Original SWAT Kats Story

They That Walk in Darkness

By Sage & Kristen Sharpe

  • 4 Chapters
  • 26,302 Words

Deep in Alkatraz, one Dark SWAT Kat ponders the journey of regrets that lead him to where he is. See also Sage SK’s spin-off chapter Frustration. (4 Chapters – Complete)

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Author's Notes:

  • Title: They That Walk in Darkness
  • Descent: Long Way Down
  • Authors: Kristen Sharpe and Sage SK
  • Date: February 24, 2001
  • April 25, 2001

Kris’s Note:

Did I say this was going to have five parts? Correct that. It’s going to have many parts. Sage and I have been quite busy. For this and, technically, the whole of “They That Walk in Darkness” we would like to thank scriptwriter Jim Katz for writing the original “Dark Side of the SWAT Kats.” This is a version of that same story you never saw on TV. “Dark Side” through the eyes of the Dark SWAT Kats. Yes, the action segments have been downplayed here. You saw the action in living color in the actual episode. Here, we were aiming for a drama you didn’t see. Thanks and Stix always to Sage… ::HUG Sagey:: …my “co-SWAT Kat.” (No, we’re not telling you who played which in the original RPG. We will only say that each of us stayed consistently with the same one.)

Sage SK’s Note:

Eh heh. Don’t you just love those moments where you suddenly come up with more to the plot than you were supposed to? It’s fun, though! ? For those who may have seen the original SWAT Kats episode “The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats,” please note that even if we did stick to the original dialogue, some lines *were* added to show the character’s thoughts and feelings. And, yes, many thanks to writer Jim Katz for the original story, and thanks to the readers at FF.N for the wonderful reviews on the first two chapters! ;D And, once again, my many thanks to my co-author Kristen who did a great job role-playing her SWAT Kat in this series. ::hugs Kris::

Chapter 3

Descent: Long Way Down

Oh here you are

There’s nothing left to say

You’re not supposed to be that way

Did they push you out?

Did they throw you away?

Touch me now and I don’t care

But when you take me I’m not there

Almost human but I’ll never be the same

Long way down

I don’t think I’ll make it on my own

Long way down

I don’t wanna live in here alone

Long way down

I don’t think I’ll make it on my own –“Long Way Down” written and sung by the Goo Goo Dolls

—————————————

I watch him walk away, my body shaking. I broke his nose. I’m sure of that.

I look down at my hand. It’s still clenched in a tight fist. Gingerly, I open it. One finger at a time. It hurts.

Definitely broke his nose.

Not that I had a choice. He wanted to see “Razor” fight. Demanded to see “Razor” fight. Threw the first punch.

Am I still Razor?

I don’t think so.

Razor is just the last cold embers of my fury. The embers I bring to life again at times like this. When I need him to fight. To uphold my reputation with the other prisoners.

But, this will have been the last time. Razor’s gone. I dredged up the last shred of him for this fight. And, now he’s gone. And, I’m not sure who’s left.

I look down at my hands. Every bone, every tendon is clearly visible through my fur.

During my time as a SWAT Kat, I worked out a lot. Had myself as bulked up as anyone my size should want to be. Now, look at me.

It’s gone now. In fact, I’m downright bony now. Just haven’t bothered to take care of myself, I guess. It hasn’t mattered.

“Doesn’t matter,” I repeat aloud as I follow the guards’ signalling and leave the yard.

But, I know better. I may waste away slowly, but I *won’t* sit still and let some punk splatter me on the walls. I’m honestly not sure if I want to live or die, but I’m *not* dying that way. Or through any other active suicide. I can’t. I won’t.

But, looking at my future, I see nothing. Only more empty years at Alkatraz. Stretching on and on. Then, one day, they’ll say I’m free. And, I’ll walk out into a world I don’t know anymore.

There’ll be no one to greet me. I’ve driven them all away. No sense they waste their lives away too.

As I sit on the bunk in my cell, I find myself with nothing better to do than watch the faucet of my grimy sink drip slowly. One at a time each drop falls. One day at a time, my life goes down the drain.

I close my eyes.

No.

Can’t think like that.

I try to shift my focus.

What if… What if Chance and I hadn’t made the deal? What if we’d just run the stupid Salvage Yard like we were supposed to? I’d be spending my life in *another* prison, that’s what.

No. No… Trina would be there. She always supported me. That I went from Enforcer lieutenant to junkkat never mattered to her.

And, Chance would be there.

I might even…. might even be married to Trina by now.

A single tear plops to the concrete floor.

I can’t think of this.

What if Chance and I had created the SWAT Kats ourselves? What if we’d used them for good?

I can’t drive away the next thought.

Is that what *they* did?

Who *were* they?

<Stoppit, Clawson. Don’t go there,> I tell myself.

But, I can’t help it. I still remember that day. The day *they* came. The day Chance and I realized how far gone we were. The day we fought the ghosts of our past.

—————————————

We burst in the doors and have every eye in the bank on us. Perfect. I give them a well-practiced sneer as T-Bone aims his glovatrix at the mass of depositors and tellers.

“To the floor,” he orders in a snarl. “Th’ money or your sorry lives!”

They obey without hesitation. They know us. The SWAT Kats aren’t known for being patient or forgiving.

I leer at the lot of them. Look at them cowering. Pathetic. Somewhere to the side a child starts wailing. I try to block the sound. Nevermind that. Just the job at hand. Just the job.

I turn to the vault, but not before seeing T-Bone’s face twitch. As I eye up the wall of titanium, I allow myself a private smirk. He’s still a big softie. What a wuss.

“So hurry up a’ready!” he growls, shaking it off. “We haven’t got all day!”

I start to snap something back when a guard suddenly lunges around a corner with a gun.

“Freeze!!”

My back is to him. It doesn’t matter. He expects me to do as he said. He expects the fear of his gun to control me. But, I’m past that. I have worse things to be afraid of. And, I’m not. Fear can’t control me. I’m past that.

I spin and fire, aiming a mini-megaton from my glovatrix at his chest. He dodges, but can’t avoid the blast, which throws him back. Slams him into the wall, his uniform slightly seared on one side. He’s alive.

Good. Maybe he’ll remember next time and tell his buddies.

Someone screams.

“Shut up, alla’ ya’, or yer next!!” T-Bone snarls, aiming his own glovatrix over the kats on the floor.

I leave them to him, concentrating on the vault. Electronic lock. Of course. Aren’t they all? Makes my life easier.

Almost annoyed at how easy they’ve made it for me, I step up to use my glovatrix’s electronic lockpick on the code. The lockpick finds the code and has it entered an instant later. I sigh. Too easy. With one foot, I shove the vault open.

“We’re in.”

T-Bone glances at me, then yells at our hostages. “A’right. No one move a muscle! We’re gonna be in an’ out in no time!” Then, he runs past me into the vault.

I dart in after him, pausing to eye all the moolah. “Whatta haul!”

T-Bone glares at me. “Don’t just stand there, you moron! Let’s get th’ loot and get out!” He grabs a couple bags of money.

We were right. There was a delivery today and it hasn’t been put away yet. The joys of living in MegaKat City. The last place in the world that doesn’t use electronic money. The last place in the world that you can steal bags of unmarked bills and they’ve only got you if they can catch you getting away with it.

