Based on the second season episode “The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats” this is a story about the “Dark SWAT Kats” or, if you prefer, the SWAT Kats’ evil twins.
This began life as an RPG chat, but it attacked me the morning after the chat and demanded to be expanded. So, I did. For some reason (perhaps from the nature of role-playing), it came out first person, present tense. Not something with which I’m at all accustomed. So, it’s in part an experiment. An experiment in writing and an experiment in understanding the Dark SWAT Kats. And, an experiment that’s started a small series. I expect “They That Walk in Darkness” to span no more than five stories. It had best not. I have two other series that need my much-divided attention ?
Thanks to LH Chan. Without her short fic “Introspection” I never would have considered the possibility that Dark Kat created the Dark SWAT Kats. And, thanks, hugs, and many Pixie Stix to Sage for making this story what it is… and just putting up with me ?
Sage SK’s Note:
Sincerely, I would have never thought of starting a fanfiction with the Dark SWAT Kats, much less throwing one of my MBI characters in there. This is why I thank Kristen for letting me be a part of it! ? ::hugs Kris!:: There’s more to come, though! Sure hope you enjoy this part!
I did it again tonight. I do it every night. Turn my back on everything I ever believed in, everything I ever loved. At least, the me of two years ago does. I’ve started screaming at him. Screaming at myself two years ago, alive again in the dreams. Screaming. Demanding to know how he could be such an idiot. If he hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here now, you see.
Here? Here is Alkatraz. Here is four gray walls, a single “bed” – and I use the term loosely – that folds out of the wall, and a litterbox.* Here is where they send kats like me. Kats that ignored the rules, for whatever their reasons might have been.
Mine were revenge. I was wronged, so I set out to avenge my… pride in part. I went from rising star in the Enforcers elite fighter squadron to junkkat in the span of a day and a half. Feral even pulled some strings and got them to skip the usual court martial. My partner and I were banished to the back of beyond so fast our heads spun. So fast no one had time to investigate. Had time to follow up on the accident. Had time to realize that it was *Feral’s* fault.
I can say that now. It was Feral’s fault. Chance and I disobeyed orders. Technically, we deserved a reprimand. Maybe losing our rank as lieutenants. But, we did not cause the accident.
And, now I can say that. Just state it simply. No growling. No fury. Spilt milk.
Feral cheated to keep his job. He let the blame sit on the heads of innocents to cover his own tail. Maybe he lays awake at night telling his past self what an idiot *he* was. I don’t know.
I know only that I have no room to talk. I did far worse than Feral. He’s not the one who made a pact with the devil incarnate. He’s not the one who sold out. Not the one who sold his soul for revenge. Not the one that chose vengeance over everything. Over his best friend, over his family, over a she-kat the like of which a tom only finds once in a lifetime.
I close my eyes when my thoughts come back to her. It’s not that I hurt her more than I hurt anyone else. It’s not that I loved her more than my family and Chance – though I surely loved her in a different way – the way you can only love the one you want to share your life. It’s that she was the first I hurt. It’s that the night I lost her was the night I realized I’d lost myself… and the night I *embraced* losing myself. The night I made my choice.
Eyes squeezed shut, the dream comes back to me. It will not leave. My conscience escaped the prison I made for it. The prison that held it for two long years. And, ever since, it has shown me the dream. Shown me that night.
She looks up at me incredulously from her couch. I asked her to sit down. I knew she wouldn’t take this well. I had just hoped she might take it *better*… Better than this.
I stare into those searching eyes and can only sketch a huge circle in the air with both arms as I squawk, “Look, he offered us everything!”
A tremendous load of empty, unloving “everything.”
“Have you lost it, Jake?” she demands, standing and making a motion towards the outside world. “This is the same guy you were chasing not too long ago!”
She’s right, of course. But, I was blind then. Anger – and its misbegotten spawn hatred – will do that to you.
“We won’t…. He can’t make us…” I fumble for words. Then, I find them and tell her gently, “We won’t do anything really bad for him or anything, Trina… Just get back at the Enforcers… then be done.”
Trina sighs and rubs her eyes, asking the question I dread most. “Get back at them… how? They’re our city’s protectors.” Her voice quivers. “And… what if he performs a double-cross? You ever thought of that?” The quiver is filling with a steel I’ve heard in her voice only on rare occasions. Only when she is deeply wounded emotionally and duty demands she not show it.
“This guy’s the most wanted kat in the city, Jake.” Her voice is firm.
“I don’t know how,” I mutter, irked by the questions. I don’t want her questions. I want her support. “Show them up at fighting crime. Something to make Feral pay for what he did!”
She stares at me blankly, unbelieving. “Show them up? As in…?” She breaks off, just looking at me, those beautiful eyes etched with worry. “You’ve *lost* it, Jake.” Suddenly, I want her to understand so bad. I *need* her to understand. “Trina, we have to do… SOMETHING! You think Chance or I can bear just working in that miserable scrapyard for the rest of our lives?”
Surely she can see.
“No, I don’t think so.” Her voice is soft. Then, her eyes blaze with anger. “Still, it doesn’t mean you had to strike a deal with this creep!” Her voice rises. “Jake, the guy’s a nefarious villain the Enforcers and the MBI** have been after for the past who knows how many years!” She points a finger first in my face. “You stick to this… this… deal, *you’re* gonna have your faces on wanted posters right next to *his*!” Now, the accusing finger swings away from me, pointing to an imaginary poster on the far wall.
