Original SWAT Kats Story

Midnight Panther

By Kari Gilmore

  • 1 Chapter
  • 13,536 Words

Midnight or noon, murders have occurred at the first and sixth tolls on the City Hall clock tower, all the flesh gone from the victim’s bodies. So far, no connections between the past five murders have been found… until the murderers start coming after T-Bone and Quiver. Can Boulder find the connection before it’s too late? Read on and find out!

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Author's Notes:

Consider this a new season for my SKs. Doesn’t mean it’ll get 20 stories, but probably close. Last season: Daughters of Satan. This season: Midnight Panther. Doesn’t mean it’ll all be Midnight Panther, but just thought I’d let you know. Here’s the plot.

Chapter 1:

11:55 p.m. was the time on the clock tower one foggy night. A kat in a black trench coat was leaning against the side of the tower, lighting a cigarette with a match as his head turned to a figure approaching him. He blew some smoke from his nose as the figure in a black cloak came closer.

“That’s as far as you’ll go, buddy. Now beat it. I’m waiting for someone,” he said to the figure. The figure did not move or say a word. The kat looked at the figure, beginning to get red in the face. “I said get lost! I’m meeting someone here at midnight.” The figure lowered the hood on its cloak, revealing a beautiful she-kat with dark purple hair and reddish eyes.

She purred in a low, seductive voice, “I don’t suppose you were waiting for the Midnight Panther?”

“Ahh…” The kat swallowed and tried to keep a straight face, but brightly blushed. He could smell the sweet perfume that the she-kat was intoxicated with. “No, not exactly. I’ve never actually heard of the Midnight Panther, really. I’m waiting for my partner to show up. We have a late meeting.”

The she-kat purred deeply and held the kat close to her body.

“Aren’t you afraid?” she asked in a soft, but still seductive voice.

“N-Not really. I mean, how dangerous can this Midnight Panther be?” The she-kat looked up at the clock on the tower. It was now 11:59 and 50 seconds.

“I’ll show you…” She pressed her lips against his, despite the cigarette in his mouth. When the clock struck the first toll of midnight, the kat screamed. Another kat, shorter and wider, appeared. He noticed the kat was now lying on the ground, dead. His cigarette still burning in his mouth. In the shadows near the body, there were glowing red eyes and glowing white teeth that were covered in blood. The kat backed away, gasping, then began to take off running, but stopped when he smelled the same perfume, only for the creature to pounce at him. Another scream when the clock struck the sixth toll of midnight.

At Jake and Chance’s Garage, Chance shot up in his bed, gasping, panting, and looked out the window at the city. He got up out of bed, careful not to wake up Tigera still asleep, put on some gray sweat pants and went onto the balcony. He stared outward at the city, and his panting slowed.

“I coulda sworn I heard– maybe I’m hearing things,” he said to himself.

“Maybe not,” a voice next to him said. He looked to see Katarina, covering her body with a blanket and also look out towards the city.

“It’s the third time I have heard screams in the past few nights. I thought I was the only one who was hearing them,” she said.

“It’s weird. Why don’t any of the others hear it like we do?” Chance asked.

Katarina grinned. “Maybe you’re finally getting my sensitive ears. Let’s try to get back to sleep, bro.”

Chance nodded and they both walked back inside to their rooms.

The next morning, Jake was looking at the front page of the newspaper.

“This is really weird, guys. They found two more skeletal bodies in the street last night, and they were both still fresh in blood when they were discovered,” he said to Chance, Katarina, and Tigera.

“What do you think is going on? If they’re freshly dead, then they weren’t taken from the museum or any place like that. You think it’s some kind of monster who devours kats at night?” Tigera asked.

“It’s something, all right. What, we don’t know yet. The past few nights, Katney and I have been hearing screams at night. Seems like we’re the only ones who hear ’em,” Chance said.

“Aye. You guys are still asleep whenever we hear the screams. It’s mysterious,” Katney said.

“Maybe we better check up on the past victims and see if we can get an answer,” Tigera said.

“How? All the victims are nothing but bones now.”

“There is one way: their dental records can also identify kats,” Jake said, folding the newspaper and setting it on the table.

Chance nodded, saying, “What have we got to lose? Let’s suit up, Kats.”

After getting the names of the victims at the oral office, the Swat Kats went to look at their personal files. A slightly chubby she-kat with short blonde hair, peach fur, and glasses was looking through some of the file cabinets. She pulled out a few files and then handed one to each of the Swat Kats.

“Here are the files of the victims,” she said. T-Bone looked at his file to each of the other’s files.

“I don’t see a connection to all these guys, except that they’re all male and they all were eaten,” he said.

“There’s a connection between two of these guys. They were partners at Megakorp, but I’m not seeing anything else,” Venus said, looking into hers and Razor’s files.

“But there were five bodies that were discovered. The oral office only had records on four of ’em. What happened to other one?” Quiver asked, looking at the she-kat.

“Well, that target was only partially eaten. He still had a face. Only thing that was eaten was most of his stomach. Then someone noticed the body and something running off before it could finish,” the she-kat said, adjusting her glasses.

“So this fifth body is at the morgue?” T-Bone asked. The she-kat nodded.

“We’ll get some more answers if the body actually has some flesh left on it,” Razor said.

The Swat Kats nodded. The she-kat turned back to the file cabinet to return the files.

“Is there anything else you need before I–?” She turned back around to find the Swat Kats had gone.

The Swat Kats arrived at the door to the morgue, T-Bone literally bumped into Comm. Feral on his way out.

“Watch where you’re going, Feral!” T-Bone growled.

“Reckless hotshot!” Feral growled back. Lt. Felina Feral and Callie Briggs came between the two kats.

“Uncle, that’s enough. We already have five stiffs on our paws. I don’t want to add anymore,” Felina said.

“Besides, I called them over,” Callie said as the other three Swat Kats walked in.

Feral grumbled as he watched the Swat Kats walk in and walked down the steps. T-Bone was watching after him, his eyes glowing red and growled.

“T-Bone, would you relax? Those eyes of yours still give me the creeps,” Razor said as T-Bone walked into the room with drawers.

“Sorry, buddy. But Feral gets me so… so… grrr…”

“I’m guessing you guys came down to check up on that body that was partially eaten?” Felina asked.

The Swat Kats nodded.

“It’s not very pleasant, I can tell you that much,” Callie said as she uncovered the sheet over the body. The kat had dark orange fur and hair. Callie only uncovered the body from the chest up. The body was covered in scratches and dried blood matted in his fur. His neck was sliced open at the side.

“We’re not completely sure what did this to him, and we couldn’t get anything on the witness, except that they heard a scream about the first strike of midnight,” Felina said.

“Huh!” Razor simply said.

“Hmm. This has been going on for three nights straight this week and five kats have been eaten by *something.* What do you suggest, Kats?” T-Bone asked the group.

“I suggest we spread out tonight throughout the city. Whatever’s doing this will most likely be doing it again tonight,” Venus said.

“Aye, and one of us should try to find a connection between all these victims besides their bitter end,” Quiver said.

“And a hourly shift around the city. We move around to a new location about every hour, or one of us takes over the other’s area while they sleep,” Razor said.

“I agree on all plans. We’ll make up a schedule. I’ll call in Boulder to do the connections on the computer while the rest of us keep guard,” T-Bone said.

They nodded.

Felina, Callie, Razor, and Venus left the room while T-Bone and Quiver were looking at the body.

“These scratches look awfully familiar, T-Bone.”

“Yeah, I know. But where have we seen ’em before? And I’m still trying to figure out why we’re the only ones who hear the kats’ screams from such a distance.”

Without another word, he took the sheet and recovered the body with it. The City Hall clock tower stuck 12:00 for noon. They paused for a moment again.

“Did you hear…?” Quiver asked.