I glower back at him, grabbing a couple bags myself. “I was, doofus!”

He ignores me and heads out of the vault. “Now, c’mon! The Enforcers are gonna be here any minute!”

The Enforcers. Didn’t we *want* a confrontation with them? I smirk as I step out with my own load. “Let ’em come.”

“Do *what*?!” T-Bone growls.

“We can take ’em!” I insist. Didn’t we *want* to take them on? This heist will set us up nice, but it sure won’t get us any nearer to taking Feral down. “What’re they gonna go? Feral’s gonna shoot the TurboKat down with his choppers?”

The thought almost makes me laugh. Whole squadrons of those antiques Feral keeps in the air couldn’t take down the TurboKat. The magnificent jet Dark Kat gave us… and I made even better.

“We’re wastin’ our time!!” T-Bone snaps, turning to leave.

“Right, right…,” I hiss, adding under my breath, “Chicken.”

He is. Why not face them now? Good a time as any.

He hears me. And, snarls, heading out the front door to the busy street outside.

I follow, making clucking noises just to ruffle his feathers. As I step outside, my larger partner turns to wham me one across the face with one of the money bags he’s carrying. Clearly, I pushed a bit too hard. He isn’t taking the chicken bit lightly today.

I’m knocked down on my tush, dropping the bags I was carrying as I go. Seething with rage, I jump up immediately and growl at T-Bone.

He returns the gesture, showing his teeth. “You wanna make something outta it?!” he challenges.

Well, if I can’t bash some Enforcer heads, why not T-Bones? He’s a larger target than most of them anyways.

I feel my mouth curling in a sneer. “Why not, Furball?”

I start to circle him, ready to deliver a blow. To release the fury inside me.

T-Bone snarls and grabs me by the collar before I can dodge. “Why, I outta…!”

In that instant, before the sirens cut him off, I’m afraid. He could snap me in two. I’ve given him no reason not to.

But, the sirens stop him. Distract him.

I twist my body free of his grasp, flinging out a hand in the hope of slashing him in the face as I go.

The big tabby grabs my hand. I see him wince in pain as my claws dig into his palm, but he never lets go. Again, I’m afraid.

But, all my partner says is, “You wan’ us ta’ get arrested?!”

He’s angry, but not *that* angry. Not full fury. Not like that fight that nearly cost me my ears a year ago.

Feral interrupts us.

“Stop where you are, SWAT Kats! You’re under arrest!”

Does even *he* believe it will be that easy?! T-Bone releases me, hissing, “Through the back alley.” Then, his mouth curling in an evil grin, he loads a small explosive into one of the money bags and flings it towards the approaching Enforcers.

“Have a gift!!” he sneers, bolting down the alley.

I hear an Enforcer scream, “Clear the area! Move back!!” as I dart after my partner.

Ahead of me, T-Bone is just starting to climb up the nearest fire escape ladder when the explosive goes off. Even as the force of the blast flattens the back of my g-suit to my body and sends a wave of heat over me, I aim my glovatrix at the roofline above and fire a grappling hook. Instants later, I’m whizzing upward to the roof. I wave to T-Bone with a smirk as I shoot past him.

He finally arrives on the roof as I’m hopping into the waiting jet and getting the systems on-line.

“Move it, Scuzzball!” I snap, impatient to be gone now that things have gone so wrong.

“One more insult outta ya’ and I’m ejecting you out of this thing unexpectedly,” T-Bone roars, tossing his remaining bag at my head as he climbs in.

I struggle to get it out of my way as he starts up the engines. Then, I just leer at him. I know he can’t eject me. I disabled his control of my seat. Bluntly, I don’t trust him with that kind of power. Not even if I *was* unconscious and might go down with the jet.

T-Bone interrupts my thoughts. “How much we still have?”

The money. Blast!

I report the depressing figure, “One bag,” and shrug. It’s a pathetic waste and it *is* my fault. But, I’m hardly telling *him* that. “We can come back.”

T-Bone just growls. I may yet get another rip in one of my ears for this. Me and my big mouth. Why didn’t I keep it shut?

“Nevermind it now!” I urge, trying to get his attention on escape. The less trouble we have with the Enforcers, the better his mood will be. “Get us outta here!”

Wordlessly, the big kat fires the VTOL engines and sends the jet into the air. I watch as one wing knicks the radio tower sticking off the roof as we go.

“Have I told you lately that my grandma could fly better’n you?”

The mouth, Clawson. You have a deathwish, don’t you?

T-Bone just growls. “Shaddup. You wanna fly?”

Ah, not so bad then. The old argument. All’s well.

“I could do better’n you!” I retort.

“Like I’m lettin’ ya touch the controls!!” he snorts, engaging the thrusters and sending us rocketing back to the hangar.

I look back to see the Enforcer choppers that had attempted to close in on us floundering in our jetwash. Hopelessly trying to regain control. Something inside me feels for them.

—————————————

I’m not hungry. There’s no way the gruel they call food is going to make its way down my throat and into my stomach. Granted, I’ve been trying to avoid the prison food for as long as I can remember… ever since I came here… ever since I lost all hope that I’d never see the light of day again.

I’m remembering the trial suddenly… after we were arrested that fateful day. All I can see and even hear is the judge reading out our sentence and the heavy slam of the gavel against the cold wood in that courtroom.

Life. We’d been given life.

At times, I’m almost thankful. We didn’t get the chair. We didn’t get lethal injection. Not that we killed anybody. But, getting life in Alkatraz was just as bad as any death sentence. The only difference was that Jake and I have to suffer for many years thinking about what we’ve done.

Swinging my thoughts back to the trial, I can recall being led away, now in a prison uniform. Who knows what they did to my g-suit. I try to avoid the stares I’m receiving, try to avoid familiar faces. I know all too well who’s present. Older friends came up to testify against us, as well as a few Enforcers.

And, among those taking longer to walk out of the courtroom are my cousins. I steal a glance towards them. For a moment, my eyes are locked with those of Jason. Jason Korat, M.B.I. Captain, and Trina’s older brother.

I can’t help wondering what he’s thinking at the moment, but he doesn’t stop holding his sister in a tight hug. His expression is straight, direct, no sign of emotion… as if he can’t decide what to do in this case.

They hadn’t testified. Our lawyer had mentioned that they’d refused to when asked. Somehow I wonder if they’d refused because they figured there was enough evidence to convict us… or if it had been for another reason. Somehow, I believe the latter.

Whatever it was, I’m suddenly looking at Jake. He tries not to look at them. His eyes are closed for a moment, then gazing down at the floor.

I need to talk to him… I need to know what he’s thinking…

With a few moments of hesitation, I manage his name.

“Jake…”

I’m cut off abruptly, the guards that are leading us away pretending to be hearing impaired.

“Stay away from me!”

I blink. Is that Jake talking to me?

“Jake…?”

“I don’t want you near me. I don’t even want you to look at me!”

“Jake, what’s gotten into you?”

“Go on and suffer your years at Alkatraz alone!” he snarls. “There’s nothing left! There’s no more ‘we.’ Just leave me alone! You’re better off alone than with a murderer!”

For the love of Mike, he hadn’t killed anybody! What is going on?! Why does he still think he killed those two kats?!

Then, my thoughts swing back to the few days before we’d been arrested… the day we encountered… *them*.

