Original SWAT Kats Story

The Pirate’s Flag

By Javie Patag

  • 1 Chapter
  • 12,496 Words

The Pastmaster strikes a deal with a long-dead pirate of Megakat City, and it only means trouble for the SWAT Kats.

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The small ferry danced along the waves of Megakat City bay.  It was extremely cold and extremely foggy.  A kat could almost scoop the soup up with a spoon.  The waves were strong and gently rocked the small passenger craft.

The captain of the vessel, a tall, worn seakat, was in the passenger cabin, reassuring the partially seasick passenger crew. “Ladies and gentlekats, take a deep breath and rest assured that these waves can’t do nothin’ to us.  Rest that we’re okay, even if we got engine trouble.  You may wanna puke up hairballs, but this craft’s made of reinforced steel, the best Pumadyne could ever come up with (at least 20 years ago).  The cabin’s airtight, so we can’t capsize ‘less we open up a hole big enough to let an entire pirate crew in.”

At the word “pirate”, the captain suddenly became quiet, partially smiling.  “Maybe I can play on these landlubbin’ kats’ fears,” he thought.

“Aye, you all know, this reminds me.  I was once a lad the height of a barrel when my father, a good old seakat, took me with him on one trip.  Heh, heh, heh…” He chuckled as he thought of the tale he was about to tell.  “The fog was as thick as this, and we didn’t have these kinda ships yet.  We passed by this exact spot…”

The captain paused, then looked around.  He had managed to get everyone’s attention.  All the civilian passengers were paying attention to him, almost like a good musician has his audience in a trance.  “You see, on this very spot, as the legend my father kept tellin’ me goes, sunk a mighty pirate fleet.  They we’re haulin’ off their greatest loot yet, but they were destroyed by the fleet protecting this bay by both trickery and war.”

He looked around again, and this time the people were even more mesmerized.  “The navy had sent a spy to sabotage the fleet.  The spy stole the Jolly Roger of the fleet flagship,” he continued.  At the mentioning of those words, the kats on board knotted their eyebrows, wondering and puzzled by what he meant.

“Ah, I see you don’t understand what’s so special over a pirate’s flag,” the captain noted.  “Well, pirates marked themselves by their Jolly Rogers.  You could immediately tell who was a pirate before and who wasn’t.  You may think it’s stupid because pirates were advertising who they were to the navies, but it ain’t.  A pirate’s flag was enough to send towns into panic and submission, and by the time the pirates landed, the villagers had already packed up their valuables in tribute.  It made their raids so efficient, that by the time the naval patrols got there, they were gone.”

They kats nodded in agreement.  The captain knew he had them in the palm of his hand.  “Anyway, the pirate’s flag also meant his allegiance and authority.  If a pirate vessel wanted to revolt, they’d simply get their flags down.  Of course, if you decided to just betray your fleet, they’d simply open fire on you to get back. Mutiny meant that you were takin’ all the loot for yourself.”

“Now, the fleet’s commander was good ‘ol Felenius Drake, the meanest pirate to sail the oceans.  As soon as the villagers saw his Jolly Roger, a crimson black skull with a sword and musket crossing behind it on a red background, they rushed to get out their riches or knew they would risk his wrath.  Few had dared cross him; those towns were blasted off the map.”

“He had raided towns and cities so well that he was able to build a fleet of three incredible vessels.  Each one was large and strong, armed with many guns and many unusual weapons.  By no means was his flagship, the Katken, any less armed.  It had two giant crossbows, ballistas they called ’em, to launch powerful harpoons for pulling in or capsizing enemy ships.  It sported four large catapults to shell cities and enemy boats with a salvo of rocks or cannonballs.  Its complement of guns was unimaginably large for even a ship of its size.”  The captain paused, began to think and then continued.

“So the spy went for the big one: one night, foggy and stormy, he slipped outta his bunk and loaded barrels of gunpowder into the lifeboat of the pirate flagship, except one.  He then took down the flag of the captain’s vessel and set fire to the fuse of each loaded dinghy.  He then took the last one, the one he set aside for himself and made his escape.”

“The explosions soon caught the attention of the sleeping pirates and the crew of the neighboring crafts.  The two sister ships of the Katken, the Leviathan and the Behemoth, saw through the mist that the flag was down.  Assuming that their flagship was betrayin’ them, and thinkin’ that the confused crew on board were arguin’ whether to join the revolt or not, they opened fire.  The confused crew of the burnin’ ship fought back, wondering why they were bein’ attacked, but two against one was never a fair fight.  Despite bein’ shelled badly, the Katken harpooned the Leviathan and volleyed the Behemoth.  The seas reeked with smoke and battle that night.”

“The spy had landed at a friendly port and had directed the patrols in the area into the fightin’ vessels.  By the time the navy got there, all the ships were sinkin’, specially the Katken.  The navy was able to save the crew of both the Leviathan and Behemoth, but not the Katken.  They could barely see through the soup, and the Katken had lost all their lifeboats.  Sad to say, not one of the Katken’s pirates, including Felenius Drake, survived.”

The kats were gasping with sorrow and horror, a few even weeping. The captain smiled to himself.  He continued after a long pause.  “As I said, we we’re passin’ by this very spot, while my father was tellin’ me this story.  When suddenly, outta the fog…”

“Captain,” a voice interrupted.  The captain, annoyingly, turned to face his young navigator.  “It’s important,” he continued.  The captain noted the fear in the young kat’s eyes.

“Excuse me,” the captain apologized, then left for the bridge. The navigator led him to the radar monitor.  The captain’s sharp eyes narrowed down as he saw the screen.  On it was a blip almost about seven times larger than the mass of the ferry.

“Sir, it came almost out of nowhere.  One minute, we were scanning through the fog, then suddenly, it appeared.  It’s headed our way, right into us.”

The captain cursed silently.  He knew that sometimes, the weather could interfere badly with the radar, but to hide an unknown object that large completely from sophisticated radar equipment?  This is what he didn’t like about fogs in Megakat City Bay; some things were just too mysterious.

The captain turned to his navigator.  “Have ya tried contactin’ the port authorities?”  He had a bad feeling about the answer.

The navigator was glum.  “Skipper, the fog’s also interferin’ with our radio.  The only signal we can get out is at the shortest range.”

The captain’s furry eyebrows met as he thought deeply.  “Try contactin’ the ship itself.  Maybe they just don’t pick us up on radar, thanks to the fog, and don’t know we’re here.  Try tellin’ them to change their course, or they might ram us.”

“Aye aye, captain.”

The captain shivered slightly as his navigator went to work, trying to raise a comm. line with the other ship.  He didn’t like the situation: here he was, stranded in the middle of Megakat City Bay with a ferry filled with passengers.  If only the engine hadn’t broken down!  He had already sent the Engineer downstairs with another of the crew to fix it or at least make sure they could get to the Megakat City Port.  The fog wasn’t helping since it interfered with all radio and radar equipment.  Now, they were about to be rammed by a ship at least seven times the size of his craft.

The navigator turned to the captain, a bead of sweat at his temple.  “Sir, I can’t raise any communication with ’em.”

The captain’s eyes opened wide with shock.  He rushed to the radar.  In the small time that had elapsed, the unknown ship had traveled quickly.

It was upon them.

The captain burst into the passenger cabin.  “Everyone!  Put on a life jacket!” he cried to a suddenly confused crowd.  “Quick!  Hurry! We’re about to be…”

The passenger ship rocked with a suddenness that took everyone by surprise.  The stretching, bending and warping of steel was heard and seen.  Portholes cracked, then burst open, letting in water like powerful hoses.  The craft capsized and began turning over, as the people onboard screamed and behaved in confusion and fear.

