“Come on, come on, where are you?” Steve massaged his eyes. He had been in front of the screen for the past ten minutes monitoring the movements of his teammate. Two minutes ago, the blip from the tracer she was wearing vanished off the screen. The anxiety was getting to him. She wasn’t just a teammate. Not to him anyway. “Damn it, Dan. Where could she be?” He said to the kat at the wheel of the van, frustrated.
“Calm down, Steve. Katrina’s a tough she-kat. She can handle whatever comes her way.” Dan tried to soothe his companion. “Remember, you’re in ‘Dan’s Van.’ I’ll get you two lovebirds together.”
Steve couldn’t help but smile at that, if only for a split-second. True, Dan was the best recon-van driver on the force. His record was spotless. No one had ever been lost on recon while he was at the wheel. And he sure as heck wasn’t going to start with Katrina of all kats.
“There!” Steve saw the blip reappear. He punched in a few commands and a wire-frame representation of the part of the city where the blip was appeared. “Corner of Clapton and Summoner.”
“We’re on it.” Dan floored the gas pedal and expertly weaved his way through traffic to get to his destination. There they spotted Katrina waving them down. Slowing down but not stopping, Dan brought the van alongside Katrina. She then raced along behind it and leapt into the open door and Steve’s waiting arms.
“I was worried about you.” Steve hugged her close when the door was shut.
“That’s sweet, Steve. But I just fell into a sewer while escaping. It must’ve been deep enough to block out the tracing beacon.” She pulled out a mini-disk from her breast pocket and waved it around triumphantly. They sat down and inserted the disk in the drive and searched it’s contents.
“There it is…” Steve said in awe as he viewed the contents of the CD-ROM. “My gosh, Katrina. You must have all the plans right here. Look at that! All the major targets, all the attack points, and troop deployment all on one measly mini-CD.”
“I almost lost an arm and a leg getting that information.” Katrina sat on the chair next to Steve’s. Her whole body ached and she was dead tired. “I sure hope I didn’t miss anything.” She rested her head on Steve’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Her ebony hair smelled great today, Steve thought, despite her coming from the field. The van they were in was so full of equipment that there was no real place to sleep.
“Your dad will be plenty happy with this, Katrina, I can tell you that much.” Steve surfed through the rest of the disk’s contents. This was all they needed to put everyone behind the crime syndicates away for good. They had to tell the commander. “Wake up, hero. Your dad’s on.” He dialed the number of headquarters.
“Hi, dad!” Katrina woke up as the monitor lit up. Most of the kats on the force couldn’t figure out how such a petite kat like her could be the daughter of a stocky, well built kat like the Commander.
“Hi, honey.” The commander answered. “Did you get the intelligence we need?”
“You bet I did! It’s all on this mini-disk.”
“Good” The commander smiled. “I’m proud of you honey. Now let’s get that disk back here to HQ.”
Steve had almost cut the channel to HQ when a warning beeper flashed. He threw a few switches and pressed a few buttons and beside the picture of the commander came a shot of several black-robed figures speedily approaching.
“Yo, Dan!” Steve called to the driver of the van. “Get us out of here now!” The driver complied. The van roared off, leaving their hooded pursuers in the dust.
“Don’t look now.” Katrina said. “But some of them have hovercyles!” She took out her glovatrix and broke the back window of the van. She hit the lead biker but it did little to slow them down.
“What have you got?” Katrina took a break from firing back to ask. Steve was still fiddling through the controls.
“I’ve got multiple incoming bogeys, that’s what I’ve got. Three planes coming in from the east and one more from the north.” He tapped his headset then adjusted it’s mike. “I also have Ulysses Squad coming to the rescue.”
“Where to?” The driver was frantic. He was running out of road fast, and the planes were getting closer.
“Head for the old lab down by the sea.” Katrina instructed over the laser fire. Steve took up a position beside her and began shooting also. Together they toppled the leading bike which slowed the rest. They were there at the lab in seconds. Stepping out they heard, then saw a whole squad of TK-7 fighter jets.
“Looks like Uncle Mike made it in time.” Katrina commented rushing into the building.
“We can’t stay here.” The driver pointed out. “Ulysses squad may take care of the enemy planes but we’re still outnumbered by the bikers.” He readied his glovatrix as he heard the hovercycles pull up.
“Hold them off.” Katrina ordered. She slipped the disk into her breast pocket. Dragging Steve with her, she went deeper into the building.
The cyclists came, and the only one between them and the disk was Dan, who had taken up a defensive position. Try as he might, he was only able to buy Katrina and Steve a few moments. They overran him quickly, ganging up on him and beating him till he was unconscious.
“Search the entire compound.” Their leader ordered. He opened the door and walked into the room, as if he were strolling in a park, while his underlings scampered around searching for Katrina and the mini-CD.
Katrina led Steve to a back room which contained equipment that looked so strange that it made Steve forget about their pursuers for a moment. “Come on.” She saw Steve’s startled face.
“How did you know about this place?”
“The owner used to work with my dad. He brought us down here a few times. Now where is it? Oh, there!” Katrina hurried to a dusty contraption at the room’s far end. It was a small platform with a control console right beside it. “Come on, come on…” She tried to fire it up but it remained dead. She kicked it hard and it began to hum to life. Then she opened a closet and took out a yellow suit. It was like a jump-suit for pilots but thicker, with more padding and electronic gizmos on it. The extremely high shoulder-pads served as mounts for the helmet Katrina was now putting on.
“What are you doing?!? Those criminals will get here any second.”
“Look, when I say go, throw the switch, ok?”
Laser fire erupted into the room, hitting Katrina in the arm, ripping her suit. The lead kat was screaming to his troops to destroy Katrina and the Disk.
“Go!” Katrina yelled.
Steve threw the switch and the whole room was filled with an intense, blinding light. The lead kat ran toward the machine but Katrina had vanished. Steve jumped him, punching away. He connected a few times which toppled the kat. The others piled on him much like they did to Dan, one of them jabbing the butt of his blaster into Steve’s head.
“Are you alright, sir?” One asked his leader.
“Get into those yellow suits!” He ordered, ignoring his trooper’s concern. Then he looked around the room, searching as if he knew he had left something there earlier. He then discovered several devices which were blinking. The tracers. He wrapped one on his forearm and handed the remaining to his troops. “Put these on. They’ll help us find her.”
“How do you know so much, boss?”
“I designed the stupid thing, idiot.” He scoffed, putting on a suit himself. He climbed onto the platform and pointed at the lever Steve had just pulled. “You there! When I give the word, pull the switch. You, stay here and guard this machine!”
Steve stirred a bit, his consciousness returning to him. He saw the hooded kats in yellow suits vanish in another explosion of white light.
“I’m telling you, Chance, Callie isn’t going to appreciate your putting turboplugs in her engine again.” Jake stuffed his dirtied rag into his pocket and handed his best friend a wrench.
“And I’m telling you, this baby’ll take it just fine. I modified it a little so it can take the extra power.” Chance closed the hood then wiped his hands on his rag. “There. All done. Now she can easily get away when Dr. Viper or Darkkat show their ugly mugs again.”
Jake didn’t hear Chance reason out, he was already inside scrounging around for some cold milk and day old pizza. He got two cans of milk from the fridge and half of an anchovy-mushroom-black cod-pizza from the table. He popped the soggy slices into a microwave they recently salvaged to heat it. It didn’t work at first, but a good pounding later it was warming up.
He threw Chance a can then opened his. He smelled something burning all of a sudden, and looked around to find out what it was. His gasp was audible when he saw smoke coming out of the microwave. He spilled his milk in the rush of shutting the appliance down. When he did, the whole room was full of smoke, spilled milk and the smell of terribly burnt pizza. Chance came running in, saw Jake’s smoked, snarling face then backed out. “Oops. Sorry, buddy.”
“Tell me you didn’t.” Jake said.
“You just had to put a tuboplug in the microwave too, didn’t you?”
The sound of rubber going across bumpy ground heralded the arrival of Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs, who came to pick up her car. Just in time, Chance thought. Jake grabbed the towel hanging from the fridge door and wiped his face. They went to greet Callie together.
“Hi, guys. Is she ready?” Callie asked.
“As ready as she can be.” Chance assured her.
Callie signaled to the driver that she could get back ok, so he left her there. She slid behind the steering wheel and flicked the ignition. It caught immediately and it sounded meaner than it did when she had brought it in. “Looks good guys. How much do I owe you?”
“We’ll just send the bill to your office.” Jake told her. She thanked them again, waved good-bye and left. Chance and Jake saw Callie’s flabbergasted face as she jerked back under the power the turbo plugs gave her car. Jake estimated that she must’ve hit 80 in just under four seconds.
“You think she’ll make it home all right?” Jake thought aloud.
“Yeah.” Chance said. “Come on, let’s look around. We need a new microwave.” He went off into the mountain of junk and Jake followed.
They rummaged through their little kingdom of scrap but no microwaves. After a while, Chance found himself inexplicably drawn towards the oldest hill of junk in the yard. He didn’t know why he felt the urge to look there, he knew there were no microwaves there. In fact he and Jake hadn’t touched anything from that mound for months. But as he searched an even bigger surprise caught him. He heard a small sound, scratching. It was something scratching. Then… whimpering? No! Sobbing! Crying!
He sped around the mound and behind it was a strange yellow suite sprawled on the ground and from the neck opening was a little kitten, crying aloud.
“Jake!” He called frantically. “Jake get over here quick!”
Jake heard his partner’s call and hurried to where the voice came from. Why he went back there he didn’t know. When he rounded the mound the sight there was strangely funny and cute to say the least. Chance had the young kitten in his arms, cradling it protectively, the baby giggling and cooing, it’s little paws tugging at Chance’s whiskers.
“Is it a he or a she?” Jake thought to ask.
“It’s a she.” Chance rocked his arms gently. “We’d better get her back to the garage and into some clothes.”
