Title: Whatever Happened to Dr. Zyme?
Author: Bill Hiers
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Warnings: Violence, profanity, some disturbing imagery.
Disclaimer: The SWAT Kats and all related characters are copyright Hanna-Barbera.
Newton Zyme hated Mondays. It wasn’t that he minded getting up early in the morning. As a child, he had always eagerly gotten up early for school, and later, college. As the head researcher, Zyme’s primary job was to see that Megakat Biochemical was run as smoothly as possible. He just hated Mondays because there was always so much to do, and a large majority of it couldn’t be done until the other researchers arrived. And, what a bunch of layabouts they were! Zyme thought as he fussed about in the main lab, getting things ready for his employees to be able to do their work.
What few of them there were, anyway. Megakat Biochemical was horrendously understaffed these days. In the wake of Elrod Purvis’ transformation into Dr. Viper, most of the lab’s staff had elected to quit their jobs rather than come to work not knowing whether they’d be attacked by a mutated half cat, half snake mad scientist, or worse, eaten by one of the many freaks of nature he created.
So, despite the building’s size, it had a staff of less than 100 people, half of them security personnel. With the exception of Selby and his friend whose name Zyme could never remember, most of the guards were the only dependable employees of the lab. Selby and his friend tended to just sit around and eat donuts. Zyme had a feeling they would come to a bad end one day due to their inattentiveness. Thus, aside from the night guards waiting for their shift to change, Zyme was alone in the building.
But, he wouldn’t be for long. Hearing the sound of an approaching helicopter, Zyme glanced up and out the window and saw a lone Enforcer chopper flying towards the building, from the direction of the park where, Zyme knew, some sort of celebration was being held. The chopper flew overhead, and Zyme thought it landed on the roof. Zyme frowned, wondering what this could mean.
Since Dr. Viper’s first appearance Zyme had mostly withdrawn from the public. He’d never had much of a social life prior to that, but, since his experience at the hands of his mutated former assistant, he’d become considerably less buoyant and didn’t attend as many conventions or meetings and completely threw himself into his work at the lab, even more-so than before. He wasn’t even aware of the refinery bombings that had happened just yesterday afternoon. His health had begun to suffer as a result. He ate less, and had lost a lot of weight. He was seeing a psychiatrist, as well.
At the thought of Viper, Zyme glanced over at a small table in the far corner. Its lone occupant was an Erlenmeyer flask of water with a rose in it, with a tall glass dome barrier over it. The rose was mutated, possessing a four-fanged mouth and a lapping forked tongue. Zyme had kept the thing as a reminder of the Viper Mutagen project.
He heard the sound of the elevator dinging in the hallway, and a moment later, a party of four cats came into the room. He smiled. Commander Feral was leading them. Behind him were Mayor Manx, Deputy Mayor Briggs, and an Enforcer whose name Zyme did not know. He was wearing a helmet and a radio headset, so Zyme guessed he was the helicopter pilot. They all looked extremely solemn; Manx in particular looked positively terrified. Zyme instantly knew something was wrong. He left the rose’s table and walked to the center of the room to meet them.
“Good morning, Commander,” he said as they approached.
“No time for idle chit-chat, Dr. Zyme,” Feral snapped, holding up a hand. “We’ve got serious trouble.”
“Trouble?” Zyme said. “What sort of trouble?”
“Well-” Feral began.
He was immediately cut off by the Mayor, who shoved past him and walked right up to Zyme, waving his arms wildly. Manx yelled, “There’s these huge purple things, and they’re headed right this way! I don’t even know what we’re doing here!” He shot an angry look at Commander Feral. Clearly, Hizzoner disliked having to be at what would soon be ground zero for a monster attack.
“Purple things? What on Earth are you talking about?” Zyme said, blinking.
Feral stepped up. “We don’t know what they are. But, they’re big and getting bigger every minute. And, worse, whenever we shoot them, they split apart into more! I found out that out the hard way. Basically, Doctor, we need your help to figure out what they are and how to kill them.”
The Mayor roughly grabbed Zyme by the front of his lab coat, shaking him wildly, wailing, “You’ve got to do something, Dr. Zyme! Before those big purple globs destroy my beautiful city!”
