Warnings: Violence, some disturbing imagery, some profanity.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Swat Kats. If I did, do you really think they wouldn’t be on the air right now???
Despite each breath being tiny daggers piercing his lungs, Tobias continued to stagger down the debris-filled sidewalk. Each step brought him that much closer to the Princess; he had been given a second chance and he was not going to waste it.
But, with each of those pain-filled steps, his newfound strength started to fade. The injuries suffered at the hands of Mac Mange had not healed, and the exhaustion that threatened to overwhelm him the moment his guard fell did little to help his condition. A few more steps was all it took before the young Kat collapsed to his knees, gasping for breath as the world spun out of control around him.
While his will to save his Princess was unbreakable, his body wasn’t.
It was then he felt himself being pulled up to his paws… quite literally this time… as a pair of strong arms wrapped under his own and helped him upright. Vision clearing, he forced himself to view past the burred imaged and fixed his helper with a grateful look. Looking to be in his mid-50’s and close to his own height, Tobias could just make out crimson tinted tan fur. Piercing blue eyes greeted his focused vision as it was then the young Knight saw the rather snug Enforcer’s Sergeant’s outfit covering his benefactors’ form.
“Thank you, Sergeant…” he mummered in thanks as he finally found his balance. Had he not been to the point of collapse Tobias would have recognized this was the same Kat who handed him, Jace and K.K. the weapons back at Enforcer HQ when the madness erupted and directed them to their transports.
“Thanks are not necessary, young Knight…” replied the Kat as he backed away slowly from the younger Enforcer, his words coming slow and deliberate.
It took a moment for the Sergeant’s choice of wording to register with Tobias, but when they did he quickly turned to face the other Kat. “What… did you say?” came the shocked query as he fixed the Sergeant with a hard gaze.
“I know who you are, young one; who you /truly/ are. Cadet Tobias Jackson…or should I say… Tobias Jake Furlong, Knight of the Round of Megalith City and chosen protector of Princess Calico. And please, do not try to deny it for it would only make a fool of yourself in the attempt.”
At that the young Kat backed up, grabbing for his baton as his true identity – lost to over 400 years of time – stood blatantly revealed by this stranger. “Who are you?! No Kat alive knows that!” he demanded of the being before him.
“Save for I, young one. I was there when you swore your oath to protect the Princess. I was there when Arkatta sent you into this future to watch and wait for the Princess to appear. I was there the day you said good-bye to your adoptive father and stepped into this future an orphan for the second time in your life.”
Shaken at how laid bare his most personal of memories were to this stranger, Tobias could only stare on in shock. “What do you want?” he asked quietly, still unsure if this creature was friend or foe.
“What I want, young Knight, is to aid you in your quest! The Princess is ready to stand against the evil that threatens your world! So, will you let me help you, or would you rather stand here and banter back and forth like a couple of chatterboxes?” he scolded in a very reproving tone.
“You say you are an ally of the Realm and that you know of my mission to this time. Then tell me something that only a true friend of Callista would know! Prove to me that you are indeed an ally and not a specter conjured by the Dark One!”
Closing his eyes, the elder resisted the urge to lash out in anger.(( The boy has a right to make sure of my allegiances, he told himself)), remembering all this young Kat before him had given up to fulfill this most important quest. His eyes opened and fixed the youth with a softer expression.
“The night before departure, you crept out of the castle and visited the grave of your birth parents. Upon their markers you swore you would not fail in your quest and begged them to forgive your role in their deaths. You fell asleep, crying against their headstones. You awoke to find Callista holding you as she sat vigil.”
A powerful blush cascaded over the young Kat’s cheeks as the memory of what had happened surfaced from the depths of his mind. “Then… then what you say must be true! I told no one at the castle of those events, and Callista herself swore she would keep that our secret.”
“As I said, young one, I was there and I know the blame you have placed upon yourself for the death of your birth parents. But, now, you /must/ let go of that guilt and focus on the present; Princess Calico needs you…” and with those words the being reached out, whispering a long unused spell…
“By warmth of heart, your pain I feel,”
“Grant me the power your wounds to heal.”
Before the startled Knight could react, a warm feeling started to grow within his heart. Soon, it spread out over his form, filling him with a comfortable sensation as he could literally feel his various aches and pains vanish as if they never existed.
Moments later, the spell ended, and the elder of the pair slumped his shoulders as he tried to catch his breath. “It has been too many years since I used that spell,” he said, finally glancing back up to look at the youth. “I have healed you as best I can, young Knight. The rest is up to you.”
