Author’s Note: Yes, I am living:P Sorry it’s taken me so long to update this chapter. Let’s just blame it on my lack of a real life outside of school and work. I want to thank you all for being such loyal readers. And, also, I want to give a special thanx to my good friends TigerKat, Wyvern, Cosmic Castaway, Ulyferal, Hotaru, and Peri of the Elves. They were the ones that kicked my tail into gear. Thanx guys:P I hope this chapter was worth the wait. I look forward to your reviews…
Mayor Manx pursed his lips together as he concentrated at the difficult task waiting to be done before him. His grip tightened on the handle as he squirmed in his steady stance, preparing himself for the final outcome of it all. He breathed in deeply, brought his club up to an acute 25 degrees from the green carpeted floor and gently tapped the white golf ball that was patiently waiting to be cast off. A triumphant smirk appeared on the older kat’s plump face as he watched the ball go into the pocket, just imagining the tense, anticipated silence that would be ensued by a thunderous roar of cheers and clapping as the ball came to its designated stop. He chuckled as he brought himself up to his full height of 5 foot 3 and glanced over at Callie.
Callie was leaning up against the cherry wood window trim as she stared out of the window out across the steel metropolis that tore jaggedly into the bright blue sky. Apparently, she hadn’t been watching his unseen, glorious moment. Manx cleared his throat as he stepped over to the artificial hole and plucked the golf ball out from within it.
“Now, where was aye, Callie?” he drawled lazily as he smiled down at the ball in his paw.
“You mentioned the MegaKat Tower, sir,” Callie replied automatically, still not breaking her stare with the skyline.
“Ah yesa. As aye was sayin, its interior has been replaced and everythang is operational.” He beamed as he bent down and placed the ball gently to its starting point. He sighed as he slowly straightened and walked around to his comfortable chair behind his desk. “Mr. Yaung (Young) can now sign his lease papas and everythang will go according to plan, all thanks to the Swat Kats.”
Callie’s blank expression slowly melted away as she faintly smiled at their name being mentioned. It was a mystery how they had won Manx over, but they did.
“Why, I can’t even imagine wat it would be like without tham,” Manx mused out loud as he contentedly sat there behind his sleek, monstrous desk. His grin steadily disappeared as he meditated further on what he just said. “We WOULD have more money in the treasuray though,” Manx mused.
Callie stifled a laugh as she looked over at the bemused look on Manx’s face. Manx met her glance with his. “Do you think thay vote for may?” he asked, hoping that his most serious doubt would come to peaceful rest.
Callie gave him a calming smile. “Yes, mayor, they have even told me that you are their favorite politician ever.”
Manx beamed at this, and sat back into his chair, once again in contentment. “Reallay? Oh, well, I do try my baest.” He chuckled in a poor attempt of modesty.
Callie chuckled as well as she turned back to the window to look out again on the beautiful day. She was going to have to tell the boys about this conversation. In fact, she would tell Jake himself later today.
…A couple of hours later…
Callie briskly walked up the front stone steps of the museum with a thick portfolio clutched in her hand. The guard standing by the front door saw her coming and rushed to open the door for her, making her smile gratefully at him.
“Thank you, Simons.”
A bashful smile appeared on the younger guard’s face. “You’re welcome, Miss. Briggs.”
Callie’s smile grew bigger as she walked through door and heard Simons whisper excitedly to himself that she had remembered his name, failing to realize that she had read it off of his name badge.
She walked through the museum’s lobby with her usual prestige and occasionally greeted her acquaintances. Abi was no where to be seen, and so she correctly guessed that the young historian was in her office, undoubtedly studying some recently received artifact.
Sure enough, once Callie had reached Abi’s door and waited for Abi to answer to her knock, she walked in to find some rusty old relic resting on the observation table. “What do you have there?” Callie laughed as she walked over to the table. Her nose scrunched up as she saw more of the artifact. “Another book? Is that thing even readable?”
Abi sniffed daintily. “This is not just a book, Callie, this is THE book. And, yes, I have been able to read it quite well.”
“It smells like mold,” Callie stated bluntly.
“Posh. It does not. It carries the aroma of passed ages.” Abi breathed in deeply to emphasize her statement. “I love it.” She smiled at Callie as she held out her paw for the portfolio.
“Exactly, it smells like mold.” Callie smirked, handing the portfolio over to Abi.
Abi waved her free paw dismissively as she walked back over to her messy desk. “You just have a horrid sense of smell.”