Feral grabbed the Mayor’s shoulders and shook him until he released Zyme, who staggered back a bit, dizzied by Manx’s outburst.
Feral shooed Hizzoner towards the door. “Why don’t you go out and wait in the hall, Mayor? And, try to stay calm.”
“Calm?” Manx said. “At a time like this? You’re crazy!” Gibbering in fear, he turned and ran from the lab, leaving the other four alone.
Zyme sighed, rubbing his temples, feeling the first pangs of a headache coming on. He really, really hated Mondays. “How soon until they get here?” he asked.
Feral looked past him. “About a minute-and-a-half. Look!” He pointed.
Zyme turned and looked out the huge front windows of the lab to see two huge, purple-colored organisms stomping down the street, headed right for the lab! They were vaguely humanoid in shape, with arms and legs, and had enormous, black gaping-wide mouths that were… smiling? Both of the huge monsters were grinning; no, leering evilly as they approached. Those smiles gave Zyme the chills. Mustering his courage, he approached the window, which ran from floor to ceiling; in fact, this entire wall of the main lab was glass, consisting of two of these huge windows. Zyme wasn’t worried, though. Since the incident when the SWAT Kats smashed through one window, then knocked Dr. Viper out the other, Zyme had both windows refitted with shatterproof armored glass.
He looked at the two monsters. They looked like giant germs! The one on the left had one huge, cyclopic eye, while the one on the right had two eyes. Never in his life had Zyme seen something so disgusting and terrifying, and yet, at the same time, so fascinating. Only one person could have created these things. Only Dr. Viper had such a knack for these kinds of mutations.
Clearing his throat, he turned to Feral, Briggs and the pilot, saying, “They appear to be giant bacteria!”
They all frowned in disgust. Callie went over to the window as Zyme walked away from it, going over to Feral and the pilot. He stroked his practically nonexistent chin, thinking. Obviously, the best way to deal with giant germs was with a large quantity of antibiotics. Luckily, the lab had a bulk supply. In fact, there was some in a few flasks on a nearby worktable, which Zyme went to. The antibiotics were part of someone’s experiment, but Zyme figured that the impending attack by huge monsters overrode that particular scientist’s work.
“On such short notice, this is the best I can do,” he said, picking up one of the flasks and holding it up for the others to see. Feral in particular looked very interested and leaned in close, eyeing the flask’s contents. “It contains the most powerful antibiotics known,” Zyme continued. “Hopefully, it should stop them.”
“It better work,” said Callie Briggs over by the window. “Because those things are heading straight for us!”
Zyme handed the flask off to Commander Feral, who turned and handed it to the pilot. The pilot frowned, unsure of just what he was supposed to do with it. Zyme walked over to the window, smiling, feeling confident about the building’s defenses. Although ineffective against penetration by cat-sized individuals, Megakat Biochemical was impervious to attack from anything too big to fit through the front door. Or at least Zyme thought so anyway.
“Don’t worry, Miss Briggs,” he assured her. She backed away from the window, but he stopped her, putting an arm around her, making her step back up to the glass. “These windows are practically indestructible!” To emphasize his point, he knocked on the glass, which made a dull clunking sound. Callie didn’t looked convinced, but she’d soon see. Just wait for one of those monsters to try and smash through, Zyme thought.
Outside, the two foremost of the laser cannons swivelled around to meet the approaching bacteria monsters. These were Megakat Biochemical’s primary defenses against attack. They fired, blasting through the monsters’ bodies. This didn’t seem to have much effect, though. Apart from their eyes, the germs appeared to lack any vital organs and were just composed of the mushy purple slime all the way through. The lasers passed harmlessly through them.
Zyme frowned, and his frown deepened when the one-eyed monster suddenly lifted up its huge gooey hand and smashed the first cannon to bits in one blow! He quickly realized that, against these creatures, at least, the building’s laser cannons were not going to be effective. He turned away from the window, leaving Callie there, and went over to Commander Feral and the pilot, who was still holding the flask of antibiotics.