“It’s nothing. We’re probably just thinking about the screams from the last few nights,” T-Bone said. But they both knew this time, though they chose to ignore it, they heard a she-kat scream.

Chapter 2:

That night, the Swat Kats were spread out all over the city. All seemed peaceful that night. It appeared nothing was going to happen. T-Bone was standing near Megakorp building. The lights were off inside the building. The only lights T-Bone could see were flickering street lamps.

He yawned, “Some party. I was expecting something more.” He took out his communicator and pushed a button on it. “Kat 1 to Kats 2, 3, and 6. Have any trouble yet?”

“Too damn peaceful in my neighborhood,” Razor said, looking over at the City Hall clock tower. The time was 11:55 from what he could tell in the distance.

“Quiet as a mouse here,” Quiver said at the docks.

“Only possible danger here are the blood-sucking bugs,” Venus said out in the forest, slapping the back of her neck as an insect was buzzing and landed on her neck.

T-Bone chuckled, “Right. Lemme know when something comes up, got it? Hate to miss all the excitement.”

“Roger that,” all three Swat Kats said, then signed off.

T-Bone pocketed the communicator and yawned. He stretched for a moment, then he caught smell of something sweet and heavenly scented.

“Hmm?” He inhaled again, then caught sight of something near him. A figure stepped under a light street lamp. The figure was wearing a black cloak. T-Bone wrapped a paw around the hilt of his sword, ready to pull it out if he needed to. “Who’s there?” he asked.

“Only me,” the figure purred in a low, seductive voice. She lowered her hood to reveal a beautiful she-kat with dark purple hair and reddish eyes. T-Bone calmed down a bit, but kept his grip on his sword.

“I’m expecting something to happen soon. It’ll be dangerous here, ma’am,” he said as the she-kat came over to him.

“Dangerous? Will you… purr-tect me?” the she-kat asked, purring softly running her paw gently up and down T-Bone’s neck. T-Bone silently gulped. Damn, she keeps this up, I’ll miss the possible next victim. Why can’t I stop her from doing this…? he thought.

The she-kat walked behind him and began to massage his shoulders and purred into his ear. T-Bone was trying not to enjoy it; he could not move either. The she-kat licked her teeth, then looked back at the City Hall clock tower. The time was 11:58 and 1second.

“I’ve heard there has been a number of killings in the past few nights,” she said, running her paw down T-Bone’s chest.

T-Bone groaned slightly, “Yeah. Trying to find out what’s causing it.”

“You aren’t afraid then?” She moved to the front of him and purred.

“Not yet.”

She ran both paws on his chest, grinning.

T-Bone took her paws and laid them down at the she-kat’s sides. He wanted to do more, but he could not.

“It’ll be dangerous…” she said.

“I’m not afraid.” She leaned up into his face, breathing soft, but heavy.

“I’m dangerous…”

T-Bone grinned. “I don’t think so. If you’re hungry for love, you’re in the wrong place, lady.”

She ignored him. She held his body close to hers, and forcing a kiss on his lips. When she released him, he was breathless.

“11:59 and 40 seconds. I *am* hungry…” She licked her teeth again.

T-Bone’s eyes widened and he slowly began to back away from her.

“The Midnight Panther feeds at midnight. You’re not afraid of a little butchering, are you?”

11:59 and 59 seconds. The last thing T-Bone saw coming to him was the she-kat pouncing at him, claws extended and jaws wide open. Then, he felt something cool on his face. It went up into his nose, causing him to sit up and cough a few times. He was splashed with water again. He looked and saw Commander Feral with a pail in his paws.

“What’s the big idea, Feral?!” T-Bone asked, rather upset.

“What’s the matter, Swat Kat? Can’t swim?” Feral asked, grinning a little.

“Uncle, that’s enough! He’s awake already!” Felina came up to him and yanked the pail from Feral’s paws.

T-Bone took the time to realize he was in City Hall in Mayor Manx’s office. He noticed Callie, Mayor Manx trying to sink the golf ball into a water glass, and the rest of the Swat Kats looking over at him.

Venus went over to him, frowning a bit. “That shade doesn’t suite you, T-Bone,” she said, holding up a mirror to him.

T-Bone noticed a shade of pink lipstick on his lips. Most likely from that she-kat. He wiped it off.

“It wasn’t my fault! Some she-kat was at my post and was trying to seduce me. For some reason, I couldn’t move to stop her,” he said.

“When the clock struck midnight, you passed out. You were lucky I was out on patrol,” Felina said, patting on her gun.

“Then whoever tried to seduce T-Bone must be connected with these murders,” Callie said.

“The one who’s killing them, most likely. But eating them? Not likely,” Venus said.

“Would you all be quiet? I’m trying to goalf,” Mayor Max said, putting his ball towards the drinking glass, missing.

Quiver looked over at Manx, a bit annoyed. Then she returned her attention to the situation.

“Unfortunately, she got away unwounded. Did she say anything to you, T-Bone?” she asked.

T-Bone was rubbing his head.

“She said ‘the Midnight Panther feeds at midnight.’ And I blacked out when the clock stroke midnight and she was pouncing at me. I just got dizzy then, otherwise I might’ve fought her.”

“The Midnight Panther?” Feral asked.

“From what I can say, she’s called the Midnight Panther. She seduces her victims before she does in with them at the first toll of midnight. If there are two victims, she’ll also strike at the sixth toll of midnight,” Felina said.

“Aye, that’s true. I’ve also heard a scream at the first stroke of midnight and the sixth two times already,” Quiver said.

“But her victims are eaten. An ordinary kat can’t do that. Not even a daughter of Satan whom always takes on a kat form,” Venus said.

T-Bone finally noticed the bandages wrapped around his chest and his left arm.

Razor was thinking to himself as he also listened to the group.

“If this monster attacks at the first and sixth tolls of midnight, we had better put our men on alert, Felina,” Feral said.

“Right, Uncle.”

“And I’ll write a letter out to every kat in MegaKat City to stay in and lock their doors and windows,” Mayor Manx said, sinking a putt into the glass.

“I’ll get right on it, Mayor,” Callie said in a somewhat annoyed voice.

“And we better see why all these kats were killed and why this Midnight Panther tried to kill T-Bone, too,” Razor said.

The rest of the Swat Kats nodded.

Chapter 3:

Back at the hangar, Buster was yawning as the TurboKat II arrived. Venus was behind them with her bat wings extended. She landed next to the jet. The Kats in the TurboKat II jumped out and walked over to Buster.

“Find any connections yet, Bust?” Razor asked.

“Negative. All males, each eaten some if not all. What took you guys so long?” Buster asked, stifling a yawn.

“According to T-Bone, a seductress showed up and was trying to seduce him. Then, she attacked him at the first toll of midnight. He blacked out. Lt. Feral saved his tail,” Venus said as her wings disappeared.

“So now whoever’s behind this is after T-Bone?”

“Apparently. But I don’t know any of these guys. I don’t know how I could be connected to ’em,” T-Bone said.

“T-Bone has the same type of scratches on him that were on the dead body at the morgue. Whoever’s doing this must have some kind of metamorphic power to make scratches that big,” Quiver said.

“We do know that whoever is in charge of this is called the Midnight Panther. She seduces her targets and then kill them at the first toll of midnight. If there are two victims, she’ll also strike at the sixth toll. But how she’s able to eat them so fast…” Razor said.

“She might be working with someone else, or maybe the Midnight Panther is someone else and this seductress is working for them,” Quiver said.

“There *are* at least two of ’em at work,” Buster said, staring at the computer screen.

“What?!” all four Swat Kats said.

“I taped it this after you guys took off for patrol. Knew you guys would be interested,” Buster said, pushing a button on the remote control to the large TV in the hangar.

Their attentions turned to it.

