Original SWAT Kats Story

Cataclysm: The Sundering

By Scryer

  • 1 Chapter
  • 5,272 Words

It is ten years after the last episode in Season 2. When a cataclysmic terrorist attack rings in the new century, who will live and who will be lost? Will the Swat Kats and the people of Megakat City be able to overcome and survive? (“Complete” Installment – First of an Ongoing Storyline)

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Author's Notes:

Title: Cataclysm: Chapter 1, The Sundering
Author: Scryer
E-mail address: dusk.wing@yahoo.com
Date: 11/30/06
Rating: M
Warnings: Action – Violence, Language
Disclaimer: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
Summary: It is ten years after the last episode in Season 2. When a cataclysmic terrorist attack rings in the new century, who will live and who will be lost? Will the Swat Kats and the people of Megakat City be able to overcome and survive?

Author’s Notes:

November, 2006

Greetings reader. My name is Scryer. The work you are about to encounter has been, since September, over five years in the making.

It has been ten years since T-Bone and Razor beat the bad guys in “Katastrophe”. A little older and still young at heart, our heroes are about to find out that drama and action are about to crash into their lives.

Some say that a person’s true test of character comes in the face of great adversity. In the days, months, and years to come, how will our heroes prove themselves? Are they paragons of virtue? Or, are they ultimately, well… “human”?

As this is a personal work of fan fiction, there has been an insertion of a few new characters. One is Maxwell Clawson, Jake Clawson’s younger brother and an Enforcer peon. What started as a “Mary Sue” character developed into another friend (and at times, foe) for our heroes. Just a fair warning before you start reading so that his inclusion does not surprise you.

The following is the first part of many. As the opener focuses more on character development, if you crave gratuitous violence and action, feel free to skip the Prelude for now and jump into Part 1.

Thank you for showing interest in this work. Shall we continue on? I am eager to reintroduce you to Megakat City.

—Scryer

Prelude

The hallway is dark. The living room… littered with the garbage from the previous night’s all- night- Litterbin/Scaredy- Kat Fest. Doritos and Frito Lay bags leak grease onto the sparse carpeting, Snickers and Milky Way wrappers are jammed into the sofa cushions next to the remote, and milk stains coagulate on the table. The faint light coming from the doorway issues from the nightlight in the kitchen. There, over a mug of hot chocolate, Jake Clawson reclines, interchanging between reading the morning’s headlines and gingerly sipping the hot liquid; relishing the placid gloom of the predawn hour.

A warm, ethereal hand reaches with laconic fingers toward the orange-furred muzzle, the scent of molten chocolate caressing his cleanly trimmed fur and tickling his nose before sighing against the cold transparent reading glasses. He puts the mug down, the bottom aligning perfectly atop a circular coffee stain. Fingers grasp the lens and the nightlight reflects onto a pair of casual brown eyes hemmed by the slightest indication of patient wrinkles. Brush those spectacles against the frayed blue sweater. Return them to their place. Initiate descent. Another splendid, quiet morning.
The hallway leading from the kitchen is dark. The bathroom to the left has an open window and as the wind passes through, brushing the moldy curtains aside, the whistling becomes a haunting harmony in the doldrums of the early morning. The chill air rides out the door, down the corridors, past the first bedroom, carries Chance Furlong’s snoring and then works its way through the barely opened door into another dark room. There is no snoring here. The occupant is too exhausted. In a state of freedom where not even dreams can disturb him, he basks in the silence, peace, and tranquility of an early Monday morning….

“ KZZHT! -gonna be in the mid to upper fifties today with plenty of sunshine and absolutely none of that awful humidity! So, if you’ve got work or school, CUT! PLAY HOOKEY! GET YOUR TAILS OUTSIDE AND ENJOY THE FRESH AIR!

The paw reaches up to swipe the alarm clock, misses, and hits the volume control instead.

“And on local news, today is the tenth anniversary of the day super villains holed up in an abandoned tuna factory took their own lives, after holding our mayor hostage. Of course, our Enforcers managed to save Mayor Manx and to commemorate this, he will be signing into law, a domestic anti-terrorism bill in the hopes of trimming down the activities of violent super villains and self serving vigilantes alike. The bill will make it so that—”

With a groan, Max Clawson hits the snooze button and plops back down into relaxation. Moments of bliss pass and then, with a sigh, the groggy kat rolls off the bed, dragging the bedsheets to the ground with him.

“Ahhhhhh.” So nice, so warm, Max hugs the blankets, wraps the comforter closer to his naked chest. The sun hasn’t lifted over the horizon; the darkness inviting Max back to sleep. Outside, the wind picks up the brittle leaves, whispers as it tosses them against the windows and siding… a morning lullaby, beckoning him to sleep, to slumber, to put his weary bones to rest.