“Sir, I…” Tobias began, but paused when he could not think of the words sufficient enough to thank this stranger for helping him achieve his lifelong quest. “I must go now. There’s not a lot of time, and I /must/ reach the Princess in time.”
With a smile, the elder waived his paw and before Tobias could react he vanished into thin air, teleported to the site of battle. “Good luck, young one. The hopes of the past and future rest upon your shoulders.”
“And, whose fault is that, Merklyn?”
Spinning around, the Kat’s form shifted back to its normal spectral image, revealing the wizard’s true form.
“Jaga…” rumbled Merklyn’s voice, clear he was none-too-pleased at the company. “I should have known the Council would have sent you. I suppose they are requesting my presence …again?”
The mix of human and jaguar nodded, his weathered face a sharp contrast to the brilliant glimmer in his eyes. A free-flowing cape of shimmering iridescent purple fluttered behind him. A stylized insignia of a cat’s head adorned an amulet in the middle of his chest. “The others feel you have gone too far this time, Merklyn. They have turned a blind eye to your interactions in the past as they know your desire to help these creatures. But, to use your powers on them directly; that violates a cardinal rule that we all must obey. You know of this, and yet you still disobeyed it. Why?”
“Why?! Have your long years of existence dulled your sense of right and wrong, Jaga? These creatures must have our help in the battle that is yet to come! I see no difference in my aid to them when compared to the guidance you offered your own kind when their future was in doubt!”
“But, that is just it, Merklyn; these are not your kind! Your very presence here and in the past has set them on a path they were never meant to tread!”
Fists balling in anger, the wizard stared coolly at his friend. “That is only one opinion, Jaga; one that I do not share. They were not blessed with your race’s luck, Jaga; they have /no/ guiding spirit to help in their darkest hour! And, I will not stand by and watch the Council dictate policies that would only hasten the demise of this world and all who live in it! Be they Kats or humans, they deserve our help in whatever form we can give them and damn the worries of that council of decrepit cowards!”
The spirit of Jaga stepped back, long having seen Merklyn so passionate about the plight of others. ((Something about these creatures has struck a long dormant cord within him. Can his words be true; have we played it safe for so long that we have forgotten what it is like to take a risk for the greater good?)) he thought to himself as long moment of silence filled the air.
“Please, Jaga, look with your heart at the plight of these beings. I could not help my own kind escape their fate; let me find purpose once more and help these Kats receive a better fate than the one we both know will happen if we stand by and do nothing!”
Jaga looked at his friend and listened to Merklyn’s words, as honest and open as they were powerful. With a deep sigh he nodded in tentative agreement. “Come, Merklyn; they are expecting us. But… perhaps… there is a sense to your words they might yet come to understand,” he said, offering the wizard a hint of agreement.
With a nod, Merklyn accepted his friend’s delicate position and together they vanished from view.
“ETA four minutes and closing, Sunspot…” informed Moonshot as she continued to learn the weapons systems of the new jet.
“Any luck on figuring out the firing controls yet?” Sunspot asked hopefully as she worked as diligently to understand the control systems of the supersonic craft that surrounded them.
“Do you have the flight controls worked out yet?” Moonshot countered as the young she-Kat continued to run simulations on the best attack pattern to use upon arrival at MegaTron Labs.
Sunspot didn’t answer immediately, knowing Sami was trying her best to master the systems in such a short amount of time. “Working on that, Sami. I’m just glad Jake and Chance made this thing close to an Enforcer layout. Can I do anything to help back there?” she asked, turning a sharp bank that would put them on the fastest course for the fire fight.
“Wish I could say yes, Felina, but while the launch system is fairly simple in and of itself; these freaky missile configurations are going to give me a headache for sure!”
With a smile, Felina nodded as she was glad her friend still kept a sense of humor about their situation. “Roger that, Moonshot. ETA… 3 minutes…” Sunspot said, her fingers tightening around the yoke as Dark Kat’s airship slowly appeared over the horizon.
With a nod, Sami took a quick glance out the cockpit before returning to work, trying to load the launch tube with the best opening salvo she could create.
((We’re coming for you, Dark Kat))… thought Sunspot, her eyes narrowing on the smoke rising in the distance. ((T-Bone and Razor may be gone, but their memory won’t be forgotten! You are going to pay for what you did to them, to Callie, and to our city! We’re going to shove their legacy right down your throat!))
With another slight course correction, Sunspot brought the jet into perfect alignment as both she-Kats’ date with destiny drew closer by the second.
(To be Continued…..)
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.