“… as it develops. Another strange murder occurs today, but this time, during the day. While the past murders have been made during the midnight hours the past few days, it now begins to happen in broad daylight in the afternoon hours. But like the midnight murders, the only thing remaining of the victims is bones and blood. Still, there have been no witnesses to these bizarre murders. We advise you to stay in your homes until this stops. We’ll report more as it develops,” the newscaster said.

Buster turned the mute button.

“So now we have another seductress killing during the day?” Venus asked.

“Looks like it. We better watch out for ourselves and keep a look out for these guys during the day as well as the night,” Buster said.

“We better get some rest. Take a break, Bust.”

Later in the morning, Katney was walking on the street carrying a bag of groceries. She noticed the time was 11:47 a.m. on the City Hall clock tower.

“It’s getting about that time. I better keep my ears open for the day striker seductress,” she said to herself. She walked by an alley, then she caught scent of something. She stopped. “What an intriguing smell. Where’s it coming from?” she asked herself. She walked into the alley, looking and smelling around for the owner of the scent. It led to a closed door. She opened it and walked in.

The watch on Buster’s wrist was beeping while he was looking at the computer. He pushed a button on it, causing the beeping to stop, and talked as he typed.

“Kat 4 here,” he said.

“You know where Katney is? She went out to get some groceries and she hasn’t come back yet. And it’s almost noon,” Jake said on the other line.

“Uh-uh. Haven’t heard from her. Why are you so worried? She might be going on look out for the next victim of the Midnight Panther.”

“Well, you remember she and Chance are the only ones that hear the screams of kats at the time, and they did try to get him last night. Just might be possible that they’ll try to get her next.”

“But all the victims have been male.” Buster stopped typing for a moment. “Are you saying…?”

“Kat 2 out.”

Buster stared down at his watch, then pushed a button. The watch’s face turned into a small radar. There were five red dots blinking, and one blue dot. One red dot was close to the blue dot.

Meanwhile, Katarina found herself a small storage room with two twin beds pushed together. The smell was originated in the room, but she could not find the source of it. There was a small dresser by the bed. Resting on top of it was a bottle of cologne. There was no label on it. She picked it up and sniffed it. It was the source of the smell.

She purred, “Heavenly…” She did not seem to care for the time, which read 11:55 a.m. on the clock tower. But there were no windows in the room. Only the door and a lamp that let off very little light. She felt two strong arms wrapping themselves around her gently. She gasped, but did not do anything.

Someone purred into her ear, “You know how many kats would kill for a sensitive she-kat like you?” It was deep voice, not that of a she-kat.

She did not look back at the figure. She allowed him explore her body with his paws. He was gentle with his touching, making her quiver. He lifted her chin up and made her turn her head over to face him.

“Who are you?” Katarina asked.

He didn’t answer as he pressed her lips against his. His face was in the shadows. She was out of breath when he released her from the kiss. He put his paws on her shoulders, and gently pushed her down to sit on the bed.

This is wrong. I can’t let him do this, Katarina thought to herself as he advanced to her. But I can’t stop it either…

He began to kiss her neck, removing her jacket. I can’t move… I’m so dizzy…

“11:59 and 20 seconds, my dear. Are you afraid of the Midnight Panther?” he purred into her ear.

“Midnight Panther only comes at midnight…” Katarina said as she began to sweat, not from nervousness, but she was warm. More than warm. Hot.

He made her lay down on the bed. He leaned over her.

“12:00 noon is midnight for me…” 11:59 and 59 seconds. Katarina passed out.

Chance was listening to the clock tower bells tolling 12:00. After the sixth toll, he held his breath. The seventh toll. The eighth toll. The ninth toll. Tenth toll. Eleventh toll. And finally the twelfth toll. All was silent. He finally breathed.

“Nothing happened,” he said, surprised. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his communicator when it started beeping. He pushed the button on it.

“Swat Kats, come in!” the voice said.

“T-Bone here. What’s happening, Ms. Briggs?”

“I need you to come to City Hall again, T-Bone. The rest of the Swat Kats are already here.”

“And they didn’t bother to call me. What happened?”

“The Midnight Panther missed their second target.”

Chapter 4:

Katarina shot up as soon as some water was splashed onto her face. She coughed a few times, growling.

“T-BONE!” she growled, looking at T-Bone with a pail.

“Sorry, ma’am, couldn’t wake you up any other way,” he said, tossing the pail aside.

She wrung her hair out, grumbling. She noticed Callie, Mayor Manx, Comm. and Lt. Feral, and the other Swat Kats were there in Manx’s office. She now realized why T-Bone called her “ma’am.”

“What happened?” she asked.

“You were almost a midday snack for the Midnight Panther,” Boulder said.

“Shouldn’t we be calling this one the Midday Panther?” Felina asked.

“Nay. He said to him, 12:00 noon is midnight,” Katarina said.

“Him?”

“Aye, him. This Midnight Panther as you call them was male.”

“Mrs. Clawson, can you describe what was happening?” Callie asked.

“Yes, and be quiet about it! I’m practicing for my next goalf tournament,” Manx said, with a golf club in hand.

Katarina snorted at Manx.

“Well, I was on my way home, then I smelled something. I couldn’t turn back until I knew what it was,” she said.

“What was it?” Razor asked.

“Well, when I got into a storage room, it was coming from a cologne bottle. It didn’t have anything on it. Then someone put his arms around me. For some reason, I couldn’t move.”

“This one was a male?” Venus asked.

She nodded. “Again, aye. Said how kats would kill for a sensitive she-kat like me. Forced a kiss on me. He forced onto the bed, then… I blacked out.”

“So now we’re dealing with a seducer,” Feral said.

“Seems that way, Uncle,” Felina said.

“Lucky thing I was in the neighborhood,” Boulder said.

“This is the second target the Midnight Panther has missed. T-Bone, you better stay away from the seductress at midnight, and, Mrs. Clawson, you should stay at home at noon,”Callie said.

“The plot thickens,” Razor said to himself.

Back at the hanger, Chance and Jake were in combat in their karate outfits.

“Now I’m getting worried,” he said as he blocked Chance’s punch.

“Why? Because you’re afraid I’ll do this?” Chance asked, throwing Jake over his shoulder.

Jake landed and he and Chance began to circle each other.

“No. The Midnight Panthers are not only after you, but they’re after Katney, too. You two are connected because you’re family. But you don’t have any other connections with the other six victims concerning the Midnight Panthers.”

“I know, it’s weird. You don’t know who the next victim will be until it’s too late.”

They continued to throw punches and kicks, each blocking or counter blocked. They panted and both went over to the benches to get a drink from their water bottles.

“So you and Katney both couldn’t do anything about your seducers because you couldn’t move?” Jake asked, a bit curious.

“Well, I could move, but I couldn’t do anything to make her stop. She just did what she pleased with me,” Chance replied.

“They’re doing or using something to make the victims lose their guards, and then they strike. But what?”

At her apartment, Ann was rubbing her 8-month stomach as she was watching the 6:00 news.

“These murders, which the enforcers believe the murderer is called the Midnight Panther, each occur at the first and sixth tolls of 12:00, whether it’s noon or midnight. Only two of the last eight kats that have been attacked by the Midnight Panther have lived to tell about this. The one who survived the midnight striker is the Swat Kat leader, known as T-Bone,” the newscaster said, showing a picture of T-Bone on the screen behind him. Ann gasped. “He escaped only with minor injuries. The second who survived the noon striker is a Mrs. Katarina Clawson, wife of Jacob Clawson and younger sister of Chance Furlong, both who own Jake and Chance’s Garage and Salvage Yard. She survived the attack with no injuries thanks to one of the Swat Kats, Boulder.”

The screen next to the one showing T-Bone’s showed a picture of Katarina.

“Oh, my…” Ann said.

“When both were asked about the attackers, both didn’t have much to report. They both claim to have blacked out at the first toll of 12:00…” he continued.

“I better help Buster find the connections between Chance and Katney and the rest of the bodies,” Ann said to herself.

