcurdling cry of pain echoed in the alley followed by a muffled groan when T-Bone punched the ninja right in his nose, breaking it. The ninja stepped away from the big SWAT Kat.

“What’s the matter?” – T-Bone said in an ice-cold voice – “Are you scared? Well, you should be, ’cause I’m gonna give you the same treatment I gave to them.” – he pointed to the two ninjas fallen at his feet.

The ninja reached discretely to his thigh pocket and, as fast as a lightning, he threw a sphere to the ground. The sphere blew up and a thick curtain of white smoke came out, making him disappear from view.

“NO!” – T-Bone shouted as he passed through the smoke screen. The ninja wasn’t there anymore. He instinctively looked up and still managed to see the ninja climbing onto the roof and getting away. T-Bone fired his grappling hook and reeled himself up as fast as the small motor inside his glovatrix could. T-Bone got onto the roof and looked from one side to the other. The ninja had simply vanished into thin air. – “CRUD!” – he shouted. He reeled himself down again and saw one of the ninjas was moving. He went to him and turned him around, shaking him.

“Where’s the Tournament?” – he snarled. The ninja’s eyes were rolling as though they wanted to get out of their eye sockets. The ninja remained mute. T-Bone shook him harder. – “WHERE’S THE TOURNAMENT, DAMN YOU?”

All the ninja vocalized were some gurgling sounds. T-Bone took off the ninja’s mask and saw a whitish icky fluid running down the corner of his mouth. The smell stung his nostrils, and he let the ninja go.

“NO!” – he said aloud, stepping back – “Cyanide! The wretch killed himself!

T-Bone looked around. The other ninja was out cold yet. He heard the sound of sirens. Someone must have called the Enforcers. He went back to the TurboKat and flew off to the salvage yard. He punched the side of the cockpit with his left fist while he clenched his jaws in rage.

“DAMN IT! I blew it this time! My rage has blinded me again! AGAIN!”

An unearthly roar echoed inside the cockpit of the black jet fighter while it stormed to the underground hangar.

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The morning came finally, though Razor’s cell was still immersed in darkness. The sun hovered above the heavy cloak of rain clouds, which shielded the ground from its vital rays. A drowsy, drizzling rain started pouring down in gray sheets that enveloped the skies. Behind them stood the large ink-black storm clouds that threatened to flood the city, though they were still circling above the Megakat Mountains.

Again, the all too familiar sound of a revolving lock came to Razor’s ears. He pricked them and sleepily raised his torso, sitting up on the cot, stretching and yawning.

“Good morning! Did you sleep well?” – Dark Kat asked.

Razor widened his eyes for a single second, remembering the words Doc said to him the morning he met the ninja. That fueled Razor’s desire for victory even more. He just nodded to Dark Kat, and they walked out of the cell. The torches in the corridor were still burning, though it was noticeable that they wouldn’t last much longer.

“So, this is it… There’s no turning back now… ” – he thought as he clenched and loosened the grip on his own fists rhythmically – “Guide my blows, Chance… Guide my blows, big brother…”

“Are you ready?” – Dark Kat asked, looking down at the slim kat as they walked along the stony corridor.

“I’m ready! Bring ’em on!” – Razor said as he smacked his right fist against the palm of his left paw.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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Musical inspirations:

Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler for the fighting sequences, namely those with T-Bone/Chance.

Andrew Gold’s The Trouble Man for the solo sequences of T-Bone/Chance.

Era’s Sempire d’Amor for the inner conflict scenes of Razor;

Roxette’s Milk & Toast & Honey for the first scene when Callie finds Chance after the shot and following scenes with them.

Leann Rimes’ Can’t Fight the Moonlight for the scene between Callie and T-Bone (you know which scene I’m talking about…)

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