Original SWAT Kats Story

X-File #10-1115

By DJ Clawson

  • 1 Chapter
  • 24,826 Words

“The X-Files” crossover. Agents Mulder and Scully come to Megakat City to investigate a series of murders, but an accidental encounter leads them to suspect Jake. While he tried to clear himself, Abi has a set of disturbing visions and Thoran suspects the murderer is a councilman.

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Author's Notes:

Here we go again. This is the next addition to my SWAT Kat fanfiction series, the first two stories being “Children of the Stone” and “Awakenings .”

It is also an X-Files crossover, in a world where Mulder and Scully are both kats. Please excuse me if I get anything wrong with their characters; I am not an X-Phily but have seen the show several times. The characters of Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, and Walter Skinner all belong to Chris Carter Productions. The characters of Jake Clawson, Chance Furlong, Abi Sinian, Commander and Felina Feral, Callie Briggs, and The Pastmaster all belong to Hanna-Barbera Inc, and/or tED Turner Broadcasting/Warner. Everyone else is a figment of my imagination. If you have never read the prequels to this, please go back in read them. If you really don’t feel like it, there’s an introduction to explain everything, but things’ll make a bit more sense anyway. If you’ve never seen X-Files, read on. Everything’s explained. If you’ve never seen SWAT Kats, search around in Yahoo and look ’em up on some sites, or contact me. You will need to have seen the show or have at least some vague idea about what it’s about to understand this story. You also might not get a lot of inside things that are mentioned to have happened in “COTS” and “Awakenings .”

If you are interested in them upon finishing this, contact me, though there are no X-Files references in them. I also have a fanfic site containing these stories at http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8850/fanfic.htm

A NOTE : The character of Dave Gamgee from “Awakenings” is know known as Dan MacAugh.

For questions or comments, my e-mail is djclawson@garden.net

WARNING : This story contains a few vulgar phrases–but come on guys, it’s nothing you all haven’t heard before (especially if you read Ryan’s “Midnight Magic” series).

“X-File #10-1115”

[Introduction]

Collections from the diaries of Jake Clawson and Abi Sinian–summaries

In the outskirts of Megakat City, 1996 CE, Dr. Sinian, Head Curator and Director of Megakat Museum of History, discovered a cave unearthed by a drilling team. In it contained a group of gargoyle statues, which were taken back to the museum. What she had discovered was actually a clan of real, ancient gargoyles–warrior creatures, flesh by night, stone by day–that had been put under a spell to ‘sleep’ 1000 years ago by an evil sorcerer of the council named Frakes. Coincedentaily, two other sorcerers were still alive from that time–Selena and Sauraman the Pastmaster. Selena was evil, but Sauraman was Lopinenean–a culture of the gargoyles. Because of their similar beliefs, he chose not to fight them. Selena, wishing to destroy the gargoyles over an old grudge, freed them from their spell. Along with them she freed two kat sorcerers from Megallith Castle–Maric and his son Ramis. They were of the line of Ecuador, the mortal son of Frith (the sun emperor) in Lopinenean culture. Ramis possessed the sword of Ecuador, which can only be held by his descendants. Abi quickl befriended Thoran, the old leader of the clan. With the clan’s help, the SWAT Kats were able to defeat Selena. However, in the process, two gargoyles were killed–lovers Charon and Dathena, and T-Bone and Lt. Commander Felina Feral were injured. In order to save all four, Sauraman melded their bodies. T-Bone and Felina, both discovered to descendants of gargoyles that were hatchlings 1000 years ago and not put under the spell, became changlings. T-Bone and Felina are kat by day, gargoyle by night. Also, it was discovered that Ramis’s wife was pregnant when he was set in stone, leaving a line of descendants that were lost throughout the centuries. That line became the Clawson line–Jake Clawson, aka Razor, being the next son of Ecuador and possessor of the sword. A few months after the defeat of Selena, Ramis left to see and travel the world, leaving Jake th sword. Shortly afterward the clan met an evil sorcerer named Abadon, who seeked the sword but could only hold it if he killed all the sons of Ecuador within the city. He then killed Maric and nearly Jake, who defeated him in a swordfight but allowed him to live. Abadon was then thrown from the dimension by Aslan, Ecuador’s immortal brother and the first son of Frith. Meanwhile, Abi discovered she is a vilthuril–a prophet or seer of Lopine culture. Not only that, but Thoran is one too–something he’s hidden from his clan all his life. Now, in 1997, the gargoyles reside in the museum, on the merlons dezigned for them. Their existence is reasonably private and within the city, unknown to the rest of the world. Abi takes care of them, with the help of Jake, who she had a growing relationship with. Both Abi and Felina know the identities of the SWAT Kats. Jake, now thuroughly attached to his sword since he learned how to use it to fight Abadon from a Sensei Dan MacAugh, makes it a regular practice to carry it around, hidden in the lining of his jacket.

———————————————————————- ————————————–

“X-File #10-1115”

Prologue Megakat City, January 1997

“Can you spare a dime, mister?”

The aged bum on the corner held out his paw hopefully. Smelling of the sewer and with a bottle in his paw, his very presence was impressionable enough that most opened their pockets. The kat in front of him, however, did not. He was well dressed, in fine-but-practical clothing, with an expensive black trenchcoat. He looked like he might have had a full coat of light brown fur at one time, but it was mainly grey now. His hair, similar to the fur in color but perhaps a bit more white, was long and licked back neatly so the ends hovered in a curl upward just centermeters above his shoulder. He was of medium build, maybe just a bit on the heavy side. The bum shivered as the kat stared down at him on the sidewalk, and he suddenly felt as though he was in the presence of one centuries older than he. He retracted his paw, and said nothing more. A moment passed, and the kat moved on wordlessly. For a minute he had his paw in the trenchcoat wrapped around his weapon, but at last he decided it wasn’t worth it, even though the bum would never be missed. These mortal kats he walked among rarely had anything to offer. Most had none or next to that amounts of magical energy within them. Even if not, he could always draw from their life energies–though one would rarely satisfy his hunger. The bum, however, had a dying lifeline. If anything, taking the bum’s energy would only make him hungry for more. Killing never bothered him; after all, he had to live on and gather energy. There was a rumor Sauraman had his powers back, and the last thing he wanted was that old sorcerer to start bossing him around again. He had to keep up to stock in power these days. Imagine me! he though. A councilmen, slaying mortals for hunger pains! What this world is coming to–! His musing were interrupted by the sound of boots other than his own on the dark street. Another kat was coming. “Good evening,” the kat muttered. He licked his lips, his eyes practically glowing with excitement. The kat was young and strong. The former councilmen was nearly shaking–how hungry he was–! Only a few more seconds–! Those life energies would surely satisfy him. “Excuse me,” he began as the kat passed, reaching into his trenchcoat. “Do you have the time?”

“Of course,” the kat looked down at his watcher, missing the obvious ploy. With his head down, he didn’t see his questioner draw a sword and raise it. “It’s nearly–” He never finished the sentence. The old councilmen swung down, slicing the neck to seperate it from the body, all in a strange, eiree silence. The body hit the ground, and he muttered the words to begin the spell. He was right–the power was satisfying.

From his corner, the bum noticed a few sparks down the street, almost like miniature lightening, but when he went to investigate, all he found was a headless corpse and blood strewn across the sidewalk pavement.

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Part 1 Washington, DC Federal Bureau of Investigation Building

In the basement of the department typically known for taking care of “paranormal activities” was an office. Only one small window let any light down into the room cramped with a desk, computer, file cabinets, posters, and shelves or sorted and unsorted papers. On the wall was a poster that read “The Truth is Out There,” and a similar one by it that read “Trust no one .”

Each had their own picture, one of a blurry object that resembled what we think of as a UFO–an Unidentified Flying Object. There was only one kat down there now, and one lamp as well to illuminate the room. He was Federal Agent Fox Mulder, the department’s most hated and lovedd agent maverick. He was a brown kat, of medium build and a tall frame–maybe he was a little on the skinny side. His hair was a short, spiky dark brown, cut beatly but never combed down. He was wearing a reasonably nice suit, with his jacket and sidearm hung over the chair. His sleeves were rolled up past the elbows–the fan rarely worked, and there was little ventilation in the stuffy room. His tie had pink elephants on it. Mulder sat on the wheeled chair, leaning his chin on his paws with his elbows on the knees. He was obviously contemplating something, or browsing the corridors of his photographic memory. It had been a slow week for the X-Files–or at least, that was what his department was typically reffered to as. No alien conscpiracies or psyhic killers back from the dead made it past the brown doors that led into the next department down the hall without a file on them behing shoved into a cabinet with it’s own identification and number. However, this week the picking had been meager; only a few, good old murders and one armed robbery. “Mulder?”

A voice–a female voice–broke the silence, drawing the attention to the top of the stairs leading to his office. Agent Dana Scully–his partner, friend, and the only person he trusted when he trusted no one–was standing there. A short, pale-gold furred and orange-haired she-kat, she was as graceful as ever. She had been “assigned” to him a few years earlier, sent to watch and report on the maverick. It wasn’t that his work was faulty or against the rules, only his methods were a little odd and he often wound up on hunts for bigfoot or swamp monsters if she wasn’t careful. Over the years their relationship had grown close, though she often remained skeptical while he fought cases over alien sightings and killer cockroaches. There was certainly a reason why so many agens chold her the “Ice Queen,” but Mulder had long-since become accostomed to it. “What? Skinner got another random shooting for us?”

“I don’t know, but he does want to see us in his office,” she replied nonchalantly. It *had* been a boring week, but then again, Mulder’s definition of a good week was chasing aliens while avoiding government kats who smoked a lot.

Assistant Director Walter Skinner’s office was square, wooden, and practically. The “Thank you for not smoking” sign was as close as he got to personalizing it. Behind the desk was a huge window, usually serving as a sufficient light source on sunny days, of which Mulder was sometimes envious of. Walter Skinner was a light brown kat, bald of hair except for the grey that remained by the sides, just above the ears and partically around the back. A tall, well-built kat, he was a vietnam vet and both Mulder and Scully’s bosses. He believed in rules, but exceptions as well when he felt curroption seeping into the buildind and droplets falling on his shoulders, especially involving the cases of alien nature that Mulder was usually waist-deep in. He could be their best friend, or worst enemy, depending on how warped or bloated his sense of rightiousness over patriotism was that day. “Sir?”

Mulder’s usually tiring face stuck in the door, followed by Scully. “Come in, Agent Mulder . . . Scully,” Skinner rose from his seat, retrieving something from his “in” box. “I have something that might interest you .”

Mulder took the manila folder handed to him. “Hope you weren’t planning a vacation this weekend, Agent Mulder,” Skinner said plainly as Mulder opened the folder and retireved the plane tickets clipped to the opening file. “Megakat City, sir? Aren’t they independent?”

he sounded a bit surprised. Certain cities in the country, especially ones like Megakat City and Faroe Lake, chose to step up their enforcers to an almost military level in oder to deal with day-to-day affairs without calling in the national army. After all, they lived in a world where supervillians attacked weekly with giant robots; who was to say they couldn’t try to defend themselves? Of these cities, Megakat was the worst–from the newspapers, it seemed to have its own vigilantes. Federal agents were rarely called to handle their problems. “They are–technically–but they’re still part of this country where they like it or not. Right now the enforcer department is booked with too many cases up by emergancies, and they’ve called for our help. Some of the victims are also in Faroe Lake and other areas, but it’s still pretty much a centralized case .”

“Decapitations?”

it was enough to make Mulder raise his eyesbrows on a Thursday morning. “A string of six–recently, and I mean in the last few months. Four in Megakat City, one in Faroe Lake, and one between the two .”

“Definitely sounds centralized,” he speculated. Mulder’s degree in criminology had yet to fail him. “Do we have any suspects?”

“No suspects. Everything we have should be in there,” he indicated the folder that had just been passed to Scully. “That or you should be able to get whatever else you need from the local enforcers .”

“Will I be able to perform an autopsy?”

Scully asked. “There’s a body waiting for you. Fresh from last night .”

En Route to Megakat City 20,000 Ft. in the air

Mulder was never much of a sleeper on airplanes, so he busied himself with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. He didn’t even notice until he returned from a trip to the restroom that Scully was looking over the case file. “So what are we looking at?”

She placed some of the files where their trays went, “A serial killer, with a habit to strike several times after spans of ten years between sets,” he pointed to an old directory file. “I ordered up some files from the Megakat records and Faroe Lake’s before we left. The patterns are the same. It’ll take longer to defferenciate between the same guy and a copykat, but–” “How long was this been going on?”

Scully sighed, “I wasn’t able to go back more than fifty years outside of the actual archives building, so I couldn’t tell you. “Fifty years?”

Mulder sipped his coffee curiously. “What are we talking about–generation after generation? A family tradition?”

“Perhaps,” as usual, she was skeptical. “The victims are typically twenties to late forties and fifties. Usually kats but lately there’s been a few she-kats. Anywhere from middle to upper class. No connectsion–at least not obvious .”

She continued, “No witnesses, no obvious clues .”

“Doesn’t give us much to go on, does it?”

Mulder said thoughtfully, and sadly his partner nodded.

Megakat City Museum of History

Jake Clawson–ex-enforcer, mechanic, SWAT Kat, and son of Ecuador–hurried up the museum’s back steps, tugging his coat to fight the minor chill. In his paws, held close to his body, was a filled grocery bag. In it was a few items the gargoyles had requested, and some things Abi hadn’t had time to shop for lately. Their relationship–his and Abi’s–had flourished over the past six months, to the point where perhaps they went out to dinner once in a while (when they could ditch the gargoyles for an evening). Thoran encouraged it, partially because he wanted Jake to have a child and continue the lineage of children of Ecuador, and partially because he wanted Abi to be happy in the worst way. Since the discovery of her vilthurilatiy [see introduction] she’d been even more withdrawn and antisocial than usual, and the old gargoyle know she was slowly becoming more comfortable and open about her feelings around Jake. Some of the other gargoyles, especially the younger ones like Chip and Jumicus, got a kick out of the whole thing and made it their ultimate responsibility to find ways of getting Jake and Abi alone together. Of course, when it worked they were waiting nearby, armed with binoculars and enjoying themselves immensely until Chance or Sevian caught them. Chance encouraged the relationship as well, but he respected his partner’s privacy. Jake smiled at the thought of their sceeming, knowing full well of their actions–after all, he wasn’t blind. Still, their intentions were good. He pulled out the spare key Abi had given him, and unlocked the back door. Visiting hours ended over an hour earlier, because the gargoyles would be awake soon. He nodded past Charlie, the security guard, who was used to his presence in and out of the museum by now. Instinctively, he headed for the elevator and rode it up to the third floor. Abi was hunched over her desk as usual, apparently working on some new translations. The doors leading to the balcony were not yet open, with the gargoyles still asleep for the day. “Oh, Jake–you’re here,” he hadn’t said anything, but she’d looked up long enough to recognize him. Abi rose to greet him, taking the package from his paws and setting it down on the table. “Thanks for getting the stuff. The gargoyles’ll really appreciate it .”