At the garage, Athena was eating some strawberries with Tigera and Katarina in the kitchen. ((Author’s note: Yes that is Jake’s mom. In case you forgot I mentioned this in Mad Kat Land, I said she was brought back to life. Me and Storm Furlong are still doing our stuff and we’ll list ’em all later.))

“These attacks are so weird, Nana. How are they all connected?” Tigera asked.

“You’ll figure it out, sweetie. You always do,” Athena said.

“If they start going after the Swat Kats, we won’t be able to hold ’em off for much longer. We have to try to find the source of all these attacks,” Katney said, swallowing a strawberry.

“You’ll find the answers. Don’t worry. I’m going to over to Mike and Mary-Ann’s and make fun of Chance’s baby pictures,” Athena said, standing up.

Katney giggled.

“I still can’t believe you knew them before you were killed, Mum. I woulda thought Chance would tell us,” she said.

Athena grinned, “Well, sweetie, he was three-years-old. You think he would remember?” She got up and left.

Katney and Tigera looked at each other for a moment, then laughed.

“I can’t wait to tease Stripes with the nickname Nana gave him!” Tigera laughed.

“Aye. A big, tough tom-kat like him being called… Goldie?” They laughed some more.

Time passed on. It was 11:54 p.m. on the clock tower’s face. Athena was at the Furlong’s house, looking at a photo album. There was only a single light on in the room.

“Here’s where we had that party announcing we were expecting Katarina,” Mary-Ann said, pointing to a picture.

“Oh, yeah. And that’s when Shadow proposed to you, right, Nana?” Mike asked.

“Yup. Shame Jake didn’t know the real him. It’s late. I should get back home before they all think the Midnight Panther got me,” Athena said, a bit of fake fear in her voice. She was about to walk out the door when a figure in a cloak appeared.

Athena coughed, “You put on a little too much perfume, honey.” The figure ignored her and walked inside. They lowered their hood, revealing the same she-kat that had seduced T-Bone.

“Can we help you?” Mary-Ann asked.

She said nothing. She walked up to Mike, and gave him a kiss on his lips. “Keep your paws off my husband!” Mike was out of breath when the she-kat released him, then stared back at Mary-Ann, with cold eyes.

“Two victims for the price of one. The Midnight Panther will have a feast at midnight,” she said.

Athena looked out at the clock tower, which said 11:59 and 50 seconds.

“I can’t move,” Mike said, then collapsed into his chair.

“Mike!” Mary-Ann and Athena both said.

The clock struck 12:00 midnight. Chance and Katney heard the scream. They were both watching a movie and fell asleep on the couch. They looked at each other.

“That sounded like–!” Katney said.

“Mom and Dad!” Chance finished.

Chapter 5:

Mike was now in a hospital bed with a few bandages on his face. Mary-Ann was in the bed next to him. Both were out. The Swat Kats were there, looking down at them.

“And I thought the Midnight Panthers only attacked kats on the street, not in their own homes,” Venus said.

T-Bone and Quiver were looking both angry and sad. Razor patted them both on the backs.

“At least they’re going to live. Only a few head injuries,” he said.

They didn’t reply.

The door to the room opened. Athena and Comm. Feral walked through it.

“Don’t worry, ma’am, the enforcers will be on this case. We’ll keep your friends under police protection,” Feral said, leaving.

After Feral left, Razor went over to Athena.

“Are you all right, Mom?”

“I’ll live,” she said.

“Now I’m really worried. What do they want with the Furlongs?” Razor asked himself. He sighed. When he inhaled, he stopped for a moment. “What’s that smell?”

T-Bone and Boulder sniffed the air as well. Quiver and Venus covered their noses.

“Unbearable,” Quiver said.

“I like it, actually,” Razor said.

“I thought she-kats liked sweet smelling perfumes,” Boulder said.

“We do, but this ain’t sweet,” Venus said.

“This smells like the perfume that seductress wore,” T-Bone said.

Athena sniffed her shirt, then coughed.

“That she-kat who tried to kill Mike and Mary was wearing this perfume,” she said.

She, Quiver, Boulder, and Venus looked over at T-Bone and Razor. They looked like they were off in another world. Venus snapped her fingers in front of T-Bone’s face. He didn’t flinch. She went around him, seeing what was with him.

“T-Bone?” She waved her paw in front of his face.

“Do what you wish with me,” he finally said.

Venus twitched her nose. “What?”

“I’m at your command.” He was looking past Venus and into complete space.

Venus covered his mouth and plugged his nose.

“Shut up and act like we’re not in our bedroom. I think that perfume’s killing your brain cells.”

T-Bone, seeming to act normal again, removed Venus’s paws, but plugged his own nose.

“It’s the perfume,” he said.

“What?”

“I first smelled the perfume before she appeared. It has something in it that effects only toms. Makes us stand still and do what the seductress desires. This is the second time I’ve smelled it, so it might have a different effect the second time.”

“The first part makes sense. If the victims were unable to run, they had to have caught the scent of the perfume. Right now, I can’t move either. A second smell, if the first kill was unsuccessful, a second catch of the smell would totally put you in some kind of trance, making the target go straight to the source,” Razor said.

“Strange thing though. It’s not effecting me. I just think the perfume smells good,” Boulder said.

“Maybe you’re not really a tom,” T-Bone grinned.

“That’s low, Furlong!”

“Knock it off, both of you! Now, I’m gonna have to volunteer for the noon attack and see what’ll happen to me when I smell that cologne a second time,” Quiver said.

“Something else comes to mind,” Boulder said.

“What?” Athena asked.

“When T-Bone and Quiver were attacked, they both said they blacked out. We gotta figure out if it’s the perfume or something else.”

“Mike passed out soon after the seductress kissed him, if that helps,” Athena said.

“I think it does. T-Bone, that seductress kissed you and she left lipstick on your face. It’s probably the lipstick that made you pass out,” Venus said.

“Yeah, I did soon after she did that, when the tower struck midnight to be exact,” T-Bone said.

“But then what made Quiv black out?” Razor asked.

“We’ll soon see.”

The next morning, Katney, Buster, and Tigera were walking down the street where Katney was the day before.

“It was somewhere around here,” she said. She and Tigera stopped walking. Buster twitched his nose as he stopped.

“Yeech! Someone put on way too much cologne,” he coughed and covered his nose and mouth.

“It’s the kind she-kats go wild for,” Tigera said, inhaling deeply. Katney was doing the same.

“Mmmm… heavenly… smells like the seducer,” Katney said.

Buster looked up at the City Hall clock tower, which read 11:53 a.m.

“Seven minutes left, girls. Let’s get Jake and–” He looked over at the girls, only to see them walking away from him, ignoring him.

“Hey! Come back here!” He followed after them and grabbed them both by their collars.

“Let me go, Buster. He’s calling out to me,” Katney said.

He kept his grip. “So this is how he lures she-kats without going out in broad daylight. He uses his cologne as bait,” he said to himself. He reached into his pocket and pulled out something. It was a clothespin, then his stuck it on Tigera’s nose.

She stopped trying to get away from him.

“A clothes pin. Clever, Whitetail,” she said, somewhat nasally.

“Not clever enough. I only brought one of them,” he said as Katney finally got out of his grip and ran. She went into the same alley as before, and went inside the same door.

Buster and Tigera went over to the door, which was open a crack, and looked inside.

“It’s so dark in there,” Tigera whispered.

“Athena said they didn’t like bright lights. Maybe that’s why this one was so easy to beat yesterday. We’ll see what happens,” Buster whispered back.

“Back again, my dear? My, we are persistent,” a low tom’s voice chuckled.

“Aye, we are. Do what you want with me. I’m yours,” Katarina said.

“You are… quite the catch. I have done a fine job with you. To eat such a she-kat like you would be a sin. I think I’ll let you live another day, or at least for one last thrill…”

“Whatever you desire,” Katarina said in a soft whisper.

