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 FOUR

AUTHORS: C. L. Furlong & Felicia McFurry

DATE: October 27, 2001

FINISHED: October 31, 2001

FINAL REVISION: November 01, 2001

E-MAILS:

Chance_lizard_furlong@aeiou.pt

Riochet@msn.mail.com

RATING: R for violent content

SUMMARY: The quarterfinals are there, and Razor has enrolled in them. Will he manage to survive the most evil villains of Megakat City? And, can T-Bone reach Farrell Manor in time to save his friend? What secrets lay beneath Dark Kat’s cape?

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

COMMENTS: ::puffs:: Finally we’ve reached the end of the Tournament saga (yeah, I think I can call it a saga, can’t I). The end? Well, not quite. The Tournament will continue, but the current story ends here. There’s just too many loose ends I purposely left to wrap up, especially concerning Dark Kat’s past, for the entire plot line to end here. Anyway, this is the final episode of the Tournament saga, all the big fights will be fought here and… maybe there’s a little surprise awaiting… Read on and, hopefully, enjoy the fic! Once more, I have to thank my co-author Felicia for the delicious ideas she threw in. Once more, there’s that warning about violent content. And, once more, I reiterate that this fiction, just as well as the rest of the Tournament saga is unrelated to my regular “Final Resistance” series. C. U. all, SK fans!

Chapter 4

Dark Kat headed down to the catacombs, to Razor’s cell. He opened the door and stood at the entrance. The orange glimmering glow of the torches burning outside invaded the exiguous cubicle. Dark Kat found Razor sitting in a lotus position on top of his cot. The tray beside him was empty.

“Is it time?” – the slim SWAT Kat asked.

Dark Kat nodded. Razor jumped from his cot to the entrance of the cell. Dark Kat stepped aside and allowed Razor to leave his cell, after which he closed the heavy wooden door. Both kats fell into a steady pace as they left the corridor and headed upstairs.

“You know that what you have been through until now…” – Dark Kat stated – “…is nothing compared with the fights you’ll have next, don’t you?” –

Razor just nodded and they proceeded in silence for a while.

“Why did you ask that?” – Razor queried.

“Because I want you to know that your adversaries won’t hesitate in killing you in the ring.”

“Why do you care?” – Razor asked, slightly dumbstruck with Dark Kat’s behavior.

“I… You also know the next bouts will take place in another arena, don’t you?” – Dark Kat asked back.

“Oh? I did not know that! Where?”

“You’ll see.”

Both kats reached the room where the try-outs had been fought. Dark Kat approached the huge tapestry that covered most of the wall opposite to that where the board with the fights stood. The purple kat reached for a cordon with a tassel in the end and tugged it. The tapestry slid in a metallic groove and revealed two big wooden doors.

“Whoa!” – Razor mumbled – “That’s been there all this time?”

“Come. The fights may start any minute now. I don’t want to miss a single bit!” – Dark Kat said to Razor as he opened up the doors and stepped inside. Razor followed the huge kat in his shadow.

The doors opened to a corridor with a few sets of stairs that descended, contouring the room to its right. Ten meters below, the corridor leveled and continued on for another dozen meters or so. Torches spaced from each other by five meters provided all the light in the passage. The walk along the corridor was, thus, a mix between walking in glimmering orange steps and pitch dark unknown ground.

They took about three minutes to reach the end of the corridor. Again, a pair of big wooden doors greeted them. Dark Kat placed himself against the doors and pushed, opening them with a loud clanging. A sudden light inundated the corridor, blinding both kats for a few instants. When Razor recovered enough vision he saw the room where the quarterfinals would take place and opened his mouth in awe.

They were entering in a big underground cavern, apparently dug under the mansion. Razor looked at the walls and recognized the shreds of mineral that appeared here and there. Agrecite. The entire cave was dug in a huge ore of agrecite. Obviously, most of the mineral had been taken out and sold. Now, all that was left of the solid deposit of agrecite were the walls, which still bore a few tons of the precious mineral left to extract. However, like every miner knows, part of the ore must be sacrificed in favor of the stability of the mining operation. That made the underground cave solid and prevented the mansion from collapsing onto it.

The next thing Razor noticed on entering was the thickness of the wooden doors. They were at least ten centimeters thick.

“Holy Kats! These doors must weigh a ton and Dark Kat opened them up wide easily!” – he thought, widening his eyes and looking back to Dark Kat – “Exactly how strong is this kat?”

Dark Kat kept walking and Razor followed always in his shadow. He looked around and saw there were some rows of benches made out of wood, as in a stadium. Razor opened his mouth slightly when he saw the seats completely occupied. In the whole there would be at least two hundred kats in there. Razor was so astonished with the cave he didn’t notice that Dark Kat had stopped and bumped against him.

“Impressive, wouldn’t you say?” – Dark Kat said condescendingly.

“Why are there so many kats in here?” – Razor queried.

“Afraid of the crowd? You’d better get used to it, SWAT Kat, ’cause they’ll be all against you when you’ll start fighting. Well, all the kats that lost the try-outs, with exception of those who died, obviously, are here. The rest of the kats are my ‘guests’. I wouldn’t allow every punk and thug of this city to get here, you know.”

“But… there’s so many… I’ve never fought with such an audience staring at me! It’s kinda… frightening…”

“As I said, get used to it. You’ll need your senses at full alert during your fights, else, you won’t get out of the ring alive… And, I’m counting on you to win this Tournament! Don’t fail me or else…”

“I know, I know… my family and my friends die…” – Razor said, drooping his ears.

“Go to the fighters’ benches, over there and wait for your turn. I’m going to my place.” – Dark Kat informed.

“Won’t they try to kill me?”

“If they do, I’ll interfere. You don’t have to worry about that. No one cheats while I’m organizing the Tournament. Now, run along.” – Dark Kat said and headed for his seat while the slim kat headed for the fighters’ seats.

“Well, well… Look who’s comin’ ta join us!” – the electronic voice of Molly cut through the murmur of the crowd. The other contestants turned their heads towards the slim SWAT Kat and a few nasty smiles spread on their snouts.

“Well… If it isn’t Dark Kat’s protégé…” – Hard Drive said and walked to Razor, extending his paw to him – “Welcome to the side of the bad guys, goodie…”

Razor looked suspiciously to Hard Drive’s paw. He didn’t want to touch this electrified weasel…

“C’mon, SWAT Kat… Afraid of a little bit of static?” – Rex Shard intervened.

“Don’t worry, SWAT Kat. I won’t fry you… yet! I want to win this tournament so, it would be stupid of me to get disqualified now that I’m so close to victory, wouldn’t you say so?”

Razor had to agree with the techno-creep. Of all the villains he had fought together with T-Bone, Hard Drive was the most reasonable of them. He grabbed Hard Drive’s paw and shook it.

“This way I may be giving a sign I’m not afraid of them…” – Razor thought. He was right. Hard Drive hadn’t fried him but he felt a discharge running through his body nonetheless.

“Next time it’ll be a hundred times more intense, SWAT Kat…” – Hard Drive chuckled as he turned away and left.

Razor looked down to his paw. It was tingling from the small electrical discharge. He went to an empty bench and sat on it. He watched the kats in the seats above the level of the arena talking to each other. They seemed to be as surprised as the contestants were the first time they saw him. Over to his left, he saw a big front box and, later, he saw Dark Kat appearing in there and walking towards the front baluster and addressing the crowd.

“Dear contestants, fellow villains, dearest guests… Today takes place another edition of the Tournament. The try-outs have been fought and only eight kats remained victorious so far. These brave eight kats will now fight the decisive rounds of this prestigious tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some bouts to the death…

Some of you may already have noticed one particular contestant, the SWAT Kat. The SWAT Kat is fighting under my flag, since he is my representative. Well, I think you all are more than eager to see some fights so I’ll skip a long monologue. Instead, I’ll only state that the Tournament is officially open! May the most evil kat win…”

One of Dark Kat’s ninjas jumped onto the elevated ring and announced the name of the two fighters of the first combat.

“FIRST BOUT: TURMOIL VERSUS HARD DRIVE.”

The kats in the rows above Razor started agitating in a commotion that lasted for a few minutes, while both fighters climbed on top of the ring.

“Why so much commotion?” – Razor asked to nobody in particular, confusion filling his voice. Even so, Molly responded him.

“You’ve never been in such a competition, have ya? They’re wagering.”

“Wagering? You mean, we’ll fight for money?”

“Sure we’ll fight for money! For *their* money.” – Shard stated – “We, the fighters, combat for the honor of being the most respected villain but the viewers bet their money on the fights as though we were nothing more than roosters. The Tournament means a lot for those who participate in it but it means nothing for the guests. I’ve seen many guests getting out of here rich whilst some of the fighters die or get crippled for life in the arena.”

“Who caressssss? As long as it isn’t me who diessssss…” – Viper intervened.

“Quiet all of you. The joust is about to commence…” – the skeletal sorcerer proclaimed as he sat in the bench and narrowed his only eye.

And, indeed the fight was about to start. Turmoil and Hard Drive stood on top of the ring, waiting for the sign of the jury. In the rows above the arena the kats also settled down, the bets being all made.

Hajime!” – the judge bellowed. Just as soon as the judge said it, Hard Drive attacked with a powerful electric bolt. Turmoil, however, avoided it easily somersaulting to the side.

“You should change your attacks, Flicker. They’re getting monotonous…” – she said as she finished the somersault.

“Flicker? You’re talking to the kat who mastered electricity! Prepare to get deaf!” – he said as he charged up the surge coat almost to its peak and suddenly released a discharge around himself that made the air in the cavern resonate violently. The surge suit captured the discharge again so that little energy was wasted but the result of his action was the creation of the sonic boom of a powerful thunder.

The booming sound caught everyone by surprise and Turmoil, who was closer to the source, nearly had her eardrums blown off with the sound. She clutched her head, covering her ears, and knelt on the ground. Her ears were tingling from the sonic attack and she closed her eyes as she shook her head, trying to make the impression she had in her ears go away.

That was exactly what Hard Drive was hoping she’d do. Running to her, he kicked her hard in the face, sending her rolling over almost to the edge of the ring. She lay down for a moment, trying to catch her breath.

“C’MON! GET UP!” – Molly shouted. – “GET UP AND WHIP HIS TAIL!”

Turmoil opened her eyes and looked to Hard Drive, a rage burning inside her. She saw the tom running towards her. He was pretending to wipe her out of the ring with another kick.

“You just try and get me, kiddo…” – she whispered as she lifted her torso from the ring.