The day on which Jake thinks he shed the blood of innocents…

I go back to the time we’d just come back from that bank heist and Dark Kat had gave us the news about… them. —————————————

“We coulda’ had more, ya’ know!” I scream, as I leap out of the Turbokat after it comes to a final halt.

Razor’s right behind me.

“It wasn’t worth the trouble!” he snaps back.

“We had it perfectly planned!” I wave my hands in the air in front of him. “Yet *you* decide we can wait for the Enforcers ta’ show!”

“I wasn’t waiting for them! I was just pointing out that IF they came and IF were ready for them, we could take ’em!”

He’s challenging me… Challenging my wits… To see if I really would have been that stubborn to fight the Enforcers at the moment. I wave that off.

“Which woulda been a *complete* waste of time! What next?! We take ’em out and then what?! We face off with th’ Megs* too!?” My voice is rising, quivering.

Razor’s voice is far louder than he meant it to be.

“NO! But, I thought we were in this to wipe the floor with Feral?”

“*Not* when we’re performing a bank heist!”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Apparently, he doesn’t seem to be bothered by my snarls as he stomps past me… Not until he sees Dark Kat… A very angry Dark Kat.

I, however, am not an inch bothered. I’m used to seeing that… demon in our hangar. Instead, I make my presence noticeable with a growl.

“And, what’s it ta’ *you*?”

Dark Kat isn’t a bit shaken. “What’re you two doing back here?!” he demands.

“We live here, remember?” Razor retorts with a snarl and a pointed finger towards Dark Kat. “But, the detonator I asked for a *week* ago!” Dark Kat snaps, his eyes coldly daring Razor to snap back at him once more.

“Keep yer cape on – we’ll get it for ya’.” I pat the bag that contains the contents that we picked up at the bank. “There was a new bank that needed robbing first.” I toss it to him with a smirk, and turn to help Razor load the missiles, ignoring the fact that he smacks it away with a disgusted growl.

Now, I wonder if back then he knew what he’d done… What we’d become. At first, I knew all too well that Jake and I started off as intelligent work for this monster. Then, we dropped down to the level of petty thugs. Ultimately, we were robbing banks just for the thrill of getting money… Something that didn’t apply to Dark Kat as we were sent to steal technological parts in the first place. Did he know all this? Was he having too much fun at what we’d become? How Jake and I had gone from the closest of friends to the bitterest of enemies?

And, was *I* enjoying this? Was I in an all too happy moment when I was beating my smaller partner to a pulp, to show him who was the tough guy of the two? Now that I look back into it, it was more of an ego trip than anything else.

“Yeah, we’ll just load up some more Deadhead missiles and pay Puma Dyne a visit.”

Razor is relenting under our boss’s baleful glare… The way his voice nearly quivers as he says this. What is he thinking?

Dark Kat’s skeletal face suddenly twists. “I just watched you SWAT Kats fly off to Puma-Dyne!” “Huh? Are you crazy? We haven’t been here since morning,” Razor responds.

“Whoever you sent, it wasn’t us,” I add as I pick up a missile and head towards the Turbokat. I figure Dark Kat must have sent a couple of his random henchmen.

“But, it *was* you!” Dark Kat rubs his chin. Has he been seeing things lately? “Acting very oddly.”

“What’s *that* supposed ta’ mean?” I snap, suddenly curious by his announcement.

The demon seems to talk more to himself, but Razor and I can hear him.

“They let themselves in… Had the key… And, they were exact matches for you… height, build, coloring, voices….”

I narrow my eyes and decide to ignore him by loading the missiles. I decide this is another one of his cruel jokes just to tick us off. Razor, however, pays more attention than I do.

“Who were they?” he asks, his voice soft.

“You,” Dark Kat responds. “How, I don’t know. But, they were carbon copies of the both of you. There are any number of ways to accomplish that. But, that’s not important. What is is that they must *not* get to the Mega-Detonator first.”

He gives Razor a hard look after this, one that makes me want to step up and nail that skeletal nose of his out of place.

“Imposters?” I finally demand.

“They were real,” Dark Kat repeats. “Exact matches for your DNA I’m sure.”

“Clones or somethin’….” Razor growls.

Finally, I snarl. This doesn’t sound good.

“They won’t get far,” I say with a smirk as I put on my Glovatrix. “This town isn’t big enough for two sets a’ SWAT Kats.”

It seems that it’s something Razor and I both agree on because no sooner do I say this than he smirks himself and clinks his own Glovatrix against mine.

—————————————

I leap into the jet, yelling, “C’mon!” to T-Bone. Inside, my mind is spinning. <Clones? Of us? Why? Who would make them? To get Dark Kat?>

T-Bone is right behind me, growling, “Don’t push me.” As he takes the jet down to the launch tunnel and heads us into the sky, I realize that he’s as floored as I am.

But, it’s not the clones that have me worried. It’s what I saw in Dark Kat’s eyes back there. When he realized we’d ignored his orders… again.

I allow myself a slight shiver before hesitantly addressing my partner. “T-Bone… Maybe… We should move a little quicker when Dark Kat sends us for stuff….”

I can almost sense him pausing a mental conversation at my concerned tone. Well, it’s true he hasn’t heard it in a while.

“What’re you talkin’ about?” he asks calmly.

Odd. Are we almost having civil conversation? I can’t remember the last time *that* happened. But, I have to say this. What I saw in Dark Kat’s anger has me that concerned.

“I think our days are numbered if we don’t start hopping to it…,” I tell T-Bone seriously, my voice level.

Through the mirror at the front of the jet I see him blink. “What’re you saying? That he’ll do something to us if we don’t?” he demands, his voice quiet.

I’m blunt about my feeling.

“He’ll KILL us, T-Bone… And, not quickly either, knowing him….”

For a minute, he doesn’t speak. I watch as his eyes narrow.

“He won’t,” he says at last, gruffly.

I’m afraid I don’t share his optimism or determination, whichever it is.

“He could. We haven’t even kept our end of the bargain lately,” I remind him. “He sends us for the Mega-Detonator and we go rob a bank…” My voice grows bitter as I add, “Of course… It’s not like we don’t need the money as his big scheme to rule the city hasn’t come off yet….”

We don’t make any money, you see. We have no job beyond running the Salvage Yard, and all of that goes to paying our debt. Yes, we could have gotten second jobs… once. Now, neither of us could be civil long to survive a job interview. We’re that far in. Crud. I hadn’t realized…

T-Bone’s growl ends my train of thought. “Well, he won’t,” he snaps. Then, he adds, softer, his voice still fierce, “At least, not to you. He tries ta’ do something, he’ll have ta’ get through *me* first.”

I suddenly can’t move. It feels like I’ve gone cold all over as I stare at T-Bone through the mirror. I can feel the color draining from my face.

There’s a ghost talking to me. A memory.

Chance.

I see T-Bone blink. “You okay?” he asks.

“What….?” I stutter. I want to tell him I can take care of myself. To put my tough guy attitude back on. But, I can’t. It wasn’t T-Bone speaking. It was Chance. My friend. The kat who always tried to protect me. The kat that vanished sometime after quiet, shy Jake Clawson lost himself to Razor.

“What did you just say?” I manage at last.

I have to know.

Did he mean it?

