Title: Foundation of Trust
Author: Eric “Erico” Lawson
Warnings: Some profanity
Disclaimers: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron” is copyright to their respective owners/creators.
S SWAT KATS: FOUNDATION OF TRUST
By Eric “Erico” Lawson
In honor of the Successful Swat Kats: Revolution Kickstarter, 20 years of loyal fans, and the continued efforts of the Tremblays to revive a truly great show.
Museum of Natural History
When Calico Briggs had been offered the position of Deputy Mayor right out of college, she had jumped at the opportunity. She had worked as an intern in City Hall, and her interest in politics and the law had set up her career path. She’d never thought that she’d be able to land such a position so quickly, and had come into the job with high hopes. Here was an opportunity to make Megakat City great again. The Enforcers had been struggling for some time to control the rising tide of violence and criminal activity, in spite of their large budget. That incident where one of their own jets had crashed into their brand new skyport headquarters some years ago hadn’t helped them any either. Finally, she had thought at the time of her hire, she would have the power she needed to save the city she was born in, the city she loved.
It had taken all of two weeks to crush the hope right out of her. Mayor Manx saw her as someone to do all of the work while he went off and hobnobbed. One proposal after another was stymied by the City Council, the budget committee was irreconcilable, and those with the money to actually make a difference were only concerned with their bottom line.
The blond-furred queen took a moment to examine herself with the compact from her purse before she stepped out of her sedan. It was an old green sedan with gullwing doors that had belonged to her father, a proud tom who worked on automobiles his entire life up until he’d died from myocardial infarction. She could have gone more into debt to buy something newer, but sentiment and the crushing weight of student loans kept the young deputy mayor from trying for it. She knew this car, and trusted it in spite of its quirks.
What she wouldn’t give to find some mechanics who actually knew how to fix a vintage automobile and were honest about how much it cost.
Another visit to a municipal facility which the mayor was scheduled to attend…and another one which he sent me to because he got called away for ‘urgent business.’ Sure. If urgent business means “I’m due on the golf links with some of my political supporters because I care more about fundraising than doing my actual job.”
Callie sighed and made her way inside of the building. Dr. Abigail Sinian had called for a meeting with the mayor regarding the budget, and Callie knew it wasn’t going to be a happy one. In order to pay for his latest tax cut (which only helped out people in the top quarter income bracket once you looked through the fine print), Mayor Manx had taken a slice out of the pie which ordinarily went to the fine arts and cultural attractions.
To her surprise, the archaeologist and curator wasn’t there to greet her. Callie had met with the good doctor twice before and she’d been met at the front doors both times. Callie frowned and made her way inside, her stiletto heels clicking against the granite floor with an echoing cadence.
“Hello? Dr. Sinian?”
Still no answer came. Giving up, she made her way back to the offices, and on coming nearer, the faint sounds of someone speaking up excitably from a television set drew her interest.
Lingering around a small set were Dr. Sinian, two of her colleagues, and one of the security guards. Callie crossed her arms and let her tail swish behind her.
“I’m not early, am I?” She inquired.
Dr. Sinian jerked her head up, and the brunette looked over to the blond in chastened shock.
“Oh, Deputy Mayor Briggs! I apologize for not receiving you…we were distracted…”
Callie walked over and looked past the archaeologist to the television, and winced at the sight.
“Oh, no.” It was a high speed chase, with the Enforcers in pursuit after an armored car. “What now?” Callie murmured. She looked down to the running tickertape at the bottom of the broadcast, but the security guard filled her in first.
“Some goons in flak jackets hijacked an armored car after it had loaded up at Megakat First National. They all piled in and they’ve been running since. The Enforcers are chasing them, but the news chopper said they’re packing some serious firepower. They’ve already gunned down two cruisers.”
Callie’s blood ran cold at the news. Where did these maniacs come from? Did they see Megakat City as nothing but a jewel to be plundered? She couldn’t recall, but a part of her swore that it had never been as bad as this when she was little.
“Ah. Finally, the Enforcers are getting serious.” The security guard said. He pointed to the TV set just in time for the deputy mayor to see a pair of Enforcer helicopters closing in on the armored car.
Any relief she felt at the Enforcers taking their jobs seriously was crushed when one of the thugs stuck his head out of the back of the vehicle and leveled a dangerous looking piece of hardware. A second later, it fired a rocket, which streaked up and behind it and crashed straight into the lead chopper. The multimillion dollar helicopter was blown apart in a fireball, and the wreckage with its crew careened down towards the highway, flattening on impact and burning brightly.
“Kats alive.” Dr. Sinian said in a fearful hush. She raised her paw up to her mouth and covered her open mouth. “Those…those poor soldiers…”
Callie bit the inside of her cheek. More deaths. More expenses. More letters of sympathy. The Enforcers were getting their tails handed to them every day, with fewer victories to show for it, and the enemies of Megakat City were growing bolder and more dangerous. She didn’t see a way out of it. Not as things were.
“Wait, look!” The security guard shouted. The camera inside of Kats Eye News’ chopper twitched rapidly and then focused away from the highway and into the air, towards a fast moving dot of black that was closing in on the chase.
Then came the roar of its engines, and the ominous silhouette of what had once been an F-14 “Tomkat” fighter…but which was now something more.
“It’s those vigilantes!” Dr. Sinian exclaimed. “The…oh, hell, what do you call them.”
“The SWAT Kats.” Deputy Mayor Briggs said. She’d been privy to the after-action reports from the Enforcers, as well as two high-level staff meetings that Commander Ulysses Feral had begrudgingly held with the mayor’s office. There were two of them, real names unknown, and that’s what they called themselves when they broke into the Enforcer encrypted radio channels. Their jet was the Turbokat, and to the utter frustration of the Enforcers, it outflew and outfought anything that they had in their arsenal. They had been prowling around Megakat City for a month now, usually showing up after the Enforcers had gotten their teeth knocked out, and then solving the crisis in minutes, although usually with a boatload of collateral damage. The Enforcers hated them. The city’s insurance adjusters hated them. The public wasn’t sure of what to make of them. The only thing Callie knew for sure was that when they showed up, the crisis got resolved.
It was both strange and sad that it took a bunch of vigilantes, who probably were a couple of rich playboys in their off-time if their hardware was any indicator, to solve the problems that Megakat City had.
The Turbokat flew down towards the highway, menacing black with gleaming red clawmarks over its surface and a blue nosecone. It passed by the last surviving Enforcer helicopter without a thought.
“What are they doing? Are they going to fire a missile at that armored car? They’ll kill everyone in it!”
