Original SWAT Kats Story

Choices

By Pen

  • 3 Chapters
  • 45,735 Words

(Unfinished) T-Bone and Razor fight Dark Kat, unaware that he has lain a trap to get rid of them forever.

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Author's Notes:

Hey guys, it’s Pen again.  Hehe, that rhymes.  Well, here is our next installment.  I originally thought this would turn out to be a three installment piece, but I just got a new idea, so it might be longer than I thought.  Oh, little SWAT Kat recognition thingie:  in Anatomy class, we are dissecting cats, and we were assigned them. Well, the cat my partner and I got was, get this: skinny, male, and red-orange colored.  Well, you can imagine the first thing that ran through my head when I saw it, so I wanted to name it “Razor”.  My partner, who hasn’t heard of the SWAT Kats except through my rambling, didn’t like the idea, so we compromised and came up with “Hell Razor.”  I just call him, Razor though. : )   Well, enjoy, and please email me with commments, concerns, suggestions, and/or flames at Penguinchk@aol.com

Chapter 2

The Search and the Rescue

The engines of the Turbokat whined as they cooled, echoing off the bare concrete walls of the hangar.  The red streaks across the body of the jet reflected in the glass canopy of the closed cockpit. A still T-Bone sat in the cockpit of the Turbokat, staring blankly out the canopy.  The glass reflected worried lines near his eyes as his they moved slowly around the huge room.  The huge ceiling, towering 30 feet above him, was blank concrete supported with huge steel I-beams.  His eyes drifted down the bare gray walls to the workbench to his right.  He saw the disheveled counter, strewn with loose wire, extra pieces and what looked like part of a television. T-Bone allowed himself a smile as he remember how ticked Razor had been after Chance put his fist through the last one.  “Aww, Chance,” he had groaned, smacking his paw against his forehead.  T-Bone’s face fell as he looked down into his lap.  The mangled helmet of his partner rested there.  His fingers probed the crack loosely.  His ears had flapped over and laid lightly on the top of his own helmet. His face had fallen from the stone features he had worn.  The corners of his mouth had dropped to meet his jaw line.  His brow was furrowed slightly, and his eyes sagged.  As his fingers passed lightly over the crack, he felt was numb; he felt nothing physical.  His eyes stared blankly into his rear-view mirror.  In his mind’s eye, he saw Razor sitting there, laughing at him, as if it was a joke.  He saw his mile-long grin, his eyebrows raised mischievously, his brown eyes snickering at T-Bone’s misery.  “What’s the matter, buddy?” he would say.  “Eat a bad mongopepper?”

T-Bone looked back down at the helmet, and unconsciously pressed the communicator, his frown deepening when no garbled static arose. It was silent.  The whole building was silent.  Shaking himself out of his stupor, he had wondered how long he had been sitting there. The engines had already cooled; they were no longer whining.  He slapped at a button on his right to relieve the forbidding silence. The hydraulics of the canopy relieved the imposing soundlessness.  He climbed down numbly and blindly and walked towards the lockers. His mind played the events of the day over and over.

He knew he shouldn’t have let him go alone.  He should have gone with him.  He knew something wasn’t right, why did he let him go alone?

After the incident in the stairway, he had been shooed out of the building by some Enforcers.  He had managed to retrieve Razor’s helmet and glovatrix from the scene.  Technically, it was tampering with a crime scene.  In itself, it was against the law.  T-Bone’s mind registered that, but did not heed it as he walked out of the building with the two objects in full view. Feral didn’t even try to stop him.   It was the first time in his experience as a SWAT Kat that Feral hadn’t issued some kind of threat or insult.

He marched out of City Hall, his face still frozen.  Reporters who ran up to him for a quote stopped in their tracks when they saw his face.   A crowd had gathered around the Turbokat, despite the Enforcer barricade.  They parted as they saw T-Bone coming, fearing the look on his face.  His jaw was clenched, his mouth a thin, hard line. His outwards appearance didn’t show it, but he just wanted to get home.  Maybe Jake would be there, ordering a pizza, tossing Chance a milk.  As he flew,  his eyes stared blindly ahead, not registering what was coming towards him.  He flew his usual course out of habit.  He was emotionally and physically exhausted.  The next thing he knew, he was in the hangar, staring up at the ceiling.  He didn’t remember the flight. He had remained in the hangar, fingering Razor’s helmet.  Waiting for nothing; he knew nothing was going to come.  Agonizing about his friend; he didn’t know where he was.  He had not been defeated, not yet.  It would take more than that to kill his spirit.  But his spirit had taken a huge blow.

He had failed his partner, he thought, his ears sagging further as he placed Razor’s helmet on the top shelf of his locker.  He should have gone in with him, he knew as he dragged himself over to the workbench and tossed the glovatrix down.   He didn’t know what Dark Kat had planned.  He didn’t know where Dark Kat was.  All he knew was that he had his partner.  And T-Bone was going to get him back.  Even if it killed him.

*********************************************************************

*****

Before Razor even opened his eyes, his other senses had told him something was up.  His head pounded; he could only hear the distinct lub-dub as the blood rushed through his head.  His ears perked up, hearing the persistent pit-pat of water dripping somewhere near.  His nose picked up the scent of mildew, rust, and old concrete.  His body ached, and his head swam.  The pressure on his abdomen told him he was laying on his stomach, apparently on a cot, his arms and legs dangling over the sides.  Hearing no breathing of a guard in the room, Razor slowly and painfully tried to open one eye, finding with dismay that the left one was swollen shut.  A small slit of bright light squeezed past his eyelid as he achingly forced his right eye open.  The first image was blurry, indistinct.  The drab gray concrete walls were bare and lifeless.  Small divots had been taken out of many parts of the wall.  “First class accommodations, I’m sure,” he gargled, mumbling.  His attempts to sit up were met by more pounding, and hot poker of pain shooting from his hand all the way to his shoulder.  Collapsing back onto the cot, he let his eye scan the room.  His cot was on the south wall of some sort of concrete cell. Nearest his head on the Northern side was simply a wall of bars with the only door in it, and then past the bars was another part of the room.  Once his eye turned to the east side, his ears perked up.  He sat up carefully and slowly on the cot, and found a small barred window on the east wall.  He squinted gingerly at the window, and found it to be approximately two by two feet and six feet off the ground.  He allowed a smile to curl its was around his blood-encrusted cheek. Small rays of sunlight glinted through the barred window, and pointed his attention to a small pitcher of water and a packet of stale crackers sitting on the north wall. He eyed up the food suspiciously.  The grumble in his stomach told him the water and crackers were better than they looked. Ignoring his stomach, he looked away from the pitiful rations.  He didn’t trust Dark Kat, no matter the circumstances.  Placing his palms on the surface of the cot, he pushed himself up into a standing position shakily, bringing his paw to his head as a wave of nausea swept over him.  He gingerly felt the cut on the top of his head and found it had clotted.  He partially sighed.  That was one good sign. He then looked at his paw; the cut had reopened.  He studied with repulsive fascination, and through still hazy eyes, the long ragged rent on his right paw.  He lightly peeled back layers of skin, but suddenly replaced it when something purple oozed out.  Disgusted and gagging, he looked away.

He held onto the walls for support as he staggered over to the window.  Moving was slow and painful.  The haze in front of his eyes and the fog in his head refused to clear, resulting in pain and frustration.  Balancing precariously on the tips of his claws, Razor could just see out the barred window on the wall.  He could see the middle of some tree trunks, and that was about it.  “Hmmph, I must be on a middle floor somewhere.”  Sluggishly, he pushed the rusty steel cot over to the window and evened his weight on the mattress.  With the extra foot and half of height the cot gave him, he saw the grass and the dew shining off the blades.  “It must be morning” he said, glancing away quickly as the morning sun beat down on his sensitive eyes.  “How long have I been out?”  He began to mentally calculate, his usually quick mind slow and sluggish.  The fight had been in mid-afternoon, about four, if he remembered correctly.  It was now early morning.  He judged it to be about 7:30.  “Shit, I’ve lost fifteen hours, at least.”

His thoughts were interrupted by heavy footsteps storming down the hall.  Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the water in the pitcher making concentric circles.  “Dark Kat” he groaned as he pushed the cot back to its original position.  He sat on the edge of the cot and began to rip strips of cloth of the case of the pillow, and some cottony filling from the pillow itself.  He lightly dabbed his wounded paw with the filling trying to rid himself of the infectious purple matter. He had then started wrapping his paw when the door flew open.  Barely fitting inside the door frame was the monstrous bulk of Dark Kat.  His red eyes glared merrily at the Swat Kat.  He raised an eyebrow and half-smiled triumphantly.  When he spoke, his voice was deep, but not menacing.  It was, in fact, playful.  Razor scowled.

“So,” Dark Kat was the first to speak, “it looks like our little guest has finally awakened.  But he hasn’t taken our hospitality to heart,” he oozed, indicating the untouched crackers and water.  “Too bad,” he continued, “I am sure you will have wished you did.”

“I don’t trust you.”  Razor spoke intensely, forcing it through clenched teeth.

“I don’t expect you to.  But think for a minute … you are supposed to be the genius of the famous SWAT Kats … if I had wanted to kill you, why wouldn’t I have done it when you were unconscious?”

“You want to watch me suffer.”  A hissing sound entered his voice.

To Razor’s dubious surprise, Dark Kat started to laugh.  “Yes, of course I do, dear kat, of course!  But poisoning isn’t my style.  I can’t control the pain.” A grin slowly formed  baring his white teeth and curled around his sinister face.  “Rest assured, the crackers and water are safe for you to drink.  Perhaps not a gourmet meal, but sufficient,” he shrugged his massive shoulders.  “I would advise you to eat it.  You will need the energy.”

“If you want me to suffer, why feed me?” Razor seethed.

Dark Kat shrugged.  “So it will last longer.  You can’t exactly torture a dead body, can you?” he half- smiled and raised an eyebrow again.  He turned on his heals and thundered to the door.

“Where is my helmet and glovatrix!” Razor demanded.

“Don’t you remember?  Oh, sorry, you were lying helpless at my feet, of course you wouldn’t.” Dark Kat found that funny, and chuckled in his deep voice as he turned to face Razor.

