With the dead, dying, and unconscious enemy beneath it, the Turbokat sped quickly toward the distant mountains of the Dark King.
Silence filled the cockpit as T-Bone flew the jet and focused on the battle to come. He was nervous. This would be his first battle using magic. Though he fully intended to use his modern weapons too, he knew part of the battle would be conducted with the skills he’d recently worked hard to learn, but he was still not the equal of someone who had centuries of training and battle skill behind them. So, his only advantage was to charge in, using the element of surprise and shock to give it to him.
That shouldn’t be too hard as Razor and I have used that method as SWAT Kats for years now. It’s our modus operandi and perfect for just this sort of thing, he thought with a grim smile.
His partner was equally tense and nervous but for very different reasons. As Razor kept a close eye out for any flying enemy and checked the number of weapons he still had left in his armory, he allowed a part of his mind to go over their plans for this next phase. For the first time since he and T-Bone became a team, Razor wouldn’t be allowed to stand at his partner’s side fighting the bad guys as they’d always done. He’d been told, in no uncertain terms by the Queen, that T-Bone must face the King alone. All Razor was permitted to do was be a part of the team that kept the King’s guards off the Prince. He didn’t like that one bit.
Though he knew the prophecy said T-Bone would triumph, he just didn’t have as much faith in something so nebulous… hard facts were his forte, but here he was having to take a back seat and let his best friend confront an enemy far worse than the Pastmaster ever could be. That just wasn’t right. He was his partner’s shadow… his backup… his right paw… damn it! He fumed impotently. But, it did no good getting angry about it. He had to hope the combination of magic and science would tilt the battle toward the tabby’s favor and end this thing once and for all.
Razor mentally shook off his gloomy thoughts. He used his time more wisely in rechecking his glovatrix, insuring it was fully loaded (though he’d done that several times already) and tried to ease the case of nerves he was feeling. Suddenly, he felt the sensation of the jet losing altitude. Looking out the window, he could see the jet was closing in on the huge dark mountains rising ominously before them just a few miles ahead.
“Where do I land, buddy?” T-Bone’s voice abruptly broke the silence.
Blushing at his momentary lack of attention, Razor blurted, “Just a sec…” and quickly scanned the rapidly approaching target. “Ahead… four o’clock position… northeast quadrant. Over that sharp edged outcropping is a fairly flat plateau that the jet will just fit.”
“Roger.” T-Bone’s eyes narrowed as he slowed their approach, going to VTOL when they were nearly on top of the indicated area.
Both were silent and tense as the jet floated closer, passing over the saw-toothed ridge, the nosecone beacon lighting up a flat area of grey stone that looked like something had come along and scrapped this part of the mountain away. Surrounding this small area were tall, spiny-like rock formations.
With infinite care, T-Bone guided the jet forward until it was directly over the small smooth patch, the repellers blew clouds of dust into the air, nearly obscuring the pilot’s view. It was very tight, but T-Bone managed to land the jet with expert ease, putting the Turbokat in the exact center with plenty of clearance all around it.
While the jet was maneuvering, Razor used the time to scan the surrounding area to determine how far they were from the castle proper that was half buried within the mountain’s face. Moments later, he found their target, and, fortunately, they were only a mile away from its main entrance. Further probing uncovered the lower chambers and tunnels, magically carved through the rock that the general had told them about, ranging in all directions with one tunnel coming out less than ten feet from their landing spot.
Perfect! Looks like General Tochere wasn’t setting a trap for us after all. Further proof just how bad things have gotten for him to turn on his leader like this, Razor mused as he prepared to disembark. Just hope we can get inside as easily as we managed to arrive without being seen.
The canopy remained closed as the SWAT Kats opted to exit through the cargo area. The smaller tom was the first to leave his seat and drop down lightly into the hold followed close behind by the heavier sounding thud of his partner.
“We’re here. Now it’s your turn to do your part, General Tochere,” T-Bone said as he aided the fae warriors out of their restraint straps. Razor doing the same beside him.
“I’m ready,” Tochere said, only a little shaky as he got to his feet, surprised at how unsteady he felt at first.
T-Bone only nodded then allowed his true form to appear with some new additions to his attire. Wearing light weight chain mail of gold that covered him from shoulders to feet, his mother’s symbol emblazoned in deep blue over his chest, and black boots that came to his knees. The sword he’d taken from the museum was in a new sheath attached to a heavy leather belt. Added to this was his glovatrix and a modern utility belt that carried his additional weapons and ammo.
