Original SWAT Kats Story

Reunion

By DJ Clawson

  • 1 Chapter
  • 12,071 Words

When kidnapped by a disgruntled scientist bent on using his technological brains to his own advantage, Jake is reunited under tense conditions with his long-lost father.

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Author's Notes:

I’m baaaack . . .

Anyway, this story has *nothing* to do with my other stories, and, in fact, is actually inconsistent with them. So don’t think you have to go read the massive “Children…” or it’s sequel to get this one. No magic, no gargoyles, no sorcery. A simple, and (hopefully) short SWAT Kat story.

It also has a reference to a city used in “The Wild Side of Feral” by Anubis Soundwave (jaclark@colacoll.edu). She mentioned mine in hers, so I thought I’d do the same thing.

This story takes place after “The Metallikats” and “Deadly Pyramid.”

Prologue

Professor Hackle rubbed his eyes tiredly. It was late; terribly late, even later than he usually stayed up. But he had to finish his next project by the next afternoon. He needed a success.

Not that the Metallikats hadn’t been a success; the only problem was, they were *too much* of a success. He had given them so much gadgets they had referred to as toys of destruction that it had nearly boggled even the SWAT Kats in their attempt to defeat them. No one wanted to invest in a project who’s experimentals liked to blow up enforcer tanks and assinate politicians in their spare time.

Finished installing the next set of screws, he straighted from his hunched over position over the workbench and reached for the next cup of coffee. His paw stopped a few inches away from the styrofoam cup as he heard the blaring of his motion detector; someone was coming.

At this hour? “Yes?” He retrieved his cane, stretching to relieve his soar muscles as he went for the light switch to make the room a bit brighter. “Who’s there?”

A figure appeared from the shadows of the hallway, putting out a paw on the wall to block his own from reaching the light switch, “That won’t be necessary, Professor. We wouldn’t want to . . . wake the neighbors.”

“Who are you?” Backing up, his tone was laced with suspicion as two considerably bulkier figures appeared behind the first. “What do you want?”

“Isn’t it rather obvious?”

As the kat reached into his trenchcoat to retrieve something, Hackle continued to back away, now nervous, “My experiments–?”

“Oh, no no–I don’t need your work. I’ve seen it. It’s ingenuis,” his voice carried a sense of awe. “You, professor, are a very smart kat. But free lance working? It’s a waste of your talents.”

“I left Pumadyne,” Hackle said firmly, “because they were turning my inventions into killing machines.”

“They never should have let you go,” the kat actually shook his head. “They lost a good inventor.”

“Perhaps.”

The kat dug deeper into his coat, “I have no intention of making that mistake. I need you, professor, to help me with my . . . projects. With your mind and my money . . .,” smiling, he pulled a syringe from his coat, filled to the brim with a green fluid. “I think you’d like working for me. I have some great resources.”

Hackle stood firm against the wall, “And if I refuse?”

“You see, professor,” the kat lurched forward, driving the needle into Hackle’s ribs. The old kat began to feel the world around him darken as he slid down to the floor, “unlike Pumadyne . . . when you work with me, refusal isn’t an option.”

Chapter 1

“So whaddaya think?”

Jake Clawson frowned. As much as he appreciated his partner’s attempts to ease some of the work of repairing and updating some of the Turbokat from his own shoulders, any attempts personally made by Chance Furlong involving electronic equipment were usually disasters.

Jake had been rewiring some of the sensors when Litterbin had come on, and Chance had gratefully offered to help finish up. He knew Chance thought he worked too hard, and deep inside he was well aware that his burly partner was probably right. Maybe that was why he had accepted to offer.

He knelt beside the jet, peeling back the layers of apparatus; his frown deepened. The actual plug-ins were right–only because he had color-coded them when they were originally put in, and at least Chance wasn’t colorblind. But the polarities were all wrong. Chance had hooked up green with green all right, but a negative with a negative. There was a time or two when he had actually connected the opposite ends of one extender cable–like that would do anything!

“Uh, Chance . . .”

“Yeah?”

“*These*,” he pulled out the cable, holding up the two ends that had formally been connected, “have to go into *two different* ends. Not each other.”

His partner’s smile slid into a frown, “Oh.”

Jake sighed, both at Chance and the cables. Not only had he managed to connect the wrong polarities, but the ones he go *right* weren’t even routed through any of the energy lines. He would have to pull them all out and route them correctly–a process that would take hours, and with their odd-houred job as vigilantes he couldn’t risk the Turbokat not being ready to fly at *any* time.

On the other paw, he certainly didn’t want to hurt Chance’s feelings, “Look . . . thanks . . . but I gotta work on this some more.”

“Can’t it wait ’till morning? It’s almost 1 o’clock.”

Jake didn’t reply; he didn’t need to. A feeling passed between them, and Chance bowed his head. He had screwed things up for Jake again. He wasn’t stupid, and he knew Jake certainly didn’t think he was, but when would he ever learn that some things were just better left to the resident genuis?

“Well . . . okay,” Chance headed for the ladder. “If you want help with something, just call for me.”

“‘kay.”

Chance hurried off to bed, leaving Jake alone with his machines.

“Hey, Jake,” Chance settled down in the kitchen beside his partner, who was gazing over the paper with his regular bowl of cereal. He was, surprisingly, minimally bleary eyed–but that was because Chance had purposly let him sleep in, feeling a need for retribution for the previous night. “I’m, uh . . . ya know, going to visit my dad today. Wanna come?”

Oh great, he thought. I did it again! How could I say something so stupid? Chance had accidently struck a bad chord with his comment, but only now did he realize it. He expected Jake to frown or get upset, but he didn’t. There was little or no expression on his partner’s face as he replied, flipping his paper a few pages.

“No, thanks. I need to finish up on some of that wiring.”

Even without the reaction, Chance sensed he had stirred up some bad feelings. Maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned it, to remind Jake it was father’s day. He probably would have seen it, will all the full page “father’s day sale” ads in the paper, but to mention it out loud was like treason.

Inside, Chance knew he was lucky. His father was ill with cancer, which he had been battling for many years–since Chance was ten, actually. That was why they had moved from the inner city to the suburbs . . . because his father wouldn’t be around so much to “protect” them. Now his father was a hospital resident, in and out of the rehibilitation center.

And *he* was the lucky one. Jake’s father had abadoned him and his mother when he was only 2, leaving them only a small amount of money for Jake’s college fund. *That* money was later spent to cover his mother’s medical bills when she had taken ill, which is why Jake had gone to the enforcers and not college. She had died in his second year at the Academy, leaving him with only a few relatives, one being a cousin who’s son he was fond of and called him “Uncle Jake.” Aside from that, he had no family.

Chance had once asked him if he had any recollections of his father; he had said the only thing he could remember was those distinct sideburns he had obviously inherited. The fur coloring, hair, and practically everything else had come from his mother.

He had once, on a the 20th anniversary Father’s Day of his disappearance, tried to look for his father. They tried national and international records, phonebooks, and even searched through all the junk his mother had left behind in a storage center when she died, hoping for some kind of clue.