One of the big kat’s brows arches curiously, but I sense something behind the mask of his face. “Have you gone deaf alla’ sudden?” he demands. “I said if he even tries ta’ get near you, he’ll have to get through me first.”

He means it. It wasn’t just a slip.

“W….. why?”

I can tell by his face that even he has no explanation. “Because I’ll just do it, okay? Enough said,” he growls back at last.

I want to say something. But, I can’t bring myself to utter the words aloud. I hear the whisper of air across my lips. He can’t hear it. But, inside I’m thinking it.

<Chance….>

In front of me, I see T-Bone’s shoulders rise and fall with a small sigh. Then, his focus is back on the moment. “We’re arriving at Puma-Dyne….”

I can only nod in return. I’m trying desperately to collect myself. To find… Razor again. But, Jake Clawson is screaming to be heard.

I am not schizophrenic. And, I don’t usually consider myself to be a different person with the mask on. Perhaps I’m a bit bolder when I have my disguise. Confident my identity is safe. Confident I won’t be arrested. But, that’s the only change.

Until now it’s been the only change.

Now, I feel split in half. Torn. Hearing Chance again – Chance, not T-Bone – has stirred something. Something deep. Something I’d locked away and guarded there oh so carefully.

“Razor? You awake?” T-Bone calls.

The thoughts I was chasing run back to their corners.

“I….. Yeah.”

But, one remains and forces itself out as I find myself mouthing, “Thanks, Chance…,” turning my head away so he can’t see.

I watch him nod to my first words as the thoughts again overtake me.

<He’s still my friend… He’d still…. risk everything for me… Where… What… happened…..>

Where did that go? When did we stop being friends?

But, I can’t think about that right now. Duty calls.

<The mission, Razor. You *have* to steal that mega-detonator and finish the Enforcers…. >

Yes. Or Dark Kat will kill us both.

“Another TurboKat?!” T-Bone’s stunned growl wakes me up so suddenly I nearly give myself whiplash.

And, there it is… Beside us as we land. Another night dark jet. Only it’s lacking the green goblin face that covers the nose cone of ours. Distantly, I decide I like this look better. But,… Clones who not only have our faces but a nearly identical jet?!

“What in th’…?!” I blurt.

Then, I tear myself away from the second TurboKat. As T-Bone lands the jet, I work to psyche myself. To get angry over these… imposters. To find the old anger.

<I’m going to do this…. Because the Enforcers deserve it… I’m going to get that bomb…>

But, I can’t keep the second voice from saying other words even as I recite my litany of revenge.

<To keep Dark Kat from killing us…. To keep him from killing Chance….>

The two become one as I leap out of the jet. As I follow T-Bone through a pre-carved hole in the perimeter fence – it’s a perfect size to admit both of us. As I hide behind an air conditioning unit and watch T-Bone grab a passing guard to insure we’ll have no trouble getting to the roof. As I fire a grappling hook and let my glovatrix pull me up.

My mind is spinning by the time we’re inside. As we head into the main labs, I spy a guard snoring loudly at his post.

Great security they have around here.

But, at last, it’s someone to let it out on. I shove past T-Bone and walk to the guard, pulling my fist back. And, feel the sweet release as I punch him so hard I hear cartilage in his nose pop. I know I broke his nose.

I laugh. That felt good. The release.

Behind me, T-Bone chuckles along.

Is it me… or is there something… odd about his laugh? Or maybe it’s my own.

I shrug it off and turn to head into the hallway beyond the guard station, deploying my infrared visor. As expected, a web of red beams appears before my eyes. Joy.

—————————————

There is indeed an odd tone in my laugh. One I don’t even know why it’s coming out.

Why? Why am I laughing when Razor punched that old guard? And, with his Glovatrix hand? Not bothering to think it over, I look at the web of red beams before us as I lower the infrared visor in my helmet.

Puma Dyne has a lousy physical security, but they *are* prepared.

Growling, I lunge into the fray of lasers, avoiding each as I go. It’s not until the end where I somehow stumble back, knocking Razor down.

“Watch it, you hairy oaf!” he snarls. “You almost tripped the alarm!”

From what I can tell, there’s something in his voice as he says this. He almost sounds… pleased, in a twisted sort of way. Seconds later, I ignore it.

“Stay outta my way, Scuzzball,” I retort as I get clear.

There I go again.

Insulting him.

Wasn’t I the one that nearly took off his ears over a year ago?

“Fine with me!” Razor follows until he heads into a side room.

For my part, I head into a room marked “Top Secret.” It’s dark… too dark. But, it doesn’t stop me. I suddenly spot the vault already opened. Probably a scientist on late shift. Casually, I go to stand outside the door. Maybe I can surprise the guy and weasel the information of where the detonator is kept.

Then, I see *him*.

A smaller figure.

I see… Razor?!

No, wait… It’s not Razor. Okay, so it is. But, it’s not the same one I see daily…

Is he… one of the clones Dark Kat mentioned?

“I got it, Buddy,” he calls as he sees my silhouette.

I’m wrong, and Dark Kat wasn’t kidding. This guy is the spitting image of Razor. But, it is the Razor of two years ago… the Jake Clawson behind the mask. It’s not the g-suit, which is rather similar to ours except for the red triangle on his helmet. Strangely, I would have preferred that to the green skull on mine.

No, it’s not the g-suit. It’s the way he talks… his mannerism. The way he calls me “buddy.” And, he’s a lot smaller in terms of build. Obviously, this one doesn’t work out as much.

“Now, let’s get our tails out of here before Dark Kat figures out we’re not who he thinks we are…”

He steps out with the mega-detonator… Our prize! What Dark Kat sent us for! Had I been smarter, I would have just knocked him unconscious and taken the bomb with me.

However, the memories are flooding back…

Once again, my ego and my will to fight have taken control. And, the anger is leading the way.

“He already has,” I growl.

He stops. He turns to face me, a puzzled look on his face. “What?”

At the moment, I have no idea what to say. Instead, I go ahead and punch him one square in the face to send him flying back.

He’s knocked to the floor. Then, he staggers to his feet, rubbing his jaw.

“T-Bone! What th’…?!” His voice is filled with disbelief. Clearly, he’s *never* been struck by his partner before. Then, he pauses, realizing once he sees my face… my dirty face, the leering grin. “You’re not T-Bone!” he gasps.

In the meantime, I’m advancing towards him.

“Yes, I am, but not the one you think. I don’t know what yer game is, but it’s up!” I grab him up by the shoulder and hold him there. “As of now!” I pull my fist back to deliver a second punch.

Obviously, I’m not too fast.

The minute I’m ready to hit him, the smaller kat grabs the front of my g-suit, sending me flying over his shoulder. As I turn to face him, he’s already out to tackle me. He seems faster than what I’ve seen Razor be in years.

I don’t give him time to hit me. I snarl, and with a grab of his collar, I turn to pin him to the floor.

But, I don’t hit him. I am intending to. I just simply can’t… Who is he?! I need to know…! Is he really…. Razor?!

“Who are you!?” I snarl, holding him down. “Better yet, who MADE you!?”

The kat doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

“Who MADE me?!”

“Yes, who made you!?” I demand. “Who’re you trying ta’ trick?!”

The kat looks at me like I’m mad.

“Made me?! I did NOT come from a test tube!” Then, it seems like he’s slowly beginning to realize. He stops fighting me, and looks into my eyes… searching as if to find something.