Hard Drive was already by her, drawing back his right leg to kick her in the stomach. In the last moment, she jumped up to her feet, leaving the techno-crook kicking the air and passing by her. In the same movement, she extended her right arm and Hard Drive slammed his snout against it, falling over his back onto the ring.

“YEAH! WAY TA GO, SIS!”

“C’mon, Flicker… Get up! Or did you have enough already? Huh? What did you say? You said you want more? Well, I’ll be glad to *give* you more!” – Turmoil taunted as she stomped her foot on Hard Drive’s gut, making him widen his eyes and gasp some saliva.

The tan-furred tom grabbed his stomach and curled in a ball on the ring. She raised her foot again and smashed it on Hard Drive’s side, breaking a rib. A howl of pain echoed in the cavern.

“YEAH! That’s it, sis! Whip his tail!”

“Cursed… you be… Turmoil… This… isn’t over… yet…” – Hard Drive cursed under his breath and suddenly grabbed Turmoil’s leg, releasing an enormous electrical discharge that made Turmoil fly over to the other side of the ring. She lay down on the ground, unmoving.

Hard Drive unstably got up to his feet, clutching his right side with his left paw. He staggered to her. He reached her limp body and extended his left arm towards her, preparing himself to shoot another bolt. His suit sparkled with electricity while he charged up his attack.

“Goodbye, Turmoil… It *wasn’t* nice knowing you…”

“Thanks! And it still won’t be!” – she said, widening her eyes and jumping up from the ground. Hard Drive was so astonished he didn’t even defended himself when Turmoil performed a back flip that hit the techno-crook right in the chin, making him fall back.

“H-how… did you…” – Hard Drive stammered.

“Hah! I’ve received worst shocks when I was a foot soldier, Flicker…” – she knelt by him – “Say goodnight, Flicker…” – she said and punched his snout. The tan-furred kat passed out immediately and she got up to her feet and calmly hoped out of the ring.

“Yeah! You really showed him not to mess with a she-kat, sis! Gimme an high-four!” – Molly greeted Turmoil when she reached her. Both she-kats complimented each other.

“It wasn’t easy, I have to confess…” – Turmoil muttered.

“Ah, toms are all a bunch a’ wimps…” – Molly commented, slapping Turmoil on her back, a slap that almost made the she-kat tumble forward.

Meanwhile, Dark Kat’s ninjas had retrieved Hard Drive limp form from the ring and another ninja had jumped onto the arena, announcing the next combat.

“SECOND BOUT: RAZOR VERSUS REX SHARD”

If the movement in the rows above Razor’s head was intense the first time, now it was almost frantic. The shouts of both his name and his opponent’s filled the air. Turmoil went in their way and leaned over Razor, kissing him in his cheek. She then headed for Shard and kissed him right in the mouth deeply.

“Well, hon… Was that a good luck kiss?” – Shard taunted her. She gave both toms a coquettish look.

“No. It’s the kiss of death… Since one of you will fight me in the semi-finals it will most likely be the last fight you’ll ever have…”

“Heck of a she-kat…” – Shard purred as he headed for the ring.

“You said it…” – Razor acknowledged, although the meaning he imprinted to his words was quite different from Shard’s.

Minutes later, the bets were closed and both toms assumed fighting stands. Razor analyzed the bulk of his opponent. Shard was about the size of T-Bone and apparently equally strong as the muscles in his bare torso showed.

The judge signaled the beginning of the fight and both toms tensed their muscles even more. They circled around the ring, never letting each other out of sight.

“Get ready, SWAT Kat. I’m gonna make you fly again… Fist powered flight!”

“Are we here ta fight or are we here ta talk?” – Razor said as he lunged to Shard. The gray tom assumed a defensive position and prepared to counter-attack Razor’s strike but, suddenly, the slim SWAT Kat disappeared from view.

“Huh? Where did he go?” – Shard asked himself, confused. Instinctively, he turned back and only with an extreme touch of luck he managed to avoid Razor’s blow.

Recovering from his stupor, Shard prepared another attack, delivering a powerful uppercut to Razor’s midriff, catching the SWAT Kat by surprise. Razor clutched his stomach and opened his mouth, trying to draw in some air but without his midriff functioning perfectly, that task was extremely hard. Shard took advantage of it and kicked Razor’s face, eliciting some red spurts from his snout, which dropped on the white ring, sullying it in red.

Shard didn’t give Razor time to recover. Instead, he attacked the slim kat constantly, not allowing the SWAT Kat to regain his breath. Razor was starting to lose his senses.

“Gotta pull… myself together… I’ve won over punks worst than Shard in the try-outs… I *can’t* fail now!” – Razor thought.

He saw Shard drawing back his left arm, gaining momentum to punch him again. He saw the incoming fist and grabbed it tightly in his right paw at the same time he rose his left leg and suddenly extended it, ramming his foot on Shard’s gut, making him widen his eyes and spurt some saliva. After that, Razor did a roundhouse kick that swept Shard off his feet. Rolling on the air, Razor rammed his knee on Shard’s chest, breaking a rib and nearly breaking his sternum. Shard coughed a considerable gob of blood with Razor’s blow and remained unmoving and apparently lifeless on the arena.

“Is it over?” – Razor murmured and walked out of the ring after the judge proclaimed he had enrolled in the semi-finals. – “Dark Kat wasn’t kidding… This *was* tough… Shard didn’t give me a single minute to recover… I hope I haven’t killed him though…”

Two ninjas had retrieved Shard’s body from the ring and were heading for the infirmary with him. Razor passed by Turmoil on his way to his seat. She grabbed his arm and hissed to him.

“You’re dead, SWAT Kat… Rest assured of that…”

Razor looked to her and he could have sworn he just saw a tear running down her cheek. He noticed she kept looking to the two ninjas that were carrying Shard’s limp form. The SWAT Kat just shrugged and went to his place.

Dark Kat, for his turn, was laughing inside his mind. All had happened just as he had planned. His guests had wagered against the SWAT Kat and he, obviously, had bet in Razor, so he’d won all the money of the wagers.

“With the SWAT Kat fighting on my side, I’d surely be the winner of this Tournament… and a few coins richer…

The next battle ensued. The ninja announced the third bout would feature Dr. Viper facing Chop Shop. The two fighters stepped onto the ring and the judge screamed hajime.

“Thissss will be a piesssssse of cake… I hadn’t had a real opponent in thisssss Tournament ssssso far…” – Viper taunted Chop Shop, who just started laughing maniacally.

“You really don’t know what I’m capable of, do you?” – he responded and lunged to the reptilian scientist.

Viper repelled the attack easily with the aid of his tail, slamming it against the spotted kat. Chop Shop was thrown to the ground with some violence but he readily prompted himself up.

“Is that all you can do? You’re really gettin’ old, Viper!”

“Come here!” – Viper hissed and motioned his tail towards Chop Shop, wrapping it around the pink-haired kat and bringing the kat to him. Chop Shop was tightly entangled in Viper’s lethal grip and only one arm had escaped it. But it was all Chop Shop needed to do his trick. Out of the blue a razor appeared on his paw. He waited no longer and riveted it on Viper’s tail. Green spurts of Viper’s vital fluid dropped on the ring as the reptilian scientist made an unrecognizable sound, a mixing between a snake’s hiss and a kat’s roar. Viper let Chop Shop go and five more spears materialized on Chop Shop’s paws. Viper saw the cutting projectiles rushing towards his body. He managed to avoid some of them but one pierced his left leg.

Viper knelt on the ground and took the spear out of his leg. Green blood gushed out of the wound and onto his paw. Viper looked to his paw covered in the warm green liquid. The corners of his mouth spread apart, revealing some impressive teeth. His eyes acquired a brighter glow and he looked directly to Chop Shop.

“That was your lassssst missssstake, wretch…” – Viper hissed and suddenly lunged towards Chop Shop, catching the spotted kat completely by surprise. Out of desperation, he managed to throw another spear that riveted in Viper’s abdomen but that didn’t stop the reptilian kat. Turning himself in mid-air, he slammed his tail against Chop Shop and sent him flying across the cavern to the galleries of the guests.

With his heart still full of rage, Viper jumped to the galleries after Chop Shop. On finding him, he snaked his tail around the tom’s body and slowly squeezed the air and the life out Chop Shop. The judge bellowed yame again and again, but Viper didn’t care. He would only stop when Chop Shop was dead and not before.

Suddenly, a laser blast cut through the air and hit Viper on the back. Viper turned around and searched for the origin of the shot. He saw the blaster smoldering on Dark Kat’s paws and snarled.

“Unless you want to be disqualified, Viper, put him down now and leave him alone. You already won the combat by ring out. Now you’re fighting outside the ring and that is not permitted by the rules. Put him down now and go to your seat before I disqualify you.” – Dark Kat warned.

Viper growled and pondered. Dark Kat was right. His bout was over and he could be disqualified for fighting outside the ring. But, in the other paw, that miserable kat had inflicted him some deep wounds and he would have to be taught a lesson he would never forget. In the end, reason won over the desire of vengeance.

“You want me to put him down, Dark Kat? Okay… I’ll put him down… *Way* down…” – Viper said and threw Chop Shop to the ground below the galleries.

Chop Shop hit the ground hard and a pool of blood formed around his snout. Again, two ninjas dragged the limp body away to the infirmary whilst Viper jumped down from the galleries and headed for his seat.

“If this goes on like this the infirmary will be small for all of the wounded…” – Razor muttered. Surprisingly, Molly snorted with his comment.

Viper passed by them and sank on his seat, wheezing as though he was seventy years older. Razor saw a big area of the side of Viper’s lab coat stained in green. Viper grabbed the spear Chop Shop had threw and pulled it out of the side of his abdomen. Razor saw the nasty wound the reptilian scientist had. Viper looked at Razor and showed his fangs, growling. Viper was behaving like a wounded caged animal and it seemed that anything could trigger his primal killer instinct.

“I can’t imagine the pain he must be feeling…” – Razor thought as he looked to Molly and the PastMaster, who had, in the meantime, headed for the ring – “However he stands there, not even moaning… Like nothing had passed… I’ve never known this facet of the villains we fight… They must feel pain, of course… But they’re brave enough not to show it… They’re noble kats in their own way… Yes, they’re evil but even they have codes they don’t dare to violate. It’s a twisted sense of nobility but a sense of nobility nonetheless… If… If they all united forces… If they all united forces and trusted each other enough… I have no doubt that we’d be no match for them… The SWAT Kats, the Enforcers, any force at all would be completely annihilated by them… Now there’s a creepy thought…”

Hajime.”

“So, how do you like to be lacerated, Lady Mange?” – the PastMaster oozed.

“Huh?”

“I asked you in how many parts do you want to be torn.”