“Thank goodness.” Callie laughed as she followed Abi. “Those are the final reports on the cathedral. I just need you to sign a couple of more papers.”
Abi shook her head. “And, we’re just now getting this whole thing closed up?” Abi sighed as she opened the portfolio and started to read its contents.
“Well, Manx kind of wanted to keep everything quiet. A lot of things had to be changed because of what happened,” Callie explained as she sat down in one of Abi’s chairs.
“I thought you said I only had to sign a few papers.” Abi cast an accusing glare in Callie’s direction.
“Yes, you just need to read over the rest of that… the last three in there are what you need to sign.”
“Oh, right.” Abi chuckled as she pulled the three pages from the back. “Silly me.” Abi sat down and started to fill out the papers. “After this, it’s going to be settled right?” Abi looked up at Callie, who was staring blankly at the edge of the oaken desk.
“Yes,” came the reply.
A few moments of silence pursued Callie’s distracted reply. Abi laid down her pen and straightened the papers she had just signed. “Are their secret identities still safe?” Abi asked quietly as she laid the papers in front of Callie.
Callie looked up abruptly with a tense expression on her face. Seeing that Abi was sincere in her meaning, her face softened. “I think so. I’ve been worrying about it since then, but they’re surprisingly not all that stressed about it. Jake even told me that it’s kind of nice that they’re not the only ones that know now… and that it’s not some overwhelming burden anymore.”
Abi smiled whimsically while briefly shaking their head. “They’re both doing good though?”
Callie nodded. “Yeah, they’ve returned to their old selves.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Abi looked down at her paws, trying to rephrase her thoughts. “Do they know that I know?” she asked finally.
Callie simply nodded. “Yes, like I said, they’re not too worried about it. It’s not like Feral knows.”
Abi smiled. “And, hopefully, he never will.”
The pen whipped back and forth as a dark blue blur between his twitching fingers as he sat there glaring out of his office window. His jaw was clenched as his angered thoughts began to win him over, and as the rash resolution became the one and only option he was willing to accept; he breathed in deeply. His paw abruptly snapped shut, gripping the pen in his strong paw as if it was a stress reliever before slamming it onto his desk. He stood up and grabbed his overcoat from the back of his chair and put it on. After buttoning it up and straightening his collar, he leaned down and called the front desk from his conference phone.
“Commander?” came the brisk answer.
“Hello, Susan. I was just wanted to know where my niece was on patrol.”
“She’s patrolling up town, Commander, and is scheduled to be back at 7.”
“Excellent. Thank you, Susan.”
He hung up and grabbed his car keys from his desk. He left his office and Enforcer Headquarters with only one purpose in mind.
…Thirty minutes later…..5:30 p.m…
Callie looked down at the small sports car uncomfortably while at the same time noting that she was taller than the car itself. She looked back up to Jake, who was studying her expression, and gave him an uneasy smile that just made Chance snicker.
“You want me to drive THIS?” Callie laughed, hoping that she had misheard him.
Jake shot Chance an irritable glare before replying. “Yes, I want you to learn how to drive it.”
Chance leaned up against the back of the truck that was parked in the garage so that he could watch Callie and Jake’s upcoming stare down. He shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. ‘This is too funny,’ he snickered to himself.
“Jake, I have no desire or need for that matter to learn to drive this thing. I am perfectly content with my automatic,” Callie informed her boyfriend in her usual manner-of-fact way. Callie couldn’t help but frown as Jake got a mischievous smirk on his face.
“Alright, Cal, I see how it is. You’re just not up for the challenge today. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that you probably had a trying day at the office and you just don’t want to admit that you’re a little scared…”
“Scared? I didn’t say that I was scared.” Callie huffed, a little dismayed that Jake was seeing straight through her act.
Jake glanced back at Chance over his shoulder. “She didn’t say she was scared?”
Chance caught on to Jake’s game immediately and just nodded. “Of course she isn’t scared.” Chance laughed as if he was trying to convince himself of it.
Jake looked back to an irritated Callie. “Sorry, my bad. You’re not scared.”
Callie continued to glare at Jake while he, on the other hand, stared back at her with a calm expression and a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth.
After a few moments, Callie gave in. She fully knew that Chance and Jake were aware that she was indeed a little bit scared to drive a manual. She pursed her lips together stubbornly and tossed her head to clear her face of the hair that was hanging in front of it. “Fine, Let’s go now so that we’re not gone for the remainder of the day.”
