“Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rocks they, purgatorial shadows,
drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skull’s teeth wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain — but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasams round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand’s palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk in hell; but who these hellish?”
– Wilfred Owen, “Mental Cases”
MEGAKAT CITY BRIDGE : Midnight
Puddles of the rain.
In the night, nothing much stirred, beside the puddles.
Lighting flashes, streaking across the sky, almost impaling the bridge with its thrusts.
The City is covered with a blanket of rain. It is just past midnight, but the weather and time have no meaning to this sprawling landscape. The buildings arch upward. Hiding the Katizense who dwell within. Higher and higher they climb. Reaching heights unimagined a century earlier. Quiet. Unfeeling. These giant barricades serve as protectors. Stoic, the towering behemoths are totally unaware of the environment. They are immovable, these buildings that seem to—-
—RISE ABOVE IT ALL!
The two yellow eyes blink, answered by another set that blink from across the other side of the tower. Two figures stand, watching each other with hatred as black as their own souls.
The lighting flashes, throwing light over the bridge and its two occupants.
Dark Kat and Viper.
As quickly as it strikes, the light vanishes, followed by the low rumble of thunder.
“Why did you call me here?” Dark Kat demanded.
Viper only crouched on all fours.
“I needed to sssettle thisss battle between usss, onccce and for all!” Viper hissed back, his spiky hair matted with the rain, his tail lashing back and forth slowly, almost like a windscreen wiper, his teeth slightly showing as he growled.
Dark Kat was not intimidated by this show of viciousness. He responded by narrowing his eyes and gripping his cane tightly, then asked, “Why here, why now?”
Viper raised slightly, tail lowering.
“I have enough enemiessss asss it isss already, however, I do not wish to fight everyone at onccce – the SSSSWAT Katssss, the Enforcccersss, and you. You do not fight by their rulesss and are the most dangerous of all of them, and, for that, you mussst die, here tonight!”
“You still haven’t answered my question!” Dark Kat roared over the wind. “Why here!?!”
Viper smiled, that sly smile of his.
“No essscape,” he replied, “sssecluded, isssolated, and no interferanccce from anyone. Jussst you, me and the concrete gargoylesss!” His claws came out, digging into the cement floor.
One corner of Dark Kat’s mouth rose slightly. “Fine,” he said, performing a fencing salute to Viper with his cane, then grasping the cane in both paws, hunched down like a quarterback and awaited the doctor’s next move.
He did not have to wait long.
Viper leapt upon him, claws slashing, teeth snarling, and his tail as straight as a spear. Dark Kat just struck out with the bottom end of his cane, sending Viper rolling along the ground. Viper continued to roll, leaping up to his two feet and swung his tail at Dark Kat.
Dark Kat couldn’t block fast enough. Viper was quick and all this rain, thunder, and wind was blocking Dark Kat’s hearing and vision. The slap went undefended to his face, knocking him to the ground. His cane rolled over to the edge of the tower.
Viper leapt up into the air, front claws and hind claws out, intending on landing on Dark Kat’s spine, clawing it, and snapping his neck in his jaws. At the last moment, Dark Kat rolled over, leaving Viper to land on the cement. Then, grasping his right leg, Dark Kat threw his arm up into the air and sent Viper tumbling. The acrobatic Viper twirled though the air to land on both feet… right next to Dark Kat’s cane.
He bent down and picked it up. Suddenly, massive purple paws shot out of the darkness, grabbing the collars of Viper’s tattered lab coat and pulling him towards the black shape. Viper only knew what was happening for a split second before there was a sudden crack and a splitting pain to his skull.
Dark Kat had head butted him. Viper stumbled about, dazed, not knowing what direction was up or down. When he felt Dark Kat’s fist slam into his right cheek, he realized he would need Dark Kat to touch him in order to get a rough estimate where he was. Another blow landed right on his nose, followed by what felt like a kick to the stomach.
Then, Dark Kat grabbed the left side of his coat, and he acted.
Using his reptile sense of direction, Viper’s tongue flickered out, sensing Dark Kat. He opened his jaws wide, reared his head back, and snapped it forward, spitting out a thorny, slimy lump. It worked.
There was a muffled splat, followed by Dark Kat’s roar of pain, and the sizzling smell of burning fur and flesh. Viper blink once, twice, to clear the blurry vision and cursed himself upon seeing Dark Kat clutching his right shoulder. He would have to act fast, for the rain will wash away the acid and numb the pain.