Then, I see them.

I see his amber eyes through his mask…

And, I see… Jake once again.

Abruptly, I feel my memories come back. It’s the Jake Clawson that survived boot camp with me. The Jake Clawson that shared every secret with me. The Jake Clawson that blushed every time I even *mentioned* Trina’s name. The Jake Clawson that walked into the barracks with the bashful grin of a kitten with a new gift when he finally got the nerve to ask her out on a date. My laughter when she accepted his offer…

The memories of my once innocent partner and best friend, my brother, come flooding back to me in numbers… and I can’t stand it.

“*You* can’t be *him*!!” I scream.

“I’m from another universe, Chance,” he returns quietly. He frowns, and his face grows concerned. “What happened to you?”

“I…” I shake my head, feeling the tears coming on at the corners of my eyes. Why is he so calm about all this?! Why is he acting like he knows me all of a sudden?! This isn’t Razor I’m talking to! This isn’t my partner! He’s… He’s… a ghost! An unwanted phantom! And, I find myself screaming at him once more, a fist raised.

“You’re *NOT* Jake! And, you never *WILL* be!”

I suppose he realizes he won’t have any luck at the moment. I really don’t know what he saw when he locked his eyes into mine. However, I do feel his knee against my gut in his attempt to defend himself.

With an “oof!”, I fall sideways.

Oh, now I’m mad.

I snarl and tackle him anew.

Much to my dismay, the clone dodges my move and kicks the detonator out of my range… towards the door.

—————————————

Searching endless labs has me sure I’m about to go insane. My thoughts and memories won’t shut up. Blast it, T-Bone! Why tonight?!

I’m tired. I want this whole mission over with.

I need something new to focus on. Something to make me mad.

The clones! How… How DARE someone clone me?!

Yeah. That’ll do. Just have to remember to stay mad and not creeped out.

I step out of the latest room and into the hallway again. Across the hall, T-Bone is just coming out of a door on the opposite side. I try not to look at him in case he brings back more memories. I just growl and ask, “Didja find them yet?!”

He sounds confused as he asks, “Them?” Then, he shrugs, adding, “I thought there was only one Mega-Detonator?”

I roll my eyes. How dumb can he be? “I meant the imposters, Stupid,” I snap.

I see his ears waver out of the corner of my eye. “Yeah…,” he starts slowly. “I think I just spotted one.”

Huh? I start to turn to him and demand what he means by that. But, before I can, I’m flying into the far wall, my face numb where his fist connected.

<T-Bone? Gee, so much for…> Then, my thoughts grind to a halt. <Waitaminute! The other one!>

As I hit the wall, the larger kat pounces at me. My body aching, I leap out of the way. I’m pleased to hear *him* thud into the wall behind me. Wonder how *he* likes it?

I land and turn to face the fake T-Bone. At that instant, my partner comes out of the doorway behind the clone. He’s fighting someone.

There’s no time to think more as I find myself dodging a punch from the fake. I return the favor and manage to land one in his gut. He doubles over a bit. Not as much as I’d hoped though. I dance around him and prepare for another strike. My partner and whoever he’s fighting are to my left. Out of the corner of my eye, I see something roll away from them.

The detonator!

Suddenly, a figure appears over T-Bone’s head, diving after the detonator. It lands at my feet and looks up. I look down to give him a sneer before I kick him… and look into my own face.

“What?!”

—————————————

I look up at Razor’s scream, then let my eyes fly wide. Another me?! What is this?! How can this be possible?!

“What is..?!”

The other T-Bone pays no attention, looking for my partner.

For Razor’s part, he snarls at his twin and kicks out. Then, the Puma Dyne hallway becomes a battleground. Us versus them. Razor and I against our twins… with the Mega-Detonator rolling helplessly at our feet.

Suddenly, I feel a push.

Someone has stumbled into me.

“Huh?”

And, repeated – the same word, confused.

Turning around, I find myself face to face with my twin, a surprised look on both his face and mine. But, I take no time to find out who he is… if he really is… me.

No hesitation. I swing around to nail him in the face and send him stumbling into the struggling forms of both Razor and his twin.

He abruptly feels one of them take a swipe at him and in no time grabs the offending kat. In the meantime, my partner is running back to stand beside me.

I watch as my twin grabs his partner by the collar and holds him above his head. The other Razor struggles, trying to talk to him… trying to tell him he’s got the wrong kat.

“Gah… T-Bone! It’s *me*!” he cries with a strangled tone.

My twin doesn’t listen. He’s positive it’s my partner… the nasty little faker he punched earlier.

“Yeeeeeeeeeah, sure!”

That said, he tosses him into the wall with force, letting him slide down to the floor. Then, he turns to face me and Razor, a look of shock on his face.

No hesitation. I level my Glovatrix at him. He’s going down. Beside me, Razor raises his own. Good. Two for one.

“Oops…” The other T-Bone twists around to his partner, seeing him rubbing his head. “Sorry, Buddy!”

I fire. Razor fires.

My twin doesn’t dodge the fire without first scooping up his partner to carry him to safety.

I blink at his actions… his apologizing, his taking him to safety. Holy Kats. Memories come back to me once more. Two years ago, I would have done that. Two years ago I would have taken a bullet for Jake. Two years ago I would have pushed him aside and taken the hit… Holy Kats…

I’m cut off as my twin sets down his partner and twists to return the fire. The other Razor rises to join him only seconds later.

No sooner do I realize it than I’m caught at the ankles by a bola missile, with Razor falling to the floor beside me likewise.

Oh, I’m upset now… big time. Yet, I can’t help but concentrate on the other two, their companionship, their helping each other. It was just like… Jake and I used to be two years ago when we were Enforcer lieutenants in the elite fighter squadron.

Beside me, Razor struggles to get up, looking at the two… and somehow I can sense that he’s more determined than ever to kill them. He’s thinking the same thing I am. They’re ghosts… kats that don’t exist anymore… they *can NOT* be real.

Yet… there they are. Fighting us.

The other Razor bends down to pick up the Mega-Detonator, then turns to his partner.

“Won’t Feral be surprised when we turn the Mega-Detonator in along with these guys**?”

Feral… The Enforcers! No! We can’t let them catch us! Not like this! And, we can’t let ghosts turn us in! Razor is thinking ahead of me. He’s activated his buzzsaw and cutting his way free.

I’m nanoseconds after him, my mind suddenly focused on the Enforcers, my anger returning… And, I’m determined to exterminate these… phantoms.

With a snarl, I stand, and aim my Glovatrix at them. “Launching Mini-megatons!” I scream.

Clearly, I’m not thinking.

Razor moves in, trying to stop me, realizing.

“You idiot!”*** he yells, laying a hand on my arm. “You’ll blow up the detonator!”

I don’t listen. I’m blinded. I have to kill them… now! I shove him away and finally fire, my aim dead on.

The two kats scream, turning to run for their lives… until my missiles explode behind them. They’re sent flying through the drywall at the end of the hallway, the detonator dropped in the process. From there, I hear groans… groans of pain. They’re still alive?!

But… did I… just do that? Tried to… kill them? Then, I shake it off as Razor picks up the detonator.

“Let’s make sure those two are finished,” I say, going to check.

Razor starts forward after me, then hears a voice echo down the hallway. The voice of Feral.