“At her size she can’t be more than a few months old.” Jake commented as they walked back. “She must be hungry, too.” When they reached their kitchen they realized they had two small problems. They had no food or clothes, at least not for little baby she-kats.
“We can feed her milk for the time being.” Chance smoothed the baby’s fur. “But we need to get those baby food supplement things.”
“I can get my sister’s old clothes.” Jake offered as he picked up the phone. Chance sat down and figured out how to get a kitten to drink from a can of milk.
“Hello, mom?” Chance could hear Jake’s phone call. “Yeah, look, mom… I need Jenny’s old clothes. It’s a long story, mom, but I promise to tell you all about it. Yeah. I didn’t do anything to anyone, ma, so don’t worry. I’ll be there soon. Love you. Bye.”
Later that evening, Chance successfully fed the kitten, and not knowing exactly why but doing so anyway because he knew he was supposed to, he put her on his shoulder and patted her back until she burped. She was wrapped in an old shirt of his which was doing a good job of keeping her from the night’s cold.
She did her thing, and Chance found himself having one less shirt to hang up. He wished Jake were back. He had to take care of a little sister when he was still on the farm, so he knew what to do. At around the time that Scaredycat was on Chance was so pooped that he fell asleep, the kitten in his arms and the TV blaring.
A slight tug at the baby and Chance’s eyes sprung open. Jake was taking the baby from him. Chance noticed Jake’s bag. “I see you got the stuff, pal.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t even be back here just yet if I hadn’t taken the Cyclotron.” Jake unwrapped Chance’s second shirt and tossed it aside. Then he lay the kitten on the table and fashioned a diaper on her. Next he slipped a pretty little pink dress which clashed with her black hair. “There you go, little fella. Cute ain’t she?”
“Yeah, Katrina’s a real doll.”
“Katrina? So you decided on a name already.”
“Yup. Not bad, huh?”
“No. But to be serious, Chance, we can’t exactly keep her here. I mean, we’re “hotshot, lawless vigilantes”, remember?” Jake had his arms akimbo as Chance hardly heard him.
The following morning was a typical morning except for the fact that they had a kitten running around. Literally, running around. She had slept in a makeshift crib Jake had slapped together from scrap and cushion from their previous couch. When morning came they found her gone. After a short search they located her in the refrigerator, sloppily gulping down some milk. She looked as if she had grown overnight. Her legs were longer, and she could run circles around Chance and Jake. The black fur on her head was thicker now, as was the rest of her orange-brown fur.
“I don’t know about you…” Chance missed Katrina who ran out into the yard. “But I don’t think she’s an ordinary kitten.” He tried to catch her again but failed.
“I know what you mean.” Jake followed their little guest. “Frisky little thing. Where is she?”
“There!” Chance pointed to one of the junk mounds and there she was climbing it. By the time they reached it she was almost to the top. Chance and Jake leapt, the smaller one snatching her just when she got to the top. When Jake landed the mound collapsed in a loud crash. Under the scrap and dust, Chance sat himself up.
“You see why we can’t keep her here?” Jake said.
“What do we do? If she really does grow at a faster rate then she can’t just go to any foster home.” Chance picked himself up and fluffed the dust off of him. “Hey, I know.”
“Thanks for taking her in for today.” Jake said as the old kat picked up Katrina and raised her over his head. This brought a smile to her face.
“No problem at all, sonny.” Pop Perkins cheerfully played with Katrina. “Ain’t that right, ma?”
Mrs. Perkins came in with a bag full of toys for little Katrina. “Oh, no trouble at all, dearies. It’s been so long since we’ve heard the pitter-patter of little feet around the house. I’ve missed it so. And just in time too.”
“Then we’ll just leave you three now. Gotta go, pops. We’ve got some jobs waiting at the scrapyard. Thanks again.” Chance headed for the door.
“Think nothing of it, Chance my boy. It’s our pleasure to baby-sit your friend’s kitten for a day.” Mr. Perkins walked them out.
They said their good-byes and Jake and Chance returned to the scrapyard. The Perkins’ were leaving for a cruise the next day so they couldn’t look after Katrina even though they wanted to. Chance and Jake were to pick her up that evening, then, if she still grew the next day, do something about it. The question was, what?
Sure enough, the next day Katrina woke them up by pulling on their cheeks and whiskers and talking. The first thing she asked was, “Wat’s for bweakfast, Jake?”
This convinced them that something was definitely amiss, and prompted them to call in some help. “Who’d you have in mind? Hackle?” Chance drank his milk while keeping Katrina on his lap.
“The only person I *know* would be professor Hackle or the Enforcers maybe.” Jake said. “But we should keep this quiet first until we know what this all means. So the Enforcers are out.”
“That leaves Hackle.” Chance concluded.
Jake got on the phone.
“I don’t think I can help you right now, though her case seems very interesting.” Hackle answered Jake’s request. “I do have a colleague though, a pediatrician who is more into this sort of thing. Plus she’s a psychiatrist, which I imagine, you would need in a situation like this. Her name is Dr. Sylvia Yarn, and she works at the Megakat Research Hospital.”
“We’ve managed to put the machine back together after it was damaged in the fire fight.” The head of the Research and Development Department informed The Commander as he brought his large frame into the room where his daughter disappeared. Everyone in the room stood and saluted as he passed. He returned everyone’s acknowledgment and faced his old pal, who was instructing the technicians to work their magic.
“Great, buddy.” The Commander looked down on his friend who due to injuries was confined to a hoverchair. He was about as old as him, although a lot thinner. His head was obscured by his visor and the diagnostic equipment strapped to his headband.
“Yeah. The old kat really knew what he was doing. That thing is a bundle of pretty complex stuff. You should be able to go any minute now, though.” He tossed a small packet at the Commander. “Here, Steve tells me Katrina’s suit was punctured. It’s a patch-kit for the suit.”
“How do you feel? Nervous?”
“Yeah.” The Commander confessed. “Very.”
“Kind of like going into action for the first time, huh?”
The Commander laughed then let his good friend get back to work. “How many did you say made it into the machine?” The Commander asked Steve. He had a bandage around his head, with a small reddish patch of dried blood on his left temple. Dan was next to him, nursing a broken arm.
“I saw seven make it in, sir, after I woke up from the knock to my head before Lt. Commander Pawter’s kat’s broke through.” Steve answered. “That’s when the machine was damaged, sir, in the fire fight.”
“Well, I’m leading the retrieval team personally. You and Dan get back to the medi-lab then take some time off.”
“Sir, I’d like to be assigned to this mission.” Steve sternly declared. He didn’t have to say why. The Commander already knew that he and Katrina were more than just friends, and he was counting on that to get him in on the mission.
“You’re in no condition to tag along on this one.” The Commander told him flatly.
“Please, sir.” Steve pleaded. Just then a kat came up carrying two yellow suits for them, the same kind of suits that Katrina and the other kats wore when they entered the machine. The Commander glanced at his crippled friend who gave him a slight nod and a thin smile.
“All right.” The Commander said, taking his suit and putting it on, Steve did the same. Then, as he finished with his suit he called everyone on the mission to attention. “Just one rule before we go. Minimal interaction is a must. No one interacts with anyone unless it’s absolutely necessary, understood?” The kats in yellow suits all nodded their helmeted heads.
“Good.” The Commander said. He took a deep breath and marched onto the platform, the kats under his command lining up behind him. The Commander was filled with a fear he hadn’t felt in a long time, one mixed with anxiety and a strong desire to back out. He fought it back instantly and surveyed his troops. When they were all on the platform, the hoverchair-bound kat threw the switch and the room was filled with a blinding light once again.
The next day Katrina had grown a full foot, and had expanded her vocabulary. At the hospital she was asking questions, reading, doing simple math problems and just plain exploring.
“Hi guys!” A female voice shocked Chance and Jake.
“Miss Briggs!” Jake exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
“Checking on you. Dr. Yarn is a friend of mine. She mentioned you guys over the phone.”
“Oh.” Chance and Jake didn’t know what else to say. Katrina was pulling on them to go outside where a guy was selling balloons.
“Also, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about my car.” Callie narrowed her eyes. Jake smiled and scratched his head and Chance loosened his collar. Lucky for them Sylvia Yarn opened her door and found them in the hall.
“Callie!” She called. “Come on in. And you too, come on lets go.”
Dr. Yarn’s office was typical of a doctor’s office, a desk to one side, an examination bed on the other. The walls were adorned with her certificates, her degree and other honors. Sylvia was large for a she-kat, just about a foot shorter than Chance. Her fur was of a grayish tone, with stripes of deeper gray all around. Her features were fair enough, but her stature did make her somewhat of a daunting figure. The radio was on when they entered.
Dr. Yarn was very cordial and formal. “Come in. Professor Hackle called me yesterday to expect you. And this must be Katrina.” She placed her hand on Katrina’s head and ruffled her ebony hair. Katrina fought back by pushing Sylvia’s hand away. “Now, lets start shall we?”
Chance lifted Katrina on to the examination table. “Is this gonna hurt?” The kitten asked. Chance ruffled her hair and assured her it wouldn’t hurt one bit.
“It won’t hurt at all.” Dr. Yarn said taking out her stethoscope from her black bag. She put it on and slipped the examining end under Katrina’s shirt. The heart beat was normal. A little fast, which she attributed to her being nervous, but normal. So was her breathing. Dr. Yarn took her blood pressure which was also slightly high. It was obvious to her that Katrina didn’t believe it all wouldn’t hurt.
Katrina got a full physical, and except for a slight cold, everything checked out okay. Feeling she was getting nowhere, Dr. Yarn turned to Chance and Jake. “And you said she grew overnight?”
“That’s right, doc.” Jake confirmed.