“No…They don’t kill.” Callie murmured softly. She too wondered what those two mysterious vigilantes had in mind, but if their past track record was any clue, they meant to do this with nonlethal means, regardless of the efforts of the bazooka-firing morons inside the truck.
Then something wholly unexpected happened. The Turbokat launched something from underneath its belly. Not a missile or a bomb…
But, as it unfolded and landed with a squeal of tires, a motorcycle. Again, heavily modified, and with a blue and red color scheme. One of them, the thinner more lanky one, was driving it. The Turbokat rose up in the air and away from the gunfire of the goons inside the truck, and then the other SWAT Kat on the motorcycle came closer towards it.
In desperation, the gun-toting hijackers threw everything they could at it. Gunfire bounced off of the thing harmlessly. Even a bazooka round failed to connect, with the bike veering clear of the explosion right in the nick of time.
When it got close enough, the SWAT Kat’s motorcycle acted, firing what looked to be a small stream of glittering projectiles at the truck. The armored vehicle’s rear tires exploded from the hit, and the thing tipped over sideways, skidding to a halt.
“Oh, wow. Unbelievable. How in the…How did they fit a motorcycle inside a jet?!” The security guard sputtered.
Dr. Sinian chuckled and shook her head. Right as Enforcer reinforcements showed up in the form of a line of patrol cars and two more helicopters, the Turbokat descended down to the highway. The motorcycle seemed to jump up into the air and landed safely inside the jet’s belly, and once the bomb doors closed, the Turbokat turned around and bugged out, causing a sonic boom that made the Kats Eye News Chopper and its cameraman rattle and shake. “Well, that’s one way to stop a high speed chase.” She turned the television off and looked back to Callie. “Now then. Sorry for the delay. Why don’t we go into my office? Deputy Mayor?”
Callie shook the last of the shock from her piercing green eyes and nodded. “Yes. That’ll be fine.”
“A little star-struck, Callie?” Dr. Sinian teased the young deputy mayor.
Calico Briggs managed not to roll her eyes as they walked out. “No. I was just thinking about how much more I’ll have to endure of Commander Feral’s rhetoric when he pressures the mayor to declare them public enemies.”
Unfortunately, her cool voice and demeanor couldn’t hide the excited swish in her tail from Dr. Sinian’s knowing eyes.
Garfield’s Auto Repair
One Week Later
“It’s shot.” The mechanic, whose name was ‘Larry’ according to his nametag, slammed the hood of Callie’s old green sedan down with a heavy, resounding thud.
Callie tried not to wince, and failed.
“What do you mean, shot?”
“I mean that the engine’s rattling and knocking, the timing belt is blown, your fuel line needs replacing, the brake pads are worn down to nubs, the wiring looks like it’s been chewed on…It’ll be $5,000, easy, to get this crate up and running again. You’d be better off just buying something new.”
“This was my father’s car.” Callie growled through her teeth. “It’s got heart. It’s made of good, old-fashioned Megakat steel, and I am not replacing it.”
Larry sighed and wiped his paws on an oilrag, then ran his hand through his hair. The oilrag hadn’t helped him much. “Okay. So we’re back to the price tag. They don’t make parts for this anymore.”
“Wait a second.” Callie tightened her claws inside of her fist so she wouldn’t feel the need to pop them openly. “If they don’t make parts, how are you coming up with that price tag?”
“There’s a company we work with out of Fursdale which specializes in vintage cars, and they might have parts for this…but they don’t come cheap.” Larry shrugged. “Sorry, Missus Briggs, but as good as this car used to be, now it’s more of a clunker. You’d be better off trading it in…no, scratch that. At this point, it’s only good for scrap.”
Callie fought down the twitch above her eyelid. Taking in a breath to calm herself, she reached one paw up and removed her glasses, then made a deliberate show of cleaning them.
“Well, for as honest as you’re being with me, I think I’ll need to seek out a second opinion.” She set her glasses back on and stared hard at the older, overweight tom.
“Sure. That’s your prerogative.” Larry shrugged. “I’m just saying, as it is, you’ll be lucky to get another 150 miles out of it. You go anywhere else in town, they’ll either laugh you out of the shop or promise you the moon and then rip you off. I’d think seriously about my offer.”
Callie chuffed at that. “My father was an auto mechanic for his entire life. He’d roll over in his grave if I accepted your offer.”
Larry cracked a smile. “Well. Guess you’re out of luck, then. Will you be wanting to drive it out of here then?”
“Take my advice, drive it right to the salvage yard outside of town.” Larry chuckled. “Hell. You might even be able to convince those two bums out there to take a crack at it.”
“Pardon? What are you talking about?” Deputy Mayor Briggs demanded.
The overweight tom snorted. “The salvage yard south of the city? Fifteen miles out? The two fellas who run it fancy themselves auto mechanics. Of course, they don’t get much business. I mean, hell, who would trust their car to a couple of junkyard kats?”
Callie snatched the keys to her green sedan out of Larry’s paw and climbed into her car. It sputtered and groaned as it tried to turn over, and after the fifth attempt and some coaxing on the gas, it finally did. As the thing coughed to life, she stuck her head out of the open window and affixed her most baleful gaze on the cocky tom.
“I imagine they’ve got to be better than this place.” And she drove out of the shop.
Megakat City Salvage Yard
The sun had only been in the sky for an hour when the peace and quiet of the salvage yard was ruined by the sounds of a dying vehicle pulling into the lot.
Jake Clawson lifted his head up away from the armrest of the couch he’d slept on the night before, slowly coming back to life. The faint scent of coffee coming in from the kitchen percolated through the last vestiges of sleep, and he rose up with a yawn. A long and powerful stretch worked the kink out of his neck, and the slender tom took a moment to recall his surroundings.
The television was on. Check. Coffee was brewing in the pot. Check. One large and burly Chance Furlong plopped on the rug in front of the television with a bowl of Choco-Puffs? Check. One screaming Scaredy-Kat on the television while Chance guffawed through a mouthful of barely chewed cereal?
Yup. It was Saturday morning, all right.
Still, the sound of that dying car was new.
“Sounds like you had a late night.”
“I was working on the cement machine gun again. Still needs some more tweaks before we can mount it on the Turbokat. Didn’t feel like walking all the way up to my bedroom at two-thirty in the morning.”
Chance snorted as Scaredy-Kat did another spit-take on the TV. “Buddy, you gotta take better care of yourself.”
“After work.” Jake sighed, getting up to his feet. “I think we’ve got a customer outside. That doesn’t sound like Burke and Murray’s truck.”
