After making sure Jonny got looked at at the ER for the lump on his head, Ann Gora returned to her new apartment in the recently opened Skycor Towers, glad that her cameraman was going to be all right. Skycor was a very large building, and, despite its motto being “Luxury Living at an Affordable Price,” it cost an arm and a leg to pay rent in, and even though her apartment was one of the smaller ones and she was paying less than she’d paid at her old apartment in Megakat Heights, Ann was still living above her means. Not that she minded. Even though she was late on her full rent now and again on a mere field reporter’s salary, she liked the luxurious apartment and she liked the view of Megakat City’s skyline even better. Her ultimate goal with regard to Skycor Towers was a penthouse, several stories above where she currently lived. There, she knew that the view of the city would be even better.
She got herself a cup of hot tea and drank it slowly, exhaling as she reflected on her stagnating career as a reporter, if only to take her mind off her very weird encounter with what had once been Dr. Harley Street earlier that day. She’d bristled when given the task of doing a mere traffic report earlier than day, but had kept her mouth shut. Work was work, and her editor wasn’t the type of person you argued with. Nevertheless, it bothered Ann immensely that despite being what many considered the face of Kat’s Eye News, MBC didn’t pay her much for the work she put in – work that was often extremely dangerous. She suspected it was partly because her co-workers resented her ambition and tenacity and her superiors considered her reckless. Once upon a time, before she’d earned a reputation for herself as MBC’s best field reporter, her nickname around the office had been “Ann-bitious.” Since then, the nickname had gone away, but the grumblings of the other reporters – not all, but many – about her putting her career above her journalistic integrity had never quite stopped.
With the mug of tea, she went into her living room and sat on the sofa, kicking her high heels off and trying to relax. She sighed. It was untrue, of course. Ann had never denied her ambition to become the best reporter at Kat’s Eye News, but the idea she valued her career more than breaking important stories was ludicrous, and it offended her. She simply wanted what she believed she was owed for all the hard, dangerous work she’d put in over the years, putting her life on the line to ensure the citizens of Megakat City were kept aware of everything that was newsworthy. Traffic reports, while honest, admirable work the public relied on, were, frankly, beneath her.
She’d had a taste of the limelight a few times, mostly due to colleagues falling ill or having family emergencies. She’d gotten to host a talk show for a week a year earlier, during which time she’d interviewed Commander Feral about his (in her opinion, baseless) accusations that the SWAT Kats had destroyed Megakat Biochemical Labs and the Megakat Tunnel without provocation. And, during the attempted robbery of the Megakat Mint by the Metallikats and the subsequent rampage of the giant machine known as Zed a few months ago, Ann had gotten to fill in for the regular newscaster who’d called in sick. Both times, of course, her stint had been short-lived, and the regulars had eventually returned and she’d been sent back to do field work.
But, as much as it annoyed her, she couldn’t say she disliked the work. Dangerous as it was, she couldn’t deny getting a thrill from being so close to all of the various threats plaguing Megakat City, and, whether she felt she deserved a talk show gig or a job as a newscaster, she enjoyed showing up her more timid colleagues who were less willing to get close to danger. Not that she was reckless, despite what everyone said; she valued her life and the lives of others, and every risk she took was, in her opinion a calculated one.
And, in the end, she was doing important work, so she couldn’t be said to be entirely dissatisfied with the path her career had taken. Flexing her toes, Ann leaned forward and put the mug on the low coffee table in front of her, removing her necklace and her earrings, placing them into a small ashtray on the table. She didn’t smoke. The ashtray had been her father’s, and she’d kept it for the purpose of holding various little odds and ends like spare change, keys, and her jewelry. Undoing the top few buttons of her dress shirt, she was starting to remove her jacket when she became aware of a faint buzzing noise, and turned, jacket half on and half off, to look out the window. She didn’t see anything. Suddenly, the phone rang. Rising, she finished taking the jacket off and went to the phone.