“They were both lost in the fight.  I have to paw it to you, I was not expecting you even to get that far.  I called in the Creeplings only as a last resort.  I am sure your partner has your weapons in his possession.  I am sure he picked them up when he saw all that blood on the wall,” he raised his eyebrow further, a condescending tone entering into his voice. “I am sure he is quite worried now.”  He turned to leave, but stopped suddenly.  He turned back to Razor, eyebrows raised in mock sympathy, and his mouth formed a pouty frown.  “Agonizing, isn’t it?  Not knowing whether your partner is near or far,” Dark Kat’s eyes twinkled when he saw Razor’s muscles tense, “in danger, or perfectly safe,” Razor crouched down, “alive or dead,” he spat finally, an eyebrow cocked and a corner of his mouth turned up in evil victory.  “I am sure it is *quite* hard on him.  Wouldn’t you think?” he oozed.  Then he broke out into laughter as Razor leapt towards him, claws bared, intent clear.  He smiled and laughed again as his creeplings beat Razor down and pinned him to the cot once again.  Dark Kat turned and left the room, still chuckling, followed by the creeplings, chattering and squawking. After they left, there was no movement in the room, save for the blood dripping off the cot  from a paw.

*********************************************************************

*****

Bloodshot eyes inspected the monitor of the computer in the hangar.  The Turbokat sat behind the computer, its engines cooling after a late and busy night.  The fuel line pumped behind him as it refueled the Turbokat.  Chance leaned on the back of a chair for support, and faced the screen.  The wrinkles and circles that had formed underneath his eyes bore an age much older than his own.  His tail hung limply across the chair, the tip twitching nervously.  His paws slowly pecked their way across the keyboard.  He stopped suddenly, and took a gulp out of a coffee mug sitting close by, then immediately resumed typing.

“Where is he?” Chance asked, staring intently at the computer screen, the green lettering dancing purposelessly over his glazed eyes.  A small section of Megakat City was portrayed on the screen. The SWAT Kats used the computer to login all the known hideouts of the criminals they fought.

“Where is he?” Chance thought, his mind whirling into a flow of consciousness he could not stop.  “Where is Dark Kat what about the old abandon zoo, naw, he isn’t there, it is over run with plants more like a Viper hideout but Dark Kat would want someplace dark and out of the way, what about the old mines, naw no place to hide that damn jet of his where is he where is he, so help me if he has harmed a hair on his head he will pay nothing will stop me from wringing his neck myself when I find him and he’s done something to Razor where is he where is he where did he go what about inside the city somewhere but where his jet would be noticed but wait a minute, naw, he wouldn’t be there either, how am I gonna find him?”  Chance closed his eyes, momentarily surrendering to the exhaustion that racked his body.  “I gotta think, where would he be. How can I find him? Of course, Stupid, who were the witnesses? Callie, Felina, and not to mention Manx.  Won’t get anything out of Manx, though.  But Callie … Callie would give me all that she could,”  Chance allowed himself a smile as he jumped out of the seat and ran to his locker.

*********************************************************************

***

The Turbokat streaked across the blue sky below the puffy white clouds dotting the sky.

T-Bone landed the jet on the top of the hospital, careful to avoid the life-lift landing pad.  “Now, where would she be?” he asked himself as he secured a grappling hook to the railing on the roof. “A private room.”  He slowly repelled off the building.   “Which are always near the top.  She would want the room facing City Hall, and what the Deputy Mayor wants, she gets.  Let’s see now, City Hall is to the East of us,” T-Bone shielded his eyes from the mid-morning sun.  “I’m on the correct side, at least.”  When he got three floors down, he began looking in windows on the East side, barely reacting to the surprised faces and occasional screams.  Soon he found Callie’s room, and peeked his head around the corner of the window.

Callie’s blond hair was tied back in a pony tail, a small patch missing that was covered by a bandage.  A series of stitches was all that was left of her gash now.  She was laying in her bed, knees propped up and supporting a clipboard.  She was reading over some paper work.

T-Bone shook his head.  He found it somewhat ironic that Callie was still working even though she was in the hospital, and Manx was probably on a golf course “recuperating.”  He rolled his eyes and looked at the security Enforcer with her back to him, sitting in a chair and reading a magazine.

Callie slid her glasses off her nose and straightened her legs. She placed the glasses and the clipboard on her lap.  She stretched her arms over her head and yawned, showing off her canine teeth. The security guard didn’t look up.  She smacked her lips once or twice then looked out the window.  She gasped slightly when she saw T-Bone’s disembodied head smile.  Then he waved.  He drew his head back quickly when the security guard was alarmed by her gasp.

“Is something the matter, Ms. Briggs?” the security guard asked, looking up from her magazine.

“Uh, no not at all, Corporal.  I was just wondering … uh, I am so tired, and I was wondering if I could take a nap.”

“Certainly, Ms. Briggs.  Go right ahead.”  The guard pulled her chest-length brunette hair back into a loose braid.

“Uhm, yes, of course,” she said, smiling sweetly.

“I’ll just sit right here,” the corporal tapped the arms of the chair, “and won’t make a sound.”

“I’m sorry, but I was wondering if I could have some privacy.”

“I’m sorry Ms. Briggs, but my orders are not to leave you along under any circumstances.”

“But if Dark Kat was going to try anything, he would have done it by now,” she persuaded.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Briggs, but those are my orders.”

“But what about the guards outside.  I am sure they can handle it.  You can join them.  It must be awful boring watching me do paperwork,” she offered.  Callie was running out of ideas, and T-Bone was still hanging outside.

“Nonetheless, Ms. Briggs,” the corporal said, beginning to get visibly annoyed, “I have my orders direct from Commander Feral.  I can’t leave.”

“Feral gave you the order huh?” Callie said, quickly changing the subject.  Maybe another tactic would work. “Y’know Feral, he is such a worry wart.”  The corporal apparently found that amusing, as she smiled and chuckled slightly.

“I’ve never heard anyone talk about Feral like that,” she blurted.

“Oh yeah, underneath it all, Feral is just a soft hearted kitten,” Callie continued, realizing she was making some headway. Sometimes she loved being a politician.  It gave her the talent of persuasion

The corporal began to laugh harder.  “He really is a little too overprotective, I guess,” the corporal agreed.

“So I can take a nap?” Callie pushed.

“Yeah, I guess.  I will be right outside the door if you need anything.  Just yell.”

“Thank you, Corporal.  I appreciate it.”  The corporal dismissed it with a wave of her paw, and closed the door quietly behind her.

Callie slowly pulled back the sheets on the bed and silently padded her way over to the window.  She opened it a crack, letting the wind blow her bangs out of her face.  “Wait a few minutes for me to get back in bed, and then come in,” she whispered to T-Bone.  He grunted affirmative in response.

Callie padded back to the bed and carefully laid her head down on the pillow.  She watched as T-Bone disengaged the grappling hook on his Glovatrix and carefully climbed in the window.  He collapsed on the chair, his head resting on his chest, his arms hanging loosely over the side.  “Sorry about the wait,” Callie explained.  “These hospital gowns aren’t too complimentary in the back.”

T-Bone lifted his head in acknowledgment.

“You look like you should be in here more than I should, T-Bone. Did you get any sleep last night?”

He looked at her, disbelieving that she said what she just said.. He cocked an eyebrow.

“Guess not,” she shrugged, avoiding his eyes.  “I guess you came for information, then?”

He nodded slowly.

“I can’t tell you much,” she admitted sheepishly.  “I was out of it for much of it, thanks to those damn Creeplings.  I didn’t start to wake up until I was already out of the building.”

It seemed impossible to her before, but T-Bone’s massive hulk suddenly deflated.  He suddenly sighed deeply, letting all the air out of his entire body.  His shoulders sagged as he sank further into the chair.  His head once again fell to his chest.  The wrinkles and deep pits underneath his eyes only got deeper.  The nervous twitch at the tip of his tail was the only sign of life in this big kat, and the twitches were getting smaller and smaller.

“But I do remember something before I blacked out.  It is sort of fuzzy, though.”  She stared off into space, as though she was looking for something on the horizon.  Her eyes narrowed, then opened wide again as she remembered. “It was a trap, T-Bone,” she said, her head lowering to look at her paws.  “Dark Kat wanted Razor, for some reason.  I don’t know what.”  She looked over to the yellow kat, who was startled her by suddenly animating himself and sitting on the edge of his seat.  His tail flew wildly behind him, his ears swiveled forward and hung on to every word she said.  In his eyes she saw a mixture of hatred, worry, and fear, like she had seen before.  But now, as she looked closer, she saw a glint of hope.

“Do you know where they went?”

Callie shook her head.

He got up suddenly and headed for the window.  “Thank you Ms. Briggs.  And get well soon.”

“You’re welcome T-Bone.”

“And T-Bone?”  She looked worriedly at him, one of her eyebrows lowering compassionately.

He tried to re-engage his glovatrix grappling hook.  “Yeah?”    “No matter what, you aren’t alone.”

He paused for a moment, one paw out the window.  his right foot was already on the windowsill.  He closed his eyes temporarily, and opened them slowly.  His stomach was suddenly empty.  He looked over to Callie, her brow furrowed ever so slightly, her lips pursed worriedly.  “That’s the worst part, Ms. Briggs,” he stated evenly, “I am.”  He shook his head slightly and climbed out the rest of the way. Pressing a button on his glovatrix, he was pulled back up to the roof.

Callie shook her head and smiled sadly, and held her ears as she heard the Turbokat’s engines roar to life.  She saw the sleek black jet streak into the late morning sky. For the longest time, she couldn’t take her emerald eyes off the point in the horizon where the Turbokat had disappeared.  Soon, the relaxing blackness of sleep crowded her view and she slipped back onto her pillow.  Her dreams were not kind.

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*****

The Enforcer on desk duty in the lobby of Enforcer Headquarters hadn’t looked up from his book in ages.  His head was propped up on one paw, his elbow on the desk, as his blue eyes drifted lazily over the page.  It had been a slow day, and he still four hours until his shift was over.  His usually neat and tidy uniform had been rolled up at his sleeves, the flak jacket discarded on a nearby chair, and the top couple buttons undone on his shirt.  “I hate desk duty!” he yawned as he stretched his brown-black arms, interlocking his paws above his head.  He pushed his black hair out of his eyes and smacked his lips together.

The phone ringing on the desk startled him, and shook him out of his reverie.  He shook his head to clear it of the latest plot line in Stephen King’s new novel.  He picked up the receiver.

“Enforcer Headquarters, Officer Sadie speaking, how can I help you?” the enforcer asked cheerfully, happy to have something to do.