“I don’t start working until after my morning cartoons.” Chance pointed out with the deadly serious tone that only his favorite television pastime could inspire. The yellow and brown-striped tom jerked his thumb towards the door. “Either handle them yourself or tell them to come back in 30 minutes.”
“Oh, yeah. Because telling people who actually bother to drive out here that we’re not taking their business is great for our grocery bill.” Jake countered. He gave himself a test sniff, shrugged, and zipped up his garage worksuit. The last step was putting his cap on again, backwards like usual. “Finish your cereal. I’ll take care of this.”
“Yeah, you do that, sure-shot. Be out when I’m done here.”
Jake made his way through the kitchen only long enough to pour himself a thermos of coffee, and after a moment’s reflection, he got a smaller one for whoever was out there in a Styrofoam cup with a lid. If they didn’t want any, he’d drink it himself. Still, best to offer. Word of mouth about the quality of their service would eventually, hopefully, get some more business for them. That ridiculous repair bill for Enforcers HQ wasn’t going to write itself off, after all.
Stepping out of the door of their shop, Jake waited in the crisp morning air and took a slow sip of his desperately needed morning caffeine. The vehicle responsible for the disturbance slowly rolled into view…an older model sedan, green in color. Impressive, actually. Mid-60’s in design. If Chance was out here, he’d be geeking out about it. This particular model was famous for being given the ‘muscle car’ treatment back in the day.
The car rolled to a coughing idle and turned off, and the driver stepped out. Jake blinked at the sight of a very attractive blond-furred queen in blue jeans and a faded Megakat University sweatshirt stepping out of it. Mid-20’s by the look of her, just about their age.
Scratch that. Chance wouldn’t be geeking out over the car, he’d be jealous as hell over the fact that Jake was here looking at this girl instead of him.
Jake pushed off of the front stoop and walked over to the vehicle and its occupant. She removed her glasses to clean them for a moment, then turned and looked at him.
“Morning.” Jake said by way of casual greeting. “Coffee?” He asked, holding up the Styrofoam container.
“That depends.” The queen countered suspiciously, eyeing the drink and its owner. Jake felt a minor ripple of irritation run through him at her scrutinizing look. Sure, he wasn’t much to look at with his cherry-brown fur and blue work duds, but still.
“On what?” He countered calmly, taking another sip of coffee from his own thermos.
“On what you put in it.” She said.
Jake snorted. “Nothing. I drink my coffee straight. Don’t need creamer or sugar getting in the way of my morning caffeine burst.”
She eyed him with those perfect, glimmering emerald eyes of hers, then finally broke out a waspish half-smile and took the white Styrofoam cup from him. “Good. And yes, I’d love some. There were a few times on the drive out here, I wasn’t sure if my car would make it.”
“Sounded like you were having some trouble.” Jake agreed casually. He eyed the car over and nodded. “She’s a real beauty, though. A ’64 Longclaw? They built these things to last.”
The female blinked in surprise a couple of times as she looked at him again, and when Jake glanced over, he could see hints of…approval? Re-evaluation? There was something different in her eyes as her first impression of him was erased.
“That they did.” She agreed softly.
Jake cleared his throat. “Well. How about I take a look under the hood?”
“If you would.”
“All right.” With practiced motions, Jake popped the hood up and brought the hook into place so he could stare at the interior with a discerning eye. “Hm. You did want to get this repaired, right?”
“Of course.” The blond-furred queen blinked twice. “Although you’re the first kat to ask me that when I brought it in.”
“You’re kidding.” Jake looked up from the engine with his eyebrows raised high. “What, did everyone else tell you to scrap this?”
“…More or less.”
“Unbelievable.” Jake muttered, looking back inside. He could already pick out five things that needed replacing, and he’d need to crack the engine block open to take a look at the cylinders. His mind was already awash with all the fixes that needed to go into it. A full day’s work, if he could find the parts. Maybe the entire weekend. Still, he relished the challenge. “A car like this, you don’t give up on. They were idiots. Of course, not everyone appreciates classic cars.”
“Well. Seems I was right to come out here. At least you agree with me on that.” She had to be smiling, the warmth in her voice was too great for her not to be. Jake set the hood back down and glanced behind him to see the queen beaming from ear to ear. “So. Can you save it?”
“If I can find the parts, sure. It’ll take us a while to restore it, but we could definitely get this thing purring like a kitten again.”
“How much?” She asked, and the warmth was replaced with nervousness.
Jake scratched his head and ran the figures. “Assuming I can find the parts…2500. With labor.”
“…You’re kidding.” She blinked back at him.
“Er…sorry, is that too much? I was figuring on two days of work with that number.”
“No, no. Sorry.” She apologized. “It’s not too much. Only other shop willing to try at it was…Well, more. No, I could make 2500 dollars work if you can get it back on its feet.”
“Ah. Well. Good, then.” Jake said. He held out his paw towards her, stopped, then wiped it on his sleeve. “Sorry.” Holding it out again, he mustered a tentative smile. “Jake Clawson.”
Without hesitation, her softer paw slipped into his, and the two shook. “Calico Briggs.” She replied.
Jake pulled his paw back and nodded. “All right. First, we’re pulling it into the shop, then I need to drive out to the yard and see about finding the parts I’ll need.”
“…You’re kidding. You don’t have to order them in?”
“Why would I do that?” Jake replied, hopping into the driver’s seat. Callie followed a moment later, sitting in the passenger’s side beside him. He started the engine up and coaxed it to life after four turns of the starter. “The nice thing about having a shop out here in the junkyard is you’re never far from spare parts. You’d be amazed what some kats throw away.” Like aircraft parts, jet fuel tanks with hundreds of gallons still in them, machining tools…
“Huh. I never thought of that.” Callie admitted. He rolled the ’64 Longclaw into the shop and turned it off, then removed the ignition key from the keyring. The key went on the dash, and the ring he handed back to Callie. “Mind if I tagged along?”
Jake gave her a sidewards look. “Really?”
Callie gave him a frown. “What’s the matter? Don’t think I can get my hands dirty?”
Jake blinked. “No, that’s not it.” He said, pleasantly surprised at the fire in her voice. This one wasn’t just all good looks. She had a bit of lioness in her too. “It just might take a while, is all. I figured you’d want to call for a taxi to get back to Megakat City, was all.”
“It’s a Saturday.” Callie rolled her eyes. “My boss is off playing golf, I’ve got nothing else planned. Besides.” She gave him a playful smirk. “Maybe I’m interested to go treasure hunting.”
Jake chuckled. “Right.” He motioned to the nearby yard truck. “Wait here. I’ll go grab the keys and be back.”
