The new park was a large expanse of green grass, trees and stone walkways. It was a sight to behold, a testament to the skills of the landscapers, but Callie Briggs was too annoyed to appreciate its beauty. She hid it well. She sighed as she stood alongside Mayor Manx as he addressed a meager crowd from a podium on a raised wooden platform, a pair of gold scissors in her hands.
Behind them was an enormous object covered by a white sheet. His new statue, the centerpiece of the park. The sheet was secured by a glossy red ribbon that awaited the scissors Callie held, but first Manx had to finish his speech.
The crowd gathered before them consisted almost exclusively of bleary-eyed reporters, Callie noted. There were a few gardeners and workmen here and there, but the ordinary everyday citizens of Megakat City, the people the park was ostensibly for, were conspicuously absent. Callie blamed the fact Mayor Manx had, against all reason, chosen to schedule the unveiling of his statue so early in the morning.
She really wished she were anywhere but here. As Deputy Mayor, she had more important things to attend to, but whatever His Honor considered worth his time, he clearly thought was worth her time as well, so she grinned and suffered through Manx’s murder of the speech she’d helped him write. Callie considered herself a decent speechwriter, but no matter what she gave Manx to read, he managed to screw it up. He mispronounced words, his incompetence as an orator matched only by his enthusiasm for the matter at hand.
“…and so, as Mayor of Megakat City,” he said, mercifully bringing the speech to a close, “I am proud to open to the public the brand-new park that bears my name!” He turned to Callie standing nearby and said, “Callie?”
This was her cue. She came forward and handed him the scissors. Grinning, he walked over to the big thing covered by the sheet and posed for one of the reporters, the short, orange-haired one, to snap a photograph of him poised to cut the ribbon. Flash! The moment immortalized for posterity, Manx snipped the ribbon, and the sheet fell away to reveal the crime against art some poor sculptor had slaved away on for weeks, a huge statue of the Mayor himself some fifteen feet tall.
There was halfhearted applause from the assembled reporters. Among them, Callie could see Ann Gora and her cameraman.
“Well, now, isn’t he modest,” Ann Gora said dryly to another reporter, just loud enough for Callie to overhear. The other reporter stifled a chuckle. Then, putting her game face on, Ann turned towards Jonny, smiling the most convincing yet utterly insincere smile imaginable, and said into the camera, “So far, the opening ceremony for the new Manx Municipal Park has gone well…”
Dr. Viper moved through a sewer tunnel, his tail lashing along behind him as he ambled leisurely through ankle-deep water. The bacteria monster walked along behind him, its enormous, gooey feet making squishing sounds in the fetid water, the fluorescent lights affixed to the walls casting its shadow over the scientist. It’d grown in size since eating the farmer and his cow, so that it barely fit in the tunnel despite its high ceiling.
They were nearing their destination. Viper could sense it. No one knew the sewers of Megakat City better than he. “Not long now!” he said gleefully, rubbing his hands together. “It’sss just up around-”
He stopped short as he realized he wasn’t in the monster’s shadow anymore. It’d stopped somewhere behind him. Turning, he saw the creature standing there staring with its four eyes up towards a manhole cover directly above them. If Viper was correct, they were directly beneath where they were building that new park. He could hear the muffled sounds of a crowd. Apparently, the bacteria monster did too.
Impatient, he snarled, “Don’t ssstop now!” The bacteria monster didn’t listen and reached up towards the hole. Viper was finding the creature difficult to control. He supposed it was due to what little remained of Morbulus’ mind, being defiant to the end. “Lisssten to me when I’m talking to you!” he yelled, furious.
This wasn’t good, he thought. This was going to delay the robbery and set Viper’s schedule back by at least twenty or thirty minutes, time he couldn’t afford to lose!
“Come back!” he shrieked, but it was no use.
The monster sensed food nearby, and it was going for it, no matter what its creator said or did.
In the garage, Chance and Jake were under the open hood of Callie’s car, putting the finishing touches on the refurbished engine they’d just installed. Their “new” TV, which Jake had gotten working with a minimum of fuss, sat on the worktable nearby, showing the park dedication. Ann Gora was giving a report, but Chance wasn’t paying attention to her; he was smiling at Deputy Mayor Briggs, visible on the platform behind Ann in the background.
Pausing, he lay his cheek against the palm of one hand, propping his elbow against the car. “Boy,” he said, dreamily, “that Callie sure is pretty…”
Jake, annoyed that his friend had stopped working, glanced up and said, “Yeah, but she’ll be pretty MAD if we don’t get her car working again!”