“Well, I’m not about to believe that you’d just come in here and drag this little girl on a hoax or practical joke or something.” Sylvia rubbed her chin. “I’d like to do the whole nine yards. Blood chemistry, ECG, etc.
“I also want her admitted for further observation. Katrina is a unique case, and I’d like to see exactly how she grows. I want a battery of other tests, too.”
“I don’t know…” Jake scratched his head. “Is that really necessary? I mean, I’m not sure we can afford all you’ve got in mind.”
“I’m afraid it is.” She replied.
Jake consulted his partner who agreed to have Katrina confined. She was given a simple room on the 7th floor. “I gotta go, guys. I still have some work to do.” Callie said to the two mechanics when they got up there. “I’ll check back later.”
Chance thanked her as she left. The rest of the day went by without anything interesting happening to Katrina. Come night, Dr. Yarn came in and took some measurements. She took her height, weight, arm length, cranium size, and some of her blood.
Katrina slept the sleep most little girls have, her stuffed toy beside her, her comforter tucked under her chin. Jake read her a story and sat beside her as she yawned cutely and drifted off. By midnight the trio of Jake, Chance and Dr. Yarn were falling into dreamland themselves, until Dr. Yarn spotted a sudden jerking movement from the bed Katrina was on.
She nudged Chance and Jake and they watched their patient. Their eyes settled at the point where Katrina’s foot was. It lengthened in front of their eyes.
“This is incredible.” Dr. Yarn immediately pulled out a tape recorder from her breast pocket. She whispered, “Subject’s appendages seem to have extend suddenly, morphing in much the same way as a special effect on a computer.”
What’s happening to her?” Chance moved closer.
Yarn cautioned him, “No! Stay back! We don’t know what will happen if you disturb her. We should let this run it’s course.” All of a sudden, the little kitten began to thrash violently, screaming. Her newly lengthened arms darting out, hoping to grab something. “Has this ever happened before?”
“No, never.” Jake answered.
The world was red, all the flames around her made of sure of that. She was standing in the middle of a park that her waking self wouldn’t have recognized, death rays raining down on everyone around her. She spun around and saw a kat coming at her, screaming for her to get away. He leapt at her and knocked her down just as laser fire scorched the soil where she stood. The kat acted as if he knew her, but she did not recognize him at all. Or did she?
More explosions came when the kats in armor arrived. But these were good kats, or so it seemed, because they trained their weapons on those planes shooting at her.
“Let’s go!” her companion said. Though they were next to each other, his voice seemed to come from far away. The cries of the wounded and frightened echoed in her ears, and seemed to chase her as she ran. Her little feet could not go fast enough so he carried her to safety.
Finally she got up and screamed. Chance moved beside her and she hugged him, sobbing. She eventually fell asleep again and woke up the next morning, fully remembering her nightmare. She told them all about it, and it left them all in thought, particularly Dr. Yarn. She had a nurse take Katrina to the nursery to see the newborn kittens then had a talk with Chance and Jake.
“She grew, physically, almost two years worth of growth last night.” She informed the duo. “Her vital signs still seem rather normal for a kitten her age, as does her blood chemistry, and, though I haven’t really delved into it just yet, her mental faculties seem intact. If anything is causing her to grow like she does, I don’t know what it is.”
“What about that dream of hers? Could there be a connection of some sort?” Jake inquired.
“Well, since you told me she’s never had them before during her ‘growth spurts’ then I see no reason why they’d be connected.” Dr. Yarn tossed her files on the bed and sat on it as well. “I’d like to keep her for a few more days.”
Chance and Jake didn’t argue with that. Not only was it the sensible thing to do for Katrina, but it also freed them to be the Swatkats again without worrying about her. By day at least, but at night they’d sleep over at the hospital with her.
The next day Katrina acted as if the growth spurt never occurred. The nightmare however, bothered her. She was extremely attached to Chance and Jake, the latter in particular, pulling on their shirts to make them stay.
She grew steadily. All the tests turned out nothing strange, no inconsistency was uncovered. Yarn was stuck. She had finished the basic routine and had come up empty. It was decided to bring Professor Hackle back into things to get his opinion, but he was unavailable at the time. Something about giving a lecture out of town.
Katrina was now about sixteen and was more adjusted to take the tests Dr. Yarn had planned for her, which now included psychiatric, as well as physical exams. Her days were filled with these tests. One after another, the next different but no less irritating than the last for her. Katrina wanted to get out into the sun, put on a bathing suit and go swimming. She wanted to get lost in a mall, meet other kittens her age. She wanted to tell them, but Dr. Yarn constantly assaulted her with tests it was hard to get a word in edgewise. Now, with the sun shining and the clouds lazily hanging above, she wanted to get out more than ever. She looked up as Callie entered the room with a big smile.
“Hi, Katrina. How are you doing?” The Deputy Mayor said. It still unnerved her how Katrina grew so quickly overnight. The TV was blaring and the room was cluttered with teen magazines Chance and Jake had brought her.
“Hi, Miss Briggs.” The young kat sat up.
“So, How’ve you been?”
“Terrible.” Katrina crossed her arms. “I’ve been cooped up in here for days! I can’t go out, I don’t have any friends besides you, Chance and Jake and the doctors and nurses in this place!”
“Well what did doctor Yarn say?” Callie took a seat next to the bed.
“She’s been making me take these tests, you know? Math, science, history, literature, geography… I pass most of them, except math and geography. She says she can’t understand how I know so much never having gone to school.”
“And what do you think?”
“I don’t know. I just know as much as any kitten my age. I also know that I want to get out of here! Maybe go shopping!”
“We’ll see what Dr. Yarn has to say about that.” Callie said and they both giggled. “But what about your nightmares? Still having them?”
“Yeah. Every night. The funny thing… the scary thing… is I remember every one of ’em. It’s as if it were more of a memory.”
“What was this last one about?” Callie asked. Katrina was obviously uncomfortable talking about her nightmare. Her voice quivered as she recounted the dream for Callie:
It was as if nature had lowered a veil of red over her eyes all over again. This time she was clutching tightly to a kat who had control of a hovercycle. There were no wheels but the bike seemed to just hover over the ground. It was going at a good clip and there were others alongside them. Katrina removed her weapon from it’s holster and fired at the oncoming Scavengers.
The Scavengers, mechanical constructs of some sort were closing fast, running at top speed and firing on them as well. She heard her companion speak. Again it was as if it were from the far end of a tunnel. She couldn’t make out what he was saying but she knew this was the same companion in most of her dreams. And there was one other kat this time, one veiled in shadows. He was on their side, destroying the scavengers showed her that. But his face was obscure, and she lost more detail trying to make his face out. All this was beginning to scare Katrina as much as it confused her and Dr. Yarn.
Callie held her hand. “Well, maybe we can talk to Dr. Yarn about getting you out of her for an afternoon.” Callie said. “Maybe that’ll clear your head a bit so you can make sense of those dreams of yours. How does that sound?”
Katrina dropped her magazine on her bed and hung her head. Her dreams were so vivid that it seemed to her that it happened only moments ago. Except for that new kat. She brushed her hair back and forced a smile. “That sounds really good, Miss Briggs. Really good.”
“Sure does.” Chance said as he entered the door. Jake was behind but Katrina greeted him first. They set down some take-out food for dinner. None of them liked hospital food. While they ate Callie observed that Katrina was always by Jake’s side even though he may not have noticed her. She also noticed that for the past two days, she had always had what Jake had.
It was a trivial little thing but she thought she’d bring it up with them soon.
Professor Hackle was exhausted. Being in the field was for younger kats, he thought, those little scientists who can afford to run about chasing a mechanoid gone astray. He had a pain in his right knee which had been present throughout the whole day, and wasn’t about to leave. He leaned on his cane all the more because of it. Someone once told him that he was only as old as he thought himself to be, and at that moment, he thought himself very old. It wasn’t just the knee. It was everything. He seemed to be always short of breath lately, and whatever drive was left in him diminished by the day.
At least the students seemed enthusiastic about his being at Katsford University and lecturing. Ah, teaching. Now that was one prospect which excited him a bit.
He tapped in the alphanumeric code to his back-room and stepped inside. Descending the staircase, he looked around. Why was he feeling nostalgic all of a sudden? Why the sudden yearning for youth? He looked and saw that almost all of his creations, whether they functioned properly or not were in this room, his failure room.
He had the original bodies of the Metallikats on the far side. Those two had changed bodies so many, many times. Off to another corner was scrap from the Macrobots, his dream of space exploration turned rampaging machine. His heart was heavy with the guilt of his failures. In front of him now was his prototype long-term submersible, which he had long ago abandoned. Beside it was his attempt at a time machine, also abandoned.
How he failed so many times, he couldn’t fathom, and he knew he’d go deeper into despair if he did. Not that he didn’t have successes, but his mistakes were more engraved in his mind. He pulled himself out of his daily pit of tragic memories and forced himself to call Dr. Yarn. Maybe the advanced growth of her patient would help lift his spirits.
The slight beep caught his attention. It was the faintest of beeps, but in such a quiet room he heard it clearly. It was followed by the brightening of a control panel. It lasted only a second, then faded. The beep was gone as well. He approached the panel and examined it. It was the control panel of the time machine.
The same dream filled her sleep, down to the last detail. She still couldn’t make out what her companion was saying. And the mystery kat was still as shrouded as ever. But it was different somehow, more vivid. The haze was redder than the previous time, and the terror in herself was more immanent.
She strained to remember as she sat up in her bed. She felt the cold sweat on her. She changed and looked around in the dimly lit hospital room. Jake was sleeping on the two chairs put together beside her bed. Chance had gone home to look after things at the garage.
She noticed how cute Jake was. Instantly she forgot her dream. She wondered why she never noticed his smile before, the way his fur curled around his cheeks. There was her dreamboat. She fought back the terror that was slowly creeping up. The dreams seemed more real than ever, and she felt she had grown, her clothes were tighter. She almost cried but fought it back., then forced herself back to sleep.
