Original SWAT Kats Story

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By Klawz

  • 1 Chapter
  • 17,552 Words

Katareena Perkins is kidnapped by Turmoil, and her life goes through some serious changes because of it.

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Author's Notes:

(I’m working on a title…help would be appreciated)

Forward: To those who have read my Katareena series on the regular Archive, let me explain that this Katareena and the one from the stories are different. They are still basically the same she-kat, but their personalities and histories are a little different. Some parts of this story are based on actual rpgs. All characters are copyright their players.

* Katareena begins her tale… __

It all started a few months before…before IT began.

I visited the MegaCanyons with a few of my friends… I won’t go into much detail because I didn’t enjoy my time spent there. Three ancient Native American Spirits decided that Jessica Maverick, one of my friends, and I had enough Native American blood to be turned into their warriors. The damn Spirits were bored and too snobby to Change just anyone…

…It suffices to say that our brain waves were messed with to give us our powers. Jessica gained the powers of mind speech and…well….if there was anything else, either she hasn’t discovered it yet or she’s not sharing.

I was ‘blessed’ with a new body – with everything from a new fur color to a new voice. That and Spirit Weapons. I suppose that was a good thing. I tend to be forgetful and weapons are usually misplaced… That was one of the things that got me into the mess I got into… But I haven’t gotten to the point where I can explain that yet, so bear with me for a little longer…

I tend to use things that are given to me…and the powers were no exception – much to Jonathan Weissman’s dismay. You’ll recognize Jonathan if you meet him. He’s one of the few dawgs in MegaKat City, and he’s practically blind without his glasses, which is pretty cute when he changes into UnderDog. You can keep a secret, right?

Jonathan’s what you call a chronic worrier. I understand that, with the group of friends he has. We get into so much trouble it’s a wonder we’re all still alive. The reason Jonathan doesn’t like me, or Jess, for that matter, to use my powers is because the Change is very painful. Jonathan was just *thrilled* when Wheels discovered he too had been Changed… Poor Jonathan.

Right, I should explain just who Wheels is. He’s also a minority, like Jonathan, only he’s a raccoon. He’s also my little brother. I see you scratching your head now. Not my biological brother, mind you, I adopted him. I suppose he represents my two…late brothers. His real name is Skye Ringtail, but he’s Wheels to everyone.

Anyway, long ago I was younger, naive about the ways of show business – Oh, that’s right, I’m Katareena Perkins. You might have seen me in those Enforcer movies? Right, that one. I had another agent when I began – Leo Vernes. Yeah, the sleaze that was hauled off to the slammer awhile back. He had me sign this contract promising me to a movie company for one movie. Years past before that company remembered I was still legally one of their actresses, and I never knew what the clause in the contract was for, so I didn’t know either until one of the movie company’s contract reviewers or something found out and contracted my new agent, Marma Lade.

Marm was pissed and I wasn’t too happy either when I found out. I’d have to film this new Enforcer movie for about three or four months….and that was the on-location filming too. Oh well, a girl’s gotta earn her living, right? Right. ‘Sides, I did sign the darn thing.

I would have brought Wheels with me for the shoot, but we were filming in redneck country and it wouldn’t have been a good idea. Jessica wanted to come too… ‘Course that was because as soon as I heard about this deal I started having nightmares. That was courtesy the Spirits of the MegaCanyons.

The dreams were true enough….I guess… I don’t remember them except for it was the Spirits making fun of my distaste for the powers they gave me. Looking back, I see it was the Spirits trying to make me bow out of the movie and do something else. They knew what was going to happen. Too bad they had to be so damn mysterious about the whole thing. Then I wouldn’t have had to… We’ll skip that part right now. If they’d told me, they wouldn’t have had to worry.

So, for a few weeks I said my good-byes to my friends. Abby, the leader of the SWAT Kats (keep that secret too, she has her ways…), was on vacation with Jeremy, so they didn’t know about my…they didn’t know until they got back. Wheels was terribly upset, Jessica was a little peeved at me because I wouldn’t accept her help of a body-guard since I wouldn’t let her or Wheels come, and Jeff…well, he didn’t want me to go either. Everyone else seemed to understand that it was my job to go and treated it like I was going on a vacation.

With so much going on, I never thought to ask if they could come to the filming for awhile, but Marm did. The day I had to go, I invited them all to come with me. Most couldn’t, but Wheels, Vlad, Jonathan, Cassy, Ashryn and Jess could. Yes….I remember that day and the one after it clearer than I remember the next few months of my life….

__

*The Beginning…. __

Katareena ran though her apartment, shoving clothes into her bags violently. Wheels went right behind her and folded the clothes neatly. He was calmer now that he knew he could come for at least a few days of the filming, but he was still a little down. Not that Kat noticed, she was too busy running though the apartment looking for anything she might need. It wasn’t that she didn’t care, though.

There was a knock on her door and Kat opened it. Jonathan was standing there, looking like his usual mild-mannered self. She smiled, pulled him in and shut the door, then ran off again on her Quest for Things. “Hi, Jonathan!” she called back, now in another room entirely.

“Uh….hi…” Behind his thick glasses he noted that the apartment was in more disarray than usual. “What’s goin’ on?” He asked, as he joined both Wheels and Kat in her room.

To Kat’s dismay, a tear immediately slid down her cheek, she wiped it away. Jonathan noticed though, so did Wheels, but he didn’t comment. “What is it?” Jonathan asked.

“I’m….leaving today. Marm called last night. Damn studio…” she dragged a suitcase towards the door, opened it, and shoved yet another shirt into the already too-full bag.

Jonathan looked slightly uncomfortable with her display of tears. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Call the Yard? Invite the kats there to come for about a week of shooting? Or as long as they can?” Jonathan nodded and disappeared into the kitchen where the only non-cordless phone was.

Kat moved over to a shelf in her closet and dragged down a small wooden box. Her paws were shaking slightly, but Wheels couldn’t tell, her back was to him.

“Sis…promise me something..” Wheels said, just behind her.

“What, Wheels?” Her throat already had a lump in it, and it wasn’t even really the time for their real good-byes. Holding the box with her brother’s dawg tags in it, she hoped she wouldn’t lose Wheels too. Losing the first two brothers was enough for her.

“Be careful…I’ve got the funniest feeling about this…”

Her blue eyes misted over again and she nodded. “Yeah…me too.” Her adopted brother pulled her into a hug, and blinking back tears, she hugged back. When they pulled away, Jonathan stood in the doorway, waiting shyly.

“I called them. Jess, Ashryn, Vlad and Cassy are coming…” Jonathan said.

“Good….” Kat couldn’t bring herself to say anything else. She wished Jeff had been able to come, but she understood when he couldn’t. “Okay…now you promise me something…both of you.” She placed the box on the bed almost as if it were a ritual.

Jonathan must have sensed it, for his voice was hushed when he spoke. “What’s in it?”

“My brother’s dawg tags….promise me if something happens…you’ll bury me with this…okay?” The last few words were barely a whisper.

“We promise,” Jonathan said as Wheels nodded gravely. Then Jonathan hugged her. She hugged back, needing the reassurance.

“You’ll come and stay with me awhile, right?” Kat asked, neither of them pulling away just yet. She guessed that all her fears were making Jonathan a little afraid.

Her fear must have transmitted itself to Jessica too, for she mind-sent to her. ***BURY you????***

Kat couldn’t mind-speak like Wheels and Jess could, but they could hear her thoughts, so she thought back. ((Yes…Jess, I have the worst feeling about all this…)) She got the impression that Jessica sighed before breaking off.

Jonathan was speaking again. “You be careful, okay?” He released her and stepped back.

“I’ll try my best.” Kat said, mentally adding ‘unless I can’t control what’s going on…damn Spirits…’.

Wheels pulled his notebook from his pocket and put it into her paws. “I can’t come with you, but here’s the next best thing…it’s everything I’ve written. The way I figure it, if you can’t take someone with you, their words are the next best thing.”

Kat was touched. Wheels was very protective of his notebook. The lump in her throat got harder to talk around and she was afraid she’d start crying at any second. She didn’t want to though, it might upset Wheels and Jonathan even more. “Hankyu.”

Feeling like she’d bawl at the slightest thing either of them said, she escaped the room. For once, she actually found her address book instantly. She dialed Jessica.

“Maverick,” Jess said briskly.

“Jess….you want directions now?”

Jessica paused. “Why didn’t you just Send to me? I always leave a channel open for you.” She meant the mind-send powers.

“I’m….not as good at it as Wheels and you are…” Wheels sat next to her and gave her another hug; she hugged back.

“Right. I’ll be there in a few.” Jess said.

“Kay…bye.”

“Ciao.” Jessica hung up.

Kat looked over at Jonathan, who hovered nearby, and Wheels. “Ready?” They nodded and she got up and grabbed the keys to her beloved jeep. The three of them grabbed the bags and left the apartment. The others were sent ahead as she locked the door behind them. She stood, looking at the door for a few minutes and absently wondered when she’d see it again….if she’d see it again.

A few hours later they were at the set of the shoot in the country. As they unloaded the bags and reloaded them into the trailer she was going to stay in for the filming, the locals eyed Jonathan and Wheels with emotions ranging from curiosity to all-out hate.

She figured the only way it could get worse was if Ahnold Swartzenlitter was going to be co-staring with her. It wasn’t a surprise to her with her luck that as soon as she thought that the tall, buff, and tawny action star strode by. She automatically growled.

Kat knew him well. Not that she liked to admit that. Ahnold considered her a rival. They were in the same line of work and her movies tended to do better in the box office than his. He took it personally. He was also deluded into thinking the she-kats of the world worshipped the ground he walked on, and treated any female like trash.

Beside her, Wheels tensed up, gritting his teeth and looking like he were going to leap for Ahnold’s throat. “Down boy.” Kat said, with a small grin. “Be good.” Wheels looked over at her and smiled wolfishly, then tried to hide it behind an innocent look.

“Uh-huh…” Kat said, smiling more easily now. She spotted Jess, Ashryn, Cassy and Vlad showing up and waved them over.

Ahnold glanced back to see Wheels giving him a look that clearly said ‘you even look at Kat in a way I don’t like and I’ll…’. Kat smirked and repeated, “Be good.” Ahnold frowned and left post-haste. She spotted the director, Alex Yowlman, and ran off. “There’s the director!”

