Title: And So Chance Met Him
Warnings:Violence, some non-graphic descriptions of blood.
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats belongs to Hanna Barbara. Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Hiromu Arakawa.
A/N: This is an idea I had a while back that I decided to just write down. I loved the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime, and I just had to ask “what if?” I did so and then forgot I even wrote it until just recently with the announcement about a reboot of SWAT Kats going up on Kickstarter. This is part of a story universe I tentatively call “More Things in Heaven and Earth”. I’ll probably change the name later as I add more stories to it though they probably won’t be written in order.
It was one of those days where Chance Furlong would look back and reflect on how Hollywood got things wrong yet again.
In movies, there was always a pause in the action as if the universe was telling the protagonist, “Remember this moment. It’s the moment your life will change forever.” The hero always seemed to know this even if he or she didn’t understand just what was coming next at the time.
Reality, on the other hand, gave no such helpful pauses, and Chance was most certainly not aware that big changes were on the horizon. Newly off-duty and heading home from the corner store with dinner and the next day’s breakfast in hand, he’d been looking forward to a relatively peaceful night at home. Nothing overly spectacular aside from the Scaredy Kat marathon that he’d recorded. (That alone justified the price of the DVR package for his cable as far as he was concerned.) It was shaping up to be a good night.
He nodded to one lovely she-kat with a broad grin, giving a wave to the kitten she held by the hand. The kid had enthusiastically responded even as his mother gave a more demure smile back. Megakat City wasn’t always the nicest or safest place to live, but seeing a pair like that wandering around without constantly looking over their shoulders gave the Enforcer some satisfaction that, despite everything, kats felt safe enough to do so. Just small things like that always made his day.
Unfortunately, these thoughts were interrupted by a cry from the alley he was about to pass along with the sound of a body being thrown against a trash can.
Despite being off-duty, Chance wasn’t willing to simply walk on past where a mugging was taking place. He didn’t even bother pulling out his cellphone to call for backup, hearing the crackle of energy echo in the small space. He was familiar enough with the alchemists on the force to recognize that particular sound. If the assailant was the alchemist, things could turn very ugly very fast.
A small, smoky gray kat was held against a wall with a gleaming knife pressed against his throat. The last bits of blue transmutation energy arced along the edge of the blade.
“Come on, I don’t have all day,” the hood said with a toothy grin. “Just hand over your money, and we both walk away.”
“How ’bout you walk away right now?” Chance challenged as he ran forward, grocery bag tucked under one arm, his free fist raised and bringing a punishing blow down on the other kat’s face.
The mugger yowled in protest as he was sent to the ground, his weapon skittering away. He rolled to one side as Chance stamped down on his tail, halting the other’s immediate escape.
“Hold this,” Chance grunted, handing over his bag of goodies to the stunned victim. He barely acknowledged the smaller kat fumbling to grab it as he bent down.
The mugger hastily scratched a circle into the concrete with one claw, bringing his paw down on it to alchemically remove a chunk. Chance moved back to avoid getting clobbered in the head with it, his weight easing off the other’s tail just enough for him to slip free. The mugger then lunged for his knife as the Enforcer pounced on him.
The mugger attempted to scratch out another transmutation circle, but Chance raked his claws across it to obscure the pattern. Some part of him acknowledged that it was a good thing, too. He had some interest in alchemy, had even taken time to sit down and listen to the Alchemy Division’s lectures on the subject, but had no talent for it himself. Still, he could recognize most of the common, truly nasty alchemy arrays. That one had definitely been one of them.
The mugger thrashed about like a fish, having just enough strength to send the pair rolling. All the while, the victim remained back. Chance was grateful for that. The last thing he needed was to have an inexperienced fighter in the brawl. He could use some backup for the arrest though. Being off-duty—along with not being one of the Enforcers who regularly pounded the pavement—he didn’t have cuffs. Chance knew he should’ve heard sirens by now and wondered why the victim hadn’t called the Enforcers yet. Almost everyone had a cellphone nowadays.
He gasped in pain as he felt the mugger jab the recovered blade awkwardly into his abdomen. The knife was sharp, very sharp, and cut cleanly. At least stitching the wound closed wouldn’t be too hard for the doctors later. However, Chance quickly realized that it caused a more immediate problem as blood started pouring out when the mugger jerked his blade free.
The sight of that much blood seemed to freak the mugger out. Perhaps he’d only intended to scare people with the knife and his alchemy rather than do any actual harm. Regardless, it gave Chance the opening he needed to get a solid grip on the other kat’s head so he could smash it against the ground, knocking the perp out. He then rolled over onto his back, bringing up his paws to try and apply pressure to stem the flow.
“Call…ambulance,” he grunted out as the victim moved cautiously closer.
The smoky kat knelt down beside him, holding his paws out towards Chance’s. “I don’t have a cellphone,” he said, almost frantic. “Do you?”
“Back pocket.” Chance gave another grunt. “Give me a sec and I’ll roll over so you can get it.”