“Yeah,” a male voice growled, exhaustion evident in the voice. “I need to talk to Lt. Felina Feral.  Is she in?”

The Enforcer cocked a black eyebrow.  “Yes, she is.  May I ask why you need to speak with her?”

“None of your business.”

The strange kat’s voice sounded familiar to the enforcer, but he couldn’t place it.  His forehead furrowed.

“I’m sorry sir, but I cannot direct your call until I know your name.”

“Fine.  Tell her this is Mr. …” there was a slight pause on the other line, “Necessary.  Yeah,  Mr. Necessary.”

“Pardon me?”  Sadie nearly laughed at the absurd name.

“You heard me.  Just connect me.”

The secretary looked suspiciously at the receiver, then shrugged. “Hold for moment please sir,” he said as he pressed the button for Felina’s office.

On the other end of the line, a sigh of relief was given.  A gloved hand rubbed a masked head.  “Necessary?” T-Bone silently berated himself.  “Necessary?  Of all the names, in all the world, I chose something as believable as ‘Necessary’?!”  He shook his head, remembering slightly the skinny kat with bad knees from high school.

He turned his attention back to the phone when the ringing stopped and a voice answered.  “This is Lt. Feral.”

“Lieutenant?”  T-Bone’s voice came out weak and exhausted.

“T-Bone?!” Felina’s eyes grew wide as she heard the small voice. Her mouth hung open.

“Would you be able to meet me sometime … I need to talk to you.”

“Uh, yeah, my shift ends pretty soon,” she said, glancing quickly at her watch.

“Okay, meet you up on the roof in ten minutes, got it?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there.  Hey T-Bone … ”  she began, but was answered by the incessant buzzing of a dial tone.   She hurriedly packed up the paper work she had been working on, stuffing it into a hanging file folder in a drawer in her desk.  It would take her about ten minutes just to get up to the roof from her floor.  She sighed as walked out the door, and hit the “up” button on the elevator.

*********************************************************************

*****   T-Bone replaced the receiver, and turned off the trace scrambler on the phone.  It would take him five minutes to get to the roof of Enforcer head quarters in the Turbokat.  And he wanted to be early.

The elevator doors opened slowly as Felina stepped out onto the runway on the top of Enforcer headquarters.  She found T-Bone leaning up against the jet, his arms crossed.  His eyes looked years older than his time.  He jerked his thumb to the open canopy on the Turbokat.  “Hop in Lieutenant.”

Felina shook her head in disbelief.  Her jaw edged its way downward.  “Pardon me?” she sputtered.

T-Bone rolled his eyes.  “I said ‘hop in, Lieutenant,’ unless you want your uncle to see me talking to you up here.”  He hopped up on the wing, then offered Felina a paw up.  As she approached the jet, she became more and more in disbelief – and awe at what was unfolding before her.

“Are you telling me you are going to take me in your jet … ”

“And talk to you, yes I am.  Now, please, get in before you get me arrested for something your uncle thinks I did but I really didn’t.”   He shook his outstretched paw, accenting his message.

“Thanks,” she said, waving off the paw, “but no thanks.”  She grinned as she leapt up onto the wing, and took her place in the gunner seat.  T-Bone shrugged and stepped into the pilot seat.  He started the engines and began to lift off as a squadron of heavily armed Enforcers busted through the doorway of the stairs.

“What the …?” T-Bone said as the Turbokat lifted up into the air.

“The guard on duty in the tower must have seen you land and alerted someone.”

“Oh.” T-Bone said sheepishly looking down through the canopy to the runway below.  “Did I get you in trouble?”

Felina smiled as she looked down to the runway below, then shrugged.  “Na.  You can’t really see faces from that high up in the tower, only bodies.”

“Oh.”  T-Bone edged the throttle forward, and the jet flew across the sky.

“So what did you need to talk about?” she said, marveling at the weapons panel before her.  The sophisticated machinery before her was almost too much to resist, and she began reading labels and trying to figure out what each button and lever did.  It was nothing like an Enforcer chopper, but very much like a two-kat enforcer jet with many high-tech renovations.

T-Bone looked up into the mirror in front of him so he could see Felina.

“About … yesterday,” he sighed.  He shoulders slumped, and Felina could see the deep circles underneath his eyes, even through the mask.  The bloodshot eyes and the disappearance of his trademark smile both gave her clues to his faded emotional stability

“Oh,” she said, bowing her head.  “I can’t really tell you much …”

“Who the hell can then?” T-Bone growled under his breath.

“Pardon?”

“Nothing,” he snapped.  Felina heard a sigh before he continued. “Just tell me what you can.”

“Well, we were trying to escape by way of the stairs, but we were soon intercepted by creeplings.  He told me to go, and take Manx and Briggs with me.”  Her voice softened as she recounted the story, remembering the look in Razor’s eyes as she left.  Her nervously picked at her fingerclaws.  “I’m sorry, T-Bone, I should have stayed with him.”  She was nearly whispering.

“No, you shouldn’t have,” she heard him sigh from the front.  She pushed a white patch of hair away from her face.

“Pardon?”

“It isn’t your job to protect Razor, your job in that instance was to protect Ms. Briggs and Mayor Manx.”  He paused before continuing, almost as if he regretted that she made the right choice. “Do you know anything else?”

“Yeah … I think as I was running down the steps with Briggs and Manx, Dark Kat was saying something to him … something about how he never wanted them, just Razor.  I didn’t give it much thought at the time,” she rubbed her forehead, “but now I wonder why he did.”

“That’s what I would like to know,” he sighed.

“Hey T-Bone?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay …” Felina felt her cheeks burn a little, and she hoped the burly hekat in front of her didn’t notice.  “I mean,” she quickly corrected, “you don’t look so good.  How long has it been since you have gotten a some sleep?”

T-Bone shrugged.  “I don’t know.  What time is it now?”

Felina glanced at her watch.  “6:10 p.m.”

He shrugged again.  “About 36 hours.”

“Get some sleep tonight.”  Her comment came out more as a request than an order as she tried to meet his eyes in the mirror.  He was avoiding her gaze, looking out of the front of the canopy instead.

T-Bone shifted in the seat in front of her.  “Yeah, right,” he chuckled, but then his tone softened.  “Yeah, whatever, I’ll try. But if you hear anything … I mean, if you guys hear something I don’t about … ” T-Bone fumbled over his words.

“I’ll let you know,” she soothed.

“Thanks.”  He looked into one of the red pouches on the front of his flight suit and took out a small black rectangular box, three inches by four.  It was simple, and only had a belt clip on the back, and single red triangle-shaped button on the front side.  On the button was a small speaker that doubled as a microphone.  He looked at it a second, and a picture of Jake working on it until all hours of the night, or until he dragged him to bed, flashed before his eyes.  He smiled sadly.  “Lieutenant, please take this,” he said, reaching back over his seat to give it to her.  “It is a communicator.”

“Anything like what Ms. Briggs has?”

T-Bone coughed slightly, and cleared his throat.  It was his turn to be amazed.  “Pardon?”

“Come on, T-Bone, I’m not blind,” she chuckled., “nor am I dumb.”

“Okay, okay,” he relented. “No, it isn’t.  This is different. This one allows us … er, me to call you as well as you to call me. Hit the red triangle, and I will answer.  If I need to talk to you, it will vibrate.  Now, where would you like to be dropped off?”

“How about two blocks East of Enforcer Headquarters.  My stuff is still there, and I don’t like the idea of you trying to land there and get both of us in deep shit.”  She turned the device over in her paw a couple of times as she felt the Turbokat head back West, towards Enforcer Headquarters.  “Hey T-Bone, what’s this thingamajig called?”

“You guess is as good as mine.  Razor,”  Felina saw T-Bone’s ears droop, his voice taking on the previous exhaustion and worry, “didn’t get a chance to name it.”

“Oh.” She regretted that she mentioned it.  “How about the kat pager?”

“Whatever.  It’s yours now, name it whatever you want.”  His voice had an edge to it that Felina had never heard before.

“Oh, okay.”  The Turbokat set down gently, and she placed the device back in her pocket.  Her forehead creased.  “Hey T-Bone?”  She wanted to tell she was sorry, that she wished she could have done something more for his partner.  But how could she?  How could she say something eloquent enough to show him how sorry she was for him, and his partner?  She thought of the time when she almost lost her partner in training … a story she did not wish to remember.

“Yeah?”

She shook her head.  “Nothing,” she said weakly, staring down at her nervously playing paws for a few seconds.  “Hey T-Bone?” she tried again.

“You need to get something off your chest, Lieutenant?”

“Yeah.  Well, its just that, T-Bone, you shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened to Razor.”    His head jerked up suddenly into the rear view, his eyes narrowed. His ears lay flat on the back of his head, as if preparing to attack. “Why the hell shouldn’t I?” he growled.

Felina was taken aback by his response, her surprised eyes quickly narrowed.  “Because he knew it was coming.”   T-Bone turned nearly 180 degrees around in his seat to stare Felina right in the eyes.  His deep green eyes swirled with anger and his claws gripped the back of his seat.  “How the hell do you know that?”

Felina shifted uncomfortably.  This was not a situation she wanted to be in.  “Because …” she began, uncertain of how to continue.  She scratched her upright ears, and below her steel-colored eyes.  She decided just to go whole-hog.  “He told me. He told me to tell you not to blame yourself.  He knew it was coming, he knew he was led into a trap, and he knew you would blame yourself.”

T-Bone sunk into his seat.  His shoulders sagged, and his ears stood straight up, and then flopped over.  His eyes widened, then dropped.  His mouth fizzled into a deep frown.  “He said that?” he said, barely audible.  It had been forced, as if he had to say it, but was also holding something in that would soon burst out.

“Not exactly.”  She shifted again.  “He said it, but didn’t speak it.  I just knew by looking into his eyes.”

T-Bone’s brow furrowed, and his lips formed a thin line.  He was definitely holding something in.  “Yeah,” he agreed, his voice raising slightly at the end,  “I know what you mean.”

She heard the canopy open and she felt the wind blow off the roof of the building.

She carefully climbed out onto the wing and lowered herself down to the ground.  She began to walk away, but turned suddenly, and shielded her eyes from the low sun.  “And T-Bone?”

He looked up from his controls and over at her.  His shoulders slouched.  His eyes had no love of life, no daredevil’s death-wish. They were only bloodshot marbles placed above his snout.  “Yeah?”