Inside the shop’s first floor, Jake quickly found the yard truck’s keys in the kitchen keybox. Chance was still watching his cartoons in the living room, although he shifted when he heard Jake come in.
“So, how bad?”
“Should take me all weekend. Less, if you help. We’re headed out to the yard to go looking for parts. When you get done, it’s in the shop. Have a look at it, radio me if you can think of anything else you see that needs repaired I might have missed.”
“Right, right.” Chance waved him off, not even bothering to look back. He really did block out the world on Saturday mornings. “Hey, want to know a shortcut?”
“No, Chance.” Jake told him coldly. He hated Chance’s shortcuts, usually ended up taking longer than just going the normal way. “Be back in an hour or so.”
“Yeah, all right.” Chance waved one last time and zoned out again.
Jake grinned from ear to ear, but managed not to chuckle.
The best pilot that the Enforcers Academy ever put out, still a kitten at heart. And boy, was he missing out.
It was only the work of a few minutes to maneuver around the myriad piles of junked vehicles and military equipment to reach a section of the yard dedicated to older cars. Callie had surprised the mechanic by asking to come along on the ‘treasure hunt’, but the idea that they could find the parts that they needed to repair her car out in the middle of nowhere flat out intrigued her. Her father had been a very thorough mechanic, only ordering replacement parts when he couldn’t repair the existing ones in warranty. When Jake had basically said the same thing, she hadn’t been able to help but remember when she would sit inside the cars her father repaired and pretend to drive while they listened to the radio together. Never country, but either big band swing or early rock and roll. Sometimes jazz music, if it had been a Wednesday afternoon. It probably came off as a somewhat ridiculous request, and was certainly rather forward for someone who was just another customer, but she’d said it before she could think twice about it. When he’d questioned her and she’d flared up competitively, it had cemented her hasty decision born out of warm reminiscence. To his credit, Jake Clawson hadn’t backpedaled, stammered, or tried to apologize. He’d either been serious about letting her get back to Megakat City as soon as possible to enjoy the rest of her Saturday, or he was very smooth with his recoveries. She didn’t know which, and at the moment, she didn’t particularly care.
Callie must have looked like a fish out of water, as she caught Jake giving her an appraising glance every now and then from the side of his eye, and she was sure he caught her with a blank stare. She also noticed him eyeing her left hand for a good second on one particular glance. Checking for a wedding ring or something? She wondered.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll find some other Longclaws in these piles.” Jake said, rolling the truck to a stop and killing the engine. “See, the thing about the ’64 was that it was a remodel of the ’63 Kattail, and the ’65 and ’66 Longclaw only had cosmetic differences and…Sorry, I’m boring you, aren’t I?”
“No, not really.” Callie giggled, getting out of the truck and taking her coffee with her. “I haven’t seen anyone get this excited about cars since my father used to take me out to auto shows.”
“Ah. He was into cars too?” Jake surmised, leading them towards a smaller pile of vehicles which was only two layers thick in the middle.
“Well, he was a mechanic.” Callie admitted. “Taught me enough so that I wouldn’t be helpless, and I could see it when some grease monkey tried to pull the wool over my eyes.”
“Smart kat.” Jake didn’t bother trying to hide his smile. “Ah, here we are.” They’d made their way around the fender of a crushed in sports car, and found a car which was nearly identical to Callie’s, although heavily rusted and worn down by the elements. “All right, just need to pop the hood and see what we can dig out here.”
Callie stood back and let Jake work, taking a moment to eye him over a little more closely. It was clear by how he filled out his uniform that he took care of himself; he wasn’t bulging in the midsection, and his muscles were definitely toned. A far cry from most auto mechanics, in her experience.
He’s kind of cute.
“So, you said ‘we’ before once. Are there others who work out here?”
“Well, just one other kat. His name’s Chance Furlong, we’re partners. Run the shop together, manage the salvage yard.” Jake answered, yanking a torque wrench from his coveralls and setting to work on jerking pieces out of the ruins of the car. “I’m sure we’ll bump into him when we get back to the shop. He’s the sort of fellow who keeps to his own schedule on the weekends. In the mornings, anyhow.”
“I see. And how long have you two been mechanics?”
There was a pause in the shuffling of parts and the clinking sounds of metal. “A few years.” Jake finally said. “And what do you do for a living, Miss Briggs?”
“Ah. I work…for the local government.” Callie eked out, stumbling over the last part.
The mechanic pulled himself out of the broken car’s engine with a handful of parts and more stuffed in his front pockets. “A lot of kats do.” He said, giving her an easygoing, and encouraging, smile. “Care to be more specific?”
Callie swore her face was burning now. “I work in the mayor’s office.” She said, looking off to a distant pile of rusted metal parts with a very intense expression.
Jake didn’t say anything for a bit, then nodded. “Hm. Thought your name sounded familiar. You’re the Deputy Mayor, right?”
“For what it’s worth.” Callie sighed. “And no, I can’t pull any favors for some odd cousin of yours. I don’t even have enough clout to make changes which could help this city pull itself out of the ditch it seems to be stuck in.” She leaned against the side of the junkyard truck and drank the rest of her coffee in one quick gulp. It had cooled off enough to allow the stunt, and she tossed it into the cabin after she was done.
Jake the mechanic looked at her for the space of two seconds before shrugging and getting back to his business. The parts he’d collected went into the back of his truck, and then grabbing a rather large crowbar and hammer, he went off towards a different vehicle.
“Okay, fair enough. Different topic, then.” Jake said, lifting up the hood of a different vehicle which had flared rear fins rising up from the chassis. “Tell me more about your car.”
“It was my father’s.” Callie said, grateful for the change in topic. “After he…well, he left it to me.”
“And your brothers didn’t fight you for it?” The mechanic inquired, slamming the crowbar into a tight space of the engine compartment and then hammering away at it.
“No, I was an only child.” Callie shouted over the noise. “How about you?”
“My family all lives in Katlanta.” Jake answered in a loud voice between hammers. “I don’t see them much.”
Well. That answered one question in Callie’s mind, which was whether or not Jake Clawson was a local. He wasn’t.
“What brings a fine southern fella like yourself all the way to Megakat City?” Callie inquired, inserting a bit of southern drawl into her speech with an impish grin.
“Oh, this and that.” Jake said evasively. He didn’t rise to the bait, either for the question or her accent. “So it’s your father’s car we’re fixing up. You hang onto it for sentimental reasons?”
“That, and I couldn’t afford a new one.”
Jake paused in his work and looked back at her with concern. “Um…you know, if it’ll help, we could set up a payment plan for this.”