The other kat’s eyes widened in fear. “No way. You might make yourself worse.” He twisted his head and shouted towards the passerby that had paused to gawk at the commotion, “Someone call 911!”
Chance heard beeping as a few kats started using their phones. He frowned to himself. “Great. Knowing my luck, the video’s gonna be up on MyTV by the end of the night. Not one of my best moments.”
“You can complain about that when you’re not bleeding out,” the kat snapped, grabbing one of Chance’s paws. “I need to see what I’m doing. Move your paws.”
Chance gave a lopsided grin as he did as he was told, the edges of the world going as gray as the other kat’s fur. “I ended up saving a doctor? Lucky me, huh?”
“‘Lucky’ isn’t quite the word I’d use.” The other kat took off his jacket and tore off some of the fabric, using it to mop up blood as he attempted to get a clear look at the injury. He swallowed thickly. “This is bad.”
“Kinda figured,” Chance noted dryly.
“I’m gonna try and fix most of the damage. Just…grit your teeth and try not to scream.”
“What’re you gonna do?” he asked, eyes blinking rapidly as he tried to get them to focus.
Chance attempted to lift his head up to do just that when he heard the crackle of energy again. He then gasped in pain, biting his lower lip until it bled as he felt each cell in his body work overtime to repair the damage. He was more than grateful for the oncoming blackness as sirens sang in the distance, the noise getting louder as their sources drew closer.
“Just hang in there, okay? I have to thank you later,” the victim said, a red glow flitting across his light fur and illuminating his face. This was accompanied by a fresh wave of agony from Chance’s abdomen.
That was all it took to send Chance’s waking mind into oblivion.
“Lieutenant Furlong? Lieutenant Furlong?”
Chance groaned as the voice pushed aside the last of the mental cobwebs accompanying his impromptu nap. The scent of disinfectant stung his nostrils, and he forced his eyes open. “Crud. I’d been kinda hoping not to wake up here.” He then looked at the she-kat standing over him, a fanged grin slowly spreading across his face. “Though I can’t complain too much if the nurses are all as lovely as you.”
The nurse smiled. “Well, that’s certainly a good sign. Flirting with me, I mean. Now let’s see if you can sit up.”
“Shouldn’t be too…Ah!” The tabby winced as he attempted to do as she asked, hissing air between his teeth. She helped him complete the maneuver slowly. “How long was I out?”
Chance frowned, mentally working out comparisons in his head. “That was quick. I would’ve figured it’d be longer.”
“Because of your stab wound?” the nurse asked with a curious flick of an ear. “You shouldn’t be too surprised since most of what we had to work with was surface damage.”
Eyes wide, Chance stared at the nurse. “Wait. I know I got hit somewhere important.”
“You did,” she confirmed, picking up his chart to study it. “But, the damage wasn’t too severe when the paramedics reached you. If the knife had gone in deeper, you would’ve been in for some real trouble.”
The sound of transmutation energy teased at the edge of his mind. Couple that with the determined look on the victim-turned-rescuer’s face, and it wasn’t hard to put the pieces together.
“Lady Luck was smiling on me tonight. Get stabbed while saving someone, and the kat I saved is a first-rate alkahestry master.”
“The damage likely wasn’t too extensive to begin with even though it did bleed a lot,” she told him, glancing over his chart again before putting it down for the next nurse to read when shift change happened.
Chance blinked. “It wasn’t that bad?”
“It’s either that or your alchemist friend is particularly gifted and my boss should be offering him a job. The doctors found no damage to any of your internal organs. Speaking of your friend, he’s outside in the waiting room. He wanted to see if you were all right. Should I let him in?”
That didn’t sound right to Chance. That knife had gone in deep, all the way up to the hilt if he remembered correctly. He’d swear on a stack of Bibles to that fact. Yet, the doctors said the damages were largely surface injuries. Had he imagined it?
The memory of excruciating pain—first the stabbing and then the repair job—flashed through his mind. No, that had certainly been real. So, how had that kat’s patch job been more than good enough to fool trained professionals into believing the injuries hadn’t been that serious to start with?
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Sure. Let him in. I figure I need to thank him for making sure I didn’t leave a mess on the sidewalk.”
The she-kat smiled and left the room for a few moments, returning just long enough to lead a rather upset-looking gray kat in through the door before leaving to see to her next patient.
“Hey!” Chance greeted cheerfully, grimacing as he shifted position and pulled at a still-tender stitch. “You look worse than I feel.”
The kat looked as though he was mentally preparing to attend a funeral, only relaxing a hair at Chance’s warm greeting. “You’re okay then?”
“Yup. Probably gonna get some leave though. Can’t exactly fly a jet like this, though I’m sure I woulda been in worse shape if you hadn’t fixed me up.”
The kat’s eyebrows raised with interest. “You’re one of the Air Division?”
“Uh huh. If it weren’t for you and that alkahestry of yours, I’d probably be flying a coffin right about now.”