“Who’s a director?” Jess asked Wheels, arriving where Jonathan and Wheels stood. “Where’d she go?” Jess asked, motioning to Kat who was now talking animatedly to Alex, throwing up her arms and yelling from time to time.

“To kiss up to the director, I guess…” Wheels joked a little.

Ashryn walked over to Wheels and put a paw on his shoulder. “How are you?” She was a small crossbreed. Jackal, fox, and more made her up. She was often mysterious and confused almost everyone of the group. But she was friendly when she put her mind to it.

“Now….crappy. Later….I don’t even want to think about it,” Wheels answered. The rest goofed around nearby, obviously giving them the space to talk.

“Something wrong?” Ashryn asked.

“I’ve got this feeling of…” he trailed off, trying to find the right words.

“…Impending doom?” Ashy supplied.

He shook his head slightly. “All I know is something’s going to happen. Something very, very bad.”

Ashryn looked down at her paws. “If this makes a difference….I’ll try to help as much as I can.”

“Good, I’ll need all the help I can get.”

Jess obviously overheard at least part of the conversation and turned back. “You’re staying with her the whole shoot, right?”

“I would if she’d let me…filming in the deep South. The deep, deep, racist South. You figure it out.” Wheels replied.

“That doesn’t sound good…” Ashryn said.

“Damn that girl!” Jess raged, then went off to collect her friend who was still ‘talking’ with the director. Alex took one look at the tall Italian she-kat bearing down on them and left. In a Joan Riverskat impression, her best, Kat had to acknowledge, she said, “Can we talk?”

“Sure….about what?” She led the taller she-kat beneath a tall oak with Spanish moss trailing down its branches. Absently she hoped no spiders were in there waiting to drop down on her. She hated spiders.

“Why won’t you let Wheels stay with you?” Jess put her paws on her hips. Kat just looked pointedly at the stagehands that were glaring at Jonathan, Wheels and Ashy. “Oh God…I…” Jess put two and two together, not hearing what Wheels had said past ‘I would if she’d let me’.

“‘Sides, Wheels would begin to miss his city after awhile.” Kat said, grabbing a tall piece of grass and winding it through her fingers.

“Will they be okay?” Jess asked.

Katareena shrugged a little, dropping the bit of greenery. “As long as I make my presence known. I don’t think even my influence will protect them for long…especially if they get the opportunity to take out their racism on them while no one else is around.”

Jessica nodded. “Well, did you talk to Charley about that bodyguard?” Charley was her partner in her bodyguard business.

The shorter, blonde she-kat shook her head. “I don’t think it would help any…”

“A bodyguard could protect you against Ahnold and the rednecks.”

“Jess….I don’t think I’ll have to worry about them… Take care of Wheels and Jeff while I’m gone, right?”

Jessica began to nod again, then stopped, a horrified look on her face. “Waaaait…they’re not moving IN with me, are they?”

Katareena burst into laughter and had to lean against the oak for support. Between giggles she got out, “N-no…but you know them.”

It was getting dark now, and the crickets were singing while the mosquitoes tried to be the best mini-vampires they could. “Let’s see about where you’re going to sleep tonight…” Kat said.

Eventually, the females stayed in Kat’s trailer while the males were put up in a trailer reserved for the director’s family, should they decide to visit.

Kat was woken up by an intern at about four-thirty a.m. Everyone else in the trailer moaned at the disturbance and Jess did something horrible to the young kat who’d woken them up. Kat made note not to ever wake Jessica up at any hour she considered ungodly.

When Alex gave her the schedule for the day, Kat nearly jumped for joy. She knew Jonathan and Jess, at least, had jobs they had to go to and couldn’t stay for long, so she’d been trying to convince Alex to film the flight scenes first. She guessed she’d argued him down.

Jess emerged from the trailer before the rest, groggily rubbing her eyes. “Okay….coffee first…”

Kat walked her to the mess tent and grabbed some breakfast herself. Jess gave every impression of being a zombie as she gulped down coffee. Apparently the unfortunate intern who’d woken her up had warned the rest of the crew; everyone else avoided their table. Kat thought it was hilarious. Jess just mumbled something about wishing coffee came in an IV.

Jessica finally pronounced herself awake. “Okay, show me those stunt planes sittin’ out there.”

Happily, Kat jabbered about them, then patted the side of one of them. “This is the one I’m flying today.”

“Wait…you actually WANT to fly?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Don’t they do those scenes with stunt doubles, computers, and models now?”

“Uh-huh.”

“You just HAAAVE to be different, don’t you?”

“Uh-huh.”

The dark-haired she-kat eyed the jet nervously. “I get nauseated standing on a ladder.”

“I love flying. I haven’t since the fourth of July. I miss it.” Kat said, the look on her face suggested she felt sorry for Jessica.

“Soo….what’s going to explode and who’s being set on fire today? I haven’t read the script.” Jessica asked, obviously uncomfortable with being felt sorry for.

“I’m ‘shooting down’ a lot of the stunt planes. Just be sure to stay in the area they’ve marked. It’s going to be….spectacular…. not as good as when it’s in the theaters, but still…wonderful.”

“How come you’re all upset about being here if you’re filming an action movie? I’d expect this attitude if it were a romance….” Jess looked very Italian now, even more so than she usually did, which Kat found highly interesting.

“I get this hair-raising feeling every time I think about being alone on this set…” Kat said, her voice troubled. She stared off into one of the fields.

“Then let me stay with you…or at least Wheels.”

Kat shook her head, her long blonde hair falling into her eyes. “If what I’m feeling is going to happen happens with someone around me…I KNOW they’re not going to survive… please…” She broke out in goose-bumps and her face went dead-white.

“Okay, let’s not talk about it anymore.” Jess decided.

“Uhmm…” the timid voice of the intern piped up nearby. He was very careful to keep a great distance from Jessica.

“Mm?” both she-kats asked, raising their right eyebrow in sync. The intern stumbled back, obviously scared to death. They both had to hand it to him, he recovered quickly.

“Mister-Yowlman-wants-you-on-the-set-right-now!” He squeaked out, running the words together. It took Kat a few seconds to figure out what he’d said.

“Okay, I’ll be right there.” The young kat ran off as if Jessica was going to chase him down and hurt him.

“What’s with him?” Jessica asked, confused.

Katareena nearly choked on her laughter, starting toward where the director was fooling around with a two-way radio. “You don’t remember?”

“Remember what? What happened?” Jess followed, her face had the patented ‘thinking’ look on it. Katareena was laughing too hard to explain.

Alex showed her how the two-way radio worked and told her how she’d be using it. “I’ll be telling you which stunts to do…” he said, then kept babbling. Jess made a face after while and motioned that she was going for more coffee. Kat nodded.

Eventually the director was sidetracked from telling Kat for the seventh or eighth time what was going to happen by another actress throwing a hissy fit. Vlad showed up with a bag. In his Russian accent, he spoke, extending the bag. “I brought coffee and assorted sugary pastry things that are considered breakfast foods.”

“Mm…food…” Kat replied, eyeing the bag.

“Hey, isn’t that your favorite action star, Ahnold Swartzenlitter?” Vlad asked, his voice deadpan as if he actually thought the he-kat was.

Katareena hissed automatically. “That’s Ahnold. I think he’s staying away though. Wheels threatened his life….I think…” She spied Cassy and waved her over.

Ahnold whistled at Cassy and moved over, intercepting her. “Oo….yeer hot.” Cassy raised a brow. “Come over to my traaailer and I’ll show you how big a staah I can be.”

Cassy slapped him while Vlad and Kat gave him evil looks. “If you hit her back I’ll hurt you…” Kat promised.

Ahnold made another, even more lewd statement and Cassy punched him. “If he hits me back you won’t get a chance to!” She declared. Ahnold, concerned for his looks, left the area.

“I’ll be back!” Ahnold called over his shoulder.

“Right,” Kat said.

“Man, what a jerk!” Cassy grumbled as Vlad handed her coffee and a danish. “Thanks!”

“Katareena! It’s time for the scene!” The director said, pointing in the direction of the make-up and costume trailer.

“I’m goin’!” she called back, then saluted her friends with a grin and ran off.

Jessica joined Cassy and Vlad who watched the goings on, interested, eating their danishes and drinking their coffee. “Get lost?” Cassy asked.

The Italian she-kat muttered something in her language darkly before replying. “Yeah.”

Nearby, Kat bursts out of a trailer, a few make-up people spilling out after her. She wore an Enforcer uniform and was running full speed to her jet. The make-up people were yelling curses and encouragement as half the set grumbled and the other laughed. Anyone who’d worked on a movie with her knew her distaste for sitting in the make-up chair for too long. She flung herself into the cockpit of the jet and was in the air before any of the crew could stop her. The director took it all in stride and called for the cameras to get into position.

They filmed for a few hours, perfecting scenes as best they could, leaving the rest up to the talented computer artists who would add the better explosions and the weapons. Because no one wanted to accidentally shoot down the stars, they had removed the weapons from the jets.

This was, of course, the worst thing that could have happened that day.

Katareena was doing some type of roll in the sky when she noticed another jet baring down on her. Though her headset, which broadcast to all on the ground, she asked. “Alex….what’s this jet doing up here? There were only supposed to be two…”

“You’re doin’ fiiiine, just keep at it!” Alex said brightly, obviously not realizing the danger.

“Alex,” she said sharply, “It’s dangerous! What’s going ON?”

The other jet answered her question seconds later by firing at her. She screamed and pulled away. The pilot of the other movie-jet wasn’t so lucky, he got shot down. “ALEX! GET HELP!” She yelled.

From where she sat in her jet she could see the ground crew scurrying around, escaping while they could. The director was no exception. She growled lowly.

“Kat, do you have any weapons on your jet?” Vlad asked, over the radio.

“No, no I don’t!” She maneuvered as best she could, the studio’s stunt jet not as responsive as her own jet back in MegaKat City.

The pilot of the jet fired at the kats on the ground, missing Ahnold by inches. Over her radio, Kat heard from the pilot: “Darn….I missed…”

“Darn, she missed!” Cassy said from the ground.

“On your person?” He asked again.