Like an egg, the craft burst open.  Water did not flood in; instead, it swallowed up the destroyed craft and its passengers.  All that could be seen was dark, murky and chilling water, thick grey fog, and a gargantuan black shape.

The black shape moved along, steadily but slowly.  It was large and ominous, almost like a floating mountain of great magnitude.  All around, the fear-filled and cold passengers of the stricken vessel swam and screamed, trying to stay afloat or trying to get hold of some piece of wreckage to survive.

The captain was holding onto a piece of floating wood from the ship’s interior.  He was bleeding at the forehead; the crash had smashed some steel into him during the confusion.  He was groggy, almost unconscious.

He looked around and managed to find a floating flashlight.   He grabbed it as soon as it came near.  The waterproof, steel flashlight felt reassuring in his hand.  He would at least identify the thing that had harmed his passengers, his crew, himself, and his vessel before passing out… or worse.

What the flashlight revealed was shocking.  The thing was made of a mix of wood, like the ones used for galleons, and of large, moldering bones.  Ropes and thick hanging seaweed decorated the floating barge.  The captain flashed the light towards the end of the thing, were it had rammed the ferry.

He was stunned at the sight.  There, rotting yet still readable, was a painted name: the Katken.

He looked up.  The black shape which was the main central mast of the thing did not carry any banner, any flag.

Horror ran along his face.  He had recognized the ship.  Then, he passed out…

“How’s the view, Razor?”

The Turbokat was flying high over Megakat City Bay.  Onboard were two vigilantes, piloting the state of the art jet over the dense fog below.  The black jet had a probe protruding underneath where the cockpit was situated.

“T-Bone, these improvements on the X-ray Scope are great!  The fog’s still obscuring most of the normal sensors and instruments, but I can still get a good reading down below,” Razor replied.  His voice was enthusiastic and for a good reason.  They just had finished upgrading their sensor array on the X-ray Scope.  This meant finding things in Megakat City was definitely going to be easier, and with their line of work, they needed it.

“Roger that, buddy,” T-Bone agreed.  As a pilot, he knew just how important finding things, such as the criminals the SWAT Kats preyed on, was.

“T-Bone, the X-ray Scope’s not penetrating that area up ahead. According to my instruments, it’s the thickest part of the fog.”

T-Bone looked up ahead and below.  “I don’t need any instruments for that, Razor.  I can see just how thick it is.  Whaddaya say we test out your new work on that?”  A sly smile appeared on his face.

Razor caught on.  “You got it, buddy!  Let’s go in!”

The Turbokat’s thrusters lit up as T-Bone started to accelerate. The sleek jet tipped to one side and began its dive into the soup below.  Slowly, all visibility disappeared as the SWAT Kats dove deeper and deeper into the fog.

“We’d better be a little careful,” Razor warned.  “We’re almost virtually flying blind; this soup’s really giving the X-ray Scope a workout.”

T-Bone replied, challenging Razor.  “Why?  Scared, buddy?”

Razor took up the gauntlet.  “Nah…  What are you saying?  The ghost ship that haunts the harbor?”

“Why not?  There’s been some horrible stories about it already.”

“T-Bone, I don’t…”  Razor’s words were cut short by shock.  His sensor panel suddenly showed a large, monstrous black shape below them, as they passed by.  However, as soon as the thing reached a certain distance, it disappeared.  Razor could only say, “What the…”

T-Bone chuckled from his seat.  “Looks like you got spooked pretty good, Razor.”

Razor stuttered, “I thought I saw something on the Scope…”  He began scanning the monitor before him, looking for what he saw earlier.    He saw nothing.  The black shape had disappeared, silently and swiftly before his eyes.  All that remained were small red dots coming up the left side.

“T-bone, I’m picking up something again.  Looks like some life forms below.  We’d better try seeing it for ourselves.”  Razor congratulated himself for implementing the life-scanning device he used on the Turbomole, but despite this, shivers ran up Razor’s spine.  His concern was stronger though; he just had to know what was happening.

“Roger, that,” T-bone replied, as the Turbokat banked to the left and began a gradual descent to the area.  The fog was getting a little thicker and darker.  Both SWAT Kats, even T-Bone, felt some foreboding presence, something ancient and dreadful, but a wild wind was heard, and it was no more.

They approached the area and more blips appeared.  As the Turbokat reached the said area, it went into VS-TOL* mode to hover over the area.  They could see nothing even if the enhanced X-ray Scope could.

“This fog’s impossible,” he muttered.  “Buddy, can you do something about it?”

“Affirmative and one step ahead of you.  Activating Mega-spotlights,” answered Razor.  He pressed a switch on the dashboard in front of him.  A panel opened up underneath the cockpit and out came two large spotlights.  An echo was heard as both turned on, illuminating the area, burning through even the dense fog.

“We got visual, Razor, and it doesn’t look good,” said T-Bone.

Razor affirmed what he saw.  Down below were dozens of kats clinging to broken pieces of wood and shattered steel, desperately trying to stay afloat in the cold waters.  They had seen the Turbokat and were trying to get the SWAT Kat’s attention.

“Crud, Razor!  There are a lot of them!  If only we had some way to save all of them simultaneously!” T-Bone grumbled.  He knew their main role was to stop bad guys, but the need to save lives was equal, if not more important.  And he needed to save lives now.

Razor replied and surprised T-Bone.  “No problem, buddy! Lifeboats away!”  A bay within the Turbokat opened up and several small, yellow packages scattered all throughout the area.  As they fell, they expanded and inflated, opening up and becoming sizeable survival rafts.

T-bone, relieved, congratulated Razor.  “Whenever there’s a fog at night in the bay, I always take some lifeboats out, just in case,” explained Razor.

“Smart move, buddy,” T-Bone said in praise, then continued, “but we’d better help these guys some more.  I’ll contact Enforcer HQ while you guide the kats with the spotlight and Megaphone.”  Razor nodded.

The Enforcers arrived quickly, which surprised the SWAT Kats. Two Enforcer Patrol Boats came up and steadily moved towards the drifting kats.

T-Bone and Razor saw Commander Feral standing atop the deck of one.  Apparently, he came since it was the SWAT Kats who infiltrated the Enforcer band.  He just glared at the two, being illuminated by their own Mega-spotlights.  He turned and used the Megaphone he carried to irect the rescue.  The Enforcers were helping the people up on board from their lifeboats.

“Well, Feral’s doing a good job cleaning up after us,” said Razor, reacting to Commander Feral’s presence.

“Yup, which is our cue to leave.  Emergency cleared.”  T-Bone began to pilot the Turbokat around and then boosted it away, towards home.

“Ann Gore here at the Megakat City docks, reporting live from a rescue attempt to save the lives of passengers caught in a naval mishap.”

She turned to Feral.  “Commander Feral, please tell us what happened here.”

Feral was his hard self, as always.  “We had a call at Enforcer HQ.  It was from one of those blasted masked vigilantes, the SWAT Kats.  They were reporting having found some drifting kats in the bay.”  He stopped, as if considering whether or not to put the blame on the SWAT Kats, but then continued his oration.  “We arrived just in time to rescue the civilians caught in the fog.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Ann, I have to tend to some business.”  He turned abruptly, in a militaristic manner.

Jake and Chance were sitting on their couch, watching as Ann broadcasted the incident.  Humorlessly, Chance said, “At least Feral didn’t pin this one on us.”

The view on the screen swiveled around as ann led Johnny, her cameraman around.  She stopped before an old kat, drenched and dressed in a ferry captain’s clothes.  He had a bandage wrapped around his forehead, which barely contained the blood from his wound.

“Here, we have now is Captain Montgomery McLash, of the sunken ferry, The Spray,” Ann told the viewers.  Turning to the captain, she began: “Sir, are willing to tell us what exactly happened, from the kat’s eye view of one of the passengers?”