Katrina’s eyes burst open just as she heard the knocks on the door. She looked at herself. She was drenched in sweat, and her breathing was heavy, as if she had run a marathon. Another dream. The mystery kat was there again, but this time he had a friend, a partner, whose face was also lost to her mind’s eye. They were awe-inspiring to her, destroying Scavengers left and right. She was about to be crushed when she had woken up.
She heard voices from the other side of the door, and that scared her a little. She got up shakily and opened the door just a little way. She recognized the voices as she saw them. It were Chance and Jake along with Miss Briggs. She looked on some more and tried to put together what they were saying.
She pressed her ear closer and heard one of them mention going out somewhere. She jumped back as Callie opened the door fully. “Come on, Katrina. Dr. Yarn agreed to let you go for today, reluctantly.” The news was music to her ears. She peeked out at Chance and Jake. “They were thinking maybe of bringing you to the beach today.”
“But… I don’t have a bathing suit.” It saddened her that she got a chance and couldn’t take it.
“That’s why I’m here.” Callie pulled out a bathing suit from her bag. It was a one-piece affair, and Katrina hugged it to her chest. Chance and Jake came in and packed their stuff as did Katrina. She was so happy that she didn’t notice Callie wasn’t packing until they were about to leave. When confronted Callie reasoned that she was still needed at work and that she’d tag along next time.
“That’s too bad.” Chance whispered to Jake with a grin. Jake grinned too. Callie heard the remark but said nothing, she just looked at them slyly. Dr. Yarn then showed up saying that she wanted Katrina back by nightfall to get a good rest. She had another battery of tests lined up, and had contacted Professor Hackle who had agreed to come the next morning.
While Katrina was changing, Callie decide to tell Chance and Jake her observations. “I think Katrina has a crush on you, Jake.” She declared, to Chance and Jake’s surprise.
“How do you know?” Jake asked.
“Trust me. We she-kat’s know each other. The way she always brushes against you, her always having the same thing you have for dinner and a lot more tell tale signs. She has a crush on you, Jake. Question now is what are you going to do about it?”
Katrina came out before he could answer, and he just loosened his shirt collar.
The drive to the beach was a long one but it was a chance for Katrina to be free of the tedious tests. She sat up front, Jake having given up his seat for her and settling for the back. For a moment she wished she were sitting beside Jake but said nothing of it. She looked out the window wide-eyed, pointing at everything that piqued her interest, which was just about everything. Chance chuckled and shot Jake a look when Katrina was going on about the world so much she didn’t notice. They both found her exuberance funny and a bit childish. But then Jake reminded himself, she really is just a little kitten, physical and mental development aside.
“You act as if this is the first time you’ve seen these things.” Jake said.
“Oh I’m sure I’ve seen them somewhere before.” She said. She must have, Chance said to himself. Despite her awe in the simplest things like tall buildings, lush parks, towering redwood trees and such, she *knew* what they were. It was a puzzle, but a puzzle which could wait till tomorrow. They had just pulled up in the Megakat Beach Parking Lot and the fun times for Katrina were about to begin.
“Let’s hurry so we can get a good spot!” Katrina tugged at Jake. Chance was left to carry their things. They found a site close to the lockers so they could change and shower easily. Jake and Chance changed into their shorts while Katrina slipped into her one-piece. The ocean had a way of relaxing a kat, Chance thought. And that was just what he wanted, to relax. Jake had the same idea, find a spot to lie back and rest. Let Katrina do all the running around.
The two mechanics watched for Katrina to come out of the locker. When she emerged, she had a small shirt over her suit and a towel wrapped around her waist. She walked past them blissfully and set her things down on the towel . Then she moved out, as if moving to center stage, and took off her shirt. The towel soon followed.
Chance and Jake stared at Katrina. Her young, ample body filled up the swimsuit Callie gave her. It had a floral print and a high-cut waist, making her already long legs look longer. She brushed her hair back gracefully and adjusted the straps to her swimsuit. Chance and Jake had always looked at Katrina as the little girl they found in their scrapyard, so seeing a voluptuous young she-kat showing plenty of fur was quite a shock to them.
Chance suddenly felt strange. He looked around for suspicious looking teenage kats, and saw several staring at Katrina. He also felt as if he wanted to wrap Katrina in the beach towel and march her back to the garage. Then he stopped himself. Is this how a father feels? he thought to himself. He decided to just let Katrina have fun and resolved to keep a close watch on her, and any kat who strayed to close to her.
Jake was uncomfortable being beside Katrina, but not because she constantly talked to him about the most mundane things. Nor was it because she seemed ready to do anything to pull his attention away from his book to her. He felt uncomfortable because when he did get a chance to get back to his book, he couldn’t help but look at her hourglass figure. She’d stop making Jake take notice of her. She’d look around at the passers-by and the waves. And when she’d look back, Jake would shift his book to hide his staring eyes.
Jake decided he had to get some distance between him and Katrina so he excused himself and went for a dip. The water wasn’t as cold as he first thought so he jumped right in. What exactly it was that was bothering him he did not quite know. Katrina had been affectionate to Chance during the first few days, but lately her attentions seemed to have turned to him. Why that upset him was still in need of working out.
But he couldn’t deny it for more than a few minutes. He found Katrina very attractive, and to him that was the trouble. He didn’t feel it right for him to want Katrina, but there it was in his feelings. Jake felt a swarm of butterflies in his stomach, a swarm he hadn’t felt since his highschool days. He felt guilty looking at Katrina that way. With any other she-kat he would think nothing of it, but not with Katrina. Not with the little kitten he had made a crib for, and fed at night
She popped up beside him suddenly, doing a breast-stroke. “Hi.” She said and started to tread. Jake motioned for them to go to shore. They got out of the water at one of the more secluded areas of the beach, where the rocks jutted out of the shoreline. They found a smooth boulder to sit on.
“How did you know how to swim?” Jake asked, keeping his eyes from roaming.
“I don’t know.” Katrina said honestly. Realizing she was slouching, she sat up straight and thrust her chest out. She looked like a highschool cheerleader wanting to impress a football jock. Jake just smiled and turned his gaze to the sea. There was a silence now, aside from the crashing of the waves. Katrina slid closer to Jake, her arm brushing against his.
“You can stop flirting, Katrina.” He tried to make it sound nice, but knew it didn’t. Katrina pulled back and drew her knees to her chin. Jake saw the hurt in her eyes. “Hey. Come on, Katrina.”
“What’s wrong?” She said softly. “You like me, don’t you?”
Jake took a deep breath. “Of course I like you, Katrina. I’ve always liked you. But it just wouldn’t work out between you and me.”
“Why not.” Her face had sadness and confusion. “In another two, three days we’ll be the same age.” She reasoned.
“In another week, you’ll be old enough to be my mom.” Jake answered, a little to harshly. He saw her face drop again, and she buried it in her knees. Jake tried to lighten the mood the conversation was going in. “I used to change your diapers for Pete’s sake.”
Katrina giggled at that one, though she was embarrassed and blushing. She wanted to say something, but how could she tell him what she didn’t understand herself? She felt something more than a crush on Jake. As if she remembered Jake from long ago. But then she thought that was impossible, wasn’t it? Maybe he just reminded her of someone. Who, she had no idea.
“Are you still with me here?” Jake kidded.
Katrina was still hurt but she forced a smile. “I’m sorry…”
“No harm done.” Jake assured her. “So how about we get back to Chance? He’s probably worried sick about you by now.”
Neither of them noticed the two figures approach till it was too late. The first stepped between Jake and Katrina, kicking him in the stomach. The second snatched Katrina up and pulled her to her feet. “Is he one of them?” The one holding Katrina spoke up. “Maybe we should just finish him now.”
“Yeah, lets!.” Said the one who kicked Jake. He kicked him again off the rocks into the water. Jake fell in the ocean as the two turned to leave with their catch. He scrambled up to the surface, ignoring the pain in his gut.
He climbed to rocks, preparing for a fight. One of them turned to him and took a battle stance. Jake attacked first, scoring a knee hit into the kat’s midsection. He followed it up with a punch to the same area then another to the face. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Chance come running up along the shoreline. He must have been watching them and ran as soon as he saw the two approach.
The kidnapper was suddenly cornered, boxed in. Chance was intimidating him to give up, but he wouldn’t listen. In a sudden move he threw Katrina at Jake and ran past him. He wasn’t able to get far when Chance grabbed his collar and flung him to the ground. He rolled with the move, dragging Chance to the ground with him, where they both struggled to get the upper hand. Chance’s weight and leverage were too much, and the assailant cried out in pain as he had his arm painfully twisted behind his back.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Feral shoved the second prisoner into the cell. They had been completely quiet since they were brought in by the two mechanics. It didn’t surprise him that those two hotshots had managed to apprehend criminals. They were Enforcers for a while after all, though their records were pockmarked with as many commendations as it had reprimands.
Feral completely believed that they were at fault for the escape of Darkkat. If only they hadn’t been so stubborn and had given him the tag, Darkkat might be rotting on Alkatraz right now. But that was too much, he thought. There was no guarantee of that. Still, that was no reason to go easy on them. He had yelled at them when they brought in these two would-be kidnappers. Felina was outside dealing with them. Thank goodness, since he didn’t want to see their faces any more than was needed.
He glared at the two captives. “Well?”
“Go find a scratching post, Commander.” One said.
“We ain’t gonna be here long anyways.” Said the other.
“We’ll see about that. Were bringing in an attorney for you tomorrow, though personally I think you don’t deserve one.”
“Scratchpost is calling, Commander.”
Feral slammed his paw on the bars and startled the two, who pulled back in fear.
Outside, his niece was handling the two hotshots. “Don’t worry, with your sworn statements, those guys aren’t going anywhere.” Felina promised. “But what bothers me is why they would want to kidnap Katrina? From what you told us she isn’t extremely rich or influential.”