Getting the idea, Chance sighed and resumed work as Ann Gora continued her report. “The festivities are a big success,” she was saying, “helping everyone take their minds off yesterday’s bombings, and also-”
She was cut off by a deep, rumbling sound, making the two look up from their work.
“What was that?” said someone on TV.
“Jonny,” Ann suddenly cried, “get a shot of that!”
The view whipped around, and Chance and Jake saw an enormous, lumpy purple creature with four eyes emerging from the sewer through an open manhole. There were cries of “Holy kats!” and “Run for your lives!” The camera view began retreating as the wobbly image of the monster came closer. Someone, it sounded like Callie, screamed.
“What in the heck is that?!” cried Jake, surprised.
“It’s ugly, that’s what!” replied Chance.
They looked at one another. They knew what they had to do. Duty called, and Callie’s car was going to have to wait.
“Let’s hit it!” they cried together.
Absolute panic ensued in the park as the bacteria monster emerged from the sewer. Cries of “Holy kats!” and “Run for your lives!” filled the air as the reporters and assembled spectators turned and ran off in all directions. At the podium, Manx and Callie recoiled in shock as the creature seemed to be lumbering straight towards them.
“Godfrey!” cried Manx. “Callie, it’s a big purple sticky thing!”
He flew off the platform in a wild leap, tumbling in the grass as he held onto his toupee.
Callie jumped down after him. “Mayor, wait!” she yelled.
But Manx wasn’t listening, Getting up, grass clippings clinging to his suit, he ran as fast as his short legs would carry him towards his limousine, where the chauffeur sat behind the wheel. Callie watched him go, then turned. A Kat’s Eye News cameraman in a green shirt and baseball cap ran past her and positioned himself behind the Manx statue, diligently filming with his camera. Callie didn’t recognize him; Ann and Jonny had already made themselves scarce along with most of the rest of the press. Whoever he was, he was either very brave or very stupid. Suddenly realizing that she wasn’t running either, Callie turned and saw the purple horror looming over her, its four eyes all neatly lined up in a roar glaring hatefully down at her. She screamed and ran as one of its gooey hands swiped down at her, smashing the wooden platform behind her into matchwood.
The cameraman filmed the platform’s destruction, then yelped as he suddenly found that the bacteria monster turned and noticed him. With a gasp, he tucked his camera under one arm and took off through some nearby bushes. As soon as he was out of the monster’s sight, the creature lost interest in him, as though it struggled with object permanence. Out of the corner of its left two eyes, it saw Callie, though, and turned and began lumbering after her – and the white limo in the distance.
She hurried down one of the park’s stone pathways towards where the limo was waiting. But, the driver wasn’t; even as she caught up to the huffing and puffing Manx, their chauffeur was getting out. He took one look at the bacteria monster and fled with a scream. He left the driver’s side door open. Please let the keys be in the ignition, Callie begged. She grabbed Manx’s suit and shoved him in the front seat, climbing in after him, getting behind the wheel and closing the door. Yes! The keys were in the ignition. Callie grabbed them and turned them. Vrrroooom! The engine roared to life.
Beside her, Manx wailed. “Callie! Get me out of here!”
“I’m working on it, Mayor!” she said, shifting the vehicle into drive and stepping on the gas.
The bacteria monster came over the rise of a small hill several yards away, smiling evilly. Manx screamed all manner of terrified gibberish. In addition to her fear and being distracted by her passenger’s piercing shrieks of terror, Callie was unused to driving such a big, bulky vehicle as the long stretched luxury limousine, and so she quickly lost control of the car. She hit a curb, sideswiping a fire hydrant. Water gushed into the air as Callie struggled to regain control, spinning the wheel, the limo careening straight towards the monster; exactly where she didn’t want to go! She regained control and slammed on the brakes, but not in time to avoid hitting the monster. The front end hit the bacteria in the middle. It grunted in pain and doubled over the hood, but recovered quickly, and, to Callie’s horror, opened its huge mouth and began to eat the car! She and Manx watched the entire front end disappearing into the smiling black hole, darkness descending over the limo interior.
She had to act quickly. “Come on, Mayor,” she urged Manx, “hurry!”