The captain was still and totally silent.  Slowly, he then began to acknowledge Kat’s Eye News’ presence.  “Aye, Ann.  I’ll tell ya. You and the rest of Megakat City…”

Ann was obviously startled by the cryptic reply of the captain, but tried her best now to show it.  The camera zoomed into the captain’s face, ready to absorb every facial expression and every word he let out.  He was very silent and totally betrayed all sea captains’ jovial countenances.

Grimly, he began.  “We were transporting passengers from the island theme park.  Nighttime it was, and we had smooth sailing. However, the fog crept in and ’twas very thick.  Our radar went blank and we began to have engine problems.  The waves were getting rough and we were stuck in the middle of the bay.  I had gone down to the hold to calm down the passengers,” he said, paused and half-smiled, then went on, “when our radar began to detect something huge… Something unimaginably huge, even for a ship.  We tried contacting it, but there was no response.  Our radio couldn’t break through the fog earlier, so contacting the port authorities became a dead option.”

The word “dead” seemed to make the atmosphere seem darker and grimmer.  After some calm reflection, the captain continued. “Suddenly, the ferry was rammed.  It was torn apart ‘n’ we couldn’t do a thing.  I myself was injured.  Before I blacked out, I identified the thing… the ship that rammed us.  It was the Katken. Felenius Drake’s Katken.”

There was a pause.  Some mocking chuckles could be heard, but some were in obvious shock.  The captain acknowledged the chuckles. “Aye, laugh if you want, but Felenius Drake is back.  What for I don’t know, but he just rammed a ferry and hurt several people in his ship’s wake…”

Chance was laughing loudly beside Jake.  “Hey, c’mon, Chance, this is very serious…’

Chance quited up, but a smile didn’t leave his face.  “Alright, Jake,” he said, barely a guffaw.  To himself, he whispered, “Ghost ships…” with a chuckle that Jake picked up.

Ann was now walking over to the medic at the dock.  Her report seemed to lack her usual zeal and seemed very sad.  “As of now, from the 70 passengers and five crew members of The Spray, about 43 are injured with bruises, broken bones, hypothermia and shock, including the captain.  14 people are still missing.  Enforcer units have been dispatched to search the bay.”

“This is one mysterious occurrence which will baffle many port officials.  As of now, no possible explanation can be offered nor considered, unless Captain McLash’s explanation can be accepted. This is Ann Gora, for Kat’s Eye News.”

The TV went dead.  Chance flung the remote control unto the couch, having just turned the set off.  Jake was still seated, as if contemplating.  He slowly got up, but was still silent.

Chance broke his reverie: “Jake are you still going to think about that spooky accident?”

Jake shook himself.  “Yeah, I guess you’re right.  C’mon.  Let’s get to work,” Jake said, heading to the garage with Chance.

The fog didn’t leave Megakat City Bay since that night.  It was there, even if the clouds hovering over the city were few. Perpetually, it was cold, humid and windy.  Fear and darkness lingered on there even in the midst of day.  There were no more accidents that occurred in the bay, but passengers could hear… voices…  Voices whispering…

Once, an old, lone, adventurous fisherman even heard a conversation.  It came from somewhere high and behind him as he sat in his skiff.  The air was rank with fear and cold and he could not even move to face the source.

“Are your kats in position?”

“Yes”

…”  The voice was filled with leadership, intimidation and daring.

“Then, soon…  Soon, I will have my long time, long lost love…”  A chilling laughter, ancient and evil rang out.

“Just remember, warlock, about our bargain,” was the grim reply.

“Ha!  Foolish bandit!  Seafaring incompetent!  I control you now!  You cannot do anything anymore!”

“I am the captain of my ship and my crew!  My crew is loyal only to…”

“To you!  But I control you!  You, your ship, and your crew!” the small, sinister voice screamed, laughing darkly.  “You robbers are supposed to be clever… shrewd.  You always looked against mutiny and betrayal…”

The other voice was silent.

“You should have bewared our contract.  And even you pirates are honorable, yes?  Follow a contract to the letter, yes?”

The other voice remained quiet.

“Ha!  Just like all those hundreds of years ago…  You were betrayed!  Hang around to this modern day just to be betrayed again?”

The other voice was still silent.

There was only mad laughter from the other one…

“This is Ann Gora for Kat’s Eye News.  Here we are in Megakat City Metropolitan Museum, witnessing the opening of a new major exhibit.”

Johnny swung the camera around.  He focused the view tighter into the new exhibit.  Above, a bright banner hung.  It was colored red with a kat’s skull and crossbones on both sides.  It read, “Historical Pirate Exhibit”.  Johnny followed Ann as she came face to face with the curator of the new exhibit, as well as the rest of the museum, Dr. Abi Sinian.

“So Dr. Sinian, tell us all about this new exhibit,” said Ann with all her news broadcaster’s charm.

Abi smiled at the camera and replied.  “Well, Ann, this exhibit showcases work that has been going on for years.  We have been trying to collect enough information and artifacts for years now, piecing together Megakat City’s pirate history since when it first became an important seaside port.  By contacting port and pirate descendants, as well as very careful research work, we’ve pieced together quite a lot.  It’s tradition and culture, Ann,” Abi said with as sweet a smile a curator could ever summon.  “Its Megakat City’s past.”

“Thank you, Dr. Sinian.”  Ann turned and headed into the main hallway where the opening ceremonies where to be held.

She turned once again to face the camera.  “Here, we have Mayor Manx and Deputy Mayor Briggs hosting the opening rites for the exhibit, which are right now beginning.”  Quickly she whispered into Johnny’s ear.  “Focus on the ceremonies for a while, Johnny.  I’m going to look around for a while.  Get me some milk.”

Johnny turned around for a while before resuming the filming of the opening.  “Get me one too, Annie.”

The milk vending machine was in one of the wings of the museum. It was quite far from the opening ceremony.  It stood against a wall, facing a window that showed the outside of the main entrance.  “Odd place to put a vending machine,” Ann commented.  She placed a few coins into the slot.  “I mean, look at the discomfort that people have to go through just to have a refreshing drink.”  Two cans were released and she popped open one and began to drink.

She turned as she drank, facing the window.  The saw the reflection of the bay off the clear glass of a tall skyscraper. “Hmm…  The bay’s still foggy, until now.”  She smiled as she reflected on it.  “I bet there’s a good story hidden somewhere there.”

She took one large gulp from her milk.  She closed her eyes as she drank.  The milk was very refreshing.  “Maybe I should just cover the supplier of this milk,” she thought, enjoying.  She opened her eyes and stared once more into the bay’s reflection.  A black shape could be seen…

Suddenly, the fog parted and a black, ancient galleon ship burst through the fog.  It was huge and menacing, so powerful and so sinister.

Ann dropped her can of milk… as well as Johnny’s.  And she ran.

The official opening was done and Mayor Manx, Callie, and Abi were giving an overview with what can be found within the new exhibit.  Johnny was at the back end of the crowd, taping everything. A hand clutched his shoulder.

He was startled and turned to face the person who scared him.  It was Annie.  She was huffing and puffing, tired from her panicked run.

“Annie!  Don’t scare me like that!”  He noticed Ann’s condition. “Hey, what’s wrong?  You look as white as a sheet and dead tired too!”

“I saw… something… in the bay…” she said, still tired.

“That’s impossible, Annie!  We’re a good few miles away from the nearest portion of water!  Also, we have blocks of city and building obstructing view!”

“C’mon!” she said regaining her breath.  “We can get a good view from the roof.  There’s a good story at the bay!”  She grabbed him by the arm and pulled.  Johnny was forced to follow.