“No. I didn’t think I’d need anything, it’s not like I was going to kick someone’s tail or something!” she said, her voice strained.

“SHIT!! Haven’t you learned to always carry a weapon yet?” Vlad yelled, “Hold on…”

“Dammit, Vlad!” she was close to breaking the radio now, just so she didn’t have to hear what everyone always told her.

***What about your mask?*** Jess sent to her, knowing that, like her own mask, putting it on activated her powers.

Kat thought back to her, ((In my trailer…))

***Damn…***

“Okay, I KNEW this was going to be a bad day…” Cassy said.

Jess ran towards the other stunt jets and climbed in, screaming the whole way, from buckling up until she flew the jet close to Kat’s. It was too late though. A thick yellow beam shot out of the jet and enveloped Kat’s jet. Jess heard her screams both mentally and audibly. She had to turn her head so she wouldn’t be sick.

With a great show of strength, Jess popped open the canopy and threw a tracking device on the other jet, which was now releasing grappling hooks to Kat’s jet. The little electronic piece amazingly attached itself before the other jet scrambled and got away, pulling Kat’s littler one behind. Jess landed, too sick to try and follow immediately.

She stumbled out of the plane where Vlad and Cassy waited. “Turmoil…” Jess said. They nodded.

“Turmoil?” A new voice asked. It was Jonathan’s, Wheels was with him.

“Where’s Ashy?” Jess asked, avoiding the inevitable.

Jonathan shrugged. “She left. You know her….what was going on earlier? I woke up to a missile coming in the trailer’s roof….”

“Kat’s been kidnapped by Turmoil!” Cassy blurted out, not knowing that this would upset them more than she was.

“WHAT?!?!” Wheels and Jonathan yelled, looking around at the deserted and destroyed set and knowing that Kat’s prediction had finally come true.

“We have to save her!” Wheels said, an anxious look on his face.

“Sure….we’ll save her…but please…someone else fly…” Jessica said, still a little green. Vlad nodded and pulled a lap top from no where.

“I can override the computers in the jet by-” Vlad began.

“I don’t care HOW you do it, Vlad, just DO it!” someone in the group snapped.

Vlad shrugged and moved over to the jet, messing around with his technical bits and pieces and his laptop. Jess, Cassy and Jon paced somewhere nearby while Wheels watched. After a few minutes, he patted where his pockets were then looked around. Spying what was on Wheels’ belt, he said, “Give me one of your ninja stars.”

“Shuriken,” Wheels corrected.

“Bless you,” Vlad said politely. Wheels sighed and took the said weapon from his belt and passed it to Vlad who cut a bit of wire and gave it back.

“All aboard, as they say…” Vlad declared.

“I’m NOT getting in that thing….” Jessica said.

“I can fly you up there….” Jonathan said shyly. Jess nodded once. Wheels, Vlad, and Cassy climbed into the jet. Jess gave Vlad the tracking device monitor so he could follow, then she and Jonathan watched as Vlad programmed the jet to take off.

“At least they haven’t crashed….” Jess muttered, darkly.

“Uh…yeah…” Jonathan said, pushing his glasses higher on his nose. “If we want to keep up with them, we’ll have to go now…” Blushing slightly, he opened his arms. Jess grinned at him and stepped into the embrace.

“You drop me and I’ll have to hurt you,” she teased.

__

*Katareena awakens after being kat-napped… __

Katareena blinked as the room seemed to swim before her eyes. She was looking up at a ceiling that was stone. “OoooOOoo…” she groaned, pushing herself up off the too-hard cot.

A dark she-kat stood in her cell with her. Her uniform marked her as someone high ranking. She reminded her of Jessica. “Hullo….whoareyou?”

“I am Turrrmoil… Identify yourself,” the dark she-kat ordered.

“Mm….I’m thinking…no.”

Turmoil’s dark eyes flashed with pure rage and she leapt forward, grabbing a fistful of Kat’s blonde hair and yanking back. “You I have asked a question! You will answer me now!”

“Owowowowooooowww! Leggo! Leggo!” Kat screeched, the room spinning wildly. All she could do was clutch at the cot’s sheets and hope she didn’t collapse. Turmoil threw her to the floor where Kat lay, panting, the sheets tangled around her.

“Answer me!”

Kat pushed herself to her paws and knees, taking deep breaths. She saw stars and bright flashing spots. “Oh…oh…oh…” was the only thing she could say. Turmoil kicked her in the stomach and Kat grunted before falling back down and curling into a ball.

She looked up into Turmoil’s cold, rage-filled eyes and bit her lip until it bled. “Katareena…” she gasped out.

“Theeenk-yew… I see you co-operate vell…when geeven the right incentive…” Turmoil smirked down at her.

“Go to hell.”

“I saw this movie once….” Turmoil said thoughtfully. “One of the characters said, ‘I’ve been there, eet’s quite lovely, theenk-yew’. I vill just say, ‘I’ve been there’…”

Katareena glared, silent. “Tie her up,” Turmoil ordered her guards, all female, who snapped to it. Kat couldn’t breathe her bonds were so tight. The room still rocked and she was afraid she’d be sick.

“What…what was that thing you hit me with?” Kat asked, closing her eyes.

“My vertigo beam. You look as eef you are steell suffering from eet’s effects….poor child.” Her voice held more dark pleasure in that than even a little pity.

“God…” Kat muttered. “What do you WANT from me?”

“Gold. You will fetch a high price on the market.”

“The market? Wha- You’re going to sell me? To who?” Kat panicked, not liking the sound of it in the least.

Turmoil shrugged. “The highest bidder, of course. There ees a war on….always is. You are obviously fit for battle. And eef not, there is always a market for a concubine.” She laughed while Kat moaned in dismay, the dizziness getting worse as the moments passed.

Not far away from where Turmoil was enjoying Kat’s pain, her rescue party was landing the jet in the courtyard of the fortress Turmoil was keeping her headquarters in. No one came out to check just what was going on, though one female guard did look over, but only long enough to see Cassy climb out of the cockpit. Satisfied, she turned away and went back to watching over the battlements.

“Hmm…female guards…riiiiiight…” Wheels said. He glanced sideways over at Vlad and smirked a little. “You might be able to pass, but not me. We need disguises.”

Vlad huffed a little while Cassy giggled. Wheels looked around and noted that the female guard was the only other one around. He saw Jonathan, who carried Jessica in his arms, fly towards the fortress. Quickly, he pulled a shuriken from off his belt and took down the guard before she had time to sound an alarm. “There…”

Jess and Jonathan landed in the courtyard next to them. “Hullo again,” Jonathan said, oblivious to the fact that they’d nearly been discovered. He set Jessica down, who looked decidedly wind-blown.

“What now?” she asked, business-like. It WAS her job, after all – saving people, that is.

“Disguises,” Cassy supplied, motioning to the males in the group. “This IS Turmoil’s lair…those three just wouldn’t fit in…” Her lips twitched, still on the verge of giggling at what Wheels had said earlier.

“Ah…” Jonathan began.

“Yep….you’ve got it. You’re going to have to dress up like a girl!” Cassy announced gleefully, practically rubbing her paws together. All three of the guys groaned.

It didn’t take them long to find five uniformed guards, but undressing them was another matter. Jonathan was too shy and Jess was sure Kat would kick her tail if she let Wheels do it, so she shooed the guys away. She and Cassy removed the uniforms in a business like manner, then returned, wearing theirs.

“Get dressed,” Jess ordered and grumbling, Jonathan, Vlad, and Wheels did.

“I shouldn’t have woken up this morning…I really shouldn’t have…” Jonathan muttered.

“We’ll split up into two groups…” Jess began, taking control automatically. She looked over the pawful of would-be rescuers and judged which would work best with each other. “Cassy and Vlad, go with Wheels, Jonathan, come with me.”

“Right,” they said.

“Jonathan and I will take the entry level down, you three take the upper levels. Should you find Turmoil or Kat, try to report back to us, or send someone looking for us.” Jessica gave Wheels a look that said ‘use your psychic powers here and keep them out of trouble’. Wheels nodded an answer. “Good. Any questions?” They had none, and split up.

As Jess and Jonathan walked though the shadowy stone halls of the fortress, they were amazed at the lack of guards. “Maybe Turmoil lost followers after being caught by T-Bone and Razor?” Jonathan whispered, following Jess’s thoughts. She could *swear* he didn’t have any psychic abilities….

Jessica nodded. “I wouldn’t follow her, that’s for sure…”

“You’re a hero though, of course not,” Jonathan said, rationally.

“Right.” Her tone was disbelieving. Jonathan suddenly remembered that she had a past as dark and shadowy as the halls they were creeping though. He let the comment pass.

Jess wasn’t too surprised when they started hearing voices. She’d purposely sent Wheels off with the group least likely to find Kat because she was sure he’d flip and attack Turmoil and her guards without thinking over the consequences. Wheels was *very* protective of his ‘sister’.

Jessica stopped Jonathan and motioned for him to listen to the voices. With *his* powers, his hearing was at least ten times sharper than it should be; his strength probably surpassed that. “Sounds like Turmoil and Kat,” Jonathan whispered.

The two advanced upon the scene more carefully, Jonathan sometimes updating Jess on what he heard. “She’s planning on selling Kat to a mercenary group…” Jonathan said, lowly.

“Why would she kidnap Kat to sell her? She went though an awful lot of trouble just to get *her*….coulda snatched a chick off the streets easier…” Jessica mused. Jonathan just shrugged, not understanding Turmoil’s motives any more than Jess.

“Oh no….we’ve gotta make a move now…” Jonathan’s voice held a tone of alarm that chilled Jessica.

“What?” She asked, spying the backs of several female guards….with guns.

“They’re injecting her with something…”

“Oh shit…”

Kat hissed at the she-kat that held the syringe. “Go…away…” she said, already dizzy. The only thing she could focus on was the needle, and that was making her decidedly dizzy in and of itself.

Turmoil laughed harshly at her and directed the other she-kat to go ahead and inject her. Kat kicked her in the chin. The she-kat when down. Turmoil was less than pleased.