“There they are!”

Razor tugs on my arm to leave. “Enforcers! C’mon!”

I finally catch sight of the other two, my mind spinning. I… did that…?! Then, I shake it off upon hearing both Feral and my partner. I follow after Razor, taking the same route we took as we came in.

It’s done. We got our prize. Phase one is complete.

—————————————

“WHAT were those guys?!”

It isn’t a question coming from Razor once we’re in the Turbokat and shooting away into the night sky. It’s a demand. He’s asking me like I know the answer to everything.

I, on the other hand, am shaking, concentrating hard enough just to keep my eyes out the cockpit as I fly us away from Puma Dyne.

“I don’t know,” I snarl. “I don’t know… They weren’t us.”

My snarl is rather calm at the moment, but realization takes its toll a moment later.

“THEY WEREN’T US!” I scream.

I almost see Razor wince at my cries. However, he doesn’t seem to be pained. Instead… he almost looks pensive.

“They looked like us,” he states suddenly in a soft tone.

“I don’t care!” I snap back. “They weren’t us!!”

That was a big fat lie. I know all too well what I saw back there. And, I refuse to believe I saw them. All the memories… coming back to haunt me. It’s deja vu all over again. A deja vu I can’t escape. Why? Why won’t they leave me alone?!

I don’t know what Razor senses in my fury, but, as though reading my mind, he suddenly asks, “What did you see?”

Dare I tell him? Dare I tell him that during the fight I saw *him*!? The Jake of two years ago? My partner, my best friend, my *brother*?! How can I?

It doesn’t matter anyway. Jake Clawson lost himself years ago, never to be found again.

It doesn’t matter.

“Absolutely nothing,” I retort in a growl.

It doesn’t matter. Not any more.

“Yeah…” Razor whispers quietly. “You’re always getting ticked at nothing…”

I glare at him through the mirror, my eyes dangerously narrowed. I’m beginning to lose my patience again.

He meets my gaze fearlessly, as though his fears towards my overactive temper suddenly vanished. I can tell he’s been afraid of me at points over the last two years. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem that way. Not now.

It doesn’t matter.

With a heavy sigh finally, I head the Turbokat back to the hangar.

—————————————

Once we’re back, I spend the rest of the night half-awake, sprawled across my bed upstairs. Far from where I know Dark Kat and his creeplings are prepping the bomb. He actually told me and T-Bone to go rest. I don’t like it. Yes, he wants us fresh, Yes, I’m sure he wants this mission to succeed. But, afterward? When there’s no one to stop him? When he sets the rest of his forces loose?

Oh, he has more than just us. I’ve never doubted that. You see, we SWAT Kats are his public unit. We bomb and steal. We raise Cain. We distract the Enforcers from what Dark Kat’s *really* doing.

And, looking back, I see that that’s all we ever were. A distraction. I didn’t quite pinpoint it that night, but I was starting to. All along it’s what he planned. Once he was done with us, Dark Kat himself would expose and destroy us. We’d have never been connected to him and never believed when we blamed him – if we lived that long. Doesn’t every two-bit crook in MegaKat City say, “Dark Kat threatened me,” when asked? We would be just two disgruntled employees who thought a little bigger than a semi-auto and a single killing spree. And, we are. That’s how we *were* booked. We just didn’t play by his rules and die.

But, it’s only an echo of that that comes to me the night before T-Bone and I are to destroy Enforcer Headquarters. My thoughts can’t seem to move far from T-Bone’s surprising words earlier that night. Or those other SWAT Kats. The past has come back to haunt me.

And, it’s not haunting me with fear over what I was.

But, fear over what I’ve become.

And, it’s not all fear.

Somewhere deep inside what I feel the most is… longing. Longing for what I lost. And, will never find again.

—————————————

We set out to do Dark Kat’s dirty deed the next morning. And, I’m still lost in my thoughts. I should be excited. This is it, what we’ve waited two long years for. Revenge. The release at last. Isn’t it? Won’t the hole inside me go away after today?

As T-Bone takes off out of the hangar, he forgets to compensate for the bomb’s added weight and one stabilizer scrapes against the edge of the tunnel. Hearing the screech of metal on metal, I glare at the back of my partner’s head and snap, “Nice flyin’!” as sarcastically as I can.

I don’t really care. I just want to get him into a fight to escape the thoughts. Anything. Even his snarls would be better than the thoughts flying around in my head.

But, his only response is, “Shaddap!!”

I wonder if he’s thinking too. And, what he was thinking last night.

Last night.

I saw so many ghosts last night. But,… maybe.. one of them wasn’t a ghost.

I look up to where the top of T-Bone’s head is visible over his seat. His tattered ears are drooped.

Chance…. Are you still in there? What are you thinking? Are you as lost as I am?

My fingers seem to have a mind of their own as I call up the main systems menu on my screen. As I type in a single command line. As I re-enable the pilot’s ability to eject both of us. T-Bone’s ability to eject me.

Why?

I have no answer.

Maybe it’s a dare. Daring him to prove he meant what he said. Maybe it’s trust. Or maybe I’m just searching for what I lost. Grabbing at straws.

Whatever. It’s done now. Now, all that’s left to do is drop the bomb. I lean back and close my eyes, waiting. Then, something makes me snap back. My eyes go to the screens before me.

“Incoming!” I scream to T-Bone as I see the three fast-moving shapes race across my radar. I already know what they have to be, but I doublecheck on the dimensional radar. Enforcer jets. Blast. Why couldn’t it have been those stupid choppers?!

Lieutenant Feral’s voice cuts in over the radio, “SWAT Kats, surrender immediately!”

T-Bone growls. “In yer dreams!” he snarls back to her before directing his attention to me. “Take ’em down!”

I can only nod and begin to mechanically go through the motions as we engage the three Enforcer jets. Weapons ready, computer searching for a lock. I watch it plot potential paths, lining up a missile for each jet. I wait, my finger ready to press down on the firing cap.

Then, the lieutenant fires. And, T-Bone evades, darting around the nearest skyscraper. As we come around into open sky, he suddenly pulls up a bit. And, two more craft show up on my screens. More Enforcers?! No… The profile of the first jet is all wrong… In fact, it’s just like…

“Them again?!” T-Bone shrieks, his voice high and unreadable.

The other SWAT Kats.

“CRUD!” I scream as our trajectory brings us out in front of the pack with four Enforcer jets and the other TurboKat behind us.

“Got enough targets to hit back there, Razor?” T-Bone asks, his voice tight, but taunting.

What does he want? This isn’t my fault!

“Just keep the jet steady, Dodo!” I hiss and turn back to my targeting computer. It’s working on a lock. I watch as it locks on three of the Enforcer jets – the lieutenant’s squad, I think. My screen flashes the affirmative, and I fire… taking out two jets as the other three… including the other TurboKat, break away.

My next thought isn’t worth repeating, but it’s a scream of frustration that could color even Lieutenant Feral’s cheeks.

I start to line up another shot.

“This time shoot with your eyes open!” T-Bone snaps.

Now, I know what he wants. Something to break the tension. The odds are against us. We’re outnumbered… and failure means either being shot down or facing Dark Kat. And, going down in a fireball would be better than choice number two. And, T-Bone knows that. And, he’s afraid. He used to hide it behind that cocky grin. Now, the only way either of us knows to relate to the other is in jabs. I choke down something that tries to escape my throat and respond in kind. It’s the only thing I can do.

