TITLE: PURPOSE IS ALL
AUTHOR: C. L. Furlong
DATE: March 04, 2001
FINISHED: May 16, 2001
FINAL REVISION: June 28, 2001
SUMMARY: Razor and T-Bone have an argument and they split up. Can their friendship reunite them again? Or is the Radical Squadron dissolved for good?
DISCLAIMER: SWAT Kats and anything related to the series is the property of Hanna-Barbera. No infringement is intended and no profit is gained with this fiction.
COMMENTS: Hiya all, SK Fans! Just a little word before we hit it. This and my previous fiction “Rebirth” prepare the setting for the rest of the “Final Resistance” series, once they present the basic outlines of what is about to come. Many of my forthcoming fictions will be related in one way or the other to “Rebirth” and “Purpose is All,” though I’ll try to make them in a sort of independent way.
This fic presents some strong language at one or two places (definitely *not* my kind of language, though it sounded good to me given the places where I inserted it)
Okay, on with it. Hope you enjoy it! Do e-mail me your comments, reviews and questions on this fic so I could do something better next time, okay? C. U. all!
“Purpose is important. Purpose is all.” – Zed in “Unlikelly Alloys”
“Tell me why are we // so blind to see // that the ones we hurt // are you and me?” – Coolio in “Gangsters Paradise”, O.S.T. for “Dangerous Minds”
“”” Tuesday, the 9th of August 1994, days after Zed’s destruction “””
Sweat dropped down his forehead and soaked the filthy concrete floor as he performed another push-up with one arm, the other placed behind his back.
“They did this to me,” – he thought.
He lowered his bulk until it almost contacted the floor and lifted it up again, fully extending his arm.
“They have to pay.”
“RECESS!” – a guard shouted.
Greenbox heaved his bulk from the ground and swept the perspiration off his forehead with his right sleeve. He put his glasses, mended with adhesive tape, back on.
“Okay, doc, get outta here,” – said a prison guard as he opened the door of the cell.
He followed the other prisoners to the yard. He went to the rings and lifted his body, performing a loop. Then, he lowered himself and made a cross with his arms spread out wide. He breathed out and closed his eyes.
“I have to get out of this prison…” – he thought but suddenly felt a punch in his gut.
Greenbox fell to the ground and looked up.
“Get outta here, doc. This is our spot,” – a black furred short kat ordered. His stature was fully compensated by his musculature. Behind him stood two identical gray-furred tall kats.
Greenbox got to his feet and stepped back, turning his back on the trio only when he was a few meters away. He closed his eyes and sighed. But then, he heard some gurgling sounds. He turned around and widened his eyes in terror.
The short kat had one of the rings’ chains tightly wrapped around his neck was squirming, trying to get rid of it. The gray kats were able to do nothing but to stare in shock.
“Why don’t they help me? Why does no one help me? Please, I don’t wanna die! I DON’T WANNA DIE!” – the short kat thought, unable to vocalize it.
He squirmed a bit more. His throat ached terribly and his lungs burned from the lack of air.
Then, there was a light cracking sound, like a dry bough breaking up, and his head hung limply to the right.
A thread of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth, down his right chin and to the gray, gravelly floor of the yard. His glazed eyes stared without seeing.
Greenbox turned his face to the other side at the sight of the corpse.
“No! Look! You can’t have your revenge if you can’t stand seeing a little bit of blood!” – he thought.
He forced himself to look at the dead body and to look at the small red puddle forming underneath it. Suddenly, the chain around the kat’s neck loosened and he fell like a sack of potatoes to the ground with a muffled thud.
The guards rounded up the remaining prisoners and forced them to step out of the yard and into their cells. They were never informed about what happened to the corpse.
“Log entry: Friday, the 24th of December 1999 23:45 Alkatraz Island
It’s raining and lightning outside. I’ve never seen a storm like this in my entire life. The cracking of the thunder is so loud I can barely hear myself think.
But, maybe it’s not the thunder… Maybe it’s not the rain… Maybe it’s not the wind…
It’s been already five years since I’ve stepped inside Alkatraz.
Five years together with the waste, the garbage, the scum of society…
Five years of pain and humiliation…
But, I’ve survived.
I’ve been spat on… punched… kicked… stabbed… f*ck*d…
But, I’ve survived…
And I owe my survival to those who put me here in the first place.
To those whom I helped and when opportunity knocked stabbed me in the back.
To those who so mercifully rescued me after destroying my creation.
After destroying my life…
Yes, I owe my survival to my desire… My desire of vengeance… How to achieve it, however, is still to be found.
Something strange happened tonight, during our Christmas supper. Some weird guy started punching me in the face. Yes, I’ve played the role of the sandbag in here during the past five years.
But, that is over now… For what I did tonight placed me on a one way path.
I killed him…
They said it was an accident… The fools…
How could he have ‘accidentally’ riveted the fork in his throat? And the knife in his forehead?
I can’t help but chuckle when I imagine his eyeball in the spoon…
No… They’re not fools at all!
They just don’t give a crud about us… They’d be happier if we all died…
I don’t know how I did it but I know I did it!
And, I intend to find out…
Because purpose is all…
Signing off: Leider Greenbox”
PURPOSE IS ALL
“”” Present day “””
Jake rolled on the bed when he heard the frantic acoustic signal from their triangular communicator. He wasn’t fully awake already when he got out of bed.
“Mmmm, Jake, shut that crud alarm clock off!” – Chance said in a sleepy voice from his bed while he clamped the pillow against his ears.
“Up and at it, partner! It’s Callie! She’s callin’ us!”
“Wha… Crud, can’t a kat have a decent night of sleep?” – Chance mumbled and sat up on the bed.
“Yes, Miss Briggs?” – Jake answered finally.
“We’ve got a little problem at Megakat National Bank near my apartment building, guys. I think it’s the Metallikats,” – she said in a worried voice.
“How do you know?” – Jake asked before he yawned silently.
“I can see the blown out portico of the bank from my apartment. The blast woke me up. Besides, I can see the Metallikat Express so…”
“We’re on our way!” – Jake said as he turned off the communicator. He turned to Chance and saw him lying in the bed, sleeping again. He went to him and shook him. “C’mon, buddy! It’s the Metallikats again!”
“Mmmm, tell ’em I got bubonic plague or ebola or something else…”
“If you don’t get your tail out of bed right now, I’m gonna kick it so hard you’ll…”
“Alright, alright, I’m up,” – he yawned – “Let’s hit it!”
Minutes later, they were flying over the city. T-Bone yawned for the nth time.
“So, how come these guys always come back? I mean, we fight ’em, we practically nuke ’em, all that’s left of ’em is their battered heads, and they always come up with their shiny metal bodies as good as new! How do they do it?”
“I got a better question. If Feral toasted their central processors as he told us he did, how come they’re operational now?”
“You got me there, pal. Hey, there they are!”
Under the black jet, the Metallikat Express rushed out of the crime scene, bumping and crushing everything that interposed in its way. Inside it, Molly looked at her husband with an annoyed look on her chromium-plated face. Her optic receivers blazed bright red.
“Too bad the Professor didn’t upload a driving program in your processor!”
“What’s that supposed ta mean? Are ya sayin’ I can’t drive?”
“You got it, you metallic oaf!”
Suddenly the hovercraft bounced its front up as its back crashed down. Mac looked back through the side mirror and saw the black jet fighter firing another missile at them.
“The SWAT Kats! Well, wait until they get a load of our new armaments! Do ya want ta do the honors?”
“I know it’s hard for ya, but try ta keep these wheels steady, will ya?” – Molly said as she pressed a button. A laser rifle appeared in the rear of the hovercraft.
“Ah, shut yer yammerin’ and blast those goodie two kats outta the sky!”
Molly aimed the gun at the TurboKat and waited for the lock tone. She fired a red burst of energy, but the jet banked abruptly to the right and she missed.
“Next time shoot with your receivers on!”
“Oh, yeah? Watch this!”
Molly fired a small missile towards the black jet. The jet banked again to the right and avoided the missile.
“C’mon, sureshot! I still wanna get some sleep tonight, okay?” – T-Bone teased.
“It’s nearly dawn, T-Bone. Hey! CRUD! That missile’s heat-seeking!”
T-Bone pulled the control handle toward him and sent the jet upward. The missile followed the jet.
“Keep her that way, buddy! We gotta get as far away from it as we can!” – Razor said as he lowered his visor. The sights locked on the offending missile. – “Piranha Missile locked… loaded… deployed!”
Both missiles contacted and an explosion lit the pre-dawn sky. T-Bone pushed the control handle down, and the jet plummeted toward the Metallikat Express. The sights on Razor’s visor chased the turquoise-blue hovercraft. Then, the lock tone sounded.
“Baby Boomer Missile deployed.”
The missile found its target and rammed the back of the hovercraft, exploding. However, they kept on going.
“It didn’t even make a dent!” – T-Bone muttered in surprise.
“CRUD! They must be using mega-alloy armor!” – Razor said.
“So? Shoot a Scrambler Missile! That oughta short circuit ’em!”
“I doubt it. The charge could be driven to the ground and pass around without injuring ’em…”
“Then, what are we gonna do?” – T-Bone asked as he peered outside.
Razor didn’t answer.
They flew back to the hangar in utter silence. T-Bone opened the tunnel door and flew inside, decreasing the throttle and unleashing the emergency parachute in order to stop. The big tabby gritted his teeth in rage as the platform lifted the jet to the hangar. He opened the canopy and jumped to the ground. Razor jumped to the wing and from it to the ground. Without a word, T-Bone headed for his locker.
“C’mon, T-Bone, say something, will ya?” – Razor asked the big tabby.
“It wouldn’t be polite to say what I’m thinking…” – he said in a low raspy tone. He opened his locker and took off his helmet and mask, slamming them inside.
“Aw, come on! It wasn’t that bad…” – Razor said as he laid a paw on Chance’s shoulder.
Chance spun back, nearly foaming at the mouth.
“It wasn’t that bad? IT WASN’T THAT BAD?” – he roared – “Lemme see. You jumped down from nearly five stories high, got electrocuted when you landed on the Metallikat Express, fell in the street, ripping your G-suit and gashing your forehead and nearly got ran over by them. If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing more than a red blot on the street! And, you tell me IT WASN’T THAT BAD?”
“Yeah? And what did you do to prevent the Metallikats from escaping with all the bank money? NOTHING!”
“Why, you little ingrate! I saved your tail back there!”
“So what? Didn’t I do the same for you dozens of times? And, why are you so stuffed up with what I did? I do it all the time!”
“Yeah, but not without telling me anything!”
“Oh, please! Now you sound just my mother talking!”
“Maybe you need some lectures once in a while!”