Outside, Dr. Harley Street was flying towards Skycor Towers, the stoppered flask of the chemical whose main ingredient was Super-Katalyst 666 clutched in one hand, Murdoch flying along behind him. Street was dimly aware that Murdoch was his last remaining ally; he could no longer sense the other kats he’d bitten and converted through the psychic connection all Ci-Kat-A shared. It’d started with Gray Taylor, the Enforcer they’d been forced to leave behind at Megakat Biochemical Labs. Not even half an hour later, one by one, Steven, the five MASA guards and the three convicts who’d been converted along with Murdoch had followed suit. Street was distressed by this, as he was unaware whether this meant they’d been killed… or, worse, cured. His eyebrows furrowed in indignant concern as the possibility that someone had developed a means of combating the venom used to convert unwitting victims into loyal acolytes of the Ci-Kat-A cause. Somehow, he knew Viper had something to do with it; after all, the slippery snake had made himself immune to the venom, and he had escaped…
…which had been entirely Street’s fault, he realized, mentally kicking himself. He’d ordered his followers to let the mutated biochemist go. At the time, he hadn’t cared where Viper went or what Viper did, but, now, with the loss of mental contact with all of his other “brothers,” Street was beginning to regret the decision not to hunt the snake down and kill him. Had Viper gone to the authorities, offering his immunity to the bite in return for immunity from more Earthly legal consequences, or even just to ruin Street’s plans? Street didn’t know for certain. All he did know wass he had to hurry and get his queen.
As the two got closer and closer to the building, Street’s multi-faceted compound eyes scanned every window until he spotted Ann Gora. There she was. His queen! She was on the phone. “And now, my future queen,” he said, “it’s time I paid you a visit…”
Back inside her apartment, Ann was on the phone with her editor. There’d been an attack at Manx Municipal Park. By the Ci-Kat-A. Ann felt her stomach do flip-flops. So much for not thinking about Dr. Street anymore today.
“An attack on the park?” she asked wearily.
Her editor was talking very fast, and it was difficult to quite make out what he was going on about, but apparently there’d been giant worms and weird half plant, half insect creatures, and somehow Dr. Viper was involved. And, of course, he wanted her to go down there and cover the aftermath.
She sighed. “Sure, I can get down there right away…”
Turning, she gasped as she saw none other than Dr. Harley Street making a beeline for the window with another converted kat behind him. Crud, she thought; not only was she going to have to think about Street some more today, she was about to get attacked by him! She screamed as the glass shattered, her editor on the other end of the phone, worried, demanding to know what was wrong. The buzzing alien scientist landed, the other Ci-Kat-A right behind him, and they approached Ann as she struggled to find her voice, to tell her editor to call the Enforcers.
“I’ve come for you, my dearest!” Street declared like a gentleman caller paying a visit.
Finally, Ann managed to scream into the phone, “Call the Enforcers, I’m being attacked!”
Striding forward, Street grabbed the phone, tossing it away. “Now, now, Ms. Gora,” he chided, wagging one clawed finger, “none of that. We don’t want anyone to spoil the mood!” He turned to his accomplice, holding the flask out to him. “Guard the door.”
The other kat-insect nodded, taking the flask from him. Ann observed he was one of the ones from Megakat Biochemical earlier that day, wearing a prison issue white shirt with a serial number on it. Somewhere in the back of her terrified mind, she dimly remembered hearing about a group of convicts escaping from an Enforcer substation and disappearing into the swamp. Between that and Dr. Viper’s apparent involvement with Street, Ann guessed that this had been the fate of the escaped criminals; turned into mindless drones for the former MASA scientist.
The buzzing former prisoner went and stood by the front door as commanded.
Street gently took Ann’s arms by the wrists. She was petrified, shaking. Was he going to bite her? Was she going to end up like the bug-eyed con guarding the door and so many other unfortunate souls like the MASA guards and that Enforcer rookie from earlier? She felt a sob hitching in her throat.
Street seemed oblivious to her terror. “Yes, think of it, Ann,” he was saying, “the story of a lifetime!”