Manx needed no persuasion. He was getting off this sinking ship! Fortunately for both of them, Manx’s limo lacked a partition between the front seats and the back passenger area. The two climbed hurriedly into the back, then were able to throw open one of the driver’s side rear doors and leap free just as the bacteria monster wolfed down the entire length of the car in two quick bites. It immediately shuddered and started doubling in size right before their eyes as the mass of the devoured limo was added to its body. Getting to their feet, the two ran off again, around the bulk of the monster, heading back the way they came. Finished growing for now, the monster turned, saw them, and immediately gave chase, the need to feed overwhelming every other thought in what little remained of Morbulus’ mind; even Dr. Viper’s orders to assault Megakat Biochemical Labs were forgotten for the time being as the big, purple four-eyed mutation pursued the two morsels across the park.
The Turbokat roared into view and began to circle the park. The SWAT Kats looked down at the creature.
“Eew,” said T-Bone, making a face, “that thing looks nasty!”
“Yeah, and it’s closing in on Callie and the Mayor!
T-Bone looked where Razor pointed to see the tiny figures of Manx and Callie running away from the Bacteria across the green grass of the park.
“But, that’s easily taken care of!” Razor said, flipping some switches on his weapons panel.
Hearing the approaching jet, the monster turned away from Callie and the Mayor, growling up at the Turbokat. Dim memories of its former life surfaced long enough for it to hate the jet instinctively on sight. The corners of its already sinister open-mouthed grin turned up more sharply as thoughts of vengeance for a humiliating defeat the previous day came tantalizingly within its reach.
Razor targeted the monster right in the middle of its ugly face, between the two sets of glaring yellow eyes and hit the button marked “Plain Old Missile.”
“Eat this, slimeball!”
Whoosh! A missile with “From Razor with Love!” stenciled along its length shot out from the Turbokat and rocketed towards the monster, who stood there dumbly and took it head dead on. The missile hit and exploded, creating a huge cloud of smoke. The monster was obscured from the SWAT Kats’ view, but they definitely heard its bellow of pain.
Yes! thought Razor. Even if he hadn’t killed it, he’d definitely wounded it, given it something to think about.
“Good work, buddy!” said T-Bone, leaning his arm back, palm up, for a high-five that never came.
“Oh no!” cried Razor, his illusions of having harmed their adversary suddenly shattered as the smoke cleared. “Look!”
He and T-Bone were shocked to see, instead of one wounded monster, two smaller but otherwise perfectly fine monsters now, each with two eyes instead of four. The missile’s impact had only caused the original creature to split apart. Right down the middle from the looks of things.
“Huh?” cried T-Bone. “Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday…”
Below, both bacteria monsters continued to wear those huge, stupid but malicious-looking smiles, and each one’s right eye was squinted slightly as though in intense concentration. The remnants of Morbulus’ mind were fragmented, and both “new” monsters were struggling to remember what it was Dr. Viper had told them. Suddenly, out of the corner of its wide open left eye, one of them spotted the fleeing Callie and Manx and remembered chasing them, and so it resumed doing that, plodding awkwardly in their direction.
As she and Manx fled from the two-eyed monster, Callie couldn’t believe it. The thing had divided like a giant amoeba! Given that the original creature’s eyes had been divided evenly among two new monsters, she hoped that four was the most of these things Megakat City would have to deal with. But, even four unkillable eating machines that got bigger the more they consumed could pose a serious threat to the city. At least the two newly-created monsters were the same size as the original had been before it had eaten the limo. Callie just hoped one or both of them didn’t divide again.
Suddenly, a rope ladder dropped down in front of Callie, and she became aware of whirring helicopter rotors. She looked up to see an Enforcer chopper hovering in the air. Two more were flying around nearby. Rescue was rescue, Callie thought, grabbing the ladder. Suddenly, with a yelp, Manx shoved her aside and climbed up ahead of her. As she lay sprawled in the grass, with the approaching monster coming closer, Callie’s anger overcame her fear. You coward! she wanted to shout at Manx. As the monster’s shadow fell over her, Callie got up and climbed the ladder, grateful that the chopper had waited for her. As soon as she was on, the aircraft rose in altitude, and just in time, too; one big, gooey purple hand reached out for Callie’s dangling feet. She lifted her feet up and felt and heard the “whoosh” of air as it swiped at her.
Once inside, Callie had to resist the thankfully transient urge to throw the shaking and whimpering Manx out the open side door and right down the grinning maw of the monster below them. She composed herself. Safely out of harm’s way, Manx brushed his suit free of grass clippings and coughed awkwardly. He didn’t apologize or even try to justify what he’d done. Callie decided to let the matter drop for now. But, the time for recriminations would come later. She wasn’t going to let her employer forget what he’d done.
Up front, a helmeted Commander Feral sat in the co-pilot’s seat, behind the weapons controls. A stony-faced Enforcer pilot Callie didn’t recognize was flying the chopper.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Mayor, the Enforcers are here!” Feral assured Manx. Apparently, he hadn’t seen what Manx had done.