“How are we going to deliver it?” asked Feral as they heard the muffled explosion that signified the destruction of the second laser cannon.
“I have a large hypodermic needle with I think can be rigged to fire from your helicopter,” Zyme said said. He took the flask from the pilot.
Feral nodded. “Let’s get to it, then. I just hope we have time!”
Dr. Viper waited down in the sewer for the bacteria monsters to finish destroying all of the cannons that defended Megakat Biochemical. Although he correctly predicted they’d be of little use against his creations, better safe than sorry. After hearing the last explosion, he climbed up the ladder and popped the manhole cover, peering out. The coast was clear. Katalyst 99 would be his! All of the cannons were destroyed. Knocking the cover off, Viper literally launched himself out of the manhole and landed deftly on his feet. He only saw two bacteria monsters. Where was the third one, the second, single-eyed bacteria? Viper shrugged inwardly. Probably off somewhere else having fun, he guessed.
He had to note the irony of this particular sewer access point. Not only was it the manhole he’d used to arrive at Megakat Biochemical immediately following Purvis’ resurrection and transformation into Dr. Viper, it had also provided the means for his escape after his first encounter, and first defeat, at the hands of the SWAT Kats.
“While the bacteria wreak havoc, I will raid the labsss,” Viper hissed and strutted confidently towards the front entrance of the building. Impenetrable? No. More like ludicrously easy to get into! The defenses of the building were a joke, designed around large-scale assaults, not to mention creatures who could actually be injured by getting shot.
Speaking of the bacteria, as he pushed through the front door and entered the lobby, Viper thought about how much easier it would’ve been had the original bacteria, the one that used to be Morbulus, continued through the sewer and used the manhole outside Megakat Biochemical instead of jumping the gun and popping up in the park. Viper was finding these creatures extremely difficult to control, unlike his other creations. He supposed it was due to what little remained of Morbulus’ mind, being defiant to the end, but it didn’t matter.
Although the first monster leaving the sewer too soon had delayed the robbery and set Viper’s schedule back at least a good twenty or thirty minutes, he’d gained three monsters due to the first’s unexpected ability to fission into two creatures when hit with enough force. So, he was running late, but it was no matter. Three monsters would keep the SWAT Kats and the Enforcers busy long enough for him to obtain Katalyst 99 and get out of there before anyone could stop him.
There was no one at the front desk. He soon found out why when he heard a toilet flush, and a security guard emerged from the men’s room. Viper did not recognize him. He was wearing a different uniform from that old fool Abel and was one of the new guards from a new security company who Zyme had hired.
“What’s all the racket out here?” he demanded.
He stopped in his tracks when he saw Viper and quickly went for the gun on his hip. Viper was faster. One swipe of his tail sent the guard sailing across the lobby and smashing into the far wall with a dull thud. Viper didn’t bother with him any more and went immediately to the stairwell. This was way too easy. Viper almost regretted using his biggest, baddest monster to date for something as mundane as a robbery.
“It’s all loaded, Commander!” Zyme yelled, lowering the jack he’d used to attach the three-foot hypo to the bottom of the Enforcer chopper sitting on the rooftop helipad. He stood back, the wind from the already-spinning rotor blades whipping his hair around wildly. He’d rigged the enormous syringe with rocket so that it could be launched like a missile from the chopper. If this proved successful, Zyme had another one just like it. Feral need only to return to reload.
Commander Feral stood in the side door of the chopper. “Good,” he said and then turned to the pilot seated up front and was about to tell him to take off when they suddenly heard a sudden cry from off to the left.
“Wait! I’m coming too” Both Zyme and Feral turned to see Mayor Manx come charging out of the stairwell door and race across the roof. He jumped up into the side of the chopper, but didn’t quite make it. He hung there, half in and half out of the chopper, legs kicking frantically as he tried, without success, to pull himself up. “I don’t want to be around here if this stuff doesn’t work!”
Zyme scowled, disgusted by the Mayor’s lack of confidence in his idea, as well as his cowardice. This was the Mayor of Megakat City who’d somehow been re-elected nine times?
Feral seemed to share his sentiments, because, after the Mayor finally managed to pull his chubby self up into the chopper, he growled, “You’re a coward, Manx!”