She hesitated.  “Thanks for the pager.”

He half-smiled a polite smile.  His face seemed void of energy.

“Whatever.”  He closed the canopy, and Felina stood back and shielded her eyes as the V-TOL engines kicked in and lifted the Turbokat into the air, and into the reds, oranges, and yellows of the setting sun’s sky on fire.  The back engines ignited and the Turbokat streaked into the evening sky.

*********************************************************************

*****

A small groan escaped from Razor’s mouth as he rolled over on the cot.  He cradled his injured paw in his other paw and slowly sat up. His head was pounding, his vision was swimming.  “Surprise, surprise,” he thought, not surprised about the pain as he paused for second as his senses slowly came back to him.  He still smelled the staleness of mildew.  He heard the dripping water somewhere around him.  He felt the springs through the thin mattress of the cot.  He felt his hand, and his head, throbbing to the same beat, but at different times.  He saw the same bland, cracked, gray walls he had been staring at all afternoon.  He rested his elbows on his knees, and his head in his paws as he tried to will the pounding and the screaming in his ears, and the pain away.  It only made the pain worse.  As he lifted his head, his vision remained out of focus, blurry, and indistinct.  “That can’t be good,” he mumbled, trying to shake his vision clear.  That proved to be mistake as his headache doubled in intensity, forcing him to lay back down to ease the pain. He clutched his head in a vain effort to cool his burning face.  A second passed as an eternity as the pain continued to grow.

He slowly lifted his arm and took off the glove so he could inspect his injured paw.  He winced as he unraveled the pillow-case-turned-wrapping, now a bright red.  When air hit the wound, it sent a shooting pain up his paw and arm, forcing him to hold his paw to his chest in a weak effort to calm the nerve endings. When the pain died down enough, he began inspecting the wound as much as he could.

There was a large rent running from the base of his pinkie finger all the way down to the base of his thumb on the back of his paw.  He drew in air through his teeth quickly, resulting in a hissing sound as he probed the wound.  Layers of skin and fur were pulled back to reveal as crusty underlayer of dried blood and knitting tendons.  It had been cut deep, and had been infected even worse than before.  The blueish liquid and white-yellow puss told him that much as he wrinkled his nose and his stomach turned.  It was grotesquely swollen to twice its size, and he doubted if he would be able to fit his glove back on.  He grimaced as he probed a particularly sensitive area.  His probe complete, he heaved a sigh of relief.  “At least it didn’t hit an artery,” he sighed.  He ripped off more strips from his pillow case and wrapped them around his paw.  His paw wrapped, his carefully ripped his glove along the seam as eased it back on his paw.  The glove remained that way, half on, half off as he carefully picked himself off the bed and tried out his balance.  He glanced around the room, inspecting it for a camera or some sort of recording device.  He found it odd when he didn’t find any.  He shrugged and slowly pulled the cot back over to the barred window.  He paused before he had even moved it two feet to allow the pounding of his head to die down, and to allow his vision to stop dancing.  He then began to move it again.  Placing it underneath the barred window, he stepped up onto it, steadying himself by grabbing onto the bars himself.  He looked out in the evening light.  He could see a large mass of trees surrounding as much as he could see of the building. Most of the area was densely covered in trees.  “Those trees will give me enough cover once I get out of here,” he said to himself, trying to drown out the screaming in his ears.  His eyes narrowed as his blurred vision tried to mark out how far it was until the forest. “The treeline is roughly 210 yards away,” he thought out loud.  It was getting more difficult to drown out his ringing ears, harder to ignore the pain ripping through his skull.  “Given little more than one and half yards for each stride,” he covered his ears, and squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to calculate, “a second for each two strides,” his brain strained to complete simple mathematics as his head drummed out a stead, painful beat, “it would take approximately 70 seconds for me to reach the treeline.  That is a lot of time for me to get myself caught.  Shit, that won’t work.”  He uncovered his ears and opened his eyes.  When the light hit his eyes, he became suddenly disoriented, losing his balance.  In desperation he reached out and grabbed onto the bars for support.  One of the bars rotated, and broke free of the concrete, causing him to fall back, painfully hitting the back of his head on the metal frame of the cot.  Dust from the window frame spilled over him.  His vision was bright reds, purples, blues, and then finally black as he submitted gratefully into painless unconsciousness.

*********************************************************************

*****

Razor painfully opened his eyes.  His head felt like it wanted to split apart.  His vision was indistinct. He tried moving his arms, only to find them pinned to something.  Looking around, his found his eyes would not focus on any objects around him, but he saw a tall, thin black object before him.  Purple/pink creatures jumped all around him, and the gray room he was encompassed in as totally engulfing  He felt his wrists and neck tied down with sharp wire as he squirmed to learn the extent of his captivity.  He was laying on his back as a large black mass with a purple face hovered before him.

“Welcome back, SWAT Kat, I am glad to see you will make your television debut conscious,” a low voice rumbled. Dark Kat’s face curled into an evil grin.  “I found you laying unconscious again on your cot.  Too bad.  I am sure that pounding in your head is quite excruciating.”  His voice carried confidence as he teased Razor. Suddenly, his voice lowered to a growl. “I also found this.” He raised a metal bar, his knuckles paling as he gripped it strongly. His eyes narrowed.  “It seems you were trying to escape,” he growled, readjusting his jaw as he threateningly swung the metal bar around. “I couldn’t let you do that.”

“You can’t stop me, Dark Shit.  I will get out sometime.” Razor’s voice was slurred and gargled.  His vision wasn’t clearing, and he could barely make out shapes.  His ears were ringing worse than before, and any spoken word thundered and echoed through his skull and only made his head more painful.  H could sense that his coordination had not benefited from the abuse his head had taken. Escape from this captivity in the situation he was in was not going to be easy.

“I wouldn’t bet on it, SWAT Kat.  Your partner will come for you after I make a live, primetime appearance on your behalf,” he turned and faced a large television camera previously to the back of him. He worked on the focus as creeplings around him squawked and set up a monitor.  “Tap into channel 42, my creeplings.”  The creeplings nodded at turned to channel 42.  Ann Gora’s face filled the screen as she broadcasted live from the scene of some accident.  Dark Kat smiled and turned back to Razor, who was squinting trying to figure out what was going on.

“What do you want with me, Dark Kat?” he slurred.

“Simple.  As long as I have you, your partner will come running. With both of you out of the way, I can take over the city.”

“Why do all the bad guys want to take over the city?” Razor mumbled, not expecting an answer.

Dark Kat cocked an eyebrow.  “It is simple, really.  I take over the city, everything is in complete order.  There will be no crime.”

Razor’s eyes widened and he paused for a minute.  Then, despite the pain in his head, he began to chuckle.  “You’re nuts!”

“DON’T YOU SAY THAT!” Dark Kat boomed grabbed Razor by the collar and dragged him near his face.  His breath hissed, ruffling the fur around Razor’s eyes.  “DON’T YOU *EVER* SAY THAT!” he yelled, his voice echoing off the tall ceilings and bare walls of the room. Razor gasped as the pain knifed through his skull.  “I AM NOT CRAZY!” His voice lowered as his words came out barely perceptible as a hiss. “I have been trying to control crime in this city for over 20 years, and I have finally found a way.  Neither *you* nor the petty lowlife enforcers will stand in my way.  I will control this city, and my rule will fall over this city.” His voiced raised and Razor winced at the volume “NO MORE CRIME!!” His voiced echoed off the concrete walls, and Razor pulled against his restraints.

“So, in order to cure crime, you would add to it?  You *are* nuts.”  Razor gambled with Dark Kat’s ego.  If he got mad or distracted enough, Dark Kat might do something he would regret that would result in giving Razor a chance to escape.

“I TOLD YOU NEVER TO SAY THAT!!!” Dark Kat’s face suddenly crimsoned as blood rose to his face.  His face contorted into a hateful smirk as he picked up his massive leg and stomped down on the thinner, red-orange lowerleg.

“AARRGHH!” Razor screamed out in pain as he heard and felt the bones in his leg crunch.  Blurred black dots floated in front of his eyes.  He gritted his teeth and forced back another scream as Dark Kat turned away from him and continued with his preparations.  He glanced over his shoulder nonchalantly.  “I told you never to say that, and I meant it.”  His voice changed to a harsher, deeper tone. “Learn from it.”

Razor pulled his wrists against the restraints as the pain shot up his leg in a red lightening bolt.  His eyes squeezed shut, forcing out small droplets of tears as his teeth grinded into each other.  He felt himself being lifted into a vertical position, but ignored it as the red light on the camera clicked on.

*********************************************************************

*****

T-Bone had flopped in a chair as the engines from the Turbokat cooled and refueled.  He listened to the slow descending whine as his head nodded down to his chest.  His tail hung limp, picking up dust on the hangar floor.  One paw rested on the top of the helmet.  His delta pack had been tossed on a nearby counter.  His eyelids lowered, farther, and farther down.  The small movement in the tip of his tail slowed, until it was nothing more than a spasmodic twitch every three or four seconds.  The whine of the Turbokat lessened until it was no longer perceptible as the outside world faded into a encompassing black blanket.

Suddenly, T-Bone found himself in a hazy and dim world.  He found himself running, but to where he didn’t know.  He just had this need to run, to follow this dim light.  His legs ached, his joints screamed out for relief, but he kept running.  The adrenaline in his system would not let him stop.  His undying need for something, something that light would give him, would not let him stop.

He ran farther into the light, farther into the unknown.  Though the blackness he was running from was inviting, he knew he had to run into the light.  He heard no footsteps as he ran, just a muted call for help.  It was a hekat’s voice, barely perceptible through the all-inclusive blackness.  T-Bone squinted and strained his eyes to see a form reaching out to him in the light.  Someone he knows, and holds in the highest regard.

T-Bone stretched his legs out to capacity as he saw the figure fall to the ground, his body laying still.  As he approached the prone figure, he saw familiar butterscotch colored fur covering a thin but strong body.  His friend’s voice called out to him for help. As T-Bone ran, his legs burning but his mind registering no pain, he seemed to fall behind, his friend’s body moving farther and farther away.  He saw the blood trickling out of the side of his mouth, clotting and staining the fur around it.  He saw the wild eyes of his friend, knowing it was the end, but not knowing how to deal with it. He saw his friend’s paws reaching out to him, then falling limply by his side.  He saw his left leg bent hideously underneath the mechanic’s overalls.  And as he ran, he found himself not as T-Bone, the SWAT Kat, but as Chance Furlong, the mechanic and ex-Enforcer. Finally he came up to the prone body of his friend and knelt beside him.  Cradling his head in the crook of his arm, he carefully lifted and supported the head, neck, and part of the chest of his friend.