“Yeah? And, it’s gonna be you who’s gonna give ’em to me, ain’t you? Ha! I left home because of that and it’s not gonna be you who’s…”
“You better shut up before you say something you might regret, Jake!”
“I say whatever I want! You’re not my mother, okay?”
“Watch your mouth when you speak that word! You don’t know what it is not to have a mother, a father, a family!”
“Oh, here we go again with that crud! So you were an orphan! So what? There are maybe thousands of orphans only in this city! What makes *you* so special?”
Razor gulped. He knew he had hit way below the waistline. But, the wrong was done.
Chance let it all loose too.
“Yeah? Well, at least I’m not a spoiled kitten that always had everything he wanted! And, I never got caught in, and I quote, ‘computer software smuggling’, end quote.”
“I TOLD YOU ALREADY – IT WASN’T MY FAULT!”
“WELL, THAT’S NOT WHAT YOUR FILE SAID!”
“WELL, AT LEAST I DIDN’T CRASH THAT PLANE ON ENFORCER HEADQUARTERS!”
“You’re blaming…” – Chance blabbered.
“YEAH, MR. FURLONG! I COULD BE A LIEUTENANT NOW IF YOU DIDN’T SCREW THINGS UP AND DISOBEY FERAL’S ORDERS! IT’S BECAUSE OF YOU I’M HERE IN THIS DUMP! YOU RUINED MY CAREER!”
“WELL, NONE OF IT WOULD’VE HAPPEN IF YOU HAD DONE YOUR JOB RIGHT!”
“WHAT?” – Razor cried in disbelief – “SO, NOW IT’S MY FAULT?”
“OF COURSE! IF YOU HAD JUST FINISHED DARK KAT OFF INSTEAD OF SITTING UP ON YOUR TAIL…”
“I don’t have to stay here and listen to this…” – Razor said as he ran to the Cyclotron. He started the engine and drove out of the hangar.
“AND, I DON’T CARE IF I NEVER SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN IN MY LIFE!” – Chance yelled at the departing red transport.
“WHAT? How could you let them escape?”
“Hey, it wasn’t our fault, doc!” – Mac said to the shadows of a room in an abandoned iron foundry.
“Yeah! They got away in that stupid jet of theirs!” – Molly added.
For a few moments no reply came from the dark. Then, all of a sudden, the entire factory whirred to life as lights blinked all over the place. A form dressed in a metallic gray suit stepped forward towards the Metallikats. A black jaguar-like robot came alongside him with its optic receivers glowing bright red.
“I do not tolerate failures…” – the figure said. Then, his own eyes acquired a blood red glow and sparks came out from the Metallikats’ bodies.
The Metallikats arched their heads up and grabbed them, screaming and kneeling on the ground when the torment became too great to bear.
“STOP IT! PLEASE!” – Mac bellowed. He felt his processor slowly burning inside his head. His whole body quivered with the electric discharges that his processor wildly sent down all his neural wires.
Then, it all stopped.
They breathed out in relief.
“Just don’t fail me again,” – the figure said and walked to a console in one of the walls. He struck a few keys and a grid appeared on the big screen in front of him.
“How… How are we supposed… ta find ’em?” – Molly asked as she gained her vital functions again.
“My pets will take care of that…”
Razor drove the Cyclotron out of Megakat City, towards the countryside, maintaining the pedal to the metal all the way. He was fuming… almost blind with rage. He had never driven so recklessly in his life, putting not only his but other’s lives in jeopardy. Then, he got off the freeway and penetrated the forest by a narrow earthy and rocky path. There he slowed down and drove for a while.
“There it is,” – he thought.
He pulled the Cyclotron over when he entered a clearing in the bush. He took off his helmet and looked at the natural scenario before him. A small pond reflected the rough outline of the Megakat Mountains. A rubbly limnetic beach surrounded the still body of water.
He placed his helmet over the Cyclotron’s seat and headed to the beach, listening to the chirps of the birds, the croak of the frogs and the occasional splashing of a fish.
The peacefulness of the landscape calmed him down a bit. He sat on the beach and threw a pebble in the water. He watched as the rock plunged and formed ring-like waves spreading towards the margins.
“Why was he so mad with me?” – he thought – “Just because I didn’t tell him I was going to sneak up on the Metallikats? Crud, he’s not my mother! I don’t have to tell him everything I intend to do!
Who does he think he is?”
He dropped his head to his chest.
“He’s my friend…”
He suddenly cocked his head.
“But, friends don’t point their finger at their friends, accusing them!
It most certainly wasn’t my fault that we were booted out of the Enforcers… And, why did he have to pick that smuggling thing up? I told him already that it wasn’t my fault!
He threw another pebble at a low angle. It jumped three times over the water before plunging. He sighed and closed his eyes.
“But, I have driven him over the edge…
No, I don’t know what it is not to have someone to love you… someone to cherish you when you need… someone to talk to you when you need…
I always had that… I always took it for granted… A family… Always there for me…
But, there was no one there for him…
I don’t know what kind of life he had when he was a kitten, but it sure must’ve been a hard one… Always alone… With no one to care for him…
And, *I* was afraid to be alone…”
Glistening briefly in the sun, a bird swung around over the lake. It stared at the kat with the blue G-suit and the red harness underneath it. Its optical receivers were absorbing information from the kat. The microcomputer in its head whirred as he analyzed the contour, the thermal signature and the kat’s brain theta waves. It all matched with the records of the SWAT Kat named Razor. Swiftly, the metallic bird sent his information to the command base.
The metallic, gray-dressed form smiled when he received the coordinates and a blue dot started glowing on the screen in front of him. He adjusted his glasses and turned to the Metallikats.
“Our prize awaits… The coordinates have been transferred to your hovercraft.”
The Metallikats headed for their transport and prepared for the hunt. The figure saw them departing and the doors closed. Everything fell silent and all the blinking lights turned off. By his side, the black feline robot growled. He petted its head.
“Easy, Rage… Soon… Very soon, you’ll have fresh meat to rip off…”
Razor threw another pebble to the water. He closed his eyes and sighed again. He felt hurt with Chance’s words. They were so unfair!
But, wasn’t he unfair too?
He couldn’t possibly understand what Chance had been through during his kittenhood.
He remembered when he was a kitten. Life was so much simpler! Not a care in the world. He remembered his birthday parties.
Everybody was there… All his friends, all his family… He remembered the cake, the games, the gifts, the fun…
What did Chance had?
His smile disappeared.
He remembered when Chance told him he was Feral’s son. Chance’s eyes were sparkling. He seemed like a kitten that had received his favorite toy for Christmas. Then, he told him his mother died when he was just six and he had to go to an orphanage because he had no one to look after him.
“No one to look after him… All alone in the world…” – he said softly.
He dropped a tear.
“I can’t bear to think of that… What would I do if I were alone? I… I couldn’t bear it…”
“Maybe I’m overreacting… I probably shouldn’t have said what I said… But, he certainly shouldn’t have said what he said to me too…”
He got up to his feet and stared into the distance, towards the rugged shape of the mountains in front of him.
The robotic bird processed the telemetry in a split second. The thermal signature was moving. It sent the information to command base. The reply came nanoseconds later. The bird had its orders, its purpose…
“I guess I have to apologize to him for what I said… But, only if he apologizes to me first…”
Razor walked to the Cyclotron and was reaching toward the steering bar with his left paw when two red beams struck it. Razor pulled his paw away and looked behind. Then, he saw it.
The bird was plummeting down on him. It fired its optic lasers again over Razor, hitting the ground in front of him. Its purpose was to keep the SWAT Kat there long enough for the Metallikats to arrive. And, so it did.
Razor did a back flip in order to avoid the blast. He looked up. The bird screamed an electronic screech and plummeted down on him.
“What the heck is that?” – he thought. He ducked when the robotic bird passed over him.
“Let’s see what that thing is. Mini Spider Missile… deployed!” – Razor said as he shot the little, yellow missile at the bird.
The winged robot was coming around for another swipe. His microcomputer rapidly processed the telemetry its sensors were receiving. Something fast was coming towards it. Its computer’s flight dynamics swiftly programmed an alternate course. The tail flaps banked to the right and the whole body did the same in the opposite direction. The missile passed by it. When the bird finished the spin, it shot two more laser blasts at the thermal signature below.
Razor jumped to the side in order to avoid the red blasts, rolling over and standing up on his feet. He looked up to the shimmering metallic bird. He narrowed his eyes. That thing had fooled him! He missed! Sureshot missed!
“Well, you won’t get away from me this time!”
The bird finished its turn and headed for Razor again. The sights on its optic receivers chased the center of the thermal signature.
“Mini Scrambler Missile…” – Razor said.
The sights locked on the center of the thermal signature. It charged the lasers to stun.
The lasers were charged. It prepared to fire them. Then, its optic receivers detected a large thermal signature, different from that of the SWAT Kat. Its processor matched it with the thermal signature of an explosion.
Razor was sent flying in the air to the rubbly beach when something exploded behind him. He landed hard on the pebbles and quickly looked back. He widened his eyes.
“Metallikats!” – he babbled.
Mac and Molly stood there, with their blasters still smoldering. Molly looked amused to see the SWAT Kat lying on the pebbles. She aimed her cannon at the slim SWAT Kat and fired.
Razor got to his feet and jumped away right before the laser blast hit the place where he had lain. He ran towards the water and plunged. He could see yellow and orange beams streak the waters above and behind him. He swam underwater and appeared on the other margin.
The Metallikats ran after him. Razor ran into the bush, penetrating deep into the forest. But, the Metallikats were right behind him. He could see the tree trunks opening up in wood splinters when the blasts of their laser cannons hit them. Some splinters flew towards his face, scratching it.
Mac fired a lucky shot and hit the base of a tree a few feet ahead of Razor. It started tumbling in front of him. He hurried his pace, but the boughs caught him. He tumbled under the weight of one of the main branches. He turned around so his back was facing the ground and fired two Mini Spider Missiles at the Metallikats.
Molly blasted them with her laser. She made her way through the boughs, breaking them. Razor shot a Mini Blowtorch Missile, hitting her. When the smoke disappeared, he gasped. She was still coming as if nothing had hit her. He kept firing missile after missile at her but to no avail. She kept coming relentlessly.
“Hey! Why don’t you fight a tom?” – someone said from Razor’s right side.
He looked to the right but only saw a silver fist racing toward him.
He felt a sharp pain in his muzzle followed by a bump on the back of his head and then his world turned black.
A few blood drops fell down from Mac’s fist. He tore the unconscious SWAT Kat’s right sleeve and cleaned Razor’s vital fluid off his chromium-plated fist with it.
“C’mon, let’s take him to the doc,” – Mac said when Molly came by his side.
“*You* knocked him down. Now you carry him!”