The door somehow closed and locked itself. Buster could not get it open.

“Damn! Katney!” He banged on the door. “*Katney*!”

The clock struck 12:00.

Silence was all Chance heard. Half an hour passed, but it seemed longer to Chance and Jake who were waiting at the Salvage Yard. Finally, Chance’s head jerked up.

“What do you hear?” Jake asked.

“Katney. Since when do the Midnight Panthers strike at 12:30?” Chance asked, staring out.

“Hope Buster and Tigera are bringing her back alive.”

“Hate to say it, but I think she’s been… and maybe even…”

Jake gasped, then growled.

Out in the alley, Buster and Tigera were still waiting. Waiting for the door to finally open and they would see Katarina either walk out of it, or be thrown out dead. They heard a scream not two minutes before. They hoped she was all right. The door finally opened. They went behind a dumpster and looked at the figure in the door. It was not Katarina. The male, now wearing blue jeans with no shirt, stretched out then he disappeared in thin air.

Buster and Tigera gasped at that. But did not waste a second to check on Katarina inside. They rushed to the door. Katarina was lying on the bed, wrapped up in blankets. They could see blood staining one part of the blankets.

Buster went over and put two of his fingers on her neck.

“Is she…?” Tigera asked.

“No. She’s bleeding pretty bad, but she’s very alive. Let’s get her out of here,” he said as he picked her up in his arms and Tigera grabbed the pile of clothes on the floor.

They rushed outside and took off. Watching from the next building and on the roof of it was a muscular tom kat with black fur and dark purple hair. He was now wearing a black cloak and sunglasses.

“Couldn’t keep your paws off her, could you, Nigro?” a voice near him asked.

“A sensitive she-kat like her is a terrible thing to waste, Bela. I thought I’d give her one last thrill before I actually have to kill her,” the tom said, not bothering to look at the voice. The same she-kat that tried to kill the Furlongs appeared, still wearing her black cloak, but also wearing sunglasses.

“She followed your scent, so she must be one of the kats who were marked.”

“Was? She’s marked.”

“Are you sure? It could’ve been a tattoo.”

“No doubt about it. It had a power when I touched it. What about that other target that got away from you two nights ago? That Swat Kat?”

“He’s called T-Bone. I’m not sure if he is still marked, but he did fall under my perfume. Whether he was marked or not, he could’ve been with someone who was. I still felt a power in him.”

“Then we must keep a close watch on these two. They both could be the ones our master has sent us to destroy.”

“If we truly have found them, we will have completed our mission, my love.”

“Very soon, Bela. Very soon…” Nigro took off his sunglasses and opened his eyes, to reveal they were glowing blood red, as well as blue claw marks scars over his right eye.

Chapter 6:

The group gathered in the hanger and formed a circle after the sun set.

“This has been going on too long. We’re losing our sleep just trying to figure this out. Who is this Midnight Panther?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know, but their flunkies are beginning to have too much fun with us. I’m gonna take another ice cold shower after we’re done here,” Katney said, rubbing her damp hair with a towel. She was wearing a white bath robe.

Buster pulled his shirt out of the dryer and put it on.

“Bloodied my favorite shirt, too. Well, all I can say is that this noon run was unsuccessful. A second dose of that cologne and Katney doesn’t remember anything of what happened after she smelled it. For some reason, Tigera seemed effected by it as well,” Buster said.

“The plot thickens again,” Jake said.

“We have to solve this mystery before anything else happens,” Ann said.

“Well, one thing’s for sure: they don’t come out during the daytime. That’s how Athena got the seductress to leave Mike and Mary-Ann alone for now by turning on the lights. Everyone, try to get some sleep tonight. I’m gonna try one more time tonight to find the connections,” Buster said.

All but Chance and Buster left the hanger.

“I can’t sleep yet, Bust. I’m gonna keep on patrol tonight in case she tries again for Mom and Dad,” Chance said, heading for his locker.

“Better bring along a clothes pin for your nose. You never know what a third dose will do to you.”

Chance nodded.

A few hours later, the group were asleep, except Buster. He was too busy on the computer, listening to the late night news on his radio in his headphones.

“… The latest victims of the Midnight Panther are, curiously enough, the parents of one of the last victims to survive, Katarina Clawson. Michael and Mary-Ann Furlong. The Furlongs have returned about two years ago from their ten years in Africa. Again, curiously enough, all of the past victims, including Clawson and the Swat Kat T-Bone, have also been to Africa and returned two years ago over a large or short period of time…” the newscaster said.

Buster’s typing stopped as he listened to it.

“All of the victims have been in Africa…?” he asked himself.

Meanwhile, T-Bone was near the hospital, but had nodded off on the roof of the building he was on. The City Hall clock tower struck midnight. After the twelve tolls, there was the sound of an instrument playing. His ears twitched, then he lifted his head and opened his eyes. He got up and headed down to the street.

In their hospital room, Mike and Mary-Ann were still awake. They heard the instrument playing, then looked at each other.

“What’s that?” Mary-Ann asked.

“Sounds like a flute,” Mike said, getting up and looking out the window. He looked down at the street, seeing T-Bone and several more kats in their night robes walking in the same direction.

“Something’s up, Mary. Chance is acting like a zombie or something.”

Mary got up and looked out the window as well.

“He’s not the only one,” she said, pointing. She was pointing to Katarina, in her night robe, walking in the same direction as the rest of the kats. Jake and Tigera were doing the same. Skylar, Jade, Kit, Lance, and Gwen were following. Commander Feral and Felina were trying to hold them back.

“I order you to return to your homes!” Feral said.

“The Midnight Panther will strike anyone at any time!” Felina followed. Still, all the kats walked past them. “This isn’t working, Uncle. It’s like they’re being controlled.”

“I know, Felina, I know. Even that Swat Kat seems to be effected,” Feral said. He looked up at the clock tower, which now read 12:10. “Hmm… strange. It’s past midnight.”

“You think the Midnight Panther’s given up?”

“Not likely. These kats are sleep walking out in the middle of the night may very well be one of the Midnight Panther’s new ways to lure kats into their nest.”

“Should we follow them?” Before Feral could answer, Buster ran past them, calling out to his friends.

“Jake! Tigera! Get back here!” he said, panting. He stopped to catch his breath. “Just when I find some kind of connection, they go off sleep walking.”

“You think you found a connection with these murders?” Felina asked.

Before Buster answered, they heard a voice.

“Buster! Up here!” Mike called down.

They looked up.

“Mike! Mary! What’s going on here?” he asked.

“We don’t know. Someone’s playing a flute and it looks like it’s affecting part of the town,” Mary said.

Buster twitched his nose.

“A flute?” Felina asked.

“That’s outrageous! I don’t hear anything!” Feral said.

“Neither do I. Say… did you guys happen to hear screams for the past week around midnight and noon?”

“We have. Why?” Mary asked.

“The pieces are starting to fit together now… No reason! Just curious! Gotta run!” He waved and took off after Jake and Tigera.

“Uncle, we may finally have a clue!” Felina said, chasing after Buster.

“Felina!” Feral said, chasing after her.

Buster grabbed onto Jake and Tigera’s collars. “Jake! Tiger! Snap outta it!” They kept on walking or attempted to walk away from him.

“It’s no use. They’re under someone’s control,” Feral said.

“Oh… I hate to use this, but you leave me no choice.” He turned them both around to face him. Then, closing his eyes tight, he balled up his right fist and gave Jake a punch in the face, then he laid his paw out straight and smacked Tigera across her face.

Felina winced as she watched.

“Ow! Whitetail!” they both growled. They rubbed the spot on their faces where they were punched or smacked.

“What was that for?!” Jake asked.

“What’s the big idea?!” Tigera asked.

They both blinked, then looked around.