Callie blinked in surprise. She’d been expecting to have to eat into her savings with a lump sum payment. “Why would you do that? Are you taking pity on me or something?” She bit off the end of that sentence with a bit more venom than usual, but she was tired of either being looked down on or condescended to.
The mechanic didn’t stammer out an apology, or backpedal. He just stared back at her, rising to the challenge. “If you don’t want the help, Miss Briggs, you don’t have to take it. I just figured you deserved a break from the usual crap life throws at you. And I’m not apologizing for offering some understanding and sympathy.”
Callie swallowed the lump in her throat. “I…okay.”
“…We can look into the payment plan. Thanks.” She rubbed at her sleeve nervously. “And I’m sorry. It’s been a long week.”
Jake turned back to his hammer and crowbar and kept on beating away.
“I hope things get better for you soon.” Jake spoke up, when the tension in the air had gotten thick enough that Callie was contemplating speaking up again. She nodded, and walked over to lean in and look at what he was doing.
“What are you foraging for now?”
“Cylinder pistons. From what I heard, I’ll be opening your engine up to see how it’s doing. In case I need to replace any cylinder heads or rods, I’d hate to have to drive back out here again.” He grunted and finally finished knocking the top of the engine block off, and he shoved it to the side to get at the guts. “Still want to help?”
“Good. Hold these, will you?” Jake stuck his claws into the deceased car’s engine and removed several comparatively slim pieces of metal, handing them off to her without looking back. “We don’t want to drop these. The sand out here would just gunk up the parts even worse than they are.”
Callie took the bits and pieces from him, finding that the collection was steadily getting heavier. She winced as he dropped a pair of cylinder heads into her cupped arms, and sighed in relief when he pulled himself back out. He’d apparently run out of pieces to grab out of it.
Looking pleased, Jake nodded. “Bingo. That ought to do it for now.” He took the pile of parts from her, then walked back to the truck and placed them in the bed, wrapping a somewhat clean towel around them. “Okay. Let’s get on back to the shop. I’ll introduce you to Chance, and then we’ll call a taxi for you. Sound okay?” At the last, he seemed to grow a little nervous.
Callie smiled and nodded.
“That’ll be fine. Is something wrong?”
“Nah. Well…” Jake shrugged and rubbed the side of his skull through his backwards hat. “Usually Chance is the one who talks up the customers. He’s better at it than I am.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Callie teased the mechanic, folding her arms behind her. She sashayed to the passenger’s side door of the truck and smirked at him. “I thought you did all right for small talk.”
Jake shrugged, but didn’t argue the point. He turned on the radio so she wouldn’t have to face the drive back in silence.
He didn’t listen to country, she noticed. He listened to jazz.
“Hey, Chance, we’re back.” Jake called out loudly from outside of the shop doors. He slammed the yard truck door closed and went to the bed in back to grab all the spare parts he’d pulled from the scrapyard. Callie climbed out and took a glance inside, spying a larger, more broadly built tom in a blue-gray jumpsuit with his head stuck inside of her car’s hood.
“Hey, buddy. Boy, you weren’t kidding about the work, but you didn’t tell me it was a Longclaw you were working on! This is muscle car mania we’re talking about! We could drop in a turbocharger in here, up the RPMs, turn it into a really menacing street machine!” His voice was deep, but warm and highly excited. The tom finally stood up with a huge grin, which promptly got knocked off of his face when he spied Callie.
“Well, hello there.” He recovered, and his excited smile melted into something Callie had seen plenty of times through her life; an interested look just shy of an invitation to spend the night.
Callie mustered a tight, polite smile in return. “So. You’d be Chance, right?”
Jake wandered by, his pile of auto parts held together in a cloth tarp and slung over his shoulder. The slimmer tom with the cherry-brown fur motioned between the blond-furred tom and the blond-furred queen. “Yep. Chance Furlong. Chance, this is Calico Briggs. Our client.” Callie noticed he’d become even more withdrawn since they had arrived, and aside from a sidewards glance as he passed her, he was quiet.
Chance nodded and came over to Callie. “Well, glad to meet you, Miss Briggs. How’d you hear about us?”
“Oh, you two came recommended.” Callie answered. Well, jokingly recommended, but maybe this could work out.
Chance blinked in surprise at her answer.
“Oh? Well. Hear that, Jake? The word’s finally getting out.”
“Terrific.” Jake said, setting the parts down on a workbench. “Hey, Chance, can you call a taxi for Miss Briggs? I’ve already told her we’ll be keeping the car over the weekend.”
“And then once you’re finished, I could use a hand pulling out the engine block.” The slender tom added, still with his back turned to them.
“Sure, Jake.” Chance said through clenched teeth. He gestured to the door which led to their office. “If you’d come with me, Callie, we’ll have a ride to pick you up in about 15 minutes.”
“That would be good.” Callie kept her smile up, but she did relax a little more. The two mechanics seemed harmless enough. Chance was a flirt, no doubt about it, but he seemed the polite kind at least. He was efficient, too, placed a call in to the Yellow Cab to come pick her up and take her back in to the city. It seemed to sting his pride when the burly tom offered her coffee, and she’d politely refused, having already had a cup from Jake.
As she waited for the cab to arrive, she waited in the office and surreptitiously watched the two kats give her car the start of a thorough examination. Chance was brawnier and had a good eye for details, but Jake definitely had the keener mind, and was methodical in his exam. The two had a natural camaraderie, like they’d been friends all their lives and working together just as long. It was heartening to see. Leaning against the doorframe, Callie found herself smiling more honestly as the two bickered and Chance gave Jake a good ribbing over ‘not telling me there was a good looking shekat here’ earlier in the morning, followed by a vicious headrubbing and sputtered protests, followed by a hearty guffaw and a blush from Jake. It reminded her of the sort of relationships that her own father had had with his boys in the shop when she was little.
It reminded her of home.
The sounds of a car pulling up outside in a squeal of brakes pulled her back to the present, and she ducked inside of the office before the two kats could catch her spying on them.
The sound of Chance’s voice soon echoed through the building. “Miss Briggs? Your taxi’s here.”
“Oh, thanks Chance.” Callie called back, stepping through the doorway with a pleased expression. “And thank you, both of you. This means a lot to me.”
“No problem.” Chance answered eagerly. “Now, would you like us to call when it’s done, or should we just expect you to drop by Monday?”
“Early evening.” Callie said. “After I get done with work. You sure you’ll have it done by then?”
“We’ll get it running again.” Jake assured her, looking up from the car. “It may take us a few visits to get it back to original condition, though.”
