Date Started: 12/3/15
Date Finished: 1/7/16
Comments: Thank you so much, everybody, for the awesome comments on the first chapter! I’m hoping the muse behaves as I begin chapter 3. ?
By the time Callie had left, Jake promised that he’d take the rest of the day off and actually get some sleep that night. He found himself somewhat at a loss when he wasn’t buried nose-deep in his notes. But, his mind screamed for rest, and he instead indulged himself in actually cleaning up the small place he had called home for half a year. Unlike the salvage yard, he wasn’t about let his dwelling become a pile of junk.
After the task was done, he found himself sitting in the upper patio deck of his home, swiping through a digital issue of “Kat Kommandos”.
He couldn’t remember when exactly he had started reading the comic. For a while, it was something only Chance enjoyed, and Jake half-heartedly put up with his friend’s enthusiasm anytime a new issue was out. Curiosity eventually got the better of him and he was caught one evening reading a copy he had downloaded.
“If you’re gonna get into it, I suggest startin’ with Issue 13. You’ll get a better idea of who’s who,” Chance had said with a smirk.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Jake returned, once his fur was no longer bristling and he’d checked that his phone hadn’t shattered when it hit the ground.
And, Jake would soon find his interest broadening. He had to admit the comic was well paced, the characters well written and the story arcs captivating. Playing catch-up would end in discussions, theories and the occasional argument.
“They’re one of the reasons why I joined the Enforcers,” Chance told him. “I always wanted to be one of the good guys.”
One of the good guys…
Jake set down the tablet and let out a tired sigh, letting his eyes scan the salvage yard, half wondering if his once partner was still interested in his childhood heroes.
The following morning found him riding shotgun in Callie’s sedan, puzzled as to where she was taking him. She had barely given him time to grab his coffee when she pulled into the yard, insisting that her engine wasn’t on the verge of bursting into flames and to please get in the car. And, the silence was almost deafening as he forced himself to stay awake. Regardless of having slept a good eight hours, his body demanded more. When he felt the small jolt of caffeine give him the push he needed, he turned his attention to Callie.
“You still haven’t told me where we’re going.”
“There’s a couple of people that you need to talk to. This, of course, is under wraps and obviously the Enforcers can’t know.”
Jake arched a brow. “No military involvement? Are these sources legal?” He grinned at her dry look. “I’m just saying. You’ve gotten pretty devious since you took on the job.”
“Yes, Jake. You’ll be meeting with the Megakat mafia while I get on a conference call with the Siamese ‘yakuza’.”
“I knew it.”
“Anyway, you’re on the right track, Jake, but you’ve got too much going on at once. You’re obviously going to need help.”
“Well, it’s not like I can clone myself, tempting as that sounds.” He paused to look at his surroundings when Callie drove through a guarded gate. “Aaand, what’re we doing at Puma Dyne?”
Leiter Greenbox massaged the space between his eyes, fighting away a headache as he eyeballed the formula on the screen in front of him. For a moment there he *thought* his calculations were correct, but looking again made it clear that he was nowhere near finalizing.
“You’re killing me, Zed,” he muttered. “You’re making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be.”
/Zed suggests a more practical method, Creator.\\
“Practical?” Greenbox glared at the digital response on his screen. “I thought the idea was to make them think.”
/They will think. The solution will not be there, but students will work to find said solution.\\
The professor rolled his eyes. “Sometimes I think I made you too feline. Fine. We’ll go with your method. And, if I hear any screams of frustration or threats of writing to the university board, I’m blaming you.”
The screen retorted with a smiling emoticon.
“A feline with the personality of a tween.” Greenbox set the stylus he was holding down on his desk, just in time to see the deputy mayor walking into his office with another tomkat in tow.
“Professor Greenbox? I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“Not at all, Deputy Mayor,” he said, shaking her offered hand. “I got your message this morning. What can I help you with?”
“It’s actually ‘who’ you can help me with.” She motioned to the tomkat next to her, who seemed to be busy looking around his lab. “Leiter Greenbox, this is Jake Clawson.”
Clawson snapped out of his musings, then extended a hand. “Professor.”
“Mr. Clawson,” returned Greenbox. “What brings you here?”
“Deputy Mayor Briggs told me about your work with Gemkat Labs, and I think you’re just the kat I need to speak to.”
Greenbox arched a brow. “That all depends. My apologies for being blunt, but who are you and why are you here?”
There was some quiet as Clawson appeared to gather his thoughts, then finally said, “Just a former Enforcer lieutenant on a mission to save his friend… and the city.”
“Fascinating.” Greenbox adjusted his glasses as he surveyed the hangar. “You made all of this from scrap metal?”
Curiosity had indeed gotten the best of the professor, Jake found, when the orange tom decided it was best to show his projects rather than explain what he was doing.
“Every last one of them, most of them from jet parts and old computers.”
“Simply amazing. Just how do you manage to keep up with all this?”
Jake rubbed at his headfur in mild frustration. “I don’t. Any time a new idea comes up, I have to build it. Hence my problem, Doc. I’m usually pretty organized, but you’re looking at six months worth of brainstorming that left disaster in its wake.”
Greenbox chuckled. “The curse of an inventor, Mr. Clawson. I’ve been in your shoes before.”
“I figured. How do you even manage?”
“Me? At some point, I knew I had to get help.”
“Puma Dyne?” Jake asked, watching Greenbox walk to the main computer terminal and plug his phone into the nearest hub.
“Sadly, not entirely. Affiliation with the world’s largest tech giant can only get you so far. The good news is that Puma Dyne provided the parts I needed.” Stepping back, Greenbox cleared his throat. “Zed, it’s time to wake up.”
The response was immediate, the computer screen filling with various lines of code until it slowly began to form words. And, much to Jake’s awe, those words soon became sentences.
/Zed is now online, Creator.\\
The words flashed a light blue as they ran across the screen.
“Great,” Greenbox returned, a smile on his face that only a parent would reserve for a child. “Please do me a favor and scan the perimeter.”
It had only taken a few minutes, and Jake found himself walking forward to get a closer look at the screen as a list started to appear. And, that’s where he saw every single one of his projects, some of which he didn’t even remember sketching, much less starting. They were listed by name, by category, and by percentage towards completion.
“That’s quite a list you’ve got there, Mr. Clawson.” Greenbox rolled up his sleeves as a speechless Jake turned to acknowledge him. “I’m pretty sure we can tackle what’s nearly finished and work our way down. Shall we get started?”
To Be Continued…
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