“That’s what I think your uncle is trying to find out.” Chance said.
“Yeah.” Felina narrowed her eyes at the two ex-Enforcers. “He sure blew his top when you two walked in. Almost as if someone tore open an old war wound.”
“Yeah, well, it’s a long story Lieutenant.” Jake assured her. “And not a very pretty one either.”
“Can we go now?” Katrina nagged. Chance looked at Felina who said everything was in order and that they could go for now. “Thanks, Lieutenant.” Katrina said, and waved as she made her way out, dragging Jake with her.
“Well, see you, Lt.” Chance hurried after. He was barely out the door when Feral entered from the ante-room. Felina could see the contempt in her uncle’s eyes. He went on about how they caused Darkkat’s escape, and how kats like those never should have made it on the force. Felina, for her part knew that if they had one or two kats like those, the force would be a lot more effective. She had gone through their dossiers before, and they were quite impressive. As well as incredibly mischievous.
“Something isn’t right, Felina.” He told his niece. “Furlong’s ‘cousin’ is a bit suspicious.”
“You’re back early.” Dr. Yarn said, surprised. She had just gotten of the phone with Professor Hackle, who requested they bring Katrina over. “He seemed very excited. He said as soon as possible.”
Katrina shrank away, her face showing her disappointment at the cutting short of her vacation. “Do I have to?” She crossed her arms across her chest. “I mean after the Enforcers and all…”
“Somebody tried to kidnap Katrina.” Jake explained. He went on to tell Dr. Yarn about the attack at the beach and how they managed to stop the attackers and haul them off to Enforcer Headquarters. “Why is what we can’t understand. Katrina says she doesn’t know why either.”
“Aw, come on…” Katrina whined. “Am I going to have to take more tests?” Katrina’s voice was irritated and full of disbelief.
“Well, maybe we can postpone the trip till tomorrow. “Dr. Yarn said, and Katrina’s eyes softened somewhat. “Though for reasons of safety I’d like you to stay here.”
“Sheesh!” Katrina was obviously exasperated. “Pleeeeeaaaasssse? I just have to get out of this place!” Dr. Yarn looked at Chance and Jake who were the official guardians of Katrina.
“Well,” Chance said after thinking a while. “We can take her with us to the garage. It’s not the beach but at least it isn’t the hospital either.” He turned to Jake who looked shocked and in protest. Chance’s eyebrows met and that was a signal for Jake to stay quiet and ride along.
“It’s safe enough, I mean no one would link Katrina with the Megakat Scrapyard right?” Jake agreed. Katrina softened a little. Dr. Yarn didn’t protest. The scrapyard it was.
He hadn’t felt this enthusiastic about anything in years. Ever since the sudden but fleeting beep from his abandoned time machine he canceled all previous appointments with the University and locked himself up in his hall of failures, his robot servants bringing him his meals.
He did some computations in his head and wrote them down. He had abandoned this project when his colleague, Dr. Greenbox was incarcerated after the incident with Zed. It seemed their theories of time travel had been acceptable, the proof being the only missing factor. They had to prove, to themselves first then to the scientific community, that it was possible to place an object in a different time than when it was supposed to exist.
More computations filled his mind. He did them all as fast as he could, and wrote them down again. But this beep, this sudden glowing of the lights, it meant something. He took out his old notes and flipped through them. He found designs for a small oddly-shaped device, a portable version of the console. It had been decided not to build it, since there was no proof the larger version worked. Ah, but the beep! That was proof!
Then he remembered Katrina, the little girl who Jake Clawson had called him about and who he had recommended to Dr. Yarn. There was a link, he was sure. Perhaps, her aging was caused by a disturbance in the timestream? But if so why was she the only one? A thousand possibilities flew through Hackle’s mind as he wrote down more formulas and checked schematics. His watch told him night had come. He was sure he wouldn’t get any sleep.
“Uh… Lieutenant Feral? There are a couple of kats here who want to see the two new ones.” Felina heard over the headphone. “They say they’re the guys’ attorneys.” She didn’t recall her uncle calling anybody about the two new guys yet. Probably some of those commercial lawyers trying to make a name for themselves with a big case.
“Tell them to come back some other time.” Felina ordered.
“I already did, ma’am. They insist on talking to Commander Feral. I told ’em he already left so they want to see you.”
“All right then. I’ll be right down.” The nerve of those guys. And at this hour of the night! She’d get rid of them easily. She took her time getting down there.
When she got to the entrance, Felina was shocked to see four of the Enforcers lying on the floor. She rushed to check on them; they were all still alive. She sniffed at the air. Something wasn’t right, a peculiar odor which she couldn’t make out was hanging in the air. Right then she knew that was what knocked out the guards. She rushed to the desk where the security monitors were, but they were all smashed and the tapes ripped apart. The kat stationed there was also unconscious.
Racing to the cell block where the new prisoners were, she gathered all the kat’s she could. “Didn’t you see anything!?” She screamed as she ran She pulled out her blaster from its holster. The other kats followed suit.
“We saw a couple of guys with passes on their coats.” An Enforcer replied. It figures, Felina thought. It must’ve been easy enough to pull out a pass with the guards unconscious. They finally reached the cell block, where the guards were also unconscious. But the two prisoners were still in their cell, acting as if nothing had happened.
“Where are they?” Felina demanded, her weapon held at ready.
“Who?” One of them asked with mock ignorance.
“You know who.” Felina shot back, though she wasn’t looking at them, she was looking around at every conceivable hiding place.
The smoke filled the room quickly, rising up from a small cylinder lying on the floor. One by one the Enforcers fell. Felina kicked the can to the far side of the room. “Everyone out!” She managed. Where had that come from? She turned and saw the two kats exit their cell, gas masks on their faces. They barged through the weakened Enforcers. Felina tried to block their escape but she too had inhaled some of the gas and was too weak to put up much of a fight. She hit her head as she fell, her vision blurring. The world became unfocused and eventually faded to black.
Jake didn’t agree with Chance’s decision to take in Katrina one bit. They were vigilantes, as such not only wanted, but needed secrecy. To Jake’s mind, Katrina’s mere presence in the scrapyard jeopardized their identities.
Not to mention the uneasiness between Katrina and him. He wasn’t sure if Chance was aware of it. Heck, he thought, he wasn’t sure if Chance noticed how paternal he himself acted towards Katrina. It was all getting out of hand, Jake thought. Slowly but surely out of hand.
At the scrapyard, Katrina eagerly searched the junk for some interesting stuff. In her first hour she had found a portable video game and CD player which Jake then promised to fix. The whole place fascinated her. And she didn’t care if she dirtied herself scrounging around. She literally dug into the mounds of scrap in search of her treasure.
In the kitchen, Chance was whipping up some Black Cod, using an old family recipe. Katrina’s eyes had bust open when she saw the junkyard and had been happily lost in the rubble since they arrived. He was happy to see her happy. Jake was finishing up on a Honda in the garage. “Dinner’s almost ready!” Chance called.
“You don’t cook often Chance.” Jake came in wiping his hands. “Why now?”
“Well, I figured we had a special guest, and that called for the family specialty.” Chance was stirring his dish when Katrina came running in. Yup. Jake decided. Chance was getting fatherly.
“That smells wonderful!” She exclaimed. “Can I taste?”
“Sure.” Chance took out a tasting spoon and filled it up. “Be careful, it’s hot.” He warned as he gave her the spoon.
Katrina took it and blew on the spoon for a while then tasted the fish. She chewed slowly, thinking at the same time. When she swallowed she looked at Chance. “That’s plenty of ginger, some rosemary, a dash of lemon…” And she went on and on identifying the ingredients of the dish. When she was done Chance was staring at her.
“That’s right.” He said. Katrina smiled and left to wash up. Chance looked at Jake who shrugged, just as confused and surprised as he was. Dinner was quiet. Katrina enjoyed the meal. She helped clean the dishes then excused herself, going out into the yard again.
“You know where this puts us, don’t you buddy?” Jake finished his milk.
“Whadda you mean?” Chance said.
“I mean having a curious teenage she-kat running around our operation here.” Jake got up and peeked outside to see if Katrina was within earshot. She was on another mound so it was safe to speak up. “What if Darkkat attacks? Or the Matallikats try to break into the Megakat Mint again?”
“It’s a bit late to turn back now, ace.” Chance took a large gulp of his milk. “We’ll deal with it when it comes.”
At that moment the phone rang, interrupting their conversation. It was Dr. Yarn. “I’ll pick up Katrina at around eight.” She told Jake who had answered. “I’ll also leave my car in, if you don’t mind. It’s been making a strange noise lately.”
“No problem, doc.” Jake said. “But how are you going to Prof. Hackles? Do you need a ride?”
“No, thank you, Jake. Callie agreed to lend me her car for a while.”
“Oh, okay.” Jake felt he should warn her but she hung up.
After dinner and a few more chapters of his book, Jake decided to get some sleep. Chance agreed, and went outside to call Katrina back in. He saw her on one of the higher mounds of rubble, her knees to her chin, the wind blowing her long silky hair. She looked enchanting against the full moon. He called out to her but she didn’t seem to hear.
She climbed on one of the taller mounds of rubble and perched herself there, her knees drawn to her chest. The cool breeze she didn’t notice. What was wrong with her? she finally thought. She grew an average of two years every night. She knew as much as anyone else without having to go to school. How? She knew how to swim earlier, as if it were second nature. How was that possible? Or more importantly, what was to become of her?
The idea of dying of old age in a few days was frighteningly real all of a sudden. A potent feeling of despair built up within her, threatening to engulf her. She had fought it off for days, pretending to be normal. But her sudden recitation in the kitchen reminded her that she definitely wasn’t normal.