It didn’t work. Professor Clawson had disappeared off the face of the earth for all records, bloodwork, and pawprints were concerned about. Jake had no road to take except to finally assume he was dead; that or call “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Every year he sat through the hubbub of Father’s Day, waiting for the day to pass.

Chance opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out as the alarm sounded. Someone needed the SWAT Kats.

As they jointly headed to the ladder, Chance was secretly rejoicing that they had been called. Maybe a good supervillian would at least get his partner’s mind off things.

“Oh, not *again* . . .”

T-Bone’s disappointment wasn’t lacked by anyone else in the jet. Below them was a familiar face rampaged through the city streets–a macrobot. At least, it *looked* like one. This one was bigger, designed again to stand on its hind legs. It lurched about, taking down whatever buildings happened to come in its way.

“The Metallikats? I thought the Professor–?”

“Not the Metallikats this time, guys,” Callie Brigg’s voice came over the radio. “One of these new robots had a short circuit that sent it haywire. The enforcers can’t control it!”

“Like *that’s* anything new,” muttered T-Bone, glancing out the side capony to see a group of enforcer chopters get taken out by a stream of missiles sent my a compartment in the paw of the huge robot.

“Yeah,” Razor watched, then turned back to his weapons panel. “Guess it’s up to us again. Launching grappling hooks!”

The cables had the desired effects, wrapping around the robot, binding it’s arms down. With it momentarily busy untangling itself, Razor didn’t miss a beat, wiring a stream of heavy missiles. The robot collapsed headfirst into the street.

“That’s gonna leave one heck of a pothole, Razor.”

“Our tax dollars at work, right?”

The kat watched the monitor as the scene unfolded in front of him, smiling as he mouthed a single word, “Genius.”

The smaller, younger one at the panel in front of him, apparently controlling the moniter, shrugged, “We could to that.”

“My boy,” the older one patted his shoulder, but kept his eyes peeled to the screen. “You have no appreciation for talent. Yes, we have weapons like that–but could you say you could build one by yourself? Alone?” He shook his head, “I couldn’t.”

“Should we continue with the plan?”

His smile deepened, wickendly, “Proceed.”

Razor allowed himself one smile of satisfaction, which quickly lid from his face as he saw the event on the street.

The marcorobot split–literaly split, like some kind of transformer. It altered its form immediately, becoming two smaller, independent macrobots on four legs. With their new and improved mobility, they slid out from the chords than bound them.

“Aw *crud*,” he grumbled. “Get me closer. These guys are gonna be a pain.”

The Turbokat dove, coming down just a meters above the first one. They would only have one swing before it counterattacked.

“Let’s see if this one likes me ‘new and improved’ scrambler. Deployed!”

The missile hit its mark, latching onto the bulky head of the robot. It lit up instantly with a bright display of fireworks and electric bolts as the robot squirmed, then collapsed motionless.

“Bingo!”

“Good goin’, Razor–now where’d the other one go?”

“Hmm . . .,” he glanced out the canopy window. “Looks like it went into the subway.”

“You gonna go after him?”

“Are you kidding?” Razor checked his seatbelt, bracing himself for the drop as he activated the cyclotron. “Wish me luck!”

The jet swooped down as low as T-Bone could bring it without crashing into some lamposts as it released the cyclotron, carrying Razor deep into the subway tunnels.

“You still with me, buddy?”

“Yeah, he went down one of the abadoned tunnels. I can almost hear him–”

Razor broke the sentence as he was thrown from his seat. In mid-flight he caught sight of the robot on the side, which had tripped the cyclotron. Those things weren’t supposed to be *that* smart! The cyclotron went flying, crashing into a wall with a firey explosion.

Razor himself tumbled, landing to some extend on his feet and unharmed. He picked him self up and tried to regain stature. The macrobot was at the end of the tunnel behind him, but apparently making to movement in his direction. Almost like he was programmed . . .

Before there was sufficient time for reaction, there was an audible ‘whirring’ sound like a machine being activated, and two giant, metal walls came down on both his sides, sealing him in with a loud ‘thump.’

“What the–?”

Enclosed in the miniscule area, he shook his head to avoid panic from rushing in. He activated his communicator–only static. It *should* have worked, but something was jamming it . . .

A vent from above suddenly began to hiss as, instead of fresh oxygen, it poured in some strange green gas. He reached for his oxygen mask, then suddenly realized the tank was hooked to the cyclotron. How stupid he was! More than anything else, Razor hated being unprepared.

The gas had a particular smell to it, kind of sweet but sour, but he was quick to find out his respitory system wasn’t fond of it. He fell to his knees, nearly chocking as his lungs seemed to close up. In desperation he banged his helmet against the ground, trying to get some kind of response from the communicator hooked up in front of one of the ear slots. It was no use. Closing his eyes, he collapsed in defeat as the darkness overhwhelmed him.

“Razor? RAZOR?” from the cockpit, T-Bone slammed his fist into the planel as he recieved static as his only response since he had lost communication. “Crud!” Enraged at the thought that something might have happened to him, he activated the front thrusters and landed the jet just beside the subway entrace.

He was just inside the see the enforcers pull up, “Stay out of the way, SWAT Kat!” Commander Feral’s voice was cold as he headed towards the stairs, huge gun in hand. “The enforcers can handle this.”

T-Bone didn’t have time to argue; the look of desperation was clear on his face, “My partner’s down there!”

“So’s a robot capable of destroying half the city!”

“Uncle!” Lt. Felina Feral came up between them, and T-Bone couldn’t have been more glad to see her now. “We can’t risk Razor getting hurt! If we blow the subway, it might collapse on him!”

“And what am I supposed to do? Let that thing loose in the city? That SWAT Kat *put* himself in the line of fire–”

Luckily, their arguement didn’t hold much water anymore. The macrobot appeared at the foot of the stairs, marching its way back up.

“Move out of the way!” Feral pushed them out of entrance as the enforcer tanks moved in, releasing a steady stream of fire in the robot’s direction. After a good battering it collapsed, taking out a tank as it went down.

T-Bone didn’t waste a moment, climbing over the rubble the robot had left of the stairs, “RAZOR? YOU DOWN THERE?” Felina followed in suit.

The cyclotron crash was easy enough to find; a smoke-filled passage led the way. T-Bone was slightly relieved to find Razor was not on it or anywhere near.

The tunnel was completely void of life.

“Where’d he go?”

T-Bone knelt in the middle of the tunnel, scrooping up a helmet with a smashed communicator from the floor, answering Felina’s question, “He didn’t *go* anywhere. Someone *took* him.”

“Who would want Razor?”

He shrugged, “Every bad guy we’ve fought.”

“That evens it down, doesn’t it?”

The burly SWAT Kat frowned in both anger and determination, nearly crushing the helmet in his paws, “Whoever it is, I’m gonna find ’em.”

Chapter 2

Slowly but surely, his senses began to return.

First, amazingly, was smell. There was to sense of the gas, expect for a minor, sweet residue left over in his nostrils. He was breathing free and easy, but his new location was without any particular smell he could pick up and recognize. He’d have to wait.