Jake grinned triumphantly as Callie walked over to the passenger side of the car and opened the door. Before getting in she stopped and pointed at him. “But, YOU are driving until we’re out of the city.”
“Fair enough.” He smiled.
When Callie had got in and shut the door, Chance just shook his head. “I can’t believe you got her to cave in.”
Jake walked up to the car and put his paw on the door handle. “We’re both stubborn; one of us has to win eventually.”
Chance shook his head as he watched Jake start the car and skillfully drive off. “They make a perfect couple.” He chuckled to himself as he stood up from his relaxed position and walked up to the front of the jacked up truck to continue working on it. “Kill joy,” he muttered at the truck as he lay back down on the roller bench and pulled himself underneath the truck.
Several minutes had passed when he heard a car drive up to the front of the garage. Chance grumbled as he rolled out from underneath the truck and slowly stood up. He grabbed the shop rag that was lying across the hood and started to wipe his paws off.
He was looking down at his paws as he heard a car door open, the visitor step out and then the door shut. Chance looked up, and was taken back when he saw who his visitor was.
“Commander,” Chance said in surprise as he watched the grim faced Feral step into the garage.
“Furlong,” Feral growled unpleasantly. He looked around the garage briefly to make sure no one else was around. “Is Clawson here?” he demanded gruffly.
Chance raised an eyebrow as he tried to guess the reason why Feral was there. “He’s out… why?”
Feral breathed in deeply as he continued to glare down at Chance disapprovingly. “I wanted to discuss something with you… alone.”
“Okay. What do you want to talk about?” Chance’s expression betrayed his confusion.
“I came here to talk about those boundaries, Furlong, and I’ve been given the impression that I need to make them clearer.”
“What are you talking about?”
Feral took another step forward, so that he towered over Chance even more. “At the last private discussion we had, I mentioned that I had some boundaries that you were not to cross. Let’s just say that due to your apparent lack of respectability and complete disregard for the well being of others, you have violated one of those boundaries.”
Chance swallowed and took a deep breath. ‘Does Feral know about me and Felina?’ he thought to himself as he noted Feral’s obvious displeasure. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the tabby growled as he returned Feral’s glare.
Feral’s eyes flashed with anger. “On the contrary, I think you’re fully aware of what you did. And, I want you to stay the hell away from my niece,” he spat.
Chance’s eyes at first grew wide, but he quickly recovered from his surprise. His emerald eyes flashed in anger as they narrowed, challenging Feral’s own seething glare. Chance brought himself up to his full height and crossed his tense arms across his chest. “Last time I checked, Felina is over 18 and is living on her own. Knowing her, I don’t think you have a say when it comes to what she wants to do.”
Felina smiled to herself as she looked down at her wrist watch as she quickly approached the salvage yard driveway. She had just given Callie a call on her cell to find out that Jake was teaching her how to drive a manual. She chuckled to herself as she turned into the driveway; along with her mental picture of Callie freaking when she inevitably stalls the car and that she had managed to get off early put her in a carefree mood.
She had thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to talk to Chance alone for the first time in weeks. However, as the garage came into view, her smile slowly melted off her face. Her uncle’s car was parked right in front of the garage.
Horror made her heart flutter anxiously as she pulled up alongside her uncle’s car and shut off the engine, allowing her to hear the rather heated argument. The argument’s volume tripled as she opened her car door and stepped out. Her uncle’s back was facing her as she watched him scream into Chance’s equally angered and defiant face. From Chance’s firm stance, she could tell that he was far from backing down under her uncle’s icy glare.
It was only until he saw Felina that Chance actually stepped back, as if ashamed that she had caught him fighting with her uncle.
“Uncle! What are you doing here? What’s going on?” Felina demanded as she stomped up to stand to the side of both of them.
“Felina, I want you to get back into your car and to get back to headquarters,” he ordered as he broke his eye contact with Chance to look at her.
“NO!” she growled. “I want to know what you’re doing here.”
“I’m making sure that this hotshot, lowlife, hero wannabe isn’t going to ruin your future.”
“What are you talking about!”
“Don’t play games with me, Felina! I saw you with him the other night, and I refuse to let you get involved with a wanted vigilante who has nothing in store for him but prison!”
Felina’s eyes grew wide in shock as she looked from her uncle to Chance. Feral noticed their exchange and grew even angrier. “Yes, I know about him being a Swat Kat. I’ve known ever since our last confrontation with the Pastmaster.”