Razor thought his partner looked really weird with the wings, gold armor and sword, mixed with the modern weaponry but made no comment as he signaled the cargo door to open. They all filed out then the door closed up behind them, leaving them in the dark. The smaller tom was about to turn on his helmet light when suddenly a soft ambient glow suddenly lit the corridor before them.
Blinking in surprise, Razor realized T-Bone or one of the others had made a floating globe of magical energy to light their way. Huh… handy skill, he thought.
Tochere pushed ahead of the group and led them away from the jet. At first, there wasn’t any sign of a passageway through the spiny wall that surrounded this smooth area until one got closer to the wall. Blending in very well was a narrow rock path. It only looked like it was part of the wall.
They had to walk single file for the ten feet Razor had found led to an entry point. Just as they apparently reached the end, Tochere held up a palm then made a gesture that told them to wait here.
He walked ahead and T-Bone, who had been behind him, saw the path opened into a small ledge. To the left was a drop off, to the right a blank, rough wall, just like any mountain face. Frowning, he watched as Tochere walked to about the center of the rock face and raised a paw and simply knocked once then waited.
What? No secret signal knock? T-Bone thought, bemused. Apparently not as he watched a section of wall open inward only seconds later. No light shone from within, so only Tochere’s floating globe allowed T-Bone to see it was a Hoblin standing in the doorway. The creature’s ebony body allowed it to blend in the darkness, making it invisible except for the gleaming sword clenched tightly in its massive paw.
It glowing red eyes stared at the visitor a moment then bowed its head and stepped back after recognizing who dared to come through this entrance. “General Tochere… you are not expected, sir,” it rumbled like two rocks being ground together.
“I know; that was the idea,” Tochere said before blasting the guard with a burst of combat magic.
The hoblin was ill prepared for such an abrupt attack and was quickly blown back off its feet with a smoking hole in its chest.
T-Bone blinked a little in shock at the sudden violence but hid it well. His uncle had taught him much, but this spell was not one of them. He gained an enormous respect for the general in that moment.
Tochere turned to them, his expression grim as he gestured for them to quickly enter. Leading the way, T-Bone didn’t hesitate as he quickly strode forward and past the dark fae. As soon as all of them were inside, the general sealed the opening with a gesture.
Neat trick, Razor thought then looked down the corridor they’d entered. It was empty and narrow, their single magical globe being their only light. The floor and walls were rock that had been so smoothly carved it reflected like a mirror.
The general pushed through them then lead the way. They walked in silence for some ten minutes before reaching another door. “Wait here. I will see if it’s clear. When I return, fall into a single line and move silently.” Saying nothing more, he opened the door and slipped out, closing it behind them. All the rest could do was wait.
Though it felt like a long time had passed, in reality it had been barely five minutes when the general reappeared. He was a bit disheveled, his sword was naked in his paw and dripping something that was also on his paw and clothing. Razor realized it was blood of some kind though it wasn’t the normal red he was used to seeing.
“The way is clear. We must hurry. I could hear the King’s roar of anger from the throne room.”
“Must have heard what happened to his army,” T-Bone muttered, smirking a little.
“No doubt,” Tochere replied drily then turned to head back out the door.
With T-Bone directly behind him, the general lead the group down a gleaming narrow hall of black marble where here and there a dead body lay sprawled, their strange green blood painting the walls.
Grimacing, Razor kept his eyes straight ahead. Bloodshed was never part of the SWAT Kats’ battle against crime, so this was a bit hard for him to take but didn’t deter him from his mission.
As they pushed deeper into the castle, a powerful voice was heard shouting in full fury, the power of it shaking the walls. Tensing up for what was to come, the group finally halted beside another door, one that was rather plain. This was a door opened directly behind the throne in the main hall, one Tochere said the King used to escape his court and be alone, which explained why it was barely manned.
The door shook with the sound of another roar, no words could be made out. Waving the group out of view of the door opening, Tochere waited until all were in place before opening it and peering cautiously within.
The King was berating two unlucky messengers who were groveling at his feet and hoping they wouldn’t end up like the other pair that lay dead to one side of the throne, tossed there like an afterthought and not removed.
This told Tochere just how far his King had fallen into his madness. Being extremely fastidious, King Gareth hated any untidiness, even that which he caused, so dead bodies not removed was a very bad sign. It meant the servants were more terrified of the King’s possible reaction to their presence than his temper at the room remaining dirty. He could hardly blame them.
The King stood with both paws raised, glowing with power and eyes glowing redly with a mad light in them. All form of control was gone. It hurt to see the once proud, cold, and powerful leader reduced to a thing of deadly fury and no intelligence behind it. He was totally unrecognizable as was the damage Tochere could see in the room.