He wasn’t in the subway anymore, or he would certainly hear the subway cars passing in the near tunnels. There was only a distant hum-drum of machines. Was he in a hospital? He sixth sense told him he wasn’t.

He felt a bed beneath him–a cot. Maybe he *was* in a hospital. No, that had to be wrong. There was no IV, no respirator.

He struggled to open his eyes, then shut them quickly as the pain overcame him while they focused. The bare whiteness of the room was blinding. At least he could see . . .

Moaning, he massaged his head, still pounding from the effects of the gas, and realized he *wasn’t* wearing a mask. They knew who he was. They *had* to by now. There was a prick in his arm–had they taken a blood sample? They’d know by his DNA in a second.

His vision now only partly swimming, he checked himself. His flightsuit was gone. Instead, he was weaing a simple white shirt and pants, made out of material similar to robes in hospitals. No mask, no suit, no glovatrix.

Trying to keep the panic button in his brain from getting pushed, he inspected his surroundings. The small room was completely bare, accept a cot and a small ajoining room with a stall and sink. Everything was white, shiny and metal. The walls, the floor, the sheets–everything.

He wasn’t in Enforcer Headquarters–*that* was good. Their cells weren’t *this* clean, he knew from years of guarding them on odd shifts.

So where was he?

Let’s just worry about getting out of here, he thought, heading for the door. Glancing out the small window, he noticed no one was apparently outside. Surprisingly, the door opened as he approached, like some supermarket sliding door.

It couldn’t be *that* easy, could it? His instincts were screaming not. Glancing quickly at the rim, he noticed the wiring set up along the doorpost. With one, careful claw extented, he set it pass the open wires.

A small shock went through his arm, and the formally-invisible force field lit up with sparks, then died down once he had retracted. So they had a barrier. Raising his eyebrows wisely, he went back to his cot.

After only a few minutes, he had managed to free a few coils to build a small rod. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do. Standing at a good distance, he hurled the rod at the energy field.

It had the desired effect; the door sparked up, frying the rod like a piece of timber. Only a few minutes passed before the field overloaded, causing only a minor spray of sparks as the wires melted. The rod fell to the ground, motionless aside from the small fumes coming from it. Aside from a few leftover bolts, the field was dead.

He didn’t allow any real satisfaction to come from his escape; he didn’t have time. Hurrying down the hallway, he was glad of the absence of any kind of guards. Everything was bare.

Jake figured he was in some kind of large building, judging from the spacious hallways. He saw relatively no one; he only wondered how long his incredible luck would hold out.

“Hey!” Not long, apparently. A muscular kat, wielding a large barrel gun, spotted him around a corner. “He’s getting away!”

His shout immediately brought on a fair amount of guards. He felt the sensation of laser rays passing only inches from his shoulder. Lasers! These guys were really high tech! He did a somersault around a corner to avoid the spray of rays.

So far so good. There was a sign marked ‘exit’ at the end of the hallway. Only a little father . . .

He was barely a few feet away from the door when he felt a tingling sensation, starting at his arm above the elbow and spreading quickly throughout his body. He screamed and crumpled to the ground, feeling he had hit some kind of force field–this one much larger. His body ached; almost like the time when Hard Drive had fried him with his suit. The pain settled, remaining mainly on that spot above the elbow. He grabbed it, moaning, and realized there was a bracelet there he hadn’t even noticed, it being covered by the end of his sleeve. It still released an occasional spark, but had apparently been set off by his movement towards the exit.

He sensed a kat hovering over him, clicking his tongue, with a stopwatch in paw, “Tsk, tsk. Stopped by the energy field.” He shoved the stopwatch deep into his labcoat pocket, “Good show, Dr. Clawson. You made it much farther than anticipated.”

“Wha–?” Looking up, he noticed the kat being joined by two bulkier ones on his sides. He was a brownish-blond kat, with a tuff of brown hair on his head. He looked like a stereotypical scientist, complete with labcoat and security pass clipped to the breast pocket. He adjusted his glasses thoughtfully as he spoke.

“You see, we couldn’t just *let* you escape. But we thought we should at least let you try–put some sport into it,” he tapped on the bracelet Jake was grasping with his pen. “*That’s* a little ‘security.’ As you’ve all ready seen, if you pass any of our barriers, it’ll release a wonderful tingling sensation–almost like you’re being electrified, no? It seems you’ve discovered it, as well as the barriers. Oh, and try to tamper with it, and it’s set to let loose it’s own little sparks.”

Jake stood, wavering in stance, disliking the situation more and more, “Who are you?”

Seeing he was regaining himself, the two bulky guards grabbed him, one by each arm. He didn’t bother to struggle; it wasn’t worth the effort.

“Oh yes–terribly sorry about the delayed introductions. I’m Dr. Daniels. I’m glad we could finally meet in person, Dr. Clawson,” his tone was bright, completely ignoring the dark look on Jake’s face. “I’ve studied your work. It’s incredible.”

“What do you want with me?”

“What *wouldn’t* I want with you? You’re a genius, Dr. Clawson. An undergraduate degree in engineering from night school? And you built a jet from scraps? That’s pretty *damn* impressive.”

“Hey, I had some help,” Jake counted, coming to the defense of his partner.

Daniels sneered, “Hardly. You partner is . . . nowhere *near* the technological genius that you are. You must have designed everything, didn’t you? What did he do, lift the heavier blocks?”

Jake bowed his head. Chance deserved his recognization all right, for he’d certainly done more than his Daniels was hinting, but the dezigns had all been his. The hours spent in research at every library in driving distance were his. T-Bone was half of the SWAT Kats, but not half of the designs.

“So?”

“*So*?” Daniels shook his head. “Do you realize you’re not getting *half* the recognization from the scientific community that you should? What do you owe them so that you should save their tails twice a week while they get the awards?”

“It comes with the job,” Jake said firmly. “I’m not *looking* for recognization . . . or I *would* be a Pumadyne scientist.”

“Ah, Pumadyne . . .,” his captor clicked his tongue again. “They overlook such talent.”

“And I take it *you* would be one of those overlooked scientists?”

Daniels smiled, “A sly little one, aren’t you? Yes, I had a ‘falling out’ with Pumadyne. But I’m not looking to show them up with some fancy project.”

“Then what do you want me for?”

He paced back in forth, as Jake was forced to watch and listen, “When I left Pumadyne, I was building the ultimate weapons! But alas . . . they didn’t want to give me anything I needed to work alone. I was dependent on their equipment, their teams. That insured they could slap the ‘Pumadyne’ trademark sticker on it when it was done.”

“You,” he continued, “are all that I need to help me finish my project. You build your Turbokat from scrap metal–now I want you to build and design me my own arsenal . . . so even your jet . . . or the enforcers, for that matter, can stop it.”

Jake caught the devilish shading to Daniels eyes and quickly decided he didn’t care for it at all, “And what makes you think *I’d* help you?”