Felina covered her mouth with her paw, realizing that the only reason why her uncle knew of their secret identities was because of her.
“You know, Feral, even though you’re making me look like the bad guy here, it is in every way your fault as well,” Chance gritted through his teeth. “I actually had a life before you kicked Jake and I off the squadron and landed us here in this grease hole for the rest of our lives to pay off YOUR debt!”
“My debt?” Feral sneered.
“You’re the one who clipped our jet because you couldn’t stand the thought we going to bring down Dark kat instead of you! We would’ve got him!” Chance’s temporarily lost temper returned to him full strength.
Feral hid the guilt that stabbed his conscious, knowing that Chance spoke the truth. “I can’t believe you’re still dwelling in the past and that you’re still blaming me for your screw ups.”
Feral turned to Felina. “Get back into your car.”
Felina looked up at him defiantly, even though her eyes were brimming with tears. “No,” she growled, her voice shaking. “You’re not the boss of me.”
Feral looked at her in shock. “Felina…” be began as he took a hold of her arm.
“NO!” she screamed as she tore her arm away from his grasp. “You’re not my father! You have no right to tell me what to do or who I can love!”
Feral just froze while Chance looked at Felina in shock. “What did you just say?” Feral whispered.
Felina was breathing heavily as she stood in front of Chance. “I said… I love him.”
Her words hung in the air above their heads tauntingly as Feral just stared at Felina, who was just getting started.
“And, for your information, they are not the two hotshot, lowlife, hero wannabe’s you have convinced everyone else to believe. They are the most selfless, bravest, courageous, tom kats in this city who overcame your unjust scorn and persecution to live up to their oaths. They have been doing your job without any pay or reward, and they are 10 times the tom kat you’ll ever hope to be. And, if you do decide to bring them in, I along with 98 percent of the whole city, will rest at nothing to make sure that they will replace you as the city’s head protectors.”
Feral swallowed as he looked at Felina through pained eyes before glancing over at Chance, who was still too shocked to do anything but stand. Feral returned his gaze to Felina. “Since you feel that way…,” he croaked, failing to maintain his usual composure, “I will leave you two alone.”
Without saying anything further, Feral walked out of the garage, got into his car, and drove away.
Chance and Felina were silent for what seemed the longest time before Felina started to laugh as if in disbelief. She turned to face Chance, who was looking at her sadly. “This is all my fault.” She laughed as tears started to stream down her cheeks. Her laughing turned into heartbroken sobs as she covered her mouth with her shaking paws as her whole body started to shake. Chance felt his heart throb at seeing her cry and walked up to her and took her into his arms, holding her tightly as she cried into his shoulder.
“Red light, Callie….. uh red light…… Callie… IT’S A RED LIGHT!”
Jake’s scream mingled with Callie’s as they ran the red light, weaving in and out of the cars screeching to a stop in the middle of the intersection while their horns blared.
“CALLIE, THE CLUTCH! YOU MUST PUT THE CLUTCH IN FIRST!” Jake wailed as she swerved to the side of the road, where the car sputtered and stalled when she failed to put in the clutch when she stomped on the brake.
The two of them sat there hyperventilating from their near death experience as they clung onto whatever part of the car they could.
“Why. Did. You. Run. That. Light?” Jake breathed as soon as he was capable to speak.
“I. Couldn’t. Stop,” Callie wheezed in her defense.
Jake shook his head and started to laugh. “Callie, that’s why there is this nifty little invention called The Brake placed in a very convenient place by your right foot. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?”
Callie slowly turned her head in his direction. “Yes, I’m quite familiar with the brake, but in this thing the brake doesn’t work.”
“The brake works fine, Callie, you just need to put the clutch in first.”
“Why can’t they have it where the brake will work by itself?”
“Because it’s a clutch; they work together.”
“There are too many pedals in this thing!”
“Too many pedals? There’s only three!”
“Yes, an odd number. I prefer even numbers. And, you forgot the stick thingy here that’s almost impossible to work!”
“The stick? Callie, that’s there to shift your gears!”
“Why do they have a stick? Why can’t it shift gears by itself?”
“Because it’s a manual!”
“Well, it’s hard to remember to put in the clutch before you shift it…. I couldn’t even put it in 3rd gear!”
“You were doing just fine until you started to freak out back there.”
“I don’t like it when people honk at me!”
“Well, you were doing 30 instead of 45.”