To top it all off she had a severe crush on Jake. She saw a great kat in him, and knew in her soul that they would really hit it off if only Jake would let it. But their talk at the beach ended all that. Katrina still couldn’t shake what she felt. When she stopped to think about it, it was more than a serious crush, as if he reminded her of someone, but for the life of her she didn’t know who.
Chance was a great kat too. He was the kind to answer all her questions, watch over her, protect her. He was always there to hug and snuggle up to, like the brother she never had. Or did she have a brother and not know?
Who did she know really? Chance, Jake, Miss Briggs, Dr. Yarn, a couple of the nurses and orderlies at the hospital. It dawned on her that she had a short, unfulfilled life. Then the dreams were always there in her head. She wiped a tear from her eye. She didn’t want to stop pretending, but she knew she had too.
“Katrina? Are you all right?” Chance sat down beside her. She didn’t respond at first. Then she looked at him, her eyes almost completely in tears, then looked away. Chance held her. “What’s wrong? You can tell me.”
“I just…” She struggled against an outburst. “I’m just so scared. About growing old. About my nightmares.” She melted into Chance’s embrace, burying her face in his chest. It felt good for Katrina just to have somebody close.
“Shhhh….” Chance rubbed her back lovingly. “It’ll be all right. Professor Hackle will fix whatever’s wrong.”
“Promise?” She hugged him tighter.
“Promise.” He trusted Professor Hackle. The old kat knows what he’s doing, Chance thought.
“I… I don’t want to sleep tonight.” She declared. “I don’t know maybe… maybe if I don’t sleep I won’t grow.”
“That’s Ok.” Chance said supportively. “I’ll stay up with you.” By early morning they had gone through several old movies, the leftover of the codfish, a litter and a half of milk and several games of Gin Rummy, Poker, Speed and Crazy Eights. All of which, surprising to both of them, she knew how to play, and play well.
Katrina gathered the money she won in front of her. Chance scratched his head. “That’s it, Katrina. I’m all outta money.” Then he glanced at his wrist watch. “It’s four forty-five.”
“Yeah.” Katrina stuffed her money into her pockets. She was sleepy and she knew Chance was sleepy too, but she really wanted to stay awake. To do that she needed someone to keep her awake. Chance rested his elbow of the table and his head on his palm. He took deep regular breaths. Katrina smiled and stood to get some more milk.
Out of nowhere a wave of nausea swept over her. It hit her so hard and so suddenly that she lost her balance. Katrina supported herself with the table. The dizziness was overwhelming her and her vision was blurring. She tried to call Chance but nothing left her lips. Then everything went black and she fell to the floor.
Chance woke up with the sudden thump. He got up and looked around, “Katrina!” He found her on the floor. He moved to pick her up when she began to morph again, much like that night at the hospital. Her limbs were longer, and her cheeks fuller. Her hair lengthened as well. Her clothes were suddenly too small for her.
When it was all over Chance shook her softly to wake her up. Katrina’s eyes fluttered open. “Wha… What happened?” She looked at him groggily. “Did I…? Chance took a deep breath and nodded his head slowly. Katrina hugged him tightly.
The next morning there was a rush job, some hotshot teenager pushed his car too far and the engine blew so now he needed a tow. Chance and Jake proceeded to the caller. Katrina wanted one of them to be with her at Professor Hackle’s, and they promised to follow as soon as they could.
Once back at the garage, Chance gave the teen-kat a lecture on what and what not to do with your car. It bugged him and Jake to no end how badly kids treat their cars these days.
“Start talking!” Jake heard and bolted up in surprise, hitting his head on the underside of the car’s hood. He turned around and found Commander Feral glaring angrily at him. Felina looked far more composed but she did have a bandage wrapped across her forehead. Jake rubbed his own head injury as Feral went on. “Those two crooks you brought in escaped.”
“What!?” Jake said. “When?”
“Last night! Felina and several others were injured in the escape.” Feral pointed a finger at Jake. “You better start talking, Clawson. There’s something you and that crazy foul-up Furlong aren’t telling me!”
“We’ve told you everything there is, Feral.” Chance lied, stepping out of the garage.
“Those two weren’t just two-bit criminals, and neither were their accomplices! Something isn’t right about that girl! Where is she!?”
“She’s not here.” Jake answered back defensively. “She left this morning. Hey!” Jake was pushed aside as Feral barged past. He scanned the area quickly searching for something, anything that would serve as a clue or point him in a solid direction.
“You got a search warrant, Feral?” Chance blocked Feral’s path.
Feral backed down. He didn’t have a warrant, nor did he have enough of a reason to ask for a warrant from a judge. But he was sure, the girl had something to hide, and was willing to stake his job on it. He looked around a few more times then barged past Jake again to leave.
“Whoah” The kat with the busted car said. “Creepy dude. You guys must be in some serious mojo to get a real wacko like him down your pants huh?”
Chance didn’t know if the kat was stoned or trying too hard to sound cool and he didn’t care. He looked him in the eye, said, “Scram.”, andd the kat was out of sight in record time.
But Jake was barely aware of his partner or the departed kat. His attention was fixed on a slight scuffling noise coming from the mound right behind them. “What’s the matter, buddy?” Chance asked when Jake didn’t reply. But Jake just put his finger to his mouth in a motion of silence and lightly made his way to the mound, his other hand beckoning Chance to do the same.
They were practically noiseless as they approached the mound. Another light, almost inaudible scuffling sound reached their ears as they were almost upon the mound. Right at the foot of the heap, Jake clenched his fists and crouched, bracing himself. In a flash he leapt into the air, clearing the mound and diving straight at two bewildered kats. The first one was able to regain his composure quickly and took up a receiving stance. He caught Jake and tossed him aside.
Jake flipped with the throw and landed on his feet. He crunched down again, his spine storing energy like a spring. A split second later he pounced directly at the kat who flipped him over, knocking him into the pile of junk.
The other kat was about to rip Jake off of his companion when Chance came crashing down on him, fist first. Chance’s knuckles slammed violently into his opponent’s face, knocking him several feet away. Chance landed and looked around. No one else was there, and Jake seemed to have the other guy under control. The kat he knocked down was standing up, so he charged at him and buried his shoulder in the guy’s midsection.
By now Jake’s opponent was able to sneak out of Jake’s hold and roll away. Jake swung a punch which was avoided. The kat countered with a kick but Jake was able to catch it. With the guy’s foot in his hand, Jake pressed it back and at the same time swept him to the ground. “Aw, dad! That’s enough!” the kat exclaimed as he hit the mud.
Jake was surprised. Did he hear right? Dad? “What are you talking about?” He asked, still in a combat stance. The kat staggered to his feet. He was almost upright when Chance came out of nowhere to slam him back into the junk pile. “Chance, wait!” Jake said.
Chance eased up and pulled the kat from out of the scrap heap, holding him up by the collar. “D… Dad…” He said. Chance made a confused look which he shot at Jake.
Jake came up beside him. “What do you mean ‘Dad?’ We’re just mechanics, and I’m no father.” He crossed his arms.
“No time… to explain…” It was obvious that Chance had hit the kat a bit too hard. “Have to go… find Katrina…”
“Katrina!?” Chance and Jake said together. “What do you know about Katrina?” Chance pressed.
“Where… where is she?” The kat was getting his breath back.
“Why should we tell you?.” Jake told him.
“We have to find her. Please… She’s in danger…”
“Danger!?.” Chance let the kat go. He looked over the uniform, and it donned on him now how similar the design was to the Enforcers’, only a different color scheme, blue and orange. And the insignia also looked like a spin off of the Enforcers’. “Who the crud are you anyway?”
“Like I said, no time. Where could she have gone?” The kat was frantic.
“She went to visit professor Hackle today.” Jake informed the uniformed kat.
“Then that’s where we’ll find her.” The stranger said. “Get the Turbokat out and let’s go.”
Chance and Jake stared at him wide eyed. “What are you talking about?” Jake denied.
“We know all about you.” Came a commanding voice, almost as gruff as Chance’s. From behind the other mounds other kats showed themselves. All of them wore the Enforcer-type uniforms with the Enforcer-type insignias. The speaker, a big, burly kat stepped forward. His face was obscured by his helmet and lowered visor. He had a gruff voice, much like Chance’s. “I’ll explain later but I’m asking you two, kat-to-kat, we have to get to Katrina.”
“It certainly is a wonderful day, don’t you think?” Dr. Yarn drove out of the city limits.
“I suppose so.” Katrina said in response. “It really was a beautiful day, the sun was out, the sky was clear and the air was crisp, especially outside of the city. But, no matter how much she let it, it just didn’t seem to lift her spirits.
For her part, Dr. Yarn was getting nowhere, and that was beginning to nag at her immensely. She wanted Katrina to see Professor Hackle for one, to find a cure or a solution to her unorthodox predicament and two, and perhaps of little more importance to her, to find out the truth. “I’m sure we’ll figure something out. Professor Hackle was excited to see you.”
Katrina was unimpressed. She folded her arms across her chest and scowled.
“Oh, what’s this?” Dr. Yarn looked at her rear view mirror. She saw several kats in motor cycles closing in on them at an alarming speed. They looked intent on something, and were approaching the car. Soon Katrina and Dr. Yarn were flanked by two, the remaining pair bringing up the rear.
Katrina stared out the window and recognized the kat as one of her assailants. “Speed up, Dr. Yarn!” She cried.
“What? I’m sure these hooligans…”
“Floor it!” Katrina yelled as a shot went past her head and Dr. Yarn’s. She grabbed the wheel from Dr. Yarn and turned hard right, almost knocking the biker off. Then she swerved back to the left, going for the other biker, who slowed down to avoid the car. “Floor it now!”
Sylvia stepped down on the gas as hard as she could and felt herself get thrown backwards into the seat. The turboplugs had kicked in. The engine roared like a dragon waking up from it’s sleep and about to take flight. Sylvia shifted gears and the monstrous roar transformed into a smooth sounding purr. They were going way over the speed limit, and the bikers were slowly disappearing from the car’s rear view mirror.
