Author: Kristen Sharpe
Date: October 9, 2000
Final Draft:October 14, 2000
What happens when you watch ten episodes of SWAT Kats in a row while you paint and then listen to Loreena McKennitt’s “The Visit” for a week? You think of really strange “What ifs?” that’s what happens. Based around a moment in the first season that I hope isn’t too obscure. Includes a fairly obvious reference to “Cry, Turmoil” in the second season.
Any and all Morse code contained herein is not intended to be genuine.
The SWAT Kat T-Bone sighed heavily, leaning his broad back into the glass behind him. Tiredly, he slouched there for a minute before words came to him. Thickly, they rolled off his tongue, his voice hoarse.
“It’s been one of those days, buddy,” he muttered. “I just barely escaped this crazy she-kat…”
A soft murmur at his back encouraged him to continue.
“See, she flew in over the city in this huge airship. Shot down a commercial airliner with this ray of hers that caused the pilot to be so disoriented he couldn’t control the plane… A real piece of work.” His voice choked. “I was there.” A single tear slid down his cheek. “I tried, buddy. I tried. But, it plummeted so fast I couldn’t stop it. 175 passengers.” His eyes closed tightly, shoulders heaved. “No survivors.”
Choking down the flood of emotions, he turned to face his friend.
The once kat was standing just behind where the big tabby had sat, his head cocked to one side.
Many would have found the five foot tall insect frightening. His body a dull orange-brown carapace covered in short, stiff hairs with huge insectoid green eyes dominating his face, Razor bore little resemblance to the kat T-Bone had known. The big tabby never flinched. He had seen this sight for the last year.
Stepping forward, the insect tapped a claw on the glass separating them.
T-Bone nodded to him sadly.
“Hardly the first time I’ve failed, huh?”
The ci-kat-a shook its head back and forth slowly.
T-Bone wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was Razor denying that he’d failed him? No. Razor wasn’t that cognizant. He was putting kat gestures to a creature that no longer remembered them. Like assuming your pet understood your words because it responded with a gesture that looked feline.
Still, that was just the sort of thing Razor would have done. He never let T-Bone blame himself. The ghost of a smile played across T-Bone’s lips.
Razor had improved. Even the scientists agreed.
His behavior was a far cry from when this nightmare started. A year ago. A year ago when the alien bugs came. A year ago when T-Bone landed outside the nuclear plant and went searching for his partner. Then, Razor had howled and swore as T-Bone pinned him and later brought him to the research facility in hopes of a cure.
But, T-Bone never blamed Razor. It wasn’t him talking.
When his transformation into a ci-kat-a had ended, when his voice had become unintelligible, Razor had settled for ignoring his once partner.
Again, it wasn’t Razor.
It was only in the last two months that the insect had started to pay attention. Whether he understood a word was debatable. But, it made no difference. T-Bone would never give up. Rename it and stubborn was a virtue.
The ci-kat-a tapped the glass again, insistently.
The big kat patted the glass where Razor’s claw was with another sigh and turned to leave. He’d seen this a million times. He didn’t blame Razor for wanting out. But, it was always the insect that wanted to escape and then ignored him when he wouldn’t open the door. It was never his friend.
It wasn’t Razor.
The tapping continued, steady, rhythmic.
Tap-tap. Taptaptap. Tap.
The big kat froze.
An ear flickered backward slowly, an old memory surfacing.
A rhythm. A code. Morse code.
“Morse code,” T-Bone whispered. He spun and flung himself at the glass, one hand pressing to it. “Are… are you….?” he started, unsure. He couldn’t say it. Couldn’t hope again.
The insect nodded.
Taptaptap. Pause. Tap-tap. Pause. Tap. Tap-tap.
“Here,” T-Bone mouthed.
Tap-tap. Pause. Tap. Pause. Tap. Taptaptap. Tap. Pause. Tap.
He looked into the multi-faceted eyes.
I’m here, Buddy.
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