“Oh yeah?!” My mouth curls in a nasty smile. “Watch this.” I line up the closest jet – Lieutenant Feral’s. I know it’s her. No other Enforcer would be right on our tail like that. “This deadhead missile is just for you, Sweetheart,” I sneer, firing.

The missile does its job, squirting a highly adhesive tar compound over her jet’s canopy, and she veers off, flight path erratic.

One down.

One dead.

Shut up, Clawson.

I force the thought aside and look for my next target. There’s the other TurboKat… Alright… Just a little…

Then, it banks sharply, diving after the Feral brat’s jet….

What are they going to do?

A flash of fire just past the cockpit draws me back to my systems. One more Enforcer jet to deal with.

But, T-Bone noticed my second’s lapse.

“Don’t just sit there, ya’ jerk. Do something!” he shouts.

Go stuff your head in a toilet, Furlong – what do you think I’m doing?! I try to think of a better one to snap back aloud.

“Aww… Go choke onna hairball!” There. Lame. But, there. That said, my attention is again locked on the weapons systems. “Death Spike missile locked…,” I announce… and fire, nailing the last Enforcer. My smile is real this time. Safe. “Our tail is clear!” I shout triumphantly, seeing nothing on my radar.

Nothing until the other TurboKat sends a shot past the cockpit.

Of course it would be as invisible to radar as our own jet! Because they are….

“I thought we finished with those two!” T-Bone growls, twisting to catch a glimpse of their jet.

“No, they just ran off earlier,” I mutter, thinking of what would be most effective against them. But, I can’t shake a second thought. That shot by the cockpit wasn’t a miss. It was a warning shot.

“Then, don’t just sit there!”

Right. Fire on them. They missed a chance to blast our tails out of the sky. Deliberately. And, I’m supposed to take them down any way I can. Why? Because I’m the bad guy. And, that’s what the bad guy does.

But, the bad guy’s first priority is the bomb.

And, Enforcer Headquarters is getting nearer.

If I can just stall for a few more…

Abruptly, I feel the jet twisting in the sky, turning around.

“What’re you doin’, you jerk?!” I snarl.

I admit it. I don’t want to fight the others. It’s the Enforcers that are the enemy.

What about the bank you robbed?

I didn’t hurt anyone. The government’ll replace the money.

What about the innocents in Enforcer Headquarters?

I can’t have this argument now.

Have to finish the mission.

“Let’s just drop the bomb!”

“Nah…Headquarters can wait,” T-Bone mutters, almost to himself. “I’m gonna kick these ticks off my tail.”

My, that was eloquent. I search for a glimpse of his face reflected in the mirror. Something in his tone…. Why does he want the others so badly? Is the very thing that makes me want to let them live the reason he wants to destroy them? Yes, he’s thinking like me the other night.

The demon’s hated growl suddenly cuts into my thoughts, using his comlink/monitor. I wince as his face appears before me.

“You fools! Don’t chase them! Just drop the bomb!” His red eyes narrow dangerously. “I’ve spent years waiting for this moment!”

I feel myself shudder again, looking at Dark Kat’s face before me. He’s livid. I’ve never seen him so angry.

Which is why T-Bone’s response scares me so badly.

“Then, I guess a few minutes won’t kill ya’!!” he snaps.

Trembling, I watch Dark Kat scowl darkly. He’s confused, I realize suddenly. Hasn’t he made the Enforcers our worst enemies? Why aren’t we rushing to destroy them?

Suddenly, I know why T-Bone said what he did. And, I want to resist Dark Kat too. Just once. Give him a flat no.

“Yeah, chill out,” I purr, my voice smooth. Confident while my insides crumble. But, I hold the ruse. I give him a smirk and let him know that I’m enjoying the defiance. Because part of me is. “This won’t take long,” I tell him before adding my finishing touch and reaching forward very deliberately to cut the transmission.

T-Bone takes no moment to savor the small triumph. He heads us toward the other jet with a single-minded purpose. I catch just a flash of his narrowed eyes. And, understand. He’s out to destroy the ghosts that have come back to haunt him.

Ghosts? Are they ghosts?

They’re only clones, T-Bone. Only… Only clones…

I snap back to my weapons systems, eyes narrowing. Only clones. I lock on target. Only clones.

“So long, you goodie two-kats!” I cry.

Only clones

Maybe they hear it over the radio. Maybe they don’t. The channel’s open. But, neither of us have tried to communicate. Actions spoke louder than words. And, now they do again.

I hear no response. None beyond the other jet plummeting, one wing clipped.

And, the image of sitting in another jet spiralling from the sky with a clipped wing hits me full force as my partner and I watch the second TurboKat vanish into the clouds.

A moment of silence. That I have to break. Whooping triumphantly as something inside me dies a second death. “Bingo!”

T-Bone laughs along. “Now, we’re ready to fry the Enforcers!” he cackles… almost maniacally and turns us back toward Enforcer Headquarters.

And, we are both in perfect agreement for the second time this day.

We’ve both agreed to play our part no matter what we feel inside.

We are the bad guys.

But, this bad guy can’t help but think it. The pilot of the other jet… Had we landed and spoken… would I have found Chance again?

As T-Bone gets us in position and deploys the VTOL engines to stabilize the jet, I remember the job at hand. But, it takes all my hatred, all my anger to drown out the nagging voices. The what ifs that will not be silent.

Ahead of me, T-Bone takes in a deep breath. This is it.

“We’re here,” he breathes before snapping, “So, drop the bomb a’ready!”

I nod and reach for the controls.

Then, I see it on my screen. And, my heart leaps. The others! They’re alive!

But, all I can say aloud is…

“Crud! They’re back!”

“Again?!” T-Bone snarls.

“But, not for long!” I assure him and fire a missile before I can think about what I’m doing. Before I can regret.

Then, it’s back to the bomb. Again, racing to beat my second thoughts.

<Have to do this… Have to do this…> I recite to myself as I ready the bomb. <Have to do this…. Now, before they…>

I can’t help it. I glance at the other jet…. And, I see the missile hit… Then, a flash… And, I squeeze my eyes shut.

<Blast it… I killed them….. They were….>

My eyes fly open at a warning sound from my systems. And, fly wider at what I see.

“The bomb’s stuck! And, it’s armed!”

—————————————

For a second I can’t believe my eyes. They went…. down? Razor shot them down? Then, reality takes over my thoughts once again at my partner’s squall over the armed bomb.

“You… *STUPID*…!!”

I don’t have time to finish my sentence as I abruptly press the eject button… for both our seats. Yes, Razor had disabled my ability to eject him from the jet whenever I felt the reason to. I knew. And, I remember it at the last second. But, much to my surprise, the command has been enabled. Both of us are ejecting. When had it been re-enabled? It doesn’t matter now… He’s out of the jet… He’s safe…

I hold my breath as I’m shot out of the Turbokat and watch it go down, engulfed in a bright flash of light as the Mega-Detonator goes off. That… was close… That was… way too close…..

—————————————

As I’m catapulted out of the jet, I can think of only one thing.