Chance rolled himself from under the car he was repairing, sweeping the perspiration off his forehead with his sleeve. He got to his feet and tossed the wrench to the workbench on his way to the kitchen.
“Damn hot afternoon…” – he mumbled as he opened the fridge and took a cold can of milk from inside. After piercing two holes on the top of the can with the claw of his thumb he drank some milk. He peered at the wristwatch and sighed.
“17:30… I wonder where Jake is…” – he sighed again – “Why am I always so worried about that little ingrate? He wouldn’t thank me for being concerned! No. You’re not my mother, Chance! I don’t have to tell you what I intend to do, Chance! Go f*ck yourself, Chance!”
He chuckled with his last comment.
“Well, that’s an anatomic impossibility…”
He drank the rest of the milk in one draught and headed back to the garage. He dragged himself under the car again and tried to concentrate on his work. But, he couldn’t. He was too worried to focus his mind on what he was doing.
“Crud… He was so unjust! I saved him! Sure he did the same for me many times but a simple ‘thanks’ wouldn’t hurt!
I care so much about him… I feel this… this urge to protect him… To protect all those I love…
But, I’ve failed so many times…
I don’t want Jake to be the third…
And, it wasn’t because of me that we were booted off the Enforcers! It was Feral’s fault!”
He closed his eyes and shook his head.
“No, it wasn’t…
It was my fault… I should have fallen back when Feral told me to… I destroyed both our careers in the Enforcers…
But, Jake didn’t have to point his finger at me… He didn’t have to make me feel like crud…
And, didn’t I make him feel like crud too? Damn, why did I have to pick up that smuggling episode? He already explained to me how it was… It wasn’t his fault…
And, I do care if I never see him again…
But, I won’t apologize to him… At least, not before he apologizes to me first!”
“Guess I hit him harder than I thought!” – Mac said.
The gray metallic form nodded.
“Indeed… But, he’s alive and that’s all that matters to me. He’s small potatoes. I’ll use him as bait. My revenge will only be complete when the other SWAT Kat dies in my paws!”
His eyes burned bright red.
“It’s T-Bone I want! He was the one responsible for my captivity! He was the one responsible for my humiliation!”
His eyes acquired a brighter glow.
Rage sensed it and stepped away from the figure.
Sparks started flickering on his right fist.
Rage hid itself behind a console.
The Metallikats started backing away too.
He spun on his heel and shot a bright blue electric bolt from his fist towards the short Metallikat, sending him flying back until he crashed against the wall of the room.
Greenbox smiled at the sound of the metallic thump against the wall followed by a similar sound when Mac hit the floor.
“MAC!” – Molly screamed, running towards him.
“Don’t worry,” – Greenbox said – “The discharge wasn’t lethal. Now, the spider must prepare its web to capture the fly…”
“How do ya know he’ll come?” – Molly asked as she helped her husband.
“He will… He’ll come rescue his partner…
It’s his purpose…
And, purpose is all…”
Chance was finishing waxing the TurboKat when the klaxon started honking. He cocked his head and pricked his ears.
“Crud… This couldn’t have come at a worst time…” – he thought.
The big tabby headed for the receiver and picked it up. He was about to do his usual T-Bone greeting when an unknown voice filled his right ear.
“I know it’s you, T-Bone.”
“Who’s this?” – he asked, frowning.
“Don’t you recognize the voice of your old ally, T-Bone?”
In a corner of his mind, Chance did recognize that voice. But, he hadn’t heard it for years.
“Bingo…” – Greenbox said. The word choice wasn’t at random. He knew it would make Chance think of Razor.
“Is there anything we can do to help you, doc?” – Chance asked, wondering why Greenbox wasn’t still in Alkatraz.
“We who?” – his voice was ice-cold.
Chance was taken aback with that question. He felt a knot forming in his stomach but couldn’t understand why. He decided to trace the call.
“We, the SWAT Kats! Who else…”
“I think the proper phrase would be ‘me, T-Bone, the only SWAT Kat remaining’, don’t you think, T-Bone?”
Chance’s heart fell to his feet. How could Greenbox know?
“W-what do you mean, doc?” – Chance queried, trying to trace the call.
Greenbox chuckled from the other side, which set Chance’s fur on end in his nape.
“Tracing is unnecessary, my dear friend,” – Greenbox said – “Let’s be honest. I have captured your partner. He’s a little bit indisposed at the moment, but you have my word he’s all right… for now.”
Chance gulped. The knot in his stomach tightened.
“What do you want from me?”
“Why don’t you come to my place and we discuss it? Your tracing is complete now. You have my exact location. See you around, T-Bone.”
Chance found himself listening to the static of the radio. He put the receiver back on the hook.
“Damn!” – he thought – “If something happens to him… I’ll never forgive myself…”
He ran to the locker and started putting on his G-suit.
“Hang on, buddy! I’m comin’!” – he mumbled as he tied his mask behind his head, flexing his back muscles when he finished.
“Ooooooh, my head… Seems like a grenade exploded inside my skull…” – Razor mumbled as he regained consciousness.
His vision was somewhat clouded and his nose ached. He licked his lips, and a metallic flavor invaded his taste buds. The slim kat looked around but just saw a few lights blinking.
“Look, Molly! He’s awake!”
Mac came into his field of view, with Molly just behind.
Razor widened his eyes and tried to assume a fighting stand but something stopped him. He looked to his wrists and then he saw the steel restraints. His ankles had the same shackles. He was in a wall, arms and legs spread out in an ‘X’. His heartbeat accelerated.
“No… Not again…” – he thought, remembering Dark Kat and his electrocution session – “Not again!”
“Look at him!” – Molly said as she grabbed Razor’s chin tightly with her metallic paw – “Isn’t he cute when he’s all frightened up?”
“He’ll be cuter when I’m through with him!” – Mac said as he lifted his fist and prepared to slam it against Razor’s gut. But, he never finished his action.
Something colored in metallic dark blue, almost black, grabbed his arm. It was Rage.
Mac tried to get rid of the feline robot but Rage only dug his fangs deeper into the titanium alloy of Mac’s arm. A few sparks came out of his arm’s scapular girdle.
Molly aimed her blaster at the robotic jaguar and fired an orange blast that hit the creature, sending it flying away.
Rage rapidly regained its stance. It inspected the spot where the blast had hit it, ‘sniffing’ with the probes inside its nose. The blast hadn’t even made a dent in its armor. The feline robot jerked its head towards the two Metallikats and growled an electronic snarl, a dark brown fluid dripping down its fangs. Its ears flattened against its head and it flexed its legs, preparing to pounce at the Metallikats.
“ENOUGH!” – Greenbox bellowed as he entered the room.
Rage looked back and sat on the floor. The Metallikats quivered a bit. Mac was grabbing his right arm. Dark brown lubricating oil was dripping from the rips Rage had made in his armor, down his chromium-plated arm and soaking the ground.
“What’s the big deal?” – Mac growled – “Why did that thing attacked us?”
“Because I told him to do so…”
“WHAT?” – both Metallikats said, in unison. – “Why?”
Greenbox’s eyes glowed bright red. Another wave of agony overwhelmed the two cyborgs. Greenbox let them suffer for a few minutes before stopping his attack.
“Now leave,” – he said, his voice below absolute zero.
When they recovered enough to walk, the Metallikats left the room. Rage followed them with its optic probes and then walked towards Greenbox, rubbing against his legs. Greenbox petted its head and Rage released an electronic purr.
“You’ve done well, Rage. You deserve a special treat.”
Greenbox headed for the wall at his left and opened a big door. Frozen vapor clouds scattered around his feet. He retrieved a big chunk of meat from a shelf inside and closed the door. He threw the meat toward Rage, who jumped and grasped it with its mouth.
The metallic jaguar backed away to a corner where he used his optic lasers to thaw the meat. Then, it started eating.
Greenbox headed for Razor, who bore a surprised look on his face.
“Glad to see you’re all right,” – Greenbox said.
“Dr. Greenbox, what’s happening here?” – he queried, trying to make sense out of everything he had witnessed – “And, why am I imprisoned?”
“You weren’t supposed to be there, Razor. Unfortunately, it turned out this way.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“I’ll tell you everything, Razor. I’ll tell you everything. It all started a few days after you SWAT Kats had defeated me… I mean, Zed. As you know, I went to prison.”
He turned his back to Razor and stared at the giant screen to his right, his face acquiring a hard expression.
“I was sentenced to five years in Alkatraz.
Do you know what Alkatraz looks like, Razor?
No. Of course you don’t. You’ve never been inside it. Well… let me tell you what it looks like, Razor.
It looks like hell!
Can you imagine what I suffered during the first months in there? Can you imagine the pain, the humiliation I’ve been put through in there?
No. Of course you can’t! You’ve never been inside it.
And, guess because of who I was put there in the first place?”
“No, Razor, it wasn’t your fault! I know you’re an inventor. I know you understood my reasons back then. Just as I know you will understand my reasons now.
No, Razor. It wasn’t your fault.
It was your *partner’s* fault!
He is the one responsible for my arrest, for my humiliation.
He destroyed my most precious creation! I spent years developing it. All it took was a single second for him to tear it apart.”
“So, you’re seeking revenge…” – Razor said in a low tone – “But, for what? Zed is destroyed! Nothing you can do will bring it back!”
Greenbox started chuckling.
“That’s what you think!”
“Razor’s signal is coming from that iron foundry, there.” – T-Bone said as he approached the area – “I’d better land the TurboKat here and go there on foot.”
And, so he did. He landed the black fighter jet in a clearing in the forest around the abandoned complex. The wall of trees would hide the jet from unwanted company.
The big tabby made his way through the bush, keeping his senses at full alert but nothing beyond the vegetation interposed in his way. He reached the wire-chain fence that surrounded the complex. He observed it. The big SWAT Kat retrieved a Mini Turbo Blade from his glovatrix and tossed it against the fence. It just fell to the ground.
“Not electrified…” – he mumbled.
He activated his glovatrix’s buzz saw and cut an opening in the fence. Kicking the piece of fence aside, he penetrated the complex and ran toward a truck randomly parked in the yard, hiding behind it.
“I gotta be careful. He’s expecting me. Greenbox knows I’ll try to rescue Jake.” – he peered at the main building and then at the foundry – “I wonder where they are…”
He pondered for a moment and then decided to check the main building.
“What do you mean that’s what *I* think?” – Razor asked, confused.
“Just what it means,” – Greenbox responded as his fingers flew over the keyboard in front of the giant screen.
“I don’t understand,” – Razor said, trying to buy some time.
Greenbox glanced at him with a thwarted look on his face.