“I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve, Dr. Clawson,” he turned to one of the guards. “Bring him to the main room. If he gives you any trouble, give him a shock. Oh,” he glanced back at Jake, “and if you’re worried about your identity,

your secret is safe with me . . . depending on how helpful you are.”

Jake stared coldly at his back, then continued to struggle against the guards as they dragged him down the corridor.

“At last . . .,” Daniels stood straight from his formally leaning position against the panel as Jake entered, without an arguement and gripping his arm with the bracelet–indicating there *had* been an arguement on the way. The two guards followed up behind. The first turned to Daniels.

“No trouble,” he handed him a small black box with a single red button on it, “after the first few shocks.”

Jake sauntered over to one of the two chairs in the middle of the room,

collapsing in it tiredly. It was obvious the guard hadn’t been easy on the shocks; he still clutched his arm until the second guard commanded him to put both paws on the armrests. There was a ‘click’ like some program had been activated, and four metal cuffs clamped down, securing his wrists and ankles to the chair.

“Jake?” A familiar, comforting voice drifted over from the chair beside him. “What did they do to you?”

“Doc?” his eyes blinked, trying to force himself more awake. It was Professor Hackle–at least they’d let him keep his *own* clothes. He was still wearing the white labcoat and clothing that Jake had always seen him in. He was secured in

his chair as well. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged as much as he could, “I don’t know . . . they want me to help them on something,” his expression was deep with concern. “Are you going to be all right?”

“Yeah,” shaking his head to clear the thoughts, he looked around. The room was much larger than all the others he’d previously been in. The walls were lined with panels and computers. In the front was a giant moniter, and a panel and station set up beneath it. A young kat was working furiously at the controls. Daniels leaned back against the panel, casually sipping his coffee. Aside from the two guards who now lined the doorway and a few various scientists hard at work, they were relatively alone.

“Now that you’ve had your time to converse,” Daniels set his mug down on the panel, apparently to the much dislike of the young kat sitting there, “I think we should get down to business.”

Jake frowned. This guy was obviously a nutcase, but a very smart nutcase. It was apparently not going to be so easy to escape, especially now that he knew he couldn’t leave Hackle in the paws of this madkat. How long could they last? He knew himself he’d take some breaking, which would buy T-Bone some time to find him, but how long with Hackle last? He looked at the old kat, and estimated not a long time.

“The professor, it seems, has all ready been a bit helpful with the reprogramming of his macrobot to make it ‘look’ like it went haywire on a short circuit. Clever, no?”

The SWAT Kat started at Hackle, who had his head bent low. So his kidnapping had been a set-up. It didn’t take ESP to sense the professor felt extremely guilty for having any part in it, but he didn’t blame him for his involvment.

“I’ll never help you,” he responded, cold and firm, gripping the ends of the armrests. “Maybe he will, but I won’t.”

“Oh, I really don’t think you have much choice in the matter,” Daniels snapped his fingers, and another kat in a labcoat appeared, holding a tray of several prefilled syringes. “Meet Dr. Jackson. He’s our best biochemist–a wonderful kat. His specialty is truth syrums. Ever heard of one?” Jake visibly quivered as Jackson took on of the syringes, cleaned the needle, and approached him; Daniels smiled and continued, “Now, I don’t need you to design anything yet. We’re going to start simple. How about . . . with some Turbokat designs?”

As Jake and Hackle were carted away after Daniels felt he had sufficient information from both of them, he felt Dr. Jackson at his side, “Daniels? I’ve got something I think you should see.”

“Really?” Reasonably interested, he followed the older doctor over to his worktable.

“Look into these two DNA samples–one taken from Hackle, one from Clawson,” Jackson gestured towards two microscopes.

Daniels bent over and inspected them both, frowning, “So?”

“I–just my chance–happened to compare them while I was doing some scans. I couldn’t help but notice some similarities. So I did some testing . . . and some digging,” his smile widened as he shoved a manila envelope into Daniels’ paw. “Our wonderful Professor Hackle is really Professor Isaac Clawson, who disappeared in 1971.”

Glancing through the envelope, Daniels spoke curiously, “So that makes Hackle and Clawson . . .”

” . . . father and son.”

“Do they even *realize*?”

“Hackle knows,” Jackson speculated. “Did you notice he couldn’t make real eye contact the whole interrogation with him? Or how much he was ‘concerned’?”

“But Clawson–”

“Doesn’t even suspect,” he shrugged. “He thinks his father died a long time ago. He was only two when he left. How would he remember? Besides, Hackle’s changed. He’s older, his beard’s completely white, and he’s almost lost his accent. Jake always looked more like his mother anyway. How could he know?”

“In *that* case . . .,” Daniels smiled slyly, ” . . . this could get *awfuly* interesting . . .”

Chapter 3

Hackle tossed and turned in his cot; he couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t just worried anymore–he was distraught.

It had been shocking enough when they’d brought his son in. Of *all* the kats he could possibly imagine meeting in such a situation, Yaakov was not one of them.

And Yaakov didn’t know; he didn’t suspect. After they’d drugged him–and it’d taken three doses, with the fighting he did–he’d babbled endlessly, really unaware of his surroundings, answering any question asked in his feeble state. In all the time, he still couldn’t make eye contact with him. He was still afraid.

With seeing his son again–with forcebly seeing his son again–the old guilt resurfaced. Of course, he had never truely been able to convince himself that there hadn’t been a choice, even though it was true. His job was far to dangerous at Pumadyne, with all those codes and information he knew. He wasn’t safe; his family wasn’t safe because of him. But what could he do? They paid

well, and raising a child was no free ride. Little Yaakov was such a sickly child, and the medical bills were getting expensive. He couldn’t leave his job, but he didn’t want to leave his family.

But he did. He broke off all communications, except for a monthly check anonymously sent to his wife to help her with bills. Pumadyne told him–commanded him–to change himself as much as possible, and *never* go near any family member. That was the chief rule. He’d obeyed every one: he grew his beard longer, bleaching it occasionally until it went white on it’s own. He never saw his wonderful son as he grew up, or his wife. He didn’t even know about her death until he read about in the obituaries. Pumadyne certainly hadn’t told him; they wouldn’t let him risk making a guest appearance at the funeral.

He left Pumadyne, frustrated. But nothing changed; he still new so many secrets, ones that had to remain secrets for most of his life. He still couldn’t go back to his old life. Only now, he wasn’t under such close guard.

He read, of course, about the accident with the enforcers involving his son. How could he miss it–it was on the front page! He followed the story carefully, trying to evaluate the kat his son had become . . . without him.

Two years later, he finally had it in him to arrange a meeting. He broke a muffler–on purpose–and pretended he didn’t have that particular part. Now what was an intelligent scientist doing, asking for a lousy muffler? Luckily, neither Yaakov nor his friend Chance questioned it. They need the money. So he’d stood there and watched, as his son worked on his father’s car. When he looked into his eyes there was no spark, no recognization. So he stopped making eye contact. It was too painful. There was his son, his flesh and blood, having a one-on-one conversation with him about mufflers and there was no familiararity between them. The thought drove chills up his spine.