“No problem,” he stood over her as she began to sort through the bag. “Just get your own damn pads next time, okay?”

Abi stopped, “Was that on the list? It wasn’t supposed to be .”

Jake grinned, “Yes, it was .”

“What do you mean?”

He wrapped his arms around her from the back, crossing them over her front, “You were testing me. ‘Let’s see if Jake can get in touch with his feminine side without his stomach turning.’” He nearly chuckled, “You were checking me for being macho .”

He spun around to face him, “I was *not*!” “Yes, you were .”

“Was not!” “Was too!” “Was not!” He laughed again, retrieving a box and shoving it in her paws, “Look, I got you the damn pads, okay?”

She embraced him, “You’re wonderful, you know that?”

“Of course .”

Enforcer HeadQuarters

“Well, here we are .”

Mulder’s bland statement just about summed it up. From the moment they entered Enforcer HQ, they felt out of place. There were busy officers everywhere, both on duty and off, rushing to be somewhere or talk to someone. Their often blue-and-grey or khaki uniforms bearing the enforcer logo were a stark contrast to Mulder and Scully’s grey and tan suits and trenchcoats. With everyone so sure about their business, the two clueless federal agents were lost. To put it plainly, they stuck out like soar thumbs. “Excuse me? Can I help you?”

the voice was feminine, but not at all of a cute, ditzy secretary. Instead, it was deep and confident. They turned to see indeed a she-kat, dressed in the flight suit of an enforcer, except perhaps a bit more shaped to her gender. Her fur was tan, and the thick hair black and curled a bit upward at the sholders. On the ears were white streeks of sideburned-type hair. The label on the left breast read, “Lt. F. Feral .”

“Yes, actually . . .,” Scully was first to flash her badge. “We’re with the FBI–we’ve been sent here to handle the serial killer case .”

“Which one?”

she replied in jest. “No, really, I know what you’re talking about. I’m Lt. Commander Felina Feral .”

She shook their paws. “Are you the Feral we’re supposed to see–?”

“No,” she shook her head. “You want *Commander* Feral .”

She put in quickly, “He’s my uncle .”

“The job runs in the damily, huh?”

Mulder guessed. “You betcha. My uncle’s a fifth generation Feral to head the enforcers, and if there’s any luck on my side I’ll be the sixth,” Felina almost said proudly, then snapped back into an officer’s frame of mind. “Follow me .”

Commander Ulyesses Feral’s office was spacious and modernm comparted to most officies Mulder had been in. He supposed it was well-earned, with the job he had of protectiong such a dangerous metropolis. Feral was a deep brown kat, stiff and straight like an iron soldier. Mulder guessed he was a by-the-book type guy, which didn’t always mesh so well with the FBI’s most famous maverick. ‘Oh well,’ Mulder shrugged. ‘He wants to get the job done and so do I. At least we have *something* in common.’ “Well, Agents . . .,” Feral glanced up from their profiles he’d been reading, ” . . . Mulder and Scully–welcomd to Megakat City .”

He might’ve offered them a seat, but they noticed there weren’t any. “I assume you’ve looked over the case file so you can begin your investigation shortly .”

“We’re going to need acess to some eariler records, but aside from that we should be fine,” Scully put in. “And I need to do an autopsy of your latest victim .”

“Fine. My niece should be happy to help you. Now if you excuse me–” Mulder noticed Felina frowning when he mentioned her; she obiously would rather be spending her time in an enforcer chopter. Feral shot her a glance as he exited.

Scully returned late that night from the autopsy, stopping in Mulder’s hotel room before hers to check in. “How’d it go?”

Mulder sat on the bed, watching a cheap horror movie and munching on sunflower seeds. Scully spoke in the same monotone-but-a-bit-of-feeling voice she nearly always used, “Well . . . he was definitely dead .”

Her partner chuckled at the dry humor as she nearly collapsed on the bed beside him, “Total decapitation, done with an incredibly sharp, metal object–probably a sword .”

“Interesting. How do you know it was a sword?”

“From this,” she handed him a plastic bag with a small, metal chip in it. “We found it in the victims–or rather, Jordan Bell’s–neck. It was probably chipped off by the spine .”

“Why didn’t you give it to forensics?”

“I did,” she explained. “They said to take it to the director of the Museum of History–she’s an expert in swords and could probably tell us what kind it was from .”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, actually . . . most of his internal organs were almost burned–like they had been exposed to large amounts of electricity. The funny thing was the burns were mainly on the inside and at the openings of the mouth and ears. Also–if he was electricuted, he was all ready dead at the time .”

Mulder responded curiously, “So somebody chopped off his head and *then* electrocuted him?”

“Only if the killer put cables in his mouth. No outside burns, and no puntures on the skin .”

He was silent for a moment, then said, “So where do we go from here?”

“Well . . . we could interview his parents and some friends–they live just outside the city–and see if we can match anything about him to the other victims .”

“Right,” Mulder stood, stretching. “Looks like we’ve got a busy weekend ahead of us, huh?”

Their interview with Mr. and Mrs. Bell was fairly unsuccessful, along with most of the talks with his friends. Jordan Bell, from what it seemed, was a fairly nice guy with a lot of friends and few enemies–none that would want to kill him, anyway. He was fairly rich from his job at an insurance company, but anyone who stood to get his job or money was off the suspect list for once reason or another. They’d begun the long drive back to Megakat City wordless, each lost in their own thoughts while they tried to calculate the situation. According the the ten year pattern, at least four more people had to die before the killings stopped, maybe more–the least was ten, back in 1967. So he would strike again, and soon. The murders were never that far apart. For over an hour they drove, Scully at the wheel and Mulder staring absently out the window. There was nearly nothing but barren fields, telephone poles, and a bumpy dirt road between cities. He had nodded off, dreaming of swords and exposed necks, when the car stopped short and he was instantly stirred, nearly thrown from his seat, “What was that?”

“The car stalled–for the third time in the past fifteen minutes,” slamming on the accelerator, all she recieved was a snuff response of the engine groaning. Silently, she cursed the rental company and reached for her cellur, “I’m getting us a tow .”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Mulder stepped out of the car, surveying the area. “This doesn’t look like the kind of place we could hang out in forever .”

He noticed the sign that read, ‘Megakat City–10 Miles .”

Mulder was seated on the hood, munching on the jar of sunflower seeds he’d stored earlier in the trunk, when a reddish-orange towtruck finally pulled up beside them. Two kats got out, both in blue mechanic’s coveralls. One approached the car, leaving the other with the truck. He was a slim kat, with orange fur and wide sideburns. He was dressed surprisingly neat for a mechanic–at least compared to the ones Mulder had used in DC. His coveralls were reasonably free of grease stains, considering his occupation. All of his fur was trimmed and combed neatly. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yeah,” Mulder slid off the car, leading way for him to take a look under the hood. “The engine’s stalled .”

“Rental car giving you trouble, huh?”

he seemed to know it was a rental instantly, as he popped the hood and allowed a puff of smoke to release from the engine. “Do you get a lot of breakdowns like this?”

He slapped the lisense plate, which had the name of the rental company on it, “With these guys? All the time .”

He shouted over his shoulder to the burly blond kat by the truck. “Hey, Chance–could you get the cables? I think we can give the engine a jump start .”

Within a few minutes, the two had the cables hooked up to feed juice to the still engine. The one named Chance slammed on the accelerator of the truck, and the cables nearly lit with white hot energy. “Now try the engine,” the slimmer one commanded Scully, removing the hooks. She pushed roughly against the pedal. The engine roared, almost in a growl, then died down again. Scully sighed heavily, tapping her paws against the wheel. The kat took another look, then shrugged, “I’m sorry . . . but we’re gonna hafta take it to the yard. Do you need a lift?”

Mulder looked bleakly at the barred road, “Doesn’t look like we have much choice, do we?”

The auto shop was surprisingly neat and organized, considering the area around it. The salvage yard looked as though they’d attempted to organize it–and been overwhelmed. The shop itself was standard, almost like a package deal–the assorted mechanical parts stuffed on shelves, the scandily-clad she-kat calender, and the “back-in” sign up against the glass window of the office. “Can I use your phone?”

Mulder gestured towards the office. “Go ahead,” the kat, who’s name label read “Jake” answered. Mulder removed his coat, hanging it on the rack before heading through the glass door that led to the office. Scully followed in suit. He dialed Enforcer HQ, allowing a few moments for someone to pick up, “Enforcer Headquarters. Carlson .”

“This is Agent Mulder from the FBI. Me and my partner’s car just broke down. Can we get a lift?”

As he was speaking, Mulder let his eyes wander to the various newspaper articles, clipped and stapled to the wall. They were in chronilogical order, starting back in 1987 with “Enforcer Trainees Graduate Academy With Highest Honors .”

Beneath the headline was a picture of Jake and Chance, dressed in enforcer’s uniforms. “Where are you?”

“The salvage yard–auto shop,” he noticed another headline, which read “Enforcer Lts. Recieve Medals of Honor for Field Work .”

Carlson’s voice sounded like recognization, “Oh yeah–Jake and Chance. Nice guys .”

“You know them?”

“Sure. Used to be enforcers, best dman ones I’d ever seen. Were in my squadron .”

Carlson nearly laughed, “I’ll send someone down for you .”

“Okay .”

He set down the reciever, seeing Scully facing him, “Scully . . . look at this .”

He pointed to one of the articles. “Look at these medals–they were two stars away from being seals–in their second year .”

He seemed more than a bit impressed, though never breaking his monotone speech. “That’s pretty impressive, Scully .”

“So why are they mechanics?”

she, as usual, was skeptical. “That’s what I’d like to know .”

He moved on to the next article, “Look–‘Decorated Enforcers Booted From Force.’” He went straight into the written words. “‘Lts. Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong were ejected from the enforcers after crashing their jet into Enforcer Headquarters while in pursuit of criminal mastermind Dark Kat.’ They went down in the line of fire–and had to pay the costs, apparently. ‘The next building was almost entirely destroyed, with both pilots held responsible.’” “Sounds like it wasn’t their fault .”

“It wasn’t .”

They both turned to see Chance standing in the doorway, “*Feral* wanted the tag when we all ready had our missiles locked,” he said the name ‘Feral’ with an evil seething of pure hatred. “When the shot was stalled, the locks screwed up the guidance systems and we crashed. Feral kicked us off the force when I attempted later to make him aware of that .”

A moment later his features softened, as if someone had thrown a switch, “Excuse me. And old grudge we have to work off. Would you like to know the estimate on the car?”

Mulder followed them into the main garage, but not before catching the articles on the first appearances of the SWAT Kats plastered on the wall as well. “Well, Jake . . . what’ve we got?”

Chance slapped his partner on the back, who stood from the position of leaning into the engine. “Faulty transmission,” Jake diagnosed. “It’ll take a few hours, but luckily you should’ve have to replace it altogether. You could hang out here . . . or come pick it up later .”

He spoke like a doctor explaining the situation. “We got a ride .”

Jake and Chance shrugged, and immediately went back to work. Mulder decided it might be better to wait outside for the lift, and went for his coat. There were two others on the rack; old and a bit ratty–but then again, could a mechanic afford to spend two hundred dollars on a good coat? Whose was whose was obvious. One was fit for a huge, curly guy like Chance and the other cut was someone slimmer. His paw, going for his own coat, he noticed something else on the rack. A sword, to be exact, hanging from a belt made so to hold it as a hilt. The belt was

strung over one of the hooks. ‘Odd place to leave a sword.’ “Mulder?”

Scully’s voice caused him to spin around, with only enough time to slop it back in place and check Chance’s coat for the same feeling. No dice. “Our ride’s here .”

They gestured good-bye to their mechanics, heading out to the enforcer car waiting patiently outside. “Find something?”

he could instinctively read the look on his face. “Yeah. Jake Clawson carried a sword around .”

She did a double take, “*What?*” He shrugged, “Was on the coat rack .”

“Wow–this city’s stranger than I though .”

Back in Enforcer HQ, Mulder was loitering around the water cooler thoughtfully when Scully came running up, several manila folders in her paws, “Mulder, you couldn’t believe what I just found .”

“Sunflower seeds in Megakat City are toxic?”

“The murders–every ten years in a cycle–have been going on a lot longer than we thought .”

“How long are we talking about?”

He face was dead serious, ” Some two hundred years–but that’s only as far back as the archives go. There’s no telling when it started .”

Mulder’s eyebrows raised, “Sounds like we need a historian, not a homicide detective .”

“Guess who’s name I got .”

He shrugged. “Dr. Abi Sinian–director of the museum and local historian. We were going to her anyway about the metal chip .”

“Sounds like she’s the only one in this city who paid attention in history class .”

He tossed the crushed cup in the bin beside the cooler. “So that’s our next stop, huh?”

In their newly-repaired car, Mulder and Scully glanced out the windows as the museum came up beside them. An immense building that dwarfed the ones in DC, Mulder wondered if people in Megakat City had nothing better to do with their money than fund it. In the front lawn was an outdoor diarama of the Paleolithic Age, including a fullsize mammoth statue and tar pits. The building itself, complete with three stories and two wings (at least visible from the front) looked as though it had been recently remodeled. The new stones and construction made the facade look like a bit of a castle out of medival times or the Dark Ages. On the third story balcony were a series of fully size gargoyles, one on each merlon. The highest merlon, on the roof of the center building, a story above the others, was a lone gargoyle with a very old and ancient look to him. “Looks like your kind of place, Mulder,” Scully joked, locking the brakes with the car in front of the museum’s front steps and getting out. “Ha ha,” he said blandly, stepping out and staring up at the gargoyles. Their frightening looks were foreboding enough, gazing down at him as effective stone sentinals. They hurried up to the glass doors, noticing the “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign. “They sure close early,” Mulder glanced at his watch, notcing it was four o’clock and banging on the door. Eventually, a shaking little she-kat poked her head out the door, “The museum is–” She stopped, catching the flash of badges. “Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI,” Scully began the introductions. “We need to speak with Dr. Sinian .”