“YOU!” Turmoil pointed to a she-kat in uniform that looked amazingly like Jessica. The guard stepped forward, leaving her shorter companion with the thick glasses, then snapped a salute that seemed to please Turmoil. “You vill inject her…”

Kat almost was sick when the guard bent down and retrieved the syringe, then moved over to her side. But at least she blocked Turmoil’s face from her view. The familiar looking she-kat took her upper arm in her paw and made a jabbing motion….only didn’t jam the needle into her skin…she emptied the liquid into the cot. Kat’s eyes moved sluggishly up to the face of the disobedient guard, who grinned down at her.

***You didn’t really think I’d stick it in YOU, did you?*** Kat blinked, trying to clear her eyes, then her head slowly drifted to one side. She closed her eyes, dizziness over-riding her natural inclination to figure out just who it was at her side. ***KAT???***

“Are you finished injecting the serum?” Turmoil asked, her voice slightly reproachful.

“Affirmative, Turmoil,” Jess said, standing, sparing a glance for Kat who looked as if she’d drifted off.

Turmoil caught the look. “She vill be more agreeable now.” Jessica nodded and awaited instructions, her face and posture studiously calm. “You stand guard, with…” Turmoil looked strangely over at Jonathan, who was thankfully in the shadows. “With your partner…”

“Understood,” Jess said, remembering how Turmoil’s crew talked from hearing about it from the other SWAT Kats.

Turmoil inclined her dark head with a small frown and left, the rest of the guards following. As soon as their footsteps had faded, Jess motioned for Jonathan to join her at Kat’s side. “You didn’t inject her though…” Jonathan said, worried, placing his paws on Kat’s forehead.

“No…” Jess began. “I’m going to contact the others…” She closed her eyes and Sent to Wheels who was getting into trouble….though not of his own makings…

“VLAAD!” Cassy called, sticking close to Wheels’ side. Wheels grumbled, clenching his paws into fists and gritting his teeth. “Sheesh….I wish he wouldn’t just leave like that…” she muttered.

“Me too…” He was worried about his sister, wandering though the halls of the enemy and responsible for two other lives, one of which kept pulling a disappearing act.

***Get your tails down here, we found her,*** Jess Sent to him.

“Thank you…” he whispered, grabbing Cassy’s wrist and pulling her along with him. ***Coming…***

“Whoa! Wait! What about Vlad?” Cassy asked, willingly letting herself be dragged though the passageways.

“He’ll find us if he wants to….” Wheels just hoped Vlad wasn’t causing any trouble that could get them all caught.

Wheels kept to the shadows as much as possible as they sped down the corridors. They encountered no one until they reached the bottom floor that Jess had mind-sent a picture of. A small guard stood by the bars of a cell, face in shadows. “Who goes there?” A falsetto voice squeaked. Wheels muffled his laughter behind his paws.

The small form shrugged. “Jess told me to,” Jonathan explained. Wheels and Cassy were closer now and could see he was blushing a nice beet red.

“Darn tootin’ I did…” Jess said, a chuckle evident in her voice, but she kept it in check.

“How is she?” Wheels asked, joining Jessica at the cot.

“‘M okay…noreally…” Kat said, trying to push herself up. Both Wheels and Jessica made her lay back down. “Oo…that was fun…stop the room…spinning…”

“Did they inject anything else into you?” Jess asked softly.

“Anything ELSE?” Wheels yelled, his brown eyes searching Kat’s arms for signs of puncture wounds.

“Noo… She kicked me…she shot that damn ray at me…think somethin’ else…” Kat’s voice was becoming more and more ‘drifty’.

“Dammit, Kat, snap out of it!” Jessica growled, worried. Katareena just sighed and closed her eyes. “We’re getting her out of here….Wheels, you carry her, I’ll lead, Jon next, then you and Kat, then Cassy will take the rear. Unless you have another suggestion?” She was leaving the decision open to everyone, then noticed Vlad’s absence. “Disappeared on you again, huh?”

“Yeah,” Cassy and Wheels said, they shrugged in the universal ‘what-are-you-going-to-do?’ way. Wheels picked Kat up gently. Though he was fourteen and she roughly five years older, he towered over her, like most of the SWAT Kats did.

“Ready?” Jess asked, straightening her uniform and preparing her gun to be fired when needed.

“Ready,” the rest said, even Kat.

“I’d like to protest my being carried…” the small blonde muttered.

“I’d like to protest your talking,” Jess said, wryly. “So shush already.” Kat made more mumbling noises, but silenced herself quickly.

“Let’s roll.”

They were doing fine until they reached the jet in the courtyard. “Damn, forgot…Vlad’s the only one who understands how to hot-wire that jet…” Jess groaned.

“I can fly…” Kat said softly.

“You’re in no condition to fly, Kat,” Jessica reminded her. “I’ll fly…I suppose. Jon, carry Kat to the set for us, please?”

“Of course….” Jonathan made sure his glasses wouldn’t fall of and took the protesting blonde from her ‘brother’s arms. Then all hell broke loose.

Guards poured into the courtyard from every doorway there was, and it a balcony set in the walls of the main building, Turmoil roared at her female troopers to restrain them, but not kill them. “GO NOW!” Jessica shrieked at Jon, who promptly jumped into the air and was clear of the battlements of the fortress almost immediately.

Jess hated firing her gun, and didn’t do it often, even though she was a bodyguard who ran into more trouble than ten bodyguards put together, but she aimed at Turmoil’s forehead and yelled for her attention. “YOU DON’T CALL OFF YOUR SLAVES AND I’LL PUT A BULLET BETWEEN YOUR EYES BEFORE THEY CAN BLINK!”

The courtyard fell instantly into a wary silence. Turmoil’s face bore no expression as she obviously thought. “My female soldiers are more advanced than anything you have come up against…you can have no hopes for survival should you kill me. Put down your weapons and you and your comrades shall not be killed.”

“I don’t give a flip about your underlings. If they could shoot half as well as you think Jon and Kat would already be down, shot, but not killed. They obviously didn’t think they could hit them without killing them! No, I’ll take my chances with threatening you…” Jess growled.

Turmoil sneered down from her vantagepoint. Everything about her pronouncing her superiority over Jess, Cassy, and Wheels. “Get een your jet. Fly off, I bet you will not get far!”

“Damn…knew this was going to be a bad day…” Cassy whispered, clutching the Bo Wheels had given her. At her side, Wheels had several shuriken in each paw, his usually poetic brown eyes filled with absolute darkness as he glared at Turmoil. If anyone who knew him had seen his face, they wouldn’t have recognized him.

Jessica’s eyes were trained on Turmoil, but she used her parallel vision to search the courtyard for either a distraction or a way out. She found it. “Psst…Wheels, give me one of your ninja stars…”

“Shuriken,” he corrected.

“Bless you.”

A small, wicked looking star was placed in her palm without further comment. “Turmoil….I don’t think so….” Jessica smiled grimly and threw the shuriken at a jet in the corner of the courtyard. It hit something in the belly of the plane and those closest to it cursed vividly before throwing themselves out of the way.

Jessica, Wheels, and Cassy were in their jet seconds later, and had made their way into the air before the explosions rocked the ground under them. Cassy spared a glance back to see a huge fireball tear its way to the clouds. She breathed a sigh of relief. “Maybe it won’t be such a bad day after all…”

__

*Realizations… __

Jonathan looked down at Kat who still clutched at him even though they had landed. He carried her to her trailer and carefully set her down on her bed.

“OooOOOoo…” she moaned, picking one shaky paw up and covering her eyes with it.

“You’ll be okay in a minute, Kat….” Jonathan searched her trailer for medicines and returned with a pill bottle. “Think you can handle this?”

Kat opened one blue eye and nodded once, then winced and closed her eyes again. Jonathan left her side only to return with a glass of water. He shook two pills from the bottle and lifted her up, helping her take them.

“Hankyu, Jon,” Kat said softly as he laid her back on her pillow. She hated being taken care of, and he could see it was killing her to be so helpless. He nodded.

“You’d do the same for me…I think you have, actually,” Jonathan mumbled.

“I don’t think so…”

‘Now her memory kicks in,’ Jonathan thought. She was notoriously scatter-brained, then again, the oddest things did happen to stick in her mind and refuse to leave.

“I have the feeling it’s not over yet…” Kat said.

“‘Course it is. Cassy, Wheels and Jessica will show up any minute unharmed, with Turmoil defeated. Everything’s over. If not…I’ll protect you from Turmoil if she shows up,” Jonathan offered bravely.

Katareena smiled. “Hankyu again…” She didn’t mention that she wasn’t meaning the thing with Turmoil being over with, she meant her overwhelming fear of being left alone on the set hadn’t lifted. She decided to spare Jonathan just that much more worry. The poor dawg had enough of it as it was.

Jonathan looked over at his friend who had slipped into the soothing healing of sleep. He sat by her bed and held her paw, keeping watch vigilantly. After a while, a soft whine caught his attention. He listened as it drew nearer and nearer. Finally he recognized it as the jet the others had taken. Jonathan figured that if they were successful, they would know where to find them, and should they have lost, they would know where *not* to lead Turmoil’s soldiers. He waited, his ears pricked to the sounds of them approaching, then relaxed as he didn’t hear any more feet than he expected.

The door to the trailer opened and the three stepped inside. “Where is she?” Wheels asked anxiously.

“Sssh…she’s asleep!” Jonathan scolded.

Wheels scrambled over to Kat’s side and looked her over. “How is she?” He asked lowly.

“I gave her some of these,” Jonathan held up the pill bottle. “She’ll sleep for awhile. Why don’t we look around for where we’re going to sleep tonight? Kat’s trailer can’t hold us all and…” he broke off blushing while Jess, Cassy and Wheels smiled in understanding.

“Okay.”

Jess was left in charge of Kat and the others left to go in search of an undamaged trailer for the guys. Not long afterwards, despite Jonathan’s predictions to the otherwise, Kat opened her eyes and looked at Jessica with horror. “What?” Jessica asked anxiously.

Kat quickly shot up out of bed and began running. The only thing that prevented her from leaving the trailer and leaving Jessica still sitting, was the fact that Jonathan had covered the little she-kat while she slept. Katareena tripped over the covers that had wrapped themselves around her ankles and landed on the floor of the trailer with an ‘oomph’.

“Katareena Perkins! What the hell has gotten into you, girl?” Jess asked, helping her friend to her feet.

