Title: Jaded Reflections
Warnings: Some violence.
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
The past is forever locked with regret…or so my father once told me. I never really understood what he meant by that comment, but now, after I have felt the cruel passage of time and crippling effects of our imperfection, the burden of those words have come to haunt me, and their true meaning is more of a reality to me than the warmth of the summer sun or the crispness of an autumn wind.
I guess you can say it was an act of desperation, when I gave in to the evil I swore to fight in order to spare myself a greater pain. But now, when I look back, that pain I tried to save myself from is no longer sedated by my past reason and condoning. To ruin the lives of others in order to sustain your own happiness is perhaps the worst evil you could ever commit… and of this I am guilty…
I vividly remember staring out through the broken window of that old warehouse into the reflective waters of the dock. There was no moon that night, so the celestial bodies of the heavens stood out like fierce eyes against the unfathomable blackness of the sky. The rippling water of the dock held my attention as I watched the reflection of the city’s proud skyscrapers glow upon the dark waves, casting an eerie glow upon the dock and the jagged edges of the broken window, showering me and the empty room in a cold spray of dancing prisms.
I was livid, and I am sure the resentment I strongly felt was obvious in my countenance. I was lost in my own chaotic mindset as I stared out into the beauty of the night, and I knew that this meeting was not going to end well.
The sound of approaching footsteps promptly brought me back to the real world. I tore my gaze from the dock towards the far corner of the creaking warehouse, where I saw a large figure materialize from the inky blackness. A sharp flash of silver slashed through the dusky atmosphere of the room, and the irritable blunt tap pounded the damp plank flooring.
Soon, the owner of this distinctive cane was standing a couple of feet away from me, the cruel outlines of his face partially masked by shadows. Despite the lack of light in the room, the icy abhorrence we felt for one another made the air around us bitterly frozen, and to me, it became difficult to breath normally.
“Commander… I’m pleased that you came,” he purred with an evil glint in his eye as he dragged the point of his cane along the floor until it rested in front of him, allowing him to lean fully upon it so that his horrid face was even closer to mine so that I could see his bared teeth glisten in the subtle light.
“I thought I told you never to get a hold of me again, Dark Kat,” I hissed. “My affiliation with you has been fully terminated.”
He chuckled at this. “Oh? And yet, you came. Probably because you’re well aware that you still have to hold up your end of the bargain.”
I despised him even more after this comment. “It is not my fault that you cannot get your act together. I carried out my end of the deal, and so your incompetence is no fault of mine.”
He lashed his cane out into the air and pointed it accusingly at my face. “Wrong! In case you’ve forgotten, my past attempts have been thwarted by your men, and so my failure is in every way a failure of yours, Feral.”
My throat tightened in fury as I growled at the mention of my name.
“And so, my dear Commander, it is up to you to get rid of the problem.”
I closed my eyes and let my head drop down to my chest. Despite what you may think, this was not an act of weakness. My worst fears were now a reality soon to unfold; this was what I had been dreading for the past several weeks.
“You expect me to get rid of my squadron?” I growled as I opened my eyes and glared at his stone cold face with an even keener sense of hatred than moments before.
“Did I say your entire squadron, you fool? I don’t care how you do it, but I want those pilots that are a constant nuisance to me gone,” was his harsh, demanding reply.
The room fell silent as we glared at each other, and the atmosphere seemed to grow warmer due to the fierce concentration of our hatred. His eyes were glowing scarlet slits that burned into mine, and, as the seconds passed, it grew harder to match the intensity of his glare. I gritted my teeth in seething anger as I finally tore my eyes from his poisonous sneer and glared down at the floor. I could feel the hot blood boiling in my veins as my head and ears pounded deafeningly; it was all I could do not to throw myself at him to rip his throat out with my claws that were slicing into the palms of my quaking hands. Everything would be lost if I lost my temper now.
I could literally see the ugly smirk on his face as I listened to him speak in his cold tone. “And, you know the pilots of which I speak.”
“For the record, Dark Kat, after our deal is finished, I swear to God I’ll never let you use me again for your evil.” Never again would I put myself in this position.
His frigid laugh made shivers run up my spine. “Oh, isn’t that poetic? On the contrary, you are still bound by our agreement, and if you do not carry out your promised task, then I shall undo my part and reveal your dealings with me to the public. I think it’s needless to say that what I’m asking you to do doesn’t have as many repercussions as would you turning back on our agreement.”
I was cornered, and I despise that bitter feeling of hopelessness. I had no choice; I had to get rid of my two best pilots who were doing nothing but living up to their oath… unlike me. I breathed in deeply, trying to keep myself from screaming out like some wild banshee. “Then, how do you propose I get rid of them and make it look like an accident? I have a lot at stake here.” God, I hated how those words rolled out so smoothly from my mouth.
Dark Kat once again leaned upon his cane as he nodded in acknowledgment. “Believe it or not, I have taken this into account.” A malicious sneer slowly spread across his hideous face. “And, I have the perfect scenario that will put the blame on your two pilots instead of it being placed on either of us.”
Three jets in pursuit of a massive air ship screamed through the air while skillfully maneuvering through the rigid skyscrapers as if they were in some massive steel maze.
Chance Furlong, the leading pilot, growled in irritation as he pushed the throttle to the full maximum of his jet, only just barely starting to gain on the air ship known as the Fear Ship. The other two jets fell back a short distance as Chance pulled ahead of them.