Her face became drawn with worry, “Is something wrong?”

“Not really, but we’re doing an investigation and could use her assistance. Is she still in the museum?”

She lightened up a little, “Oh, she’s usually here until late. Come in,” she fully unlocked the doors, allowing them inside. “I’m Mrs. Howser, the assitant curator .”

They followed her obidiently up the stairs. “I’m sure Dr. Sinian would be willing to help you with whatever you need .”

They emerged at last on the third floor, and Howser pushed open the door labeled with Abi’s name and job on a brass nameplate. The office was more like a library; the bookshelves and file cabinets were filled and occasionally littered with reference items and papers. Hunched over the desk was a light brown she-kat with darker hair, wearing a white labcoat and obviously engulfed in her research. “Dr. Sinian?”  She picked up her head as Howser spoke. “There’s some federal agents here to see you .”

She immediately rose to greet them, sliding her reading glasses down so they hung around her neck with a gold chain, “Dr. Sinian, curator of the museum. Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yes, actually . . .,” Scully began. “We’re here to do an investigation on a series of homocides. This,” she removed the plastic bag containing the metal chunk from her pocket, “was found at the scene . . . and we were told you may be able to identify it. We think it may be from a sword .”

“A sword? What kind of murders are we talking about?”

“Decapitations .”

Abi physically looked green, but pushed it back and switched on her microscope. She removed the piece from its bag as it was handed to her, placing it on the slide, “Well . . . let’s take a look .”

She spent only a few minutes adjusting the lens and studying it before she could begin her analysis, “It’s definitely a sword . . . medeival–maybe Dark Ages. Roughly a thousand years old–it’s been reforged several times .”

Mulder had wandered off in the room, now running his paw over a sword on a rack that looked almost exactly like the one he found in Jake’s jacket earlier, “What type of sword?”

“Dark Age broadsword, from the indentations .”

“Like this one?”

Abi looked up at the sword he was indicating, “Maybe . . . that one’s actually a reproduction that’s about to go on display .”

“What happened to the original?”

Scully inquired. “Well . . . in 1990, we discovered one thought to be it, but it was later proved to be a copy when the original was discovered about a year ago. The copy was lost,” she lied–Ramis had the copy and he was off exploring, “and the original was . . . given away. The sword–the sword of Ecuador–belongs to the line of his descendants. Ecuador was a medeival legend [again, she lied–he went much further back than that], and the line was recently rediscovered . . . it was given to the appropriate heir–”

“Jake Clawson?”

Mulder’s abrupt reply clearly shocked Abi; he wouldn’t have been surprised if she jumped several inches of the ground from the look of her expression, “Yes . . . it came to his possession about six months ago .”

“You just *gave* it to him?”

Scully sounded surprised. “I didn’t know museums had a history of selling their items–just buying them from discoverers .”

“No . . .,” she was obviously a bit uncomfortable as they ventured further into the conversation. “It’s not like we give away any of our items here–especially a sword worth several million dollars–to anyone just because we could trace their geneaology to the right places. Jake and I are very . . . close. I trust him with it . . . and it *is* his birthright .”

“Would you see any reason *not* to trust him with it?”

Abi’s voice turned a bit cold, “Agent Mulder . . . are you here to find out about a piece of evidence or collect evidence against Jake?”

“We’re just trying to find a murder, Dr. Sinian,” Scully assured her. “No, the fact that Mr. Clawson is paranoid enough to have a sword laying out on a coat rack– “Jake,” Abi said firmly, “was a dedicated enforcer who now works in a bad neighborhood. He knows how to protect himself, and I *don’t* think his methods of self-protection are *your* business .”

She sighed, then continued, “He saved my life with that sword .”

“Okay,” Mulder visibly backed away. “But we still have some questions for the case . . . not involving Clawson .”

She eased a bit, “Go on .”

He glanced at Scully, who explained, “We were able to find a pattern of ten or more muders within a period of a year . . . a cycle that happens about every ten years. Now . . . the sets go back nearly two hundred years . . . but that’s only as far back as enforcer records would go .”

She pondered for more than a moment, muttering, “The councilmen . .

.”

she recalled something Sauraman said about their need to replenish energy around every ten years . . . “What?”

Mulder’s question broke her broughts. “Oh . . . the councilmen . . . they used to have a cycle of killings–but they were supposivly all exterminated in the Dark Ages .”

“What were they? A cult?”

“A committe of kats who believed in . . . and perhaps practiced . . . what you might refer to as witchcraft. But there aren’t many records that I’ve studied on after their break up in the early tenth century . .

.”

“Is there someone who would possibly know more? Someone we could talk to?”

“Maybe Thoran,” she peculated absently. Sauraman was out on an errand for the Isatari; when he would return exactly was unclear. “Is there any way we could speak to this . . . Thoran?”

She blinked, coming more to her senses, “Oh no . . . Thoran is a very private friend of mine . . . he could never allow for an interview. I could ask him anything you want–” Scully frowned, “We would really need his personal help for the case. Is he some kind of historian?”

“You could say that,” Abi suddenly glanced out the window, realizing the sun was nearly down. “Oh my goodness–I’ve forgotten about the time. Please . . . I need to close up. Can we continue this later?”

Mulder speculated as they headed down the steps to the car, “That was abrupt .”

“She sure closed up when we mentioned Clawson .”

“Do you think she’s protectiong him?”

he stood with the side door open, gazing at her over the car roof as she opened her own door. “Do you really think we could consider him a suspect?”

they simultaniously got in the car as she asked. “I don’t know . . . but I’d like to find out more about Jake Clawson . . . and speak to this Thoran guy–and why Sinian’s hiding him .”

Jake arrived soon after their car had pulled away, moving up the steps leasurely. The day hadn’t been half bad, after getting a good deal out of those federal agents. The yard was actually looking a bit empty, despite how many cars typically broke down or wouldn’t start in a cold month like January. Maybe he would finally get some free time with Abi, or get around to that research he was working on for the Turbokat. “Jake! G-d, the day I’ve had . . .!” Abi met him when he got off the elevator at the third floor. “Everything was fine, until these federal agents stopped by . .

.”

“Federal agents?”

Jake’s expression shot up. “Two of them? Male and female?”

Abi nodded. “I towed those two today. They had a faulty transmission .”

“Oh?”

it was her turn to raise the eyebrows. “You didn’t, by any chance, show them your sword?”

“Huh? No–” “Well, they seemed to know you had it,” Abi was dead serious. “Jake, they’re here to do an investigation on a serial killer who likes to decapitate people with swords . . . and from the looks of things, they suspect you .”

He frowned, deeply, “But how did they know–I had it on the coat rack. I must’ve left it there when I got back from my last lesson with Sensei–” Jake’s eyes widened. “Oh *shit*, that guy was fooling around by the coat rack . .

.”

Another curse escaped his lips. “But why would he suspect me?”

“Honestly, Jake. How many mechanics–or people, for that matter–carry a sword around regularly?”

“*Shit* .”

“Well . . .,” she said hopefully. “There may be a way out of this .”

“Oh? I’m open to suggestions .”

Wordlessly, she led him to the balcony, where the gargoyles were beginning to wake.

“What exactly is this Eff-Bee-Eye, Abi?”

Thoran was resting against the back of his armchair, tea cup gripped gently in his huge claws, while some of the other gargoyles huddled around (including the newly arrived T-Bone and Felina). “To us, at least?”

“They’re an organization we sure don’t want to know about you guys,” Jake put in. “They all ready konw too much about me .”

“And you have suspicions about the killer being a councilmen?”

Abi nodded, “Remember when Sauraman told us about their ten-year energy revival cycle? Mulder and Scully have been finding murders that date back over two hundred years .”

“Hmm . . .,” the old leader stroked his white beard. “I suppose maybe Beldar–it was suspected that he escaped along with Frakes and Selena during the destruction of the council and the annilation of the members. I believe he was one of the less powerful members .”

“And if it was him?”

“Then we’re dealing with someone we don’t want them arresting, if they can catch him .”

Thoran pondered, “The first thing we need to do is get the suspicion away from Jacob .”

“How?”

He shrugged, “Perhaps if I spoke with them about the council . .

.”

“*You* want to speak with them?”

Felina shook her head. “Hate to say it, Thoran, but a huge gargoyle is not so easy to pass off as a kat .”

“Easy? No. But impossible?”

he spoke curiously, obviosuly with a budding idea in his head. “Perhaps not .”

“Ever get the feeling, Scully,” Mulder asked as they strolled the sidewalk the following morning, “that there’s this big conscpiracy going down right in front of your eyes, but everyone’s trying to make sure you’re blind to see it?”

Scully frowned, “You’ve always felt that way, Mulder .”

Still, she had to admit he might be a bit right. The enforcers were a help that evening with records and files, but every time this “Thoran” and/or the museum sprung up in the conversation, they froxe up like it was a major taboo and claimed they’d never heard of or at least seen him. Mulder requested a file of Jake Clawson, but didn’t specify why just yet. He’s also mentioned the mysterious council, and gotten more backs and cold shoulders than he could count. That left the search on all antique or specialty shops in the area selling swords, of which the enforcers had given them a list of. “I still want to talk to this Thoran guy,” he admitted. “You really go for all this ‘councilmen’ stuff? Dr. Sinian sounded like she was talking about a bunch of sorcers from a fantasy movie .”

“That’s what I’d like to clear up with Thoran–how much is fact, how much is fiction. Every myth is bases on truth, Scully .”

He glanced sideways, noticing the store’s sign as they approached. He checked the list again, then the sign, “This must be the place .”

The little shop was called ‘Nash Antiques,” as it read from the list, and was unfortunately the only leginamite place the enforcers were able to come up with that carried swords, according to the officer who handed them the slip of paper. It was quiant enough, as antique as anyone would expect, carrying everything from medeival armor on the wall

behind the desk to Incan pottery bowls on desplay cases. A bell toned as they entered, and almost immediately a blond she-kat appeared from somewhere behind the desk. “May I help you?”

Scully flashed her badge, “I’m Special Agent Dana Scully from the FBI–and this is Agent Mulder,” he brought his badge to bear as well. “We’re on an investigation and we were wondering if you could help us .”

“Of course,” she flashed a sweet smile, the old creature that she was. “How can I assist you?”

“We’re doing an invesigation involving a series of decapitations that may have been done with a swords,” Scully produced the chip in the evidence bag, which she set on the counter. “We’ve all ready had the curator at Megakat Museum of History check it for us, and she confirms the metal is probably from a medieval or Dark Age broadsword .”

The shopkeeper, or assistant as her name label read along with the name Rachel, picked it up and inspected it quizzically as Scully continued, “We understand you’re the only antique shop in Megakat City that deals with swords, especially of that kind. Have you had any costumers you can recall in the last year or so that have inquired or brought broadswords? Or do you have a costumer contract list?”

Rachel frowned, “We do keep records, but we haven’t sold any swords in the past year or so or I would’ve remembered it. I find swords particularly interesting myself .”

Her face suddenly brightened, “There was a kat in here about six months ago who had a broadsword and wanted to know more about it. A famous sword, too–” “The sword of Ecaudor?”

Mulder cut in. “Yes, that was it–though it’s also known as the dragon sword to Dark Age historians sometimes. That was it, with the golden handle. The kat who brought it in–I believe he had orange fur, but his name eludes me .”

“Jake Clawson?”

She was suprised now at his quick comment, “I think so. He apparently knew how to use it all ready, and the weight and balance was just right for him, so there wasn’t much we could tell him–the history’s been rather mysterious anyway. I do remember him inquiring about a reforging, though. Seemed rather worried about it getting chipped .”

She put in, “Very nice guy. I hope he hasn’t done anything .”

“We hope so, too,” Scully assured. “Did you give him any store address of somewhere where he could get it reforged?”

“Nope. I felt sorry to tell him there isn’t really any place around Megakat City. I even looked it up in Faroe Lake and couldn’t find anything,” she shrugged. “Most of our fix-ups are overseas .”

“Was the sword chipped at the time?”

“No, it was in perfect condition–he just said he was worried about it getting chipped or scratched real soon .”

“Has he been back since then?”

“Nope. Haven’t gotten any other people looking at swords, either. Sorry if that’s all I can help you with .”

“Thanks a lot,” Mulder handed her a card. “If he or anyone else comes in about a sword, I’d like you to call this number .”

She smiled again, and stuck it in her pocket as they left.

“So let me get this straight,” Felina paced around her desk. “All you have to go in is a coincidental run-in with a mechanic who happens to own a sword?”

“Yes, that’s pretty much it,” Scully confirmed. “Now, I know that seems incredible . .

.”

“It does,” she leaned against the desk now, looking down on the agents like a higher authority. “But with what I’ve seen on this job . .

.”

she rolled her eyes, and took a sip from the coffee mug previously on the desk. “So . . . did the shop encounter give you any leads?”

Mulder smiled, “I have some theories–but they’re all sketchy right now .”

“Of course .”

“Can we have the file on Jake Clawson?”

Felina frowned. When she had heard the request she’s privately ignored it, trying to stall whatever information on Jake from reaching them until they could form some theories involving someone else. In fact, since she’d heard the dilemma last night, she’d been trying to take full responsibility on the case, just for safety. Luckily, her uncle hadn’t noticed–he was glad to get two federal agents off his back. “That file is . . .,” at least she broke down. “Hold on .”

Mulder had been staring her down since she’d been asked the question. She left the office, then returned momentarily with a manila folder she handed to Scully. “Now if that’ll be all, I have a patrol to go on . .

.”

They nodded, and left.

Mulder was still engrossed in the contents of the folder as they got in the car. “Find something interesting, Mulder?”

Scully slammed on the accelerator, pulling away from Enforcer HQ. “Yeah–Jake Clawson went to a psychiatrist .”