As they left, Mayor Manx announced one of the spectacular finds of the exhibit.  “One of the more important items here,” he said with his dominant accent, “is this Jolly Roger taken from Felenius Drake’s ship, the Katken, just before it was sunk in battle…”

The door to the roof swung open with a crash.  The lady anchorperson and cameraman for Kat’s Eye News burst through the doorway.  They turned to face the bay.

Johnny froze as he saw the sight.  “Annie…”

Annie was still scared, but she still spoke.  “Johnny, do you know whose ship that is?”

Johnny looked through his camera and saw the thing with great detail, thanks to the zoom effect of his equipment.  It was an ancient galleon, from the time when the world was still being colonized.  It was very big.  As Johnny viewed the gigantic vessel, he noticed the effects of time on it.  The sails were rotting, and much of the wood had been replaced by gargantuan bones…  Maybe whalebones?  He looked around.  The flag, the Jolly Roger, was missing.  He looked down upon the deck.  He gasped in horror.

It was a skeleton crew.  Literally.  The crew were piles of walking bones, their pirate clothing rotting and dangling from their bodies.  Their weapons were rusted, almost disintegrating, but they appeared fearfully functional.  Johnny was almost frozen by terror on the spot.

Shaking, he barely was able to further the distant inspection of the Katken.  It was the Katken, alright.  It even had those jutting catapults as the legend went, manned by skeleton pirates.  He watched in horrid fascination as that skeleton crew began to turn those war machines in his direction.  He looked down and watched as the forward-firing cannons were also being aimed in the direction of the museum.

He saw a sudden flower of black, oily smoke.  He heard an explosion.  Johnny’s eyes widened with fear.  He rushed towards Annie as a piercing whine tore through the air.

“Get down!”  He grabbed and pushed Ann aside.  The roof besides them burst up in smoke and dust.  When it cleared, all that was left was a gaping hole.

Ann and Johnny watched as more explosions were heard.  They were cannons shots.  Quickly, Johnny took his position as Ann did a sudden broadcast.

Manx was hiding beneath a table, gibbering and shaking like a frightened kitten.  People were running around in panic and fear, as the museum exploded and shattered around them.  Cannonballs were wrecking havoc on the building, creating danger, smoke, dust and confusion.

“Over here, Mayor!”

Manx turned to see Callie and Abi hiding behind a thick wall in the deeper section of the main hallway.  They were calling to him. “It’s safer here than there!”

“I cant’!” shouted Manx, half-screaming in panic.  “What if I get hit?”

The glass window facing the bay behind him suddenly shattered. Behind Manx was a loud noise, and dust covered him.  He quickly ran out towards Callie and Abi, with a speed unmatchable by any good athlete.

They were suddenly joined by another person.  It was Commander Feral.

“Feral!” Callie reacted in surprise.  “What are you doing here?”

“Rescuing you all!  We’re under attack from the bay!” he said. Another cannonball smashed into the opposite wall.

“Under attack?  From who?”

“Dead pirates.  Felenius Drake’s.”

Manx gibbered some more.  “Not more ghosts…”  He remembered the Red Lynx incident.

“Dead or alive, they’re packing serious firepower from their not-so-ghost-like ship!” Feral shouted back.  Another explosion occurred, close to the quartet.  “Crud!  We’re getting out of here!” Feral helped them up.

Abi was startled.  “That’s strange.  They’ve stopped firing at us.”  She was right.  It was suddenly quiet, except for panicked screams here and there.

All of the sudden, the remains of the broken glass windows shattered.  A clatter of something that sounded like old wooden sticks came from behind them.  The foursome almost dodged the incoming shot, but realized that it didn’t even reach them.  It was not a cannon shot.  They all turned to see what was happening.

What had been launched was… a few tattered rags, a rusty sword and belt, some black boots, a bandana, and… a pile of bones.  They seemed complete, an entire rib cage, the appendages and the skull.

“Kat’s alive!  What’s that?” asked a puzzled Feral.

The pile of dead material began to move.  The bones began to float in the air, aligning themselves like a skeleton being put together by anatomy students.  Soon, it was a complete skeleton, huge and hideous.  The rags flew up and wrapped its body in the fashion pirates followed.  The boots, or whatever was left of them, wrapped the skeleton’s feet and the belt flew and hugged the waist.  The sword, finally, flew up and was grasped by the bony hand.  And it moved… as if alive and animated, though a bit slow.

Callie screamed.  Abi was frozen in terror.  Manx gibbered some more and almost fainted.

Feral drew his gun.

He pulled the trigger and blasted the thing right in the rib cage.  It was pushed back, clattered on the wall and was once again a pile of bones.

The pile of bones moved and reassembled themselves once more. Feral gasped.  Suddenly, all around them, windows shattered and more piles of bones appeared.  They reassembled themselves and began to advance on the four.

Feral aimed his gun once more, his resolve as hard as iron. “I’ll cover you!  Get out of the museum!  My patrol car is in the back!  Go!”

Manx, screaming, led the mad dash.  Abi and Callie followed Manx close by.  He had reached the door leading to the back entrance of the museum, the path to escape.  He swung the two heavy doors wide apart and sped through with a burst of speed.  Abi had gone through, when the skylight above both her and Callie shattered.  Two skeletal warriors landed inbetween her and Abi.  Abi could only scream.

Immediately, one of the warriors swung his arm.  It connected with Abi’s cheek.  She fell to the floor, bruised and unconscious.

Callie was too paralyzed with fear to do anything.  She fell to her knees as the two skeletons shambled towards her.  She knew Feral was still with her, but she knew he was very preoccupied to notice.

“Briggs?” a strong voice shot out.  She was wrong: Feral did notice.  “What’re you still doing here?”  As he spoke, blasts rang out from his handgun.  He was still busy holding off the other assaulting skeletons.

“Feral, help me!” Callie cried.  She wished she could call the SWAT Kats, instead of Feral; they would make sure nothing bad happened, but she couldn’t.  She could not reveal her communicator.

She looked and saw that the skeletons were already right in front of Feral, waving their rusty swords.  She knew Feral couldn’t help her; if he did, the skeletons surrounding him would hurt him.

Feral quickly kicked the skeleton right in from of him and turned.  He aimed his blaster quickly at the skeleton nearest Callie and pulled the trigger.  The skeleton burst apart, freeing up an escape route for Callie.  “Get away, Deputy Mayor!” yelled Feral.

Callie ran.  She ran past the other skeleton, too slow to catch her.  Stopping by the doorway, she helped Abi up, who was quickly regaining consciousness.  They rushed out the door.

Felenius Drake, though he barely had a living face, was obviously angry.  How dare he!  How dare that runty, little warlock use his men, his ship, him this way!

“Pastmaster!  Ye scurvy runt!  How dare ye!  Catapulting my raiders into the heart of the city?” he rushed to pick up the little sorcerer by his cloak.  The Pastmaster smiled and waved his hand. Felenius Drake was forced to stop.

“Fear not!  Your men are unhurt!  They’re dead!”  The Pastmaster laughed, then continued, “Or should I say, ‘undead’?”  He laughed some more.  “They cannot feel pain anymore!  They cannot be destroyed like ordinary undead!  They still have their souls!  I resurrected your bodies and even your ship!  Your ghosts inhabit your long dead bodies and that will keep you together!”

Felenius Drake spoke once more.  “And how sure are ye that this damsel, this Callista of yours is within that particular portion of the city?  We’ve done as ye willed, fired as accurately at that, that particular bastion of theirs, but how sure are ye that she’s even there to be captured by my catapulted sailors?  And speaking of firing upon that stone house, what if she gets hurt?”