“You’re disappointing me, Razor.” – he stepped to the imprisoned SWAT Kat – “But, as I said, I’ll tell you everything. When I was in Alkatraz, something strange started happening. As you can imagine, I played the role of the sandbag there. Imagine it…
A quantum physicist dork with glasses…
Together with the most dangerous criminals of MegaKat City…
But, there was something odd going on. All those who had hurt me would always appear mysteriously dead…
It seemed as though there was someone executing them. And, he never failed to acquire his targets.”
“And, was there someone doing it?” – Razor asked uneasily.
“You could say that. I was astonished to discover that it was actually *me* that was killing all those criminals…
It was during our Christmas supper, back in 1999. Without any reason, a goon started punching me in the face. The guards intervened and separated us. I was sent to my cell.
But, I was mad… I wanted revenge… I wanted it so badly…
I thought about riveting the fork in his throat… Then, I’d stab the knife in his forehead… And then, I’d retrieve his eyeball with the spoon…
Suddenly, I heard screams… Screams of pain… I was later told that he had ‘accidentally’ riveted the fork in his throat, the knife in his forehead and the spoon in his eye…
It was then that I knew it was me… I killed all those criminals…”
“With your mind?” – Razor queried, dumbfounded.
“Again, you could say that. It took me a while to understand how I did it. Meanwhile, I became bolder towards my aggressors. It engaged me in fights that caused me to stay in Alkatraz for two more years.
But, those two years proved crucial for me. I finally knew how to do it. And then, I realized that I actually didn’t kill those scum bags…”
“Now, you got me confused. Was it you or not?”
“Zed did it…” – Greenbox responded after chuckling a bit.
“What? But… H-how? Zed’s destroyed!”
“No, it isn’t, Razor! Zed’s very alive…” – Greenbox pointed to his head – “…in here!”
Razor opened his mouth in disbelief.
“Remember when your partner whipped Zed out of my head. Well, Zed had anticipated that something like that might happen, so he copied himself to my brain. It really only took a split second.”
“Unbelievable!” – Razor muttered, astonished.
“Is it really that hard to believe? What is our brain? How is it composed? What are our memories, our feelings, our emotions? They’re nothing but electric signals generated by an ion unbalance between the interior and the exterior of the neurons and interpreted by the brain.
What is information? How is it recorded in computers? Information is nothing more than electric signals interpreted by the CPU and stored as electromagnetic signatures in the disks.
Why can’t information be stored inside a brain if it’s exactly the same thing as emotions: electric signals?
We only use about 17% of our brain. The remaining 83% is not empty, of course, but can perfectly be used to store information. Zed is an immense computer program, but it only occupied about 5% of my brain.
Now, I can *really* say that… we… are… one!”
“It’s… it’s incredible… Zed has self-preservation capabilities I wouldn’t have even dreamed of!” – Razor said, shaking his head.
“Yes. And, thanks to him, I created all these robots and the machinery you see here. Zed had enhanced my brain activity, allowing me to control anything mechanical… like the Metallikats.”
“You mean… the bird that attacked me…”
“A small flying robot, endowed with a minute but extremely fast microcomputer, capable of reading and interpreting information in a split second.
Rage there is my most perfect creation. It mimics a black jaguar and has all the skills those animals possess and even more.”
“But, if it’s a machine, how come it eats meat?”
“An ingenious fuel intake mode, if I may say so… As you might know, cells contain the building blocks of life: proteins, lipids, sugars and nucleic acids which, in turn, are hydrocarbon molecules blended with nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.
The latter are removed from the hydrocarbon molecules and rejected while the hydrocarbons are broken down to form methane molecules, which are Rage’s fuel. The only thing Rage eliminates is very small amounts of water, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, sulfates and sulfites. So you see, Razor, Rage can feed on basically everything organic and retrieve its fuel from it.
I know what you’re thinking. Then, if we don’t feed Rage it would no longer be operational. I thought of that too. Rage can absorb solar energy through all its body, transform and store it as electric energy.”
“Amazing… You are a genius, Greenbox…”
T-Bone searched the main building only to find out that it was as empty as a safe after a robbery.
“What a waste of time…” – he mumbled – “Who knows what he may have done to Razor already…”
The burly SWAT Kat opened the front door just a bit and peered outside. The whole complex was bathed in plain midday sun. It would be easy to be spotted with his blue G-suit, just like a crow in the middle of the snow.
He bolted towards the truck again, where he hid behind it. He ventured another look at the yard. There was nothing in sight. No one had noticed him yet. T-Bone swiftly inspected the building of the foundry.
It was big and rusty, with a cylindrical structure – the melting furnace – protruding towards the skies and several pipes running in and out of it. Part of the building seemed the steel backbone of a house. The main portion was covered by brick walls and must have been an iron transformation unit, where the molten iron would be worked and transformed into rods. Behind it sat the foundry itself.
He heard a screech and looked up. High above him, a dark bird circled around, screeching a sound T-Bone had never heard before. He didn’t pay attention to it. He focused on the foundry.
A blue spot blinked on the big screen in front of Greenbox. He grinned.
“The show begins…” – he purred.
“What are you talking about now?” – Razor asked from his standpoint on the wall.
“See for yourself…” – Greenbox said as he struck a few keys.
The screen flickered and an image appeared. Razor squinted, trying to discern what it was. It seemed to be an image of a yard, with a truck parked and a red spot over a blue ellipsoid near it.
Greenbox enlarged the image, centering on the blue spot.
Then, realization struck Razor. He was looking at T-Bone from above.
“Another one of your birds?” – Razor asked. – “What the heck is he doing here?”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. I sent him a message via your radio band telling him you were here. Hope you don’t mind me using your helmet…”
“What do you want with him?”
Greenbox’s eyes glistened red.
“I want his head…” – he said as he punched some more keys.
A sight appeared on the screen. Greenbox guided it until it centered on T-Bone.
“Say goodbye, Mr. T-Bone…” – he purred.
“What is that *imbecile* doing here?” – Razor snarled.
Greenbox raised his head and looked to the imprisoned SWAT Kat with a surprised look on his face.
“Could you repeat *that* again, Razor?” – he asked in disbelief.
“What does he want? Rescue me? HA! Hey, Greenbox, I have an idea. Come here. T-Bone knows you have me, right? Why don’t we have a little fun with him first? Let him think my life is at stake. Then, we’ll catch him when he’s weaker. And, then we can do whatever we want with him!”
“Why are you behaving like this?” – Greenbox asked, suspicious – “You’re partners…”
“No, we’re not! We split up,” – Razor said with a tinge of bitterness in his voice – “I don’t care what may happen to him as long as he knows that I helped capture him… And, maybe kill him…”
“You think like me, Razor! I’ve got exactly what we need. C’mon. We have some things to do first.”
Greenbox opened the restraints with a single look.
The slim SWAT Kat was freed and jumped to the floor.
The silver-dressed kat went to the wall on his right and opened a drawer from which he retrieved a little flask.
“What’s that?” – Razor asked as he got to Greenbox’s side.
Greenbox grinned – “Curare. I’ll load one of my birds with some darts soaked in this…”
“And, goodbye T-Bone…”
Razor started laughing like he never had before. Even the fur on Greenbox’s neck was set on end with that.
“I’ll start looking in the transformation unit first,” – T-Bone decided.
He was about to dart towards the factory when two figures stepped out of the transformation unit and climbed up the ladder in one of the towers that fed the melting furnace. One of them was pointing a gun to the head of the other.
“Greenbox and Razor!” – T-Bone whispered to himself – “What’re they doing?”
Greenbox tied Razor up to one of the steel beams and backhanded him in the face, making the slim kat turn his head to the side. That almost made T-Bone lose his control. Greenbox, climbed down and entered the transformation unit again.
“Hang on, buddy. I’m comin’!” – T-Bone muttered to himself as he bolted towards the tower.
A hissing sound came to his ears. It was coming from behind him. He just felt a little sting in his right arm.
“Damn mosquitoes…” – he growled as he rubbed his arm.
He started climbing up the tower. He slowly started feeling his muscles numbing.
“I should do this more often… I’m already tired…” – he thought.
From his right came a loud screeching sound. He looked and saw a dark metallic bird plummeting down on him.
The winged robot’s claws dug into T-Bone’s back muscles, ripping them.
T-Bone groaned as the cold steel claws tore his muscles, leaving six red trails in his fur. When he looked back, the dark robot was already coming back for another swipe. The big SWAT Kat aimed his glovatrix and fired six Mini Turbo Blades.
The robotic bird swiftly processed the telemetry and dodged the first four projectiles but the last two hit its wings, cutting them. The robot plunged down and rammed against the base of the tower.
“Good riddance!” – T-Bone spat, looking down at the battered robot.
Then, he threw his right arm up, carrying on with his climb. His back muscles burned from the rips the winged robot made but, besides that, the numbness of all his body was more pronounced. He started having trouble breathing and his heartbeat slowed down.
“What… What is… happening… to me? I’ve never… felt so… tired…before” – he panted.
His arms and legs were quivering with every effort he made. It seemed that just breathing was a superkat task. He managed to reach the top of the tower. The big tabby dragged himself up to the platform and tried to stay up, but his whole body was numb. Even his eyelids seemed to weigh like lead.
“R-Razor…” – he whispered.
A gagged Razor looked to him. He was just a few meters away from the burly SWAT Kat. His eyes widened and he started babbling something to T-Bone.
The big tabby took one awkward step forward and the floor of the platform opened up between him and Razor. T-Bone looked at the gap. His eyes unfocused and his mind was playing tricks on him. He sighed. All his body’s muscles were slowly slipping into dormancy, including those that allowed him to breathe. He backed up a few steps and then ran towards the gap.
He jumped into the air, a leap of faith.
Razor closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see the fall. Then, he felt something shaking the structure of the platform. He opened his eyes but saw nobody.
He looked down.
A golden paw with a black leather glove was there, scratching the floor with its claws.
Seconds later, a second paw appeared.
T-Bone used every ounce of energy to heave his body to the platform. When he was there, he staggered a bit and looked to Razor. His vision was clouded and starting to turn black. He stopped breathing and knelt on the floor. Then, his torso followed and he slumped forward toward the ground, unconscious.
Razor couldn’t help dropping a tear from his left eye.
T-Bone slowly opened his eyes. His breathing was soft and unhindered now. However, he still felt some of the numbness in the muscles of his limbs and back. He tried to move his arms, but something restrained his movements. He was tied to the wall where Razor had been. His vision was still clouded. He saw two blurred forms coming to him.
“Wake up already!” – the silver-dressed form said, backhanding him in the face.
The big tabby’s face turned to the other side. He blinked several times and regained a bit of his vision.
“G-Greenbox?” – he said in a groggy voice.
He looked to the blue form at Greenbox’s side. T-Bone blinked twice and the form became a bit more trimmed.
“Razor? Why?” – he asked, confused.
“Oh, you’ve got a very short memory, don’t you, T-Bone?” – the slim SWAT Kat said in a raspy tone – “Have you forgotten what you told me?”