“T-Bone … Chance …” his friend weakly called out, his eyes wildly rolling in his head.  He breathed hoarsely, weakly.  More blood streamed out of his mouth as he spoke and formed a pool around his head wound..

“I’m here, buddy, I’m here.  Just hold on, we’ll get you to a doctor, you’ll be fine, you’ll see, you’ll be fine, I promise.”

His friend eyes became hard.  There was no mercy in them as he stared straight into the eyes of the burly kat.  He scowled.

“You failed me.”

His chest heaved for a last time, but his eyes remained hard, condemning, penetrating the heart of the burly kat holding the body. Chance visibly shook as he lowered the body.  He felt ill, he wanted to vomit, but he didn’t have anything in his stomach to bring up. And as he set the body of his friend on the ground and stood himself up, tears formed in his eyes.  Three words ran through his head.  The picture of the accusing eyes of his partner were burned into his brain.  The tone of voice, the hatred, the disappointment dripping from his voice.  Three words that he hoped beyond hope he would never hear from the mouth of his best friend and partner.  He looked around at the lighted area.  The body, the brilliant whiteness around him. But his mind only registered three words.

“You failed me.”

He thought over all times he and Jake, or he and Razor, had together, and he couldn’t remember one time T-Bone had ever said that to Razor.  There was one time he had come close, though.  After Razor had accidentally blown up that warehouse and unknowingly become the victim of one of Dark Kat’s plans, he had yelled at him for nearly getting the both of them killed when he hesitated at the trigger.  He had said some cruel words to him then, and he just then realized that if he hadn’t said those words, Razor probably wouldn’t have gone off the deep end like he did.

Chance silently stepped away from the body of his friend and walked back into the dark haziness.  He wondered what his direction was now.  His friend had been his guidance.

The alarm klaxon forced him out of the black blanket him.  He shook his head clear, and found himself shivering from the cold sweat that had engulfed his body.  Three words still rang in his head and he groggily took one step forward, then another.  Upon regaining his balance sufficiently, he ran to the telephone on the wall.  He shut off the alarm and picked up the receiver.

“Yes Ms. Briggs?” he said, groggily wiping sleep from his eyes. His mask had been tossed onto the keyboard of the computer.

“It’s not Callie this time, T-Bone,” an assertive shekat voice answered, “It’s Lieutenant Felina Feral.  Have you been watching Channel 42?”

“Naw, I’ve been … out of it.  Why?”

Her voice took on a persistent and concerned tone.  “Just turn it on.”

“Look, Lieutenant, I am not in the mood for …” he argued, annoyed.

“JUST TURN IT ON!”

Chance, taken aback by her scream, rubbed the final amount of sleep out of his eyes and shuffled through the mess on the counter. Finding the remote, he clicked on channel 42 and boosted the volume. What he saw left him speechless.

Dark Kat stood in front of the camera. He was in some sort of large room, a hangar of some sort maybe.  The dull concrete walls were worn.  He was smiling, and his deep set eyes were shining, like a carnivore who has just found some prey.  His deep voice echoed against the walls.

” … if control of Megakat City is not handed over to me by midnight tonight personally by the other SWAT Kat,” he boomed, “I will personally see that Razor,” he gestured over to his side and stepped over to the side of the screen, revealing Razor hanging by thin, almost wire-like restraints connected to the ceiling, “Will not survive until morning.  And,” he added, pointing straight into the camera, “it will be on *your* head, SWAT Kat.”   T-Bone’s jaw dropped as he saw Razor hanging just off the ground, supported by two wires around each wrist, and one around his neck.  His flight suit was in tatters and soaked in blood as it hung loosely on Razor’s body.  His tail was missing clumps of fur as it hung limply behind him.  His usually wiry form was now almost gaunt.  Bruises and cuts shown through the rips in his flight suit..  His arms were raised over his head.  A stream of blood trickled down from where the wire had already cut his neck.  One eye was swollen shut and a deep gash was evident on the top of his head.  His ears laid weakly on the top of his head.  His right hand was grotesquely misshapen and his glove was ill-fitted.

Chance’s jaw fell to the ground as he saw his partner’s limp form dangling next to Dark Kat.  His heart disappeared from his chest as he felt the cold fist grip his stomach again.

But he had some hope when Razor’s head lifted off his chest and looked, eyes glassed over, in the direction of the camera.

“Don’t do it, T-Bone,” he slurred in a whisper, shaking his head slightly.  “The city comes first.  It is a trap,” he gurgled

“SHUT UP!” Dark Kat yelled as he swung behind him, clipping Razor across the top of his head, leaving deep gashes across his wound as his head snapped back to hit a creepling flying behind him.  The creepling crumbled to the ground as Razor’s head once again fell lamely to his chest, unconscious.

Dark Kat turned back to the screen.  “I am at Hangar 42 at the old airport.  Come alone, SWAT Kat.  You have until midnight.”  With that, the screen faded into fuzzy static as Ann Gora’s face reappeared on the screen, speechless for once.

Chance stared at the screen for a while.  His mouth hung open. His heart still hadn’t reappeared in his chest.  He felt ill as he choked down a gag and the color drained from his face.

“T-Bone?” Felina shook him out of his reverie.  “Hello?”  A sharp inhalation on the other end told her he was still on the line.  “Pick me up at Enforcer Headquarters in ten minutes.  I won’t let you do this alone.”

She heard a grunt.  “You heard what he said.”  His voice was distant, as if he were locked in his own thoughts instead of what was going on around him.

“He doesn’t have to know.”  Her voice softened.  “And you need all the help you can get.”

Another grunt on the other end approved her request as the connection was ended.

T-Bone set slowly set down the receiver in a daze.  His eyes were glassed over and unseeing as he stared at the screen, where Ann Gora had regained her composure.  His jaw was slack.  His tail had stopped its incessant worried twitching and laid still on the ground.  He was numb.  When the alarm went off next to him, it took him several seconds to shakily push his arm out and pick up the receiver.  He softly held it near his ear.

After another few seconds of silence, Callie’s voice filtered through.  “T-Bone?  T-Bone, are you there?”

There was silence for a couple more seconds.  In the background Callie could just hear the shuffle of clothes as a voice, steady but unconfident, answered.  “Yeah?”

“Are you okay, I mean, did you see the transmission on Channel 42?”  Callie voice displayed her worry.  Her words came painfully as she chose them carefully.  Her voice wavered slightly as she spoke.

“Yeah, I saw it.” the steady but deflated voice of T-Bone met her ear again.

“So we only have one choice, right?”  Her voice, though meant to be hopeful, gave away the disconsolation in her voice.  She did not want to put the city in the charge of that wacko, but a kat’s life was at stake at this point.

“What’s that, Ms. Briggs?”  This voice had a little more strength behind it, a small tinge of curiosity mixed within.

“Give Dark Kat what he wants.”  When she didn’t hear any reaction from T-Bone on the other line, she became worried.  “Right, T-Bone?” she prompted.

“I don’t know if … ” his voice was hesitant.  He knew what he was doing was right, but it was the last thing he wanted to do.  He thought of all the adventures he and Razor had had in the Turbokat. All the times he and Jake had had in the Enforcers.  All the deep conversations Jake would start, and Chance, in order to avoid boredom, would join.  “What I mean is, that, maybe, um,”

“T-Bone,” Callie’s voice was strong, persistent, “we are going to give Dark Kat what he wants, right?”

A particular conversation flashed through Chance’s head.  They were both so young at the time …

Jake had gone into the Enforces right out of high school. Chance he had given college a shot, and had spent too much time partying to realize that college was meant for education.  They had been assigned to be partners after they had both gone through training together, and their instructors had found them inseparable.  They sat a dusky table in the corner of a bar about fifteen minutes from the Enforcer Headquarters.  Chance had the sleeves of his denim shirt rolled up to his elbows, his tiger-striped arms shining orange as he glanced around the bar at some of the other Enforcers that had the night off. The beer in front of him shone almost vermilion in the setting sun as he brought it up to his lips, half laughing at a friend.  Jake sat in the seat across from him, his loose flannel shirt literally hanging on him.  A off-white hockey team hat sat on his head as his eyes passed over the lines of a newly-written letter that had been sent to him.  He seemed to tune out the noisy atmosphere around him, of kats laughing and patting each other on the back, of kats playing pool and darts, and occasional bar fights over a poker game.  They both were relatively popular guys in the Enforces, and they were surrounded by friends.  They had sped through the ranks very quickly, reaching Lieutenants quicker than anyone in the history of the Enforces. Chance held just about every record for strength and combat fighting, while Jake held them in speed and accuracy.  They were the cream of the crop.  Their lives were pretty good, by all measures.  Chance looked over at Jake, and his smile disappeared.  His green eyes suddenly stopped shining at the things going on around him and took on a more concerned look as he saw his partner and best friend’s face.

As he was reading the letter, Jake’s face had gone from elation to getting a night off and a letter from his father, to one of suffering and worry.  “Hey, Jake,” Chance asked, trying to liven his partner’s mood “What’s the matter, buddy?  You are supposed to be happy!  We have a night off!”

Jake gave no indication of hearing Chance’s remarks.

“Hey, Jake,” Chance said a little louder, “Maybe you should get those big ears of yours checked.  I said … ”

“I heard what you said, Chance,” Jake said, propping his head up on his hand as he elbow rested on the tabletop.  He finished his beer in one large swig and adjusted the hat on his head.  Chance looked at him suspiciously.  Jake could usually nurse one or two beers all night.  He just polished one off in ten minutes.

Chance tilted his head in an attempt to see his partner’s face, but Jake’s face remained focused on the letter, tilted downward. Chance’s voice softened a little.

“Hey, Buddy, are you all right?” he asked, now concerned.

“Dad’s getting worse.”  Those three words made Chance’s stomach fall to the floor.

“How do you know?  Did he tell you?” he nearly whispered over the loud crowd around them.  Thankfully, no one noticed Jake’s withdrawal from the conversation.  Most of them were too drunk already.