The Pastmaster flared up in anger.  He reached into his vestmens and revealed his magic pocketwatch.  Magic sung around the thing.  He swung his arm and the skeleton that was Felenius Drake’s crumbled unto the deck, the ghost still standing.  He began to shiver and writhe.  His spirit fell to his knees.  The Pastmaster’s tone of voice was that of rage.  “How dare you insult my magic!  My Spell of Finding revealed her location perfectly!  And if she’s even hurt, in any way, you and your men will suffer!”

Felenius Drake mumbled, “That… contract…”

The Pastmaster laughed, his expression changing. He put his watch back within his vestments and spoke: “Yes…  The contract.  You were foolish enough to sign it.  Did you not remember the clause stating, ‘to follow the said sorcerer’s every wish until the expiration of the contract.’”

The ghost captain struggled to speak.  “Not there… when I… perused through it…’

“Yes,” snickered the Pastmaster, “all you remember was ‘will be released when the Jolly Roger of the pirates involved has been recaptured and reclaimed.’  Fools!  You should have been more cautious!”  The Pastmaster laughed.  “I know all about your kind, pirates and ghosts.  I knew that you were all honorable and would follow a contract to the end.  Also, I knew that you wished to be set free from this world, to finally rest in peace, instead of being in torment for all eternity as spirits.  So desperate were you to be freed, to take what held you here, your precious flag, that you signed, not remembering the trickery involved when dealing with a sorcerer like me!”

Drake gnashed his teeth and whimpered.  He snarled the fiercest he could in anger.  “Tricked us…”

“Yes, didn’t I?  You couldn’t see those special clauses that held you to follow my every will, could you?  Ha!  The fiercest pirate captain, his crew and his mighty ship in all of history held to my will!”  The laughter of the Pastmaster sent Felenius Drake reeling in more agony.  The Pastmaster brought his pocketwatch and summoned a piece of paper before the poor captain’s eyes.  “You thought it was a mere piece of paper, did you?  A mere mortal contract?  Fool!  I enchanted it!  By this bond sealed in magic and broken never, I hold you to serve me forever!”  He laughed, stopped, then continued.  “You thought you could betray me if I betrayed you!  Arrogant, incompetent pirate!”

The Pastmaster turned from the pathetic sight of the struggling ghost, facing the docks of Megakat City, and eyeing the distant museum.  “You will serve me!  Once I get my beloved Callista from this dreadful city, I will use your invincible, undead ship and crew to destroy it!  From the ashes, I will raised a Dark Age city…  My Dark Age city, Megalith City!  I will capture all the survivors and turn them into my peasants!  Your crew, who cannot be destroyed, will capture and slay those meddling knights, those Enforcers and most of all, those meddling SWAT Kats!”

The Pastmaster turned around and pointed his watch at the pile of bones which was Felenius Drake’s body.  Lightning shot out and pulled up the bones and the captain’s coat that Felenius wore.  Soon, Felenius no longer writhed and shivered in misery and was once more the undead captain of the Katken.

“Those Enforcers and those accursed SWAT Kats cannot be far behind.  You, Drake, shall hold them occupied while I, ahem, ‘rescue’ my beloved Callista from this heartless city.  My enchantments, cast on your ship, should help you.”  Drake growled to himself.  The Pastmaster stepped down to the main deck.  As serpentine head rose as he walked up to a reptilian figure.  He mounted it, and his wyvern took to the sky.

Felenius Drake cursed, “Blast ye, Pastmaster, for if we’re undead, why do we still feel pain and fear?”

“Callie, I’ll be safe here.”

Abi stopped.  Callie looked a her with doubtful eyes.  “But what if those skeletons come for you?”

“I’ll be safe.  This museum is large and strongly built.  I can hide here very well.”  She gasped for breath and rubbed the spot on her cheek where the skeleton had struck her.  She continued, “It would be best to leave me here, if it truly is Felenius Drake and his pirate crew attacking us.  I must find a way to banish them.”

Callie still looked at her with doubtful eyes, but Abi reassured her.  “Don’t worry about me.  But you, as Deputy Mayor, should go.”

Callie could only smile.  “I wish I had your courage, Abi.”

Abi smiled also.  “I wish I had the SWAT Kats, or even Feral’s.” At that, the two separated, Abi deeper into the museum, searching for the library/research area, and Callie for the back door.

The SWAT Kats were already in the air when Callie’s call came in. “Come in, Miss Briggs,” T-Bone responded.

“SWAT Kats!  The museum’s under attack!  Felenius…” said Callie’s worried voice.

“We know, Miss Briggs,” replied Razor.  ‘We’re coming in to pick you up.”

“No need, Razor.  I’m safe and ready to make my escape.  However, you have to stop Drake from destroying the city!”

T-Bone replied, “We know Miss Briggs.  We have visual confirmation on his ship and it still hasn’t stopped firing on the city.  Enforcer units have already arrived to sink that ghost ship. We’re moving in.”

“Just be careful…”

“Roger, Miss Briggs.”  Both kats smiled and banked the Turbokat towards the bay.

The sight of the large ship came closer and closer.  All around it were Enforcer patrol boats and Enforcer choppers.  There were Enforcer tanks on the docks and they were firing at will. Everywhere, the Enforcers were pouring volley after volley of vicious and ferocious firepower into the old galleon.

The Katken was smoking and reeling from all the fire.  The Enforcer units stopped firing as soon as the smoke had completely blanketed the galleon.

“Well, looks like we’re not needed here,” remarked T-Bone after seeing the destruction.

“I’m not so sure, buddy,” Razor answered.  “According to my instruments, that thing’s still afloat.”

And then, both SWAT Kats watched in trepidation as the smoke began to clear.

The thing was afloat!  Its masts and sails were torn down and there were gaping holes in its hull.  Smoke still spilled out of the thing, but there was no fire.  All the Enforcer units around it had suddenly frozen, as if in shock.

It slowly began to turn around, wheeling to have its broadside face the Enforcers.  What was even more amazing was that the ship was repairing itself.  Broken sails and masts began to rise, floating up and coming back to their original position.  Broken, floating bones and timber rose from the water and flew towards the holes where they were originally.  Soon, the ship was almost as good as new.

And it opened fire.

Cannons on its side flared with dark fire.  An entire broadside volley screamed through the air, smoke trailing behind them like dark, ominous comets of doom.

A tank on the docks blew up as the cannonball ran right through it.  Another crashed into the bay as the dock it was on top off burst from a cannon shot.  The entire dock area went up in smoke as the broadside, explosions being set off as several shots hit the fuel storage areas.

Immediately, the Enforcer choppers opened fire with their guns. They didn’t stay in the air for long.  The catapults on the ship sung, launching bunches of small iron balls and iron skulls, smoke trailing like grotesque hair.  The scattering shot peppered several choppers and knocked them out of the sky.

The small Enforcer patrol boats danced around the ship, firing its small deck gun and machine guns.  A loud piercing sound was heard and one of the boats found an embedded harpoon at its side.  Suddenly the ship lurched in a direction opposite the one the boat was going, as skeletal crews rolled up the harpoon’s rope.  The patrol boat was pulled out of the water, spilling its crew.  It capsized upon landing upon the water and sank.

“Crud!  That thing’s tough!  Got something for it, sureshot?” T-Bone cursed as he swung the Turbokat to face the ship.

“You got it, buddy.”

Feral was surrounded.  Around him, five skeletal pirates were ready to tear him up with their rotting swords.

But he wasn’t daunted at all.  “Come and get me, you anatomy subject models!”  He brought up his blaster and fired two shots. Each shot hit a skeleton.

Then, he ran out of ammunition.  “Crud…” said Feral as he looked up to face the skeletons.

One charged right at him.  He swung to his side, avoiding a sweep that would have taken off his head.  Instead, it made a large tear in his coat.