“Trina… It’s not like we sold our souls!” I shout.
Couldn’t she see?!
She growls softly. “In my opinion, you did.”
That one hit home like a slap to the face.
“Trina!” I gasp. I did *not* want to hear her say that because I knew she was right. I’d already told myself the same thing… And then, convinced myself that I was justified. I’d already lied to myself. And, I’d already started believing my own lies.
“It’s not like that…” I stammer, trying to find a way to make her see. “It….”
But, only the hatred in me believed the lie. Nothing like that lived in *her*. Nothing so dark. Nothing so willing to take any excuse.
“It’s what?” she demands. “It’s the most ludicrous thing you could’ve done? No? It’s *the* *stupidest* thing you could’ve done?!” I growl. Not the growl of a word, but an uncivilized growl of anger. For the first time showing the fury that’s been building in me since Chance and I were fired.
“It is the only way,” I state softly. That dangerous softness. That quiet before a storm.
“No, it’s *not* the only way,” she returns, equally quiet. But, her calm is that of one determined to save someone. To pull them back to safety. “You can’t hand yourself into this creep’s paws. Not you, not Chance.” Her voice darkens. “Jake, you’re gonna get yourself *killed*.”
“No one’s gonna get killed…,” I growl before hissing under my breath the thought that has been only a heartbeat from making itself known. The depths of where the hatred has taken me. The extent of my thirst for vengeance. The thought I’d been hiding from my own conscience. “Except maybe Feral….”
“You’re going to *kill* Feral?!” Her eyes are huge, her face horrified.
I should comfort her. I should take it back. I should never have said it. Never have thought it. But, I can’t. I took one step too many down the road. The hatred is starting to control me. And, I find myself snarling back at her.
“Well, he’d deserve it!”
“You’re *insane*!” she cries, disbelief written on her face.
“INSANE?!” I stare at her incredulously. Clearly, she can’t see.
“What?! You want me to spell it out for you?!” she snaps.
“No, not really,” I retort, shaking with anger. She can’t see. “Cuz it wouldn’t matter anyway. We made the deal. We’re doing it.” I glare at her, daring her to defy that. Daring her to question my decision.
She shakes her head, trying to control tears even as she growls at me softly. “You’re insane.”
I can’t take this. Not from Trina. I thought she of all people…
“I am NOT insane!” I roar. She leans back a bit, but holds her ground. “Well, you’re certainly *not* right upstairs, either.” I won’t listen to this! I *can’t* listen to this! Or I’ll realize she’s right. And, the anger doesn’t want to let go. I *will* see this through.
“I am NOT insane!” I shriek, slapping her across the face.
She takes it, stepping back a few feet and turning her head away, a hand to her face. She never expected that kind of violence. Not from the Jake Clawson she knew. Not from the kat who sobbed as a kitten when he accidentally killed a squirrel. Not from the kat who accepted bullies’ abuse when he had the skills in martial arts to wipe the floors with them. Not from the gentle kat who rarely had an unkind word. Not from the kat I was back then.
For my part, I find myself looking blankly at my hand.
Did I just… *hit* Trina?
She stands apart from me, shaking. I watch, numb, as she tries to control her tears, but finally lets them go, teeth clenched. And, I’m suddenly filled with the urge to go over there and hug her tight. To promise I’ll forget the deal, everything, if she will only forgive me.
Her small frame shudders. She never once looks at me. “Get out,” she whispers.
I feel my heart shatter. Feel my world pulling apart.
“Trina…” I start, uncertain what to say.
I’m interrupted as the communicator Dark Kat gave me beeps urgently from my belt.
Trina’s ears prick to the sound. “Just get out.” She begins to cry in earnest. “It seems your “duty” calls anyway.”
I try to speak. Try to deny it. Try to go to her. But, I can’t. Lost, I stumble out the door, pulling out the communicator. Before I can even mutter a “Yeah?”, Dark Kat’s voice informs me that it’s time to get ready. I respond with an affirmative and nod mutely to myself. The bridge is crossed.
But, I have to look back. My eyes are pulled back…. to her.
She has her back towards me, but slowly turns to look at me over her shoulder. The fur of her face is matted with tears. The place where my hand struck her still flushed with color visible even through her fur.
Staring at her, I feel a lump in my throat. I try to speak. It is no use.
I hang my head in defeat and leave. I can only hurt her more by staying. I am not the Jake Clawson she knew anymore… and there’s no sense in pretending.
The dream ends and I find hot tears soaking my pillow.
Why? Why was I so blind?
I lost Trina. I lost Chance. And, I lost myself.
And now, I’ve lost the fury that seemed worth it all. In its place is a hole, a void. It’s been growing for a long time. You see, it’s all that the fury ever was.
To Be Continued… We will NOT leave it there!
* – by “litterbox” I mean a normal commode/toilet, not a literal box filled with sand. I assume “litterbox” is, if not a universal kat term, at least a slang phrase or MegaKat colloquialism for the toilet.
** – the MBI is the MegaKat Bureau of Investigation, an organization created by Sage SK and, like Trina, seen in her fanfics at http://www.geocities.com/bolivianita.
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