As one, the three choppers circled around towards the monsters.
“On my order, fire on those things,” Feral said into the microphone attached to his flight helmet.
T-Bone’s voice suddenly came over the radio. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Feral.”
“Get off this frequency, you vigilantes!” growled Feral. “The Enforcers are handling this!”
“No! He’s right!” Callie said, sticking her head up front between Feral and his pilot.
Looking suddenly uncertain, Feral’s pilot turned and opened his mouth to say something, but he was silenced by a glare from his commanding officer.
“I give the orders around here!” he said, glaring first at him, then at Callie, as if to make it clear his words were a reminder to her as much as to his pilot.
“No,” came Manx’s voice from behind them, “I do! And, I say fire on those things! Kill them!”
Great minds think alike, Callie thought. But, at least Feral’s refusal to listen was borne from stubborn pragmatism and a desire to prove the SWAT Kats wrong. Not exactly admirable qualities, but still better than Manx’s unthinking cowardice. And, Manx had seen with his own eyes the first creature split when the SWAT Kats hit it! She said nothing further and decided to let Feral find out for himself the hard way that the SWAT Kats were right.
Growling, Feral targeted the foremost of the monsters, the one that had almost gotten her and Manx, and launched a missile. It hit the bacteria dead center in the face. Good aim, if nothing else, Callie thought. There was an explosion, but it was the same results as before. The smoke cleared, and where a squinting, two-eyed purple slime creature had stood, there now stood a pair of somewhat smaller creatures with one eye apiece.
“Uh!” Feral cried in surprise.
“Told you so!” said T-Bone’s voice over the radio.
Ignoring him, Feral contacted the other two choppers who were with him. “All units, return to Headquarters. Normal weapons don’t work against these things.”
“You’ve made that abundantly clear, Feral!” grumbled Manx, apparently forgetting he’d been the one who had insisted Feral fire on the creature in the first place.
If Morbulus’ mind had been seriously fragmented the first time the creature divided, it was now even moreso; almost nothing that could be called intelligence, even in the most rudimentary sense, remained in the two one-eyed monsters. But, something finally stirred in the mind of the remaining two-eyed one, which had been standing unmoving over by where the original division had first occurred with nothing to stimulate it and distract it. It’d been thinking, or trying to, and trying hard, and finally something surfaced, and it wasn’t the earlier, transient desire for revenge against the SWAT Kats for yesterday; Megakat Biochemical Labs, go to Megakat Biochemical Labs. Yes. Megakat Biochemical Labs.
Dr. Viper poked his spiky-haired head out of the still open manhole the original creature had emerged from. He grinned. How fortunes turned on a dime! He’d been angry when the original four-eyed monster had disobeyed him, but now things were looking up. He cackled, very pleased. “What an unexpected development! I never intended for the creaturesss to divide like real bacteria cellsss! Now thossse foolsss have given me three waysss to get what I want! Hahahaha!”
With a pleased hiss, he disappeared back down into the sewer as the two-eyed monster turned and lumbered out of the park. Seeing it go, one of the smaller, less intelligent one-eyed bacteria also turned and headed off after it, more for lack of anything better to do than because of any memory of Dr. Viper’s orders. The third, meanwhile, left the park another way, completely uncoordinated and with no clear goal in mind beyond finding and eating whatever it could. Nobody had seen Viper. Commander Feral’s chopper turned and followed the first two, while the Turbokat flew off in pursuit of the third.
After leaving the park, the big two-eyed bacteria monster and its smaller single-eyed companion lumbered down the city street which the two-eyed creature knew led to Megakat Biochemical Labs, which, indeed, it could see growing nearer in the distance. Yes, it thought. Megakat Biochemical Labs. Go to Megakat Biochemical Labs for Dr. Viper.
Commander Feral and Callie observed from the cockpit of the helicopter as it flew along behind them, matching their speed. “The SWAT Kats can keep an eye on the third, I imagine,” said Feral, the closest Callie had ever heard him come to giving the SWAT Kats anything resembling credit.
Looking ahead, she saw Megakat Biochemical at the end of the block. “They seem to be headed in the direction of Megakat Biochemical Labs!”
Feral nodded. “Then that’s where we’re going,” he said. “If anyone knows how to stop these things, they will!”
His pilot pushed the control yoke forward and the chopper sped up, overtaking the two slow-moving monsters and heading towards the fortified building in the distance with all speed.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.