“What?”

“For a year after the expulsion from the enforcers–it’s on the medical forms, since he tried stick the bill with his insurance company. Furlong went with him, but only once or twice. Then, suddenly, a year later, he cancelled all his future sessions and stopped going. That was six years ago .”

“So? Plenty of people go to therapy .”

“Still . . . I wouldn’t mind knowing a little more about Clawson’s phycie before we accuse him of murder, wouldn’t you?”

She had to agree, “Does it have the psychiatrist’s phone number?”

He nodded, “And an address. Dr. Leora Hays, 121 MegaC Drive. Hand me the map, will you Scully?”

Dr. Hay’s office wasn’t too busy, and they were able to get through the secretary relatively easily. A curious little creature with wild hair and earrings, she led them into the office almost immediately. Dr. Hays was a she-kat of maybe mid-thirtees and fourties, with deep brown fur and frizzy hair. She rose to greet them, getting a quick explanation from her secretary. “Well, Agents . .

.”

“Mulder–and this is Scully,” he gestured to his partner, allowing the two she-kats to shake paws. “We’d appreciate any help you can give us for our investigation .”

“I hope I can. Who exactly are you looking–” “Jake Clawson,” Scully broke in. “He used to be a patient of yours .”

It took a moment, but the shrink’s face eventually clicked with recognization, “Oh yeas–about seven years ago. You realize, of course, that all my information is confidential. I would really like to know if–” “I assue you,” Scully soothed. “This may be vital to the case .”

She looked a bit uncomfortable, “Well . . . Jake came to me about seven years ago because his partner–Chance–was worried about him. He said he was bottling up his anger. “What kind of anger?”

“You really have to look back at his past to understand. Jake is extremely intelligent; his father was a Pumadyne scientist, but he was raised in a lower middle-class family, and there wasn’t money for special schooling. When he was fourteen his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and all the savings he had for college went to her medical bills before she died two years later. When he graduated high school, there was nowhere to go but the enforcers .”

“Then . . .?”

“He did very well in the enforcers. They also paid well, which was very important. His father quit his job, and was slowly approaching senility.

While Jake started shooting up the ranks with Chance, his father was beginning to become more dependant of him .”

“And then they were expelled . .

.”

“Yes,” she continued. “They lost everything and ended up owing the city some two million dollars. It’s easy to imagine that they both walked out of headquarters more than a little angry that day .”

“Chance found ways of venting the built-up hate. You give him an hour locked in a room with a punching bag and he’ll be fine. But Jake . . . couldn’t do that. Too much was coming down on his head at once. So he came to me with his anger, and for a while I helped him sort it out .”

“So what happened–after that year?”

Scully inquired. She exhaled deeply, “I’ve never really understood. He was doing much better . . . and one day he just called . . . and cancelled all of his upcoming appointments. He said he was busy with some sort of project, and there wasn’t time to be angry anymore .”

“Isn’t that a little suspicious? Didn’t you try and question him further?”

“I did . . . but he wouldn’t expain. Yes, it does make me suspicious. I’ve always wondered how a genius occupies himself in a salvage yard. Scully questioned softly, “Do you think he’s capable of doing something . . . severe . . . when he’s angry?”

“Not any more than you or me. He’s a smart guy–he thinks before he acts. He’s just had some curve balls thrown at him for most of his life .”

“Have you spoken to him recently–like in the past few months?”

Mulder finally spoke up. “Actually, yes–I caught up with him about four months ago in a supermarket. After he was shot two months before trying to protect Deputy Mayor Briggs, I had hoped that he would check in with me, but he didn’t. Then finally I got to talk to him in an aisle,” she shrugged. “He looked fine. I suppose he found a vent, because he’s obviously doing well .”

“Well,” Scully rose, Mulder following her. “Thank you for your time .”

“Glad I could help. By the way, whay type of case are you dealing with?”

“Homicide .”

With that, they left, leaving somewhat unjustly Dr. Hay’s shocked expression hanging loose.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this .”

Abi was leaning up against the car, shaking her head furiously. Thoran was inside, on the right to the driver’s seat. His wings were tightly folded over in a cape form, covered by an ill-fitting trenchcoat. A huge had was pulled over his head–no decent fashion statement, but it did the job. Abi was glad his white beard and long hair covered most of his gargoyle facial features. A blanket from the waist down hid his huge feet, claws, and tail. “They should’ve gotten the call by now, Abi. Should we be going?”

Shrugging to the other gargoyles waiting outside the museum, she climbed into the driver’s seat, “You really think this is necessary .”

“Of course. If they could believe the councilman is behind this, they would stop hounded Jacob .”

“And what if they start suspecting him of being a councilman?”

“I do not think there is a court on this side of the world that would convict him under those charges .”

“And what if they start suspecting *you*?”

Thoran laughed, “What are they going to do? Arrest me?”

It was all ready dark when Beldar made it to the antique shop. He was still rather nervous about the night, bringing him back to his old days avoiding Megallith’s gargoyle clan, and now that he heard they were back he had more of a reason to be paranoid. Not as though he felt they would really spot him the instant he ventured outside his home, but old supersititions died hard. He made his way into the shop, noticing immediately the kat behind the desk. His name tag read ‘Russel Nash’ and Beldar guessed he was the owner, from the name on the sign outside. He was a skinny-yet-built kat, with mud blond fur and hair, and a queer look to his blue eyes. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yes,” Beldar began. “I was wondering if you could recommend a place for sword reforgery .”

The kat’s smile faded, “I’m sorry, but there isn’t anything I know of local–but I could take a look at the sword. What type is it?”

Beldar slid a paw into his trenchcoat, and removed his sword, setting it on the counter. “Dark Age broadsword .”

“Ah, yes,” Nash leaned in with his elbows resting on the the glass counter to inspect it more carefully. “I believe there were some enforcers in here earlier, looking for this type of sword .”

“Enforcers?”

“Yes–no, actually, I think they were FBI agents. My assistant spoke with them. They were working on some serial killer case–” Beldar’s eyes widened. ‘So the authorities have at last caught up with me.’”Did your assistant caught their names? I mean–I have a good knowledge of swords. I might be able to help them .”

“Hm,” Nash pondered. “Mulder and . . . Sculky? Sully? No, it had to be Scully. Male and female, I believe .”

He smiled, pulling the sword back to it’s refuge in his coat, “I’ll look into it. Thanks anyway .”

Nash shrugged, “Good luck on finding a reforgery .”

Beldar nodded, and exited without another word. ‘Mulder and Scully, eh? Looks like I might have to take care of them myself.’

“So what do you think?”

Scully shuddered against the nippy winds as they huddled on the dark street corner. “What do you mean?”

“Speaking to this Thoran guy?”

The’d gotten a message through Felina of where and when to meet the car for the interview. “The whole thing feels like a top secret spy movie, not real life .”

Mulder corrected, “Just the part with Thoran. The rest sounds like a science fiction show. Kats chopping off each other’s heads with swords? Vigilantes? Mechanics running around with Dark Age broadswords in their coats?”

He shook his head. “Throw in a living gargoyle and I’ll be sure we’re in a C.S. Lewis book .”

“Well . . . let’s hope this gets up somewhere,” she sighed. “The antique shop list turned out clean. No suspects except for one based on complete circumstantual evidence and a psychiatrist he say seven years before the murders–I don’t think that’s much to go on .”

“Maybe we’ll get more,” he admitted as a car drove up on schedule. They hopped in the back, noticing Abi driving and a hulking figure beside her. “You want some information?”

the figure spoke with a deep, aged voice that was almost frightening as the car started up again. “Talk .”

“Can you tell us who’se been committing the murders?”

Scully figured a frontal approach was best. “I know councilmen ways–if you believe it is one of them .”

“Perhaps .”

‘Thoran,’ apparently, inhaled, “The council was formed some 1500 years ago as a band of sorcerers who helped each other with their magics. That is–if you believe in that. The council is historical, but what exactly they did is a matter of belief .”

“The council was broken a bit more than 1000 years ago,” he continued. “They were feared and hated by society, and I assure you there were no false assumptions. They often killed kats for their . . . rituals. They fell because of internal power conflicts, but once they were seperated, the local kings and governments made it priority to destroy them .”

“Did any survive?”

Mulder was interested. Thoran hesistated, “A few we know survived–Frakes, Selena, and Sauraman. Beldar was always a questionable case .”

“Did they leave any descendants .”

“Again, a question of belief. Do you believe in immortality?”

Scully put in, “Case reports we are required to submit certainly don’t .”

Well, then . . . I suppose you could say they *did* leave descendants–of the same name, and keeping certain traditions, generation after generation. Many of the rituals of these ‘descendants’ were abandoned at the end of the Dark Ages, but some remain .”

“Such was the murders?”

“Yes . . . they believe the cycle every ten years ‘replenshes’ their energy and purifies their souls .”

“Which one do you think could be behind this?”

His answer came suprisingly quickly, “Frakes never had children–he died in 996. Selena’s descendant died about a year ago. Sauraman never believed in the killing cycle. Beldar, however, operated on the cycle of seven .”

“Seven?”

“It means he–or his children–would kill in 997, then 1007, then 1017, and so forth–until 1997, of course .”

“How do you stop the cycle?”

Mulder asked. His reply was grave, “Kill off the last descendant, Agent Mulder. It’s the only way. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have any idea how to locate the current Beldar .”

“How do we know,” Mulder said skeptically, “that you’re not a councilman trying to point the claw at Belder?”

Thoran visibly chuckled, “Me? A councilman? Ah, to dream! Watch your words, Agent Mulder. You have my word and I assure you it’s solid, but you also have nothing on me. Now . . . any other questions? I understand we’re running up Abi’s gas bill .”

The’d been circling around the city for quite a while now. “Yeah,” Mulder tried at last. “What can you tell us of this legendary line–the sons of Ecaudor?”

“Nothing I believe Abi hasn’t told you. They weren’t in any way related to the councilmen if that’s what you’re after .”

The car came to an abrupt halt beside the sidewalk. “No–we must return home, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you of any more sleep .”

The two federal agents, much to Abi and Thoran’s relief, exited the car silently. they noticed, upon the vehicle pulling away, that they had been dropped only a few blocks from Enforcer Headquarters.

“Creepy guy,” Mulder said absently, back in the hallway of enforcer headquarters.”Interesting, though .”

“So what do we do now?”

“Find out if anybody’s first or last name is Beldar in Megakat City,” he was serious. “So . . . do you think of Jake Clawson is the current Beldar? I mean–it seems like an awfully bad chance. His file says both his parents are Polish immigrants .”

“So? The lineage’s been taced back. I’m not sure if I buy what Thoran said about his line and the councilmen .”

“But the murders were still going for over two hundred years, back when his parents and grandparents were still in Poland .”

“Maybe someone else–or someone really of the direct line, or a copykat–was following up on the murders. So a year ago Jake finds out he’s the descendant of this Dark Ages guy, and he’s an intelligent guy. So he reads up on the subject, and gets interested in the councilmen. Imagine he meets the current ‘Beldar’ or current copykat, but for some reaon they can’t continue and he takes their place .”

“I don’t know, Mulder,” Scully exhaled. “It’s an awful low of assumptions .”

“It’s a theory–provided we decide to believe al this councilmen stuff .”

“Provided it helps up stop this murderer,” she reminded him. “Case coming along well, agents?”

They turned, surprised, to see Feral standing beside them. “Yes . . . of course,” Scully put in immediately, wondering how long he had been standing there. “We have a few leads .”

“Very good,” Feral, stiff as usual, crossed his paws behind his back and marched passed them, apparently occupied by something. Mulder wondered if it had anything to do with their conversation. “Nice guy,” he said almost sarcastically.

“What’s on our schedule, Scully?”

Mulder finally bothered to ask the next morning as he pulled out of their hotel parking lot. “The only other name the enforcers could come up with–some karate place called ‘Megakat Open Dojo’ run by a Sensei Dan MacAugh. Says he specializes in sword classes .”

“Worth a shot,” he glanced at the address, and turned on the street corresponding the directions. It wasn’t far from the center of town, though they noticed the neighborhood was distinctively worse as they pulled up. As they entered, a grey kat with light brown hair and a light build came out from the office to the side. He was wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt with some kind of wierd Japanese symbol in red on it, and well-worn sneakers. “Sensei MacAugh?”

Mulder read from the sheet, stumbling over the name a bit. Dan only smiled, “It’s okay–don’t try and pronounce it. It’s ancient Irish. The English couldn’t pronounce it when they first came to Ireland, so they changed it to McGee. My grandfather just changed it back .”

“I see,” Mulder nodded. Scully picked up, “We’re–” “–FBI agents? In Megakat City?”

Again they were taken back, “I didn’t know we were that obvious .”

His smile widened, “You are. Come on into my office .”

His office was a mess of stacks of papers, notebooks, boxes, and weapons just lying around. He didn’t bother to explain it or try and quickly clean it up as they came in. “We’re here on an investigation,” Scully explained. “A series of decapitations–done with a broadsword. We were wondering if you could help us with our investigation .”

He shrugged, “Go ahead .”

“Your add said you offer private sword classes, and we’d like to know about any students you would think of as possible suspects–or just that own swords .”

He thought for a moment, but apparently not too harshly. “No . . . I only have two who own their own swords. One’s currently in Japan, were he’s been for the past three months studying under a teacher there. The other . . . I doubt he has it in him. Owns a medeival broadsword, though. I’ve been teaching him for about six months .”

“It wouldn’t be Jake Clawson, would it?”

“I’m not sure I’m priviledged to give out that imformation .”

Mulder nodded anyway, “His name seems to be popping up in some wierd places. When was the last time he attended a class with you?”

“Thursday .”

“Did you notice any particular marks or dents in the blade? Like something was chipped off?”

“Nope .”

“And if you sparing with him . . . I take it you own swords yourself?”

“A few. Two katanas, a rapier, a foil, and a broadsword, but they’re all overseas to be refinished and reforged–sent them on Tuesday. On Thursday he showed up with the sword, but we just used bokkens–those are wooden ones .”

It was Scully’s turn, “Is there any way you can prove the only swords in your possession were gone before Wednesday?”

“Not really, but I was busy on Wednesday if you need an alibi .”

“Where were you?”

“With my brother–Uri MacAugh. I can give you his number, if you want .”