“You know what? I think you’ve been too much time with your snout buried in those books… Speakin’ of time, what time is it anyway? I’m feeling hungry for bit of juice…” – she said as she snatched the watch out of the sorcerer’s paw.

“HEY! Give me my watch back!” – he growled, lunging to her. She stopped him with her foot, keeping the skeletal gnome away from her.

“Oh, look! Pastie’s lost his watch…”

“My patience is growing thin like an ectoplasmic effluvium, she-kat! Hand my watch over!”

“Buzz off, you freaky little gnome!” – she said as she kicked the skeletal hooded figure away from her. The PastMaster stumbled back a few feet before steadying himself on his feet. He looked to Molly with a look that could kill a dead body at least a hundred times.

“When I demanded my watch back you should have handed it over to me, she-kat… Now you shall suffer the consequences… You should know that even without my watch I still possess sufficient power to deal with helminthes like you!”

“Say that again? Did you forget that your spells can’t affect me? I’m a machine, duh! Well, I guess this will be another watch for my collection.”

That apparently was the last straw for the hooded sorcerer. He lunged to the she-Metallikat in blind rage, growling an unearthly sound.

“I WANT MY WATCH BACK, YOU BAREFOOTED PORTRAYED SHE-KAT!”

The PastMaster clutched her wrist and tightened the grip around it, piercing the cold metal alloy with the claws of his skeletal fingers. Amazingly, the metal started denting and twitching under his fingers and seconds later, sparks started coming out of Molly’s wrist. She let go of the watch and pushed the wizard aside, rising her paw to her face and inspecting the damages the hooded gnome had inflicted her.

“YOU’RE GONNA PAY FOR THIS, YOU FREAKY LITTLE GNOME!” – she bellowed and ran to the hooded skeletal figure. In the meantime, the PastMaster’s watch had been repossessed by its rightful owner and he aimed the watch at the incoming Metallikat. He fired a burst of purple energy that hit her right in the chest, sending her back.

“Now who’s taunting who, huh? Time to say au revoir, she-kat!” – he fired again, aiming now for the rips he had made in her wrist. The beam hit her precisely in that spot, generating a cascade of electrical events inside her metallic body that ended up with the destruction of her chromium-plated body.

“MOLLY!” – a shout was heard from the galleries above them. Mac jumped on the ring and stared unbelievingly at the remains of her wife. – “I knew you should have let me win that fight… Now look at you…”

“Ah, cut your yammering and get me the heck outta here before I lose all my func…”

“Molly? Molly, speak to me!”

“Mac, you’re delaying the Tournament. Take the remains of your wife out of the arena so we can proceed, will you?” – Dark Kat informed in his booming voice. A ninja had entered in his box in the meantime.

“Milord, your informer is here to see you.”

“Very well. Leave.” – he said to the ninja – “Ladies and gentlekats, the Tournament will now perform a pause before we head on to the semi-finals. It will be served a light buffet for you in the meantime. Enjoy.” – he said, addressing the crowd before retiring to upstairs.

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

Dark Kat entered inside the room with the tall window. The lights were out except for the fire burning in the fireplace. Apparently, the kat standing near the window had ordered someone to lit it up again. The kat stared outside, to the enraged storm which was on the peak of its violence now. The purple kat heard a sound like wood being broken, followed by a heavy thump. The kat just gave out an appreciative whistle.

“Enjoying the storm, Steele?” – Dark Kat boomed. Steele turned around just enough to look askew to the huge purple kat. A thunderbolt cracked outside, immersing his face in darkness.

“Yeah. It just ripped off one of your trees!” – the orange-furred kat responded, pointing outside the window with his thumb – “But, I believe you’re not here to talk about the storm, isn’t that so?”

“Direct to the point, I like that. You must be wanting your payment for having informed me about the leak in my organization just as well as letting me know what the Enforcers had planned for me, isn’t that correct?” – Dark Kat oozed as he headed for one of his ninjas, who had accompanied the big kat.

“Don’t forget I helped capture Lieut. Feral too. I want an extra for that.”

“But of course you do! It’s only fair!” – Dark Kat said as he opened up a briefcase his ninja was holding in his paws and started patting the packets of bills inside. – “How much did we agreed? A million?”

“*Two* millions, Dark Kat! Don’t play dumb with me! And I said I wanted an extra for the capture of Felina, so make it three millions.”

“You’re surely kidding, aren’t you Steele? You *really* are not thinking that I’ll give you a million just because you turned on the lights of her caserne, are you? A bonus of two thousands would be more than satisfactory to you, *am I correct*, Steele?”

The way Dark Kat emphasized the last words made Steele start having cold sweats. He started thinking if he really wasn’t pushing his luck too much with that megalomaniac. He already had two millions. He really didn’t need any extra, especially that poultry sum of two thousands.

“I’d better take it now while I still have my health…” – he thought to himself – “Okay, two thousands as a bonus and we have the deal settled. Another thing: I want my money in cash! No checks.”

“I wouldn’t have thought you’d want it otherwise, my dear Steele. Here!” – he closed the briefcase and handed it to the orange-furred kat. – “Here you have the totality of your money. Grab it and get out of here. May I never lay my eyes upon you ever again, Steele.”

“How do I know it’s everything here?” – Steele retorted, grabbing the briefcase.

“Get out of my sight…” – Dark Kat hissed and left the room.

Steele just shrugged and gladly walked out of the room and the mansion. Already in his car, he engaged it into gear and sped away from the mansion. Everything was going according to his plan. Making Comdr. Feral fall in disgrace would be perhaps the final nail in the commander’s coffin. His leadership of the Enforcers would be seen as incompetent and the situation would require the discernment of a new leader, no doubt about that. And, with both Ferals out of the way, the road would be free for him to step in as commander of the Enforcers, since he was next-in-line. And, to top it all, he still had a few coins to spend on him… Of course, an Enforcer Commander just *had* to be decently treated…

He patted the briefcase with his right paw as he drove off to the city, back to his apartment. The rain was pouring down in heavy sheets and even with the windscreen wipers working at their full rate, it was extremely difficult to see anything. As he focused all his attention on the road in front of him, out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something blinking rhythmically inside the car. Risking the loss of eye contact with the road, he dared to look at the apparent source of the pallid red flare. In the darkness of the car, he saw that it was coming from somewhere inside the briefcase. Steele didn’t stop to think. He took off the safety belt and kicked the car door open, throwing himself on the muddy path, rolling over on the ground and covering his head. Suddenly, the rhythm of the red flare altered and it started flickering rapidly. Seconds later, an explosion lit up the darkness of the night, destroying Steele’s car. Pieces of the vehicle flew up in every direction. The transmission fell right next to Steele and the tires on flames jumped around him crazily. Finally, one of the springs hit him on the leg with all the violence gravity could summon. The bone wasn’t broken but the muscle would have a bruise on it nevertheless.

“AAAAAHHHH! DAAAAAAARK KAAAAAAAAT! I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS!”

Inside Farrell Manor, Dark Kat watched as the horizon lit up with a bright yellow and orange mushroom of fire. A grin spread across his face.

“Hope your insurance is paid up, Lieutenant-Commander… Don’t worry, I’ll send my condolences to your family… Once again, justice is served…”

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

The black jet fighter struggled against the gale force winds and the electric discharges that lit up the stormy night sky. T-Bone was really having a fight on his paws when he noticed the flare of an explosion a few yards ahead of him.

“Hey! What was that? Better check it out… But, if I go, I risk losing the signal…”

After an inner struggle that seemed to last forever, T-Bone decided to go check on the explosion.

“There might be some casualties… I’m sorry, Razor… I know you’d do the same…”

The big tabby banked the jet to the right and headed for the spot. There he saw the remnants of the car, still burning despite the intense rain that was abating over the singed metallic carcass. He looked around but didn’t see anyone.

“That’s odd… The car is in the middle of the road and it hadn’t crashed against anything. How come did it explode? Maybe… Could it be that there was a bomb inside the car? But who? Dark Kat? Why?”

Suddenly, a burst of static drove his attention back to the radar screen.

“Oh, crud! I’m losing the signal! Well, seems like there’s nothing to do here, anyway… Whoever was unfortunate enough to drive that car must be roasted by now… Okay, where’s that wretch going? West? I’m on it…”

The bluish backwash of the jet intensified and the fighter headed out of the spot, leaving a painful, wet and cold Steele hidden behind a tree. Not a few yards away from that spot, among the trees and in a flash of lightning, T-Bone saw Farrell Manor.

“So… It’s there that you’re hiding, huh? Oh, great, I’m outta radar… No matter… That *must* be the place… Hold on, Jake. I’m comin’”

T-Bone landed the TurboKat in a small clearing, so small that the jet had some difficulty fitting there. Slipping a glovatrix on each arm, the burly SWAT Kat left the jet by the bomb bay doors. The rain didn’t lash his body so much while he stayed in the bush in front of Farrell Manor but as soon as he reached the periphery of it, both the wind and the sheets of rain hit the tabby with all their might. He scanned the mansion. It would be easy to break in and, at first sight, he didn’t see any guards. He saw there was a section that had a tree in the yard that stood near the wall.

Nodding once to himself, T-Bone lunged to the wall of the mansion and fired a grappling hook as soon as he reached the wet and cold white barrier. The hook wrapped around a thick bough of the tree. Reeling himself up, he slipped one foot above the wall and jumped onto it. Partially protected by the foliage, he observed the yard. It was too dark even for his eyes to discern anything. However, in the flashes of a series of thunderbolts, he saw that the yard was nearly crowded both with ninjas and with creeplings. He observed their positions. The ninjas were invisible in the dark but the creeplings were barely visible. In another flash of lightning he saw that there was a pattern. Each ninja had at his right a creepling, so the little creatures were giving away the ninja’s position.

“Decoy… The creeplings are showing so when I strike, the ninjas will fall over me from everywhere… I have to avoid physical contact. But how?” – he thought to himself.

T-Bone inspected the yard again. The ninjas were separated from each other by at least ten meters. In the middle of them stood a creepling. They had the yard almost completely covered and the trees were scarce in the yard. There was the one where he stood and another one right next to it but the other were all far away. The burly SWAT Kat could only think on one thing.

“I have to create a diversion of some kind… Let’s see…” – he groped inside his knee pockets and retrieved a few explosives from there. – “The gifts I gave Turmoil… They can come in handy now as well…”

He retrieved four explosives and waited for another lightning. He’d have to throw the explosives high into the air so that they’d describe a high parabola and when they fell on the ground they’d seem to have fallen from above, not giving away his position. The flare of the lightning bolt would confuse their eyes enough to do the trick.