“Ahhhhhh.” What will I have for breakfast today? A giant mug of warm cider, another of hot milk, and some apple pie for a frigid fall morning. Yes, a giant slice. Warm – right from the microwave, the apple filling oozing onto the plate as the fork pierces the crust and into the warm, steamy fruit inside. And then, a small sip of cider: tart, but just sweet enough to jolt one awake, but not into full consciousness. Another slice of pie- the gooey filling caking the inside of the mouth – one can run their tongue across the palate all day, but with no avail. Only one solution: a dousing of hot milk! It mixes with the pie in your mouth; the cinnamon, the apple, the cream all coalescing into one mouthful of sheer splendor so addictive that the only desire is: pie, more pie! More milk!

And what’s that? Coffee? For me? Oh yeah, French Vanilla Columbia Crème. Pass the mug. How splendid, just right. Gallons and gallons of coffee just for me! Oh, it warms to the core! And what to have with the coffee? Cookies? Chocolate chip? White Macadamia Chocolate chip? With the French Vanilla Columbia Crème? That would be heaven! Thank you. Mmmmmmmmmm! So good! More? More cookies for me? Yeah, park the truck right here. Gotta remember, can only have one or two. If I overdo it, I’ll get sick and be in no shape for work. Work? What day is it? Monday? Oh. Just Monday. Now, back to breakfast. Pass the coffee please. And some cookies too, why I could just go on like this all day unti l-

“I’m late!”

With a shriek, Max jolts awake, leaping to his feet. Tangled in blankets and comforter, he promptly crashes back down, smacks his head against the nightstand and upsets the clock, which moments later, lands on his face. Howling, Max opens his eyes and the digital array beams 6:32 into his pupils, blinding him.

“Gee, where did the weekend go?” he growls to himself.

He can remember hanging out at a local nightclub with friends from the squad on Friday night and then, the next morning, helping his brother Jake and his friend, Chance Furlong fine tune their ‘obstacle course’: a relic from their days at the Enforcer Academy. He acquiesced, accepting their ‘obstacle challenge,’ a stretch of land where the contestants ran, traversed monkey bars, and hurtled across large puddles until all libido had been extinguished.

Max would have won. I’m faster, smarter. Or so he says.

Panting for breath, Max thrust his feet into the ground, the toes of his sneakers ripping out clouds of dust as he vaulted forward, his eyes narrowed, the bangs of his hair, burdened with sweat, brushing against his face. There it was, strung between two poles —the length of red tape coming ever so closer—20 paces. 15, 12! The next moment Max found himself skidding against the ground, pebbles and debris scraping against his chin as his ribs throbbed from the 200+ pounds of Tomkat that had barreled into his back. Clawing at the ground in frustration, Max whined and howled, conscious of Chance’s crotch smothering his face into the ground. With a roar, Max accomplished the heaviest push-up of his life, throwing his assailant backwards in time to see Jake, wearing a mischievous sideburn-to-sideburn grin, break through to the finish line.

Bingo! That word reverberated in his mind over and over as Max swore vengeance.

Revenge: a syrup of ipecac/ Pepsi concoction and a refusal to clean the resulting vomit off the floor. Instead of retiring early, the three spent the night interchanging between Litterbin and Scaredy-Kat. It was agreed upon only in the wee hours of the morning that perhaps it would be best if some sleep was achieved and the three then trudged to bed.

Four hours later, here he is: cold and cranky — and running late. Fortunately, sleeping in the raw and preferring the ‘bed hair’ style allows one to get dressed without changing.

“Makes me look ‘rugged’,” he says.

And so it does. Tossing the blankets aside, Max scratches his crotch, sits into his trousers, forgets to put on his boxers, takes off the trousers, puts on the boxers, and then a tee shirt and jacket. He pulls himself up against the dresser, steadies himself, and then takes a step forward.

He comes crashing down. Hands claw the floor, grasp the metallic objects: braces to hold his shattered ankles together, providing him the support for any amount of activity. First twist the knobs that tighten the washers against the bolts implanted in the leg bones and then tighten the belts around the shin and feet. Nice and snug. Once again, he reaches up, grasps the dresser and pulls himself up.

Minutes later, Jake glances up from his newspaper to catch a sip of hot cocoa and sees Max trudge into the kitchen.

“Hey Max, good morning.”

“Mmm,” is the reply.

` Jake gently probes the steaming cup with his lips. Slowly, he tips the dark liquid toward his quivering mouth, the steam leaping and dancing, a dervish of sweet chocolate love swirling about his face. The chocolate sways ever closer as the shy lips recoil. “Go on!” the steam screams, dancing about in wild fury.

Closer, closer, “It’s too Hot!” “Do it!”

