Kris’s Note: The second installment of “They That Walk in Darkness.” It should be noted here that parts of this fanfic may not perfectly conform to the rules of grammar. If you’ve read the first installment, you can tell that, obviously, the style requires almost as many sentence fragments as complete sentences. These stories are not intended to read like a carefully written thesis. They are intended to sound like the rambling thoughts of the characters’ minds and to be written in the characters’ voices.
Thanks again to my co-author. What would I do without the late night chats that keep me up to finish the art project inevitably perched on my lap as I type?
Sage SK’s Note:
Part two! Whoo hoo! Yes, I’m having a lot of fun with this current plot, and I hope the readers enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed the role-playing itself. ?
The old guard still thinks I’m up to something. I can tell by the narrow-eyed look he gives me everytime I’m escorted back from the yard. Everytime I return docilely to my cell and no heads have been bashed.
I did that a lot when they first brought me here. When the inferno was still raging inside me. Beating the other prisoners senseless was a way to release it. Getting in a good beating before the guards could pull me off was a welcome challenge.
The fire inside me is gone now. Not that the old kat on the other side of the bars is likely to believe it. But, it is. In fact, I think *all* the fire has gone out of me. You could put me in the cockpit of a jet right now and it wouldn’t help. Couldn’t coax back the old rush. Couldn’t excite me.
In all truth, I think I’d cry.
Because I abused it. I made the dream into something twisted and wrong. I was given a chance. An impossible one. And, I blew it.
Not Feral. Not Jake.
Feral fired us. But, I’m the one who told Jake we should hear Dark Kat out. I made a deal with Dark Kat. I pledged to work with – no, to work *for* – the same kat I once hunted.
It’s my fault.
I pulled us both down. Let Dark Kat lead us both into his web of evil.
I can still see his eyes gleaming out of the darkness. Can imagine them right here in the cell. Boring into me. Like they did that night he found me and Jake. The night we sold our souls.
The anger was there then, but nothing like what it became. Nothing like the monstrosity Dark Kat helped me shape it into.
Starting that night.
I can relive that night even now.
Slouching on the old couch my cousins gave us, I grumble, “Staying here… I can’t believe that’s all we could afford…”
Here. The Salvage Yard. Scrap metal as far as the eye can see.
“Yeah…,” Jake returns, eyeing the small stack of boxes that hold all his belongings. Mine’s even smaller. Jake’s such a packrat. A strangely nontalkative packrat tonight.
I sigh and stare blankly at the screen before me. My tiny thirteen inch TV. I’m not really interested in watching TV. Not even “Scaredy Kat.” But, watching it is better than pondering how Jake and I came to be here. Better than thinking of the ways I want to maim Feral. Better than entertaining my temper, which is bad enough about little things. This time it’s an inferno. An inferno that doesn’t appear to have any intentions of burning out in a few hours like usual. Oh, I’ve simmered for a few days before. But, never *burned* for weeks. Not like this.
Jake breaks into my brooding, his voice soft as though he doesn’t want me to hear what he’s about to say. As though he knows it won’t improve my mood, but needs to be said.
“Y’know… The pay we get for….,” he pauses to wave a hand at the yard visible through the window to my left, “…’running’ this place won’t cover even the electric bill…”
“I’m aware of that…,” I muttered, sighing heavily. Suddenly, I find myself standing to throw a fist against the nearest wall. “I can’t believe he DID that!” I shriek.
And, I can’t. I never *liked* Feral. But, I did think he was a kat of his word. An honest kat. Not someone who would let someone else take the blame for his mistake. Not someone who would do… *this* to us just to cover his own tail.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Jake slump even further into the old, worn couch.
I’m suddenly desperate. This can *not* be happening! I spin to face him.
“What’re we gonna do, Jake?” My voice is soft, hiding the frantic feeling twisting my guts into a knot. Am I really never going to fly again?! “We can’t just put up with this place?”
I meant it to be a statement. A defiance. But, it’s a question. Because I’m not sure there is any way out. And, it scares me.
Looking at him, I know Jake can tell. Can see the fear in my eyes as he stammers, “I don’t know….”
Then, his ears swivel toward the window. “What was that?”
At first, I think he’s trying to change the subject, then something reaches my ears. A clattering from the mounds of junk outside.
“Prolly some junkyard racoon…,” I hiss, but I hurry to the door to check anyway. It’s a welcome change of subject.
Jake follows me, muttering, “No one steals junk anyways, right?”
I have to chuckle at that. Stealing junk. “In a place like this?” Correct that – stealing junk that’s in the back of beyond. “I highly doubt it.”
“C’mon!” Jake snaps suddenly. His face is starting to stretch into a grin even as he rolls his eyes. “*Everyone* wants junk! I mean, what’s not to love?!” He swings his arms out in a sweeping gesture that sends the beam of his flashlight arcing across the yard. Across our highly valuable, hot black market item – junk.
“You got a point there…,” I snicker, cracking up. “What’s not to love? Rusted nuts and bolts?” I pause. “Or is that nuts and dolts?” I ask with a grin.