“What Jake means is, we’d be happy to take care of its routine maintenance from now on.” Chance cut in, slipping a look back to his partner, who shrugged and got back to work.
Callie hmmed aloud and shrugged. “We’ll see how well you two do with getting it back on its feet this time around. I’ll consider it.”
“Right. Well, we’ll give it our full attention.” Chance nodded.
“All right. Well, I’d better get going. Take good care of my car now, Chance.”
The burly yellow tom swelled up a bit. “Count on it, Callie.”
Callie smiled, nodded, and headed out the main doors for the taxi. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, however, and she paused just outside the doors and leaned her head back in with a smirk.
“Bye, Jake.” She sing-songed, adding a small little wave. The slender cherry-brown tom jerked up and looked over at her with his fur several shades darker, and Chance looked between her and his partner in outright shock.
Priceless. Grinning, Callie flounced out of the workshop and made her way to the taxi.
She had a good feeling about these two mechanics. Maybe at last, she’d found someone she could trust with her father’s car.
Megakat City Hall
“Of course I’ll get away with it, Deputy Mayor. I’ve already gotten away with it.” The rumbling voice of Dark Kat rattled the walls as much as Callie’s nerves while the enormous megalomaniac towered over her. She and the Mayor, along with a few other unfortunate members of the staff, were bound and surrounded by a small horde of the demonic purple things called ‘Creeplings.’ While Dark Kat gloated, several more of the creatures were busy preparing a large explosive device that been unloaded from the Fear Ship. Only ten minutes ago, Dark Kat and his entourage had smashed through the side of the skyscraper directly into the mayor’s office, catching everyone by surprise and subduing the few Enforcer guards stationed about. The rest below had suffered a quick demise after tripping similar explosives wired to the elevator doors and the emergency stairs. “I have anticipated every response that your Enforcers could throw at us. The wheels of government will grind to a halt when my Mega-Bomb goes off and turns City Hall and all in it into rubble and paste. In the absence of leadership, the cowering kats of this city will be ripe pickings.”
“Now, now, don’t be haaasty!” Mayor Manx whined, trying to bargain out of desperation for their lives. “Surely we can work out some kind of deal! One in which I don’t end up dead!”
Dark Kat’s chuckle curdled Callie’s blood even more, and the cloaked and hooded specter of death turned away from her and the rest of the hostages. “My dear mayor, you make a poor mouthpiece. You’re worth more to me dead than alive.”
Manx whimpered and tucked his tail in, and Callie shook her head. We’re all dead, Mayor. At least I tried to face it with a little dignity. The chattering of a nearby Creepling caused her to jerk upright. I just wish I didn’t have to stare at these things in the final minutes of my life.
“This is Commander Feral!” The echoing voice of the Enforcers’ leader over a loudspeaker drifted up from outside of the building. “We have the building surrounded, Dark Kat! Give yourself up!”
Dark Kat gestured to some Creeplings still inside of the Fear Ship, which promptly got to work pressing buttons. The sounds of launching missiles followed by explosions seconds later made Callie shiver.
“Now, if your precious Enforcers keep to their procedures, they will next try a rooftop insertion through the clock tower.” Dark Kat said, walking over to his Mega-Bomb and brushing his Creeplings aside. He got to work on it, pausing only briefly when the building shook and shuddered again. “Too predictable. And now, they’re dead also.” He laughed at that and continued to program the bomb. “Through the elevators, the stairs, and the roof. The Enforcers are out of options.”
And, just when Callie was about to throw in the towel, the building shook again…although this time, the Fear Ship was responsible for the rattling, having taken several hits and now smoking along its exposed hull. Dark Kat whirled about, as did everyone else, and stared out through what was left of the large outer windows.
“What in blazes?!”
A jet was hovering in midair, and Callie felt hope return to her numbed senses. She knew that jet. “It’s the SWAT Kats!” She cried out.
And then, a heavy turret mounted underneath its belly began to spin and fire. Not bullets, but enormous blobs of heavy material which slammed through the building and smashed Creepling after Creepling into the walls. Even Dark Kat took a hit or two, grunting in pain as he was knocked flat on his feet and covered in a thick cement-like paste.
No, not cement-like. Actual cement, Callie realized.
With the Fear Ship’s weapons neutralized, the Turbokat lined up alongside the window, and both SWAT Kats jumped out, armed and dangerous.
“Knock, knock, Dark Kat!” The larger one of the pair growled, hitting the floor running and barreling into the terrorist with a wild haymaker. The other one used the strange weaponized gauntlet he was wearing to wrap up the last few conscious Creeplings in thick netting.
“I’ve got the hostages, T-Bone!” The smaller one called out. He raced to where Mayor Manx, Callie, and the others were, and, using a small rotary saw which sprouted from the top of his gauntlet, cut through their ropes. “Get going, we’ll handle Dark Kat!”
Callie found herself swallowing from the shock of it all, and for a brief moment, her eyes locked with the face of the smaller SWAT Kat. Wearing a blue and red flight suit, along with helmet and a mask which covered the upper half of his face, he looked positively dangerous. And heroic.
“Curse you, you damned vigilantes!” Dark Kat snapped, coming back up to his feet and knocking the larger SWAT Kat aside with a backhand. “But you’re too late! The bomb is set, and there’s no stopping the countdown!” The terrorist lumbered back to his Fear Ship, and some of the Creeplings who’d been able to break free followed him, chattering angrily.
“Razor, he’s getting away! Come on!” The larger one, T-Bone if Callie had heard right, yelled out.
“No can do, T-Bone.” Razor, the smaller of them, cut in angrily, pointing towards the large Mega-Bomb which occupied the middle of the mayor’s office. “We have to get the Mayor and the hostages to safety!”
Callie pulled herself up to her feet and gave her head a wild shake. “Forget about us, SWAT Kats, you have to take care of the bomb! Dark Kat said it was powerful enough to knock down City Hall completely!”
Razor and T-Bone froze for a moment, which was long enough for the Fear Ship’s rear entrance to close up and for the ship to blast out of the office, retreating away from the Megakat City skyline while trailing smoke.
“Darn it!” T-Bone scowled, flashing his fangs. “All right, fine. Razor, can you defuse the bomb?”
Razor raced over to the Mega-Bomb and ripped off an access panel, tracing the wiring inside. After twenty seconds, he scowled. “No good. He’s got it rigged with two failsafe timers. This bomb is going off in one minute, no matter what we do!”
“Nooo, not my City Hall!” Mayor Manx wailed. He cowered on the floor, a mess just like he always was when things got tough.