Dan grabbed a business card, and quickly scribbled a number on the back before handing it to Scully. “Thank you, Mr. MacAugh,” Scully turned towards the door first. “We’ll be in touch .”

Mulder caught something out of the corner of his eye in the alley they passed. “Hey–what’s that?”

He was motioning towards the kat dressed mainly in black, with a long trenchcoat and a hat pulled over his face. He was huddling behind a garbage dumpter, looking each way. In the poorly lit and well-shadowed alley, Mulder caught a glint of something long and metal at his side. They kat saw them, and suddenly took off in the oppposite direction. “Hey! Hold it!” Their police instincts kicked in as they both broke a run to follow, not stopping until they reached the area he had previously left. There, slumped against where the wall met the dumpster, was a body. The victim was dead by all appearances, but Scully quickly diagnosed he was only unconscious. “It’s him–Beldar. Looks like we got here just in time .”

Mulder’s confirmation was all that was needed to begin their chase after the kat now on the other end of the alley, “Freeze! FB!” Mulder and Scully’s guns both glittered in the sunlight, but he seemed unaffected by their presence. A moment passed, and he continued his sprint. They followed in suit. The kat was almost impossible to kat a clear look at, with most of the areas typically displaying fur–such as the paws–covered. He–apparently, it was definitely a he–took special care to keep his face covered by either the hat or trenchcoat. “Freeze!” Mulder’s shout was too late; he had ducked in a wooden building to his right. They pursued, of course, entering with weapons ready. The inside–a factoy, probably–was silent and empty. “He’s gotta be here somewhere,” Mulder kept his gun trained on the path in front of him. Silence. “Maybe he–” With a sudden ‘poof’-like sensation that was nearly beyong frightening, the wooden double doors they had come through suddenly burst into flames. Muder mouthed incoherent curses; he hated fire. He looked around–the kat was nowhere in sight ‘Damn!’ he thought. Then, in what seemed like it could have really only been a few seconds, the whole building caught fire. ‘Double damn!’ “Get down!” he hurled himself onto Scully, trying to avoid the falling beam. Smoke and ashes were everywhere. Fear gripped him; G-d, how he hated fire! But how had the building flame up so quickly? There was no time to think about that as they shielded their heads with their paws and prayed for a swift ending. It never came. There was a rough tap on Mulder’s shoulder. Before he had time to look up, two apparently muscular paws grabbed him from behind, nearly dragging him out by the shoulders before finally stopping to lift him over his side. Beneath the layers of smoke that tightened his chest, there was no use in trying to talk. In what seemed like minutes, but was probably only a few seconds, he found himself outside. The fresh air was instantly working to relieve his strainged lungs as he was set down, and for the first time since the grab he was able to open his eyes. The huge kat above him, kneeling beside and whispering in a low voice, “Easy, fella . .

.”

made him blink a few times. He was weaing a dark blue flight suit, with wild patches and stripes of red and black. His eyes were covered by a black bandana, and a blue helmet with a red triangle over the skull. Mulder opened his mouth to say something, also seeing Scully had been pulled out by the second kat. The second approached, wearing a similar suit, only cut baggier and with long sleeves.

He nudged his partner, indicating the paramedics arriving, “T-Bone . .

.”

He took that as a hint that it was time to leave, and they headed down the alley. Mulder wondered where they were going, until he heard a jet’s engines roaring around the corner. “Who the hell–” he asked the paramedic who was helping him to the ambulance to check for

injuries. “T-Bone and Razor? Congradulations, buddy. You just met the SWAT Kats–Megakat City’s resident vigilantes.

Jake had his paws full with paperwork for when he returned, as it turned out with all the new bills to arrive with the previous day’s mail. Sighing, he was still thankful that there was only one car to work on and Chance was handling it, but the Turbokat plans would have to be pushed back another day. He glanced over the books, trying to figure out ways of squeezing more money out of his paycheck before it all went to the enforcers. He and Chance were poor as it was, scrambling nearly monthly now to make ends meet, and anything they made beyond that that wasn’t a tip immediately went to their enforcer bill. ‘At least there’s a roof above our heads for free,’ Jake remembered, looking up at the ceiling of the office with its peeling paint. ‘As long as that roof manages to stay up.’ He had stopped for a coffee break when the enforcers arrived.

“Check this out, Scully,” Mulder, now safely in the office lent to them by the enforcers, pointed to the TV set on the table. The she-kat on the news, named Ann Gora or something, was discussing the fire. Beneath the picture of the building beside her the headline read, “FBI Agents Saved by SWAT Kats .”

“What is it, Mulder? Two vigilantes in insane flight suits saved us. So why is this so interesting?”

He pointed to the picture, “I don’t know. Those faces just seem a little familiar .”

The picture above the headline was now of Razor and T-Bone, apparently on their way back to their jet. “Where do you recognize them from?”

Scully studied it briefly, then shook her head, “What’re you getting at?”

“I don’t know. Just caught my eye, that’s all .”

Just then, the enforcer they remembered as Carlson came in, “Guys? they just brought him in .”

“What?”

they were both surprised. “You know–Clawson. For questioning. He looks a bit pissed off, too .”

Mulder rose, “You *arrested Clawson*?”

“Yeah. Commander Feral gave us the order. Said it was your idea .”

He shot Scully a look, and rememberance passed through both of their heads. The conversation overhead in the hallway . . . he must have jumped to conclusion. “It wasn’t .”

He corrected the confused officer. “Looks like Feral jumped the gun. Where is he now?”

“Uh . . . interrigation room three, sir .”

Carlson was right; Jake *did* look pissed off. Alone in the interrigation room and still wearing pawcuffs that restrained his paws in front of him, he sat beneath the lamp light, occasionally looking in the direction of the mirror that he seemed very well aware of being one way. Scully watched him glance at her, knowing he couldn’t see but he might as well have been told who was on the other side. He knew she was there; he *had* to. Meanwhile, Mulder was busy attempting to chew Feral out, “What the *hell* is this?”

He pointed through the window to Jake, facing a Feral with a very proud look on his face. “He’s barely a suspect and you arrested him!” “I mearly took the appropriate step to follow up with this investigation–” “We don’t really have the evidence to hold him,” Mulder pointed out. “What are you trying to accomplish by bringing him here?”

Feral seemed a little surprise that his authority was being questioned, apparently not at all accostomed to it except maybe by “reckless vigilantes,” but he let a smile slide across his features as he proudly produced the sword Mulder had seen the copy of in the museum, now wrapped in a plastic evidence bag. “We found this in the yard. Now . . . what were you saying about decapitations with swords?”

Mulder sighed in slight defeat, shooting him a cold glance before entering the interrogation room with Scully following in to perhaps put some distance between the stubborn tom-kats. Feral, fortunately, chose to remain outside.

“What the hell is this about?”

Jake opened the conversation as they entered. “Easy, Mr. Clawson,” Mulder tried to sound sympathetic, though his monotone voice wasn’t amazingly successful. “It’s really a mistake that you’re here–” “So why *am* I?”

“It seems Feral jumped the gun a bit,” Mulder sat down in the chair across from him, setting a tape recorder on the table. Jake actually

chuckled coldly, “That’s Feral for you .”

“I noticed. Look, we just want you to answer a few questions before he lets us release you. As soon as he does, you’re outta here–I promise .”

Jake’s eyebrows shot up testingly, though he had to admit the federal agent did sound a bit sincere. “What is this about? That crazy guy whacking people’s heads off?”

“Something like that,” Mulder pushed the ‘record’ button down on the recorder, then picked up the folder lying on the table and begin to flip through it. “Where were you this Wednesday night?”

“Wednesday?”

Jake looked as though he was pondering, but inwardly frowned. He had been out with Chance in the Turbokat that night, on a test run with the gargoyles to test out the new grappling cables. “The yard. Had a lot of work to do. Stopped in at the museum around 5 o’clock .”

“Why?”

“Do you have to know every detail of my personal life?”

he put a slightly-angered slant to his tone. “I was visiting Abi, thank you very much. The curator–she told me you’ve met her .”

“How long were you there?”

“Around an hour or so. Had to deliver some groceries and say hi. I went home after that .”

Mulder glanced up from the file, “You live in the yard, right?”

“Home, sweet home,” he said sarcastically. “Chance’ll confirm it; we were there all evening. No tow calls or anything .”

He *hoped* Chance would be intelligent enough to remember the system they’d worked out in case something like this had happened, when one partner was being checked out by the enforcers and had to make up an excuse of where he was when he was really out with the Turbokat. “I was in the yard” was the decided excuse, and the opposite partner was expected to back it. “Where’s my sword? That’s what I’m here for, isn’t it? That’s all you have on me is a lousy sword?”

“It’s going through forensics,” Scully put in. “We have a piece of the sword supposively used to decaptitate those people and we’re comparing it with yours .”

“Don’t screw around with it, okay? I know what forensics can do to possible evidence, and that sword belongs to my family .”

“Lt. Feral is overseeing it,” Mulder read from the report in the folder. Jake leaned back in his chair, apparently satisfied, and began to play with his pawcuffs. “What else do you want?”

“Do you know a Jordan Bell?”

it was Scully’s turn to question. “Who?”

She took the file from Mulder, removed a photograph, and slid it across the table to their suspect. He glanced over the picture of the young kat, shrugging. “Never seen him before in my life .”

“Have you ever towed him?”

Again, he sank back into his seat and pushed the picture back to it landed where Scully’s paws were on the table, “I’ve towed a lot of people. The more frequent customers I’d remember, but not this guy. Is he the one who got killed on Wednesday?”

“Yeah,” ‘Another dead end,’ Mulder mused. ‘I’m not getting a hell of a lot from this guy.’ “Okay . . . have you ever heard of a guy named Beldar?”

It took a moment, but recognization did register, “Yeah . . . Abi told me about him last night. Some councilman wacko .”

“Do you believe in the councilmen?”

He shrugged, “I suppose. I met Selena last year .”

“What was she like?”

“Let’s just say we should be glad she’s not around anymore,” Jake shuddered, remembering his encounter with Abi inside the crazed sorceress’s head. Mulder glanced at his partner, who carried as similar expression as his own. There wasn’t much point in pursuing things–at least until the forensics results on the sword came up. He collected his papers and began to get up, taking the tape recorder off the table, “We’ll work for your release papers. Thanks for the help .”

Jake rubbed his chin, “Just to me a favor–tell Chance if he’s still protesting around the front lobby that I might be here overnight .”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because I know what Feral thinks of me .”

Mulder actually felt a twinge of sympathy as he left, like he was leaving a mouse in a cat’s paws as he noticed Feral standing by the door.

Abi got Chance’s call about the arrest only shortly after it happened, but unfortunately she was only able to make it down to Enforcer HQ on her lunch break at noon. She found Chance loittering outside on the steps, apparently because he was nearly thrown out of the building by the officers at the front desk. “They wouldn’t let me talk to him,” he explained angrily. “Feral’s orders. He thinks Jake did it, and I’m some kind of accomplice, but he just can’t prove either yet and doesn’t even have the evidence on me yet to make the arrest .”

His face was still colored from all the exhorting he’d probably been doing earlier. “Damnit,

if only that FBI guy hadn’t seen the sword–!” “You want me to talk to him?”

“Yeah. Try and find out when they’re releasing him. I doubt I can get back in the building without the riot squad jumping me,” Chance settled down on the top step. “I’ll wait. Oh–and look for Felina, too .”

Abi nodded, heading in. Luckily, it wasn’t hard to get past the front desk. She had apparently had picked up a minor reputation with the enforcers as “that helpful curator” when she offered her paw in battles with the Pastmaster and the Red Lynx, not to mention Katluna. “Go right ahead, Dr. Sinian,” the polite officer behind the desk pulled back the clipboard she had just signed. “Interrogation room three–he should still be there .”

Jake’s expression brightened as Abi entered. He set the pawcuffs he’d removed himself long ago on the table and ran up to embrace her. “Abi, you wouldn’t believe my day . .

.”

he pulled away, not wanted to get too sensual, remembering the two-way mirror beside them. “How’d you get in?”

“Let’s just say I had an easier time than Chance. He got thrown out of the lobby .”

“What, did they call the riot squad?”

Jake joked, leaning against the table. “What’s the story?”

“Well, forensics isn’t done looking over the blades, but I think it’ll come up negative, if anyone in that department has any brains at all,” she informed him. “I looked back over a piece of the chip they found in a victim’s neck that gave them the idea the killer was using a sword, and even the metal is different from yours, though the style is the same .”

He smiled, crossing his arms against his chest, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they *did* screw it up, but I hear Felina’ll be there to yell her head off if they do. You think they’ll release me then?”

“Maybe. Actually, it might be better if they hold you for a little while .”

He raised his eyebrows, “How?”

“Think about it. What if this killer–maybe Beldar–strikes again, while you’re in jail? That’s that I call an alibi .”

“I suppose. What’s the FBI agent angle?”

“Thoran, I think, has convinced them it’s Beldar–he thinks it is, anyway. The only problem is where they go from there. They can’t really handle him. I mean, you can’t exactly arrest a councilman and expect to be able to hold him. Thoran tried to tell them that, but they weren’t exactly listening .”

“Great,” Jake rolled his eyes. “That’s just was Megakat City needs. A few federal agents getting killed trying to handle a 1500-year-old sorcerer. *That’ll* attract some gov’t attention .”

Since the gargoyles had been exposed to the closer public, they’d grown to appreciate how independent the city was from the rest of the country, making things a little more private. The more gov’t agents that pulled into Enforcer Headquarters, the more questions were going to have to be answered about “those wierd creatures we saw fly across the sky .”

Felina would probably have to go into hiding, at least at night. The other gargoyles would have to restrict themselves to museum grounds, and make sure their stances were the same every morning. Even the SWAT Kats would get away with less, with Jake doubtful that the national government would have any more leniance policies with vigilantes than Commader Feral. “You know what that means?”

“What? *We* have to take care of him?”

The expression on Abi’s face confirmed his question. “How *do* you kill a councilman, anyway?”

“Not including Sauraman, a blow leading to death within fifteen seconds. Any longer and they’ll be able to regenerate themselves .”

“Just great. I’m sure those FBI guys gun for the head,” Jake said sarcastically. He shook his head, “You think a bullet would do it?”