He made no move to sink his mandibles into her. That was something. Composing herself and steeling her nerves, trying to buy time, hoping her editor had managed to call the Enforcers, Ann decided to change tactics. Fear clearly wouldn’t sway Street or his companion and prevent them from turning her; in their minds, they were doing her a favor. So, she decided to play along, somewhat, adopting a more casual air with her “guest.” Slipping into professional mode, she began to ask questions of the raggedly-dressed former scientist.
“The story of a lifetime? Well, Doctor, you do owe me a story from years ago…” she said, reminding him of that night in the Megakat Desert when he’d first shown something resembling a romantic interest in his tone of voice, inviting her to MASA for the full story about the Kat Sat 1, before everything had gone so awfully, horribly wrong for him, for her and for so many others.
“True,” Street said. “But, that story you already know. The Ci-Kat-A queen rode in her larval state aboard the satellite, and with her bite she changed my life forever. This one is new. The tale of how I survived my encounter with those meddling vigilante SWAT Kats.”
Despite herself, Ann was interested; like many others, she had wondered what had happened to Street. Except for him, all the kats bitten and converted by the Ci-Kat-A had been accounted four – the three Enforcers killed, the five MASA guards captured and imprisoned for study. But, Street’s fate after the destruction of the Ci-Kat-A queen’s new nest in the Megakat Tower penthouse and the death of the queen herself had remained a mystery… one Street himself was apparently about to explain to his captive audience. And, one Ann suspected involved Dr. Viper, given that the converted con guarding the door and his fellow escapees had gone missing in Megakat Swamp, and that her editor had mentioned the mutated biochemist in relation to the Ci-Kat-A attack on the park.
“I was in the queen’s new nest, about to bring Deputy Mayor Briggs over to our side, when suddenly something smashed through the glass and hit me in the face. It was one of the SWAT Kats’ stupid gimmicky missiles. It had sharp metal arms that wrapped around my face tightly.”
Ann realized he was talking about an Octopus Missile; the SWAT Kats used them often enough that the name was mostly common knowledge, especially considering Razor’s tendency to announce what missile he was firing. For whose benefit, Ann had never quite been able to figure out. None of this she conveyed to Street; she simply nodded as he continued.
“I sailed across the room and smashed through the window on the opposite side. I plummeted, screaming. I tried to fly, but I couldn’t control my momentum, and so I fell. Three-hundred forsaken stories. I fell and fell, flailing, struggling to rip the SWAT Kats’ accursed missile off of my face, until at last I landed hard on the cement walkway in front of the building. I lay there, twitching and broken. I’d managed to tear the missile off… leaving me with these ugly entrenched scars on his face. I was dazed and lay on my back, watching as the Enforcers set fire to the penthouse, and with it the eggs! Then, I witnessed the SWAT Kats’ aerial battle with the queen. I lay there, helpless, wounded, powerless to do anything to avert disaster. As I watched my kind’s hope for the future literally go up in flames, I managed to summon the strength to crawl to a nearby manhole.
“I lifted the cover and all but fell in, splashing down into the filthy water. I picked myself up and limped along down the tunnel. I don’t know how long I wandered the sewers beneath the city, but eventually I found… him. Dr. Viper. He seemed just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He offered to help me, and I accepted, perhaps against my better judgment. We returned to his lair in the Dead Forest, at the heart of Megakat Swamp, to begin plotting our takeover of Megakat City. Of course, our partnership couldn’t last forever. His dreams of conquest were pitiful compared to my own.” He paused, looking at the other converted kat by the door, then at Ann. “To OUR own,” he corrected himself.
“Wh-what do you want with me?!” Ann demanded.
“How forgetful of me! I got so caught up in explaining the past that I forgot to explain the future. You see, Ms. Gora, we Ci-Kat-A can reproduce in one of two ways. The way I was created, and the way I made my friend Murdoch here, or the ‘natural’ way, through the offspring of a queen!”