T-Bone took only a few minutes to distribute the four explosives through the yard. The little devices fell on the grass with a muffled thump but the roar of thunder masqueraded completely that sound. T-Bone prepared to push the button on his remote. His finger hesitated. Some ninjas would be severely injured by the explosions but… If it wasn’t them it would most certainly be him who got injured. So he swallowed all ethics and pushed the button on his remote control.

An explosion lit the night before it made its roar heard. The nearest ninjas and creeplings were caught by the blast and the flames, falling promptly on the ground. The other three bombs blew up in sort order, seeding the panic and the turmoil along the rows of the enemy. T-Bone took the opportunity and fired a grappling hook towards the wall of the mansion. Tying the other end on the branch where he stood, he quickly covered the void of ten meters between the tree and the mansion, swinging his body as he threw his right paw to grab the wire, immediately followed by the left, then by the right again. In a few seconds, T-Bone had reached the wall and swung himself to the rooftop, where he lay down flat on his stomach, creeping towards one of the attics. He tried the windows.

“Closed… What a surprise… Oh, what the heck…” – he shrugged and lunged himself against the frame of the window, breaking it. Landing on the wooden floor of the attic, he rolled over, dragging some pieces of glass with him that ripped his clothes and his skin. By now, all the ninjas at Farrell Manor were aware that he had gotten inside the mansion. The explosions had seen to that… Knowing he would be attacked by all sides now, the big tabby left the attic and entered in the corridor that lead him downstairs.

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

Dark Kat had just gotten back to his place in the cavern where the Tournament was being disputed when a ninja came to him and informed the purple kat that an intruder had penetrated Farrell Manor. Dark Kat just smiled.

“It must be the other SWAT Kat, just as I anticipated… Take care of him! Use whatever means are necessary but I want him killed on sight.”

“It shall be done as you wish, milord.” – the ninja said and left.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals were about to take place. Razor was close to the ring, warming up with some stretching exercises. Turmoil still remained on her seat. Dark Kat could see she wasn’t a bit amused. In fact, she was looking to the slim SWAT Kat with a look that could just pulverize him.

“I wonder what caused that change in her humor?” – Dark Kat thought – “Well, we’re about to discover if that is going to have any influence in her fighting skills.”

In fact, a ninja jumped onto the ring and announced the first combat of the semi-finals.

“FIRST BOUT: TURMOIL VERSUS RAZOR!”

Turmoil went to her place at one side of the ring whilst Razor occupied his place on the opposite side of it. She narrowed her eyes and removed her cap, gloves and cape, throwing them outside the ring. Razor gulped. He knew she was going to give her worst and he already had seen what she was capable of. The slim kat assumed a fighting stand and so did Turmoil.

The judge screamed hajime and they started the combat. Turmoil was the first to attack, running to Razor and jumping in the air. She was attempting to kick Razor with both her legs. The slim SWAT Kat jumped out of the way just in the last second only to jump towards her and deliver a blow to her side with his elbow, a blow that Turmoil blocked perfectly with her left paw. Razor immediately recoiled his arm and swooped his right foot high in the air, attempting to hit her in the face. Turmoil, however, did a back flip and escaped Razor’s blow.

The SWAT Kat didn’t give Turmoil time to recover and attacked her immediately, attempting a flying kick to her back when she was in the middle of her back flip. However, Turmoil had anticipated that move too and boosting from the floor to her left she made Razor kick only the air. Just as soon as she landed on her feet, she jumped again, delivering a roundhouse kick to Razor. The SWAT Kat managed to block her incoming foot with his right forearm. Immediately after her kick was blocked, she threw a punch to Razor’s chest, which the slim kat blocked also with a movement of his left wrist, deflecting her strike. Both kats flipped backwards two times and lunged towards each other, clutching each other’s paws and pushing.

“Heck of a fighter, Turmoil…” – Razor managed to say between pants as he fought against Turmoil’s pushing.

“You’re not so bad yourself, SWAT Kat. But enough push ‘n’ shovin’!” – she said as she threw her right leg towards Razor’s stomach. The slim kat raised his knee and partially managed to deflect Turmoil’s kick. Nevertheless, she still hit him on the side of his gut, making him flinch. She took the opportunity to give the slim kat a powerful headbutt, which made Razor release her fists. In a rapid succession, Razor’s body was riddled with punches. A reverse kick made Razor be swept off his feet. Jumping high in the air, Turmoil pointed her elbow to the fallen SWAT Kat. Razor just saw a shadow descending on him and the next thing he noticed was a sharp pain in his stomach, followed by a gush of a warm fluid from his mouth.

Turmoil got to her feet again and raised her foot ready to stomp Razor on his chest. Razor noticed it and rolled out of the way just in time to avoid Turmoil’s rushing foot. Boosting himself out of the ground, Razor stood up on his feet, his left paw rubbing the area of his stomach that had received the blow from Turmoil. The she-kat jumped again on the air and rolling on her side, she came down with her right foot on Razor. The slim SWAT Kat managed to block her strike and deflect it with X-crossed arms, using the same X-blocking low when she stroke a kick from below immediately after landing. As she did a roundhouse kick, Razor dropped to the ground and swept the ground off Turmoil’s foot, making her fall over her back. She quickly flipped back to her feet and flipped backwards once, falling into a defensive stance. Razor flipped backwards once too and also fell in a defensive stand. They circled each other, slowly taking one step to their left and never breaking eye contact. Both kats were now drenched in perspiration and their chests heaved up and down wildly.

The crowd was frozen with attention. Even Dark Kat was deeply interested in the combat.

“None of them really has gained the upper paw so far… Let’s see how this ends up…” – he thought – “Turmoil is strong and fast. She has the experience on her side. However, the SWAT Kat has the power of youth… I think the SWAT Kat hasn’t shown us everything he can do yet…”

“You’re ablaze tonight, Turmoil… Puttin’ up quite a show…” – Razor taunted her.

“Putting on a show? I’ll tell you what’s putting on a show, SWAT Kat! Here!”

Turmoil lunged to the SWAT Kat once more. Razor did the same. Turmoil threw her elbow to the slim kat’s chest, hitting it with all her strength and nearly breaking his sternum and eliciting a spurt of blood from Razor’s mouth. Razor wouldn’t let her stop him from praising himself, so he grabbed her head and pushed it down at the same time he rose his knee, ramming it hard on her snout. A burst of blood flew off from her nostrils as she jerked her head back and staggered a few steps back. She recovered just in time to see Razor’s incoming right fist. With her left paw, she grabbed Razor’s right hook, doing the same with Razor’s left hook, locking both in another stalemate.

“If *any* kat’s gonna win this combat, it’s gonna be *me*!” – Turmoil hissed through clenched teeth.

“We’ll see about that…” – Razor groaned. Surprisingly, Turmoil was winning this dispute. She pushed harder and started making Razor step back.

“You’re finished, SWAT Kat! Why don’t you just admit it?”

“A SWAT Kat’s… *never* finished! HAH-YAH!”

Razor let Turmoil overpower him. She was thrown forward by her own impetus, falling over Razor. The SWAT Kat placed both feet on her solar plexus and thrust her over his head. Turmoil flew threw the air about a couple of meters and landed in a heap on the arena. Razor jumped up to his feet and ran towards her, jumping high into the air.

Turmoil opened her eyes and saw Razor do a half-twist of his body in mid-air and readying his right elbow. She couldn’t get out of the way fast enough and Razor fell on top of her, attempting to ram his elbow on her stomach with all his strength. As she did try to escape, his blank had changed position and instead of her stomach, he hit her leg, breaking the bone.

A low growl was heard just after the sound of the breaking bone. Razor stepped back a little and he could see that the fabric around the area where he had hit her was turning dark red. Even with an exposed fracture, she got up and steadied herself in a fighting stance.

“This isn’t over yet, SWAT Kat…” – she said as he limped towards Razor.

“This is insane, Turmoil! You’re in no conditions to fight!” – Razor said, trying to call her to reason.

“What’s the matter… SWAT Kat… Afraid I… might beat you…”

“Turmoil, please! Be reasonable!”

Her vision started to become unfocused. The pain was claiming its place in her mind, no matter how hard she tried to ignore it. She shook her head in order to clear her vision. It was better. She took the two last steps towards Razor and attacked him. Even with a broken leg, she still attacked him and what a fierce attacker she still was. Razor avoided her blows not without a relative difficulty. She wouldn’t stop even though the pain was overwhelming her fast.

“I’m sorry… This is for your own sake…” – Razor thought as he did a jump-roundhouse kick that hit her in the head with all his strength. She spurted some red saliva with the blow and fell to the ground, where she still tried to get up but, in the end, passed out.

“Razor is the winner by knock-out.” – the judge stated and Razor walked out of the ring with his head abated.

“I won the combat…” – Razor thought to himself – “And, I have to recognize that this was the toughest fight I’ve had so far. But… why am I like this? Why am I not content to have defeated her? Why do I feel this ashamed? Just because I broke her leg? C’mon, wouldn’t she have done the same to me? Wouldn’t she have killed me if she had the chance? Then, why am I not feeling proud of myself? Why? Because she was a she-kat and I beat her? Well, she fought just as well as any tom… “

Razor went to his seat while two ninjas removed Turmoil’s limp body off the arena. The once white ring now bore red and green stains here and there. A ninja announced the second bout of the semi-finals, which opposed Viper and the PastMaster. Razor watched as Viper rose from his seat and walked upright to the ring, jumping onto it. The green stain on his side had dried and now presented a dark green color. It seemed that the good doctor was as good as new but an analysis to his facial features would reveal that the pain still ravaged his soul.

“And yet, he’s still going to fight… This competition must be very important for them…” – Razor pondered.

After the bets were closed and the judge had signaled the beginning of the combat, the PastMaster shot a purple blast from his watch that barely missed the reptilian kat. Viper passed by the red skeletal sorcerer and grabbed his robe, swinging the sorcerer around and tossing him off the ring. As it appeared that Viper would be the winner of the combat, a purple sphere surrounded the PastMaster and stopped him in mid-air. The PastMaster then ‘conducted’ the sphere onto the ring again. The sphere disappeared just as he touched the ground. Summoning his powers for another spell, the PastMaster produced a misty ambiance that impeded Viper from seeing his opponent.

“Where are you, you pessssky gnome? Show yoursssself!”

“Why, I’m right here!” – the sorcerer said as he unexpectedly came out of the mist behind Viper and passed his claws over the doctor’s back, tearing big gashes that ran from the upper left shoulder blade down until his right side, staining once again his lab coat in green. Viper hissed with the warmness the injuries provoked and swiftly slammed his tail against the hooded sorcerer. Or at least that was Viper’s intention for he only hit the misty air behind him.