While the other office workers either tried to call out for help or fell to their knees in prayer, Callie worked up enough nerve to approach the smaller SWAT Kat, still standing by the bomb with a distraught look on his face.
“Can’t you do anything?” She pleaded. “Razor?” At his name, Razor jerked back to reality and looked at her in surprise. “If this building collapses, it’ll kill kats down below on the streets too. There has to be something you can do.”
“Whatever we’re gonna do, sure shot, we’d better make it quick.” T-Bone hollered out.
Razor’s eyes, white behind his mask, seemed to dart in several directions wildly as he thought. Finally, he gave one short nod. “If we can’t disarm the bomb, we’ll have to take it someplace where it can’t hurt anyone when it goes off. T-Bone! The grapple lines!”
“Right!” T-Bone jumped out of the window and raced back to the cockpit of the Turbokat, climbing back inside and bringing the hovering jet back to full life. Three seconds later, a vast array of thick cables launched from its underside and landed close to the Mega-Bomb.
“Miss Briggs, give me a hand here!” Razor ordered, already busily wrapping the cables around the bomb and snapping the ends together. Callie did as she was told, and working in tandem, Deputy Mayor and vigilante quickly had the bomb trussed up in four separate lines.
Razor tapped the side of his helmet. “Okay, T-Bone, give it a yank!”
The Turbokat retreated back away from the side of the building, and with a grinding sound, the tied up bomb scraped across the floor before crashing out of the last surviving bit of window. Razor dashed after it, grabbing hold of the main cable line, and the Turbokat turned about and shot off for Megakat Bay.
Callie and some of the others ran to the ruins of the outer wall of the building, watching in awe when the Turbokat released the Mega-Bomb. It barely escaped the explosion that followed as it went off above the water. Cheers rose up, especially from Callie, and even as exhausted as she was, the relief she felt was never more palpable.
“They did it! Those SWAT Kats saved our lives!” One receptionist sobbed in relief.
Callie nodded and smiled before turning her face back towards the skyline, and the rapidly retreating Turbokat. “Yeah. They did. And we never got to thank them.”
“Thank them? Callie, look at my carpet, it’s ruined!” The Mayor groaned. Callie winced and looked back to the room, at last recognizing that the green carpet and the underfloor was torn up. “How am I evah supposed to play gallf in here again?!”
“Mayor Manx, we just survived nearly being blown up with half of downtown!” Callie snapped at her superior. “Get some perspective! The SWAT Kats just did in two minutes what the Enforcers couldn’t do in half an hour! We’re alive, and you’re panicking about the carpet?!”
Her angry outburst chastened the Mayor enough to allow her to bring order back to the world. Not long after, Commander Feral and a squad rappelled into the officer from their helicopters to ‘take control of the situation’, which she found laughable considering the SWAT Kats had done everything.
After another hour, the Enforcers had defused the remaining charges and declared City Hall safe. Considering the morning’s events, Callie decided it would be best to call it a day early.
And the mayor never said a word, because he was long gone for the golf links by then.
Calico Briggs’ Apartment
Returning home after enjoying a meal at a hole in the wall Siamese restaurant that had been a favorite refuge of hers since College, Calico Briggs had parked her green sedan in the building’s underground garage and taken the elevator up to her floor in the skyscraper. The meal had been terrific, and it had been just as much of a relief to have her car back in fighting shape. She’d collected it on Monday, and been happily surprised to discover that the entire repair had been 500 dollars below the estimate. It drove better than it had since she’d learned to drive in high school, but Jake had insisted, when he could get a word in with Chance bantering, that he’d keep an eye on it the next time she brought it in for an oil change. If she brought it in for an oil change. She hadn’t committed to keeping them on as her regular car mechanics, but after a few days of driving the Longclaw around, she was basically set on it.
With a sigh and a yawn, she unlocked the door to her apartment and stepped inside. She closed the door, flipped the deadbolt, and then switched the lights on.
The sudden illumination caused her to gasp and drop her purse on the floor, because she wasn’t alone in her place. Both of the SWAT Kats were sitting on her living room couch in their full getups, watching her.
“SWAT Kats? What the…” She stammered.
“Good evening, Miss Briggs.” T-Bone said lowly, getting up onto his feet. “We were hoping you’d get home soon.”
“What are you two doing in here?” Callie demanded. “How did you find my apartment, anyhow?”
“We have our ways.” Razor said cryptically, standing beside T-Bone. “We wanted to talk to you about what happened earlier today.”
Callie rubbed at her forehead, not sure whether to feel tired or frightened, but settling on tired. Having been threatened with death once in a day made a repeat of the experience lose its fangs. “Are you here to hurt me?”
“What? No!” T-Bone said, seemingly hurt by the idea.
“Good. Because I’m not feeling particularly chipper after what happened with Dark Kat, and all I want to do is just curl up and sleep. It’d be great if you two would leave so I can.”
“And what about next time, Miss Briggs?” Razor asked sharply. That made her freeze. “We saw how you reacted today. The others panicked. You actually tried to do something. I don’t think I could have gotten that bomb roped up as quickly without your help. And the fact of the matter is, stuff like what happened today seems to be happening more often.”
“Look.” Callie said. “I’m grateful that you two saved our lives, but what are you getting at?”
“We want you to help us.” T-Bone explained.
“Ah. Well, I’ll have to pass. Vigilantism is your thing.”
T-Bone chuckled at that. “No, we can handle ourselves. But one thing we don’t have is somebody on the inside. Someone we can trust. Someone to let us know when something’s going on in Megakat City, so we can respond to it quickly. We want you to be that kat. An informant.”
Razor walked up to her and held out a small, triangular device with a large button at the center and side toggles. “This is a specialized communicator I came up with. It has a 50 mile range, and is encrypted on a frequency that the Enforcers don’t use. It’ll allow you to contact us if there’s trouble.”
Callie looked at the device dubiously, then looked to Razor under the light of her apartment. She narrowed her gaze, but the tomcat didn’t flinch.
“Why me?” She asked. Seeing Razor begin to open his mouth, she interrupted him with a wave of her hand. “And don’t give me the same excuse that I’m strong, because I’m not.”
Razor blinked underneath his mask. “You’re sharper than most give you credit for, Deputy Mayor.” Still holding out the communicator, Razor cocked his head to the side. “We know that the mayor doesn’t actually do anything, but somehow, decisions are still getting made. The Enforcers are too bound up in restrictions and the leadership of Commander Feral to be really effective. Someone is still making a difference, though. Slowly, but steadily. And we know it’s you. Your voice carries more authority than you know.”
“In short, we trust you, Miss Briggs.” T-Bone concluded, folding his burly, striped arms. “And we’re hoping that you…trust us.”