“Na, he wouldn’t tell me.  He wouldn’t want me to worry.  But I can tell.  His writing is getting messier, harder to read, like he couldn’t put as much energy into it,” he said, looking up from the letter and into Chance’s eyes.

Chance narrowed his eyes as he looked into Jake’s face.  His caramel-colored brows were furrowed, his ears drooping slightly.  His brown eyes showed off his concern.  His lips were thin and his jaw was set in a hard line, trying to fight off what he was feeling. Chance did that to hide what he was feeling, Jake did it to fight it off.  To most, it looked like he was pissed about something, so they stayed away.  To Chance, it was a subtle plea for a needed emotional release.

Chance knew why Jake joined the Enforces, a reason most others didn’t know … or cared to know.  Jake’s mother died when he was growing up, leaving his father to support himself and four kittens. Jake, being the oldest, stepped up into the mother role as his father worked late hours.  When he was fourteen, and most teens were starting to date and hang out with their friends, Jake was cooking, cleaning and shopping for the family.  He never dated … his family was too important.  When his father began to get sick, he had contracted cancer, Jake’s meager college fund went to keeping the family afloat, and trying to care for his father.  As his father got worse, it was Jake’s turn to go to work.  He worked at an afterschool job, while the next oldest, his sister Theresa, took over the “mothering” duties.  As soon as he graduated from high school, he had joined the Enforces.  They paid well, and his family needed the money.  Even today, every bit of his paycheck went back to his family, except ten bucks every two weeks.  That was his own spending money.  He usually went out only once in those two weeks, and never spent a penny more than ten bucks.  He never wanted to borrow money, even though anyone would lend him some.  He just would never know when and if he could pay that kat back.

“Ya wanna go back to headquarters?” Chance asked, barely making sure he was heard over the din.

Jake nodded.  “But you stay here.  I don’t want to ruin your evening out too.”

“Bull.  We’re partners, remember?”  Chance looked at his watch 7:45.  Shit, this would take some convincing as to why they were leaving this early.

Trying to make as little ruckus as possible, they headed through the crowd of kats, careful not to step on any tails.  They paid the bartender at the bar.  They chuckled as they saw a gray kat passed out, slumped over a chair, an empty beer mug in his hand.  Chance shook his head and smiled, “Leave it to Smitty to be out before eight.” he chuckled.  Nearing the doorway, Chance had a faint gleam of hope that they would make it there before anyone noticed they were gone.    “Hey!  Chance, Jake!  Where you guys’ going?” someone shouted from behind him.

“Shit,” Chance though, before turning around to face the crowd, but his mouth hung open stupidly as his mind went blank on what to say.

“Going to pick up some shekats,” Jake yelled back, a convincing smile spreading over his face.

“Hey, then wait for us!” the same kat yelled at them.

“Na,” Jake continued, “We like the kind you *don’t* have to pay for!”  Jake smiled his patented sarcastic smile as the room behind him burst out in laughter, and the offending kat sat down and turned red.

As the two friend’s walked down the street, the jovial sounds of the bar faded away behind them as Chance waited until Jake began to talk.  That was how it always was.  Jake would talk.  And Chance would listen.  Occasionally it was the other way around, but not very often. Chance tended to keep things to himself until he exploded at someone or something.  Jake talked, and for that reason he was the mellower, calmer, and more logical one of the pair.

“Dad’s undergoing what he calls ‘testing,’” Jake sighed.  “He figured that since this is a relatively new disease that they didn’t know much about, he could help them learn.  He figured since he was going to die anyway, that he might as well help someone in the process.”  Jake chuckled sadly as he stared down at the cracks in the sidewalk.  The summer sun, so low in the sky, made their shadows long and thin in front of them.  The streets were nearly deserted.  “I understand why he is doing it .. I hope I would do the same if I were in his position.  He is playing the honorable martyr and helping people instead of withering away without a purpose.”  Jake shoved his paws into the pockets of his jeans.  He paused for a moment, and Chance saw his jaw reform into a hard line, his lips thinning as he pressed them together.  “I just wish it wasn’t my father who had to play the martyr.  I think he might be going through more pain than he would be without the ‘testing.’  It is sort of freaky, really.  It reminds me of a line in a book I once read …”

“I told you those things will rot your brain … ” Chance interrupted, smiling a little.  “Saturday morning cartoons are much better for you.”

It was Jake’s turn to chuckle.  “Yeah, like Scardy Kat. *There’s* a literary masterpiece.”

“Sorry, I had to say it.  You are always reading those books, keeping me up at night with that stupid light.  What was the line you were talking about again?”

“The saying really is common sense, if you think about, but no one wants to admit it when it comes to them.”

“What’s that?”

“‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or one’,” Jake quoted, shoving his paws deeper into his pockets.

“Dang, that’s deep.  Didn’t I see that on a Star Trek movie once?”

Jake, finding his attempt at levity heartening, placed his forehead in the palm of his paw and shook his head, chuckling slightly.  “Yeah, I think it was the second one,” Jake answered “Wrath of, err, someone.  Some guy with a large, exposed chest.  That one kat died in it, the one with the funky round ears instead of pointed ones … ”

“Spock.” Chance stated directly.    “Yeah!  Him!  He had some weird ears.  He said that line.”

“What was the quote again?”

“‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or one’,” Jake repeated.

“Damn, that’s deep.  You believe that, Jake?”

“Yeah, I guess.”    “Damn, you’re deep.”    “Shut up, Chance.”

“You first, kiddo.”    “I don’t think so!”  With that, Jake jumped on Chance, and throughout the street, nothing could be heard but the playful wrestling match of two friends.

“He wants it that way … ”  Chance whispered, his eyes unfocused as the memory of he and Jake fighting in the street that Thursday night faded from his mind’s eye.

“What was that, T-Bone?”

“Huh?  Oh, nothing Ms. Briggs.  Don’t worry, we will find Razor and get him back.”  T-Bone’s voice was confident again as his tail swished madly behind him.  He searched around on the counter for where he tossed his mask.  “But we won’t give into the demands of that lunatic.”

“But T-Bone,” Callie pleaded, “you heard what Dark Kat said. He’ll kill Razor.  We have to give him what he wants or else … ”

“Look, Ms. Briggs, I haven’t ever lost a partner, and I am not about to start now.  But I will not give the entire city to Dark Crud in order to save Razor.  I would give up my own life to save him, but I cannot gamble the lives of countless innocent civilians.”    “But, if Razor … ”

“Razor would agree with me, Ms. Briggs,” he said conclusively, ending the argument.  He quieted his tone.   “He taught me something a while ago, and I just now understand it.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.  T-Bone out.”

*********************************************************************

*****

T-Bone flew through the night sky and hastily checked his watch. Dark Kat had interrupted the ten o’clock broadcast of Kat’s Eye News. According to the watch, it was 11:15.  As he neared Enforcer Headquarters, he activated the VTOL engines and hovered over the runway.  Hastily glancing around him to avoid any unnecessary law enforcement, he noticed a single enforcer, flak jacket slung over her shoulder, running to the jet.  She tossed the vest into the seat, then pulled herself up to the wing, holding her helmet on.  As she put on her vest and buckled herself in, T-Bone closed the canopy and lifted off, as a small squadron of Enforcers burst through the door and started firing at the Turbokat.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Lieutenant,” T-Bone joked, allowing a small smile to spread across his face.

Felina chuckled slightly.  “What’s the plan?”  She peered out of the side of the canopy, and stared at the laser show of enforcer weapons firing at the Turbokat.

“We go to the old airport.”

“What exactly are we going to do?  We aren’t going into this without a plan, are we?”

“Well, um, I haven’t exactly gotten that far.  We’ll think of something when we get there.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

There was no answer from the pilot’s seat.

“T-Bone?  We’re not going into this blind, right?”

Silence.

“T-BONE!?”

T-Bone glanced up into the mirror above his head and stared at Felina.  “Let’s just say we will play it by ear.”

Felina covered her face with her paw.  “Shit.  I was afraid you would say that.”

About two minutes of pointless bickering later, T-Bone eased the jet over to the east and put on more thrusters to reach the old airport.

“Hey, T-Bone?”

“Yeah?”

“I have an idea.”

T-Bone ears swiveled around to Felina.  “Let’s hear it.”

“It is simple, really.  If I remember correctly, the old airport was built around the same time as City Hall.”

There was a pause in front of her.  “So?”

“So …” Felina continued, “That would mean the sewers would lead directly into it, just like City Hall.”

“So you would sneak in by sewers while I go in like I was alone?”

“Dark Kat wanted you to go alone.  This will give us the illusion of you being alone, while I would really be covering your tail.”

“How would you get through the sewer system?  And into hangar 42?”

T-Bone waited for a response, but it was slow in coming.

Felina squinted her eyes as she tried to remember something about the old airport that could maybe help them, but came up empty.  It had closed even before she was born, and since it was really in the middle of nowhere and not harming anything, no one had bothered to tear it down.  She smoothed the fur along her jaw, and then cocked an eyebrow. “I’m not real sure.”   She heard a frustrated chuckle from T-Bone in the pilot’s seat. “So we’re back to square one, huh?”

“Maybe not.  When Razor and I were infiltrating City Hall …” she immediately regretted she had said it as T-Bone’s ears drooped, and through the mirror she could see his face contort into a still wince.  She had reminded him of what he had seen that day … the blood spread across the walls, Dark Kat’s jet taking off without him being able to do one thing about it.  Her mouth hung in mid-sentence. She was not sure whether to continue, or to shut it.

The uncomfortable silence was interrupted by T-Bone.  “And …” he retorted.

She shifted uneasily in her seat, knowing very well she was not the one he wanted sitting there, and also knowing that if they didn’t hurry, there wouldn’t be anyone else to sit in the seat.  “Um, well, we used your glove-things to direct us.”

T-Bone narrowed his eyes as he thought.  “You must mean the maps he has programmed into our glovatrixes.  But only he has maps and the tracking gadgets.”  He shrugged a shoulder.  “I never had any use for that stuff, Razor always did …”  His mouth hung open as he didn’t finish his sentence, then snapped shut with an audible click of his teeth.

He didn’t need to finish his sentence; Felina understood.  She understood how much he had to lose.  “T-Bone?” she asked softly, placing her paw on his shoulder.  “We’ll find him, and we’ll get him back.  I promise.”  She saw him nod in front of her as she pulled her paw away, but his eyes avoided hers in the mirror.  Her brow furrowed and her mouth turned into a slight frown in worry.  She didn’t know how T-Bone would react when he saw his partner in person, dangling from those wires.  A shiver passed through her.  She didn’t want to know how T-Bone would react.  She was afraid to think about it.