“Darn! Where is that demented little troll?” – Viper thought as his sharp eyes tried to penetrate the dense mist. Suddenly, he heard an eerie chanting.

“Blood is red! Bruises are blue! My body is dead and so will be you!”

Another attack came, now from Viper’s right. The target was his leg. Three claw marks appeared on his thigh, followed by a spurt of thick green liquid. Viper knelt on the ground, covering his bleeding wound with his left paw.

“Gotta end thissss fight now… Before it’sss too late…” – the reptilian scientist thought as he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.

“What’s wrong? Thee, worm, cannot fire anymore?” – the hooded sorcerer taunted Viper.

The reptilian kat didn’t pay attention. Instead, he took his paw off his wound and raised it to his snout. His tongue slithered from his mouth and flickered over his blood-covered paw, scenting it. After spending a few seconds on that task, Viper straightened up and moved his tail in the air, ramming it against the ground of the ring. His bifid tongue entered and left his mouth rapidly. He did this various times. He was tasting the air with his tongue. At first, he tasted his blood once more. But it was a very intense taste. Too intense. He was tasting the blood of his own injuries.

“That’sss not what I’m looking for… He has my blood on his fingerssss. It must be a very little amount of it sssso I’m looking for a dimmer sssssssscent…”

He moved his head from one side to the other, his tongue slithering in and out of his mouth, savoring the dimmest tastes present in the air. Cheap cologne, sweat, fear, excitement, agrecite, Dark Kat…

“His *sssstench* is unmissstakable… But it’sss not him I’m after right now… I’m after… Wait! What’sss thisss? My blood! Behind me, at my left! It’ssss getting ssstronger! It’sss him…”

In fact, the PastMaster was heading for Viper from behind. He was so confident that the reptilian scientist would not be able to see him that he didn’t fully comprehend what had grasped him so tightly. Only seconds later did he understood that he had been caught by Viper’s tail. Seconds later, the face of the green kat came into view.

“Sssurprise, sssurprise…” – he hissed before he slammed the PastMaster on the ring at the same time his tail squeezed him with all the strength it possessed. The result of both strokes was the scattering of the PastMaster’s bones on the ground. With one swing of his tail, he swept the red bones out of the ring and onto the ground outside the arena.

Just as soon as the PastMaster was defeated, the mist started vanishing and seconds later, the guests managed to have a perfect view of the ring area. They saw Viper standing alone on the ring. Only moments later, they saw the red bones moving on the ground and starting to rebuild the old sorcerer.

“How did you find me?” – the PastMaster asked, confused. Viper just grinned.

“Sssecretsss of the condition…” – Viper said as he jumped out of the ring – “Sssay, how did you reform yourssself anyway?”

“How do you modern kats say? Ah, yes! Duh! I’m a sorcerer, forgot?”

“Oh! Of courssse… Ssssilly me…”

Both villains passed by Razor in their way to their seats. Viper stopped in his track and came to the SWAT Kat.

“Ssssso… It’sss jussst between usss, SSSSSWAT Kat… It ssseemed it was predesssstined… Mark my wordsssss… I’ll rip you apart from insssside out!” – Viper hissed and sibilated audibly.

Razor didn’t say a word. He was lost in his own thoughts. Although his resolve was to win the Tournament, truth be told, he had never expected to reach so far. Now he was in the final and he would have to fight one of the worst criminals of Megakat City, Doctor Viper. He inspected again the reptilian scientist, paying particular attentions to the rips in his back. As the wounds were visible through the rips on his lab coat, Razor could see that they were healing at a tremendously fast rate. Viper looked back over his shoulder and saw the SWAT Kat staring at his back, chuckling dryly.

“Amazed with my healing abilities, SSSSSSWAT Kat? It came all with the package… The sssame package that’ll redussse you to a piessse of minsssed meat…”

“Don’t count on it, you basilisk lizard…” – Razor retorted as he jumped out of his seat and started warming up again.

“Why, thank you! Though, I prefer to be called Viper…” – the green kat said and chuckled dryly, settling down on his seat and letting his metabolism heal his wounds. They wouldn’t be completely fixed up by the time of the combat but, at least, they were being taken care of anyway…

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

The ninjas were nervous. They knew someone had penetrated their defenses and their master had told them it would be the other SWAT Kat but so far, nothing more had happened. Despite their efforts, they didn’t found the SWAT Kat anywhere. The nervousness had made them resource to their supply of Mini Uzi, so every ninja carried one of the semiautomatic assault gun.

Some of them were stationed at the main salon, guarding the entrances and the stairs to the upper floors. Suddenly, they heard something coming down the stairs and readied their guns to it. They just saw a little black metallic ball coming down the steps. It fell the entire stairway and stopped in the middle of the group that was guarding the stairs. They looked puzzled at the object until one of them noticed that it wasn’t a ball at all but rather…

“GRENADE!” – one of the ninjas shouted.

They all ran away from it but it was too late. The grenade exploded and threw them all in the air, riddling the walls with metallic shrapnel, just as the bodies of the nearest ninjas.

“Missed me, guys?” – a burly figure asked from the top of the staircase.

“IT’S THE SWAT KAT! SHOOT HIM!”

Bullets rained in the direction of the stairs for a few seconds. When the shooting stopped, they realized that T-Bone wasn’t there anymore.

“Where did he go?” – a ninja asked.

“Did we hit him?”- another queried.

Three Mini Spider Missiles fired from the candelabrum and wrapped the nearest ninjas on their threads.

“WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?”

“IN THE CHANDELIER! THE SWAT KAT!” – another ninja bellowed and aimed at the candelabrum, firing two rounds of bullets against it, making the adorn fall to the ground and shatter in a thousand pieces.

Two heavy nets fell over the remaining ninjas, arresting them. T-Bone came to them and inspected his preys.

“Guess you didn’t miss me after all…”

“What just happened he… HEY! IT’S THE SWAT KAT!” – another ninja that had just appeared coming from another room, attracted by the noise of the shooting, said, aiming his gun and firing a round against T-Bone. The burly SWAT Kat had just enough time to get out of the way and roll on the floor, avoiding the shower of bullets that, instead of him, hit some of the ninjas that he had captured.

The ninja ran along the wall firing another round as he went. The empty shells littered the ground. T-Bone got up and ran towards a piece of furniture in order to have some protection. He reached it in safety but the ninja fired until his clip was empty. T-Bone heard the sound of the empty clip falling along with the empty shells. He promptly rose from his hiding place and aimed both glovatrixes at the ninja, firing two Mini Octopus Missiles.

The ninja got out of the way just at the last second and started running along the wall again. T-Bone ran along the wall on his side too. The ninja managed to insert a new clip and fired a new round of bullets at the same time he jumped to hide behind a piece of furniture. T-Bone did the same, firing missile after missile from both glovatrixes. At the last moment, a Mini Spider Missile hit the ninja just before he reached the safety of his hideout, wrapping its strings around the body of the black-dressed kat. T-Bone rolled over when he landed and stood up to his feet. He felt the outer side of his right biceps burning and inspected it. A bullet had just grazed over it, leaving a bleeding wound.

“Crud… Gotta be more careful!” – he thought.

He ducked when the cement flew off the wall behind him. At the stairs stood another ninja with a shotgun on his paws instead of the assault gun. He fired again, but the tabby ran towards the black-dressed kat in a zigzagging pattern. It was hard to hit a moving blank, T-Bone thought. Meanwhile he got closer to the ninja.

“The SWAT Kat’s approaching! I can’t let him reach me! Huh? Where did he go?” – the ninja thought.

In fact, T-Bone had just disappeared from sight and the ninja was desperate, trying to locate the burly tom.

“Where did he go? Where did he go?”

“Right by your side!” . T-Bone growled with an intense fire raging in his eyes. He kicked the shotgun from the ninja’s paws, which described a circle in the air and went right to T-Bone’s paws. He rested it on the ninja’s back and prepared to press the trigger. His finger was itching to shoot that bastard but even so he hesitated. Aiming lower, he shot the ninja on the leg instead, making him fall on the ground, clutching his injured leg and screaming in pain.

“Effective but crude… Definitely not my style…” – he said and headed downstairs again. Using all the stealth he could, he ran through the maze of corridors, wiping out the ninjas that stood there. He finally reached the room where the try-outs were disputed earlier.

“Aw, crud… This room is crowding with ninjas and creeplings! Well, if there are so many thugs in here, then I must be nearing the place where Razor is kept… What do I do know? I can’t face them all… Crud…”

The sound of a gun being cocked and the feeling of its cold muzzle being rested on his nape were the reasons for T-Bone’s last comment.

“My score’s about to rise up by fifty points…” – the ninja started. T-Bone threw his left paw to the ninja’s arm, the one that aimed the gun to his head, and in one swift move, tossed him inside the room, making the ninja knock against two others, falling all to the ground.

“I never thought *that* would work…” – T-Bone thought – “But now I’ve lost the element of surprise…”

“IT’S THE SWAT KAT! FIRE AT WILL!” – one of the ninjas bellowed.

T-Bone ran inside the room and jumped onto the air, pouncing at the ninjas and trying at the same time, to avoid the bullets shot against him.

“IT’S MAYHEM TIME!!!!!” – T-Bone screamed as he applied a roundhouse kick to two of them. Just as soon as he landed, he jumped again, firing Mini Baby-Boomer Missiles at the ground in front of the ninjas, making pieces of wood as well as kats and creeplings fly everywhere. He landed and he had to fight against three of them at the same time. With a couple of powerful punches, he managed to reduce that number to two. However, for each ninja the SWAT Kat abated, it seemed that three more would appear to substitute the other.

“Crud… I have to end this soon… Else I’m doomed!”

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

Meanwhile, the Tournament had made another break. One of his ninjas had entered his box and was holding a private conversation with the purple kat.

“It’s secure, milord. The majority of the guests will bet on your fighter now. They know Viper is a tough nut to crack but they have seen the SWAT Kat in action and now believe that *he* will win over Viper, sir.”

“I expected it as much…” – Dark Kat said in a low tone – “Be sure that *all the kats in here bet on the SWAT Kat. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Immediately, milord.” – the ninja saluted Dark Kat lowering his head and placing a closed fist on his chest, after what he left the purple kat’s box.

“Everything goes as I planned… Soon there will be no more SWAT Kats to bother me…” – Dark Kat thought, chuckling for himself.

He looked down on Razor, who was still exercising outside the ring. He observed the kat with attention. He had a strange feeling every time he looked to Razor. Again, he was having that strange feeling. Razor looked directly to Dark Kat and the purple kat flinched almost imperceptibly.