Then came the Metallikats. He’d been assigned by Miss Briggs as the one to take their heads apart, and pull out the memory chips regarding their recent memories–and the identity of the SWAT Kats. He respected other people’s privacy, but he happened to glance over the passing words as they were deleted, and he knew.

So he had arranged another meeting, this time with Razor and T-Bone, the SWAT Kats. He invited them over and given them a present–the cybotron, supposively for all the trouble the Metallikats had caused him. In a way, it was for that reason, but if they’d put things together they might have noticed it was given to them a week after Yaakov Clawson’s 26th birthday.

Maybe he was wrong not to tell him? Yaakov respected him as a friend and collegue. Was that enough? No, of course it wasn’t! He would tell him, he promised himself, right after this was over.

With his newfound courage, which he was aware would be gone by morning, he finally drifted off to sleep.

“Any luck, Lt?”

Felina looked up from her desk as she spied T-Bone hovering over it. His face didn’t mask his worry or concern.

Sighing heavily, she slapped another stack of loose papers in the “out” pile and ran her paws through her hair, “Nothing. We haven’t found a trace.”

“No clues? *Nothing*?”

“Look, I don’t know what to say . . .,” she stood, beginning to pace by the window of the crowded main row of enforcer’s offices. “We have nothing to go on. His captors are going to eventually try something . . .”

“If he isn’t *dead* yet . . .,” hopelessly, T-Bone rubbed his eyes, straightening his mask a bit. For a brief second, Felina had a lurking curiousity as to what he looked like without it. There were times when she nearly forgot there was a real person with a life behind that mask, that he wasn’t some magical superhero who disappeared after each battle and had nothing better to do with his life. No, the T-bone in front of her–the anxious, worried, overly-tired T-Bone–was his own character. She wondered if she would ever really get to know the kat behind the mask, or if he would be a mystical shadow throughout her life . . .?

“T-Bone . . .,” she hesitated, not quite sure what to say, then went for the most simple. “How long has it been since you’ve had any sleep?”

He shrugged. The sun was up; it was Monday, wasn’t it? He’s been fretting around since Razor disappeared, “A good 24 hours.”

“Yeah, well . . .,” she blinked, forcing herself back awake. “Me, too. I’m gonna go get some sleep. I suggest you do the same.”

For once, he didn’t argue. T-Bone didn’t leave quite yet thought; he dug deep into one of his pockets and retrieved a small, triangular box with a red putton, “Lt.

. . . I want you to have this. It’s one of our communicators–in case you find anything . . .”

“I know,” she took it, shoving it into her own pocket. “I’ll call.”

T-Bone smiled gratefully, then headed out the door towards the launch pad.

Chapter 4

T-Bone stirred awake at the sound of the alarm. He sat up on the chair he had collapsed on, still in flight suit in the hanger, and reached for the phone.

But it wasn’t Felina’s voice, even thought that was who he wanted to hear, “T-Bone? Are you there?”

“Yes, Miss Briggs . . .,” he rubbed his face, trying to sound awake. “Have the found–”

“Not yet, T-Bone,” Callie said assuringly. “But there’s another robot attacking Megakat City!”

He groaned audibly, “Can’t Pumadyne handle *any* of their own projects?!”

“This one *isn’t* from Pumadyne,” she explained as he hopped into the Turbokat. “At least, not according to their records. It looks kind of like of Professor Hackle’s macrobots, but they were all destroyed; the ones you guys took out yesterday were the last.”

“*Great*,” he mumbled, glancing out the cockpit as the bright afternoon sun shined on the black jet.

The enforcers were clearly tied up by this new robot. Large and clearly improved, it nearly crushed the tanks, slicing through their brand new alloid armor with a single set of claws.

He decided to do what Razor would have done, and launched grapping hooks. The robot seemed to sense them; it turned around and caught them easily, hurling them back at the jet.

“*That* sure didn’t work . . . let’s see how it likes a good old brain zap!” he triggered the missile lock, and released two megavolt missiles. They were true to their target, but only fissiled.

“Hey!” He strained the stick to steer clear as the robot took a swipe at his tiny jet. “Razor improved those things since the original robots! And *two* . . .” Almost like it was prepared for it, he thought. Wierd.

“Well . . . maybe it won’t be prepared for this!” Nearing desperation, he activated the lock for a new set of missiles, ones Razor had only put in nearly a day or so ago. Untested, they were also nothing it could be prepared for. “Atom missiles . . . deployed!”

They hit smack into the chest, knocking the robot back. Some made no dents–again, like it was prepared! He shook off the feeling as the robot collapsed, overwhelmed by the sheer number of missiles.

“Bingo!” He smiled in success, but only momentarily. It didn’t fix his situation, only now he was several missiles short.

“You idiot!” From his view from the giant monitor, Daniels was enraged as he watched his new robot go down. His anger was directed towards Jake, who was in one of the chairs he now faced. “You said my robot could defend againt *all* of your missiles.”

“I told you how many atom missiles I had!” Jake felt his paws and ankles released from the cuffs; he stood to face Daniels. “He must’ve been using something else as well–”

He suddenly collapsed to the ground, moaning in pain while grasping his arm as the bracelet lit with white, hot energy, “No, please . . .”

“Liar!” Daniels held out the small box he used to activate the bracelet. “I don’t know how you lied under the syrum, but you *knew* he had six atom missiles–not four!” He kept the button pushed down hard, as his captive quivered in pain from the shock.

“All right! All right! I knew! I’m sorry!” he practically shouted, but the punishment continued mercilessly.

“Let him go,” Hackle broke in, still secured to his chair. “He did you no harm. You can built another robot if you want.”

Daniels finally released the button, apparently satisfied as the sparks died down, “And why should *you* care, Professor? Why are you suddenly so *concerned* about him, anyway? Dr. Clawson’s a grown kat; he can take care of himself, can’t he?”

Hackle stared back at his oppressor coldly, feeling Daniels probe him. He knows, he realized. How much longer will he hold it?

“Doc,” Jake climbed back into his chair under the guard’s orders. “It’s okay. You don’t have to defend me.” He knew he was in a position where he needed all the support he could get, but he didn’t want Hackle in the line of fire with a physco like Daniels with the control to their electronic bracelets.

“No, no,” Daniels saw Jake’s reaction to a situation who’s background he knew nothing about, and he wanted to toss the subject around for a while. “Shouldn’t *you* be asking *him*? If I were in his position, I’d trying to be saving my own fur, much less yours. Our wonderful Professor here hasn’t defended himself once since you arrived. Doesn’t that make you a little suspicious?”

No, no, no–not *now*, Hacke struggled against his bonds in his seat, wildly. Please don’t tell him *now*–of all times!

Their captor saw the postion of both the pieces, and decided to have some fun with it, “Well?”

Jake shook his head, apparently clueless, “What are you getting at?”

“Weeeellll,” Daniels practically spun with joy; this was so *much* fun . . . “There’s obviously something . . . the good professor here . . . hasn’t told you.”