Feral growled in anger.  “That was my favorite coat…” Feral sneered.  He smashed an elbow into one of the pirate exhibits.  He reached in and took out a saber from the glass case.

“On guard!” he yelled.  He charged right into the midst of the skeletons.  Sparks flew where his shiny blade met the rotting swords of the skeletons’.  He disarmed one, and then gave it a boot to its rib cage, knocking it into a pile of bones.  He swung his sword to the next nearest one and swept off its skull.  He didn’t see one sneak up behind him.  It began its attack, and quick thrust, which Feral quickly parried.  Feral then proceeded by smashing its rib cage with his sword.  He tripped one, and as it fell, he slashed through its spine, where the waist should be.  He dispatched the last one by stabbing it right in its mouth.

Feral was panting, smiling to himself at having defeated five opponents at once.  His relief was short-lived, however, as the piles of bones began to reanimate and reassemble themselves.  “You don’t give up, do you?”

There was suddenly a voice from the shattered skylight.  “Uncle, duck!”  Feral obliged, and at once blaster shots peppered the newly assembled skeletons.  They were knocked back and scattered once more into the hallway.  The firing died down.  Feral got up and saw a line fall down through the skylight.

“Felina!” shouted Feral.  He grabbed on and started to climb the ladder.  He suddenly felt something cold and hard grab his foot. Felina stood in the doorway of an Enforcer Chopper, a rifle in hand.

He looked down and saw that one skeleton survived the pounding. It had climbed the net was trying to pull him down.  Around him, his downed comrades were already reassembling.

With a smirk of disgust, Feral said, “Chew on this.”  He kicked downwards right into the pirate skeleton’s face.  The thing collapsed into the hallway below.  The chopper lifted up and Feral came onboard.

“I’m taking control, here.”

Callie was relieved to find the exit at the back of the museum. There were no skeletons behind her, and all she had to do was get out.  With a burst of speed, she raced towards it and broke through.

Suddenly, two cold claws grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her up.  She screamed as she dropped her suitcase.  She looked up.

“Welcome, my Callista!  Soon, we shall be aboard my new ship.  I shall transport you to my tower in the Dark Ages to keep you safe, while I wipe out this rotting, modern city.  Afterwards, we shall be wed, and both you and I shall rule a new Megalith City!”  Callie saw that she was being picked up from the ground.

“Pastmaster, you little troll!  I knew you were behind this!” shouted Callie in defiance.

“You won’t be shouting insults once you wear my wedding ring!  Ha hah hah ha!” laughed the Pastmaster as his wyvern started to lift them up above the museum.

“Uncle!  Look!  The Pastmaster has the Deputy Mayor!” shouted Felina as she took her spot in the copilot’s seat.  Her copilot had already moved to one of the passenger seats.

Feral swiveled the chopper around to face the Pastmaster and his flying reptile.  It was too late.  The wyvern brushed aside the chopper, rising and racing to the pirate ship.  Neither Feral nor Felina could recat in time.  All they saw was a small triangular object falling from Callie’s hands, jerked away when the wyvern dived past the two Enforcers.  All they could do was try and control their chopper after the wyvern had passed by…

“Matchhead Missiles, away!”

The Turbokat dived to the right, narrowly dodging the hail the Katken’s catapults hurled at it.  As it did, its two flaming missiles smashed into the deck of the pirate ship, setting it aflame.  It burned and spread all throughout the deck, but died out suddenly, leaving wispy black smoke.

“Kat’s alive!” yelled T-Bone.  “What happened to your missiles, Razor?”

“Hmmm…” Razor said, thoughtfully.  “According to these reading from our X-ray Scope, there are all sorts of energies running through that ship.  It seems to be protecting it and the crew.”

Suddenly, the Turbokat shook violently.  “Crud!” shouted T-Bone. “Those pirates sure are kicking our tails!”

The Turbokat swung to the left, narrowly avoiding another volley. In its place an Enforcer chopper took it at the engines.  It dived down, leaving a trail of smoke.

A flashing light and a beeping sound invaded the cockpit.  “It’s Callie!  That’s her emergency signal!” Razor said, alarmed.

The Turbokat swung around and headed to wards the city, to the source of the signal.  “T-Bone, I’m picking up a large life signature heading right at us,” Razor said, examining his radar screen.

“Don’t worry, buddy, I see it…” T-Bone said as he saw a small vermilion dot heading straight for them.  As it came closer, the SWAT Kats realized who it was.

“The Pastmaster!” both shouted in unison as soon as the sight was recognizable.  “He’s got Callie!” shouted Razor.  T-Bone turned the Turbokat around to give chase.

“I should have known he would be behind this,” T-Bone muttered.

“You’re right buddy.  Who would’ve been able to summon up a long dead pirate, his crew and his ship?  Those readings I picked up must’ve been magic,” commented Razor.

“C’mon!  We gotta save the Deputy Mayor!”  The Turbokat went into overdrive.

Abi came out of the hidden area she was researching in.  As she crept outside, she saw the skeletons shambling away, towards the distant docks and, of course, their ship.  Suddenly two skeletons stopped right in their tracks.  They turned and headed towards the glass case right next to them and then gazed in like children examining something exciting and awesome.  She could almost see the sad yearning in their empty eye sockets.  They began to turn away from it, slowly, even slower than they usually moved.  They even tried hanging on to the exhibit, but some force moved them along and out the museum.

Abi’s eyes opened up in realizing what that particular exhibit was.  She then realized how to stop the ghosts.

“Aaarrgghh!”

The Turbokat shuddered, its occupants bracing themselves. Another barrage had hit them and was shaking the jet.  Damage monitors lit up everywhere.

“These dead guys sure know how to fight!” T-Bone commented through clenched teeth.

“Roger that, buddy,” Razor answered, “they’ve nearly wiped out all the Enforcer units in the field, and us along with them… Crud!”  The Turbokat shook once more as a few tiny cannonballs grazed its underside.  “T-Bone!  If we take any more of this, we’re going to crash!  That last shot’s gotten through the armor and we’re taking in structure hits!”

T-Bone cursed even louder.  “Crud!”  He banked the Turbokat on its side, letting a few cannons pass by.  “But we have to save Callie!  The Pastmaster’s already on that skeleton ship!”

Razor was looking through the X-Ray Scope.  “It’s getting worse, T-Bone.  Looks like the Pastmaster’s about to open a portal…” Razor saw that the Pastmaster had raised his pocketwatch and was concentrating, his mouth moving as if he was reciting a spell… Both knew what would happen next.

A voice from the radio suddenly interrupted the two.  It distracted them that another fusillade almost hit them.  “SWAT Kats! This is Dr. Sinian from the museum!”

T-Bone answered quickly.  “Dr. Sinian, how’d you manage to contact us?  You know that we’re not exactly having an easy time here…”  His humor was as grim and dry as a desert.

“We have a radio transmitter here…  But that’s not important. I may have figured out how to defeat the Pastmaster and the pirates.” At the word “pirates”, both SWAT Kats began to pay attention.

“I’m not going to be your bride!”

The Pastmaster smiled grimly.  He and Callie were now on Drake’s ship.  She could not escape him, he knew.  He smiled further, making a very grotesque and hungry grin.  “You will be!  Come, my precious, away from this ugly, unfeeling and dangerous place!  I shall take you to the glorious Dark Ages, where I will keep you safe, while replacing this… this modern city with a city of paradise!”

Callie screamed.  The Pastmaster at her and his wyvern beckoned, ready to grab her and carry her into the portal the sorcerer had just summoned.

“This is Feral!  All units, prepare to board the enemy vessel!”