“Such innocence… Such innocence in those eyes! However, such sadness also… He appeared to have witnessed much more than he really should…” – Dark Kat thought as his pupil-less orange eyes met Razor’s black eyes – “He would have been about your age now…”

Surprisingly, a tear streamed down Dark Kat’s face. He immediately rose from his seat and headed out of his box and down to the arena, wiping out his tear in the way down. He went to Razor.

“I must have a talk with you, SWAT Kat.” – Dark Kat said, placing a massive arm over Razor’s shoulders.

“What is it?”

“I want you to lose this battle.”

“What? Are you kidding me? I’ve come this far to lose in the end? Don’t you trust me? I know I can take him!” – Razor queried, dumbfounded. Dark Kat silenced the slim kat with a simple look of his eyes.

“I know just all too well that you can take Viper down, especially now that he’s injured. However, I want you to lose this combat.”

“But why? I thought you’d want to win the Tournament!”

“Don’t question my orders, SWAT Kat! Simply comply!”

Razor fumed. He knew he had to obey, else, his loved ones would die.

“Alright… I’ll do it…”

“Another thing. You mustn’t throw yourself out of the ring just as soon as Viper hit you the first time! I want you to put up a good show for my guests… You have been warned, SWAT Kat. Don’t disappoint me…” – Dark Kat stated and with a swirl of his cape, walked away to his seat.

“Put up a good show for the audience?” – Razor thought – “Meaning what? That I won’t be able to at least defend myself?”

The slim kat’s eyes turned from challenging to desperate as he looked to Viper, still in his seat. The green kat was checking his wounds. They appeared to be almost healed. Viper looked up to Razor and slipped a clawed finger over his throat, grinning. Razor just gulped.

“I’m doomed… If I can’t defend myself, I’m gonna die in the ring… Viper will see to that…”

“Ladies and gentlekats, the most awaited moment of this Tournament is about to start!” – Dark Kat’s voice echoed in the walls of the cavern as he spoke through the microphone – “The final match is about to begin. And what a thrilling combat this will prove to be. The SWAT Kat will face Doctor Viper in a duel that might very well end with the death of one of the contenders! The fighters may step onto the ring. Dearest guests, the bets are open.”

Razor heard his name being screamed in the rows above his head as he went to the ring. It seemed that every kat in the room was betting on him. That made him narrow his eyes and ball his paws into fists.

“So, *that’s* why he wants me to lose… And, he wants me to give them a nice show so that they won’t suspect the combat is set up! As I won all my fights so far, the audience isn’t expecting me to lose this one…”

The frenzy of the wagering died out five minutes later. As Dark Kat had expected, *all* the kats had bet on Razor. He, on the other paw, had bet on Viper, even though that had been one of the toughest things he ever did…

“Having to depend on that scum snake… But it will pay off…”

Hajime!” – the judge screamed.

Razor assumed a defensive stance while Viper lowered his torso and waved his tail crazily in the air above his head. Razor gulped. He knew how the green kat was going to attack him. Suddenly, Viper leapt towards Razor, claws fully unsheathed. Instinctively, Razor dodged Viper jumping to the side. Just as soon as the green kat landed on all fours on the ring, he threw his tail towards the slim kat. Razor had to do a series of back flips in order to get away from Viper.

“You’re fassst, SSSSSWAT Kat. But *that* won’t ssssave you from my tail!” – Viper hissed and stretched out his tail towards the slim SWAT Kat once more. Razor narrowed his eyes when he saw the green protuberance rushing to him. In a swift movement, he not only dodged the tip of Viper’s tail but also managed to snatch it. The reptilian scientist was surprised with the Razor’s attitude and so was Dark Kat.

“Your tail can be used to bring your opponents to you, Viper but it can also be used to do *the opposite*! – Razor stated out loud and pushed Viper’s tail with all his strength. Both Dark Kat and the entire audience were petrified when they saw Viper’s body crossing the air, rushing to where Razor was standing. Letting go of Viper’s tail and quickly assuming a fighting stand, Razor did a portentous jump-roundhouse kick to Viper’s head when he reached the slim kat, sending him back to where the reptilian kat had come. The blow was so strong, Viper vomited a volley of green saliva. His body hit the ring hard at the same time the SWAT Kat landed on one foot, keeping the other retracted.

Viper looked up to the slim SWAT Kat, who still had his right leg retracted. The green kat rose from the ground, shuddering all the way up and turned around to face Razor. His jaws were tightly clenched and his powerful teeth were showing up menacingly. His golden pupil-less eyes glowed even brighter.

“You will pay for thissss humiliation, SSSSSWAT Kat!” – Viper growled, cleaning the blood off his chin with the sleeve of his lab coat. Suddenly, Viper opened his mouth wide and spat a gob of a sticky dark fluid towards Razor. The SWAT Kat ducked and avoided the shot, which hit on one of Dark Kat’s guests right in the face. The kat started screaming as he felt his eyes burn, as well as his skin.

“Acidic saliva! Good aim!” – Razor mumbled as he looked to the unfortunate kat that became so agitated he ended up falling on the ground.

“Didn’t they taught you not to turn your back on your enemy?” – Viper hissed as he wrapped Razor in a squishing tail lock. Razor was caught by surprise. Viper was squeezing the life out of the slim kat.

“Crud…” – Razor thought – “That was stupid… I shouldn’t… have let… my guard down… AAAAAAAHHHHH! He’s… killing me…”

Viper lifted his tail high in the air and slammed the SWAT Kat against the ring time after time. Razor was rapidly losing his senses with the blows he was receiving. However, he wasn’t about to let that creep kill him like that. Fighting the disgust, he opened his mouth and sank his teeth on Viper’s tail, piercing and tearing a portion of the muscle. Viper roared out loud with the pain and let the SWAT Kat go. Razor rolled away and stood up to his feet, spitting Viper’s blood from his mouth.

“You’re gonna *pay* for that!” – Viper growled and with an astonishing speed, pounced at the slim kat.

Razor didn’t notice what had happened until it was too late. His flight suit was torn open in his chest and a burst of red blood gushed out of his chest and splattered on the ground. Viper attacked again, this time aiming for Razor’s right thigh. Another rip caused the vital fluid to exit from the slim kat’s body and spatter on the ring.

Razor knelt on the ground, breathing hard and bleeding badly. He looked up to Viper, who stood a few feet away from him. He stared as his blood dyed and dripped from Viper’s claws onto the red matted arena. The snake-kat had a mischievous grin on his snout. Razor’s vision was starting to cloud. He blinked twice and the feeling disappeared momentarily. Viper walked to him and rammed his tail against his side, making him roll and flung on the ground, leaving behind him a red smear. Razor was exhausted. He couldn’t fight anymore. Viper went to him and turned his limp body around, so that his back were on the ground.

“Sssssay your prayers, SSSSWAT Kat!” – Viper hissed as he prepared to rip Razor’s throat.

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

T-Bone panted as he surveyed the room where the try-outs had been disputed. The floor was covered with empty shells, clips, guns, creeplings and ninjas. Thick droplets of sweat dropped down his nose and chin as he surveyed the bodies. Some of them were dead but it hadn’t been him to kill them. They’d killed each other in their frenzy to getting the burly SWAT Kat.

With his G-suit shredded in many spots and a thread of blood flowing from a cut above his left eyebrow and from a few injuries on his arms, he headed downstairs, descending the faintly illuminated stairs that took him to the underground cavern. Although he used all the caution he could, a round of bullets met him on his way down. He promptly ducked as soon as he had heard the sound, dodging the shower of bullets. As he ducked, he fired two Mini Spider Missiles from a glovatrix in rapid succession. The missiles impacted against the body of the ninja and tossed him against the wall, nearly crushing his chest. Though fast, T-Bone couldn’t avoid the bullet that grazed his left shoulder, together with a spray of blood. The burly tom fell to the ground helplessly, clutching his shoulder. Staggering up to his feet, the tabby continued his journey.

“Jake… Gotta get… to Jake…” – he mumbled as he fell into a steady march. Not far from where he had his last fight stood the heavy wooden doors of the underground cavern. He tried only half-heartedly to open the doors but they held in their place. – “Maybe they’re locked…”

He tried harder and saw that the doors opened up a gap. The doors weren’t locked but their weight was so big that they needed a strong push to be opened. And that’s just what T-Bone did. Using all his strength, he opened up the doors wide.

The sight that greeted him was not indeed a pleasant one. He saw Razor, lying in a pool of blood. Leaning over him was Viper, readying himself to rip Razor’s throat.

“Razor!” – he whispered as he stared to the ring, not able to move a muscle. Then, as though something had snapped inside his mind, T-Bone lunged towards the ring, roaring.

Viper never really understood what had happened. He just saw a tom in a blue suit hopping into the ring, roaring like a savage. The next thing he knew, that tom had lunged towards him, knocking him away from his prey.

T-Bone grabbed Viper’s lab coat by its collar and stroke a huge blow to the green kat’s face, eliciting a spurt of greenish saliva from his mouth. After that, T-Bone rose the good doctor’s body high over his head and walked to the edge of the ring, from where he tossed Viper with all his strength to the ground. Viper hit the ground with his head and immediately passed out.

Razor was astonished to see T-Bone there. He had a besotted look on his face, as though he didn’t fully comprehend how did T-Bone get there or what he was doing there. Then, as the facts slowly seeped in his clouded mind, he smiled and lifted his torso from the ground, standing on his elbows.

T-Bone turned and ran towards Razor, a worried look plastered on his face. He knelt on the floor and placed an arm behind Razor’s back, supporting him.

“Razor… Razor are you alright?”

“T-Bone…”

T-Bone didn’t allow Razor to tell him anything. He embraced his friend in a suffocating hug, resting his chin on top of Razor’s head. Razor did so too, his face buried on the burly tom’s chest.

“I thought I’d never see you again, Jake…” – T-Bone whispered as a few tears soaked his mask and ran down his facial fur.

“I thought I’d never see you too, Chance… Oh, Chance, it’s so good to be with you again…” – Razor murmured, his voice lost in tears.

Dark Kat surveyed the happy reunion from his seat. He didn’t like that a single bit. Yes, he had anticipated that such a thing would happen, that his ninjas would be incompetent enough so as to let one single kat escape from their clutches. Okay, so this wasn’t an ordinary kat, it was a SWAT Kat. No, it was an enraged SWAT Kat in a quest to rescue his partner but even so, they should have been able to take him down.

However, his ninjas’ incompetence was the last of his worries now. The bigger one was the fact that his guests had paid to see a fight to the death and now they wouldn’t have one and he would have to return all the money of the bets to their respective owners. But Dark Kat wasn’t the kind of tom to let himself be intimidated by such a turning of the events. After all, hadn’t he anticipated this would happen? Snatching the microphone, he stood up and addressed the crowd in his thundering voice.