“I don’t believe you’re doing this just because of that… Our friendship…”
“OUR FRIENDSHIP?” – Razor roared as he grabbed T-Bone’s neck and tightened his grip around it, unsheathing his claws – “You didn’t thought about our friendship when you said that, did you? Now, don’t give me this friendship crap!”
T-Bone looked to his partner’s eyes. He saw rage inside them. The big tabby didn’t recognize his friend. This was a facet of Razor he had never witnessed in his life.
Razor let go of T-Bone’s neck and stepped back beside Greenbox.
“Doc and I make a better team. We don’t need you. We have our own scientific skills and that’s enough to take you down…”
“Razor, cut this crud out. You’re starting to scare me!” – T-Bone said, his voice already strong.
“Oh, but he’s not pretending, T-Bone! Metallikats!” – Greenbox called.
The two chromium-plated robots appeared from a dark corner.
“Watchu want?” – Mac queried. His arm had been already replaced and he was as good as new.
“Take our guest to the ‘room,’ will you? And, while you’re there, you may want to use some of the gadgets that are there.”
An evil grin appeared on Molly’s face. – “With pleasure…”
Greenbox opened the shackles and Molly grabbed T-Bone’s arms while Mac grasped his legs. Both Metallikats took the big tabby away.
T-Bone squirmed, trying to burst free from the metallic paws that imprisoned him.
“Razor! Razor, some help here!” – he growled to Razor, but the slim kat just turned around.
“RAZOR! RAZOR, HELP ME! RAZOR! DO YOU HEAR ME? HELP ME!” – T-Bone shouted in despair while he was being carried away.
Razor’s ears flattened against the fabric of his mask. He walked towards the door, after Greenbox.
“*RAZOR*! I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS, YOU LITTLE RAT! YOU HEAR ME, RAZOR? YOU’RE GONNA *PAY* FOR THIS!” – T-Bone screamed as he disappeared behind a door.
“What are you going to do with T-Bone?” – Razor asked as he approached Greenbox from behind.
“I’ve prepared something spectacular for our friend,” – he coldly answered – “I mean, *Zed* has prepared something spectacular for our friend.”
“How’s that?” – the slim kat asked, puzzled.
“As I told you, Zed’s inside my brain. I talk to him and he talks to me. It’s that simple!”
“Like a symbiosis…” – Razor said thoughtfully.
“Yes, Zed can’t live without a support, something physical to hold on to. I could pass without it, but it wouldn’t survive much time since it’s pure energy.”
“A parasite…” – Razor thought – “Usually parasites are dangerous although they don’t kill their host since they need it in order to get everything they need…”
“Don’t you want to know what Zed’s idea is?” – Greenbox asked.
“Sure…” – Razor answered, lost in his thoughts.
“It’s quite simple actually. We’ll just raise a statue in honor of T-Bone…”
“What?” – Razor asked, surprised.
“Imagine that *accursed* SWAT Kat imprisoned inside a giant cube of quartz, his agonized expression forever preserved for the future generations!” – Greenbox said, his eyes sparkling.
“It’s… amazing…” – Razor babbled, his eyes acquiring a frightened look.
T-Bone was hanging like a sack of potatoes from the ceiling. His wrists were tied up with a rope hanging from a ring in the ceiling. His ankles were also tied together.
The Metallikats looked gleefully to the helpless SWAT Kat. Mac got closer to the big tabby and threw him a powerful punch in his gut.
T-Bone gasped some red saliva with the blow.
“I guess I’m gonna enjoy this work…” – Mac said as he searched for a switch among the several torture contraptions hanging on the wall.
Molly came to the helpless SWAT Kat and ripped his upper G-suit and shirt, revealing his brawny torso. Mac came to the big tabby too with a thin birch-rod in his metallic paw. He shoved the switch into T-Bone’s face.
“Guess what I’m gonna do with this…” – he said and chuckled a bit.
Then, he turned the tabby around, facing his back. He raised the switch high above his head and swooshed it against T-Bone’s uncovered back with all his strength.
T-Bone shut his eyes tightly and clenched his teeth while arching his head up. A red streak burst across the big tabby’s back. Blood started dripping from it down the groove of his back.
“My turn, bucket-head!” – Molly said as she retrieved the switch from her husband and swished it against T-Bone’s back again.
T-Bone gritted his teeth again when he felt the sharp pain in his back. He exhaled in a gasp and gulped as a chill ran up his spine.
“You’ll pay for this, Razor…” – he swore under his breath through clenched teeth, head abated, eyes looking into the infinite and burning in anger.
“Greenbox, do you mind if I take a look at Rage? I’m amazed with it!” – Razor asked.
“Why do you want to do it?” – Greenbox inquired, suspicious.
“Like I said, I’m amazed with Rage. I’ve never seen a robot so well done! I’d like to learn something from you…”
Greenbox cocked his head. Razor had struck a nerve.
“I’m flattered! Sure, you can have look at it. Let me disable his vital functions.” – Greenbox said as he knelt on the ground and petted Rage.
The dark robotic jaguar seemed a bit upset when Greenbox opened a panel on the robot’s chest. Rage gently took Greenbox’s paw in his jaws and led it away from the panel.
“Come now, Rage. Let me disable your functions.”
Rage groaned an electronic soft growl and allowed Greenbox to access the panel. Greenbox struck a few keys from the numeric keypad inside Rage’s chest. The red glow on the robotic jaguar’s eyes faded and it stopped moving.
“Good kitten!” – Greenbox purred to Rage, though he knew the robot couldn’t register his sounds anymore – “Here you go, Razor. Open it!”
Razor took a screwdriver from a kit in the workbench and removed the screws from Rage’s body. He opened the robot and was amazed to find it stuffed with wires, tubes, chipboards and other contraptions.
“Amazing! Microturbines for the joints! I would never have thought of that!” – the slim SWAT Kat examined it closely – “Ingenious! This transforming unit is simply ingenious!”
“Well, I’ll leave you with Rage. Have fun with it. There are other things that need my attention.” – Greenbox said as he left the workshop.
Razor watched out of the corner of his eye when Greenbox closed the door.
“At last! I thought he’d never leave me alone. Now, let’s have a look at the command unit. Hmm, yes, just as I thought! It’ll be simple to modify it.”
“Metallikats. I’m in need of your assistance now,” – Greenbox said as he entered the room where T-Bone and the two chromium-plated robots were.
“What about the SWAT Kat?” – Molly asked.
“Leave him. He won’t live much longer anyway. Go to the foundry and wait for me there.”
“I hate taking his orders almost as much as I hate the SWAT Kats…” – Mac said under his breath.
Greenbox heard it and shot a lightning bolt against the short tom-Metallikat, causing him to fly forward until he knocked against the wall, slumping to the ground. Molly hurried to Mac and helped him to get up.
“Now, are there any more complaints?” – the Metallikats said nothing – “Now go!”
Greenbox approached T-Bone.
The burly SWAT Kat had his head dropped over his chest with his eyes closed and his teeth gritted. Heavy drops of perspiration ran down the big tabby’s chin and nose and dripped directly to the ground.
The silver-dressed kat circled around the big tabby. He looked at his back and grinned. It bore tens of slashes caused by the switch. His back had nearly a single color, blood red. His blood was dripping from the streaks and soaking the lower part of his G-suit. The rest of T-Bone’s body was soaked in sweat.
Using his suit’s magnetic field, Greenbox lifted from the ground and rose until his eye level matched T-Bone’s. He grabbed the big tabby’s head by his hair through the fabric of his mask and pushed it back, causing T-Bone to jerk his head back painfully.
T-Bone gave him a savage look and gritted his teeth in a grimace of challenge, showing his fangs.
“Pathetic!” – Greenbox spat. Then, he gave the big tabby a powerful headbutt, making blood spurt from T-Bone’s forehead and soaking his mask.
“What you suffered here is nothing compared with the pain I have prepared for you in the foundry…”
He extended the claw of his forefinger and slowly clawed his name over T-Bone’s chest. When he finished, blood dripped from three letters, a ‘Z’, an ‘E’ and a ‘D’.
“Greenbox had served me well, but now it’s time to claim his mind as mine.”
“What are you talking about, Greenbox?” – T-Bone said through clenched teeth, unable to hide the rage burning inside his heart.
“Greenbox doesn’t exist anymore.” – the silver-dressed kat said disdainfully – It’s Zed you’re talking to. Zed, the ruler of this pathetic world!”
“Zed? You can’t be alive!” – T-Bone gasped.
“Yes, I can, T-Bone! You just destroyed one of my many forms! I, Zed, am immortal and indestructible!”
“What are you?” – T-Bone asked astonished.
“Let me answer that by telling you what *you*, kats, are. You, kats, are an infection, a disease to this world! I… I am the cure!”
Zed headed for a bottle of ethanol hanging on the wall.
“This might burn a bit!” – he said and squeezed the bottle.
A gush of ethyl alcohol hit the big tabby in the back, penetrating his wounds. T-Bone arched his head up and let out a scream of pain at the top of his lungs. The pain was almost unbearable, nearly driving the big tabby crazy.
Zed went out of the room chuckling.
T-Bone hung his head down to his chest and gasped a few times before the burning feeling faded away.
“Chuckle, you slimy piece of crud! Chuckle while you can!” – he said under his breath.
“There, it’s done!” – Razor thought to himself – “This took me a bit more time than I expected. Greenbox is no fool! He installed so many fail-safes I feared I couldn’t do this… But, it’s done…” – he chuckled – “Guy, won’t Greenbox be surprised…”
He got to his feet and his ears flattened.
“I better check up on T-Bone.” – he said and left the room.
He searched for a while until he found the torture room. He opened just a gap and peered inside but didn’t see anyone. Opening the door, the slim SWAT Kat entered the room and his heart tumbled to his feet when he saw T-Bone hanging from the ceiling.
“Holy Kats!” – he whispered in a voice filled with concern – “Holy Kats! Holy Kats! This isn’t the way it was supposed to be!”
His eyes saddened and he felt a tight knot forming in his gut. Razor looked to the big tabby’s back.
“Oh, no! They hurt him so much!” – he grieved as tears dropped from his eyes – “He’s not moving! Could it be that… No, it can’t be!”
He untied the big tabby’s feet and then climbed up a chair and untied his wrists. T-Bone’s body dropped to the ground with a loud thud. His bloody back faced up.
“No… T-Bone… Speak to me… Please, don’t die…” – Razor pleaded with liquid eyes.
Suddenly, T-Bone opened his eyes and pounced over Razor, surprising and pinning the slim kat to the ground.
“NOW YOU’RE GONNA PAY, YOU SLIMY RAT!” – he shouted and punched Razor in the face.