Feral piloted the chopper carefully, but swiftly, closer and closer to the pirate ship.  Hail after hail of catapult fire sang through the air, but Feral and his niece avoided them all.

“Uncle, is this wise?” Felina asked.  “We’re more likely to take more casualties from this…”

“Felina, the Deputy Mayor is on that ship and it’s apparent that the Pastmaster intends to katnap her into the past!  With those cowardly SWAT Kats bugging out, we have no choice!”

Feral patched into the communications once more.  “All units, engage!”

The Turbokat landed in a street two blocks away from the docks. Abi Sinian stood by, holding a wrapped bundle in her hands.  Her car was behind her, and several blocks back was the museum.

The cockpit opened and Razor got out while the jet was still landing.  He ran over to Abi as fast as he could.

“Here is the flag of Felenius Drake.  A ghost can only stay, will only want to stay, if there is something of importance to him in the land of the living.  I suppose this was what it was.”  She handed the flag over to Razor.

“I think I understand, Dr. Sinian,” Razor nodded.

“As I told you on the radio, I noticed the dead pirates’ inclination to reach for this flag, but could not.  As a sorcerer, I would not be surprised if the Pastmaster had somehow bound them to serve him.”

Razor nodded once more when T-Bone called out.  “Razor!  We have to get back in the fight!  According to Feral’s orders, the Enforcers are attempting to board the ship, but are beginning to lose control of the situation!”

Both SWAT Kats waved thanks to the curator.  Razor hopped on board and the the Turbokat headed to the docks.

Feral, Felina and several other Enforcers had successfully boarded the pirate ship.  Unfortunately, it was the fight of their lives.  The pirates were numerous and relentless.  Many choppers had been downed as they tried to lower Enforcers into the ship’s deck. The patrol boats had been, in turn, been boarded themselves.  Vicious hand-to-hand combat occurred everywhere, the Enforcer being at a disadvantage since they had no close combat weapons.

Felina and Feral stood back to back, firing their blasters at the skeletons.  A group had surrounded them from all sides.  Callie had managed to get away from the wyvern, but the wyvern would sooner or later find her hiding place.

All around them, Enforcers tangled with skeletal pirates.  One Enforcer fired a blast right into a pirate at point blank range, while a skeleton, somewhere else, butted an Enforcer on the head with a club.  Another Enforcer had swung his rifle like a bat and smashed down a pirate.  Another pirate had swung his rusted sword at the head of one Enforcer and knocked him unconscious.  Yet another Enforcer had  felled a pirate with blasts from his gun, while a pirate had taken out his flintlock pistol.  And a fighting Enforcer and pirate had already discarded their weapons and were going at it fist and claw.

Felina noticed something odd about the skeletons, though.  Most had discarded their deadly weapons in favor of less lethal ones like clubs.  They all seemed more intent to hurt and knock out their opponents than kill them.  Finally, almost all seemed hesitant in fighting.

A scream broke out.  It was Callie and the wyvern had gotten a hold of her.  The Pastmaster was laughing triumphantly, as his pet spread wing and began to carry Callie to the portal.

Felina felt despondence.  She couldn’t do anything in her situation, with all these skeletons surrounding her.  She knew her uncle was feeling just as bad, but was apparently frustrated by it, not despairing.

Felina saw the wyvern begin to take Callie away.  She heard the Pastmaster scream with delight, “Yes!  Yes!  Now, the first phase of my master plan is over!  Over!  I now have my precious, my beloved Callista, and soon, very soon, I will have Megakat City!”  He laughed and Felina felt her hopelessness bite deep.  It got worse when she began to hear clicks from blaster.  Her gun was empty.  She heard clicks from her uncle’s blaster also.  It too was empty.  The skeletons around them began to close in…

Suddenly, an entire wall of skeletons collapsed.  They tumbled from one side, falling to the deck one by one and breaking to pieces, a caramel colored paw kicking the first one, who had fallen upon a second one, and so one, until an entire row had fallen.

Felina smiled while her uncle growled.  It was a SWAT Kat!  It was T-Bone!  He had flown in, borne by his jetpack.

“Am I late for party?” asked T-Bone with a smile.  He gave a kick to one of the skeleton, turned and punched another one in the face.

Felina smiled and engaged the skeletons in close combat.  She punched one right in the rib cage, twisted, and threw it into the air.  “You’re late, SWAT Kat, but late’s better than nothing!”

“Hotshot fool!  What about the Deputy Mayor?” Feral frowned.  He blocked an incoming club swing and gave one mighty punch to the offending skeleton. He then pointed in the direction of the portal. “That thing over there…”

“Is being taken care of by Razor,” T-Bone smugly answered.

Callie screamed.  What could she do?  In seconds she and this repulsive reptile would be dragged into that time warp.  What’ll she do?  She couldn’t stand it.  Away from all she held dearly…

There was a bursting sound followed by a high-pitched swish-like wine.

She looked up as the wyvern above her suddenly screamed. Abruptly, almost all the forward motion stopped as she felt inertia kick in.  She was plummeting towards the portal!  In fear she closed her eyes.

She felt a bump as two arms caught her and raced away.  Finally deciding to open her eyes, she found her savior: Razor!  She looked away and saw a bola-tied wyvern rash right into the deep portal, being sucked in like some dust by a vacuum cleaner.  The portal closed as soon as the wyvern had become nothing more than a dot in the distance.

“Razor!” she cried in relief and delight.

Razor smiled back.  “What, Miss Briggs?  Did you honestly think we’d let you down?”

Callie snuggled up in Razor’s hold, and Razor could only blush.

As he flew, Razor spotted an Enforcer patrol boat drifting away from the Katken.  He landed and laid down the Deputy Mayor.  “You’ll be safe here.  I gotta go help the others.  If you can, help the Enforcers in the water.”

Razor flew off, Callie waving and wishing him good luck.

For T-Bone, Felina and Commander Feral, the fight wasn’t going so well.  They were tiring out; the skeletons simply did not stay down! Many of the Enforcers on board had already been knocked out and lay on the deck, unconscious.  Some had been thrown overboard, near debris where they could hang on.

Feral had taken a few blows to the head.  He was a little groggy, but fought on.  Felina had a bruise on her cheek.  T-Bone himself had been on the receiving end of several blows.  The jetpack he had used was nearly out of commission.  Though it had shielded his back, it was rent and bent in many places.  The shield in his glovatrix had been put out of the way; a good sword swipe to one of the glovatrix’s main mechanisms had knocked it out and stopped it from deploying.

The skeletons came in droves.  Encroached from all sides, the trio found themselves surrounded with no escape route.  They knew what was coming to them, and it came.  The skeleton charged in, burying them in animated bone.  T-Bone struck out and managed to stop one skeleton, but he was rewarded by several more blows by the skeleton’s companions.  Feral struggled fiercely, but the skeletons pummeled him to the deck.  Felina almost blacked out from many blows to the face.

The skeletal pirates restrained them, leg, arm and head.  The Pastmaster strode fourth, Felenius at his side.  The Pastmaster was smiling evilly.  “You SWAT Kats and Enforcers have meddled long enough!” he said in their faces.  He smiled, laughed and beckoned to Felenius.  “Now, it shall all end.  Felenius here shall kill you, one by one.  Then, I shall order his crew to do the same for the rest of these defeated forces.  From here, I shall destroy Megakat City and bring fourth a new Dark Age!”  He laughed his most cruel laugh.

Suddenly, his eyes opened wide in horror.  “Wait!  Where is your partner, SWAT Kat?”  He asked T-Bone.

T-Bone smiled.  “Right on top of you, you bag of bones!”