“Ladies and gentlekats, may I have your attention, please?”

Every head in the joint, including both T-Bone’s and Razor’s, turned to face Dark Kat. Both SWAT Kats stood up to their feet, Razor having a little more trouble doing so.

“Dearest guests, I have reserved a surprise for the end of this years’ Tournament. After all the fights you have witnessed I ask you: did you really saw a fight that truly filled your measures? Have you experienced entertainment seeing two of your colleagues fight? Well, *I* wasn’t too pleased to see my fellow villains blowing each other’s tail. But now… Now we have a *true* show of the purest entertainment! For your leisure, ladies and gentlekats, the *SWAT Kats* will fight amongst themselves… *to the death*…”

“What?” – both T-Bone and Razor asked in unison.

“Yes, ladies and gentlekats… The famous and *hated* SWAT Kats will be engaged in a mortal combat from which only *one* shall come out victorious… If one can call killing a friend victory…”

“Forget it, Dark Crud! I’m taking Razor outta here and nothing will make me fight him! However, if you want to take his place, I’d be happy to CLIP YOUR STINKING TAIL!” – T-Bone bellowed. Dark Kat just chuckled.

“I anticipated you wouldn’t fight your friend, SWAT Kat…”

“Aw, cut that out, will you? Why don’t you just admit you made this fighting stuff up just to get yer tail clear?” – T-Bone said, pointing to the purple kat.

“So, I took the precaution of ‘inviting’ two precious she-kats to see your fighting abilities.” – he oozed as two of his ninjas motioned a tied up Calico Briggs and an also tied up Felina Feral inside Dark Kat’s box. Both SWAT Kats gasped when they saw the she-kats and the Uzi pointed to their heads.

“Callie… Callie…” – T-Bone gasped. Razor noticed it and placed a paw on the tabby’s right shoulder. T-Bone looked down to his partner. – “He’s got my Callie… He’s got my Callie, Jake…” – he shrieked out not louder that his breathing.

“I know, but be calm… Else we won’t be able to save them…”

“So, SWAT Kats? What’s your final answer? Remember that you already spent your fifty-fifty and life line aids… And the audience is voting for answer A: fight!”

“Your humor stinks, Dark Kat…” – Razor commented. He turned to T-Bone and pushed him aside.

“Razor, what’s got into you?” – T-Bone asked, dumbfounded with Razor’s rudeness.

“C’mon, what’re you waitin’ for? Fight me!”

“R-Razor? What the…”

“C’mon, T-Bone! What’re you waitin’ for? It’s the only way to save Callie and Felina! C’mon, hit me!”

“Razor, there must be another…”

“THERE IS NO OTHER WAY, T-BONE! Dark Kat had this planned since the beginning and we fell on his trap like two sitting ducks! NOW FIGHT ME!”

“I won’t…”

“What’s the matter, T-Bone? Afraid I might punch your freaky little face?”

“Razor!”

“You’re nothing but a fraidy kat, T-Bone! Yeah, a scaredy kat! Even Scaredy Kat’s braver than you are!”

“Razor, you’re crossing the line…”

“Oh, look at me, I’m T-Bone…” – Razor said before mimicking a chicken.

“Razor, cut that out!”

“Afraid of water still? Afraid of bugs still? Hah, you’re not a tom, you’re nothing more than a sissy, T-Bone!”

“THAT DOES IT! CUT THAT CRAP NOW, RAZOR! I WON’T FIGHT YOU FOR ANYTHING!”

“Well, if words can’t get you fighting me, maybe this will do! Hey, T-Bone! Have you met my knee?” – Razor stated out as he grabbed T-Bone’s head and pushed it down, ramming his knee against it. The strike was so big that a gob of blood spurted out from his nostrils.

T-Bone fell on the ground while Razor stepped back and readied himself for another strike. He narrowed his eyes. The pain emanating from the rips Viper had made was coming back on its full strength. The big tabby lifted his torso and supported it on one elbow. With his right paw, he cleaned the blood off his snout and licked it off his paw, spitting it later to the ground together with some more blood. An intense rage started burning inside him. He clenched his fists and jaws while narrowing his eyes.

“Big mistake, Razor…” – T-Bone growled as he got up to his feet and took off both glovatrixes and pouncing over Razor. Razor didn’t try to escape from T-Bone’s incoming punch, receiving the totality of the burly tom’s blow. The blow was so big, Razor flew back a few feet, blood spurting from his nose. Razor rapidly stood up to his feet and deflected another one of T-Bone’s blows with an X-blocking. T-Bone did a reverse kick that drew the air out of Razor’s lungs and made him stagger back a few feet. T-Bone jumped into the air and rammed his closed fist on Razor’s cheek. More blood splattered on the ground, followed immediately by Razor’s limp form.

“What are they doing?” – Callie asked in disbelief. – “STOP THAT! T-BONE! RAZOR! STOP FIGHTING!

“YEAH! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” – Felina screamed – “YOU’RE FRIENDS! WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING?”

Neither T-Bone or Razor paid attention to their pleads. They were too busy hitting each other. T-Bone, who was fresher and not so mangled as Razor was actually getting the upper paw. He had Razor on the ground and lifted the slim kat’s head pulling at his collar, after what he rammed his fist on Razor’s face, letting the collar go which made Razor’s head to bang on the floor.

After a few more punches, Razor’s face was covered in his own blood. His eyes were unfocused and he would pass out at any moment now. T-Bone was literally killing him. His heartbeat was very accelerated. His mind was becoming fogged and he started to see the corners of his vision turn black.

T-Bone stopped punching Razor’s head but held his torso up from the ground tugging at Razor’s collar. Razor barely had strength to keep his head up. Tears started soaking his mask.

“Come on…” – he said in a wheezing voice – “Finish me off, T-Bone…”

T-Bone drew his arm back. His face was contorted in a determinate grimace.

“C’mon, T-Bone… Kill me… It’s… the only way… to save them…”

The tabby hesitated. Tears started trickling down Razor’s facial fur.

“It’s… the only way… to save her… You have… to kill me…”

“Razor…” – the tabby whispered, his arm still drawn back.

Dark Kat was also tense. In one paw, he wanted the SWAT Kats killed. But… in the other paw… There was that feeling again. He didn’t want anything bad to happen to the slim kat.

“What the heck is this? Am I growing soft? Can’t I stand seeing an execution any more? Well, I *am* the most stonehearted villain of this city! I can’t flinch now!” – the huge purple kat thought, clenching his jaws – “COME ON! KILL HIM ALREADY!” – Dark Kat bellowed – “IT’S ON YOUR PAWS NOW! KILL HIM! *KILL HIM*!”

“KILL HIM! KILL HIM! KILL HIM!” – the entire crowd started screaming in bloodthirsty rhythmic unison.

“Kill me, T-Bone… It’s… the only way… Please… Kill me…” – Razor begged, his voice not stronger than a whisper.

“KILL HIM! KILL HIM! KILL HIM!”

“T-Bone, don’t…” – Callie whispered.

“KILL HIM! KILL HIM! KILL HIM!”

A tear dropped from T-Bone’s eyes. His arm started shuddering.

“KILL HIM! KILL HIM! KILL HIM!”

“Chance… Please… Kill… me… I… beg… you…”

The big SWAT Kat closed his eyes tightly and thick teardrops ran down his facial fur while he clenched his jaws tightly.

“I CAN’T!” – T-Bone bellowed, dropping his arm and his head to his chest at the same time he let go of Razor.

The entire crowd froze with T-Bone’s scream. Even Dark Kat froze in his seat.

“I can’t kill you, Razor…”

“Buddy… You must… For me… For them… For the city…”

“I can’t, Razor… You’re more important to me than the entire world… I can’t, Razor… Forgive me, I can’t do it…” – he sobbed and rested his face on his arms, which he had on top of Razor’s chest. He started crying there, constantly apologizing and saying that he couldn’t do it.

“Well, if you can’t kill your partner, SWAT Kat, I CAN!” – Dark Kat said, snatching a gun from the ninja at his right and aiming it down at the fallen SWAT Kats. – “IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, THE SWAT KATS DIE TONIGHT!”

Just as he said that, there was a huge explosion that blasted the doors of the underground cavern, which had been closed in the meantime. Pieces and splinters of wood flew in every direction. Some of them riveted in the kats present in the cavern, killing them instantly. Dark Kat covered his face with his right arm and one of those pieces of wood riveted on his arm. He growled in pain and took the wooden shard off. The next thing Dark Kat saw was that several cans were being thrown inside the cavern and a white gas started spraying out of the cans.

“Feral! I didn’t anticipate this! Tear gas! I’m out of here! And you’re coming with me!” – Dark Kat said as he snatched Felina and placed her over his shoulder, running away from his seat. He reached the wall and pushed a portion of it, revealing a hidden passage.

“What the hell is goin’ on?” – T-Bone said as he protected Razor with his body.

“Looks like someone else decide to wreck the party too…” – Razor responded after coughing twice.

“Where’s Dark Kat? And Callie and Felina? I can’t see them anywhere!” – T-Bone queried, alarmed.

“I can’t see them too. Anyway, I seldom see anything with all this tear gas burning in my eyes!” – Razor said, rubbing his balled fists on his eyes, trying to clear off the tears.

“Hold on, I’m gettin’ ya outta here!” – T-Bone said as he grabbed Razor and set him across his good shoulder.

“Ouch! Watch me, okay?”

“Sorry, Razor, but you’ll have to suffer a little longer until we get our tails outta this joint.” – T-Bone retorted as he jumped out of the ring and headed for the huge gap on the wall of the cavern that used to be covered by a pair of giant wooden doors. His eyes were also starting to burn and he wiped the tears from his eyes with his arm covered in clotted blood. As soon as they abandoned the curtain of gas, they practically knocked against the bulk of Commander Feral.

“What are you two, hotshots, doing here?” – he queried in surprise, out of habit – “ARREST THEM!” – he ordered his Enforcers but the twosome were already running down the corridor, away from the clutches of this present group of Enforcers.

“I wonder why they were covered in blood… Well, that’s the last of my concerns now. That anonymous phone call was right after all. Dark Kat *knew* about my plans to break in Farrell Manor tomorrow…”

Suddenly, his radio crackled. He snatched it and answered.

“Commander Feral here. Over.”

“This is Checkpoint Two. The SWAT Kats just passed by us like they had fire on their tails. What do we do? Over.”

“Leave them alone. They’re not our target at the moment. Focus only on this mission primary objective. Transmit these orders to Checkpoints Three, Four and Five. Over and Out.”