Callie stopped and laid her head against the steering wheel. “I hope no one recognized me,” she moaned.
Jake shook his head as he started to chuckle. “Is that all you’re worried about? We almost died back there.”
Callie sniffed as she looked over at him, the side of her head still resting on the wheel. A smile slowly spread across her face. “Did I scare you?”
“Yes, you scared 3 of my nine lives out of me!”
Callie started to laugh. “Aha, the fearless Razor, scared? Huh, I’m kind of proud of myself.”
“That’s nothing to be proud of,” Jake muttered.
“Of course it is. Especially since you admitted it without me torturing it out of you.”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Are you hungry? My renewed love for live has given me an appetite.”
“Yes, food and espresso sounds good right about now. But, you’re driving.” Callie grinned.
“Yes, I am driving. But this doesn’t mean I’m giving up. You will learn to drive this car eventually.”
Callie sighed in resignation as Jake opened his door and got out. “I was hoping I killed that line of thinking.” Callie scooted over into the passenger seat as Jake got in.
“It’s going to take more than bad driving to deter me from my goal.”
“Dang. Looks like I have to move on to plan b.” Callie sighed teasingly.
…1 hour later…….back at the garage….
Chance stared up at the living room ceiling as he ran his fingers through her silky, black hair. He was laying on his back on the couch with Felina sleeping on top of him. It had taken him a while to calm her down, and she had cried herself asleep due to her emotional exhaustion. He played the harsh words she had yelled at her uncle over and over in his mind; trying to make sense of the whole mess. Feral’s pained expression was there as well, burned permanently in his mind’s eye as a constant reminder; he had never seen Feral that hurt before.
He let out a long, weary sigh that made Felina stir and whimper in her troubled sleep. Feral loved her as a daughter, not as a niece. He didn’t know a lot about Feral’s or Felina’s past, except that Feral had raised her after her parents were killed in a car accident ten years ago… so, she might as well be his daughter. Chance looked down at her tear stained face, and his sadness deepened. She had chosen him over her uncle, and even though that made him happy to an extent, it made him feel guilty as well. He had turned Felina against her uncle, perhaps even ruining their relationship; and undoubtedly making Feral despise him even more.
And, it didn’t help matters that Feral knew; as of now, only Felina knew that Feral knew. He never told Jake, at first worrying that it would hinder Jake’s recovery, but after that he had no desire to tell him because he was afraid that it would ruin their friendship and their alias’s performance and overall existence. He had no choice now but to tell Jake. He untangled his fingers from Felina’s hair and raised up his arm so that he could read the time on his watch. It read 7: 30 p.m. Jake was going to be home soon. He sighed again as he rested his arm on Felina’s back and leaned his cheek against the top of Felina’s head. Felina sighed in her sleep as she nuzzled her face into his neck and continued to sleep. Chance’s eyelids grew heavy as the minutes seemed to run together and before he knew it, he was asleep as well.
…Meanwhile, in another dimension…
The newly painted Turbokat glistened in the faint light of the hangar, making the Pastmaster chuckle evilly to himself; the two Turbokats would be indistinguishable to one another when the time came. He heard footsteps approach him from behind and without even turning around to acknowledge their presence he spoke. “Are you two done?”
“Yes,” came the unified reply of the two tom kats.
The Pastmaster’s malicious grin grew wider as he turned around, immensely pleased with what he saw. “Good, Good,” he purred as he studied T-Bone and Razor’s clean appearance. Callie folded her arms across her chest and smirked proudly; she was good and she knew it.
“Very well done, my dear,” the Pastmaster praised her. “No one will be able to tell them apart.”
“When are we leaving?” T-Bone growled impatiently.
The Pastmaster held up his bony paw. “Patience, Swat Kat. We will be departing in the morning. But, for now, I want you to perfect your acting. There will come a time when you three will have to act just like your doubles. It will make everything all the more successful and swift.”
“Easy.” Razor smirked slyly.
“Once we enter the city I will provide an ample distraction that will keep your doubles busy so that you can get into position. Your first strike will be sudden, hard and merciless. We have the element of surprise on our side; let’s not waste that advantage but instead use it wisely. We will attack them when they least expect it, then we will disappear again and then strike them again when the timing proves right. And, once their demise is complete, we will terminate them with one swift stroke.”
The Pastmaster paused, letting the silence emphasize the importance of their plan. He sneered ghoulishly as he looked the two Swat Kat’s dead on into their emotionless eyes. “They will never know what hit them.”
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