Callie looked from T-Bone standing in the background to Razor, who stood before her still offering the communicator.
“Before I agree to this, I…I need to know something.”
“We expected you’d have questions. If you only have one, that saves us time.” Razor nodded.
Callie looked the slimmer SWAT Kat over. “Why do you do this?” She asked him. “What makes you dress up, put your tails on the line, and risk either being killed or being arrested?”
“This is our city.” T-Bone chimed in with a gruff growl. “And somebody has to protect it from the crazed lowlifes who threaten it. There are some kats, some things which are too much for the Enforcers to handle. At least the way it currently operates.”
Callie couldn’t help but nod inside her head at the truth of that, but she refrained from doing it physically. “So you do it out of obligation?”
“No.” Razor shook his head. “We do it because it’s who we are. That’s the only reason that matters. Why did you take the job of Deputy Mayor? Because you felt obligated?”
“No!” Callie stammered. “I…I took it because I wanted to help!” Her face fell a bit, as she recalled how truly useless she was in changing anything.
Razor’s free paw went to her shoulder. “You are helping.” He told her gently, when she looked back into his eyes.
She trusted those eyes, and when Razor set the communicator in her fingers, they curled around the device on their own.
“All right.” Callie said softly. “If there’s trouble…I’ll call you.” She blinked once as Razor pulled his paw back, and smiled at them. “And what if I just want to talk to you?”
“Don’t.” T-Bone told her, shaking his head. “Emergencies only.” Conceding to the logic in that, Callie nodded. “Come on, Razor. We’ve got to get back to patrol.”
The two vigilantes turned back around and headed for her window, and Callie felt a lost thought strike her as they pointed their gauntlets up the side of the building’s exterior.
“Wait!” She cried out. Razor and T-Bone paused and looked back at her.
“Yes, Miss Briggs?” T-Bone asked.
In spite of everything, she felt a rush of heat rise to her cheeks, and she looked off to the side slightly. “I…I wanted to thank you. For saving my life today. I wanted to earlier, but you flew off before I could.”
The two gave her small smiles, and Razor spoke up.
“You’re welcome. Good night, Miss Briggs.”
Their arms pointed up again, and with the hiss of compressed gas, they launched grapple lines, vanishing from sight. Thirty seconds later, the roar of the Turbokat’s engines shattered the silence of night.
Looking at the communicator one last time, Callie smiled and tucked it away in her purse.
Maybe she wasn’t so useless in that office after all.
Megakat City Salvage Yard
2 Weeks Later
“It’s been quiet since Dark Kat tried to blow up City Hall.” Chance grumbled. He was rotating the tires on a car while Jake worked on changing out the oil.
“Hey, you say that like it’s a bad thing.” Jake complained. “I’m personally glad for the break. Our grappler cables needed replacing after that last stunt, and I’ve come up with a new design so they can deploy around a target without any manual assistance.”
“Heh! You’re always fiddling with those gadgets of yours.”
“Chance, if I didn’t fiddle, the Turbokat wouldn’t have the ability to hover or VTOL.” Jake reminded his partner, waving his wrench out from underneath the car. “At least the cement machine gun worked like I hoped it would.”
“How you kept the mixture from gumming up inside of the gun and hardening right after impact…”
“Advanced chemistry, Chance…”
“Hey, I’m trying to pay you a compliment, stop showing off already.”
“Oh, this from the king of hotdogging himself?” Jake guffawed.
“That’s it. Mondo Pepper contest tonight after work!”
The sound of a car horn honking outside ended their arguments, and Jake rolled himself from underneath of their current project to look at Chance.
“Another customer?” Jake wondered aloud.
“Maybe?” Chance guessed. “At least it’s not a call for a tow-in.”
The two made their way outside and faltered in midstep. Standing outside of her ’64 Longclaw was one Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs, looking particularly professional in her pink ‘power’ business suit and high heels. She gave the two a grin and waved as they started walking up to her again.
“Hey, guys.” She greeted them.
“Hey, Miss Briggs.” Chance replied, slipping back into his usual flirting demeanor. “What can we do for you?”
“Well, I gave it some thought and decided that after the work you did earlier getting my car running, I owed you some repeat business.” Callie explained. “I just got done for the day, and I was wondering if you’d be able to squeeze me in for an oil change.”
Jake and Chance looked at one another, and Chance nodded. “Sure. Jake’s just about done on our current car. We can get you in and out of here in half an hour.”
“That sounds great. Thanks, you two.” Callie handed the keys over to Jake, who gave his head a shake and drove the Longclaw into the shop’s second bay. “So, how’s business been?” She asked Chance, as they walked after her car.
“Oh, picking up.” Chance said. “We got your latest payment, by the way. Thanks for getting it to us so promptly.”
“After the miracle you pulled off getting my father’s car running again, it’s worth every penny. I’m just happy you let me set up a payment plan.”
“I thought the Deputy Mayor’s job would pay better.” Chance blinked as they went inside. He returned to rotating the tires on their first car, giving Callie some space while Jake slid underneath her car and got to work on opening up the Longclaw’s oil pan.
Callie folded her arms and shook her head. “Not after rent and student loans. But, it has its perks. You meet some really interesting people on the job. I met the SWAT Kats a couple of weeks ago.”
Both Chance and Jake paused momentarily in their work, but neither one looked towards the other, afraid of giving anything away. It could be that Callie was just making small talk.
“Oh, really?” Jake said, continuing to work. “Are they really the heroes that some kats make them out to be?”
“They saved the lives of everyone in City Hall. You bet they’re heroes.” Callie said proudly. “But then, so are you two.”
“We are?” Chance looked over his shoulder at her in confusion. “What did we do?”
Callie shrugged. “You two helped restore my faith in the kats of this city when you saved my car. As long as there are kats like you two, and the SWAT Kats, around, I’m going to stick it out. Being the Deputy Mayor may not pay well, it may not be glamorous, and it comes with a lot of headaches, but it’s what I can do.”
“Glad to hear that there’s someone up there in city hall looking out for the little guy.” Jake said brightly. “And thank you, Callie.”
“For trusting us enough to come back.” Jake concluded.
Callie nodded, looking between the two mechanics hard at work. Standing there in that dingy car garage, surrounded with the smells of engine oil and radiator fluid, the troubles of Mayor Manx and the office slipped away, and let her see a brighter tomorrow fast coming. One changed not by the wealthy, or the elite, but by kats whose hearts and hands were always driving the city she loved forward.
“Anything worthwhile starts out with trust.” She whispered, and smiled.
Navigate This Author's Stories
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.