“Ten-four.”

“CEASE FIRE! LET’S BRING ‘EM IN! ENFORCERS, MOVE IN!” – Feral bellowed to his kats as he took his blaster out of his shoulder holster inside his coat. Slipping his gas mask and stepping cautiously inside the cavern, he saw, between the pillows of gas, that the kats were all crouched, wiping the tears from their eyes. – “FREEZE! YOU’RE ALL UNDER ARREST!”

The frightened kats had no other choice but allowing the pawcuffs to be slipped on their wrists. Feral looked from one side to the other searching for Dark Kat. He looked at the big front box.

“He must have been seating there…” – Feral mumbled and proceeded towards it. When he reached it, he heard a weak voice coughing. – “Miss Briggs! Let me help you!”

Retrieving his pocket knife, Feral cut the ropes that bound the Deputy Mayor. She coughed a bit more and scrubbed her balled paws over her eyes, wiping away the tears.

“Are you alright, Miss Briggs?” – Feral asked her, helping her to get up.

“I’m okay now, Commander, thanks to you…” – she said in a choked voice.

“Do you know where Dark Kat is, Miss Briggs?”

“He… He ran away with your niece, Commander… I don’t know where he went, though…”

Feral narrowed his eyes. That *blasted* Dark Kat had taken Felina away again… He called one of his kats and instructed him to take care of the Deputy Mayor and give her anything she asks. He then headed out of the cavern, a raging fury burning in his soul.

“No you won’t you miserable rat. I know just where you’re heading!” – Feral thought as he got out of the cavern and raced upstairs. The kats he had placed on those strategic points had revealed unnecessary after all.

When he burst out in the try-outs room, he addressed four of his kats to come wit him. He ran along the corridors stuffed with broken furniture and vases as well as with the limp bodies of some ninjas. Two minutes later, he finally reached that depressing room he knew and detested so much. The wooden doors were closed but he didn’t slow down his pace. Readying his shoulder to support the impact, he knocked against the doors and opened them with a loud clanging. Just as he entered the room, he aimed his blaster at the huge dark figure outlined against the big window.

“FREEZE, YOU SCUMBAG!” – Feral shouted.

“I’d recommend you to think twice before saying something nasty to me, Commander.” – Dark Kat oozed as he aimed his Uzi at Feral.

“Drop your gun, Dark Kat! It’s all over now! You’re clearly outnumbered.”

The four enforcers stepped inside the room and in front of Feral, where they knelt on the ground and aimed their own blasters at the purple kat. Dark Kat narrowed his eyes.

“Call your enforcers back, Commander. *All* of them.” – Dark Kat demanded.

“You’re in no position to make any demands, Dark Kat! Hand yourself in and let’s avoid more blood shedding.” – Feral retorted. Dark Kat just fumed.

“Avoid blood shedding? AVOID BLOOD SHEDDING, ULYSSES? LIKE YOU DID TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO?” – Dark Kat shouted, his chest filling with an unrestrained rage.

“That matter is closed…”

“NOT FOR ME IT ISN’T, ULYSSES!” – Dark Kat bellowed, his face contorting into a grimace of hatred. He gulped and sobered. – “Very well… Since innocents’ pleadings met you deaf years ago maybe you’ll hear your niece’s!” – the purple kat said in a calm tone as he pulled a tied up and gagged Felina from behind the curtain of the window and used her as a shield. Feral narrowed his eyes until they were no more than thin slits with the purple kat’s action.

“Call all of your kats back, Commander… Or more innocent’s blood will be shed.” – Dark Kat ordered in an ice-cold voice.

“Fall back and leave this house. That’s an order.” – Feral commandeered his kats after a few seconds of pondering. His kats had no other choice but to obey their Commander. Ten stressing minutes later, Dark Kat saw the enforcers leaving Farrell Manor with his guests and the participants of the Tournament arrested. Minutes later, they all left the mansion. Only Feral’s cruiser was still parked in the yard.

“Let her go now, Dark Kat. All enforcers have left the mansion.” – Feral demanded.

“Drop your blaster, Commander.” – Dark Kat retorted. Feral did nothing and kept his blaster aimed at the huge kat. Dark Kat lost his patience and narrowed his eyes shoving the muzzle of the gun into Felina’s temple. – “DROP IT NOW, ULYSSES!”

Feral had no other choice but to comply. He placed the blaster on the ground and tossed it over to Dark Kat. The purple kat stopped it with his foot and then kicked it aside.

“Your pawgun and pocket knife as well, Ulysses! And make it snappy!”

Feral did as he was told, placing the objects on the ground and throwing them to Dark Kat one at a time. Felina was surprised with the knowledge her captor had about her uncle. Even she didn’t know about the pocket knife, so how come did that creep knew about it?

“Leave her now, Dark Kat. I’m completely unharmed. She has no fault of my actions.”

“BUT THEY HAD, DIDN’T THEY, ULYSSES? IT WAS THEIR FAULT HAVING CHOSEN ME, WASN’T IT?” – Dark Kat shouted, letting the rage overwhelm him again.

“Calm down, Dark Kat. Anyway, you’re going to be arrested. You don’t want to be charged of the murder of an enforcer also, do you?”

“Who’s the real murderer here, Ulysses? Take her.” – he said as he motioned Felina towards her uncle – “Take her and get out of here. Both of you.” – Dark Kat said as he headed for the window, turning his back on the Ferals. Feral still tried to reach for his blaster but all he managed was Dark Kat aiming his gun at him again. The purple kat had his jaws tightly clenched and his eyes narrowed. – “Get out.”

“Why don’t you just kill us both right here, right now?” – Feral defied. Dark Kat simply chuckled.

“No, Commander… Your death will come when *I* want… Not when *you* want… Now leave! Get out of this house and never return… For the next time we meet here might very well be the last, Commander… For any of us…”

Dark Kat saw as Feral carried Felina on his arms and headed out of the room. Minutes later, the purple kat saw both kats stepping outside the mansion. He saw Feral settling Felina on his cruiser and getting himself inside on the driver’s seat. Moments later, the cruiser went out of the yard and headed for MegaKat City.

Dark Kat contemplated the rising sun from the window. His home was a mess, the result of actions perpetrated by both his enemies. He turned around and passed his eyes on the room. It was the only room untouched, beside the library. He closed his eyes and shook his head. He’d managed to keep the money he won in the Tournament. He was still the number one villain of the city but, even though, his heart was empty… He went to the counter and opened one of its drawers, retrieving a passé-partout with a picture of a she-kat holding a kitten near to her. He kissed two fingers and softly passed them over the she-kat’s face. He then stared at the kitten. A tear dropped from his left eye and fell on top of the kitten’s face.

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

In the meantime, T-Bone and Razor had reached the TurboKat. T-Bone put Razor down. The slim SWAT Kat had managed to rest a bit and he could stand up on his feet already. T-Bone, on the other paw, was tired to death. Even so, Razor couldn’t help but hug T-Bone once more. Nearly three weeks without seeing him was far too long and the same was true in relation to T-Bone. T-Bone embraced Razor once more even though he needed some space to catch his breath.

“Oh, Jake… I thought I had lost you for good this time… When I saw you flipping head over heels and falling lifeless and bleeding on the sand… I was so worried… Then I couldn’t find you anywhere… It was awful…” – T-Bone commented.

“Hey, what do you think I felt when I woke up and saw you bleeding on the beach? Crud, I was so worried. Then those blasted ninjas dragged me away from you and Dark Kat kept me captive here… And, I didn’t really know if you were alive or dead…” – Razor said.

“Jake, can you ever forgive me?” – T-Bone pleaded, kneeling on the wet ground.

“Chance, what are you doing? Get up! Besides, what is to forgive? That you’re my best friend? That you nearly wrecked the city lookin’ for me? That you almost got yourself killed to rescue me?”

“That I shot you, that I was imprudent, that I nearly pound you to death… I’m so sorry, Jake… I don’t know what got into me…”

Razor smiled condescendingly to the big tabby – “I’ll tell what’s got into you, Chance… It was love… You finally found the she-kat you truly love… But, even so, you still would send that love away to save me… I have to say I’m flattered!”

“Hey, don’t get cocky with it, Razor. I just couldn’t bear to look at your face. Guy, I nearly reduced you to a fleshy pulp!”

“Hum, you didn’t hurt me *that* much…”

“Yeah, sure! Then how come the tears?”

“Yeah? Well I wasn’t the only one crying around, you know?

“Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, whatever. Let’s just get in the jet and get outta here, okay?”

“Softy…”

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

Minutes later, the TurboKat and its pilots reached the perimeter of the Salvage Yard. T-Bone pressed the button on the remote control that opened the door to the underground tunnel, flying inside. As the jet went through the runway, he decreased the throttle and unleashed the emergency chute.

“Ah, I can’t wait to see the hangar again… Guy, do I miss the coolness of that place, my little workbench, my gadgets!” – Razor said from the backseat in a voice filled with joy.

“Huh, Razor, are you sure you don’t wanna go immediately upstairs to rest? The garage is closed, no one would bother you.” – T-Bone proposed.

“Thanks, buddy, but I really miss the hangar.” – Razor said as he jumped onto the wing and carefully leapt to the ground, landing on all fours. He looked up and saw that T-Bone still was strapped to his seat. – “Aren’t you comin’, amigo?”

“Nah, I think I’m gonna stay up here for a little longer… In fact, I think I’m gonna fly around a little bit more…” – T-Bone said as he closed the canopy and pressed the button that made the elevator platform descend. Razor just shrugged.

He saw the jet hurtling down the underground tunnel. He shrugged again and took off his helmet, heading for the lockers. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he walked.

“Ah, how I missed this smell of fuel and grease… It’s divine! Oh, my beautiful gadgets, how I missed you! Yes, sir, there’s no place like…”

He opened his eyes and looked at the sandbag on the ground, with the sand spattered all around the area. More to his right, he found a black hole in the place where had been once a giant screen, the shards of glass scattered around the machine. After comprehending what he was seeing, Razor widened his eyes and completed his sentence.

“…home?” – the reality finally seeped inside his mind and he furrowed his eyebrows, clenching his teeth. – “TEEEEEEEEEEE-BOOOOOOOOOOONE!”

Outside the Salvage Yard, T-Bone had the feeling he heard someone screaming for his callsign.

“Yup. I think I’d better stay up here for *quite* a while…”

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

THE END

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

Musical inspirations:

Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler for the fighting sequences, namely those with Razor;

Era’s Ameno guitar solo for the sequences when T-Bone penetrates Farrell Manor;

Era’s Impera for the fight between T-Bone and Razor.

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