Jake laughs and, encouraged, keeps it up. I know what he’s doing. He got me to laugh and now he’s going to do his best to keep me laughing.
“Hey, Chance, let’s change the sign,” he suddenly announces. “We’re sitting on a mound of wealth that everyone wants here.” He leaps onto the nearest pile of scrap, landing on the hood of a rusted car. Taking a stance, he spreads his hands out in front of his face then sweeps them out to either side as he declares, “I think we should rename it ‘Jake and Chance’s *Empire* of Junk’.”
He’s killing me. That good kind of killing that involves laughing until you’re wheezing in pain.
“Alright! Our own little empire of rusted metal! Whoo hoo!” I cheer. “We’ll be the envy of town!”
As he leaps down, I offer my hand for a high four.
He returns it, yelling, “Yeah!”
Then, his eyes widen in shock as he looks past me.
I twist to see what’s got him so surprised. There, illuminated in his flashlight’s beam, is a snickering pink-skinned… creature. It’s cackling as though it has been laughing along with us.
“What is…?” I shine my own light that way… and gasp, realizing. “Creeplings?!”
Behind me, I hear Jake spin around… and gasp himself. I glance over my shoulder to see that he’s illuminated more of the snickering demons on the other side of us.
“And, they’re everywhere…,” he adds.
“You don’t suppose…?” I begin, my eyes narrowing as I stoop to pick up a metal rod lying in the dirt at my feet.
“Dark Kat…,” Jake mutters quietly.
His voice is steady. But, I can still hear the fear in it.
As though taking Jake’s words as a cue, Dark Kat is suddenly standing in the beam of my flashlight. It’s striking his mid-section, just barely lighting his cowled face. All I can see up there are his eyes. Two glowing yellow eyes staring at me from a faceless mountain of a kat.
“Please pardon my somewhat rude entrance…,” he says.
I’m surprised. I’ve never heard his voice in person before. Somehow I thought it would sound more… evil, I guess. But, it’s not. I can’t say I find it pleasant. But, it’s smooth, cultured. The kind of voice that should be sipping wine on the patio of some house with a pricetag that could set me up for life. Not bombing Enforcer facilities.
But, surprise doesn’t last long. I mean, there he is. There’s the guy I meant to nail two weeks ago. The guy Feral cheated me out of capturing.
“YOU?!?!” I roar.
I can sense Jake moving ever so slightly beside me. I know he’s checking for an escape route for us to bolt down the minute we get the chance.
Dark Kat holds up a hand at my outburst, the other clutching a gold-capped cane. “I merely wish to speak with you.”
“Speak?! Speak about what?!” I snarl. “How I’m gonna pound your face to a pulp when I get my claws on you?!”
“Tempting as I’m sure that is, I think I have a much better offer if you’d simply hear me out,” the monster purrs.
“Offer?! What’s there to offer?!” I growl at him. I’m so ready to tackle this creep.
“A chance to pay Commander Feral back?” he replies calmly, as though completely ignoring my ready stance. Maybe I am that little of a threat to him. That’s a scary thought. But, I refuse to let him know it occurred. Refuse to show him fear. But, his words take me unaware.
I blink in some confusion. Do what?
“What are you talking about, Dark Crud?” I demand, stepping sideways a bit to stand in front of Jake. Somehow, I feel like I need to protect him. Like somehow the situation just got worse. But, even I don’t understand how or why.
I do now.
And, Jake did then.
He leans forward to whisper in my ear. “Let’s run for it. We don’t need to hear this.”
He knows we *shouldn’t* hear it. Knows we don’t need to open ourselves to the temptation.
“I can supply you a jet….,” Dark Kat says simply. Simply. As though he could pull a jet out of the air. “You can return to the skies and prove your worth…” His voice shifts a bit, darkens. “I’d only ask a few favors in return.”
I’m nodding to Jake even as he says this. I catch Dark Kat’s words and my ears swivel away from Jake and towards the apparition. “A jet?”
“Chance!” Jake hisses urgently, tugging on my arm.
He knows. He senses it.
I ignore him.
Dark Kat nods to my question, his skull’s face splitting in a grin. “I’d ask little in return.”
“What would that be?” I ask. I can’t help myself. I find this utterly interesting. I’m suddenly willing to go for whatever Dark Kat’s saying. Willing at least to listen.
I’ve gone blind at this point. I can’t see the danger.
Idiot! Why can’t I listen to Jake? Why can’t I listen to the voice inside me? They both know better. They know better.
Jake pleads softly behind me. “Chance, don’t.” His voice is desperate, but faint. I’m either blocking him out or even he’s starting to crack.
I’m pulling him down with me.
And, the demon before us smiles. Oh, he knows. He knows he’s got me. Jake is his only obstacle. He knows he needs us both. He’s studied us. He’s planned this.
He *will* have us both.
He answers my question casually, waving his free hand airily as he replies. “Just fetching this or that for me. Not all entirely legal, mind you.” He grins that awful grin again. “But, you knew that couldn’t be so, right?”
I know. And, I ignore it.