Taking many quick glances around the room like a pre-teen with too much caffeine, Kat replied. “N-nothing…. I gotta go. Lemmie go! I’ve gotta go. Go now. Now. Leggo!” She began struggling, surprisingly strongly for a girl who’d been out cold just a few minutes before.

“Kat! KAT!” Jess said. Getting no response other than more frantic requests to be released, the Italian she-kat shook Katareena by the shoulders. “KAAAT!”

The blonde stopped trying to squirm out of her darker friend’s grip and looked at her. This time it wasn’t the wide-eyed stare of the frenzied, it had actual consciousness behind it. Her pale blue eyes looked sadly back at her friend’s green ones and her lower lip trembled. “I’m a failure. Let me be.”

“KAT!” she shook the smaller she-kat again. “What’s wrong? Of course you’re not a failure! Good grief, what was in those pills of Jon’s, anyway?”

Katareena made a negatory movement of her head. “I’m fine. Better than fine, even….” She backed up and sat back on the cot. Jessica let her go, putting her paws on her hips.

“Katareena, you tell me what the hell’s wrong or I’ll have to knock the answer out of you!” Jessica wasn’t angry. She was scared to death. Kat resembled Abby in that she was rarely serious, and many described her as hyper. Katareena now looked almost ready to give up on life just now.

“I’ve got to…got to think….”

“Oh good. I can do that. You stay here; I’ll go and-” Jess began, only to be cut off by Katareena.

“I won’t be here when you get back. Tell the others not to worry.”

“WHAAT???” Jessica nearly fell flat on her tail. “You explain yourself good and fast!”

Kat plucked at the blanket, pausing every few sentences to plan out what she said. “You know what it’s like to live your life with almost everything handed to you on a silver platter? Life’s so….hollow… My parents weren’t middle-classed, Jess. I never had to go through the customary span of time ‘just making it’ like most girls my age do. I was an instant success. I come here and I meet the kats at the Yard and their friends. Some of them are sick. Some of them are so twisted in their hearts that they can’t recognize love from hate. Some of them are hurting somewhere deep down….I don’t even know if they know it…and I come to realize that though most of them have had a horrible horrible life up until recently, they are happier than I am now….”

She lowered her head and her blonde hair slid from behind her shoulders and shielded her expression from the sharp gaze of the Italian Maverick. “Kat…?”

Katareena continued then. “And I need to see if I can do that too. I can’t learn what I want to if I’m surrounded by people I know, and who know me. I have to go away….far…far away….”

She glanced up then. Tiny and still dressed in her Enforcer costume, her eyes luminous, she looked nothing more than a little kitten-girl playing dress-up who’d fallen and scraped her knees. And how could Jessica Maverick protest? Despite what she looked like, Katareena was a grown she-kat and would do it with or without her blessing. The least she could do was offer her a place she knew was protected.

“Here….” Maverick stood and fished around in one of her jacket pockets. “Take these keys. You can wire for money, right? I’ve got this villa in Italy. Go there. It’s far away. Very far. You call when you feel like it, yes?”

The keys flashed brightly in the light and Kat had a peculiar look in her eyes before she nodded and took them. “Thankyou, Jess…” She stood and hugged her tall friend. “I’m going now. Pick up my jeep at the airport in the morning?”

“Sure. And I’ll even keep Jeff from turning up the music until the speakers explode AGAIN.”

Kat laughed a little. “He only did that once….”

“He shattered my windows, you’d better believe he only did that once!”

Katareena was gone by the time Vlad, Wheels, Jonathan, and Cassy returned.

__

*Katareena disappears… __

I don’t know what possessed me to take those keys. I knew for sure I wasn’t going to use them. The place was Jessica’s haven. In the state of mind I was in at the time, I felt like my presence there, EVER, would destroy the peace for Jess. But flying out of the country sounded like a wonderful idea. I never made it that far, though.

I bought a ticket for Italy, sure enough, but was going to just hop off in whichever city looked the most ‘promising’ during any of my layovers. My luck was that apparently our plane took on some extra luggage, possibly of the explosive type, and had to make an emergency stopover in Faroe Lake, about three hundred miles from MegaKat City.

Faroe Lake was about the size of MegaKat City, without the prosperity. Minorities were the majority of the population – mostly dawgs. It was perfect. How many of these citizens would watch Enforcer movies? Not many. Either they hated the Enforcers or were wary enough of them that watching a movie about one wouldn’t interest them – and savvy movie theatre managers won’t play a movie that won’t sell. I was safe. No one knew me. No one would bother me. I’d just be ‘one of the crowd’ again.

I cashed in what was left of the plane ticket with very little hassle (I’d done little things like this hundreds of times. I knew which buttons to push to get around ‘policies’ and through red tape). At the nearest kiosk, I bought a thick, padded envelope, stamps, a pad of paper, and a pen and went to the first cafeteria I saw. I sat and wrote quickly, scrawling the words across the page in twice the jumbled disjointed mess than it usually is, as I was thinking while I was writing instead of figuring out what I was going to say before I started:

“Jess- Sorry I didn’t take you up on your offer. Very bad mumbo-jumbo. Decided to stay here for awhile. Give Wheels a hug and Jeff – well TELL Jeff I gave him a kiss, kay? I knew you would and speaking of which tell everyone else ‘hi’ too. Won’t be long. Maybe I will stay longer than awhile, but I’ll keep in touch and I think that’s my lunch so I’ll be going. Here are your keys. Take care. -Kat”

Then I slipped the note and the keys into the envelope, sealed it, and addressed it to Jessica…or maybe it was the Yard. It doesn’t matter much now, Jess eventually received it. I don’t know what happened to it after I finished addressing it. I might have laid it down on the counter or when I sat by a fountain in the middle of the terminal I might have wandered away without it. But Jessica said when she got it, the envelope had postmarks from at least a half-dozen countries and who knows how many cities. That’s why she couldn’t find me when she got the envelope – no identifiable place for me to have been, and I didn’t have a return address on that sucker either.

So, after I’d left the envelope to the paws of Fate, I gathered up my one duffel bag and grabbed a cab. If anything, Faroe Lake was…well…old. But not that charming old, the kind that screamed “history” and “culture” and “things that had happened”. Downtown Faroe Lake was more like the ‘bad side of town’ in MegaKat City than it was like downtown MKC. I felt vaguely at home here. As a member of the SWAT Kats, I’d fought in areas like this almost every night, twice on Fridays and Saturdays. But I may be exaggerating. Maybe.

I was, in fact, exactly where I wanted to be. Many, if not most of the SWAT Kats were or had been homeless. I’d never been homeless or even lived in the poorer, more run-down sections of town. I’d finally see what it was like. I’d finally…. grow… up…

As the cabbie looked back at me indifferently for his cash and I paid him, stepping out of the relative safety to enter the apartment building that must have won ‘fire trap of the year’ awards ten years running, I realized that this was what my whole adventure was about. Growing up. That thought struck me the same time a rock did. My only avenue of escape peeled away in a line of burnt rubber.

__

*Greetings Katizen…

__

“OUCH!” Katareena yelled, dropping her duffel bag on the ground and putting a paw to a quickly forming bruise on her temple. Stars. She saw stars. Many…many…stars….and gee-gosh-golly that side walk had a lot of cracks in it…

She awoke some time later with a young German Shepherd dawg standing over her. He frowned a little. “You’re awake.”

Katareena had to bite her tongue on the quip that was on the edge of being said. From the way he almost glared at her, the phrase ‘oh good, and here I was thinking I’m in a nightmare’ wouldn’t have helped any. Instead she said, “Is that why I’m hurting…hmm…”

The grey Shepherd smiled a little and leaned back away from her. She looked around her. She seemed to be in the back office of the apartment building. The one she had been about to go into when she got hit in the head with the rock. “Was the kid aiming for me?” She remembered seeing the dirty shoe laces of a kid before she blacked out.

The dawg nodded. “Why?” She asked. Katareena didn’t know that Faroe Lake had a problem between the races, even between the breeds of the citizens. She couldn’t know. She had no experience with it. Kat didn’t understand it, so therefore, in her mind, it didn’t exist.

“Why?” the dawg asked, seeming to be surprised. “Because you’re a kat. Not even a Siamese. Why are you here, anyway?”

“I was going to rent an apartment… What’s wrong with me being a kat?” She asked, sitting up.

“Well…kat’s take advantage of the minorities… Where are you from? Not here, that’s for sure.” He leaned forward, actually losing his obvious dislike of her long enough to listen to her.

“MegaKat City.”

“Heh. MegaKat city: the capital of kats lording over the rest of us. Go back home, little girl. Mommy and Daddy will be there with open arms. You obviously weren’t here long enough for the filth of the city to attach itself to your fur.”

Kat’s face went red with rage and a little embarrassment, her little paws clenched into fists, and her face set in almost a snarl, but her voice was dead calm. “Mom and Dad are dead. I haven’t been here long, but the only filth I’ve seen are furs that hate another just because of the type of fur they are.”

The German Shepherd looked at her, his dark-brown eyes and his face composed to the point of absolutely no expression. With this type of appraisal, Kat quickly settled back down, unclenching her paws. He opened his mouth to speak just as a younger version of him skidded into the room.

“Chaa-aaassss! I shoulda knooooown you’d bring her in!” The puppy rolled his juvenile eyes at the dawg sitting next to her.

Chas frowned at the younger dawg. “We run a business, Rhonald. We can’t afford to have the Enforcers taking you in every single week.”

Rhonald rolled his eyes again. “What-eever, man.” Then the puppy turned his simular brown eyes on Kat. “Go hang yourself, bee-aatch.” Kat winced and widened her eyes, but said nothing.

“RHONALD! Get outta here!” Chas snapped at the puppy. Rhonald sneered at them both and slaundered out of the room. “Ten and he thinks he knows everything…” Chas muttered, seeming to be a little ashamed. “That was Rhonald, my brother. He threw the rock at you. I’m Chas.” His eyes searched her face, inviting her to tell him her name.

“Kat Perkins.” She extended a paw for a shake. He only stared at it. “What?” Kat looked at her paw to see if maybe it was bleeding or something. There didn’t look like there was anything wrong with it…

…But that was the point in the first place, as Chas would explain in the next instant. “Sorry….not used to kats offering to shake paws…” Hesitantly, Chas took her paw in his and shook it, then dropped it like he was almost afraid she’d change her mind.