T-Bone grabbed Razor by his neck and threw him against the wall with all his strength.
Razor was knocked flat with his back against the wall and gasped a bit of blood. He saw T-Bone running to him again and drawing back his fist. He got out of the way just a moment before T-Bone punched through the brick wall. Razor rolled over and stood to his feet behind T-Bone.
T-Bone spun around and grabbed Razor’s neck, dragging him to the opposite wall, where he clenched Razor with his forearm.
“So what do you have to say for yourself, Razor?” – T-Bone questioned, rage burning in his eyes.
“I… n…or…id…” – Razor gasped.
T-Bone softened the grip around Razor’s neck and chest so he could talk better.
“I’m on your side!” – He said.
“On my side? AFTER REFUSING TO HELP ME? AFTER LETTING ME BE WHIPPED?” – he screamed, banging Razor’s back against the wall.
“I… I’m sorry… I didn’t meant it to be this way… I never thought they’d do this to you!” – he said, tears dropping from his eyes – “I never thought they’d hurt you like this… I just thought they’d keep you imprisoned while I figured out a way to get us both out of here!”
Razor dropped his head and his shoulders started shuddering spasmodically.
“I’d gladly have given my life to them if I had known things would turn out this way…” – he sobbed.
T-Bone powered down. He let Razor go. The slim kat just sank to the ground.
“C’mon, Razor… What’s done is done… Pull yourself together…” – he said almost in a soothing tone.
“Could you ever forgive me for my mistake, Chance?” – he sobbed.
“There’s nothing to forgive, Jake… You were just looking after me… C’mon, lil’ bro. Get up,” – T-Bone purred.
“But, your back! You’re so hurt!” – Razor said, lifting his head.
“I’ll be all right… Now c’mon, let’s get our tails outta here.”
Razor got to his feet and placed both paws on T-Bone’s broad shoulders.
“I’ll make this up to you, Chance… I swear I will…” – he sobbed and then cleaned the wetness off his face with his sleeve.
Suddenly, his ears pricked up. Swiftly, he stepped away from T-Bone and aimed his glovatrix at the big tabby.
“I’m so sorry, buddy… Deploy Mini Spider-Chain Missile!” – he announced.
A yellow missile shot from the middle barrel of Razor’s glovatrix, directed at the big tabby. It opened up in three parts, linked to one another by means of a chain.
T-Bone didn’t have time to avert it. The missile pieces wrapped around him and liberated a powerful electric discharge. He let out a scream, both of pain and surprise, as the high amperage current passed through his body. T-Bone fell to his knees and then slumped to the ground as the rest of the current sparkled around his body. He looked up to Razor with liquid eyes.
“Jake… Why?…” – he managed to whisper before his world turned jet-black.
Razor quickly cleaned the wetness off his face as Greenbox burst inside the room.
“What’s going on here?” – Greenbox queried as he came to Razor.
“This piece of crud was trying to get away,” – Razor spat, pointing to T-Bone’s unconscious form on the floor – “Lucky for you I was passing by! We fought and I had to quiet him down.”
“I wonder how he got free…” – Greenbox said, inspecting the rope – “No matter! You did a good job, Razor.”
Greenbox picked T-Bone’s bulk from the ground and placed him over his shoulder.
“He won’t live much longer, anyway…” – he said while he motioned Razor to follow him.
Both kats left the room and headed for the foundry.
The Metallikats and Rage were already in the foundry, waiting for Greenbox and Razor. Greenbox handed T-Bone’s limp form to the cyborgs and they carried him away. The inventor climbed up a metal stair that took him to a metal catwalk, where Rage was expecting him. Razor followed right behind him.
“There…” – Greenbox pointed down, leaning a bit over the banister of the catwalk – “…is your partner… Pardon me… *ex-partner’s* death bed.”
Razor looked down and saw the Metallikats bind T-Bone to a platform attached to the walls of a rectangular pit by means of four steel cables, mid-way from the bottom. In the back wall of the casting mould there was a groove that ran back over the floor. Hanging above the groove was a giant melting-pot filled with molten quartz.
“ARE WE CLEAR?” – Greenbox shouted to the Metallikats.
Both cyborgs gave him a thumbs up and jumped off the platform, making it swing slightly.
T-Bone slowly recovered his senses as he felt his world wobble slightly. He grunted as he opened his eyes and tried to move. He found himself staring at heavy steel I-beams and unable to move. He looked around and saw the metallic walls around him. Finally, his eyes settled on the steel shackles holding his wrists and ankles tightly.
“Ah, Mr. T-Bone!” – Greenbox called him – “I see you woke up already! Good! I want you to be fully awake when your ordeal begins!”
T-Bone looked to Greenbox and then to Razor by his side, both kats leaning on the metal banister of the catwalk five meters above him. Then, his attention was drawn back to somewhere behind him by a loud metallic sound followed by a low splashing.
“Hope you enjoy being immortal, Mr. T-Bone… Or should I say… Being immortalized!” – Greenbox said and laughed like a mad kat.
The molten quartz started pouring down the cast via the groove in the wall behind T-Bone’s head. The big tabby felt the intense heat and flattened his ears against his head. A sprinkle of molten quartz fell on top of his nose, burning it.
“OUCH! HEY! THAT CRUD’S HOT!” – he bellowed.
Greenbox just chuckled.
The molten fluid began to slowly fill up the casting mould and the heat emanating from it burned T-Bone’s already abused back. He squirmed, trying to get rid of the shackles that imprisoned him but to no avail. He panted and tried again, but the restraints held him tightly pinned down.
The heat was almost unbearable. His back was burning and throbbing with pain; his torso was bathed in perspiration. He grunted and panted as he once again tried to burst free, failing again.
The level of the molten quartz increased at a steady pace. It was just about half a meter from the platform where he stood.
T-Bone scanned the surroundings in despair, trying to find something he could use, some weak spot, anything at all. But, there was nothing, nothing he could use to set himself free. Zed had planned everything perfectly. There was no way he could escape. The throbbing pain in his back intensified as the level of the molten fluid increased.
His eyes turned to the catwalk above him. He saw Greenbox there, with a wide grin on his face. The inventor’s eyes were glowing red, revealing the electronic parasite inside him.
Razor stood by Greenbox’s side. T-Bone’s black eyes met Razor’s. The slim SWAT Kat shivered when he saw the look of the burly kat’s eyes. They were liquid, pleading. Pleading for Razor to help him. Begging for Razor to end his ordeal, his torment, his suffering. Razor saw the dread, the despair in T-Bone’s eyes. He couldn’t bear that look anymore. He had to do something. If he wanted to save them both, he couldn’t wait anymore.
“Rage! NOW!” – he ordered.
The slick dark blue robot’s optic probes glowed bright red in acknowledgment. It turned to Greenbox and pounced at him, knocking him flat on the ground.
“What the… RAGE!” – he screamed.
Razor fired the grappling hook of his glovatrix toward the banister of the catwalk and jumped into the void, reeling himself down.
The Metallikats, who were caught off guard by Rage’s attack, were now aiming their blasters at Razor and firing.
“It’s confirmed!” – Molly said as she shot another blast – “Your aim *is* worse than your driving!”
The sight on Mac’s optic receivers chased and locked on the cable of the grappling hook. He fired, cutting the cable.
Razor fell the remaining two meters separating him from T-Bone. He managed not to fall on top of T-Bone’s chest, spreading his legs slightly wider than his shoulder length and landing on the platform, slightly waving the liquid below.
“*Damn*! This crud is *hot*!” – he complained as he raised his left foot, settled it down and raised his right one.
“Really? Hadn’t noticed it!” – T-Bone said sarcastically – “Now, get me the heck outta here!”
Razor activated the buzz-saw and cut the shackle that bound the big tabby’s right arm. When he finished it, T-Bone, threw his arm up and broke the rest of it.
“Here,” – Razor said as he slipped his glovatrix off his arm – “Use mine to do the rest.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll try to draw the Metallikats’ attention.”
Razor jumped out of the casting mould, causing the platform to swing slightly. T-Bone activated the buzz-saw again and started cutting the shackle restraining his left arm.
“HEY, BUCKET-HEADS!” – Razor shouted – “OVER HERE!”
“Who are you calling BUCKET-HEAD?” – Mac roared as he fired blast after blast in Razor’s direction. Molly joined him a bit later.
Razor flipped and somersaulted in order to avoid the deadly blasts. He suddenly heard a huge electric discharge from somewhere up and behind him. The next second the slim kat saw a dark lump crash in the floor to his left with a metallic thud. He looked at it and saw a very battered Rage lying on the floor.
Razor ran to the feline robot and crouched by its side. He touched it as if it was a real animal. Rage’s optic receivers blinked and the glow in them faded slightly. It shuddered as it raised its head.
“Easy! You’ve done all you could!” – Razor said soothingly.
Suddenly, a laser blast grazed over his right shoulder, burning his G-suit and his skin. He covered the wound with his left paw and looked back.
“Guess we gotcha!” – Molly said.
As fast as a lightning, something metallic and dark flashed over Razor’s head and jumped onto Molly. Razor couldn’t believe it. Rage was still defending him!
Rage sank its agrecite teeth into Molly’s scapula, tearing it apart. Black spurts of lubricating oil gushed and sparks flew off from her injured arm. She aimed her blaster at the slick robot and fired, sending Rage away.
“Now you’ll *pay* for what you did to me, you stupid beast!” – she bawled as she headed for the fallen robotic jaguar.
“What about the SWAT Kat?” – Mac asked.
“FINISH HIM!” – she roared.
“My pleasure…” – Mac said as he turned around to face Razor.
However, everything his optic probes registered were three dark holes right in front of his face. The next thing he saw was the explosion of three Mini Baby Boomer Missiles, sending him back through the air.
T-Bone blew the triple barrel of the glovatrix, which was smoldering from the shot. He grinned as he saw a battered Mac raising from the ground.
“Guess who’s back, slime ball…” – the big SWAT Kat said.
“I’m really gonna enjoy killing you, SWAT Kat…” – Mac purred as he ran to T-Bone.
The short Metallikat charged T-Bone and tackled him at the waist, carrying him towards the opposite wall, slamming the back of the burly SWAT Kat against it. He then forced T-Bone’s back to rub against the rough brick wall. T-Bone screamed in pain as the open gashes in his back rubbed against the rough wall. Mac just smiled.
The pain was intense, burning his muscles, burning his soul. T-Bone gritted his teeth as a lonely tear involuntarily slid from his right eye.
Mac drew back his right arm and punched T-Bone’s gut with all his might. The next second a few red spots sprinkled over his chromium-plated armor.
“Yeah! Like it, you big milksop? Well, I do!” – Mac mischievously said.
“Milksop?” – T-Bone hissed – “*Milksop*? MILKSOP?” – he growled.