A lifetime of silence passed before them before T-Bone spoke again.

“Take the stick, Lieutenant.”

“Pardon me?”

“I said,” T-Bone said irritably, “‘take the stick.’ I am switching to auxiliary control panel.  Just keep it flying straight, and I’ll be right back.”

Felina tentatively grasped the stick in between her knees, while wondering where a kat could go in a jet.   When she looked in mirror to the pilot’s seat again, she found T-Bone had disappeared.

“T-Bone?” she asked, looking around the cockpit.

“Yeah?”  She once again looked in the mirror and found he had reappeared.

“Where did you go?”

“Weapons storage.  Here.”  He tossed back one of their glovatrixes.  “Be careful with that, and do *not* put it on.  Use only the map on it.  That can be activate by those two blue buttons on the side.  Do *not* use anything else.  You don’t know how to use it, and one muscle spasm in your arm can set the thing off, understand?”  She nodded her head weakly, marveling at the intricate wiring and craftsmanship.  She had never seen one of them up close. She had shakily picked it up off her lap and had just begun to slip it over her paw.  “I SAID NOT TO PUT IT ON!!” T-Bone’s voice boomed within the cockpit, and made Felina jump.  “You don’t seem to understand, Lieutenant.  I was not joking when I said one muscle movement could set it off.  It was designed so we could have one arm free while the other operated the glovatrix.  Now, once again, do *NOT*, I repeat, do *NOT* try to put it, do you understand me?”

Felina nodded again, still mystified by the gadget.

“I DON’T WANT A NOD, I WANT A YES OR A NO!!”

“OKAY!  Okay, I won’t play with it,” she answered, slightly humbled by T-Bone’s authority.  And she thought her uncle could sound threatening.

“Good.  Now, just use the map, and I will drop you off at the closest sewer grate to the old airport.

*********************************************************************

*****

A dazed and exhausted shekat stumbled from the exit of the emergency room of Megakat University Bethesda Children’s Jewish St Mary’s Christ Hospital.  Achingly, she let her ponytail drop down to her shoulders as she removed they band that had been holding it back. Sighing deeply, she ran her paws through her light brown hair, allowing her green eyes to poke through her bangs.  Her small mouth opened wide as she let out a loud yawn, while simultaneously waving at the crew behind her.  “I guess I will see you guys tomorrow night, same time, same channel.”

“Yeah, okay!  Catchya later, Dr. Pryde,” came an answer from within as another patient was wheeled in.

“Damn,” she yawned again, walking slowly to the subway station, “George Clooney and Anthony Edwards have nothing on me,” she said out loud.  “Wish I got paid as much as they did, though” she quipped underneath her breath.  Reaching the subway station, she sat down tiredly and smoothed the red-blond fur around her nose.  She wondered when those two mechanics in the salvage yard would be done with that car of hers.  She had tried calling them on one of her breaks that day, only to find that no one would answer the phone.  She found that odd, but figured she could wait another day or so to get her ’87 station wagon back.  Her eyes rested comfortably half-closed as she dreamed of her bed and the cool flannel sheets.  She really had to stop agreeing to cover other people’s shifts.  Nearly 24 hours straight in the ER was enough to make anyone go nuts.  She lazily curled her tail around her legs as sat down on a bench in the subway station.  Her tail was very full at the tip, but the fur tapered down as the tail reached her body.  She was awaken out of her contemplation by a thundering overhead, and looked up, wide-eyed to see the Turbokat streaking.  She had heard something on the news about them as she had raced through her work, attending to patients. Something about one of them getting hurt, or katnapped, or killed … something like that.  She had not bought into the SWAT Kat craze that had been sweeping Megakat City ever since they had appeared a couple of years ago.  She had no desire to find out their real identities, unlike many people in the city.  Some nuts would actually collect as much information on them as they could, and then make random guesses as to who they were.  She didn’t buy any of the tabloid headlines: “SWAT Kats Really Aliens,” or “I had one of the SWAT Kat’s Children,” or “I had One of the SWAT Kats Alien Children.”  All she wanted to do was to live her own life, and although she was grateful to the city’s “masked heroes,” as most called them, she doubted she would get a chance to thank them in person, so she didn’t bother seeking them out.  She giggled slightly when she thought of all the times they had made a fool of the commander of the Enforcers … what was his name again?  Feral, yeah, that was it, Feral.  At least they were good for comedic relief.  She smiled again, then frowned deeply as she realized that the train she was waiting for was not coming for a good long while.  She glanced at her watch … 11:30.  Damn, her train wouldn’t be here for another 45 minutes.  She willed herself up, and stumbled back to the hospital, choosing instead to nap on a gurney in a hospital than a bench in a subway station.

*********************************************************************

*****

T-Bone suspiciously glanced around the old, run down building. He assumed it to be some sort of office.  It connected to all the hangars in the area, which numbered three.  How the hell the came up with Hangar 42, he had no clue.  Weeds had taken over most of the runway, and when he turned the corner, he found mostly forest and trees.  He had found it odd that they would put a airport right smack dab in the middle of a forest.  He shrugged.  “There’s Megakat City building officials, for ya,” he said flippantly as he looked up to the second floor.  The moonlight glinted off his helmet, and he could just make out a barred window, and, unless he missed his guess, there was a bar missing from it.  Cocking an eyebrow, he silently listened to the crickets singing in the nearby woods as he tried to figure out the best way to get inside.  Dark Kat was expecting him, afterall, so his guard was up.  As silently as he could, he fired a grappling hook up through the window on the second floor.  The poor lightening, compounded by his non-Sureshot aim, landed it precariously on the ledge.  “Hey, works for me,” he whispered as he felt himself being pulled up by the arm.

Upon reaching the window, he glanced inside, and found no creeplings anywhere.  He swiveled his ears, but they were met with complete silence.  He furrowed his brows as he removed the bars one by one by pulling them out.  It made no sense.  The crickets in the background faded as he moved jumped down from the window onto a cot. He didn’t give a second glance to the ripped apart pillow lying on the cot, or the blood stains.  He simply walked out through the unlocked cell door.

And then it hit him.  Why would there be a cell and barred windows in an airport?  And why would there be blood stains if the place was supposed to have been deserted for over 25 years?  He walked back over to the cot and looked at it.  He spied a darker shadow than most underneath the cot and reached for it.  He pulled out a ripped and torn black glove with the first two knuckles cut out of each finger.  Amazed, T-Bone looked at his own hand.  It was the same style of glove.  T-Bone let his jaw fall slightly as he realized *why* there were barred windows and a cell in an airport.  He felt his blood race.  His face contorted into a tight mask of anger as he violently stuffed the glove into the black pouches on his flight suit, kicked open the door, and stormed down the stairs.

*********************************************************************

*****

Felina stooped to accommodate the low ceiling as she inched her way through the sewer system beneath the old airport.  The stench of moldy concrete reached her nostrils as she shooed away a rat crawling over her feet.  Scrunching her nose up, she pulled the glovatrix of her belt and depressed the two buttons on the side that T-Bone had indicated.  Immediately, the confined stone barriers of the tunnel were illuminated with a bright green glow of the glovatrix screen sliding open.  Her ears swiveled forward as she studied the map, trying to get her bearings.    “Let’s see, now,” she mumbled looking up from the small guide to the tunnel ahead of her.  “If I have this right … the main sewer entrance to the …. hmm,” she paused, glancing down again and looking curiously at the device.  “Damn it!” Her curse of frustration echoed off the walls, and floated down the tunnels.  She growled and grabbed her flashlight.  “Where the hell …” she mumbled again as her footsteps echoed forever against the walls.  Stomping through the muck of the sewer, she eventually came to small side tunnel that would require her to crawl.  She shuddered as she pushed back the spider webs and wiped the greenish brown substance that seemed to be growing there.  “This can’t be it,” she mumbled as she walked past it.  A loud beeping from the glovatrix in her paw startled her, her heart jumping into her throat.  She glanced back down at the glovatrix.  “Oh shit,” she muttered, “that tunnel *is* it.”  She stared at the slime-coated rat-infested crawl space and sighed.  Her jaw clenched, and her nose shriveled farther as she entered the tunnel on paws and knees.  “They better love me for this,” she growled, slipping on a pile of muck and landing on her face.  “They better freakin’ *love* me.”

*********************************************************************

*****

T-Bone slid silently pressed tightly against the wall.  He had checked his watch only moments before, and it had read 11:30. Silently, he pleaded with Razor to hang on.  He had neither seen nor heard of any creeplings.  He thought that odd, but afterall, Dark Kat *was* expecting him.  Just not from this angle.

As he neared a corner, the chatterings and squawkings of creepling reached his ears and he swiveled them in that direction. As he rounded the corner, he saw his partner.  Or rather, what looked like his partner.  He saw Razor hanging by his neck and wrists by a thin, strong wire.  He saw his leg bent at a hideous angle.  One leg of his flight suit was torn off, revealing deep gouges and tears in the flesh and fur of the leg.  Across his stomach was another gash that cut through the middle of a huge mass of swollen, purple bruises.  His flight suit was torn and battered.  In places it was stained and caked with blood.  One sleeve was missing and blood trickled down that arm from the wire.  His right paw was swollen almost beyond recognition as it was deep shades of blue and purple. His face was nothing more than a series of welts and bruises.  One eye was most definitely swollen shut.  The other was shut as his head hung forward, restricted only by the wire nearly slitting his throat. T-Bone saw as blood tickled out of the side of his mouth, clotting and staining the fur around it.  T-Bone swayed for a second, suddenly remembering his dream.  The burly kat placed a paw to his forehead as he saw the blood of his best friend roll off the skewed bandanna and landed harmlessly on the concrete floor.  It was followed by another, and another as T-Bone watched.

As each drop hit the floor, he felt a red haze filter up from the depths.  His ears laid back on his head.  His eyes narrowed.  His jaw clamped and his teeth ground against each other.  His paws clenched into a tight fist as his nails unconsciously bared, digging into his paws.  The red haze filled his body and he leapt from his hiding place, releasing the haze through a savage yell.