“What are we doing here?”

“What’s going on?”

“You mean you don’t know?” Felina asked.

Jake and Tigera looked at her, then at each other, then shook their heads.

“Sorry about that. You two were sleep walking. I couldn’t wake you up any other way,” Buster said.

“Yeah, we’ve heard that story before,” Tigera said, rubbing where Buster smacked her.

Jake’s ears twitched. “I hear a flute,” he said.

“I still don’t,” Felina said.

“They’re both nuts,” Feral mumbled.

“I’ll bet it’s the Midnight Panther playing Pied Piper. They’re luring these kats somewhere,” Buster said.

They looked up at a building and saw Bela the seductress watching the kats moving. A light breeze went through her cloak.

“Who’s that?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know, but she’s violating the peace!” Feral said as he and Felina raised their guns and started blasting in Bela’s direction. Without opening her eyes, she avoided the shots, then jumped down to the ground, then stopped playing the flute. She looked at them.

“Ahh… a late lunch,” Bela purred, licking her sharp teeth.

“Who are you?” Tigera asked.

“I am Bela, and that’s all you need to know.”

“When Comm. and Lt. Feral are present, you’ll tell us what we need to know,” Feral said.

“Why is the Midnight Panther playing Pied Piper with sleeping citizens of MegaKat City?” Felina asked.

“Our master demands them. Our last attempts have failed, thanks to the Swat Kats and Nigro looking for passion in that one she-kat. He hasn’t killed her yet, the bastard. The master prefers that we eat them. We’ll gain enough power by doing so. He told us that there were two among these common folk that are still as powerful as the rest of them were, besides my lover, myself, and the rest of our army. We need them before we do anything else.”

“Who is this master of yours?” Buster asked.

“None of your concern, feline,” Bela replied, pulling off her gloves. On her left paw, they could see blue claw marks.

They gasped, and remembered Chance and Katarina had marks just like that on themselves.

“The gloves come off here, kats… Grr…” Her growl turned into a fearsome snarl. She got down on all fours and began to change shape. She snout grew larger. Her ears grew smaller. Her black coat became slicker and shone in the moonlight. She snarled again as she had turned herself into a panther.

“What in the–?!” Felina asked, eyes wide.

“Steady, Felina. We don’t know what she’s capable of doing in this form,” Feral said, keeping his blaster high.

“Hey, where’d those other three go?”

“Probably went to a safer place, which is where they *should* be.”

“Thunderclap strike!” a voice shouted.

Then, Bela got struck by a jolt of lightning. She shouted, then growled.

“The Swat Kats!” Felina said, looking back at the three Swat Kats.

“Just great,” Feral mumbled under his breath.

The panther in front of them growled and readied herself to pounce.

“All right, she-panther, keep your distance and I won’t be tempted to barbecue you,” Venus said.

“Hmph. Don’t flatter yourself, Swat Kat,” Bela said, then began to pounce.

Venus held her paw out in front of her, shooting out flames. Bela jumped out of the way and snarled again.

“You haven’t won yet! Hope you weren’t too fond of your fellow teammate,” she growled, then ran off after the crowd.

They stared after her, puzzled.

“What did she mean by that?” Feral asked, looking at the Swat Kats.

“Razor, can he really be back?” Boulder asked.

“I don’t know. Tarantus had to be present in order for the panther curse to take affect. But then, the ones who were his slaves wore those collars. When we took him out, the ones with the collars lost their claw marks and panther powers,” Razor said.

“You think Bela is one of the few who still have the curse? Or have they really found a way to bring him back?” Venus asked.

Both Razor and Boulder stood silent in thought. Then, they both slammed their fists into their paws.

“Of course!” they both said.

Venus, Felina, and Feral blinked at them.

“You sure you two aren’t related in some way?” Venus asked.

“Pretty sure. I think we got it figured out. Those past victims must have been marked by Tarantus and served him before we beat him,” Razor said.

“They were all in Africa during the last ten years. And somehow they’re all still linked together. That would explain why T-Bone and Katarina Clawson would hear their screams. Several other citizens who were also under the curse heard them, too,” Boulder said.

“That’s true. We did get several reports of kats hearing screams at midnight,” Felina said.

“But then, why were we effected by the perfume while you thought it was just normal scent?” Venus asked.

“This is just a guess, but I’m thinking that you’ve been with someone who were once marked, and… well, you get the message,” Boulder said, rubbing the back of his head.

“Let’s not go into detail about that, Swat Kat,” Feral said.

“So, we kinda have some connection to T-Bone and Clawson when it comes to panther senses or whatever you’re saying,” Razor said.

“Right. That’s why you guys seemed to be effected and hear this flute while others can’t. It probably only works when you’re sleeping, but we can’t be too sure at this point,” Boulder said.

“Damn!” Felina said.

“Calm down, Felina. The enforcers will handle this situation,” Feral said to the Swat Kats.

“Commander Feral, I strongly suggest that the Swat Kats accompany you,” a voice said.

All turned to see Callie in a nightrobe and Mayor Manx in his bathrobe.

“Ah, yes. After all, Feral, one of the sleep walkers *is* their teammate,” Manx said.

Feral grumbled, “Of all the rotten… all right, Mayor.”

“You up for a fight, Boulder?” Venus asked.

“You bet! Let’s tear ’em apart!” Buster said, holding his paw out in the center.

Razor and Venus put their paws on top of his. Felina did the same. Feral followed. Felina looked at her uncle, a bit surprised. Feral kept his stone face, and nodded.

“I hope I don’t live to regret this,” he said.

“Be grateful if you live at all.”

Chapter 7:

Relying fully on Razor’s and Venus’s ears, Boulder piloted the TurboKat II out of the city and into a large field. An enforcer chopper was close behind.

“Are we getting any closer, Boulder?” Felina’s voice asked on the comm.

“How about it, buddy?” Boulder asked, looking back at Razor.

Razor’s ears flickered.

“It’s close. Better set ‘er down somewhere, Boulder,” he said.

“Roger,” Boulder said, pushing down on the control stick.

“We’ll be there in a minute,” Feral’s voice said.

Venus looked out the canopy window to see a large crowd of kats gathered together.

“I just hope T-Bone and Katney are all right. And the kitts, too,” she said.

“You and the rest of us, Venus. But remember, Bela said they needed T-Bone and Katney for something. We gotta find out what it is before it’s too late,” Razor said as Boulder landed the jet.

The canopy popped opened, then the three Swat Kats jumped out. Once the chopper landed, Feral and Felina stepped out and walked over to the Swat Kats. They looked over at the crowd of kats gathered together.

“They’re just… standing there,” Razor said.

“Nothing is ever as it seems. Come on,” Boulder said, walking ahead.

The rest followed.

“We better split up and find T-Bone,” Razor said.

“Roger,” Boulder and Venus both said. They split up among the group, also hiding among it.

Nigro and Bela were standing on a large platform and looking over the group.

“I feel more power within this group,” Bela said.

“So do I. Is it possible there are still a few kats who can morph themselves to panthers?” Nigro asked.

“Possible. The marked ones may have passed the trait onto their children. The question is, where are they in here?”

“That’s what we have that flute for, my love.”

“Oh, how I’d like to give that hussy a good thrashing,” Felina growled, hiding in the crowd.

“Wait until I give the order, Felina, not before,” Feral said, near her.

Venus was hiding among the crowd, then she noticed Lance. She went over to him and lightly shook him.

“Lance. Lance, wake up. Snap out of it, sweetie,” she whispered. He didn’t respond. She grimaced, put her paw over Lance’s mouth, then stamp down on his foot. He let out a muffled yell, then got pulled down below view of Bela and Nigro. He shoved Venus’s paw off his mouth.

“Mom? What’s the big idea? And… where *are* we?” he asked.

“Shh. I can’t explain now, Lance, but you, Gwen, and your cousins have got to get out of here. It’s Swat Kats business.”