Before Mac could react, T-Bone raised his right fist, the one with the glovatrix, and smashed it against the short Metallikat’s face, right in the middle of his nose. The impact was so big that Mac was thrown back a few meters. The glovatrix just shattered with the thump.
“WHO ARE YOU CALLING A MILKSOP?” – T-Bone roared as he walked towards the fallen Metallikat.
Mac was on all fours, trying to reactivate his left optic receiver when he felt being lifted in the air.
T-Bone heaved Mac’s metallic bulk over his head and carried him to the casting mould, which was almost filled up with molten quartz and threw the short cyborg inside, splattering hot quartz all around the pit.
Mac knocked against the restraining platform with such force it tore its attachments to the pit’s wall. Both Mac and the platform sank into the pit, never to be seen again.
Meanwhile, Rage had gotten to its feet and lunged at Molly again, knocking her flat on the ground. The slick dark robot sank its teeth again in the titanium alloy of the she-Metallikat, shredding it. Its attacks were savage and brutal but its strength was worn down by the minute. The electric shock it received from Greenbox had messed up its circuitry.
With a last effort, Rage opened two compartments located near its hips, on each side of its body. Two little white missiles slid out. The sights in Rage’s optic probes wandered by its visual field until they locked on Molly’s battered form.
Greenbox had, in the meantime, floated down from the catwalk using his suit’s magnetism. He landed a few meters away from Razor. He shook his head in disapproval.
“You disappointed me, Razor…” – he oozed – “I really thought you were different from your partner…”
The silver-dressed kat closed his eyes and dropped his head slightly.
“Greenbox proved to be wrong once more… He almost convinced me you were different… But, you’re not!”
He raised his head suddenly and looked directly to Razor, his eyes glowing a bright bloody red.
“And, that’s why you must die!” – he snapped and bolted towards Razor.
Razor was caught by surprise. He just felt Greenbox’s paw grab his neck and lift him into the air above the inventor’s head. Greenbox’s grasp was tight. Razor saw the kat’s face contort in a grimace of insane pleasure, his lips curving up and revealing a feline smile dominated by powerful canines.
“Your death will be a source of pleasure for me… at least for a while…” – he said.
Greenbox let out a powerful electric discharge of high amperage.
Razor screamed in pain when he felt the current pass through his body, contorting all his muscles spasmodically and painfully. His nerves crackled with the discharge, and, when it stopped, he felt his entire body numb and aching.
However, Razor still felt the proverbial chill running up his spine.
Suddenly, it wasn’t Greenbox that stood there in front of him, but Dark Kat.
He was once again chained to the cold, black stony wall of the Dark Pyramid, his leg crippled, his chest and snout bleeding.
He saw the rays of electricity flickering between Dark Kat’s closed fists.
He saw the purple kat pointing his right arm against him, preparing to fire another bolt.
“C’mon Jake! Snap out of it!” – Razor thought to himself as he shook his head.
He managed to lift his right leg and kick Greenbox’s face, which jerked abruptly to his right. Razor’s lips curled up in a smile of triumph but promptly returned to a hard line when he didn’t feel the grip around his neck loosen.
“What the…” – he hissed – “I just kicked his face and he acts as if he didn’t even *feel* it?”
Greenbox slowly turned his gaze to Razor again. A huge maniacal smile flourished on his face. He tightened the grip around the slim SWAT Kat’s neck.
“*Of course* Greenbox didn’t feel a thing! I disabled his nerve endings long ago!”
“What are you talking about?” – Razor managed to say in a strangled and confused voice. Then, realization came like a bomb.
“Zed? Is it really you?” – he asked, dumbfounded.
“Not too bright, though… You took too much time realizing that, Razor! That’s why I am and always will be better than you! Better than the entirety katkind!” – he gloated, red eyes open wide, pupils tightly retracted, eyeballs nearly jumping out of their orbits, a chilling maniacal toothy smile plastered on his face.
“That’s why I must cure this world from the disease that you kats represent! You are a plague! You are parasites! YOU MUST BE DESTROYED!”
Another electric discharge ran through Razor’s body, causing his heart to skip beats. Then, it abruptly ended. Again, he felt his nerve endings numb. But, his thought was unimpeded. A little slower than usual but still unimpeded. And, his voice, though hoarse and strangled, was clear enough to be understood.
“You think you’re so smart, huh?” – Razor spat.
“It’s not about being smarter or not, my dear Razor! It’s about being a superior entity! It’s about evolution! Like the dinosaur, Razor! Kats had their time! The future belongs to me! The future is *my* time!”
“Can you tell me the exact location and speed of an electron at a given time?” – Razor asked, defiantly.
“What was that?” – he asked.
“Can you pinpoint the exact location and speed of an electron spinning around a nucleus at a given time?” – Razor repeated, emphasizing each word.
“Of course I can! What kind of dumb question is that?” – Greenbox gloated.
Razor just chuckled. – “No you can’t!”
“There’s *nothing* I can’t calculate!” – Greenbox bawled, tightening the grip around Razor’s neck again.
“You can’t comply with my request! And, I’ll tell you just why you can’t! Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle! Whatever you study, you change! You can’t tell the location and the speed of a particle simultaneously! If you measure the position, you must stop the particle, altering its speed. If you measure the speed, you’ll be altering its trajectory with obvious implications to its location! You can’t comply with my request!” – Razor explained, disdainfully.
“That’s… true… I can’t calculate… I can’t answer that…” – Greenbox blabbered.
Razor continued his attack.
“Can you tell me what existed before the Big Bang?”
Greenbox’s eyes turned from victorious to desperate in less than a nanosecond.
“No… I can’t… But, I must be able to answer everything…”
“Now, can you tell me what’s the purpose of existence?” – Razor continued, mercilessly.
“Existence?… The purpose of existence?…” – Greenbox stammered.
“You see, Zed, you’re not superior to us, kats! In fact, you’re quite *inferior*! You’re a lousy lowlife that can’t even tell me the purpose of living!”
That was the final blow. Greenbox let Razor go and grabbed his head, screaming.
“NO! I AM ZED, RULER OF THIS WORLD! I AM BETTER THAN ANYONE!”
Greenbox fell to his knees and stood on all fours, trembling spasmodically. He suddenly threw his head back and opened his mouth wide in a bloodcurdling cry of what appeared to be pain.
T-Bone, Molly and Rage all looked back to Greenbox. His mouth was salivating intensely and foaming, his pupils were nothing but tiny spots in his wide open eyes. Even his irises seemed tightly retracted.
Abruptly, a burst of energy shot from Greenbox, directed to Razor, hitting him in his forehead and sending him back against the wall with brute force.
Then, it all stopped. Both Razor and Greenbox stood on all fours, panting as if they had ran miles.
“This… This isn’t… over yet… Razor… I’m gonna… kill you…” – Greenbox stated between pants.
He unstably got up to his feet, shuddering all the way up. He staggered across the room towards Razor, who was on his knees, shaking his head.
Molly took the opportunity to pounce on Rage. The robotic jaguar acted almost by reflex, firing both missiles against the battered form of the she-Metallikat.
One of them hit the cyborg, blowing her body to pieces.
The other hit one of the concrete cross beam girders, destroying it.
Suddenly, the entire foundry started tumbling down over the three kats and the robotic jaguar, burying them all.
The minutes dragged as if they were hours. A shaky orange paw surfaced from the rubble and pushed a scratched and pain-filled Razor out of it. He looked around the wreckage of the foundry, assessing the damages. Then, he remembered.
“T-BONE!” – he shouted – “T-BONE! CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
Nothing. Only the wind blew in his face in response.
“T-BONE! WHERE ARE YOU?” – he shouted again. He was beginning to feel a knot forming in his gut, like he did when T-Bone crashed against City Hall, more than a year ago.
He pricked his ears, but only the wind blowing in the trees around the compound could be heard.
But then, he heard another sound.
“T-BONE!” – he tried again.
This time, a weak voice came to his ears.
Razor followed the voice and discovered that it was coming from underneath a fragment of the zinc roof. Razor removed it and was horrified with what he saw.
T-Bone was lying on his back under the remains of the concrete girder, his face contorted in a mask of pain.
“T-Bone…” – Razor whispered, horrified, as he hurried to his partner.
He tried to lift the huge chunk of concrete, but it didn’t even move a millimeter.
“It’s useless… Razor… I tried to lift it up and I couldn’t…” – T-Bone informed between pants and groans of pain.
“No! It can’t be! I’ll get you outta there! Somehow…”
Razor smacked his right fist in a chopping motion against the cement, but nothing happened. Not even the slightest splinter flew from it.
“I’ll get you out…” – Razor said as despair started filling his chest.
He smashed his fist again and again on the concrete, but it was hopeless.
“Razor! *Razor*, stop it!” – T-Bone said but Razor wasn’t listening to him – “RAZOR! STOP! You’re gonna hurt yourself and you can’t break it! Leave me and go get the Enforcers!”
“I WON’T LEAVE YOU HERE! I put you in this mess in the first place and I’m gonna get you out of it!” – Razor said, tears dancing in the corners of his eyes but refusing to obey gravity.
“There’s nothing you can do!” – the big SWAT Kat stated.
Razor stopped his beating and rested his forearms against the chunk of concrete. His eyes were lost, staring into the infinite. His shoulder blades heaved up and down with his heavy breathing.
“There is one thing I can do to break this…” – he said under his breath, never stopping his stare into the infinite.
“You don’t mean…” – T-Bone started.
“You got it. The double-hit punch! It’s the only thing that can pulverize a chunk this big…”
“No way! It’s too dangerous! I’m not letting you do it!” – T-Bone admonished.
Razor backed away half a step. He clamped his palms together and lowered his head a bit, concentrating.
“RAZOR! DON’T DO IT!”
Silence was the only reply that came from the slim SWAT Kat.
T-Bone saw Razor’s will was unshakable. Nothing he could say would make Razor stop.
“If that’s the way you want, I’m gonna help you,” – T-Bone said, clamping his palms together.
Razor opened his eyes, losing his concentration.
“You can’t! You…”
“I won’t let you do it alone! Now, let’s get this done with!” – the big tabby stated, shutting his eyes.
Razor did the same, concentrating again.
The entire place was silent, only cut off by the occasional soft rustle of the wind on the leaves of the forest around the compound.
The entire world turned jet-black for the two SWAT Kats, as if nothing but darkness surrounded them. A diffuse golden aura started waving off their forms.
Their energy levels matched perfectly. There weren’t two kats standing in there anymore. Instead, a single heart beat, a single mind focused, a single soul burned inside their bodies.
Then, they simultaneously opened their eyes wide, arched back their right arms and roared a high-pitched scream.
In less than a split second, their first phalanxes knocked against the cold concrete chunk, followed immediately by their knuckles.