Viper slashed the left side of Dark Kat’s face. He swore that even through the pouring rain he could see the blood arch as he drew away. Dark Kat cried out, stumbling backward, clutching his face now. Viper’s paw was covered in blood.
His feet struck something. Looking down, he saw Dark Kat’s cane. He bent down, picked it up, and stalked towards Dark Kat, intent on running him through. He charged and leapt into the air screaming, with every intention of running this awful symbol of evil right through his evil heart.
Suddenly, there was an enormous pressure around his neck, and a powerful paw yanked the cane from his grasp. Dark Kat’s face glared up at him, blood streaked down the left side of his face, his right shoulder nothing more than a mass of burnt flesh.
Dark Kat smiled. Then, tightened his grip, squeezing the life from Viper. Viper squirmed. He was about to strike out with his hind claws when he spotted something. Dark Kat’s cane looked different. The bottom end of the cane had split apart, revealing circuitry underneath, and the diamond was missing from the end.
A weapon. Viper used his light fast reflexes to snatch it from Dark Kat.
“Wha—?!” Viper held the bottom end toward Dark Kat and saw that there was now a red button where the diamond used to be.
Dark Kat’s eyes widened. “No, don’t—!”
Viper sensed the fear in his voice and stuck it into Dark Kat’s stomach and pressed the button.
Pain. Immense pain rocketed though out his body. Viper was screaming and dully aware that Dark Kat was also screaming. Finally, he felt a massive kick to his neck, and he fell to the ground.
He lay there, on the tower floor, gasping for breath, feeling the rain splashing down on his body and damp coolness of the cement around him. There was no longer any thunder, and the wind had died down.
“Taser….,” he heard someone say, “stunned us… both…!” It was Dark Kat.
“What happened…?” Viper moaned, rolling over so that he faced the sky.
“Electricity…. we were wet….” Dark Kat sounded like a marathon runner, “affected us both….” he almost heard him chuckling, “….didn’t know…. you’d activated it…”
“How… long…?” Viper gasped.
“….hour….,” Dark Kat wheezed, “You wanna call…. truce…?”
“Yessssssssssss…..” Viper let the hiss drag out. “….want to…. talk about sssssssomething….?” Viper moaned.
“Why…. you….. hate…. me….?”
There was a long pause from Dark Kat.
“You scare me…..!” Dark Kat finally said.
If he could, Viper would have laughed, but he didn’t feel like it.
“Yes….,” Dark Kat said, “you are….. powerful… want Megakat city…. for yourself…..”
“Sssssssssso, do you….,” Viper hissed.
“I guess…. we can’t share….,” Dark Kat moaned. “You know…. we always could…. share…. half and half…. for real….?” Dark Kat paused. “We…. could help each other…. Maybe…. this is our last chance…. to talk like this…. like normal kats…. without trying to tear out….. each others’ throats…. Maybe not….. What do you say….?”
Viper thought about that. Long and hard.
“No,” he finally said, “I’m ssssorry, but… no. It’sss too late for that. Far too late.” He then broke into a smile. “Hahaha. Y’know, it’sss funny…. thisss sssituation. It remindsss me of a joke…”
Viper tried to position himself to face Dark Kat as he began his story. “Sssee, there were thessse two guyssss in a lunatic asssylum… and, one night, one night they decccide they don’t like living in an asssylum any more. They decccide they’re going to essscape! Ssso, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, jussst acrossss thisss narrow gap, they sssee the rooftopsss of the town, ssstreching away in the moonlight… ssstreching away to freedom. Now, the firssst guy, he jumpsss right acrossss with no problem. But hisss friend, hissss friend daredn’t make the leap. Y’ssssee… y’sssee, he’sss afraid of falling. Ssso, then the firssst guy hasss an idea… he ssssaysss, ‘hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildingssss. You can walk along the beam and join me!’ B-but, the ssssecond guy jussst shakesss hisss head. He sssuh-sssaysss… he sssaysss ‘wh-what do you think I am? CRAZZZY?!?!”
Viper rolled over to face Dark Kat with a smile on his face.
“You’d turn it off when I was halfway acrosssss!”
Then, the silence was broken, by laughter, and Viper laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
“HAHAHA… FNFFF, oh do excusssse me… neerrgghHHH!! HAHAHAHA!!!”
One side of Dark Kat’s mouth turned up.
“Heh,” he said. Then, he began to chuckle. Then, he broke out into fits of laughter. And, there they were, two enemies, laying on the wet tower floor, rolling around with laughter as the rain fell down around them.
In the night, nothing much stirred, beside the puddles.
Puddles of the rain.
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