“B-But, what has that got to do with…” Ann trailed off, eyeing Street’s salivating mandibles, remembering her very real fear of being bitten, and all at once the horror washed over her. “Oh no!” she cried. “You can’t mean–”
“Oh, but I do!” Street gave her wrists something like an affectionate squeeze. “I can think of no she-kat I wish to make my queen more than you!”
Ann struggled to reason with him. “But, but it still won’t be entirely natural… even if you bite me and turn me, it still won’t be the same as the original queen!”
Street winced and looked melancholy all of a sudden. Ann couldn’t know it, but he was remembering that Viper had said something quite similar to him earlier, when their partnership had ended. “True,” he said sadly, “but it’ll be good enough. And good enough is all we Ci-Kat-A have left.”
Suddenly, despite her fear and horror, Ann found herself feeling the beginnings of pity for Street. Despite her burgeoning pity for Dr. Street, Ann wasn’t exactly relishing spending too much longer in his presence, or getting bitten. She backed away from him, but he moved forward and scooped her into his arms like a groom about to carry his bride over the threshold. She kicked and struggled, thinking he was about to bite her, but, for whatever reason, he didn’t, instead carrying her to the broken window. Realizing he intended to carry her away like Frankenkat, Ann stopped struggling, lest she get dropped. He flapped his wings, preparing to fly off.
“Come,” he said, “it’s best we be off before–”
Before help comes, Ann thought. And, indeed, Street was interrupted mid-sentence, first by the sound of approaching sirens and then by the roar of approaching jet engines. Below the balcony, Ann saw some Enforcer cruisers driving up, then turned and saw the Turbokat approaching. The Enforcers and the SWAT Kats! The jet circled the building. Down below, the cruisers stopped and a brawny Enforcer sergeant and several commandos got out and ran inside. Street’s compound eyes narrowed in annoyance.
“Too late!” he cried. “Well, those meddling Earth pests won’t interfere with my plans! Not again!”
There was more enraged desperation than resolve in his voice, Ann noticed. With her in his arms, he flew out of the apartment window. Murdoch followed with the flask in hand, even as someone began banging on the door, yelling, “Enforcers! Open up!” He flew out the broken window after Street just as the door was kicked in and the brawny sergeant and his commandos rushed in with laser guns up. They went to the window, watching the Ci-Kat-A escaping with their prisoner.
“We’re too late!” cried the sergeant. His hand went for the walkie-talkie clipped to his belt to call for chopper backup. Whoosh! The Turbokat flew past the window, in hot pursuit of the Ci-Kat-A. “Guess it’s up to the SWAT Kats.” Nevertheless, he unclipped the radio from his belt and spoke into it. “This is Sergeant Slate-Gray at Skycor Towers! Dr. Street has Ann Gora!”
In the approaching Turbokat, T-Bone and Razor had armed themselves with Glovatrixes equipped with dart launchers. It’d been a quick and dirty modification done right there in the park, cannibalizing parts from the Enforcers’ gas-propelled dart guns, and Razor still wasn’t entirely satisfied with the results, but as long as they worked, that was all that mattered. He flexed his fingers in the Glovatrix. He was itching for a throwdown. So was T-Bone. It was time to end this bug problem once and for all. With all the converted kats taken care of back at the park, Street and the last escaped convict with him were the only two remaining Ci-Kat-A. Or so Razor hoped. He couldn’t shake the feeling that there was still one they were missing…
“I hope two syringes of this stuff will be enough,” he said as T-Bone pursued the two Ci-Kat-A and their prisoner. Dr. Konway hadn’t had time to make any more than what had been brought to the park.
“It’ll be enough,” said T-Bone confidently, smirking over his shoulder at his friend. “Especially for you, Sureshot.” His expression turned grim as he turned back around. “There’s Dr. Bug-Eyes dead ahead. And he’s got Ann Gora. I better just follow ’em for now. There’s no way we can hit him without risking Ann Gora.”
Razor nodded. If Street turned back to normal mid-flight, they’d both fall to their deaths.