“I don’t understand,” he glanced at Hackle, who wouldn’t face him, then back at Daniels.

“You see . . .,” Daniels casual paced around Hackle’s seat. “Professor Hackle isn’t really what he seems to be . . . at least, not for most of your life.”

Jake’s eyes narrowed.

“Twenty-five years ago–,” he turned to Hackle. “Has it really been that much? Twenty-five years?”

There was no response; he knew what was coming. Daniels continued to parade around the room, as Jake watched with growing curiousity.

“Twenty-five years ago . . . Professor Isaac *Hackle* came to work for Pumadyne . . . after abadoning his wife . . . and two-year-old son.”

Jake’s eyes widened, not quite believing what he was hearing.

“And *who* . . . Dr. Clawson . . . do you think that child was?”

He gripped the ends of armrests in anger, facing his captor, “My father died . . . a long time ago.”

“Really? Who told you that? Your mother?” Danielson bent down over Jake, placing both his paws on the arm rests. “What do you think she was protecting you from? The truth? So you wouldn’t try to find him?”

“You’re lying.”

“Why should I? What have I to gain from it? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to confess what your own *father* can’t even face?” He moved away from Jake, now directiong his questions to Hackle, who wiggled uselessly under the restraints. “And what about you? Don’t you have something to say?”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Hackle replied firmly.

“Don’t you have something to say to him?” he pointed to Jake. “After twenty-five years, you have nothing to say to your own flesh and blood?”

Hackle had nothing to say, but it was obvious the emotional turmoil he was going through.

“Hmm . . .,” Daniels stroked his chin, looking at Jake, who’s face cared a shocked expression. He was staring to believe, “Maybe you two need some time . . . to work out your differences.” He snapped his paws, and their restraints were released. The two guards came forward, and grabbed them both.

Daniels had put them in adjacent rooms for a purpose. The connectiong wall was electronically pulled back, leaving only a glass window between father and son.

“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?!” enraged, Jake stood with clenched fists to face the glass. He fully believed what Daniels had said; Hackle certainly didn’t deny anything, nor did he confirm. His eyes were lit in anger and frustration, both over the currently, hopeless situation and the feeling of betrayal he felt by the kat he had known somewhat well and trusted as a friend. How could he have kept such a secret?!

Hackle sat on his cot, facing the glass as well, but his eyes were low. He couldn’t yet face his accuser, “I-I didn’t have a choice . . .”

“A CHOICE?” Jake’s voice rose. “You left me! You left us–with nothing!”

“I didn’t–”

“YOU DID! You could have at least told her! Or left me a note or something–”

“I didn’t have to tell her,” Hackle said, a little stronger. He knew his son had a right to be angry, but there were obviously some misconceptions he had to clear up. “She *knew*. Did Miriam every tell you what happened before I left?”

Jake was tempted to shout out again, but Hackle’s soft voice was calming. “She never talked about you.”

His father nodded, “Then we must begin . . . at the start of it all. Before you were born . . .”

Jake sat, listening. If he didn’t believe, he knew he could always just get angry again, “Go on.”

“When I came to this country–when *we* came this country, your mother and–we had nothing. Our families were both killed in the war and the camps,” he closed his eyes, trying to fight back the memories. “When we were liberated from Aushwitz . . . we came here, to start a new life. I worked as a curier for Pumadyne, until they . . . got their eyes on me. They recognized my ideas–I’d been educated in Poland, before the war–and offered me a job. What could I do? We were immigrants with no family, no angles, no hooks. I *had* to take it.”

“They warned me I would see things . . . top secret things . . . and know things others would kill to get their paws on. But you were born, and you were such a sick child–what could I do? Pumadyne payed better than any factory or curier job. So I stayed.”

“It got too dangerous. So many scientists were disappearing. They said I should change my identity–go into hiding–until things settled down. It meant abadoning you, Yaakov,” Jake swallowed as his apparent father said that. Only

his mother had ever called him by his Hebrew name. “I refused.”

“Then, when you were two, your mother and I were out for an evening when I happened. Thank G-d you were with a babysitter. You might have been killed. We were attacked . . . on the streets. Some kat, hired by someone to get some codes from me . . . by a rival scientist, I suppose. Had some brave soul not saved us . . . we both might have been beaten . . . or killed. That was the final straw . . . I *had* to leave–for your safety.”

“I changed everything . . . my name, my home, my clothes, my appearance. I had to break communications . . . expect for anonymous check I sent your mother every month. She knew it was from me. It was supposed to be for your college fund.”

“It never got that far,” Jake put in. “I guess it went to pay for mom’s medical bills once she got sick with cancer–because it certainly wasn’t there when I applied for college. That was why . . . I joined the enforcers.”

“I didn’t even know she died,” Hackle continued, “until I read it in the obituaries. Do you know what it is like . . . reading about your own wife’s death in some paper? Pumadyne didn’t tell me–they didn’t want me to try and go to the funeral or something.”

“They didn’t care about you,” Jake helped. “They only cared about their secrets.”

“Yes, of course. I left them a little while later . . . about the same time you were kicked out of the enforcers. I wanted to see you, but I was still afraid . . . maybe for your safety, maybe because I was just afraid.”

“That was why you came to the yard . . .”

Hackle nodded again, “Do you really think a Pumadyne scientist can’t fix a lousy muffler by himself? I had to see you . . . in the flesh. And then . . . when the Metallikats found out who you were, I was assigned to deprogram them. Of course, I couldn’t help but look . . . so I knew what you were doing.”

“Why didn’t you just *tell* me–if you knew so much about me? Didn’t you think I could take care of myself, after what I do for a living?” he felt his anger rise again, but he controlled it this time.

“I did . . . I tried. I was getting closer. I knew you would have to know eventually . . . but I wasn’t ready yet. But still I tried. Why do you think I have you the cybertron a week after your 26th birthday? If I gave it to you on your birthday, I was afraid you might have been suspicious.”

Jake’s mouth dropped. His father *had* been trying . . . and he’d been blind to it, “Dad . . .,” the word felt strange, rolling off his tongue. He came forward, pressing himself against the glass. “I don’t know what to say . . .”

“I don’t expect you to forgive me,” Hackle said quietly, daring enough just to raise his eyes for a moment. “After twenty-five years . . . I wouldn’t forgive myself.”

“Well . . . I’m still along way from that,” he chuckled, pacing, “but we can work on it, okay? Once we get out of here?”

“When we get out.”

“At least that leaves me with something to do,” Jake glanced at the electrified door, knowing his bracelet was now set to go off if he went too close. “I gotta figure us a way out of here . . . remember?”

Chapter 5

“Hey, T-Bone–”

He cocked his head in Felina’s direction, looking up from the pile of scrap metal that was all that remained of the macrobot as she approached, “What?”

“Who says the enforcers aren’t useful anymore?” she shoved a piece of metal in his paw. “Take a look at this.”

He glanced at it. On it was an imprint–an insignia of some kind, “What is it?”

“We got it off the robot. Pumadyne’s running a check on the logo right now. It might give us a clue as to who built this thing.”