Surprised, Dark Kat turned to see a nearly-insane yellow blur race at him, knocking him to the ground.  “YOU!” T-Bone yelled, pinning him to the ground and grabbing his collar.  He threw a punch that connected to Dark Kat’s jaw.  “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!?!?!” T-Bone pointed behind him, to the hanging body of his friend.  “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!?!?”  T-Bone threw another punch, and blood spurted out of the previously unbroken nose of Dark Kat.

“Well,” Dark Kat answered levely, calmly wiping blood from his nose, “after our ‘television debut’,” Dark Kat smirked at the memory, “I allowed my creeplings to work on your partner.”

“What do you mean?” T-Bone growled, his eyes little more than slits.

“Quite simple, really,” he confidently replied.  “I allowed by creeplings to work on him … to see how well he would make a punching bag.”

A creepling had sneaked up behind T-Bone and suddenly jumped on his back.  Without taking his eyes off of Dark Kat, he ripped the annoying menace off his flight suit and tossed it away.  He didn’t see a larger litter of creeplings sneaking up behind him.

“You lie, Dark Shit.”

“Do I?” Dark Kat smiled, clearly amused.  “Are you sure of that, SWAT Kat?  Why, anyone can look at the thing over there,” he gestured easily over to the hanging body of Razor, “and tell he has been through a lot.”

Creeplings kept their chatterings to themselves as they neared the SWAT Kat on top of Dark Kat.

“You did this.”

Dark Kat almost giggled.  “You’re right.  And whoever said Razor is the brains of the SWAT Kats.  Oh, I’m sorry, *was* the brains of the SWAT Kats.”  Dark Kat’s eyes narrowed as he smiled.  He watched T-Bone’s fill with fury, and he saw his creeplings sneaking up behind him.

“You lie,”  T-Bone hissed.

“Do I?”

Suddenly, without warning, squawkings and yelling behind him made T-Bone spin.  He came face to face with a hoard of creeplings heading straight for him.  He barely had time to raise his glovatrix when red bolts of pure energy tore through their bodies, rendering them lifeless on the floor.  He whipped his head around, and, for a moment he thought he saw a short, wiry, caramel-colored kat triumphantly yelling “bingo!”  Instead, he saw a tall, strong jawed cream-colored shekat blowing off the tip of her still smoking gun.  “Got’em.” T-Bone gestured towards the controls where Dark Kat previously had been working, indicating that Felina should try to figure them out. He turned his attention back towards the prone figure he had been pinning down.

“Naughty, naughty,” Dark Kat taunted, talking to Felina.  He shifted uncomfortable under T-Bone’s weight. “I wouldn’t press those buttons if I were you.  You see, the wrong series of buttons could actually tighten the wires around your friend’s neck.”  He shook his head patronizingly.  “That’s not very good for him.”

“Then how do we get him down?” T-Bone hissed, scowling.

“Well,” Dark Kat oozed, “I suppose you could cut the wires down.”

“Then let’s do it.” T-Bone ordered.

“But, y’see,” Dark Kat fidgeted.  “If you cut the neck wire first, the wrist wires will slit his wrist.  Now, that would be a pity, because he doesn’t have much blood left in his system now anyway.”  He looked up at T-Bone.  “He lost it in the ‘boxing match’ my creeplings played with him.”  T-Bone’s fist clenched harder around Dark Kat’s collar.  “Of course,” he continued, ” you could cut the wrist ones first, but that would leave him hanging … so to speak.” He laughed at his own joke.   “And you cold cut all three wires at the same time, but y’see, I planned it that a current was running through those wires, and if all three get cut at the same time, well, those wires have electrodes inserted into his neck.  So, it would electrocute him.  Y’see, my dead SWAT Kat, err, I’m sorry a little Freudian slip there, my *dear* SWAT Kat, it is your decision.  Kill him by electrocution, loss of blood, or broken vertebrae.  It *is* your decision.  Any way, it looks like you are shit out of luck.”

“Wrong, Dark Kat.  You are.  Tell us the codes to get my partner down.”

Dark Kat shook his head.  He played tough, but T-Bone saw the fear building in his eyes, while his own rage built.  “I don’t think so.”

T-Bone face neared his.  “Tell us the codes,” T-Bone hissed.

Dark Kat’s forehead began to crease.  “I don’t think so,” he squeaked.

T-Bone ripped his right arm off Dark Kat’s collar and pointed it at his face, glovatrix armed.  “Tell us the damn codes!!!” he yelled, the echo bouncing off the bare walls.

“I don’t think so,” he whispered.  His mouth turned into a frown. His eyebrows fretted over his fear-filled eyes.

T-Bone flexed his paw slightly, bringing a buzz-saw blade to rest outside the casing.  “Tell us the codes!!”  The echoes faded off the walls.

“I d-don’t think s-so.”  T-Bone scraped the buzz-saw blade against the neck of Dark Kat, shaving off some fur and drawing blood.

“I believe your jugular thinks otherwise,” T-Bone whispered, glaring, a growl emanating from depths previously unknown to anyone.

“10-25-79-6-6-98”

“What was that?  Say it louder, dip shit.”

“10-25-79-6-6-98”

“Did you get that, Lieutenant?

“Loud and clear, T-Bone.  Plugging it in now.”

“Good.  I will take care of this garbage.”  He turned his attention back to Dark Kat.  “You would probably want me to let you go now, wouldn’t you?”

Dark Kat nodded, eliciting more blood from his neck.

“Well, tell you what.  I’m not going to let you.  As a matter of fact, I am going to make it so you won’t hurt anyone ever again, you got that?”

He nodded weakly again, and winced and he felt more blood trickle down his neck.

“Not me, not the Enforcers, not anyone,” he heard machines lowering his partner’s limp body, “especially not my partner,” he growled as he shoved the blade farther into his neck, slowly, as Dark Kat struggled underneath him.  T-Bone found it amazingly exhilarating, this huge villain struggling to get away, knowing he was in complete control.  His eyes flashed as he forced the blade farther into his throat, blood spurting from the wound.  He grinned as Dark Kat moaned from the pain.  “Now who’s in power, Dark Shit?” T-Bone gloated, his eyes dancing. “Now who has power over the life of another?  I intend to show you as much mercy as you showed my partner!!” His voice once again echoed off the walls, and startled Felina as she searched for a pulse on Razor.  She stood up and looked him.  Slowly, she walked over to him, and placed a paw on his shoulder.

“Stop, T-Bone.”

“What?!?!”  T-Bone was aghast

“I said stop.  He isn’t worth it.”

“He deserves to die,” T-Bone argued, his voice as steady as the blade against Dark Kat’s neck.

“Who made you judge, jury and executioner?”

“He did.  After he killed Razor.”

“He’s not dead T-Bone.  Not yet at least.”

Keeping a force on the blade lodged in Dark Kat’s neck, he looked up at her.  “What?”

“He’s not dead yet, T-Bone.  He has a weak pulse.”

A toothy smile darted across T-Bone’s face, but it quickly disappeared as he looked back at Dark Kat.

“Don’t do it, T-Bone.  Killing Dark Kat won’t help Razor.”

T-Bone looked at Dark Kat, the purple kat’s eyes pleading for mercy.  Razor’s eyes not doubt did that before as well. The haze built up in him again as he thought about how Razor must have suffered, waiting for T-Bone to show up and stop the agony.  But would Razor want him killing Dark Kat, even if it was to avenge him? He thought about what Razor must have felt when T-Bone never showed up for him  But would Razor want him killing Dark Kat?  The pain Razor had been going through.  His paw, infected.  His head, throbbing.  He was defenseless.  Abandoned.  Alone.  And failed by his best friend.

“No.”

Felina looked at him curiously as he stood up, his paws on either side of his head.  He leveled the glovatrix at Dark Kat.  He stared down at him, scowling, and before Felina could stop him, his wrist flexed, and he fired directly at Dark Kat.

Within a second, Dark Kat was struggling against the strong cords of a mini-spider missile.  Seeing what T-Bone had done, Felina retook her position by Razor’s side.

T-Bone tiredly walked up to her and painfully knelt beside Razor. “I didn’t want to fail him again,” he said, touching his partner’s arm lightly.  His face, though still, was not peaceful.  It was contorted in a permanent wince.  His jaw was clenched, and his lips pulled back to reveal his teeth.

“What do we do now?” Felina broke the silence between them. T-Bone slowly reached into one of the pockets of his flight suit, and brought out a small with packet.  Ripping the top of it off, he held it under Razor’s nose.

“Smelling salts,” he answered before Felina could ask.  Seconds went by in complete silence without a reaction from the prone SWAT Kat.  “C’mon, buddy,” T-Bone whispered, “don’t scare me like this.”

One of Razor’s eyelids began to flutter, the other remaining swelled shut.  It eventually opened, revealing a bloodshot, unfocused eye.  T-Bone smiled slightly as he saw the brown eye move.  But he frowned again as it started to roll around widely in its socket.  It suddenly got very still, and stared straight ahead, unseeing.  It began to dilate despite the bright lights of the hangar.  T-Bone’s heart stopped in his chest when saw his friend’s eye roll back into his head.

“NO!!” He yelled, searching around for something to stop the horrible rolling.  Grabbing the used smelling salts, he shoved it into the wound on Razor’s paw.  His eye snapped back in pain and then closed again, leaving Felina holding his wrist for a pulse.

“We gotta get him outta here, T-Bone, and fast.  He won’t last much longer.  You get the jet, I will stay here.”

“No.  I need to stay here.  If he …”

Felina looked up at him, and suddenly understood.  She looked into the covered eyes of this vigilante, this mask who she had known for a while.  Not once did it occur to her that he was just a regular kat underneath the flight suit and mask.  That he had a life, family, loves, and friends.  She nodded weakly despite herself.

“It’s exactly like an Enforcer jet.  You should be fine.  It is off of runway two,” he said in a whisper, emotion starting to encroach on his speaking.  He got closer to his partner, and picked him up gingerly, cradling his head and neck in the crook of his arm. He stood on weak legs.  “I’ll meet you outside.”

Felina nodded.  As she ran out of the hangar on her way to the Turbokat, she left T-Bone to his thoughts and his fallen partner bleeding lifelessly in his protective arms.

*********************************************************************

*****  Okay, guys, I know you aren’t going to be happy, but that’s all for today.  I orginally expected this to be a three parter, but it looks like it might be a little bit longer than that.  Once again, please please please email me with any and all comments, suggestion, etc at Penguinchk@aol.com  Thanks again, and stay tuned to DJ’s page for more updates.

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