Flying a little ways ahead, Street glanced back at their pursuers and shrieked back at Murdoch. “Take care of them!”
Murdoch turned and flew at the Turbokat. T-Bone and Razor jerked back in their seats in reflex as he zoomed over the cockpit, getting around behind the jet. His mouth underwent the next stage of his transformation, pointed mandibles emerging from the corners of his mouth. He made a sound in his throat like someone trying to cough up a load of phlegm and vomited sticky yellow slime onto the back of the Turbokat, clogging the air intakes.
T-Bone growled and tried to maintain control as the aircraft stalled and began to plummet. “Aw, man, not this sticky crud again! I’m gonna have to fly back to the hangar and–”
“No time, T-Bone!” Razor interrupted him. “Remember, Viper said Street’s next stop is the nuclear power plant!”
“Right,” grumbled T-Bone. “Time and essence and all that. Fine, I’ll set ‘er down on that rooftop! Hang on!
The Turbokat swooped down and crashlanded, more or less safely, on the roof of an apartment building. Issuing forth a hissing chuckle, Murdoch turned and flew off after Street, clutching the all-important flask in his hand. On the roof, the canopy opened and the two SWAT Kats got out, both wearing their Delta Bak Paks. Activating their jetpack function, they flew off in pursuit of the insectoid villains and their news reporter captive. Watching from inside Ann Gora’s apartment nearby, Sergeant Slate-Gray continued speaking into his walkie-talkie.
“Inform Commander Feral that Dr. Street is on his way with Ann Gora and the SWAT Kats are in hot pursuit, but without their jet. Street’s accomplice clogged their intakes with that sticky yellow slime these things puke up.”
“Roger that,” said the dispatcher on the other end.
Slate-Gray lowered the walkie-talkie from his mouth, watching the tiny figures receding into the distance, towards the far away cooling towers of the nuclear plant rising like twin volcanoes over the rooftops. Ordinarily a calm and collected individual, he felt a flutter of concern in his stomach. If Street succeeded, then the towers might as well be volcanoes. Nuclear ones that would spew hot radioactive destruction down upon Megakat City. Feral or the SWAT Kats, he didn’t care which, he just hoped someone stopped Street from making Megakat City glow in the dark for the next thousand years…
Night began to fall. A cordon of Enforcer Peacekeepers and halftracks and armed commandos had been set up to defend the Megakat Nuclear Plant from attack. They were supported by security guards in their Jeeps marked with the radiation symbol emblem of the plant. Three Enforcer choppers sat ready and waiting to take to the air. Commander Feral paced impatiently with his arms behind his back. Off to one side waited Felina and the handcuffed Dr. Viper, who was being guarded by three commandos. It was deathly quiey except for the idling engines of the vehicles and the waves of Megakat Bay lapping at the shore. And some murmring among the commandos.
“Isn’t this a little much to defend against one bug-eyed MASA doctor…?” asked one of the Enforcer next to him doubtfully.
“No way, man,” replied his fellow commando. “The more firepower we’ve got, the better. I was part of the hazmat team that went in and mopped up at the Space Center. You didn’t see what I saw.” He shuddered.
Sergeant Talon, sticking out of the turret of the lead tank, looking so much like he belonged in it that he may as well have been attached to it at the waist, glowered down at them.
“Cut the chatter, you two,” he growled. “Focus on your duties.”
They shut up. Nearby, Commander Feral continued his uneasy pacing. He turned and looked at the cuffed Viper. “Well, Snakeface? Where is he? I thought you said the nuclear plant was his primary target.”
Viper shifted restlessly in his cuffs. The commandos guarding him looked scared to death of him breaking free. “He’ll come, believe me, Commander,” Viper said confidently. “Dr. Ssstreet is a kat after my own heart. Onccce he has sssomething ssset in his mind… nothing will ssstop him.”
Feral raised once eyebrow. He’d suspected from the beginning that Dr. Viper wasn’t being entirely forthcoming. He was Dr. Viper, after all. He was beginning to worry the evil biochemist had some sinister ulterior motives for helping them against Street.