Professor Hackle was seated in his living room, computations, possibilities, and hypotheses streaming through his head. Just then a light klaxon sounded and woke him form his musings. He checked who it was and immediately ran to open the door.
“I’m so glad you could make it.” Hackle greeted his two guests. “And this must be Katrina.” Katrina took time out from looking over her shoulder to say hello. She was jittery, and she wanted to get inside and not feel so exposed.
“Do come in.” Hackle said as she edged her way past him. To Dr. Yarn she said. “You look dreadful. You’re all pale and sweaty. Is anything the matter?”
“Forgive me, Professor.” She answered politely. “But we encountered these uncouth kats on the road and…”
“Uncouth my tail!” Katrina called from inside. “They were trying to kill us!” She searched the room for a phone but there was none. It all seemed familiar to her but she wasn’t sure when if ever she had been in here last. It was Deja vu at it’s strongest for her. Professor Hackle closed the door and approached her.
“Are you looking for something, my dear?” He offered.
“The phone, I need to make a call.” Katrina was frenzied.
“Here.” Hackle pulled a lever and the phone rose from the coffee table. Katrina snatched it up urgently and dialed the number of the scrapyard. It rung several times but no one was answering. She put down the phone and sank to the chair, dejected.
“Not to worry.” Hackle promised her. “This compound is equipped with security devices to keep any unwanted visitors out.”
“Come now, Katrina. We should begin our tests.” Dr. Yarn said.
A loud klaxon sounded as a panel in the wall slid to reveal a monitor. Hackle flicked the switch and an image of the bikers came on screen. “Ah, are these the hooligans you were talking about?”
“Yes, and we have to go, now!” Katrina was almost hysterical now. “Let’s get in the car and go! Please! Let’s just go!”
Dr. Yarn ignored Katrina and looked at Professor Hackle. “Impossible.” She heard him whisper. “My security devices are turned off…”
“Then I agree with Katrina, Professor.” Dr. Yarn beckoned them to leave.
Too late. The front door burst open, the kats barging in. They subdued Katrina violently, throwing her to the floor. Dr. Yarn ran to help her up but she was shoved aside. Several blasters directed at his face prevented Professor Hackle from aiding anyone.
“Well, well. If it isn’t professor Hackle, my old colleague.” The leader of the kats said. “You never change do you? You haven’t even bothered to replace your security system. I still have the override code. Perhaps I should kill you right now, and spare me a whole world of trouble in the future. What do you say?”
“I… I don’t know who you are…” Hackle stuttered.
“Oh, of course not.” The leader removed his hood and revealed his face.
“Professor Greenbox!?” Dr. Yarn exclaimed.
“Yes, but not the Greenbox you know. I think in this time I was still being evaluated for mental stability.”
“What do you mean ‘this time?’”
“Ah, Hackle haven’t you figured it out yet?” Greenbox fired a shot through the roof for effect. “I’m from the future!”
The three prisoners were aghast.
“What do you want with me?” Katrina was trying hard to stay calm. “I don’t know you.”
“No but you will.” Greenbox squatted to look down at her. “Now where is the CD?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Liar.” Greenbox scowled. He would’ve slapped her had another klaxon not sounded.
“Going to hover-mode.” T-Bone announced. He expertly landed the Turbokat right between a row of trees. They dismounted quickly but cautiously, no knowing what, if anything, was happening in the lab. T-Bone opened the Bomb-bay doors to let the rest of his passengers out.
“I never thought I’d actually be able to ride in the belly of the Turbokat!” One of them exclaimed.
“Everyone back home will be so mad.” Said another.
Razor kept a close eye on the Enforcer-like kats, not completely trusting them. It disturbed him how they knew so much about their operation. He couldn’t help but feel Steve’s gaze burrow into his neck. That guy looked at him as if he was a teen idol or something. Heck, everyone except for the commander looked at him and T-Bone like they were superheroes.
“Let’s get moving.” He led the way.
“You really should change your security codes, Hackle. Still the same from now until my time.” Greenbox turned the security systems back on.
“I don’t like this.” T-Bone whispered to Razor.
“I know what you mean.” Razor glanced over his shoulder at the pack of kats following them. “I don’t like them knowing our secret.”
“Roger that.” T-Bone affirmed.
A few more meters down they were stopped by a sudden humming sound, like several small motors turning on all at once. T-Bone and Razor backed up, coming back-to back with the other kats. who had also stopped.
Out of the foliage came several silver tentacle-like contraptions, their ends sporting three-fingered grapplers. They seemed to poise first, sizing up their prey, then darted at them with snake-like speed. “Scatter!” Razor yelled as every one did. The tentacles connected with ground and grass, then bounced back to their poised position. The sensors on their tips searching out the intruders.
“Take ’em out!” Yelled the Commander, pointing to the tentacles. His troops let loose laser-fire from their glovatrixes, shredding through most of the tentacles. The ones that survived sprung at them, this time succeeding in grabbing Razor and Steve.
Razor brought out his buzzsaw from his glovatrix and freed himself while Steve struggled with his. “Hold on, Steve.” He said, slashing at the tentacle. Steve dropped to his feet, again catching his breath. “Thanks Da..” Then he stopped himself. Razor would’ve pressed him for an explanation, but the remaining tentacles were gearing up for another go.
“Run!” T-Bone told everyone. “We have ‘ta get outta their reach!” He led the charge to the lab, Razor and Steve in close pursuit The Commander was next, followed by the other kats. A few yards away the tentacles stopped, having reached the end of their range.
T-Bone and Razor flanked the doors, the others bringing up the rear. “You want to do the honors?” Razor joked.
“No,” T-Bone said. “You do it better.”
“Suit yourself.” Razor kicked down the door and leaped inside. T-Bone burst in also, swinging his glovatrix around looking for a threat. The Commander and his troops came in to cover any area T-Bone and Razor weren’t covering.
The living room was empty so they made their way to the adjoining rooms, searching. “This way.” The Commander led them to a back-room that T-Bone and Razor didn’t even know about.
They descended the staircase carefully, keeping their attention to the shadows where someone might strike .
The room was so full of contraptions, gizmo’s, structures, watchamacallits, and doohickeys that it took them a second to spot Greenbox, who was holding Katrina by the neck and pointing a blaster to her head. He had an evil gleam in his eyes and there was no doubt in everyone’s mind that he would pull the trigger if pushed too far.
“Everything’s gone screwy.” T-Bone mumbled. “That looks like Greenbox holding Katrina hostage over there.” Razor concurred.
The Commander said, “Everything hasn’t gone screwy yet. And that’s an older Greenbox holding Katrina hostage.” He still had his glovatrix trained on Greenbox.
“Dad!” Katrina called out, surprising herself.
“Don’t tell me she’s your sister…” Razor whispered to Steve.
“Nope. He answered. “She’s the Commander’s daughter, my girlfriend.”
“Put your weapon’s down.” Greenbox ordered. He gripped Katrina tighter and pressed the barrel of his blaster to her temple. In a bright flash, she remembered everything now, total recall. Having reached her proper age her memories had cleared as well. Her dreams played themselves out again in her mind, this time with crystal-like clarity. The surge of understanding filled her and a slight scream left her lips as her mind began to ache, sending a charge down her spine. The cascade of memories seemed to literally dig into her brain.
No one said anything, keeping their weapons aimed at Greenbox.
“Steady…” T-Bone said.
“Foolish as ever. I’ve got the upper hand.” Greenbox gloated. The other kats from the future came out of the shadows and directed their blasters to the Swatkats and their companions. “Are you really willing to sacrifice the daughter you haven’t even had yet?” Greenbox stared at T-Bone.
“What…?” T-Bone lowered his glovatrix slightly.
“I will pull the trigger.” Greenbox threatened. “I want to retrieve or destroy the disk. If it’s lost and no one can find it then that’s good enough for me. I won’t think twice about little Katrina here.”
The Commander saw Katrina glance his way, trying to tell him something with her look. Through his visor he looked back, then nodded slightly. “Throw them down.” The commander said. T-Bone and Razor wanted to protest but removed their glovatrixes as well. “All right, Greenbox. We’re unarmed. Now let her go.”
Greenbox only laughed at him. “I should get rid of you now. Or maybe…” He removed his gun from Katrina’s head and aimed it at T-Bone. “I should get rid of you before you give us any problems at all, eh?.”
In a lighting fast move, Katrina lifted Greenbox’s arm, making his shot go wild. Coming down she made sure to plant her elbow in his midsection. She then ran for cover, knowing how big a firefight was going ensue. The other kats opened fire, filling the room with brilliant lances of laser light and sounds of explosions and tearing metal.
T-Bone and Razor dove for their glovatrixes and found them a split-second before the laser beams rained down on them. They slipped their paws in and activated their shields to protect them from the onslaught. “Remind me to widen the shield when this is all over!” Razor yelled over the deafening roar of gunfire.
“Maybe we should put in a turboplug?” T-Bone kidded.
The other kats had gone for their glovatrixes as well and scattered across the room. The Commander on the other hand vaulted for Greenbox, knocking his blaster away. “Get away from me you oaf!” Greenbox fended his assailant off.
“Yeah, sure.” The Commander said sarcastically then grabbed Greenbox by the collar and flung him to the wall.
Katrina got on all fours and crawled her way to where Dr. Yarn and Professor Hackle were tied up, keeping low to dodge laser fire and a wide assortment of missiles from all the glovatrixes in the room. Her head was still in pain though not as searing as it was when it first came. Somehow she made it to Dr. Yarn first and came up based her. “Stay calm, doc.” She instructed while she hurried to undo the doctor’s bonds.
“Keep calm!? We’re in the middle of a firefight!”