“And who designed it against *my* missiles,” he muttered, hopefully. Had someone forced Razor to help them? It seemed likely considering the matter, but he doubted his partner did it willingly. He shut his eyes and tried not to imagine what they might have put him through. How long had he held up? Razor was strong-willed, but if they were smart enough to catch him and hold him so long, T-Bone doubted they didn’t have ways of breaking him. He made a silent prayer for his partner’s safety, then followed Felina.

“They got it,” he heard her announce from her car. Hooked up to the front dashboard was a small computer screen, that was now feeding information. T-Bone leaned in through the open window curiously.

Felina tapped a few buttons, bringing up a screen showing a light brown kat with glasses, “Dr. Robert Daniels. Former Pumadyne scientist. Had a falling out with them about three months ago. Disappeared shortly afterward.”

“What were they arguing about?”

She squinted to read the tiny letters on the screen, “Something about . . . his new project–some kind of ray. The board at Pumadyne didn’t think it was safe.”

“*They* didn’t think it was safe? Woah, this guy must be phsyco. Where is he now?”

“No offical residence, but he’s got a small compound just past the City Limits. A few guys on patrols reported he had a few guys working down there a month ago. Bringing in equipment and stuff.”

“Sounds suspicious enough to me,” T-Bone said.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Felina started her car. “You want a ride?”

“Nah–I’ll take the Turbokat,” he hurried off, hoping she was right about this Daniels guy, and hoping he would be there in time.

“*This* is what we’ve been straining to achieve, my friends,” Daniels pulled back the white sheet as his ‘captive’ audience gasped. Beneath it, now revealed, was what appeared to be a giant laser ray machine. It was easily twice his own size, filling up most of the room. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Yeah, right, Jake thought, “What the *hell* is that for?”

“This machine is what I left Pumadyne for, my dear Dr. Clawson. It has a laser beam with pinpoint accuracy–and I mean pinpoint–and a range of over 100 miles.”

“But it doesn’t work. That’s why we’re here.”

Daniels looked momentarily insulted, but he pushed it aside, “I do require some *assistance,* yes. The macrobot I released earlier was just a decoy . . . and to see if you two were really all the brains you appeared to be. This is the real project, ” he rubbed it’s barrel, almost lovingly. “Theoretically, it should work. But I’ve hit a few glitches along the way, and while I was sorting them out Pumadyne came by with their ‘safetly’ inspectors and turned any further research down. Still, some of the calculations are off.”

“Let me see,” Jake said willingly, knowing it was the only way he was going to get out of there.

“Oh, really? Why the sudden change of mind, Dr. Clawson?” Daniels picked up his eyebrows; of course he was suspicious. “Did your father finally knock some sense into you during your little talk?”

“Let’s just say,” Jake countered, “that my arm’s tired of this stupid bracelet.”

Daniels shrugged his shoulders, and looked around. They were alone, aside from the young kat controlling the monitors. But what harm could he do? Nothing before Daniels activated his bracelet, “All right.” He pushed a button on the panel, and the restraints released. Jake approached the front panel station, sitting down beside the young kat. Daniels watched him carefully, keeping one paw over the button to activate the bracelet in his pocket.

“This calculations are all wrong,” Jake speculated, watching the passing numbers on the screen. “20 over 345? Where are you getting *that*?” Instantly, he began punching in a new set of numbers. Daniels watched over his shoulder cautiously.

He opened his mouth to say something, maybe to respond to Jake’s newfound helpfullness, but the sound of an alarm going off was enough to stop all of them. He turned to the young kat studying to moniter.

“It’s the enforcers. And the Turbokat! They found us!” his eyes were wide with worry. He wasn’t lying; the mane monitor showed a horde of enforcer cars heading up the kill, with the jet above them.

Daniels allowed a moment for the shock to register, and Jake smiled. A moment was all he needed. He rose from his seat, and in one, fluid motion, hurled himself at Daniels. The scientist went flying, smacking right into the young kat in charge of the monitor. With both of his captors out of the way, Jake quickly went to work, typing furiously as the numbers on the screens began to disappear.

“He’s destroying the files!” the young kat shouted from behind Daniels, who rose in full anger. He pulled out his activator and pointed it at Jake.

The SWAT Kat instantly felt the shock; worse than before–Daniels had the dial above the button turned all the way up. The pain was immense. He had trouble keeping on his shaky knees, gripping the source of pain on his arm and moaning for it to be over.

“I’ll teach you insolence!” Daniels kept it activated long and hard, concentrating on the wiggling figure on his knees in front of him, “Those files will take me hours to recover!” He turned to the young kat, “Charlie! How long will it take to replace them?”

“He didn’t destroy much, sir. Maybe a few hours–”

They had forgotten one thing; while Jake was free, he had released his father as well. Hackle struck from behind, an act which was probably the most violent thing he had ever done in his life, “You stay away from my son–!” Charlie feel to the floor, unconscious.

“*YOU*!” Daniels spun around, now with activator facing Hackle. Apparently, it only worked in the direction it was pointed, because as soon as Hackle’s bracelet lit, Jake’s went off.

He siezed his second chance. Still recovering from the settling pain, he landed a kick in Daniels’ leg. His captor feel to the ground.

“Dad, get out! Find T-Bone and warn him!” he was referring to his appearance as he wrestled Daniels on the ground over the control of the activator. If the enforcers saw him as Jake and not Razor, their identities would be blown. Hackle hesitated only a moment, than broke for the door.

Jake continued his battle with Daniels. This mad scientist might have been a formable opponent to an ordinary kat, but Jake was a SWAT Kat and trained enforcer. At last he grabbed control of the activator, smashing it out of existence against a panel. He broke his bracelet loose without any sort of spark, glad to be free of it.

He had his eyes turned away from Daniels only a moment, concentrating on destroying the panel and moniter with whatever sharp object he could get his paws on, when there was crashing sound against the back of his head, and darkness clouded in around him.

Chapter 6

T-Bone and Felina advanced carefully throughout the compound, meeting only minimal amounts of guards along the way, which T-Bone easily took care of his

glovatrix.

“Looks like Daniels didn’t have time to hire that many goons, did he?”

Felina smiled, but kept her gun concentrated on the corner they turned. A shadow approached them, “Stay right where you are!”

The figure came up slowly into the light, and both of them recogized the haggard kat, “Professor Hackle–?!”

“T-Bone–,” Hackle went to him first. “Yaakov–Razor–he’s in the main room–fighting with Daniels–”

“Razor?”

“No,” seeing Felina right next to him, he spoke softly in T-Bone’s ear, “*Jake*, not Razor–my son–”

“Huh?” the SWAT Kat looked at him curiously, but he had picked up the meaning of the fragement of a sentence. Razor wasn’t masked. They’d sort the rest later. “Show me.” He glanced at Felina, “Wait here–please.”

She frowned, but strangely, respected his privacy and obeyed.