“Wait a moment!” he cried suddenly, holding up one hand for silence. He heard a distant buzzing. In the distance, he saw two approaching figures. “There they are!”
“I told you!” said Viper, as though seeking vindication.
“Shut up!” Felina snapped at him, then turned to the three commandos guarding him. She didn’t want him present when Street arrived. Who knew what would happen then. “Get him out of here! Take him back to Enforcer Headquarters and lock him up.
She looked for a dissenting countermand from her uncle but he was too busy looking through a pair of binoculars someone had handed him. Nodding, two of the commandos grabbed a strangely unresisting Viper and dragged him to one of the waiting choppers. The third followed nervously with his rifle at the ready. The four got in and the rotor blades fired up and the chopper lifted off. Like her uncle, Felina was finding Viper’s cooperation strange and was beginning to worry he had something up his sleeve. But that would have to wait.
Sticking out of his Peacekeeper’s turret hatch, Talon issued an order into a walkie talkie he was holding. “All tanks prepare to fire.”
Felina addressed the commandos acting in support of the armored vehicles. “Prepare to open fire! We’ll blast those bugs out of the sky.”
Suddenly, Feral’s walkie-talkie squawked. “Feral here,” he said into it. “Thrill me.”
An Enforcer dispatcher’s voice reported tonelessly, “Sergeant Slate-Gray at Skycor reports that Ann Gora has been abducted by Dr. Street, and that he and his companion are on their way to you as we speak, sir. The SWAT Kats are in pursuit with jetpacks.”
Feral grumbled. It figured the vigilantes had failed to stop Street and save Ann Gora. But, then, he reminded himself, so had the Enforcers he’d sent to take the reporter into protective custody. Oh, well. The whole gang would soon be there anyway. Street was coming to him, with Ann Gora.
“Roger that,” he said after a moment. “Feral out.”
Yeah, he was thrilled, all right.
“Wait!” he said. “Hold your fire!” He peered through the binoculars. Yeah, there was Ann Gora, all right. Oh, he was thrilled. Super thrilled. Grumbling, he lowered the binoculars. “They have a hostage. It’s Ann Gora!”
There was murmuring among the commandos.
Fast approaching were the two Ci-Kat-A and their prisoner. Street was as giddy as he was capable of being, cradling Ann in his arms with infinite care. Hearing the whup-whup-whup of approaching rotor blades, they turned and watched as the Enforcer chopper carrying Dr. Viper flew past. He and Street eyed one another through the open side door of the chopper in the split second they were beside one another before the aircraft moved past.
“Viper,” said Murdoch.
“He is meaningless,” Street said dismissively, even though his fears about his former ally cooperating with the Enforcers seemed to have been confirmed. “Our final objective lies before us. Keep your mind on your business, my friend.”
Ann squirmed in Street’s grasp and he tightened his grip a little. “Don’t struggle too much, Ms. Gora. I wouldn’t want to drop you. It’s a long way down.”
Gulping, Ann looked down.
One of the commandos guarding Viper in the departing chopper raised his rifle and prepared to fire at Street and Murdoch before one of his comrades pushed the barrel of his gun down, pointing at Ann. The first commando glowered in angry disappointment. They heard jet engines and T-Bone and Razor fly past on their Delta Bak Paks.
“Hey, look!” cried one of the commandos. “It’s the SWAT Kats!”
Viper just smirks smugly and steepled his fingers. Despite nothing seemingly going his way, he was bizarrely content and compliant with his captors, and quite relaxed. And, indeed, though none of them knew it, everything was very much going his way and Feral and Felina had been right to be concerned. The chopper flew on to Enforcer Headquarters without incident. Viper had only to wait.
“Come on, T-Bone!” yelled Razor as they flew along “Punch it! You’re flyin’ like an old lady!”
T-Bone smirked. “My impulsive personality rubbin’ off on you, buddy? Take it easy. I’m followin’ at a safe distance.”