“Some could argue you do that already,” the kat said blandly.
“Don’t like flying?” Chance asked, wondering if he should pity his visitor.
“I like it okay, but I don’t go out of my way to fly. Just indifferent, I guess.” The gray-furred kat stood awkwardly beside his bed.
Chance waited a few minutes before asking, “So, do you have a name?”
“Thomas. Thomas O’Malley.”
“You don’t look Irish.”
“It’s in my family somewhere if the last name’s anything to go by.”
The tabby gave a small chuckle. “I’m Chance. Chance Furlong.”
“I know. I mean, I asked when I was getting interviewed for the report.” Thomas picked at one sleeve nervously, pulling off loose fibers. “You really shouldn’t have tried to save me.”
“Come on. Couldn’t just walk by.”
“Enforcer training?” the kat asked with a tiny smile.
“Well, there’s that,” the larger kat began with a grin, “and the fact I just can’t walk away without trying. I’m gonna get an earful later about being reckless and whatever, but I joined the force to help kats. Just like in the comics.”
Thomas stared at him as if he were gazing at something rare and unique.
“I just…You take the ‘protect and serve’ thing seriously, don’t you?”
Chance gave an indignant snort. “’Course I do. I want to be one of the good guys. Always have. The Enforcers were the best way to do that.”
Thomas shook his head, clearly disbelieving. “You’re a rare breed, Chance Furlong. You were off the clock. No one would’ve blamed you for just calling for someone in uniform.”
“What part of ‘I just can’t walk away’ didn’t you get?” Chance asked incredulously.
“Calling for help isn’t walking away.”
“But, just waiting around for someone in uniform to show up might as well be. You needed help right then. I could do something, so I did. Just like you did after I got in over my head,” Chance countered with a grin.
Thomas gave him a deep searching look. To be honest, it unnerved Chance. True, the Enforcer probably could’ve bested the alchemist in a fistfight, but there was something vaguely sinister in that gaze. It made the fur on the back of his neck reach for the sky as he realized he’d been wrong. It wasn’t sinister; it was as if he was standing in the middle of a packed sports arena with all eyes on him.
Then those green eyes blinked and a smile pulled across the other kat’s face. “I guess so.” He then rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry. Here I wanted to thank you, and we went off on other stuff.”
Chance released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, signature grin returning to his face. “Hey, don’t worry about it.”
Thomas stood from his chair. “Y’know, I’ve got a friend who might want to join the Enforcers. You definitely make a good argument for him to sign up.”
The tabby buffed his claws against his chest. “I like to think I represent some of the best and brightest Megakat City has to offer.”
“You do. Get well soon, okay?”
It really was ridiculously easy to forge a new identity.
Then again, it shouldn’t have been surprising. He’d had plenty of time to become a master forger. Especially since he’d had a paw in building the very same technology that was used to create the paper trails most kats used to prove they were who they said they were.
His fingers danced across the keys as he worked to build a new him.
/You should be from the country this time./
/No, that’s easily traceable. Megakat City native. Fewer kats to worry about not recognizing you./
/Suburbs. It’s your first time in the big city, so no one would be too surprised that you don’t know anyone./
He followed the third voice’s suggestion, looking up and choosing a suburb that had been taken over by the ever-expanding urban sprawl of Megakat City. It appeased the first two voices while hundreds of thousands more chimed in with their suggestions. Within minutes, an entire life story had been created from nothing, including little anecdotes of growing up to tell anyone who wanted stories.
Now all that left was the face.
He stood and walked to the bedroom, staring at himself in the full length mirror as he took a moment to decide. Then red light crackled across his fur, changing it from gray to more of a caramel orange. His eyes lightened to a dark yellow. The facial structure grew thinner, the muzzle a tad more pronounced. Everywhere, his body started to squash and stretch to accommodate the changes. He even shaved off a few years’ appearance of aging for good measure.
He studied himself with a well-practiced eye, several of the voices in his head adding their own opinions, before opening his mouth. “Hi, I’m here to find out how to enlist? Hi, I’m here to find out how to enlist? Hi, I’m here to find out how to enlist?”
Each time he spoke, he tweaked his vocal cords. He finally settled on a sound he liked that didn’t sound very similar to his previous voice.
He reached up to tip his non-existent hat to his reflection and walked out of the old brownstone he’d owned in full for over seventy years that he “rented” to his various aliases. (Really, it was a blessing to live in such a bustling city. It provided a plethora of uninquisitive neighbors.) He walked down the street, hopped on a bus, and rode it downtown.
Upon reaching Enforcer Headquarters, he walked towards the receptionist. “Hi, I’m here to find out how to enlist?”
She looked up at him and pointed. “Down the hall.”
For such a large building, it wasn’t that far to the recruitment office. The officer that greeted him gave him a friendly smile. “I’m Sergeant Mark Calhoun. Your name?”
“Jake,” he responded with his brand new bright and eager smile. “Jake Clawson.”
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.