“Just what… ‘items’ are you referring to?” I ask quietly, stepping away from Jake.
I feel him trying to come forward to speak. That’s why I move. But, somehow it seems that I’m abandoning him too. Leaving him unguarded. Unprotected. The kat who has been my little brother for years now. And, I’m not protecting him. I’m not doing my job. I’m being offered something I want by this demon and I can’t resist.
And, I’m letting the temptation lead me away from my duty. My duty to protect Jake. And, my own morals.
“Technology, weapons,” Dark Kat answers me, laying his free hand atop the other on the cane. “The Enforcers have quite a few things I could use… And, I didn’t think you’d mind relieving *them* of a few items.” His voice becomes a purr. “We’re really already on the same side. I’ve been against the Enforcers because their poor excuse for protection can only bring this city to ruin.”
He has? Well… It’s true he’s only attacked Enforcer targets thus far.* Maybe he’s right. Maybe we *are* on the same side.
I turn my head to exchange a look with Jake.
He shakes his head no.
I have to convince him. I mutter quickly, “What’s there to lose? We won’t be up in the skies again if we stay in this place…”
His ears droop. He knows. He wants to fly again too.
“Feral hardly deserves to be running the Enforcers,” Dark Kat states quietly, interrupting us. “If you disgrace him enough, he’ll be removed.”
He’s right. It would be a *good* thing.
“Well… he *did* go straight to sending us here… avoiding the court martial…. the investigation…” I stammer. Why does this feel wrong? It’s true, right? Why do I feel lead?
But, Dark Kat is nodding. “Feral himself has broken the law.” The yellow eyes seem to glow brighter with those words. Or is it with my words? The look on my face? “I can give you the chance to both avenge yourself and rid MegaKat City of his corruption.”
“Corruption?” I ask.
“He fired you two for his own poor flying skills, did he not?” Dark Kat replies.
He’s right. That…..!
“Well… yes. Yes, he did,” I agree.
Dark Kat just nods. Even his eyes are veiled as he looks down at his hands briefly.
I sense a change in Jake. A change as he finally speaks. “We wouldn’t have to hurt anyone, would we?”
Something in his voice.
Something I’ve never heard before.
Dark Kat shrugs. “I ask only that my requests be delivered to me without fail.”
An unaccountable nervousness fills me.
“As long as we don’t put anybody on the line…,” I mutter.
“What you do beyond fulfilling my requirements is your own business,” Dark Kat returns.
He knows he has us. And, he knows kat nature enough to know that if we agree to this… If we agree to revenge now… in time, we’ll do anything… Anything he asks. And, these silly questions about hurting others won’t be a concern.
He trusts he can lead us that far down the path.
But, I can’t see it.
I can see only the deal. A chance to fly again. A chance to make Feral pay.
It’s now or never.
Again, I look to my friend. “Jake?”
Dark Kat too levels his gaze on Jake. “You do want to get back at the Commander, don’t you?”
He finally admits what’s been brewing inside even him. “Yes,” he says flatly. “I’m in.”
I blink at my partner’s abrupt change of heart… and his tone of voice.
But, I turn to Dark Kat anyway. I blind myself again. I want this. “Alright. You got yourself a deal.”
“Then, a deal it is,” Dark Kat returns, offering me a hand to shake.
Jake takes it before I can. Again, he knows. Knows that if he waits, that part of him that spoke to me earlier will think better of it.
But, we’re both already silencing those parts. Already locking them away.
I think only of flying again… and of revenge as I lay my own hand on top of Jake’s. On top of Dark Kat’s.
“Very well,” the demon purrs. “I’ll meet you here tomorrow at roughly the same hour. Until then…” Then, with a swirl of his cloak, he melts away into the shadows. His creeplings scamper after him, giggling maniacally as they go.
I find I can only stare mutely at the spot where he stood for several long minutes. Then, I shake my head.
“Did we…. just do what I think we just did?” I ask Jake.
“Yes,” he says firmly.
He’s not going to be weak. He’s not going to back down. He’s going to carry through with this.
I’m suddenly not so certain, not so strong in my decision.
“I sure hope… we did the right thing…,” I whisper, turning back to the garage.
My partner, my friend stays behind. I glance back once to see him looking into the night sky with narrowed eyes.
Jake, I pulled you down with me. Why, oh why didn’t I listen to you?! Look at what you’re becoming. Look at what you became the night you struck my cousin. The she-kat I know you loved with all your heart.
Look at what I did.
Bad enough I sold my own soul. But, I helped my best friend sell his too.
God in Heaven, forgive me. I helped my best friend sell his soul.
To Be Continued….
* Please remember that the time period here is years before “The Wrath of Dark Kat.” We are assuming that Dark Kat has not yet attempted to drop a nuclear bomb on the city… or attempted any other highly destructive act against the populace at large. For the purposes of this story, it is assumed that most of his actions have been attacks against the Enforcers.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.
1 comment on “They That Walk in Darkness”
Such a moving story. I love the way you humanized the Dark Swat Kats. I felt pity for them. Here’s a thought: do the same for the Dark Callie Briggs.