Razor smirked and nods, understanding. “Let’s just hope Street hasn’t bitten Ann Gora yet…” He rubbed his modified Glovatrix. “…with only two doses of this stuff left, if he does, somebody’s gonna have to go on bein’ a Ci-Kat-A. At least for a little while longer.”
“Yeah, well, Street’s got my vote if that happens,” T-Bone said through gritted teeth.
“Easy, T-Bone, it isn’t his fault,” Razor reminded him. “It’s none of their faults.”
His friend sighed. “I know.” He steeled himself up. “Okay, ready to enact the plan?”
“You bet.” On the way, both doses of the cure had been given to Razor. He zoomed forward.
As the Ci-Kat-A approached the nuclear power plant, they hesitated a bit, slowing, seeing the cordon of defending Enforcers.
“Nothing’s happening,” said Murdoch. “They’re not firing at us.”
“It’s because we have our future queen here,” said Street, realizing. “They won’t fire as long as she remains a normal kat. That’s why I haven’t bitten her yet.” He looked down at Ann in his arms. “THAT’S going to happen once we get inside. Once I breach the reactor and turn this entire city into food for you and the brood you’ll bear me, my queen.”
“I’d rather die!” Ann cried, realizing now she’d been on borrowed time. She squirmed more fitfully, kicking Street, and he accidentally dropped her. She fell, screaming. “Aaahhhhhh!”
“Noooooooo!” cried a suddenly terrified Street, diving down after her, an equally worried Murdoch following.
Suddenly, T-Bone whooshed by between them and the falling Ann. Street stopped and hovered in midair in surprise. Murdoch slammed into him. The flask jostled, the liquid inside sloshing.
“Clumsy fool!” cried an enraged Street. He grabbed the flask from Murdocyh. “Give me that!”
Clumzzzy fool! Give me that!
Below them, T-Bone swooped down and scooped Ann up in his arms, saving her. “Gotcha!”
“Thanks!” cried Ann, relieved.
Hovering in the air with buzzing wings, Street was seething with broiling rage. “Our queen!” he snarled. “Those SWAT Kats have interfered in my plans for the last time.”
He looked at the chemical inside the flask. The time had come to use it. Suddenly the air around him and Murdoch began exploding. Lasers whizzed past. The two Ci-Kat-A cried out in surprise. Upon seeing that Ann Gora was no longer in danger, Feral had ordered his men to open up on the duo immediately as soon as the reporter and the SWAT Kats were what he considered a safe distance from them. Street clutched the flask with both hands as though his life depended on it while he and Murdoch weaved and dodged the aerial attack.
“Get the queen,” he told Murdoch. “I’ll ensure those puny Enforcers will no longer bother us and clear the way.” When Murdoch hesitated, clearly not liking the idea of letting Street take on the Enforcers by himself super-katalyst or not super-katalyst, Street said, more fimrly, “Go.”
Murdoch nodded and dived down after T-Bone and Ann, dodging the explosions and lasers. Looking over his shoulder, T-Bone saw their pursuer, and then, closing in on Murdoch from behind as per the plan, Razor. He grinned but Murdoch didn’t notice. He was too focused on closing the distance between himself and the SWAT Kat who’d dared steal away his future queen, arms outstretched, claws grasping at the air, close to touching the soles of T-Bone’s bare feet. Clutching Ann to his chest, T-Bone flew down closer to the ground, Murdoch following close behind with Razor hot on his heels without him even realizing it. They were only a few feet above the ground now.
Behind Murdoch, Razor loaded the first of the last two doses of the antidote into the dart gun he’d rigged to his Glovatrix. He took aim. “Hey, bugface!” he yelled.
“Huh?” Murdoch turned and looked back.
Pffft! The dart flew out and sticks into the transformed con’s neck. Murdoch gasped and plucked the dart out, but it was too late. Already he was reverting back into a normal kat.
“Bingo!” yelled Razor.