Manx held up a finger. “You don’t get to be Mayor for ten terms without bein’ cautious!”
The door closed, and Zyme stood back as the helicopter lifted off and flew away. Once it was safe to do so, Zyme walked over to the edge of the roof and looked down. Both of the bacteria monsters were just sort of standing there, milling around, not doing very much. One of them, the two-eyed one, grabbed a parked car and stuffed it into its mouth, eating it in one huge bite.
“Ew,” Zyme said, grimacing.
Suddenly, he heard the roar of jet engines and turned to see a black and red fighter jet approaching the scene. The Turbokat, he believed it was called. It was the SWAT Kats! Where in the world had they been all this time? Despite saving him from being mutated by Viper long ago, Zyme didn’t really think too highly of the vigilantes. Their methods were far too destructive. There had been enough damage to the lab already, and Zyme wasn’t going to stand for any further demolition.
He watched as the Turbokat flew down towards the two-eyed bacteria monster and launched a missile at it. Initially, Zyme thought that the SWAT Kats did not know of the monsters’ ability to divide, but then the casing of the missile broke apart, revealing an electrical conductor, sparking with electricity. The bacteria eagerly caught the missile in its mouth and wolfed it down. A few seconds later, there were bluish electrical bolts surging all over its body as it convulsed hideously and then finally exploded and was reduced to a pile of ash.
Zyme stroked his chin. “Hmm,” he said, “that was effective.” He watched as Commander Feral’s chopper swooped down at the remaining bacteria monster, the one with a single eye.
Wanting to watch this up close, Zyme turned and ran back downstairs to the main lab where he found Callie Briggs still standing at the window. He joined her. Just as he did, the bacteria monster came over and peered in at them, allowing Zyme to see its gruesome visage up close. Callie clung to him fearfully, and he to her, the two of them frozen in place as the giant eyeball scrutinized them like they were bugs in a jar.
Suddenly, its attention was grabbed by the approaching Enforcer chopper, and it turned away. Zyme felt a tremendous surge of relief at this. Looking at the creature’s eye made him suspect that perhaps it wasn’t entirely a germ. It seemed to him that it might have originally been some other kind of animal, or worse, perhaps even another cat before Dr. Viper mutated it.
The giant hypo was launched from Feral’s chopper, and the bacteria caught it in its mouth. It turned greyish-brown and began to shrivel up. It was dying! Triumphantly, Zyme threw his fists into the air, shouting, “It worked!”
Meanwhile, Dr. Viper emerged from the stairwell on the fourteenth floor and hurried down the hall to the open doors of the main lab. He arrived in time to hear Newton Zyme yell, “It worked!” He saw Zyme and that annoying Callie Briggs over by one of the windows, looking out at one of the bacteria monsters, which had turned a kind of greyish color and looked like it was a dried-up grey raisin. How odd.
Then, he grinned, realizing what was happening. They’d used antibiotics against the monster. He chuckled darkly, knowing the truth. “You were alwaysss an arrogant fool, Dr. Zyme!” he said aloud. Both Zyme and Callie turned towards him, wide-eyed. “My bacteria is immune to antibioticsss!”
Indeed, Viper had thought ahead. The effects of the antibiotic formula would last only a few seconds, and then the bacteria would return to normal. Outside, the hardened shell around the creature was already beginning to crumble away.
Zyme and Callie were so fixated on Viper that neither of them noticed the bacteria coming back to life. But, it noticed them. Zyme, shaking uneasily, stepped back, getting behind Callie so that she was between himself and Viper and bumped into the window, knocking the back of his head against it.
Terror filled the biochemist. This was the first time he had seen Viper since that fateful day. The cyclopic, grinning visage of the bacteria monster loomed right behind him, but he didn’t notice. Viper grinned evilly at this. Zyme blinked, unsure of precisely what it was the mutant snake-cat was grinning about, but then Callie turned and saw the monster behind them. Noticing her look, Zyme spun around just as the huge, slimy purple hand reached up and collided with the window and shattered the glass!