“But they’re probably still asleep.”

“Then, wake them up. They won’t come with you otherwise. The flute those two up front have will control you and everyone else here if you’re still asleep. So wake them up whatever means possible and get out of here.”

Lance nodded, then went out to find his sister and cousins.

Bela held a flute up in front of her.

“Now then, the marked kats of the panther curse, come forward,” she said, bringing the flute to her mouth, then playing a tune.

Razor was about to wake up Kit when his ears twitched.

“Uh-oh. We got trouble,” he said to himself. He looked over at T-Bone, who was approaching the platform. He tried to grab onto him, but he missed. Katarina was close behind him.

Nigro purred, “Finally…”

“Aw, crud,” Felina said.

“That Swat Kat and Katarina Clawson, one of *them?*” Feral asked himself.

When Bela stopped playing the flute, T-Bone and Katarina had stopped by them.

“I knew he had the power to be one of us,” Bela purred.

Nigro went over to Katarina, then pushed aside the clothing on her right shoulder, revealing blue claw marks like he has over his eye.

“She has fresh marks. Barely two years old. Probably the last one who was marked by Tarantus,” he said.

Bela extended her claws, then slashed at T-Bone, who did not flinch or move. His shirt was ripped apart, showing the claw marks on his chest. Only a few shreds remained.

“His marks are older, but he’s only been able to transform for about two years,” Bela said.

“What *are* those?” Feral asked.

“I can only guess trouble,” Felina said.

“What are they up to?” Boulder asked himself.

“I better find the guys so we can plan our next move,” Venus said, walking through the crowd. She accidentally stepped on a tom’s foot, waking him up and shouting.

Bela and Nigro looked out at the kat holding onto his foot.

Venus stood straight up, as well as the others.

“Stupid Swat Kat!” Feral growled.

“So much for that!” Venus said as she, Razor, Boulder, Feral, and Felina were running through the crowd and away.

“Come back here!” Nigro yelled, then Bela played the flute again. Razor and Venus stopped in their tracks. Boulder, Feral, and Felina stopped to look back at them.

“Now what?” Boulder asked.

“What’s the matter with them?” Feral asked.

“You said they’d be effected by whatever the Midnight Panther used on the others. I’m guessing it would effect them, too,” Felina said. Razor and Venus turned around and walked up to the platform.

“T-Bone, Katarina, be good little mindless slaves and take hold of those other three,” Nigro said as Bela continued to play the flute.

T-Bone and Katarina’s eyes glowed red, then they ran after Feral and Felina, grabbing onto them. Boulder slipped away from them. Feral and Felina struggled restlessly, but were forced onto the platform and tied up in tight rope. They pushed them aside.

When Razor and Venus came to the platform, T-Bone and Katarina grabbed onto them Bela stopped playing, then the two shook their heads.

“T-Bone, let go!” Razor struggled under T-Bone’s grip.

“Uhh! Ma’am, we’re on your side!” Venus grunted under Katarina’s grip.

“These four obviously aren’t marked or were marked,” Nigro said.

“No, but the two Swat Kats did follow the flute’s song, so they’re somewhat connected. We’ll have to keep them here until we’re finished,” Bela said, pulling out a bottle.

Nigro did the same. They both sprayed themselves with the perfume, but the mist went over to Razor and Venus.

“Don’t breathe it in, Venus. We won’t be able to get away,” Razor said.

“Too late!”

They both coughed.

Feral and Felina turned away from the scent of the perfumes.

Boulder was watching from behind the group of kats.

“Refreshing,” Bela said, putting the bottle away.

“The perfume won’t effect us like it will you two. Our master made sure of that,” Nigro said.

“And in case it doesn’t work…” Bela put the flute into her mouth again, and began to play.

Manacles appeared from underneath the platform and clamped onto Razor and Venus’s ankles. They both looked down at the manacles and tried to break them by trying to lift their legs up. Grunting, they were ignoring Bela.

“Don’t waste your strength. Those manacles are unbreakable except by the flute and panther claws,” she said.

“Besides, straining will only make you tired and stringy. We prefer our meat nice and juicy,” Nigro said, licking his teeth.

“These two are crazy,” Felina whispered.

“Yes, and we can’t do anything to stop them at the moment. But give me a few minutes to undo these ropes…” Feral whispered, rubbing his wrists together.

“You were looking for T-Bone and Katarina Clawson, just so you can kill them?” Razor asked.

“Well, basically. By the time we realize that the kats we found were once marked but no longer, well, we were hungry…” Bela purred.

Boulder was looking at the manacles that held Razor and Venus from a short distance.

“Solid from what I can tell. Gonna take something pretty strong to break ’em,” he said.

Nigro went over to Katarina purred into her ear, “If they give you any trouble, kill them.”

“Same to you, T-Bone,” Bela purred into his ear.

Both nodded.

“Now, then, Nigro, shall we find out what we’ll do with all these mind-less zombies? Of course, we’ll eat them later, but how to prepare, where to put the leftovers, and so on,” Bela said as she and Nigro walked away.

When they left, Razor and Venus were trying to break their manacles. Venus was trying to burn them off, and Razor was trying to break his off. Venus blew out the fire on her paw.

“Not working. They must be fire proof,” she said.

Razor was grunting as he was pulling on the chains on the manacles as hard as he could, saying, “Yeah, they’re probably demigod proof, too!”

“Uncle, we have to help them,” Felina said.

“Give me a few more minutes to undo these ropes. That Swat Kat ties a mean knot,” Feral said, rubbing his fists together. Bela and Nigro returned to see Razor and Venus were still trying to break the manacles.

“This isn’t working, Nigro. They’ll wear themselves out and we’ll have a stringy breakfast,” Bela said.

“You know the answer to that, my love,” Nigro said, pulling out a small bottle of breath spray. Venus and Razor watched them. Nigro sprayed it into his mouth while Bela was putting on some lipstick.

“What’s that crud?” Felina asked.

“What they used to knock kats out so they won’t get away,” Razor said.

“Wonder where I can buy that lipstick next time I wanna knock T-Bone out?” Venus asked herself.

Boulder watched from where he was.

“T-Bone and Katney are mindless slaves, Razor and Venus are about to be knocked out. And I’m… in serious need of back-up,” he said. Then, he noticed Bela grabbing the flute again. He watched as she brought it to her mouth.

“T-Bone, Katarina, hold onto these two,” Nigro said. Bela played the flute again.

T-Bone and Katarina’s eyes glowed red, then they held onto Razor and Venus.

“T-Bone, snap out of it!” Razor grunted.

“Wake up!” Venus struggled.

“Hold your heads still. Makes it harder for us to make our move,” Nigro said as Bela played the flute again. Suddenly, Razor and Venus’s heads were lifted up and facing straight at Nigro and Bela.

“Swat Kats!” Felina said.

“Why don’t you hot shot jerks move?!” Feral asked.

“Believe us, if we had any will power, we would!” Razor strained.

“Go ahead, Nigro,” Bela stopped playing for a moment, then returned to playing.

Venus could smell the breath spray even from the distance he was from her. It made her nose twitch.

Nigro moved over to her, then grabbed onto her chin. T-Bone was trying not to growl, but he did anyway.

Felina noticed that.

“Uncle.”

“Ah-ha. So, he’s not completely under control. Maybe…” Feral grunted, getting his paws free. He put his paw to the side of his mouth, to make his voice louder. “Hey, Swat Kat! You call yourself a pilot? Ha! Even *Steele* could do better and he isn’t even trained!” T-Bone growled, his grip on Razor was tightening.

“Ow! T-Bone, stop!”

“Razor, you know how T-Bone gets when Feral’s around. This is the best thing to get him back!” Venus said, stepping on Nigro’s foot.

Nigro shouted and jumped backward, rubbing his foot.

