“Hey, Sure-Shot, wanna go to the canyons and practice?”
Razor looked up from where he had been polishing the TurboKat. “Aww, T-Bone! I just got this thing waxed!”
“*Knew* you wouldn’t mind, let’s go!”
“Hold on, hold on. Gotta turn on the obstacle course *before* we go.” ____________s_____________w_____________a_____________t____________
Klawz was flying in a part of the canyon she had never been in before. The canyon walls and formations were even more like Megakat City than she could ever have dreamed of in other parts. It was the perfect place to fly.
There was a sharp noise that her ears just caught over the sound of the engines.
“Projectiles on my tail,” the computer in the Phoenix warned in a digitized female voice.
“What kind and how fast?” she asked. She couldn’t risk a glance at any of the screens because she had just reached a complex set of formations. Menataly, she thanked Allie Perkins, her brother, for leaving his charts and drawings and prototypes for artificial intelligence to her in his will.
“Undetermined fire. You could out-fly them if you put on some more speed.”
Taking the Phoenix’s advice, Klawz accelerated. She saw the bend ahead and took advantage of it.
“Projectiles embedded in rock wall,” the computer remarked.
“Can you still trace the source?” Now that the immediate danger was over, she thought it odd that had found their way here and opened fire on her.
“Negative. Projectiles on my tail.”
“Again? What kind, how many, and trace the source!”
“Three missiles, not heat-seeking. Closing in, impact in ten…”
Klawz pulled up and she heard muffled explosions beneath her. “What was the source?”
“Motion detecting machines earlier in the canyons.”
“Do you detect any ahead of us?”
“Anything else in the area?” Klawz questioned the computer urgently.
“Nega- Affermative. Jet approaching. Anticipated time for optimum radio contact: two minutes.”
“Connect us when we have a visual.” ____________s_____________w_____________a_____________t____________
As far as T-Bone knew, everything was normal. They had come in on the obstacle course at the same point they always did. Though neither could predict which of the motion sensor devices that lined the canyon would go off, their run seemed routine. That was until Razor spoke up.
“T-Bone…something’s wrong. The last few didn’t go off.”
“It’s auto-programmed, you know that. Maybe those weren’t supposed to go off this run.”
“Negative. I’ve already run a test on that. The last two obstacles show empty messages on my computer. You know we always re-arm the obstacle course before we leave. Someone triggered the last two after we turned on the course!”
Radio static interrupted whatever T-Bone might have said, “Oh! So *that’s* what happened! Glad to know I’m not being hunted *already*!”
It was the familiar voice of Klawz. T-Bone was privately thrilled. Razor was openly upset.
“Klawz! How’d you tap into our private radio ban?”
“The same way you guys tap into everybody elses. If you try, I bet you’d be able to tap into mine too. Looks – or rather *sounds* – like you’ll have to watch what you say. Just like everyone else in the sky.”
“Well then, I can’t find you on my radar anywhere – can you see us?”
“Negative. That makes us even, then. My computer can detect if there’s an object in the sky and when we’ll have radio contact. I suppose if I did the math I could figure out where y’all are…not that I’d waste my time.”
“So, you don’t have us on radar?”
“Negative, I’ve got an excellent visual though.”
T-Bone looked around and finally spotted the glass canopy of the Phoenix peeking out from behind a rock formation. He had to admit she had hidden herself well. A rock overhang blocked the sun so that no ray of sunlight would betray her. The canyon itself served to absorb most of the noise her engine might make, muting the sound until it didn’t make any more noise than could be heard over that the TurboKat made. The formation itself hid the rest of the Phoenix.
He could see Klawz grinning and waving. T-Bone laughed. Razor frowned. Her voice crackled over the radio again. “Aw, Razor, you’re no fun!” she complained, but she was laughing.
“I guess we’ll have to share the canyons…” Razor allowed grudgingly.
BOOK TWELVE: CANYONS CHAPTER ONE CONT.
Klawz nearly laughed again at the mulishness in Razor’s voice. “I can tell you’ve been here before, if you don’t want to share, you don’t have to.”
“Naw, Razor’s just upset you out-flew his gadgets,” T-Bone said.
She opened her mouth to remark on that, but then the red light that announced a transferred news feed interrupted her. “Hold on, I’ve got something being transferred…”
“You’ve what?” she heard Razor ask over the whirring noise of Phoenix processing Hangar Control’s news feed.
“News flash…” she muttered, trying to get a clearer picture as she turned up the volume. She’d have to remember to fix the tube later.
“…This is Ann Gora live on the scene where Commander Ama Lee Jun is exiting her helicopter. Commander Jun will be staying in Megakat City for an extended period of time where she will meet with Commander Feral to discuss the differences of the two cities’ Enforcer methods. Commander Jun!”
The camera panned from Ann Gora’s face to the older Siamese she-kat. Commander Jun looked about thirty-five, but could have been as old as forty-five. Her slanted black eyes looked down at Ann as if she were examining her under a microscope. Her white fur was as smooth as a young she-kats and her black hair was cut in a no-nonsense chin-length style.
“Yes?” Commander Jun asked.
“Commander Jun, what exactly will you be comparing?”
“Styles of Enforcing,” she said shortly, looking slightly annoyed.
“Is it true that after your stay, Commander Feral will come to your city to do the same thing?”
“No comment,” Commander Jun said, then excused herself and walked to her waiting limo.
The Phoenix cut off the rest of the news feed there. “Wonderful,” she groaned, forgetting that the SWAT Kats could hear her.
“What?” they asked together.
“They’ve multiplied!” she growled. “Commander Feral’s got a visitor from another city. Her name is Commander Ama Lee Jun.”
“How fortunate…” T-Bone said sarcastically.
“Low fuel,” the Phoenix casually stated.
“The computer?” Razor asked excitedly.
“Yes, Razor. That’s my cue to leave, by the way.” She pulled out of the canyons and accelerated out of the area. She made it back to Hangar Control with plenty of fuel to spare.
NEXT BOOK: PARTY
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