Murdoch’s wings shriveled and fell off. His Ci-Kat-A mandibles retracted into his mouth and disappeared. His eyes squeezed shut, then opened. They were normal again. They rolled in their sockets in confusion. Where was he? The last thing he remembered was breaking into some crazy swamp hermit’s home in the Dead Forest. Still airborne, flying forward forward of his momentum, he suffered nothing worse than a few bumps and bruises as he slammed into the dirt alongside the road leading towards the power plant, tumbling and coming to a stop lying sprawled on his back, alive but unconscious.
Whilst dodging lasers and explosions, Street observed the loss of his final ally with surprise and anger. Curse those meddling SWAT Kats, he thought, trying to decide whether to resume engaging the Enforcers or punish them for returning Murdoch to normal.
T-Bone flew down and landed beside Murdoch, setting Ann safely aside. He kneeled and checked the con’s pulse, giving Razor a thumbs up. “He’s okay, buddy.”
“Good,” said Razor. “One down…” He loaded the final dart into his Glovatrix, then turned and looked at Street nearby, doing his best to dodge everything the Enforcers were throwing at him. “…one to go.”
He aimed and fired. But Street was ready. With his free hand, he grabbed the dart out of the air and flung it contemptuously to the ground. It broke, spilling the precious antidote everywhere.
“Nice try, SWAT Kat!” he snarled. “But I am not so easy to take by surprise!” He flew down and landed amidst the explosions.
Watching through his binoculars, Feral held up a hand. “Cease fire!”
Street, flask in hand, approached the trio. He stopped about twenty feet from them. He held out his free hand. Something came over him. Something he’d been trying to deny ever since the death of the original queen. He felt sad. Alone.
“Ms. Gora… Ann…” he pleaded, “come with me. Please. Be my queen.”
“One bite and you will understand. One bite and together we can make an entire new race of children to feed on the irradiated remains of this pitiful Earth city.”
“But the people…” Ann said, looking down at Murdoch, then at the SWAT Kats, “…everyone will die of radiation poisoning!”
Street shook his head. “No!” he insisted. “No, they won’t! Not if we turn them! Then they’ll thrive in the new radioactive environment! There will be peace! No more wars, no more–”
“No more free thought or choice,” Razor interrupted him, having heard speeches like this before. Street eyed him with annoyance. Razor narrowed his eyes at him, refusing to back down. “Face it, Street. The ends don’t always justify the means. The Ci-Kat-A way is not the right way.”
Ann stepped in, pleading now herself. “Dr. Street… Harley…” she begged, “you’re sick. Your thoughts aren’t your own. Turn yourself in to the Enforcers. You’ve seen that they can cure people who’ve been bitten by the Ci-Kat-A!”
She pointed at Murdoch lying out cold on the ground.
T-Bone chipped in. “Yeah, c’mon, Doc. Come with us and we’ll get you to the Enforcers. They can make more of the cure and you’ll be your old self again.”
“Please, Harley,” Ann begged further. “Please.”
For a brief moment, Street considered it. Something glimmered in his eyes. But then he rejected it. No. He’d come too far. Been a Ci-Kat-A for far too long to go back. There was no going back. Only forward. And if these pitiful fools wouldn’t listen to reason, then he’d have to force them to see things his way by giving them choice but to become like him to thrive in the new radioactive environment he was going to create for the Ci-Kat-A race, of which he was now convinced he and he alone was the savior.
The SWAT Kats both observed his change in body langiage and realized that things were about to turn violent again, tensing as Street pulled the stopper from the flask he held.
“Looks like we’re doin’ it the hard way…” Razor observed glumly, slowly beginning to raise his arm to fire his Glovatrix. He may have been out of the antidote, but he had plenty of the weapon’s regular compliment of miniature missiles.
“If I can’t have a new queen…” Street mused, more to himself than anyone present, “…then I shall be the Ci-Kat-A KING!”
Before Razor could fully raise his arm to fire, Street upended the flask, dumping the contents on himself. It splashed down over his body.
“Oh boy…” said Razor. “I got a feeling this just got a whole lot worse…”
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