“You’re right. Feral, keep it up!”

“He doesn’t need to,” Boulder said. He raised his boomerang up, then threw it at the platform. It knocked the flute out of Bela’s grasp.

“Hey!” T-Bone and Katarina shook their heads briefly and blinked. T-Bone grabbed Nigro just as he was about to kiss Venus.

“Keep your paws off Venus, bastard!” he growled, picking him up and throwing him a small distance.

Katarina also released her grip on Venus.

“Sorry about that, guys,” she said, rubbed her neck.

“Aw, don’t worry about it. You couldn’t help it. You better get out of here, ma’am. It’s getting pretty rough,” Razor said, reaching into his backpack and pulling out her throwing stars, but keeping them where Feral or Felina could not see.

She took them, nodded, and took off somewhere.

Boulder came up to the platform and tried to break the chains attached to the manacles.

“Damn, these are solid!” he grunted.

T-Bone was doing the same to Venus’s chains. Feral and Felina were pitching in.

“They said panther claws can break them, T-Bone,” Felina said.

“You’re right. So, I just gotta–” Razor let out a shout.

Boulder and T-Bone looked up to see a whip was clinging to his neck tightly. Nigro was holding the whip and was pulling on it, trying to choke Razor. Razor’s paw was trapped under the whip.

Venus looked at his belt.

“He took your whip!” she said.

“Let’s see if I can break his neck or he dies from the lack of oxygen,” Nigro said, grinning to Bela. Razor grunted, gritting his teeth tightly.

T-Bone growled, his eyes glowed red.

“Is that an invitation, T-Bone?” Bela asked, twirling her hair around her finger. Then, her eyes glowed red. She raised her paw, showing the marks on her paw. “I accept.”

They both turned into their panther forms and engaged into a tooth and claw fight.

Nigro pulled tighter on Razor’s whip as Razor was trying to push it back.

“Thunder whip, I believe it’s called, isn’t it? I think I’ll have a bit of fun with you then, Razor. Supreme thunder shock,” Nigro said.

A large jolt of electricity zapped Razor, making him scream.

Feral and Felina were shocked as well, seeing how they were still trying to break his chains and were thrown backwards.

“I think we’ve all met our match, Felina,” Feral said, rubbing his head.

Chapter 8:

“Mega ice shards, blast!” a voice shouted.

Suddenly, Razor’s chains were covered in ice. Razor pulled, and the first chain broke.

“Mega ice shards? That’s one of the Swat Kats’ attacks!” Felina said.

“Then that means…” Feral began, smiling for once.

“Who threw that?” Nigro asked, still keeping a good grip on the whip and pulling on it.

Quiver was standing on a tree limb, looking over at them, and caught the stars as they returned to her.

“Here’s a hint: someone who’s going to kick your tail,” she said.

Boulder went to grab the whip from Nigro, but when he touched it, he was shocked and tumbled backwards.

“Knew I should’ve brought rubber gloves,” he said to himself.

Nigro looked over at him, growling.

Razor’s paw grasped onto the whip. In a raspy voice, he said, “Supreme thunder crash.”

A jolt of lightning struck the whip, zapping Nigro. He screamed, let go of the whip, and tumbled back. Razor coughed and grasped onto his neck.

“Much better!” he said, still in a raspy voice.

Quiver jumped down and joined them.

“Everyone all right?” she asked.

“You got one of Razor’s chains, but you’ve got a few more mega ice shards to use,” Venus said.

Nigro stood up, growling. His eyes were glowing red.

“I’ll make you regret that, Swat Kat,” he snarled, then began to change his shape to a panther.

“Don’t do it, Quiv!” Boulder said.

“Chill, Boulder. I can handle him,” Quiver replied.

“But–!”

“Boulder, use your head! Otherwise, we’ll be fighting until dawn!”

Nigro pounced on Quiver, who threw him back.

“Use my head? Dawn? Hmm…” He tapped his head, which made a slight echo sound on his helmet. “Ah-ha!”

“He’s starting to sound like that brainy Swat Kat. Probably a good thing,” Feral said to himself.

“What else did Bela say would break these chains? I can’t remember,” Venus said, pulling on her chains.

“I can’t either. We were too busy trying to break them to listen to her anyway,” Razor said, doing the same.

Boulder was busy thinking to himself, recalling what Athena had told them the night before to make sure his plan would work.

“What did you do to stop her from killing them, Mom?” Razor’s voice asked in his head.

“All I did was turn on the lights. Then she bolted. My only guess is she doesn’t like light,” Athena’s voice said.

“Something to consider when fighting these monsters,” T-Bone’s voice said.

Boulder snapped his fingers.

“That’ll work!” he said out loud to himself. He put his fingers into his mouth, and whistled, getting Nigro and Bela’s attention. “You guys hungry? Try me! Nice and tender!” he said, flexing an arm muscle and pinching it, showing how good he was.

“He’s tempting me, Nigro,” Bela said, licking her teeth and standing on top of T-Bone.

“Go ahead and eat him then. I only eat the females,” Nigro said as he punched Quiver in the face.

Bela roared and charged at Boulder.

“What are you doing?!” Venus asked.

“He’ll be killed!” Feral said.

“Chill, guys. I know what he’s thinking,” Razor said.

Just as Bela was about to pounce, Boulder turned the headlamp in his helmet on. Bela roared and covered her eyes.

“Damn you!” she growled, walking backwards. She appeared blinded.

“Bela, watch where you’re stepping!” Nigro said, looking over at her.

Bela stepped on something, which turned out the be the flute she played. The sleepwalking kats fell to the ground, sleeping. The chains that held Razor and Venus disappeared.

Nigro growled, looking at Boulder, then shielded his eyes from the light in his helmet. The five Swat Kats stood together. Feral and Felina stood with them. Athena and the kittens ran up from behind them and watched.

“Who are you working for?” T-Bone asked.

“Who is the Midnight Panther?” Razor asked.

“How did you get the activated panther marks of Tarantus?” Quiver asked.

“Is he still alive?” Boulder asked.

“Or is it someone else?” Venus asked.

“Our midnight run is over… for now. Now that we know who have the other activating marks, we don’t have to have a late night snack,” Nigro said.

“As for your questions, that’s up for *you* to find out,” Bela said.

A gust a wind, and they were gone. The Swat Kats gasped at that. It began to snow.

“They just… disappeared,” Felina said.

“Incredible,” Feral said, awe-struck.

“And now it’s snowing,” Athena said, holding her paw out and catching a snowflake.

“Add these two to the mystery list,” Boulder said.

“First it was that gypsy that tried to give us an acid injection,” Razor said.

“Then it was Nicholas Harris who knew who we were,” Venus said.

“And now, it’s the Midnight Panther,” Quiver said.

“Are all these somehow connected?” Boulder asked.

“I don’t know, Kats. Whoever this Midnight Panther is, they have the power to control anyone whom Tarantus marked, they know Katarina Clawson and I have the activated marks, and have some cologne that makes us immobile. And, somehow, I think there are more activated marks and they may be with these two,” T-Bone said.

“You mean there are more where these two came from?” Feral asked.

“And they’re just as powerful as them?” Felina asked. T-Bone did not answer at first. He was rubbing his forehead.

“T-Bone?” Razor asked.

“It’s only a matter of time. Tarantus is still alive, and he knows we are, too,” T-Bone said.

“After two years locked in ice and trapped in the world, you know he’s going to be ticked,” Boulder said.

“Then it’s far from over. We’ve only a new enemy,” Quiver said.

“The Midnight Panther is starting to make the daughters of Satan look like newborn kitts,” Venus said.

“Venus… the daughters of Satan aren’t the only kats we have to worry about anymore,” T-Bone said.

They all looked out towards the east to watch the sun rise. In the distance, they heard the City Hall clock tower strike the morning hour.

“It’s only the beginning.”

THE END

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