“I don’t bite…” Katareena teased gently. Chas blushed a little, as if just now realising that she was sincerely not a fur-racist. After no reply, Kat tried again. “I’m still interested in renting an apartment.”

Chas only stared at her. “We…it’s not what you’d be used to.” He said it hesitantly and a little ashamed.

Kat frowned a little. “How would you know?”

“Oh come off it. Look at the way you’re dressed. Listen to the way you talk. Culture oozes off you like perfume.”

“Hrmm…” Kat wrinkled her forehead, thinking. “Show me.”

“Show you?”

“Teach me how to blend in. Please?”

Chas sighed. “I went and did it again…” he mumbled under his breath.

“Did what?” Kat asked, jumping out of the bed, excited now with the promise of a new lesson in ‘blending in’, lessons she used when she acted.

“Went and got myself in deep kimchi.”

“Kimchi?”

“If I have to explain it, you’d be better off not knowing.” Chas grinned at her. “Fine, lesson one: the hair has to go.”

“ACK!” Kat grabbed at her long blonde hair as if Chas had already began coming at her with scissors.

“You wanted to know….” He reminded her, shaking a finger back and forth.

“Next lesson! Next lesson!” Kat loved her hair. It kept her warm in the winter and fall and she could do hundreds of different styles…though she could rarely look tough as nails like she wanted to.

“Hrmmm….uh…the way you dress…”

“What’s wrong with it?” Kat looked down at her slacks, low heels, and blouse.

“Too fancy. Miz Upper-Class is what you’re sending…. Here, I’ll loan you some of mine.” Chas got up and rooted through a drawer, coming back with a pair of jeans and what seemed to be his little brother’s teeshirt.

“Those’ll fall off me,” she said, refering to the jeans, “and that shirt’s kinda…small…”

“Exactly. You’ll fit right in.” Chas said, putting the clothes in her arms and pointing to a door. “Change, we’ll see what we can do.”

Kat quickly decided that it was her choice to live in this apartment building, so she’d might as well be able to dress the part and survive her stay too. “Okay.” She went into the bathroom and changed.

When she emerged again, she had her other set of clothes rolled up in a ball under one arm, and held up the jeans with both paws. The teeshirt hugged every curve, the word “SuperDawg” almost wrapping itself around her chest. The jeans tripped her at every step, her bare toes just barely peeking out from underneath the hundreds of folds. Chas studied her for a second before laughing.

“What?” Kat asked, blushing and holding the jeans up.

“Here…” Chas mumbled, coming over and pulling a pocketknife from his back pocket. He cut away the excess denium until she could walk more easily, but left enough there that she still tripped a little. “Now for a belt…” He took off his own and slung it through the loops, then tightened it until the jeans stayed on her hips.

“Daaamn woman!” He muttered as he had to make a new hole in the belt.

“What?”

“Skinny!”

“I’m a girl!” Kat huffed.

“I know.” Katareena gave him a side-ways glance and he caught it and grinned. She couldn’t help but grin back.

“Next?” she asked.

“Next we get you an apartment. C’mon.” He grabbed her dufflebag and slung it over his shoulder. Kat padded along behind him, holding up the legs of the jeans like a medieval princess so she could follow him fast enough. “Here we go, Apartment 107.” Chas pulled a key ring from a pocket and unlocked the door.

The she-kat went inside and looked around. It was small, dark, and smelled a little musty. It also was furnished and clean, therefore it was perfect. “How much a month?”

The dawg paused, still a little unsure of her. “Two hundred.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Her apartment in MegaKat City was probably three times the size and in a better neighborhood, but it was still about five times as expensive.

“What? You need to go less? We can arrange something…”

“Nonono!” She grinned. “I’ll take it. What do I need to know about the place?”

“If it rains for more than two days you might have problems with leaks around the window. The window faces a brick wall, so even at the brightest hour of the day, you’ll still need a light to see. Fire escape isn’t up to standards, but it’s still better than burning to death – and you can sit out there. No sercurity bars on the window. The city occasionally has brown-outs. Heater sometimes goes down…. You can contact me for repairs. If you want a phone….it’s just better not to get a phone.” Chas paused. “Anything you want to know?”

“If there’s anything you haven’t covered, I’ll ask you.”

“Okay. Here…” He dropped a dull grey key in her palm and she pocketed it obediently at a look from him. “I hope you have a gun…”

“Nope. I don’t use them.”

“You’ll need to get one. The dead bolt and chain may not be enough. And you’d better keep yourself locked in even when you’re at home and awake.”

“Okay. I’ll get a gun tomorrow…” She realised he was dead serious, and she began to feel very small. Very vulnerable. She didn’t like it, it was worse than being taken care of: at least she knew she was safe then…

“Do you have plans for dinner yet?”

“Mmm…no. Uh…I wasn’t thinking that far ahead.”

“Siamese night for me and Rhonald. Wanna come?” When he sensed her hesitation, he continued. “It’s too late for you to go out – trust me. If not, you can use my phone to order out.”

“Uhmm…I’d just be another mouth to feed…”

“You kiddin’? Rhonald almost always bring home a neighborhood pup for dinner – and they eat more than you’d be able to.”

She grinned mischeviously. “I know a few pawfuls that’d argue with that.”

Chas shook his head at her, laughing silently. “It’s three now, come down around five, okay?”

“Sure. Thanks Chas.”

“No problem. You’re not too bad for a she-kat.”

He left, shutting the door behind him. Locking the door, Kat muttered darkly. “I know a few pawfuls that’d argue with that…”

__

* Trouble and the She-Kat __

Days and weeks passed by. Kat fell into a routine: wake up about eight a.m., blurry-eyed and tired, having had to wake up every few minutes at a sound at her door – eat breakfast – either talk to Chas or roam the streets until it started to get dark – then scurry back home to order out for dinner – go to sleep….wake up…

It was during one of her roaming periods that she got into trouble. Not that she was looking for it – but because it was looking for her in particular.

“Damn jeans…” Kat mumbled, again tripping over the length and almost found herself face-first in a mud puddle left over from a late-summer romp in a fire-hydrant’s spray by the neighborhood pups.

“What’d you say ’bout my momma?” A harsh, biting male voice asked behind her.

Kat looked over her shoulder, keeping her facial expression carefully neutral. Any sign of fear or aggression could send potintial attackers at you like sharks when senting blood in the water. “I didn’t.” Again, her voice was very neutral.

“Yeah you did. Didn’t she?” The speaker was a dawg, a tall, dark, buff wolf-y looking dawg. The three other dawgs slightly behind the first nodded obediently, but didn’t say a word. “Say it again, bitch. I daaare ya.” He stepped up closer to her, cracking his knuckles and gritting his teeth in an approximation of a fierce smile. She could already tell he was relishing the thought of either killing her or hurting her badly.

“I said, ‘Damn that bitch, she’s the stupidest thing this side of the mayor’.” Kat then hissed and slashed at his face before taking off as fast as she could go.

She scored. She could hear him howl in pain before the sounds of eight feet running began following her. Kat ducked into alleys and jumped over fences, but they kept gaining on her. From Jonathan, she knew that dawgs had super-sensitive smell and hearing, but they were no where near as sensitive as Jonathan and they still kept up. Katareena was scared out of her mind, but kept running because there was no way she’d be able to survive against them all.

She jumped another fence. “THERE!” one shouted, as she rounded a corner. She yelled in surprise and turned to go back the way she’d come, but she already saw a dawg on the side of the fence she’d come from. She looked left, but another was there…and right…and finally, the one she’d scratched was coming directly at her.

She was trapped.

The only thing was to go down fighting, so she unshethed her claws and backed towards a wall. The dawgs surrounded her, evil glints in their eyes. The one who was apparently leading them smirked at her.

“This one might be fun to have…fun with….don’cha think, boys?” Again, they nodded silently. If one hadn’t yelled earlier, she might have thought they were all mutes.

“By fun, you mean rape, don’t you?” Kat growled, making sure.

“Heh. A smart chick. Don’cha jus’ hate ’em?” They nodded.

“Dumb dawgs, don’cha jus’ hate ’em?” Katareena jeered.

The beta dawgs growled and the alpha dawg back-pawed her. “Shut-up, bitch.”

Kat wiped at the blood at the corner of her mouth. “Up yours…” In one quick move, she stepped on the instep of his foot and punched his chin. He barely grunted before throwing her into the brick wall.

The wind left her body and she coughed and took in huge gulps of air frantically, pushing herself up. “Get. Up.” The alpha dawg ordered.

“HEY! Rufus!” Came a familiar yell from the mouth of the alley. The five turned and looked. Chas stood there, the young Rhonald at his side.

“Yo, Chas, Rhonald. Come to join the fun? I think Rhon’s too young, but what the hell.”

“No, let her go!” Chas growled. “She lives in my building. I need the rent, you know.”

“Lay off, man! We’re jus’ gonna have fun with her. She doesn’t have anywhere to go, or why would she be at your place, anyway?” Rufus narrowed his eyes at Chas.

The three beta dawgs watched this exchange with about as much enthusiasim as they did Kat when she was cornered. Rhonald stared at her, sullenly. Kat just watched and waited for an opening, any sign that she should run or fight or throw in a word.

“Let her go, Rufus,” Chas repeated.

“Look, man, you want her all to yourself, I guess. Fine, but we’re gonna have words later. Later….she-kat.” Rufus sneered at her, brushed past Chas and left. The other three dawgs smirked at her and followed.

When they were out of hearing distance, Rhonald spoke up. “Man, Kat, you’re dead meat! An’ so’re you, Bro! We’re dead! I’m talkin’ to two dead people! Aww maaaan!”

“You couldn’t avoid it, Kat?” Chas asked, his face set in the same expression it had when she’d first arrived. She’d thought they’d gotten to know each other enough that she’d never see that look again.

“No. I don’t even know why they singled me out. Sorry Chas…”

“‘S okay…”

“I know why…” Rhonald said softly, looking down at his sneakers, scuffing the tip against the pavement.

“Why?”

“They, like, came over when you were up at her apartment, once. Asked where you were. Tol’ ’em. They didn’t like it, man… I didn’t think they were gonna do nothin’ though…”

“‘S okay…” Kat mumbled.