<Just this morning… Hardly an hour ago… Anytime sooner and T-Bone wouldn’t have been able to eject me…. All because of the two kats I just murdered…>

Then, I see the flash below me. Just before I feel a sharp crack at the back of my head. And, my world spins away into darkness.

—————————————

I find myself out of my harness, lying against something soft.

“Razor?”

My world fuzzy, I look up at the sound of my partner’s voice. I can just see his face above me, his green eyes burning through his mask. Bright. Concerned.

“Ch… Chance?” I stammer. Because this is not T-Bone.

I think I see him blink at his real name. Then, he speaks, his voice soft.

“I’m here… Jake. We’re safe…”

Jake? No, Jake Clawson is dead.

“Jake?” I whisper. “No…. I killed him, didn’t I?”

Chance shakes his head. “No…”

“I did…,” I insist weakly. His face is fading away. “I fired a missile and… I killed him.”

Yes, I killed him. I know I did.

“You didn’t kill him… Jake, you didn’t kill him…,” Chance insists over and over as I distantly feel his hands loosening the strap under my chin.

But, I know I did. And, I start crying.

“And, I killed you too, didn’t I?!” I sob.

I know I did. I killed us both. The part worth saving.

—————————————

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Why is he confusing himself?! Why won’t he listen?!

I shake him gently, trying to get him to wake up, to come back into reality. Suddenly, my mind goes back to last night… when I fought his twin… When I saw the amber eyes of my partner for the first time after two years… I’m searching for those eyes desperately, trying to find the light within them. But, they’re dark. No light whatsoever…

“Jake, snap outta it…” My voice is cracking, my eyes filling with tears. “I’m still here.”

“By some miracle, indeed you both are…”

A voice suddenly reaches my ears… that of a very angry Dark Kat. I spin around, unconsciously planting myself in front of Jake, unconsciously keeping the promise that if anything were to happen to my partner, I’d go down first before he did. Teeth gritted, I snarl at the demon.

“You had this set up, didn’t you?!”

“Not quite what I planned…” He pauses to look at Enforcer Headquarters, some of his anger dying. “My added explosives to your jet weren’t to go off until AFTER you’d decimated Enforcer Headquarters.”

My eyes fly wide, my thoughts returning to what Razor had said the night before about our days being numbered. About how Dark Kat would try to kill us if we didn’t act fast… Crud… why hadn’t I taken it seriously?! However, I have no thoughts for that any more. Instead, my anger is directed towards Dark Kat… towards that demon. With a snarl, I pounce to tackle him, a fist aimed to punch.

“You….!”

I don’t get far. Dark Kat catches me by the collar with a hand and pulls me close to his face. Suddenly, his voice is soft… deadly soft.

“Never attack me, T-Bone.”

He flings me to the rooftop, then just laughs at me. The demon is laughing at me! At what I’ve become! At what I’ve destroyed with my anger and hatred! He knows! And, he’s not wasting any time in mocking me!

“Oh, it’s been fun, my friends. Look at you… Take a good long look…. The best the Enforcers had to offer…..”

I pick myself up. No longer am I upset at the world around me. Instead, my hatred is directed towards him… and to myself for even listening to him.

“You led us to the dark side… I should’ve known… I shouldn’t’ve let you take me into your grasp… You miserable…”

Dark Kat cuts me off.

“Ut, ut. Let’s not be calling names. I didn’t do anything. I told you exactly what you wanted to hear, and you listened. I asked you to steal weapons for me. You agreed. And then, you chose to add in petty thievery of your own accord. I never raised a hand against your partner. You’re the one who clawed his ears ragged in your anger.”

I’m boiling… boiling in my own anger.

I know he’s right.

I won’t deny the fact that I nearly ripped off my partner’s ears in that fight… that one fight that proved just how low we’d gone. The one fight that proved I wasn’t up to taking anything from anybody… not even Jake.

The demon doesn’t stop there, however.

“And, *I* told you to go after your real target – the ones who started this – the Enforcers. YOU chose to destroy the other SWAT Kats. What? Couldn’t bear the comparison? Couldn’t bear seeing what you were?”

Why?! Why is he so right all of a sudden?! Why couldn’t I see just how wrong he was when he offered us that bargain two years ago?! Why am I agreeing to his words now?!

I go to stand in front of Razor… in front of my partner, my best friend. I’m determined to keep my promise. If Dark Kat wants to kill Razor, he’ll have to kill me first. And, I won’t go without a fight. Without hesitation, I level my Glovatrix at Dark Kat.

Dark Kat is unfazed. Once again, he laughs. His evil cackle has waltzed towards my ears one time too many… I don’t need to hear it now.

He pauses in his laughter to just manage one more comment… one more to irritate me before he leaves.

“Override B-1,” he barks before continuing in a softer tone. “Your weapons won’t work on me. I helped create them. I created the SWAT Kats. I OWN the SWAT Kats. You chose your path. And, you gave yourselves to me…” The demon smirks. “But… Feel relieved… I’m done with you…. You’re the Enforcers’ problem now.”

It’s the last straw. I don’t want to see this demon ever again… “Leave, you miserable creep,” I snarl, Enforcer sirens reaching my ears, my eyes planted upon Dark Kat, my Glovatrix ready to fire, my thoughts focused on protecting Jake. “Leave.”

“As you wish.” Dark Kat grins. He listens to my command, turning to leave the rooftop before I fire.

Suddenly, I remember. Override B-1. The command to disable my Glovatrix… The command that was installed should it have to be fired at a time like this… Crud. Dark Kat knew… He’d done his homework and gained bonus points.

I watch him go… watch him with all the anger within me following his path. Then, I fall to my knees shakily, slowly taking in a deep breath. I’m exhausted. I know I’m about to be arrested. It doesn’t matter now… No. The fire inside me is slowly beginning to expire.

Suddenly, my ears twitch to hear a moan from Razor. I’m sure he’s heard it all, but goodness knows what he understood.

Jake, why didn’t I listen to you? You were right all this time…

I turn to look at him, abruptly letting my lips form a ghost of a smile.

“Guess… we made it through… together in the end…”

I finish my words and lay a hand on his shoulder before the Enforcers reach the roof and come to take us both away.

I don’t resist this time. This time, it’s no laughing matter. All I can hope for is that they have a paramedic with them. As long as Jake’s looked at, I’m fine. I just need to see if he’s okay.

As the handcuffs are locked onto my wrists, I turn to have my eyes settle upon Razor once more as I’m lead off the roof.

My partner opens his eyes once to look at me. For an instant, they’re clear… lucid, but also clear of all the hate… all the anger.

For an instant it’s those same eyes that looked back at me in Puma-Dyne. Those same eyes from years before… Those same eyes of my best friend, of my brother… Of a young Enforcer lieutenant with big ideas and even bigger dreams and an uncrushable spirit.

Then, he closes them and drifts into unconsciousness.

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“And, now there remain three — faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these, however, is love.” — 1 Corinthians 13:13, The Bible

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*–“Megs” is used short for the M.B.I.

** –The good Razor originally said, “…along with this kat scum,” not “…these guys,” but calling his and his partner’s exact doubles scum? It didn’t sound like Razor.

***–Razor said “stupid fool” in the actual episode, but that’s both redundant and… odd phrasing for Razor.. Dark Kat maybe.. not Razor… any Razor…

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1 comment on “They That Walk in Darkness”

  1. Guest says:

    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.

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