When they reached the main room, everything was in sparks and smoke. The panel was on fire, with the monitor smashed. Daniels knelt on the ground, next to Jake, who lay on his back, apparently unconscious. In a flash of flames, T-Bone caught the glint of a syringe; the needle was all ready lodged in Jake’s unprotected neck.

“Stay back!” the clearly mad scientist warned, “or his next shot is of embalmer fluid!”

T-Bone didn’t advance, holding a paw out to keep Hackle at his side, “Easy, Daniels. We don’t want to hurt you.”

“But I want to hurt *him*,” he gestured at Jake. With his gesture it caused the paw containing the syringe to wiggle, drawing a bead of blood where the needle pierced the fur and skin. “He ruined *everything*. It was all so perfect . . .”

“It’s over, Daniels,” the SWAT Kat said calmly. “Killing him won’t change anything.”

As T-Bone spoke, Jake moaned shoftly and squirmed. So he was returning to consciousness, but the blood from his head, matting his fur and spilling across the floor, told his partner he had all ready recieved a concussion that could easily keep him from much motion.

Still, Daniels was obviously greatly disturbed when Jake’s bloodshot eyes opened to register him, “W-Wha . . . Daniels–wha’ar you du in–” His speech was nearly incomprehensible, but the scientist understood fine.

“You ruined it! You ruined everything!”

“No . . . num burs . . .,” he flinched, feeling the needle in his neck, ” . . .weren’ right . . .”

“You could have made them! You and your father! That’s what I brought you here for–!”

Jake shook his head as much as he could, just barely clinging to consciousness, “No . . . calcu ashun off . . . wasn’

gunna werk . . all wrong . . .”

Daniels, breathing heavily as the frayed ends of his sanity broke loose, gripped both paws around the syringe and prepared to drive the dangerous fluid straight into Jake’s bloodstream, much less his trachia, “NO!”

His attention was away from the observers long enough for T-Bone to sneak up. He made a grab, somewhat wild, pulling the scientist back and out of range. The syringe came with him, emmiting a small spray of fluid from the tip of the needle that would have, if T-Bone had been a few seconds too late, gone into his partially conscious partner.

Hackle ran to his son’s side. Jake’s breathing had slowed considerably as his eyes fluttered. He was still straining to stay awake, unaware of the situation, “Dad . . .?”

“Shhh,” the professor smiled, coming in closer to inspect his head. “Go to sleep. It’s over.”

“Th’ enfor shers–”

“We’ll get you out. Just rest. You deserve it.”

Jake tried to nod, but failed as he allowed the cold darkness to enclose him.

Chapter 7

Jake awoke with a strange start, realizing he was in unfamiliar surroundings.

The pain in his head was back, only mildly now, and had settled to a light throbbing. That was, if he didn’t move it too much. He reached up to rub it, and felt the bandages

He was back in real clothes, not the white outfit Daniels had given him to wear–good for him; those were probably blood-soaked by now. Suddenly he recognized they were *his* clothes.

“It’s about time you woke up!”

He turned carefully to his side, noticing Chance, who was back in his mechanic’s coveralls.

“Where am I?” he was still confused.

“Your dad’s house. Don’t you recognize it? We were here once,” Chance said nonchalantly. “The doctor redid your blood tests. You *are* his kid–I didn’t believe it at first. Wierd, huh?”

He raised his eyebrows, painfully, “The doctor?”

“The doc–if you want me to still call ‘im that–has a friend from Faroe Lake City who’s been helping us out.”

“Then they didn’t find out–”

He shook his head, “Nah. You should’ve been awake, though, when we had to get you out. Sneaking past all those enforcers with a labcoat over your head was kinda fun.”

“Yeah, I bet,” he tried to sit further up. The instant his head left the pillow, however, he felt a rush of pain and disorientation. Moaning, Chance helped him back down.

“The doctor said not to try and sit up yet. Daniels gave you a severe concussion.”

“Daniels?”

Chance smiled, “That guy’s nuts! How’d you deal with him for two days?”

“Well, yeah, to kidnap someone–”

“No no, I mean crazy-nuts,” he circled around his ear with his paw. “They took him up to the Mental Hospital in Faroe Lake. Can’t get a word out of him. Our identities are fine.”

Jake smiled, still getting over what had happened in the last fourty-eight hours, as Chance continued, “I think there’s someone who’d like a little time with you.”

He stood to leave, and Hackle entered.

“Hi, dad.”

Hackle sat down on the bed beside him, “So . . . how are you feeling?”

He shrugged, “Better, I guess. I still feel like I got knocked in the head.”

“You’re supposed to.”

“You made it okay? Without a scratch?”

“More or less.”

Jake suddenly found himself at a loss for words, “So what do we do now?”

“Well . . . I think we have twenty-five years of catching up to do.”

“Are you going to change your name back?”

Hackle hesitated a moment, thinking it over, “Ach . . . No. Probably not. Changing it back would only be a hassle and you know who I am. It’s still dangerous. Let’s not make it too obvious.” He paused momentarily, unsure where to begin. “So . . . are you kosher?”

Jake groaned, “How did I *know* you were gonna say that? Yeah, a little.”

“Did your mother raise you kosher?”

“In the beginning . . . then it got to be a hassle. And she got sick . . . and it wasn’t worth it any more.”

“Do you seperate meat and diary?”

“Yeah.”

“By how long?”

“What is this, twenty questions?” Jake complained, but still answered. “An hour. I wait an hour.”

“You eat pork?”

“No, dad.”

“Unkosher beef?”

“Sometimes.”

He paused again, “You observe Shabbos?”

“*Dad*, I didn’t find you after twenty-five years to get tested on my religion,” he squirmed, cautiously so not to disturb his head too much.

Hackle chuckled, “Okay, okay . . . I’ll leave you be. Do whatever your mother raised you to do.”

He rose, but Jake grabbed one of his arms, “No, stay, dad. Please.”

“Dr. Rachelson said you needed your rest.”

“No, dad, please,” he pleaded, almost like a child. “At least stay ’till I’m asleep. Do you really think I can stay awake much longer anyway?”

His father considered, then sat back down, “All right.” He noticed Jake’s eyelids were all ready beginning to slip. “What to you want to talk about?”

“You know the Turbokat?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I was thinking . . . could you help me with some things? I was working on a new wireless throttle, and I could really use a second opinion.”

He laughed, “Whatever you like. I will take a look at it if you want.”

“Yeah. That would be nice,” his last few words drifted off as his eyes finally closed.

Hackle waited a few minutes, assuring his son was fast asleep, and turned to leave. At the doorpost, he stopped and look back. Yaakov had really grown up a lot like him, hadn’t he? He saw within him a spark he himself had felt when he was younger, studying in Poland.

But he does look like his mother, he reminded himself. With that fur–it isn’t from *my* family line. He’s so much like his mother. He smiled quietly to himself, remembering what Miriam Clawson had been like in her younger days. For a brief moment, he felt a longing to go back to 1971, when they had all been together, a family.

I guess we’re still not a family now . . . he reminded himself. But we’re as close as we’re going to get to it.

With that, he went back in, kissed his son on his forehead, and left, shutting off the lights behind him.

The End

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