“Well, it’s gonna get us all in deep kimchi…” Chas sighed. “C’mon. We’re goin’ home.”

__

*Losses __

Chas didn’t make it home, though. While Katareena and Rhonald watched, Rufus and his gang beat him to a pulp and left him for dead. They came after Kat next. Kat knew it would come for her one day. Tall, looming Death with is scythe and skull grin…but she’d be dammed to hell before she let them take a young one with her.

She threw Rhonald around a corner and ran in the opposite direction. Rhonald didn’t interest them in the slightest. Kat, however, was fair prey now. She wasn’t going down easy. Not after what they’d done to Chas…never.

Rufus grabbed Kat by the shoulder and flung her against a wall again, tearing a gash in her shoulder. It hurt worse than anything she’d ever experienced….and she realised that this was her first battle wound. A real one. Not something that happened because she’d jumped into trouble head-first without thinking of what was going on….and gotten hit in the crossfire.

Before she could even wonder at the amount of blood she was losing, Rufus’ paws were around her neck, dragging her to the cold, hard ground and grabbing for her clothes and his. She bit. She fought. She kicked and screamed and clawed and yelled and did everything she could. But he was stronger. He was heavier. He had her at a disadvantage and he knew how to use it.

But he didn’t get to. Like an avenging angel, Chas was there. And where Kat couldn’t hurt Rufus, he could. And did. In a ragged breathy yell, yanking Rufus off of her, he demanded that she leave. Instantly.

She did. She always listened to Chas. She ran like the ground was evaporating under her feet. Ran all the way to the opposite side of the city and collapsed, bleeding, crying…she knew Chas was dead the moment she’d left his side. Never again. Never, never would she leave someone so helpless to defend her…but…what was to keep her from doing it again?

Kat hurt physically. Kat hurt down to her very soul and felt it being ripped to shreds for her cowardice. For her weakness. For her very existance… And she cried like it was the last day of the world, and she was all alone…because, for her, it was.

__

* Visits __

Jonathan Weissman approached the appartment building cautiously. He wasn’t sure what to expect. He surely didn’t expect to see Katareena hastily shoving a wicked-looking gun into the back of her jeans when she answered the door. In fact…he didn’t expect to see Katareena looking quite the way he found her.

Her long blonde hair was cut short into one of those longer-in-the-front-than-it-is-in-the-back styles. There was a small green triangle under her right eye, curving over her cheek and pointing to the floor. And blue eyes that usually were filled with mischief (or at least amusement) were wide and scared.

“Jon.” More of dull surprise than a greeting, but Jonathan took what he could get.

He hugged her tightly, and after a few seconds, she returned it. “Kat! We’ve missed you!”

“‘m okay. I’m alright,” Kat supplied hastily.

“That’s why you have a gun…” Jonathan murmered softly, moving towards the couch. They sat, looking at each other, Jon slightly reproachful.

“No. I have a gun because otherwise I’d be dead by now… How’re things at the Yard?”

“You’d be d-”

“Jon? How are things at the Yard?” Kat insisted, interrupting him.

“Pretty much the usual…”

“Oh. Is that…good..?”

“For now it is.” He paused, watching her nervously looking back at the door, which she’d locked and bolted until no tommorrow. “Kat…?”

“Mmm?”

“Come back with me?” Jonathan asked, almost pleading.

“I can’t. I’ve got to find his family.” Kat sometimes didn’t make much sense, and this time didn’t appear to be any different.

“Whose family?” He asked gently. How could eyes be so hard and so sad at the same time?

“Chas’. He saved my life when he didn’t have to. I can’t find his brother…I need to find his family…It shouldn’t be long. I’ve got contacts. I’ll be okay.”

“No you won’t. You don’t like guns, you must be scared to death to be using one now…”

“I’m okay. He can’t get me here. I’m okay. Tell everyone I’m okay. It’s not much longer….not long at all…I’ll find him and I’ll kill him and I’ll come home.” Kat said it simply. As if pre-meditated murder was something people did everyday. It chilled him. And that hard-yet-sad look was in her eyes again, the hard part winning out in the battle for dominance…

“Kat.”

“Mm?”

“Murder’s not the answer. It only makes it worse. So much worse….” Jonathan Weissman knew. He knew very well what revenge that ended with murder did to someone…

Katareena’s eyes bored into his. He could see the gears in her head turn quickly, deciding. She….almost believed him. “You know…” It wasn’t quite a question, so he didn’t treat it like one.

“Kat…come back to the Yard. Everyone misses you. Some of us need you, you know.”

She gasped slightly, her mouth dropping open. “I – ….” She began, then frowned, narrowing her eyes. In a harsh voice she continued, but obviously with different thoughts than she had before. “Don’t try that trick with me, Weissman… It’s not fair.”

“Wha-?” He protested weakly – but he knew what she was getting at. He supposed it was a little unfair…

He left not long after that. Katareena was highly unwilling to return to Megakat City with him. But he did get a promise for her to visit while she looked for the family of the dawg that saved her life, costing him his own…

__

Katareena paced around the apartment three days later. It wasn’t the one she had rented from Chas, because the cover was blown on that one. The door was locked and bolted six ways from Tuesday. A gun was stuck in the waistband of her jeans. Her eyes were wide with fear.

Rufus had tried something again that day… He might have followed her…

She panted softly, digging her nails into the palms of her paws, drawing blood. She was so scared… So very scared…and lonely…

Unbeknownst to her, back in Megakat City, Jeff O’Connel used his psychic powers to do a search for her. He was sitting in the living room, and had been for days.

He found her, his brown eyes snapped open as he gasped. He was getting some readings from her…and they worried him. Jeff leapt to his feet and bolted for the car, practically diving inside, then drove like a madman towards Faroe Lake.

Kat was still pacing her apartment. If the carpet hadn’t already been worn out, you would have been able to tell about her mental state the past few days. “God…he almost got me today…” She muttered to herself, more to confirm the nightmare than anything else.

A sound… Katareena whipped the gun from her waistband and aimed it at chest level at the door. “Who-” she paused and realized that she hadn’t heard anything after all. Was she going crazy? Her imagination surely was over-reacting…

She decides to move away from the windows. “Yes…definitely away from the windows…” she mumbles to herself, edging away, the gun still drawn and clasped with a death grip in her paw. “He can shoot me through the windows…” she continued, talking only to herself and only for the reason of keeping herself occupied. She can’t think she’s lonely if she hears voices…or…maybe that’s a bad idea…because if she starts getting used to hearing voices… She stopped the thoughts before she drove herself even further over the edge.

Kat moved to the corner of the room furthest from the windows and the door, the gun ready. After an hour she felt herself grow hungry, but decided against eating because she’d have to pass by the windows.

Jeff arrived at the apartment building around noon. He ignored the gnawing in his stomach, like he had for at least a full day…maybe more. Like Katareena, he hadn’t been eating much since her disappearance. He trudged up the stairs and to her door and knocked weakly. “Kat…open the door.”

Katareena aimed at the door again, the bullet already in the chamber, her finger on the trigger. “Go…away…” Her voice was low; he probably couldn’t even hear her.

Louder this time, Jeff knocked. “K-Kat?”

She blinked, actually hearing the voice behind the door this time. “Jeff…?” She got to her feet, rushed past the window and edged to the door, avoiding the peephole like the plague. “Oldest trick in the book…get someone to sound like someone you trust and when they look through the peephole, shoot them through it…” She thought darkly, not realizing that Rufus couldn’t possibly know who she knew.

He knocked again. She chewed on her bottom lip, her back to the wall next to the door, trying to decide whether to open the door or not. She decided that the possibility that Jeff was there was good enough to risk death…she’d die if it were him and she didn’t let him in…

The door was unlocked quickly, after many weeks of practice it took only as long as someone would to unlock a normally protected door. She peeked out. “Jeff…?”

He’s leaning against the doorframe almost hunched over. He looked so weak, so…beaten. Kat whimpered in reaction, her grip tightening on the gun, which now pointed at the floor, but her finger was loose on the trigger. “Oh Jeff…”

“Why’d you leave?” He sounded so hurt…and maybe a little angry.

She felt exposed with the door open. She began fidgeting and biting her bottom lip, her blue eyes snapping back and forth down the hall. “Can we…move this inside? Please?” Kat broke out into a cold sweat then, seeing a shadow in the hall that wasn’t there before. She was vulnerable, and he was even more so. That terrified her. Rufus wasn’t above taking another’s life just to hurt her.

“Yeah…sure…” He took a deep breath and rose to his full stature, then almost stumbled to the couch where he practically collapsed. If she hadn’t been casting frantic looks down the hall, slamming the door and bolting it back, she would have realized he’d grown another inch or so while she was gone. It was just as well, he’d always been taller than she was and in the state she was in, the extra height on Jeff would probably made her feel tiny…er.

She hid her face behind a paw for a second in relief that nothing had happened, then skittered past the windows and to her corner. Katareena shoved the gun back into the waistband of her jeans. Only now does she look up at him. “Thanks…”

“No problem.” He said it in a bitter-numb tone, which made her shiver. It was an attitude he’d adopted while she was gone; she would come to find out later.

“You wanted to know why I’d gone…” she said, dropping her gaze to the frayed hemline of her dusty blue tee-shirt. It was faded and well worn. It was also Chas’. But it was she who’d worried the hem until it frayed, not Chas – a nervous habit she’d created or maybe remembered from when she was a kitten.

Jeff stayed silent, watching her intently. “Right…” she continued when he didn’t respond. “I – I couldn’t handle it anymore…I was so helpless at the Yard.” She frayed the edge of the tee some more, her actions from the day she rented the apartment from Chas to the present making a mockery of her statement.

“Helpless against what?” he asked.

“Everything…everything. I figured ‘take the weakest member of the SWAT Kats out of the equation and you’ve got a more smoothly operating unit’. Aren’t things moving so much more smoothly now?”

“What the HELL have you been smoking?” Jeff snarled. Kat jerked her head up to look at him and pressed her back against the wall tightly, totally not expecting an answer like this.

“N-nothi-” he interrupted her.

“Do you think we’re going to kill you or something?” Jeff’s fists were clenched.

“N-nooo!” She took quick breaths, her eyes filling with tears.

“So…then what?”