He was surprised to find Abi wasn’t listening. Her facial expression had shifted to a blank stare. “Abi?”

He waved his paw over her eyes, but there was no response. It was like she was staring out into space, with a look as if she had just seen a ghost, or was still seeing one. “C’mon, Abi, I hate it when you act like this . .

.”

There was a sudden response, but only when he took her by the arms and shook her. Her head twitched, and her eyes refocused on him, “Jake, I . .

.”

she couldn’t seem to find the words; they just stuck on the tip of her tongue. “What is it?”

Now he was concerned. Every once in a while she would act like that, staring out into space like something was there, since she had awakened her “vilthurilaty” six months earlier. Given enough though, he had realized Thoran did it, too. “Did you see something?”

He grasped her paws, which were unnaturally cold. “Jake . . .,” she kept looking away, unable to make eye contact. She hated when it was so sudden, like a movie projected in front of her eyes that chose when it wanted to flip on and off. “You have to kill Beldar .”

“Wasn’t that a given a few minutes ago?”

“No . . .,” her voice refused to steady itself. “*You* have to kill him–” “–let me guess. With my sword,” he frowned. “What does it always have to be *me*?”

“Jake, please . . . yes. You *have* to do it, or . .

.”

“Or what?”

She hesitated, shutting her eyes as if to attempt to get a clearer picture of whatever was in her head, “It’s isn’t clear . . . but . . . it’s not good. *Please* . . . promise me you won’t let him go .”

Now it was Jake’s turn to hesitate. Despite his former and current occupation as one kind of defender or another, he wasn’t a killer–he wasn’t even sure he could do it. He’d tried with Abadon, then let him go. He knew he should have swung down when he had the chance, but he always chose to live and let live–a motion which had nearly cost him his own life, had Sauraman not returned at the last moment. He’d never taken someone’s life before, and was hoping despite his profession as a SWAT Kat that he would never have to. “Jake . .

.”

“All right,” he swallowed, and gave in. “If the time comes . . . I promise I won’t let him go .”

Apparently satisfied, Abi released her paws and turned to go, “I have to get back to museum . . . is there anything else you need?”

“Nah, I should be okay,” recovering from the tense scene, he reached for the pawcuffs, ready to put them back on before Feral came in. “Tell Chance he can stop waiting around outside. I might be awhile .”

Abi was hoping to get out of the building as quickly as possible, not feeling too steady after her apparent vision. She had accepted it, but never really cared for being a vilthuril. She hadn’t even told anyone outside those who knew from the experience with the eye and Sevian, who missed it, when he was “repaired .”

Certainly not her family–she doubted they would believe. Her mother might’ve even dragged her back to her old physciatrist, which was about the last thing she wanted. “Dr. Sinian!” ‘No such luck, huh?’ She spun around the see the two notorious agents across the hall, walking in her direction. “Yes?”

Scully jogged up to her, “I’m glad we caught you here. I was going to call you .”

“About what?”

“We have Clawson’s sword in forensics–” “I know. I was just talking to him,” she frowned, suddenly feeling a familiar sense in the back of her head, a low tone, and she knew what followed. ‘Oh, please not now…’ “Is there any way we could get you to confirm the results–” That was all she heard. Scully’s voice suddenly phased out, and the image of Mulder and Scully in front of replaced by a confusing vision of someone running across a lawn. The shot wasn’t clear, broken by her actual vision of the two kats in front of her, but she could tell the kat on the lawn was . . . Agent Mulder? “Dr. Sinian?”

The picture stopped, momentarily, and she found herself looking back now at Mulder, who’d asked the question. He must have seen her pale. “Is something wrong?”

Slightly unable to answer while trying to fight off the lawn scene, she found herself shakily gripping the desk behind her. The visions always took a lot out of her, physcially and emotionally, and she was finding it hard to remain on her feet. Finally, she was able to piece together an answer, “Just a little shaky . .

.”

“Do you need a doctor?”

“No, no . . .,” actually, that was the *last* thing she needed. “I’ve been a little ill lately and . .

.”

The vision returned, still broken by the conversation the two agents were pursuing. Something about Mulder with a gun and Beldar?

She closed her eyes, forced to shift her attention to the picture in her mind instead of the presences around her. “Dr. Sinian, please–I have medical training,” Scully offered, seeing her obviously struggling. “You have to tell me what’s wrong . .

.”

‘Oh great, she’s a doctor.’ Abi forced her eyes back open, pushing back the vision in fear of getting dragged to the hospital. ‘Like *they* can help me . . .’ “No really . . . just a migrane. Please go on . . . something about the forensics results?”

“Can we get you to confirm them? The local enforcers aren’t used to comparing swords .”

She opened her mouth to say yes, but it wouldn’t come–all she got was empty air. The vision still prominent, she gripped her head on both sides and wished again it would go away. Suddenly she realized what it was being triggered by, and stared back at the ever curious Mulder. “Agent Mulder . . .,” her voice oddly steady now, she faced him as if Scully wasn’t there, letting her paws drop again. “You have to stay away . . . from Beldar. He wants . . . to kill you. You have to get away from him . . . he will be taken care of . . . Agent Mulder, please don’t pursue . .

.”

she broke off, unbelieving in what had just come out of her mouth. It was as if some force had propelled the sentence to roll off her tongue, and would have made it painful had she resisted. “What?”

they said in union, looking phased at her complete change of subject. Mulder was clearly more than shocked to hear her words, which sounded like some kind of prophecy. Scully, on the other hand, was more concerned about her mental health, “Dr. Sinian . . . what are you talking about–?”

Abi was speechless now, quite unsure of how to pull herself out of this one without winding up in a straight jacket. At least the vision was fading, apparently the forces that be satisfied by her little speech. “Abi!” the sound of her savior was music to her ears, as Felina appeared in the hallway. “I was looking for you–” She stopped short, noticing Abi’s unsteady and paled condition, along with the agents’ shocked expressions. “What’s going on?”

“Dr. Sinian is . . . ill,” Scully put in. “Someone should take her to the hospital .”

Felina, unsure of what type of “illness” it was, took Abi by the arm, “I’ll see that she gets some attention. Here’s the forensic results–negative .”

She handed them a manila folder. “You can get her to confirm them later, if you want .”

Without another word, she pulled Abi away. “What was that about?”

Mulder wondered out loud. “She sounded like she was giving me a revelation .”

“You know that feeling you said you had earlier, Mulder? The one where you thought something was happening right in front of our eyes but no one feels like telling us about it?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, I feel like it now,” she admitted.

“What was *that* about?”

Felina repeated Mulder’s words unknowingly but with a different meaning behind them. They were safe in Abi’s car, on their way to the museum. Abi seemed to have recovered a bit more, but she was still uneasy and allowed Felina to drive. “I don’t know . . . I couldn’t control it . . .,” Abi leaned against the back of the seat, exhuasted. “The words just kept coming out of my mouth. It was like I had to warn him not to go after Beldar .”

“You think he will?”

“Absolutely,” she said almost sadly. “When have I ever been wrong about something like that? I guess I was just trying to prevent it or something .”

“What did you see, exactly?”

The question shook up Abi a bit, because remembering often retriggered the vision. “It wasn’t very clear . . . but I’m pretty sure he was going after Beldar . . . and he was attacked . . . and fell . .

.”

“Was Jake in it?”

“I’m not sure . . . that was a separate vision, back in the interrogation room with Jake. I made him promise he would kill Beldar .”

“You made him *promise* he would kill someone?”

Felina almost drove off the road. “Why?”

“Because . . . a lot of horrible things will happen if he doesn’t,” Abi sighed, heavily. “I hate it, I really do. All I want to do is go home, go to bed, and wake up tomorrow morning with the knowledge that I’m not a damn vilthuril .”

“Can’t help you there. I’ve got enough problems trying to keep myself from riping my uniform nightly–that and sow them back up all the time. I wonder how Chance does it .”

“I wonder how Thoran’s made it 100 waking years with voices and pictures in his head. G-d knows how I will .”

“It’s negative, all right,” Scully set the folder that Felina had handed to her on the desk. “Unless Clawson has a second sword, he isn’t our guy .”

“What about if there’s more than one killer?”

“Unlikely,” she sighed and collapsed into the chair. “The styles are the same on all the victims. A copykat would have to know as much as I do about the condition of the bodies for this kind of percision .”

Mulder sat down on the second chair, sorting randomly through the small stack of files spread across the desk, “I guess that puts us back at square one–” Something caught his attention as he heard the TV in the background the enforcers had left on, still discussing the SWAT Kats. He bent in closer to study the screen. “Mulder?”

she was puzzled by his sudden attention shift. “What is it?”

“Scully, could you hand me that file on Jake Clawson?”

She instantly pulled it from the stack of manila folders, and slid it across the desk. He flipped it open until he found the page with Jake’s photo and profile, “Do you have a black marker?”

“*What*?”

“A black marker. To write with .”

Curiously, she opened her pocketbook and retrieved one, “For what?”

Wordlessly, Mulder opened it and began to do what looked like scribbling over the face of Jake in the picture. “Mulder, that’s enforcer property. What are you doing–” She halted in sentence as she realized; he was drawing a black bandana over the face. It did look a little strange, but oddly familiar. “Now look at this, Scully,” Mulder held up the grafitti’ed profile so it was up against the TV screen. An exact likeness was more than obviously noticable between Jake and the second SWAT Kat. “My G-d . .

.”

“Too close for comfort, isn’t it?”

Mulder cracked a smile. “That Clawson looks so much like this guy . .

.”

he glanced at the caption. “Razor .”

“Mulder, this means–” “That Jake Clawson is one of the SWAT Kats. The mysterious vigilantes,” he brought the photo under the light a little better. “And I’m willing to take a shot at who ‘T-Bone’ is .”

“Chance Furlong?”

“Who else? Two ex-enforcers–pilots, for that matter–with a lot of free time on their paws and an obvious desire to show up Feral?”

“But that doesn’t explain where they managed to get themselves a jet,” Scully countered. “They’re obviously poor if you look at their housing conditions. I think the enforcers would notice if one of their jets disappeared from its hanger. And the missiles? And weapons?”

“Maybe they have a supplier,” he theorized. “Or it could be the fact that they live in a *military* salvage yard. All that scrap metal lying around? Who’s going to notice if some pieces start disappearing? They’re probably the ones who do inventory .”

Scully pondered for a moment, “Not that this helps us with our case .”

“Maybe it does .”

She glanced at him curiously. “At least now we have something to hold of Clawson’s head,” he pointed out, standing to leave. “I think I’d like a few more minutes with our suspect–just out of curiousity .”

When the guard first appeared at the door to Jake’s holding cell, he’d assumed it was with his release papers. After all, how much longer could they hold him with only circumstantual evidence? When the guard escorted him back to the interrogation room, however, it made him a little nervous. The longer they stalled, the more time Beldar had to strike again, and he didn’t want more people dying while he was stuck in jail. It wasn’t long before the two agents reentered. Mulder looked very intent about something as he set the sword of Ecuador down on the table in front of him, still in the evidence bag, and beside it a manila folder. “Something wrong, Agent Mulder?”

“Tests were negative on the sword,” Mulder admitted. “Do you own any others?”

“No. Can I go now?”

he replied impatiently. “No .”

A bit surprised, he countered, “Why? Am I being held for something else now?”

“Possibly .”

Jake looked at him curiously, trying to read his face and failing. What else could there be? “Mr. Clawson . . . since this is the legendary ‘sword of Ecuador,’” Mulder began, “that means that only you can wield it, correct?”

“Only me and my father–and Ramis, but he left town about six months ago,” the mention of his ancestor momentarily made him wonder where the medeival wonderer was, but he shook it off, more concerned with the pressing matters now. “What is this about?”

Mulder, silently, opened the folder, removed a photograph and slide it to Jake. He recognized it as a picture taken about two or three months ago, during one of the SWAT Kat’s battles with Mad Kat, who’d escaped from prison again. With the Turbokat disabeled and their glovatrixas empty in a daylight battle, they’d been left with the alternative of a paw-to-paw type battle, of which Razor had retrieved his sword and decided to make use of his sessions with Sensei. It was the only photo, to his knowledge, of the SWAT Kat with the sword of Ecuador. He stared, wide-eyed and in utter disbelief. Six years of playing the vigilante game and no one had thought to compare voices, photos, or personel files. Now two FBI agents show up from a clear blue sky and are able to make the connection. Lowering his eyes in defeat, he was overcome with a sense of coming dread. “Am I being booked for that now, too?”

“Not yet,” Mulder took the tape recorder, which was on, and hit the ‘stop’ button. “I just want a few questions answered .”

Jake openly sighed, “What do you want to know? I could tell you a lot, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your case .”

“Let’s start with the sword .”

“Everything you’ve been told is true. A year ago I discovered I was this son of Ecuador or something. Six months ago Abi gave me the sword,” he shrugged. “I had to use it when this guy challenged me–his name was Abadon .”

“He was a councilman?”

“Something of the sort, only stronger. I defeated him, but I let him go. I’ve never killed anyone with that sword–hell, I’ve never killed anyone, *period*. Can’t stomach the idea .”

“Could Abadon be the current Beldar?”

He shook his head, “No. Abadon’s gone for good, and he didn’t kill people to feed, as Thoran would put it .”

“What about Thoran?”

Mulder had to ask. “What is it with this guy? Is he Beldar?”

Jake actually broke out with chuckles, “Thoran? *Beldar*? You’ve got Thoran wrong. He’s just a queer guy,” though he thought ‘queer’ was an odd way of describing an 1101-year-old gargoyle, he didn’t feel like telling them the truth in that fashion. “He knows a lot about the council, that’s all .”

Scully frowned. It was obvious they weren’t going to get anything to help them with the case from this guy, even if they’d discovered he was one of the vigilantes who’d been saving Megkat City and tormenting Commander Feral for six years. “Well . . .,” Mulder’d realized it, too. “I guess you’re free to go .”

Jake raised his eyebrows, “Are you going to tell Feral?”

“About this?”

he held up the incriminating photo. “I don’t see why .”

Scully shot him a glance. “Aw, come on Scully,” he smiled. “It’s just our way of saving thank you for that rescue the other day .”