With that, Razor dived down, and stepped right on the Pastmaster. The Pastmaster fell to the floor, cursing.  Razor activated his shield and dove straight for the skeletal restraints of the three. The skeletons were surprised, and braced for the blow.  It never came.  Razor had leapt over them, heading straight for the main mast where the flag was supposed to be flown.  Instead, Feral and T-Bone twisted and threw their captors right at the Pastmaster and Felenius Drake.  Felina tripped her captor and raced against the other skeletons.  The three knew they had to buy time for Razor.  The SWAT Kat who was obviously bearing the pirates’ flag shot up into the air, carried by his jetpack.

Felenius Drake and the Pastmaster soon got out of the pile of bones burying them.  Immediately, he shouted to several pirate gunners.  “Open fire on that SWAT Kat!” he said, pointing at Razor.

The skeletons armed with flintlock weapons hesitated.  They lowered their rifles and pistols.  The Pastmaster was enraged.  An evil-red light glimmered in his good eye, and shuddering and shaking, the skeletal gunners raised their weapons to bear on Razor.  It was as if they were resisting.

The Pastmaster faced a silent Drake.  “Tell your men to fire!”

“We have killed too many in the past, slain too many innocents… My men and I will not do it…” he said, resolute, yet facing away from the sorcerer.  “Do ye even realize what it feels like to have a thousand souls following ye in the netherworld…  That is why we want that flag so much.  For we needed not kill when we only needed to strike fear…  We are cursed as guilty ghosts…  Freed finally, we can face those we have wronged, and be truly free…” he said, as a spectral tear, barely perceptible, but there climbed down his bare skull.

The Pastmaster was unmoved.  “Remember the contract…’

The dead pirate captain faced downwards.  He drew his saber and pointed at Razor.  A few seconds later, several shots rang out.

In horror, T-Bone and Felina watched Razor plummet to the deck. Liquid flew as he fell, torn clothing was being dragged upwards as he fell.  Felina shed a tear while T-Bone could not look.  Feral was unmoved, but in shock at what had happened.

The skeletons quickly rounded them up.  They offered no resistance, there was no hope.  Heads bowed, they were put into a kneeling position, restrained.

The Pastmaster stood before.  “Now, it all ends.  Felenius, execute them.”

Felenius strode forth and raised his saber before T-Bone.  Felina looked up at him like a guilty conscience.  She heard him whisper, “I’m sorry…”

The Pastmaster smiled as he watched the spectacle.  Felenius raised his sword up high, as if stretching and mustering his strength for the blow.

T-Bone was defiant.  He did not shiver in fear.  He stretched his neck out, his head bowed, but not in the defeat of shame.  He then closed his eyes and prepared for the blow.

Several seconds passed.  His preparation was for naught.  He opened his eyes and looked up.  The pirate captain’s back was at them.  Slowly, he felt his restraints let go and dissolve.

The three stood up, confused.  “What happened?” asked Felina.

They heard a familiar voice shout: “I did!”

They all turned towards the top of the main mast and saw a welcome sight.  Razor stood atop the tall pole, right beside a waving flag.  He was bruised and slightly bleeding, but only in tiny quantities.  His uniform was in tatters and a liquid leaked and dripped down- but it was not blood.  It was fuel from his jetpack.

Behind them, the Pastmaster was screaming.  “No!  No!  The contract…”

Felenius smiled a skeletal smile.  “No.  The contract has been fulfilled.  You see, our Jolly Roger is flying high and proud on our mast.”  He walked menacingly to a retreating Pastmaster, followed by many of his crew.  The Pastmaster looked behind the towering pirate.

And there, upon the top of the mast was a red flag bearing the device of a black skull with a sword and musket crossing behind it.

Feral soon remembered his duties as Enforcer commander.  He stepped forward and spoke, “We will deal justice to him, we are…”

Felenius turned and answered the commander.  “The Enforcers, I know.  We have seen much of you and these SWAT Kats, who dress like bandits and yet are heroes.  But we will deal with him.”  Many of the pirate’s crew passed by him and began their advance towards the sorcerer.

The Pastmaster already had his back against the railing of the upper deck, with no escape route.  “No!  Curses!  We shall meet again!”  He aimed his pocketwatch at the sky and a new portal appeared.   Another burst of energy erupted from his pocketwatch and he was soon flying, being pulled into the time warp.

Razor dropped down from the top of the pole in the midst of T-Bone, Feral and Felina.  He stumbled, and both Felina and T-Bone helped him up.   “Hey, easy buddy.  Just because you’ve survived a hail of bullets doesn’t mean you’re Superkat.”

Razor smiled, blood dripping from his mouth.  “Yeah, well I can leap tall masts in a single bound.  Thank good ness for the protection of this jetpack.”

“Your design and my steel work.” T-Bone smiled.  “Nice to know you’re okay.”

Felenius Drake stood before the four.  “I thank ye for all the help you’ve given…”

Feral flared and growled.  “If you’d only handed the Pastmaster to our custody, he wouldn’t be at large again!”

Felenius smiled a dead man’s smile, though it was full of humor. “Ah, the Feral we’ve always observed, so hot-tempered.  We’ve been here even before ye were born, watching Megakat City being built. We’ve seen ye since ye were only a green Enforcer.”

Feral was embarrassed.  Both SWAT Kats were chuckling, while Felina was openly laughing at her uncle.

Felenius became grim once more.  “Now, please leave.  The Pastmaster’s spell of reanimation is wearing off and we shall soon be on our final journey.”

The four went over to the side of the deck, followed by several Enforcers who had just regained consciousness.  Callie was there, waiting for them in a partially occupied Enforcer patrol boat.  They jumped down onto the craft.

There suddenly were large screams, as timber began to fall apart. The sails above suddenly fell apart and lines snapped.  An Enforcer had taken the controls and was about to get away, when Felenius Drake suddenly appeared above them, at the railing.  He dropped two bundles of cloth onto the patrol bot.  Before he disappeared he said a few words.  “For ye stalwart Enforcers, an explanation why the stealing of our Jolly Roger occurred.  For ye noble SWAT Kats, a gift from our greatest tailor.”

The patrol boat raced away.  As they watched, the other Enforcers had helped pick up the hurt from the assault.  As they watched, the ship collapsed into a truly spcetral ship.  A sudden fog crept in and the pirates sailed away.

Feral unwrapped the bundle and was surprised.  He found a magnificent blue flag, bordered with a thick gold line.  It was torn and old, but still solid.  On it was a kat’s claw holding a sword with a wreath around the device.  In golden letters the words read “Eternally vigilant of the waters.”  He realized that he was holding an old naval flag!  He then realized why the navy had destroyed the pirates the way they did.  It was retribution for stealing their flag and embarrassing them.  The fleet that came to destroy them, he realized, had not just been told of the infighting, but had actually been waiting for the event.  He looked at it some more, feeling the flags silky texture and suddenly realized its worth.  The flag was made of silk!  And the golden lines- they were made of beaten gold!

He turned and found that the SWAT Kats were gone, Callie and Felina surprised that Feral hadn’t noticed it.

“Well, buddy, what did that pirate give us?”

The two were safely in their hangar, their Turbokat resting from all the beating it took.  Jakehad taken off his overalls and was in his t-shirt and some short pants.  He was seated at a desk and had taken out the first aid kit.  Chance was now applying the medicines to his own bruises.

Carefully, Jake unfolded the cloth given to them by Felenius Drake.  Both opened their eyes wide in surprise.  Before them lay a bold, regal flag, black with only a single red device on it.  It was their own symbol, a simplified kat’s head silhouette.

1 comment on “The Pirate’s Flag”

  1. Elmira says:

    Yeah, people who whine like that need to get a clue and some perspective. Nobody needs to look at payday as a time to splurge and then complain until the next payday. Entitlement and lack of sednil-sciplife by such people can be a drain on the rest of us!

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