“I – I just…I don’t know if I can ex-explain it to anyone else…” She huddles herself against the wall.

“Forget it. I shouldn’t have come….” He pushed himself to his feet and walked to the door.

“J-Jeff…..?”

“Yeah?” He asked huskily, not turning back to her.

“P-lease don’t leave me. Not yet…. I’m so scared, Jeff…” Kat pushed herself away from the wall and almost stumbled to the couch, sitting where he’d just vacated, needing his warmth in some shape or form. “He- He’ll kill me, Jeff…” Her relief of having Jeff there made her admit her fears as she couldn’t with Jonathan.

“He…?” He half-turned toward her.

“Rufus.”

“Who the hell’s Rufus?!?”

“A- a dawg…he hates me…” Kat shivered helplessly, hugging her legs close to her, not looking at him.

“….why…?”

“I didn’t let him rap- I didn’t let him walk all over me.”

Jeff growled very softly, narrowing his eyes. If Rufus were in front of him, he would literally be ready to tear his throat out. “Oh.” Was all he said.

“Don’t leave me…please!”

“I won’t.” He came over and sat next to her gently.

Kat bit her lip, tears rolled down her cheeks, then, softly. “C-can I hold you….please…?” He threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly to him. She hugged him back, every bit as tightly. “Oh-Jeff-I-was-so-alone!” she said in a rush.

Tears fell slid down his own face, “Kat, please don’t leave me…please.”

“I won’t…I won’t…” she sobbed into his shirt until they both fell asleep.

__

Kat’d found them. She found Chas’ and Rhonald’s living family. Rhonald was with them. But it wasn’t a “happy-well-met” kind of reunion, and Kat knew it wouldn’t be. That’s why she convinced Jeff to wait outside of the apartment for her.

An hour later she was back, pale as a ghost, but otherwise unharmed. “What happened?” Jeff asked her frantically, hugging her close to him and glaring up at the apartment.

“N-nothing…they want nothing from me. That’s all. That’ll be all. Now…now I think… Let’s go back to the apartment, Jeff. I have to pack.”

__

Jeff helped her pack up a box, just a box, of the things she was taking with her from the apartment. The box wasn’t even full.

“I’ll be there tomorrow, Jeff. I promise,” Kat said, trying to convince Jeff to leave without her.

“B-but Kat…! You can’t – I can’t just…you’ll be alone!” He protested.

“I have to settle my account with the manager and she won’t be back until tomorrow. Just go ahead…I’ll be fine. I promise.”

“Okay…” Jeff gave up on himself staying…but he was going to send someone to protect her. Jonathan came to mind immediately…he was a dawg…he could fly…and he was very strong. Yes. Jonathan would be perfect.

__

Kat watched Jeff drive off through the window, her paw against the glass as if to call him back…or tell him to keep going….she didn’t know which.

As soon as he was out of sight, the terror came back. She ran for the gun she’d left in the kitchen and clutched it tightly, then locked herself in the bathroom.

“Quit it, Kat…it’s okay…everything’s okay…you’ll be fine. He doesn’t know where you are…Rufus doesn’t know where you are…” She tried to convince herself. But it didn’t work, she put a bullet in the chamber and waited for him to come. Waited to be attacked and to fight for her life and to die alone….

__

Jonathan Weissman arrived at Kat’s apartment maybe an hour later. He knocked and the door was answered after a minute. “Happy New Year, Katareena…” He trailed off as Kat shoved a gun in the back of her waistband.

She smiled. “Happy New Year, Jonathan.” And she hugged him and he hugged back.

“Easy…it’s just me…” She nodded, cast an urgent glance down the hall and pulled him inside, then locked the door behind him. He paused. “I came to say hi…”

“You came a long way to say hello.”

“‘S okay.” His eyes roved over the apartment. It was dark and sparsely furnished. A far cry from her MegaKat City apartment. “Nice apartment….”

“Spartan, but it’s a base.”

“I noticed.” She didn’t respond, so he tried again. “We miss you a lot at home…”

“I’ve shown my funny face around there every once in awhile…”

“Yeah, but we still miss you. Is it something we did?”

She shook her blonde head vehemently. “No, you misunderstand. Nothing any of you did.”

“I still don’t understand.”

She sighed and slumped a little, “I don’t much either….”

“Listen, I don’t know what’s holding you here, but you come back when you think you’re ready, okay?”

“It’s almost over…” she began softly, then a shadow fell over her eyes and in a harsh voice she continued. “Rufus is almost mine…”

Jonathan said nothing and she shook her head as if to clear it. “Sorry…it….happens every once in awhile…”

“It’s okay.”

She lept up out of the chair and said, “No it’s not. You hate me for what I’m doing – admit it!”

Jonathan blinked innocently and said, “Katareena, I could never hate you, and certainly not doing anything.”

“You hate me because I’m hurting Wheels and – and a few others are upset too!” There was a soft scraping noise and Kat whipped the gun from behind her and aimed at the door shakily. “Jon….did you hear that…?”

“I heard it…” and he was alarmed by it…the noise just screamed ‘danger!’. “Easy, Kat…”

She lowered the gun a little, shivering. “Am…am I going crazy, Jonathan…?”

“No…you’re just a little tense.” The noise came again and Kat snapped her gun up again and scanned the room with it.

“I heard it again…”

He tugged on her arm. “So did I. It’s probably just some vagrant wandering aroun-”

He broke off as a large dawg with a huge knife burst through the window, shattering glass everywhere, the dawg got to his feet quickly and pointed the knife in Kat’s direction. “YOU!” he almost barked.

Jonathan was surprized and got in between Kat and the other dawg. “Who are you????”

Kat growled softly her gun pointed at the newcommer. “His name’s Rufus…he killed someone who saved him from killing me….”

Rufus snarled and smiled. “C’mon honey…step from behind little dawg here and fight! Always hiding behind a man!”

Jonathan growled. “Shut up…”

Kat spoke in a growl, “You’re dead…when one fights by the sword….make sure the other doesn’t have a gun, duuuh…”

Rufus persisted, “Hiding behind a maan…. can’t do it yourself…as usual…bitch.”

Jonathan leapt at Rufus and wrapped his paws around the other dawg’s throat. Rufus’ eyes widened, completely taken off guard.

Behind him, Katareena spoke softly. “Jon…y-you’re only proving his comment…”

“What am I supposed to do? Watch him threaten you so you can blow him away and regret it later?” he tightened his grip. “I want you to take it back,” he said to Rufus, who was grinning as best someone could while being choked.

Rufus made a sound that announced a negative answer. “Jon…it’s okay….”

“TAKE IT BACK!” Jonathan bellowed, pushing Rufus against the wall, totally oblivious to the sight of Kat putting the gun in her waistband.

Kat put her paw on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Jonathan…” Her voice seemed to have all the revenge drained from it. Rufus tried to laugh triumphantly, but wasn’t very successful.

“No, Kat it’s not okay.”

“Wh-what do you mean?”

“Rufus here…” he squeezed his neck, “needs to learn a little respect.”

“No..really…” Rufus shook his head, more scared of Jonathan than Kat.

“You are SO asking for a broken jaw, buddy.”

“Joonathaan…” she said, her voice filled with worry.

Rufus kicked Jonathan in the stomach, hard enough to make Ahnold Swartzenlitter go down in pain. His face was terrified when Jonathan didn’t even seem to register any sensation of being kicked. Rufus couldn’t know that Jonathan was Underdog – and basically had a stomach – and a whole body, really, of steel.

“Jonathan? Put him down, please. Please?”

“First I want him to take back what he said.” Jonathan lifted Rufus a foot off the ground. The other dawg made choking sounds and motioned that he couldn’t talk. Jonathan released him enough so he could talk, and he took deep breaths.

“So…take it back already, Rufus…” Kat said in a low tone. Rufus sneered at her, taking even more deep breaths.

“Any day now,” Jonathan said, warningly.

“You’re right. You don’t hide behind guys, chick – GUYS FEEL SORRY FOR YOU SO THEY JUMP UP TO HELP!” he barked his laughter rudely.

Jonathan growls and smacked Rufus in the jaw. There was an audible cracking sound, and he hurled Rufus across the room. The dawg got up, groaning. “Ya broke mah jah!”

“You’re quick, ” Jonathan remarked.

“Jonathan….don’t kill him. If it should be on anyone’s head it should be mine!” Katareena cried out. Rufus had a paw to his jaw, his eyes wide at the dawg that was at least three feet shorter than him. Jonathan growled at him and Rufus stumbled back, scared.

“Let me just….” Kat walked over to Rufus, who didn’t move, scared of Jonathan’s anger. She slugged him hard enough to topple him. Rufus went down and didn’t move, unconsious. “Now we can just take him to the nearest Enforcer station….right?”

“Right.” He picked up Rufus, slung him over his shoulder and the three of them walked to the station. He dumped the taller dawg on the floor of the station in front of a stunned Enforcer. “Book him, B and E, assault with a deadly.” The two explained what had happened, Rufus was jailed, and they went back to Kat’s apartment.

“Thank-you, Jonathan…” Kat said as they made up the couch for Jonathan.

“No problem.”

They had dinner, went to bed and woke up in the morning like it was any other day, but it wasn’t really. Kat settled the charge of her apartment with the land-lady, and Jonathan flew her home.

__

*Katareena speaks again… __

And that’s where I am now. I’m closer than ever to Jonathan and Jeff. In fact, I’ve actually gotten closer to everyone. And – knock on wood – I’ll never see the need to run off again.

__*The End __

Whoohoo! It took me forever, didn’t it? ?

Thanks to all the rpg-ers who helped me write this by doing side rpgs with me so I could have a better understanding of how their characters would react. Thanks to DJ/Jonathan who put up with me putting off working on this for so long. (I’M DONE DJ! WHOOHOOOOOO! Thanks for finding that log for me!)

My next project is either the next chapter of “A Tail of Two Sisters” or a new series with the SWAT Kats and the Pastmaster – no new main characters this time. ?

You can get in contact with me at klawz_hangar@hotmail.com. I also have two SWAT Kats related web sites: http://members.tripod.com/~Klawz/index.html (my SWAT Kats site in general) or http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/tiffany/134/index1.html (my art site – with some SK art and other art)

Fly high my SK fiends. ? ~Klawz

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