“Chance, Jake, let him go; it’s too dangerous!” one of the pilots yelled through his headset.
Chance glared as he watched the Fear Ship get further ahead of him.” Negative, we’re bringing Dark Kat in. You guys go get yourselves some donuts.”
”You two are nuts! We’re breaking off pursuit!” the third pilot announced as he and the other pilot broke off from the chase.
Chance rolled his fighter between two skyscrapers with ease and once again, gradually, started to come up on the Fear Ship. “Roger that, leave it to us. We’ll bring this psycho in if it kills us.
Jake Clawson, Chance’s RIO, looked back to see their friends bank off the skyscrapers Chance squeezed through. He quickly brought his attention back to the task at hand, and his eyes widened as his scope relayed urgent information. “Chance, he’s locking missiles on the new Enforcer building!”
Chance tightened his grip on the stick. “Then, ya gotta nail him now, Jake!”
Jake grinned confidently. “No problemo. Missile deployed!” Jake’s missile shot forth from the jet and struck the Fear Ship dead on. “Knocked out his weapon system!” Jake cried triumphantly, “One more shot and Dark Kat is history!”
As planned, I came up alongside their jet after Dark Kat allowed them to hit him, although I don’t think he was expecting Jake to hit him in such a crucial area. I smirked at this; the megalomaniac deserved it. I focused on my hatred for Dark Kat in order to numb my prickling conscience.
“This is Feral. Fall back you two; I’ll handle Dark Kat!”
“Negative, Commander, we’ve already got our missiles locked! It’s our tag!” Chance protested as he shot me a defensive glare.
I couldn’t help but shake my head; he was so predictable. “I’m ordering you to back off!” I snarled back.
From the corner of my eye I saw him shake his head vigorously. ‘I repeat, Sir, we have a lock!”
My grip on the stick tightened as I prepared myself for what I was about to do. All I could think of at that precise moment was whether they could learn to forgive me or not. My jaw was clenched as I veered my jet sharply to the left, directly towards the right wing of Furlong and Clawson’s jet.
Jake had remained silent throughout Chance’s and Feral’s argument. He momentarily took his eyes off of his beeping targeting scope and looked over at Feral’s jet, trying to determine the current mood of their Commander.
It was at this very moment that time tried to stand still.
Jake’s eyes grew wide in shock and horror as he watched Feral’s jet slide from between two skyscrapers and clip their wing as he banked, and the world immediately spun in front of him as he clung to his seat. The putrid smell of smoke filled both of the young tom’s nostrils as they plummeted towards the city below them, their senses of direction lost in the chaotic hurricane of black smoke, screeching instruments, and glowing sparks. Chance, amidst the terrifying confusion, found himself fighting in desperation to get the jet under his control.
“We’re outta the game, Chance, we gotta eject!” Jake yelled over the sound of their dying jet.
“No way! I’m not ejecting!” Chance hissed viciously as he continued the fight to gain control.
Jake’s grip on his seat tightened as an alarm went off in the cockpit. “Chance, our stabilizers are gone!”
“I can control her!”
I was far ahead of them as I listened to Furlong and Clawson try to regain control of the jet. I knew for a fact that they were going to crash into some building. I struck them in the precise area that would ensure that inevitable outcome. The rage that had been building up in me since my last meeting with Dark Kat was overwhelmingly intoxicating. My pilot’s voices gradually faded as I glared at the Fear Ship with an intense hatred that was fighting to rear its ugly head.
My paws were shaking as my jet confirmed a lock on the Fear Ship; it would be so easy to finish the job Clawson had started. The remedy of the nightmare I was living in was so close I could actually taste the freedom it promised me.
However, that remedy vanished just as quickly as it had appeared.
A thunderous explosion shattered through the air along with a sudden, blinding flash of light that made me close my eyes, disrupting my train of thought. Then, the light subsided seconds later, and in that short span of time, Dark Kat had somehow managed to escape my grasp. I looked back to see the new Enforcer Headquarters crowned with a furious, scorching blaze. It was after that that I couldn’t hold any of it in any longer. I screamed at the top of my lungs as I slammed my quaking fist into the console.
“Dark Kat is gone! And, all because of those two young hotshots!”
I just had to convince myself that that’s what really happened, that none of it was my doing… that it was all because of their insubordination… But, since then, I have been fully aware that it’s all a lie… and the consequences of my actions have haunted me ever since, gnawing painfully at my soul.
‘It was our tag, Commander. None of this would have happened if you hadn’t interfered, SIR.’
‘That’s it! You’re off the force! Both of you!’
‘Suits us. Who needs this crud anyway!’
“I can’t believe you think I’m that stupid. I’d rather make a deal with Dark Kat than I would you!”
“You forget yourself, Furlong. Those are smart words coming from your wanted mouth.”
“Like I give a care! Arrest me now and get it over with; we both know it’s what you really want to do!”
Yes, I now realize what my father meant by those insightful words…. And, my clear understanding of it is a burden. The past is inaccessible and certainly best forgotten, but it is impossible to fully forget the cruel consequences from the chaotic and far reaching wake of my shortsighted actions.
As I sit here in my office, looking down at the bustling streets of this mighty city that I have sworn to protect, I can feel that familiar aching pain that has worn me down mentally and physically. It’s been getting harder and harder to lie to myself and to those I love most… and still, forgiveness for all that I have done has not come to relieve my aching spirit…. and I expect to carry this pain for the rest of my life.
I don’t want to be numb anymore…
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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.