Jake looked visibly relieved as he removed his pawcuffs with exceptional ease, a movement which made them both a little nervous. He retrieved his sword, leaving it in the evidence bag for the moment, and turned to go. “Need a ride?”

He stopped at the door, surprised by Mulder’s offer. Chance was definitely gone by now, and it was a long walk back to the yard. He shrugged, “Okay .”

“So,” Jake questioned as they got in the rental car. “Do you usually drive your suspects home after you release them?”

“Very funny, but I still owe you one,” Mulder commented, noticing as they pulled out of the parking space that it was dark all ready. “Scully’s still looking over the case files .”

“Stuck at square one now, huh?”

He looked a little surprised that his earlier words had been micmiced almost exactly, then remembered Jake had once been an enforcer, and might even understand his frustration, “Yeah .”

The drove on in silence, the sword of Ecuador lying plainly in Jake’s lap. Mulder at last broke it, “What’s it like?”

“What’s like?”

“Being a vigilante? I mean–getting to drive your own jet, worrying about getting caught, that kind of stuff,” he sounded clearly just curious, nothing more. Jake shrugged, “Beats working on cars. We do worry a little about getting caught, but not that often. I guess we’ve gotten a little overconfident over the last few years of anyone over at HQ putting two and two together, but no one’s bothered .”

“Lt. Feral knows, doesn’t she?”

He was slight shocked by the question, “Yeah . . . found out about a year ago .”

“Why does it seem like everything interesting has happened either a year or six months ago?”

Jake had to laugh, “Well . . . our lives just went through some changes, that’s all .”

He glanced out the window, looking out to a familiar neighborhood. Abi’s apartment was just down the block, and the idea struck him to stop by and tell her he was released. “Stop here, Agent Mulder. I need to visit someone .”

He opened the door as the car swung by the sidewalk and got out, sword in paw. “Thanks .”

“Anytime .”

Beldar was hungry. With the media improved on a grand scale since the last ten years, he had heard about the bodies found from his plunder immediately. Fearing being flushed out into the open and tormented by Sauraman for it more than anything else, he’d stopped his feed for a little while. But now he yearned for more. The last young kat hadn’t been as satisfying as he’d hoped, and his hunger returned quickly. A nagging growl of his lifeforce’s stomach continued to gain in momentum. He had to feed soon. He lurched around the outskirts of Megakat Central Park for a while, unable to find more than a few bums as he realized not a lot of young, healthy kats in their right mind would hand around the park at night. Still, he had to try, but eventually he made his way out more to the sidewalk that surrounded the park, in search of casual evening strollers. Close to the shrubery, he could always drag them into the woods and dispose of the body in the lake later and probably not have it discovered for quite a while. It was his best bet now, at least better than a well-used alley. He’d seen no signs of life until a rental car pulled up beside him, moving at a steady pace but close so it was even as if the driver was studying him. The driver was a middle-aged, maybe younger kat in a dark trenchcoat with a clean crewcut of brown hair. They stared through the window for a moment, before he finally rolled it down. “Need help with something, sir?”

He realized suddenly what would have made the kat pay so much attention to him. He was flauntering around rather helplessly, hugging his stomach as if he had some kind of ulcer. Of course he attrached attention! But that wasn’t what he was attrached to–it was the scent of his prey. This reasonably healthy kat had an obviously stronge life force. Suddenly he recognized him. It was that FBI agent who was after him! The one he’d tried to kill outside the dojo! Now was his chance! Now if only he could get him out of the car . . . Mulder watched with small shock as the older kat, a slightly heavyweight with grew hair, collapsed on the sidewalk. Reacting swiftly, he scrambled out of the car and knelt by his side, trying to determine where he could come to his aid. He was unprepared to be lifted form the ground as the kat, with some kind of tremendous force, grabbed him by the collar and raised him several inches off the ground, letting him dangle as the kat got up. ‘Easy Prey . . .’ Beldar hurled Mulder over the nearby bushed easily, then followed by crashing through them, coming up only a foot or so away from where his victim was rolling on the ground. He retrieved his blade from his coat, growing excited by the thrill of the kill. He was ready to swing when he felt something . . . stronger pass. A *much* stronger life force, maybe even containing a little magic in it. What a chance! How could he pass up such an offer? He glanced down at his helpless prey, who was having trouble readying his gun from his position on the ground, and didn’t waste a minute to take off in the direction of the more appealing presence. Mulder looked at him strangely, wondering why he had stopped and begun pursuing an unknown force deeper into the park. He picked himself off the ground, setting his gun, and followed.

After finding Abi’s apartmen empty, Jake assumed she was still in the museum–after all, it was only just after dark–and began the short walk from her apartment complex to the museum. He didn’t stop until he noticed Mulder’s rental car pass and pull over by the sidewalk of the park. With the scene unfolding before him, he had an urge to jump in and save his former inquisitor when he saw the older kat take him down. His anger was further ignited when he noticed the sword, and one word struck into his mind : Beldar! Remembering his promise to Abi, he gripped the handle of his own sword and began to make his way around the scene, circling into the woods. Beldar seemed to instantly notice his presence, and begin to pursue. Mulder, to Jake’s knowledge, hadn’t seen him yet, but Jake guessed he wouldn’t be far behind when Beldar chased him. He did his best to lead Beldar into a more secluded area, trying to lose Mulder on the way. The last thing he wanted was the FBI agent to pull a gun on them both when they tried to duke it out.

Fox Mulder was finding it hard to pursue the mysterious attacker he would even go as far to label as the ‘Beldar’ he was looking for. For an old kat, he must have been in tremedous shape, because he was putting up a hell of a chase. In the constant race, he managed to get only a few glimpses at his attacker’s new prey, but it was nothing he could use to identify anyone with. Still, a glitter of a sword gave him a good idea. He took what appeared to be short-but through a rose garden–not a good move on his pant’s part, but it did give him a bit of leave. He heard the two coming up behind him now. He pulled his gun in their direction, obviously with the intent to fire at will, “FREEZE! FBI–” Mulder never finished, though there was no more to say, though the ‘i’ sound was cut off a bit. From what it seemed, a giant ‘thing’ that look a form feeling very close to a kat swooped down from the trees, dragging him down by sharp claws. His head smacked against the back of someting hard–probably the pavement–and he collapsed into darkness.

Jake wasn’t quite sure what stopped Mulder, until he head a sound he was quite familiar with–the sound of wings against the air, in a sharp turn upward. He took a moment to glance upward, noticing a gargoyle-like creature with Chance’s build swoop overhead. ‘At least *something’s* gone right today!’ he made a mental note to thank his partner afterwards for the backup. He returned his attention to the current situation. Beldar was not far behind and gaining; he would have to face him soon. Jake pulled into a clearing, swinging around and positioning himself in battle stance. Beldar arrived shortly afterward, smiling when he noticed the sword, “A son of Ecuador, eh?”

Inside him, his excitment level rose ten notches. ‘A son of Ecaudor! Think of the magical energy!’ “More power for me then, I suppose .”

“Don’t count on it,” Jake said confidently. He swung out, landing the first strike to be countered by Beldar. Their fight continued, letting little else in the night air get in the way of the sounds of swords clashing. Beldar seemed like a good enough fighter, maybe a challenge, but not like Abadon . . . ‘This guy hasn’t had practice,’ Jake reminded himself. ‘He’s just been chopping off heads–and anyone can do that.’ Still, Beldar’s defenses were excellent, holding steady as much as Jake pursued. ‘Abi wouldn’t send me to a fight she knew I’d lose, would she?’ Jake theorized. ‘Or maybe she didn’t have any control over what she said. That happens a lot with her visions.’ His mind momentarily distracted, he didn’t parry properly and cried out when he felt Beldar’s blade dig into his arm. Fazed by his wound, which was begining to soak his coat’s torn sleeve in blood, he wasn’t quite ready when Beldar saw the chance and swung for his head. He only managed to block at last minute, utilizing all his strength of his other arm to hold the blade. With the strength of only one arm, Beldar’s sword hovered dangerously close to his skull, but soon enough he was able to bring his other arm back to the handle and force the opposing sword safely away. “Good try, son of Ecuador!” Beldar’s words were sarcastically encouraging. “Now I’ll have to hack you before I get your power!” Jake steadied his stance, trying to ignore the ache in his left arm, and readied his blade in a defense position, trying to test out his opponent’s offense now instead, “Only a scratch. You’ll have to better than that, Beldar!” The councilman seemed shocked that he knew his name, but he shook it off, “On the contrary–” He never finished his sentence. Jake had taken advantage of his momentary distraction with his name to strike with a full forward lunge, driving the tip of his blade into Beldar’s chest. In his mind, be began counting as his oppoent lurched backward, mouth open with his tongue stuck in mid-sentence. ‘One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five . . .’ When he hit five he heaved out his blade, letting Beldar’s body collapse freely on the ground. He knelt beside him, searching for life signs and finding none. Didn’t Thoran say fifteen seconds? He glanced at his watch and waited for the councilman to recover in his window period. And waited . . . Nothing. Somewhat unsteadily, Jake came up to his feet again, leaning more heavily on the sword than he expected. ‘I killed him . . . ‘ he reminded himself. ‘He’s dead . . . I kept my promise.’ His arm throbbed, but there was a deeper ache in his chest as he turned and sauntered away from the site.

“Mulder . . . Mulder, come back to me . . .!” Scully’s voice was the first thing to pentetrate the darkness, followed by the sounds of enforcers and ambulance workers. The third thing was the pain in the back of his head. “Ugh . . . Scully,” he replied, trying to rub the back of his head and finding it impossible to lift, even to slip his paw under. “Wha–?”

“Easy, Mulder,” as she spoke, he realized he was in the same area of the park he remembered, but now on a stretcher. “You have a possible concussion. Who hit you? Beldar?”

“More like *what*,” he recalled. “Where’s Beldar?”

She explained, “They found a body in a clearing near here. A fifty-ish kat with a sword by his side .”

“That’s him,” he remembered it now. “The one who attacked me. But the other guy . . . I never got a clear look at him, but I think he had a sword–did you find him?”

She shook her head, and Mulder sighed. ‘At least one more killer is off the streets.’ “Any idea who it was?”

His attempt to nod only caused him more pain, “I dropped our old suspect off a few blocks before I pulled over and was attacked .”

“All right,” she didn’t sound surprised. “I’m putting an A.B.P. out on Jake Clawson. They’re going to take you to the hospital for X-Rays. I’ll meet you there, okay?”

“Sure .”

She left him, and Mulder moaned in defeat as they carried him onto to the ambulance.

“Jake!” He didn’t look up when his name was called, wandering mindlessly around the park. His sword was still dripping with blood. “What’re you doing?”

Chance landed a few feet from him, now in gargoyle form but still in his regular clothes instead of a flight suit. “The place is crawling with enforcers .”

He didn’t answer, at first, having trouble finding words, “I-I dunno . .

.”

“We gotta get outta here!” Chance was shocked by his partner’s stoic attitude. “C’mon!” He went to pick him put into his arms, but Jake gave a small yelp of pain as he grabbed one of his arms. That was when his eyes widened and he noticed the injury. “Christ, Jake, you’re hurt!” “A blade’ll do that do you,” he snidely remarked, still soft in words though. Chance wondered why he was acting so strangely as he scooped him, more carefully this time, into his arms and carried him until he could get enough wind under his wings for a takeoff.

“Hold still. This’ll hurt,” Abi warned as she began to apply the antiseptic. Jake flinched, but only minorly, and gritted his teeth. His sleeve was rolled up, though it was obvious the shirt was torn and stained beyond repair and would ultimately have to be tossed. The wound was deep but manageably, probably to the point where stitches wouldn’t be necessary. “The blood’s finally stopped, or I’d take you to the emergency room .”

Jake grunted a “thank you” as she continued to dress the wound. Thoran watched from across the room, in his chair, disturbed by the son of Ecuador’s stoic attitude. It was apparent that Jake had been deeply affected by the fight, and probably the slaying of Beldar. Abi saw it too, as he continued to sit quietly, deep in tormented thought. “Are you all right?”

He stared out, not making eye contact with anything but the distant floor, as he spoke quietly,

“No .”

‘Well, at least he’ll admit it,’ Chance though from the side. They were alone in Abi’s office, the four of them, upon Thoran’s request when he’d seen Jake’s condition. He need to be . . . reasonably secluded. “You had to kill him,” Abi supported. “He would’ve killed you and Agent Mulder . . . and probably more. He would+ve gotten your sword .”

“I know, I know,” he said helplessly. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it .”

Abi frowned, feeling a little guilty that she’d asked him to do it. Jake was not willing to even hurt anyone in self defense if it was possible, much less kill. Yet he had done it, because she, the situation, and maybe even the sword had driven him to it. The sword of Ecaudor lay beside him, its golden handle still clutched in the paw connected to his uninjured arm. He hadn’t let go of it since the battle. After a moment of silence, she said at last, “I’d better take him back to my apartment for a little while. If Agent Mulder has any brains he’ll be looking for him, and I don’t think Jake should be found just yet .”

Thoran nodded, and Chance shrugged in acceptance as well. Jake was silent as Abi led him downstairs, still dragging the sword along with him like it was sown to his paw.

Mulder was rubbing the area in the back of his head that was bandaged when Scully arrived from the autospy the next morning. She’d made him get go straight back to the hotel room, despite his protests, and commanded him to get some rest–which he got, directly after catching most of the B-horror movie “Hard Shell III .”

He’d just showered and dressed for the morning when she returned. “How’d it go?”

“Looks like he was our guy,” she explained, more than obviously relieved. “His sword matched the metal chip we found in Joseph Bell’s neck. He died of a stap wound directly to the heart, with no other injuries .”

“Head was intact?”

“Yeah. Someone was merciful. The only interesting thing is the blood on his sword doesn’t match his .”

“Who is it?”

She shrugged, “Unfortunately, the enforcers don’t keep blood samples of every katizen in town, but the blood type was B positive. Just for the record, that’s Jake Clawson’s blood type .”

“But you can’t tell if it’s his .”

“Not unless we had some of his DNA, which as I said the enforcers do not keep on file .”

Mulder’s suspicions were only deepened, “Find him yet?”

“The salavage yard was closed, and the museum was empty. We have some officers checking the relative’s list, but so far they haven’t come up with anything. Chance Furlong is missing, too .”

“Lt. Feral?”