“I’ve been through worse.” Katrina said, throwing the rope aside. Now let’s get to Professor Hackle, doc.”
“Bet you never thought we’d end up like this when you got up in the morning, huh, ace?” T-Bone leapt over a thick piece of scrap . Razor tumbled down after him, crouching to make the most of what little cover they had.
“Nope.” Razor admitted. The other kat’s were pinned down as well, their opponent’s having the advantage of an elevated position.
“Any ideas, buddy?” T-Bone kept his head down.
“Just one.” Razor said. He bolted upright and, screaming, “Bring down the staircase!”, fired off two turbo-blades. T-Bone came up and fired also, the other kats braving the rain of lasers to attack the staircase as well. Their missiles tore through the foundation of the staircase, causing it to tilt to one side, and throwing many of their opponents to the floor.
After that it didn’t take them long before they had everyone under wraps, including Greenbox. As the smoke cleared, it became obvious to everyone that most of the contents of the room were badly damaged by the shoot-out.
Professor Hackle stood in the middle of his failure room, shoulder’s hunched, his head hanging down. The pain in his knee was suddenly back. He breathed a deep sigh and tried to climb the tilted staircase.
“Let me help you doc.” Razor offered, and which Hackle accepted.
“Dad!” Katrina ran to the Commander and hugged him tightly. T-Bone looked on, perplexed.
They gathered outside in the living room. Hackle’s robotic servants bringing them some snacks. Hackle himself was obviously depressed. When Sylvia asked him why, he didn’t answer. He felt older than he ever had before. It was as if the fountain of youth had slipped between his fingers. For once, answers didn’t seem to hold any attraction for him. He stood up slowly, made his way outside.
“Hi there, doc.” Steve came up to him.
“Hello.” Hackle answered, his heart and mind elsewhere. He did not turn to Steve.
Steve scratched his head for a moment, debating whether to go through with what he wanted to do or not. In the end, he didn’t care about the Commander’s orders. Everything was out in the open anyway. “Look, doc.” Steve moved in front of Hackle. “I know you must be feeling down and out right now but…”
“Young kat, you don’t know…”
“But I do know, Professor.” Steve said more forcefully, laying his hands on Hackle’s shoulders. “Believe me I know about you. I went to The Hackle Institute for Technology and Research. ”
“What are you saying?”
“Greenbox wasn’t the only one from the future, Professor.” Steve smiled.
“Wait a minute…” Dr. Yarn had a realization, “Greenbox said he was from the future. Then that means that all of you are from the future as well. Am I correct?” None of the Commander’s kats replied. Katrina was quiet as well.
“Good-bye, Professor Hackle, Doctor.” The Commander said. Then to Razor he said, “Let’s go.”
“Hey, wait a…”
“Let’s go.” The Comander repeated strongly. “We need to get the disk and get back. ”
“Ok, ok.” Razor conceded.
The big, burly kat from the future addressed his troops. “Get these no good crud-faced has-beens back to the future.” Then he called Katrina, Steve and two others to accompany them to the junk yard.
When they arrived at the scrapyard, Katrina showed them where she left the CD-ROM, in the pocket of her suit. “Perfect.” The Commander smiled. ‘Now as soon as we repair your suit we can head back.” He took out the patch kit and tossed it to one of his troops who proceeded to repair Katrina’s C-I suit.
“Woah, there, buddy.” T-Bone grabbed the Commander’s shoulder. “You at least owe us an explanation, pal.”
“There’s no denying it, Commander.” Razor concluded. “Steve here called me ‘dad’ And I’m sure I’m not a dad right now. Not yet. Somehow, you guys are from the future.”
Katrina looked at her dad. “Kat’s out of the bag now, dad. They might as well know.” The Commander’s look hardened. He knew the danger of telling everyone what’s in store for them. It might change something for them when they return to the future. But he couldn’t stop himself any longer. He had to tell his friend. He removed his helmet and revealed his face. It was an older Chance Furlong. The fur was dull, and had taken on a few gray streaks, but it was unmistakably Chance.
“You must’ve figured it out by now.” He began, looking at T-Bone. “I’m you. Or rather, you will be me in about thirty years.”
“Crud.” T-Bone blurted out.
“Exactly.” The older Chance said. “Greenbox worked with Hackle for a while on the Time Machine, so he knew about Hackles security devices and codes. He went bad and joined Darkkat to lead an organized crime syndicate. I suppose that incident with Zed should’ve told us something about Greenbox’s disposition.”
“So what’s with all this ‘Commander’ stuff?” Jake asked. He wanted so many things clarified. “And the uniform?”
“We’re Enforcers.” Katrina answered. “21st Century Enforcers.”
“T-Bone becomes the leader of the Enforcers!???” Razor was dumbfounded.
“Old Feral bought it during what we call the Big Bang of 2006.” The Commander explained. “Dr. Viper was plotting to mutate the entire city using an enormous amount of radiation. So he rigged the Megakat Nuclear Chain to blow and…”
“Megakat Nuclear Chain?” Razor interrupted.
“By 2003 Megakat City expanded so much that more than one nuclear plant was required. And we also supplied other cities with their power needs, so there came a large chain of nuclear plants running across a good portion of the continent. Needless to say though, Viper failed.
“Anyway, the lid was blown clear off. ” the Chance from the future picked up the story again. “Our secret was out, but there was no one to do anything about it. With Feral gone the Enforcers disintegrated. Steele ran off and everyone was in disarray, so we stepped in.”
“And your glovatrixes?” Razor interrupted again.
“Standard Enforcer issue. It’s come a long way since your first design, eh?” He looked at Razor and smirked. “A copy of the original glovatrix is in the Official Swatkats Museum. As are copies of the original Turbokat, Cyclotron, Sand-kat, Hover-kat and Cybertron.”
T-Bone and Razor were shocked. This was a completely different future than the one the Pastmaster showed them.
“Mayor Briggs had it put up.” Katrina interjected.
“And Katrina is my daughter?” T-Bone asked softly.
” She’s *my* daughter. Well, she *will* be your daughter. Soon.” His older counterpart cleared. “But I won’t tell you about that. It’s a surprise.”
“But what about her aging.?” T-Bone inquired.
“You can’t time-travel with a damaged Chronal-Inhibitor suit. There’s no telling what would happen. Mine *was* damaged and, well… well you know what happened.” Katrina told them.
“She should stabilize now that she’s reached the age she was when she jumped back to this time.” Steve held Katrina’s hand and snuggled up to her.
“So where do I come in? What happens to me?” Razor wanted to know.
“You’re my dad.” Steve said happily. “And I’m proud of it. You and the Commander did a heck of a lot for Megakat city.”
“Right, so how come I don’t jump back here?”
Steve lowered his eyes and Katrina shot her father a look. It was up to him to explain this one. Razor sensed some apprehension on their part and that made him nervous. He was about to say he didn’t want to know when the Commander blurted out “It’s a long story.”
“What? You sound like something’s wrong.” Razor broke out a cold sweat.
The Older Chance clenched his fists and steadied himself. He had been dreading this moment since he found out Katrina had made a timejump into the past. He really wished it could be any other way, but he knew it couldn’t. He closed in on Razor and gave him a big, heartfelt embrace. After a long while he let him go then turned to walk away, calling his troops to follow. They all stalled, trying to get a good last look at the grounds. This was the real thing, not the full-sized diorama of the scrapyard in the Museum at home.
“Well?” Even T-Bone was peeved now. “What happens to Razor?”
“Nothing is certain.” Katrina told them. “Our being here may have changed the future for you. Feral may live till ninety and hand over the Enforcers to Felina. No one can say for sure.”
“And I may never have a daughter like you.” T-Bone said affectionately.
“Or…” Katrina moved to kiss him on the cheek “You may have two, or three.”
T-Bone hugged her close. “I guess it must be a coincidence then that I named you ‘Katrina’ twice, huh?”
“Maybe. Maybe it’s destiny.”
Before leaving Katrina went up to Razor and told him with a smile. “I really thought we’d be about the same age.” He embraced her, not sure whether to feel like he lost someone or not. She broke off and went to her dad, leaving Steve a few moments with his father.
The Chance from the future waited for his cadre of kats to gather around him. When he was sure everyone was accounted for he had everyone put on their yellow suits again. He gave the order, and everyone flicked the ‘recall’ switch then they simply vanished from sight, much like they beamed up.
In 2028, they arrived in another flash of light, with that era’s Razor coming up in his hoverchair. “I take it everything went just dandy.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Greenbox and the others arrived a few minutes ago and are in lock-up right now.”
“That’s great buddy.” Chance said. “Now what say we go plan our strategy over a nice can of milk and an anchovy-mushroom pizza?”
“Sounds great.” Razor answered and floated out heading for the cafeteria, Chance beside him, telling him what happened.
Katrina was relieved to be back. The past was a great place to visit, but in the end that’s all it is, the past. Better to leave it as is, she thought. Though that was easier said than done. She didn’t think she would look at Uncle Jake in quite the same way anymore. She didn’t think she could tell Steve that she had a crush on his dad, as strange as it sounded. Then it occurred to her how alike he and his dad were. Taking off her helmet, she let her hair fall to her shoulders. “What say we do the same?”
“Hmmm?” Steve muttered, looking off into space.
“Is something wrong?” Katrina asked, even though Steve’s face clearly told her something was bothering him. “What is it, Steve?”
“Dad. He’s still in a hoverchair.” He took off his helmet.
Katrina gripped his arm. “You didn’t…”
“Yes I did. Right before we left. I told him the how, the when of the accident. But…” He hung his head. “…nothing’s changed!”
Katrina embraced him closely. She knew what he did was wrong but who could blame him? They were only kittens when his dad lost the use of his legs. Even she couldn’t remember seeing him walk, aside from old Katseye news reels. “Don’t worry. Somewhere, out there, there’s a Jake Clawson who can still walk, thanks to you.” The End
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