Two walls bore huge holes, the debris covering the once pristine black marble floor that added to the bloody bodies, broken furniture, ripped banners, and overturned urns of coals that used to light the throne room with an eerie glow. Amidst this mess the King stood, screaming curses and threatening to kill everyone.
Tochere’s quick glance around the room noted the ten guards standing at attention set ten feet apart going around the room. Their eyes stayed glued straight ahead, bodies rigid and unmoving least their maddened King see them and decide to use them for target practice. One unlucky guard had already been struck down, wounded and laying on the floor amidst the blown wall fragments that had hurt him. But, he too dared not move. Looking past the King, the general spotted the heir. The young fae stood white faced and tense beside the throne. So far, he hadn’t been harmed.
Prince Lugus eyes roved nervously around the room, landing on General Tochere, eyes staring at him intently. He stood peering around the curtain that hid the door behind the throne. A look of relief flashed in his eyes then hardened as he gave a tiny nod of his head. Time to end the madness.
Tochere nodded back then stepped back behind the curtain and signaled the others to fan out quickly. Once everyone but himself, Razor, and Prince Lorcan were left, Tochere prepared to keep all away from the Prince so the final battle could be fought unimpeded.
Wasting no more time, T-Bone stepped forward, his paw with the glovatrix extended, halting when he had come level with the King’s right side.
“KING GARETH!” he shouted, using magic to magnify his voice.
The dark king whirled, startled, and T-Bone used that moment to launch his attack. He immediately fired an explosive missile that slapped the fae in the chest and drove him backward into his throne then exploded. Anyone else would have been instantly torn apart, but T-Bone knew that wouldn’t be true of his powerful enemy. Magic protected the monarch.
Stunned he might be, but Gareth wasn’t seriously harmed though the walls and his throne had been blown to bits. However, the attack achieved T-Bone’s first objective… disorient the King with weapons he wasn’t familiar with and keep him off balance.
Around him, Tochere, Razor, and the Queen’s assassins fought the King’s guards. He ignored that, not daring to see if his partner was alright. His full attention was on the King, who was just getting to his feet, eyes gleaming with madness.
Gareth’s mouth opened, but T-Bone’s tarpedo stopped whatever spell was about to be issued, forcing the King to use his hands to clear the tarry substance which, of course, caused them to stick to it as well. That should have halted him, but his madness gave him unholy strength and he managed to wrench his paws away then use magic to clear his face, but while he was so occupied, T-Bone fired the first of his magical spells.
The King was once more knocked off his feet, but he recovered quickly and fired a salvo of spells back at T-Bone. Raising a spell shield, T-Bone was able to keep from being killed as he sent a volley of his own back.
For fifteen intense minutes, each Fae warrior tried their best to break through the other shields. T-Bone’s brow was thoroughly sweaty, making his mask stick to his face uncomfortably. The King’s strength driven by his madness was formidable and only T-Bone’s youth gave him any kind of edge. In this contest, the King was definitely far beyond the level the Prince was and it was that which was beginning to succeed in thinning T-Bone’s shield. The tabby knew he had to do something before one of those deadly spells broke through.
The two of them had managed to close the gap between them, making their shields glow white hot as they stood only ten feet apart. T-Bone had to break this deadlock before the King’s constant pounding destroyed his shield. As he tried various spells he’d been taught, looking for any weakness, his partner was about to break the Queen’s order.
The King’s guard had been taken out with no casualties on the Queen’s side. To ensure no one tried to come to the King’s defense, Tochere had cast a spell on the only two entries to the throne room. Until a stronger force could be mounted to batter their way in, the King’s soldiers weren’t getting in. Just in case, the Queen’s soldiers split up and guarded the doors. That left Razor, Prince Lugus and Tochere to simply stand and watch the deadly battle. Prince Lugus had erected shields around all those watching, keeping them from the powerful spells flying everywhere.
“They are more evenly matched than I would have dreamed,” Prince Lugus muttered tightly.
“Aye, your highness. As young and inexperienced as Prince Lorcan is with using magic, I too am amazed at his strength and courage. However, I fear that won’t be enough. Already his shields are beginning to thin out,” Tochere responded, concern lacing his deep voice.
Razor’s fists were clenched tight with tension and fear. Hearing the general warn that T-Bone’s shields were about to go made him mutter, “Not if I have anything to do about it. Sorry, T-Bone, but I’m not about to lose you.” He raised his glovatrix, selected a special missile then snapped at the Prince, “Make a hole in your shield!”
Prince Lugus started in surprise, his head turning sharply to the left to stare at this strange creature holding an even stranger weapon up. “What are you…” He began to demand before Razor interrupted him.