She glanced at him strangely. “She knows he’s a SWAT Kat. I asked .”

“Didn’t ask her .”

“How about Abi Sinian’s apartment? They seem to hang out together a lot.

If she wasn’t at the museum . .

.”

She shrugged, “It’s possible .”

Jake wasn’t incredibly receptive all evening, which still had Abi worried, but he improved as time went on. He spent a good percentage of the time watching “Hard Shell III,” which he found amusing despite the fact he’d purposly missed the second one. Abi guessed the cheezy special effects must’ve cheered him up, or at least get his mind of Beldar, because he actually chuckled when they brought out the huge can of bug spray (hell, the whole thing sounded like a “Tick” episode). Chance stopped in and out, taking time out to check on the yard and keep the gargoyles warned as to when they should hide when the authorities arrived at the museum. She finally managed to get him to sleep with some of her grandfather’s tea, which he had sent her from his travels in the orient, which had a some kind of tiring powder in the ingrediants. He collapsed around eleven thirty on the couch, and she pulled in herself not long after that. Abi awoke, to her surprise, to find Jake already awake and the coffee brewing. He was standing by the glass door, looking out through the blinds onto her tiny balconey. “Looks like Chance fell asleep on your porch, if you don’t mind,” he opened the blinds further so she could see. Chance must have been injured the night before when he attacked Mulder, because he was perched on the balconey in stone form. “Great. Just great,” Abi rolled her eyes. “I hope my decorator doesn’t come today, or she’ll shoot me. She has this thing against gothic decorations .”

Jake chuckled, and she was instantly relieved by his slighty upbeat mood. She noticed however, that he was still wearing the bloodstained shirt from last evening. “I think you’d better change your shirt, in case anyone shows up,” she noted. “And that bandage looks like it needs changing .”

He glanced around, “Forgot to have Chance bring one from the yard .”

“You can borrow one of mine .”

Jake looked at her as if she was completely crazy. “Aw, come on. It’s just a shirt . . . I’ll find you a male one .”

It didn’t take her as long as she expected to locate one of his denim shirts, which had a musty smell from being at the bottom of a box for the longest time but was at least distinctively male–though it did make him wonder as to how she had aquired it. She was still rebandaging his arm when a knock came from the door. Jake didn’t say anything, content on letting her get it, but not rushing to hide in the bedroom if some unwanted visitors arrived. ‘I can’t hide all my life’ he reminded himself. ‘I have an alibi.’ Neither were surprised when she opened the door a slit, leaving the chain lock on for the moment, to the faces of Mulder and Scully, “Dr. Sinian? May we come in?”

She didn’t even bother to try and read their faces, “You’re looking for Jake, aren’t you? That’s the only reason you would have come here .”

“Actually, we are,” Scully didn’t deny. She wasn’t in the mood. “We need to question him on some events that took place last night. Is he here?”

Abi hesitated, then shut the door so she could remove the chain lock and reopened it, allowing them in. They weren’t exactly shocked to find Jake slumped on the couch, a cup of coffee in paw. Mulder noted the bandage, remembering it hadn’t been there the previous day. “Come to arrest me again?”

“Not this time,” Mulder sat down on a stool across from him. “Yet, anyway. Mr. Clawson, where did you go after I let you off last night?”

“Well, Abi wasn’t in the apartment, so I walked over to the museum and found her there. Then I came here, watched ‘Hard Shell III,’ and went to bed .”

He sipped his coffee. “Something happen last night?”

“Yeah. Beldar was killed .”

Jake raised his eyebrows, “Sure helps you guys, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, only now we’re looking for the killer .”

The words disturbed Jake more than he cared to show, reminding him of what he had done and was still trying to face as something required of him, but he kept his expression as passive as possibly. “You’re starting to develop Feral’s stereotypes of me–you realize that?”

“Considering the circumstantual evidence is overhwhelming–,” Scully began. He shrugged. “Plus the fact that you were in the area, with the murder in Megakat Central Park, just between this apartment and the museum . . . anything you think you’re leaving out?”

“No .”

“This walk you took,” Mulder commented, “wouldn’t have anything to do with your new injury, would it?”

“Hey, you’re looking a little worse-for-wear yourself, Agent Mulder,” Jake retorted, indicating his head bandage. “It’s just a deep scratch, with some . . . odd . . . circumstances around it I care not to elaborate on .”

Mulder stared at him for a very long, hard time. Here was a character, with all his degrees in physcialogy, he could never figure out. It was more than obvious to both of them Jake was lying through his teeth, which he probably knew as well, but there was no way for them to prove it. Still . . . there was something deeper, some reason why Jake couldn’t seem to admit it, even if they didn’t press charges–like they’d come too close to unearthing something bigger, something beneath the killings, that he and Abi were very aware of. “What attacked me last night, Mr. Clawson?”

Jake’s features twisted; he hadn’t expected that question. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, you seem to be the only one in this city who’s close to the answers,” the agent suddenly remembered the event in the hallway of enforcer HQ. “Or maybe Dr. Sinian would like to elaborate?”

It was Abi’s turn to flinch, as the attention shifted to her from her position on the chair beside the couch, “What?”

“Oh, come on,” he was down to bear knuckles now. “There’s obviously something bigger going on here, and I think the two of you know about it. Why did you tell me not to purse Beldar?”

Abi frowned; she really, *really* didn’t want him to bring up that scene with the hallway prophecy, “I . . . didn’t want you to get killed. I didn’t know there was a way to kill a councilman; after all, they’re supposed to be immortal .”

“So how did Jake know how to kill him?”

She was beginning to feel up against a wall . . . “Excuse me, but I thought we discussed this–” “*Mulder*!” It was Scully’s turn now. “What are you doing?”

“Trying to find some answers, Scully, which I’m sorry to say none of us will get if we continue to circle around each other .”

He redirected his attention to Abi. “What does it take to kill a ‘councilman’?”

Abi was about to answer when she felt *it*, more specifically the same feeling she’d tried so hard to surpress in the HQ hallway. ” . . . A death blow .”

Jake’s jaw dropped, not expecting her to answer like that–but he recognized the body language of a vilthuril now, when she shut her eyes and had trouble forming the words with her moth hanging open before each sentence, like she was trying to say something but had to stop and listen to something else first. ‘Oh, please not now…’ “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier? Why did you just try and scare me away from him?”

“I . . . he had to do it .”

“Why?”

“Abi . . .,” sensing the strain Mulder was probably putting on her and the visions resurfacing because of it, he rose and immediately took her into his arms. “Shhhh . .

.”

“Let her talk–” Jake shot him the coldest ‘back off’ stare he had recieved in a long time, and led Abi into the bedroom. He returned, a few moments later, and shutting the door behind him. He was stared upon by his two inquisitors. “What was that abour?”

Scully was the first to ask. “Umm . . .,” Jake said softly now. “You see . . . there isn’t really a word for Abi’s condition in your vocabulary . . . she’s a vilthuril. I believe you would call her . . . something close to a psychic .”

Scully raised her eyebrows skeptically, but Mulder was clearly interested, “What would you define as a psychic?”

“Well . . . she doesn’t like to talk about it, but Abi tends to see things . . . ahead of time. It’s not exactly something she enjoys . . . or that she can control. Takes a lot out of her, too. Anyway, yesterday . . . she came to me and told me I had to kill Beldar .”

“And you listened to her?”

Scully asked, unbelievably. “Yeah, well–crazy as it seems, once I didn’t, and I was nearly killed. I don’t take chances like that anymore .”

“So you killed Beldar?”

Sighing, Jake collapsed on the couch, his voice getting very soft and wavering, “Agent Scully . . . I’ll confess this to you now . . . I’m not a killer. It’s not something I don’t like the idea of, and until last night it was something I had managed to avoid . . . despite my profession as a ‘vigilante’ and my former one as an enforcer. I’ll probably never forgive myself for last night . . . though I probably saved a lot of lives–yours being one of them, Agent Mulder. But if you go marching into Feral’s office this morning and tell him everything you know, you’ll accomplish nothing for your case, and my life’ll be more of a living hell than it meagerly already is .”

Mulder glanced at his partner, a bit undecisive as to what to do, “So what attacked me?”

*Now* it was time to lie, “I don’t know. Maybe a giant bat creature–there seem to be a lot of those hanging around .”

Jake was, much later, not hard to find in the sanctuary–some eight or nine rows up from the back, practically alone on the wooden benches aside from a few scattered congregants who had come for a late Shakreet [morning service] and were mainly grouped up front in the immense room. He was standing with his prayerbook, muttering to himself what might have sounded like Hebrew to the trained ear, though it was entirely speeded up by years of practice, with a slight sway back and force in his stance to keep with the rythym of the prayers. Abi sighed with relief when she found him; she’d been unable to previously. The visions had stopped shortly after the two agents left, but for some reason they left her exhausted. She’d laid on the bed for quite a while, and by the time she bothered to get up Jake was gone. She immediately checked the yard, museum, and realized there was only one place she knew he went regularly. ‘Agent Mulder’s accusations must have upset him again,’ she realized. ‘So he came here to find piece.’ She entered, gesturing a hello at Rabbi Warner as she passed. He smiled back gently, the old creature that he was, with his long white beard and rabbinical clothing. He motioned towards Jake, seeming to have a sixth sense that she was looking for him. She seated herself beside him, patiently waiting for him to finish. If he noticed her, he didn’t say it out loud, but didn’t make much longer for the service. After a few minutes he sat back down, remaining silent. Abi was the first to break to slight tension, “You still feel bad about it?”

Jake tilted his head back up, sighing, “I didn’t want to–” “But you had to .”

“He never would have gone after me . . . if I wasn’t *looking* for him .”

It was Abi’s turn to frown guiltily, “I shouldn’t have told you–” “No, no, no . . .,” feeling weak and defeated, Jake confessed. “You can’t control it and I don’t blame you for it. It might’ve happened anyway. Who knows?”

A beat, “Still . . . why did you tell me?”

She had trouble, groping with the words, “You see . . . some things . . . I can’t tell you about. Others . . . just kind of . . . fall out of my mouth .”

“Like in the hallway with Mulder and Scully?”

“I didn’t *ask* to be a prophet, Jake .”

“I noticed,” he pointed out. “Don’t blame yourself, okay? *I* killed him .”

He found he was attacking himself in Abi’s defense, and was somehow comfortable with it. “But I made you do it .”

“You didn’t *make* me do anything. You just pointed out the inevidable,” he smiled. “How about we call it even?”

After a moment she responded, “I don’t have a problem with that .”

She figured it was just as well; she’d lost track in the conversation of whether she was defending or attacking Jake. “You think Mulder and Scully are going to tell?”

He shifted, glad to be moving on in the conversation, “I don’t know, but I think that psychic stuff spooked Agent Mulder a little bit?”

“You told him I was *psychic*?”

Jake shrugged, “What was I supposed to say? He actually seemed to be satisfied with the explanation .”

“Great,” Abi shook her head. “Did you care to express any other extremely personal secrets while I was out of the room for five minutes?”

“Oh, yeah. I told Agent Mulder a bat creature attacked him. I don’t think he believed me on that one, though .”

She, at last, cracked a smile, “So that’s all your best friend is to you now? A *bat creature*? I’m sure Chance’ll appreciate it .”

Again, he shrugged, “He’ll understand somehow .”

“Anything else?”

somewhat instinctfully, she leaned against him. “Didn’t say anything, but they must think we’re madly in love or something .”

“Oh?”

“Hey, when they came in, I was putting a shirt on. How good did *that* look?”

Abi chuckled, “I don’t think they’re the type to go spreading rumors about a curator and a mechanic when they get back to the Pentagon, do you?”

“I wouldn’t be upset .”

She glanced up at him, “Is that a come-on?”

“I suppose so .”

Abi leaned over further, kissing him lightly on the lips. Jake stumbled back a bit, shocked but somehow amused, “Was that supposed to be a reply?”

“I suppose so .”

“In that case . . . I’d think we’d better move somewhere else,” Jake rose. “Big Brother’s watching us .”

He indicated Rabbi Warner by the door, who didn’t appear to be paying attention, but Jake had always remembered the rabbi to be more attentive than he portrayed himself to be. Abi graciously took his paw when he offered it, and followed him out of the sanctuary.

Washington, D.C.

‘Special Agent Dana Scully. Field Journal Entry # 75’

‘X-File #10-1115, otherwise known as the Beldar case, has been officially closed. The late suspect identified as Benjiman Anderson has been identified as the murderer of Joseph Bell, along with five other victims in the past six months. His sword matched the metal chip found earlier in Joseph Bell’s neck. A search of his residence just outside of Megakat City revealed the discovery of several fake identification documents, including a driver’s license and invalid birth certificate. When the city archives were searched it was revealed that “Beldar” has had several other names, stretching back as far as the records would go. His real name has yet to be indentified. Also among his belongings were several artifacts recognized to be from medeival Megakat City, and were graciously donated to the Megakat Museum of History by Lt. Felina Feral.’

‘As for his killer, there does not seem to be enough evidence to point to Jake Clawson in order for an arrest. The blood on ‘Beldar’s’ sword has been unidentified, and when asked for a DNA sample Clawson refused. Though it does seem quite obvious, Agent Mulder has argued the relativity Clawson has to the case, now that he has been officially identified as not Beldar.’

‘Dr. Sinian, though on my own personal suggestion to seek medical help for her condition, has refused. Agent Mulder has expressed his desire to study her further as a possible X-File, but the case was turned down by the department and has lest him rather restless since.’

‘Whatever pieces may be missing, either to solve this case or another one involving Clawson or Dr. Sinian, or to fill in some holes that have appeared in the past two days, Agent Mulder insists that the puzzle is much larger than earlier imagined. Assistant Director Walter Skinner has repeatedly rejected Agent Mulder’s pleads to be allowed more time in Megakat City, and we have returned to Washington to continue on a new case.’

‘Though it is clear to me as well that something is happening in Megkat City, something hidden and deeper, I can only pray that the victims or people caught in the middle will find satisfaction in whatever it is they have striven so hard to successful keep from us. Their secrets we can only hope have no malicious intent, or will eventually be brought to the light if they do.’

‘As Agent Mulder often quotes, “The truth is out there . . .”.

To that I add, “Or maybe right under our noses . . .”‘

The End

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