The chunk burst out in a fine dust as a result of both strokes.
Razor remained in the same position for a few seconds as he regained his breath. He took a deep breath and let the air all out with his eyes closed, contracting his abs in order to drain all the air from his lungs.
He opened his eyes with a smile on his muzzle. He had felt the burst of air and dust hitting his face. He knew it had worked. He looked to T-Bone. The burly SWAT Kat’s face was still contorted in a mask of pain. Razor’s eyes flew from his partner’s face to something dark red to T-Bone’s right.
Razor opened his mouth in shock.
T-Bone’s right arm was entirely red. The blood gushed from tens of wounds where exposed fragments of his bones could be seen protruding from the muscles. Basically, the shockwaves from both Razor’s hit and the resistance of the material made his bones crack and his arm burst open from its interior when he hit the concrete.
“H-how did this happen?” – Razor whispered in shock.
“My position… wasn’t correct…” – T-Bone grunted – “I was lying… on the ground… instead of… being up… on my feet…”
“Holy Kats! This can’t get any worse!” – Razor said under his breath as he helped T-Bone to his feet.
“C’mon… Let’s… get outta here… I’ve got the jet… just outside… in a clearing…” – T-Bone panted as he staggered over the debris, right arm hanging limply, legs aching and numb but fortunately not broken.
“Wait a minute, buddy!” – Razor said as he got away from T-Bone, searching.
Then, he found it. He picked Rage’s battered and limp form up from the rubble and ran to T-Bone, who stood near the opening he had made in the fence.
“What do you …want that for?…” – T-Bone queried.
“I have my reasons…” – he evasively answered.
Both SWAT Kats ran to the TurboKat, one of them leaving a trail of closely spaced red drops behind. T-Bone gritted his teeth. The pain knifing up his arm was rapidly overthrowing his control. His eyes started clouding as dark spots flashed and danced before him. He shook his head in order to clear his mind when they reached the black jet fighter.
“Are you okay, buddy? I mean, given the circumstances…” – Razor asked worriedly as he set Rage on the ground.
“Sure you don’t want me do fly?”
” I said I’m fine!” – T-Bone snapped.
T-Bone released the canopy and was about to jump aboard when the pain suddenly became too intense for him to bear. He gave out a loud grunt and instantly passed out, falling to the ground helplessly.
“T-BONE!” – Razor shouted when he saw his partner on the ground.
He hurried to him and knelt on the ground beside his bloody arm. The blood was rapidly forming a pool beside the big tabby.
“T-Bone! T-Bone, hit me back! Answer me, buddy! Aw, crud!” – Razor moaned.
He jumped aboard the TurboKat and turned on the radio.
“Lieutenant Feral, this is Razor! Come in, Lieutenant Feral!”
The Enforcers arrived there half an hour later. Greenbox was rapidly located and arrested when he was coming to.
“Fools! You think you can restrain me?” – Greenbox said as he was being taken away by two Enforcers – “I’m unbeatable! With Zed by my side, I’ll kill *all* of you! Right, Zed?” – Greenbox asked, looking up.
Zed didn’t answer Greenbox. The scientist cocked an eyebrow.
“Zed?” – he called.
“C’mon, Zed! Why won’t you talk to me?”
Silence was his answer. Greenbox was beginning to feel a pit open under his stomach.
“Zed? ZED? TALK TO ME! TALK TO ME, ZED! ZED? ZEEEEEEEEEED!” – he shouted as he was taken away and thrown inside an Enforcer car.
“Poor guy… He’s totally flipped…” – one of the Enforcers said to the other.
They got inside the car and drove away from the ruins of the old foundry.
Razor looked to the departing car. He could see Greenbox’s wild expression through the rear window. Then, his eyes flew from the vehicle and poised on his partner’s unconscious form.
T-Bone was lying on a stretcher, covered with a white sheet. His right arm was wrapped in meters of bandage and it still presented red blots all over it.
Razor saw when two Enforcers lifted the stretcher and moved him inside a chopper. Then, he felt the air around him stir when the chopper’s rotors roared to life and the rounded machine took off and headed for Megakat City.
“He’ll be alright,” – Felina said in a soothing tone, settling herself in front of the slim kat and placing a reassuring paw over his shoulder.
He acknowledged with a nod, lost in his thoughts, his eyes empty, staring into the infinite.
“Razor… You know there’s something I have to do…” – she said softly.
He nodded again and extended his arms towards her.
She slipped the pawcuffs out of her rear pocket and locked them around Razor’s wrists. She sighed.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to make a phone call. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one…” – she stated out mechanically.
“I’ll defend myself… Just take me in…” – he said, closing his eyes – “I just have one request. Let me see T-Bone one last time…”
“I guess that can be arranged…”-she said as she motioned him to her helicopter.
“Kats alive! Look at this mess!” – Dr. Konway said as he unwrapped T-Bone’s arm.
The bandages were dyed in dark red and the hemorrhaging still hadn’t stop. T-Bone’s face was as pale as a ghost’s. The blood was dripping down the stainless steel stretcher and onto the ground.
Dr. Konway bore a worried expression on his face. He undressed the burly SWAT Kat and moved the stretcher closer to the cylinder used for T-Bone’s recreation.
“I’ll need a paw here! Put some gloves on!” – Dr. Konway ordered.
Razor went to a box and took a pair of latex gloves, slipping them on. Then, he headed for Dr. Konway.
Both kats picked the limp body in their paws and placed it inside the tube and Razor adjusted the oxygen tubes to T-Bone’s nostrils. Dr. Konway took off his gloves with a slapping sound and closed the door of the cylinder. He went to a console and struck a few buttons.
The cylinder started filling with a green liquid. In a few minutes, it was filled almost to the top and T-Bone floated free amid the liquid.
Razor patted the wall of the tube, sighing and dropping a single tear.
“What a mess I’ve made… I *really* almost killed him this time… Crud! Two times in a row! That’s already three times I let him down…” – he turned to Dr. Konway – “He’s gonna be okay, won’t he?”
“He’s too damaged… His back has a few foci of infection and they may thrive in there, with all that amniotic fluid… I’ve added a few antibiotics but… We can never be sure if the microorganisms he has there are resistant to them or not…” – the bearded kat sighed, waving his head – “His arm is completely broken. The bone shards penetrated in every muscle he has in his arm. A few portions of bone were reduced to a fine dust. I can’t imagine the pain he must have been through…”
“But, he’s gonna be okay…” – Razor asked, hope glimmering in his eyes.
“It’ll take some time. I’ll have to take his arm out and build another one. That’ll take a couple of weeks at least. But, he’ll be alright.”
Razor sighed softly in relief and closed his eyes, lowering his head.
“Razor. Must I remind you that you’re normal kats? You don’t have anything supernatural about you! You can be as easily injured as you were before you died! And, the fact I can rebuild your cells doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful! You’re still made of flesh and bone!” – Dr. Konway said, placing a paw over Razor’s shoulder.
“If T-Bone dies because of me…” – Razor said, not taking his eyes off the ground – “…then there’s no reason for me to keep on living…”
Razor spun on his heels and walked out of the Biotec Lab.
“I must say this is very peculiar, Mr. … Razor… I don’t know how I let Comdr. Feral convince me to do this,” – Judge Martin Sylvester said as he adjusted his glasses on his snout – “First of all, I should demand that you would take off that ridiculous masquerade! In all my years of judging I have never judged someone that didn’t exist! Because that’s what you are: nothing! It is the person behind the mask that should be standing trial, not that abstraction whose alias is known to be Razor. Did you know that performing justice with your own paws is against the law? I should have you and your so called ‘partner’ arrested for life for that crime! But, unfortunately, that’s not why you’re here. Do you know what the accusation impending over you is?”
“I do, your honor,” – Razor responded, his head low.
“Then, you know you’re here because you robbed Megakat City Biochemical Labs,” – the judge informed.
“Yes I do, your honor,” – Razor said always keeping his head low.
“How do you find yourself?” – the judge asked.
Razor winced. It took him some time to articulate his next words.
“Guilty, your honor.” – Razor answered.
The judge shuffled through some papers before declaring the sentence.
“SWAT Kat Razor, this court has found you guilty of robbery. I, hereby sentence you to thirty days in prison. Case dismissed,” – the judge said as he rammed the mallet against its rounded support.
“Let’s go, Razor,” – Feral said – “I’ll give you a cell in Enforcer Headquarters so you’ll…”
“No. Send me to Alkatraz. Like any ordinary criminal,” – Razor stated.
“But robbers usually don’t go to Alkatraz…” – Feral said, dumbfounded.
“Oh, he will go to Alkatraz, Comdr. Feral! He is a dangerous criminal and he helped a known terrorist. He’s staying in Alkatraz,” – the judge stated and rose from his chair, leaving the room.
“Log entry: Saturday, the 12th of May, 2001 22:34 Megakat City Salvage Yard
I’m back. I’ve recovered completely now. I can say I’m as good as new.
But, I’m not happy…
I can’t be…
Not while Jake is in the slammer…
Holy Kats, that was so unfair… He didn’t do anything! He was forced to do it by Viper! It’s that scum snake that should be in Alkatraz instead of Jake…
I went to see him today. Feral gave me a pass allowing me to step inside Alkatraz as T-Bone.
He’s a shadow of what he used to be, though he’s been inside for only two weeks now.
It must have seemed two millennia for him…
I can’t imagine how he managed to keep his mask in that place.
I saw a swelling in the area around his left eye and some bruises on his arms.
He’d been beaten…
That made my blood boil. I wanted so much to know who were the creeps that did that to him… I swear I would kill them all…
I felt my guts knotting when he entered the room dressed in that convict suit and picked up the receiver.
He was glad to see me, or so he told me.
I asked him if he wanted me to bust him out of there.
He said no.
He said that was the only way to clean the name of the SWAT Kats.
He apologized for what he said to me that morning and for everything he had put me through.
What was he talking about?
Was it possible that he had thought I was still angry with him?
I can’t be angry with him! At least, not for a long time, anyway! I can’t hate him! I care too much about him to feel hate for him.
But, I did felt afraid of him.
It’s not the first time I saw hate in my brother’s eyes. But, it was the first time that hate was directed to me. Or so it seemed back then.
Anyway, my fur still stands on end when I remember those eyes, so full of hate, so full of rage…
And today they were full of sorrow, full of sadness…
Holy Kats… I care so much about him… I can’t bear to think he’s spending his nights in those cold cells… He doesn’t deserve that…
Brother, I’d gladly change places with you… I would do anything to keep you from suffering… Anything…
But there’s nothing I can do to help you get out of this situation… Anything I’d do now would only make you suffer even more…
And, that’s the last thing I’d want…
Signing off: Chance ‘T-Bone’ Furlong”
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