“No time… do it!”
Something in the small, odd warrior’s manner convinced the Prince it would be wise to obey. Turning back to face the room, he muttered a spell that opened a hole in front of Razor’s weapon.
Razor fired, and a small missile flew straight and true, hitting the King’s shield at chest level. It was a drill-bit missile that shouldn’t have been able to penetrate the magical shield except Razor had added something extra to it… an iron bit. The result was the missile drilling through the shield like butter and striking the shocked King in the chest. It nearly cut through his gold-like chest plate but was stopped by a quickly shouted spell from doing more than cutting the King’s chest, drawing a small amount of blood.
“FIRST BLOOD!” the Queen’s soldiers shouted.
The King’s expression was a combination of shock and fury, but, before he could gather his wits and regain his balance, T-Bone fired a killing spell through the hole before the Gareth could close it. The King’s mouth was open in an ‘O’ before he disintegrated into dust. Stunned silence followed as everyone stared at the space where the King of the Dark Fae had stood. Nothing remained but the missile laying inert on the floor, blood on its drill bit.
T-Bone sagged in relief and exhaustion. Turning his head toward his partner, he said, “Just couldn’t stay out of it, eh?”
A smile of relief that morphed into a smirk lit Razor’s face. “Hell no! We’re a team! I’m just glad you didn’t hesitate,” he said smugly.
His best friend shook his head. “Can’t break a habit, buddy, and, yeah, we’re a team, now and always.” T-Bone’s smile widened.
Prince Lugus gaped at the small warrior in shocked amazement then shifted his gaze to his fellow Prince. “I can’t believe it! You beat him with your strange weaponry and a single simple spell. Unbelievable!” he said, dazed. His mind couldn’t seem to reconcile what he’d witnessed. Still shaking his head, he walked toward T-Bone and looked down at the strange device on the floor then up at T-Bone’s face. “Wherever you’d been all these years has made you a most formidable foe, Prince Lorcan. I am glad it was on our side. Thank you for saving what is left of my Kingdom,” he said humbly, bowing his head.
“You’re welcome, Prince Lugus. I don’t envy you all the work it will take to restore your Kingdom, but I’m glad the war is ended so that you may get started doing it. I hope you take a slightly different path than your father so there can be peace between our lands,” T-Bone said, a hint of a question in his voice.
“How can there be light if there is no darkness,” Prince now King Lugus said archly. “But, I will promise for a time our lands will be at peace… In the distant future… who knows,” he shrugged casually.
T-Bone snorted and rolled his eyes, though he knew the King couldn’t see him doing that little disrespect. “Guess that will have to do. Oh, we had to use iron against your army. I’m afraid a great many of them are gone or injured and the land where they lay is deadly to all Fae. To cleanse it, we will remove the iron so I strongly urge no one to trespass there for about…” He paused to ask his partner a question. Razor had walked up and was now standing on T-Bone’s left side. “How long will it take to remove the iron, Razor?”
Razor frowned a moment in thought. “About an hour or one full candlemark.”
Turning back to King Lugus who looked confused and getting a little angry, T-Bone told him easily, “You heard him, only about a candlemark to cleanse it. Perhaps another past that to be absolutely certain.”
“How came you to cover my land with cold iron?” the King demanded, curiosity getting the better of him.
T-Bone merely smiled wolfishly. “That’s my secret and one we can use again and again if there’s any future problems that require it.”
King Lugus paled a little, his eyes flashing with anger at the veiled threat. His lips were tight when he answered civilly enough, “My father underestimated the threat you would be, but I will not. You have safe passage back to your kingdom, Prince Lorcan. I suggest you leave immediately, complete your task, and never return here again.”
“I’ll leave. As for returning, well, that’s up to you isn’t it?” T-Bone said pointedly then gave the King a respectful nod, which surprised Lugus before turning away with his partner on his heels, heading for the door they’d used to get in here.
In the corridor beyond, Tochere halted them a moment. “I wish to convey my thanks for ending this so quickly. I hope we do not meet in battle for the foreseeable future,” he said, reaching out to shake T-Bone’s paw.
“You’re welcome, general, and I hope we never do either.” T-Bone shook the Fae’s paw then hurried away.
The general didn’t linger, closing the door firmly behind him and returning to his King.
Making a hasty retreat, T-Bone, Razor, and the Queen’s soldiers ran down the corridor, out the still unguarded door and out into the dark night. T-Bone created another magical globe to light their way as they hurried toward the jet. In very little time, they boarded and were lifting off within minutes. Time to clean up and return to his mother’s kingdom.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.