Zyme couldn’t believe it! That glass was designed to withstand almost anything! The strength of Viper’s bacteria monster was amazing! It wasn’t just a giant bacteria; it was a super giant bacteria. Zyme threw up his arms up in front of his face, shielding himself from the flying shards of glass as Callie turned and ran away. When Zyme lowered his arms and looked up, he gave a small cry as he saw the bacteria looking down at him. Unable to move, he simply screamed as the mouth opened, thick strands of purple slime connecting the upper and lower jaws, and then the head bent down towards him. He threw up his arms again in a futile effort to defend himself as the huge shadow fell across him, and he knew he was done for.
Viper stood by and watched as the bacteria monster prepared to eat Newton Zyme and was unsure about precisely how he felt about this. True, Zyme was his enemy, but then he remembered why he had originally spared Zyme rather than killing him himself in the first place. He felt that Zyme’s brilliant, if misguided, mind would be a useful thing to have at his disposal once he ruled Megakat City. And, if the giant bacteria ate Zyme, that wouldn’t happen! He was entertaining the thought of yelling for the creature to stop when, suddenly, he turned and went over to where the katalysts were kept. He didn’t need Zyme. He was brilliant enough on his own.
Zyme stood, shivering, face still covered, unable to look. The horrible grinning maw of the bacteria had actually been right over him, upper lip behind him and lower lip in front of him, and, had he looked, he would’ve been able to see right down its “throat.” But, the monster was distracted from its meal by the annoying Enforcer chopper, which it turned and swatted at with its hand. Slowly, Zyme looked. The bacteria monster was moving away, following the retreating chopper. It hadn’t eaten him. He was alive. Not wanting to risk his life any further, the middle-aged scientist spun around and ran from the lab. He shoved past Callie Briggs in his panic, charging through the doors and into the hall, making for the stairwell. Behind him, he heard Callie telling Dr. Viper he wasn’t going to get away with this.
Viper, for his part, had been pretty much ignoring the both of them, gleefully gathering up an armload of jars containing Katalyst 99. Five, six, seven, he soon had nine in all and was grabbing a tenth when he heard Callie behind him say, “You won’t get away with this, Dr. Viper!”
Ugh, that annoying bitch, he thought, turning and glaring angrily at her. Aside from the SWAT Kats, no one annoyed him more than the Deputy Mayor. He’d considered her a self-righteous little nobody even back when he was still Elrod Purvis and she visited the lab with the Mayor. Oh, how he was suddenly filled with the urge to kill her.
“No, Miss Briggssss,” he snarled, “it’sss you who won’t get away!”
Before she could react, he whipped out his tail and grabbed her with it, dragging the screaming blonde she-kat over to himself. She didn’t put up much of a fight. Zyme had struggled harder than she was back when he’d grabbed him with his tail. Nevertheless, she was struggling all the same, and it only annoyed him further, so he tightened his coils, which silenced her. He began to contemplate how he would dispose of her when, suddenly, the Turbokat shot past the broken window, startling him. He turned, watching it go by.
So, the SWAT Kats were here, too, were they? What was this? he thought. A fucking reunion? This changed things. Now, he could no longer afford to kill Callie. Now, he needed her as a hostage, which meant continuing to put up with her bullshit and perhaps even let her go if that was what it would take for him to escape with Katalyst 99.
Zyme was nowhere to be seen. Viper figured the bacteria monster had gotten him. He was about to leave with his armload of Katalyst 99 and his hostage when, suddenly, he turned and looked through the second, unbroken window of the lab and saw the Turbokat flying towards him. Aw, shit! This was not good! Before he could even think about moving, the Turbokat flew through the window, completely destroying the day’s second set of armored glass and landing in the middle of the lab. The force of its entrance was enough to both cause Viper to drop both his hostage and the canisters of Katalyst 99 and fling him bodily across the room where he smacked into the wall and slid down into an upright sitting position, dazed.
The canopy of the jet opened and T-Bone got out, leaping down and landing beside Callie, helping her to her feet. “Game’s over, Dr. Viper,” he declared, pointing to Razor, who had what appeared to be a rocket launcher covering Viper.
Dr. Viper really hated Mondays.
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