Jake’s hand trembles, his eyes blinded by a mist both chaste and ephemeral, veiling his eyes, keeping him oblivious to the wild dalliance occurring below. The liquid is but atoms away from him, the sugary seduction pumping up into his head as the steam roils faster and faster, the chocolate nearer and nearer! “Yes!” they scream. “Yes!” Jake gasps in his mind. At last! The lovers meet in a steamy embrace.

His face grimaces. He pulls away. The steam cries out in shock and rage and slowly drifts cooling to the table. The chocolate rocks in sorrow, sloshing against the rim of the cup as Jake sets the drink back onto the table. “Must we wait till love cools?” the chocolate asks. The tongue gently caresses the singed lips as the chocolate watches in despair. Betrayal most foul. The unrequited gently sinks back into the cup to waste away.

“You ok?” Jake asks, “I heard a loud crash from your room.”

Max waves his arms; simulates falling wildly and then points to his legs.

“Ah. You hungry?”

“Mm-mmm”

“Well, we’ve got some donuts in the pantry. Might be a bit old. And some cold milk in the ‘fridge. Wait a second, I think it went bad.”

Max gags, turns on the faucet, and dumps the foul cheese- like liquid down the drain. The container lands unceremoniously in the trash.

“Grab a can. Chance won’t mind.”

Jake clears the table of old letters, bills, newspapers and magazines, brushing them onto the floor. Opening the pantry, Max seizes a box of Entenmanns, pulls out a chocolate fudge donut and stuffs it in. Dry and flaky, Max fumbles the cabinets, pulls out a can of milk, pries the lid open, gags the donut onto a nearby sheet of toilet paper, and douses his mouth with a trickle of cold, sterile, skim milk. The donut remnants inside his palate mix with skim milk to form cement, crusting the inside of his mouth.

“Blegh.”

Discreetly, the half-eaten donut goes back into the hamper.

“Sorry Max, been a bit under the funding lately.”

Clearing his throat, Max is finally able to dislodge the masonry inside his mouth.

“Don’t worry Jake. I love a good donut in the morning.”

“If all our incomes didn’t go to Enforcer Headquarters, we’d be living in a different storybook right now.”

“Que Sera, sera.”

“Yeah, guess so. So, Max, looking forward to today?”

“You bet! Is Chance up yet? If that fat oaf gives me punches I’m going to cave his face in.”

“Why would he do that? Besides, you start domestic security today.”

“Oh… that. Yeah… a week of vacation time goes by real fast. After I check in, it’s patrol duty. We undesirables get to tour the dredges of hell, get shot at, verbally abused and hit on by bisexual hermaphrodites while the non-low-breeds lounge in their air-conditioned offices and chit chat on AIM.”

“Cute.”

“How did you guys ever make it through?”

“Huh? Oh.”

Jake sighed, setting the paper down, staring at his own muted reflection in the brightening windows and then —

 

He stood in his gray flight uniform, the beaming optimism clear on his young face even through the tinted visor of the Enforcer helmet. He adjusted the turtleneck, pulled on the jacket sleeves so that the Enforcer emblems lost their creases. The early morning sun was rising above the Megakat City skyline as the faint honking and morning commuter bustling drifted up from street level. Standing on the runway of Enforcer Headquarters, gunner Jacob Clawson, “Sure Shot”, the weapons expert half-jokingly referred to as the “Flying Angel of Death”, smiled, closed his eyes, and inhaled the crisp late autumn air mixing with the barely noticeable tinge of civilization’s refuse. Golden sunlight bathed his face with warmth as the November breeze snuck up his sleeves, caressing his arms and chest. It was startling, yet invigorating – leaving goose bumps in her wake.

Their plane, an Enforcer piece of junk affectionately named “Turbokat” was called so because of its pilot. Jake sighed, opened his eyes and shifted his view from the jet to the burly Tomkat dressed in a similar uniform jogging down the runway at a frightening speed.

“Hey buddy,” pilot Chance Furlong waved. He smiled a toothy set of canines as he ran his paw through a gelled patch of spiky crew-cut yellow hair.

“Morning, Chance,” Jake grinned. “Heard the orders?”

“Shhh.” Chance pointed his index finger. Stepping next to his partner, he whispered, “Heard on the transponder, some nut just broke into Pumadyne and-”

“You two! Keep shut!” roared a belligerent and imposing voice. The two airmen immediately stiffened and saluted as Commander Ulysses Feral, towering a head-full over Chance, took his position in front of the assembled pilots.

“Dark Kat’s back in town. Public enemy number one, domestic terrorist, psycho. We will be intercepting him midway from Pumadyne. You are to follow my aircraft and fire only when given permission.”

“Pompous old fart,” Chance grumbled.

The slightest wrinkling on the corner of his mouth betrayed the growing urge to laugh. Jake bit his lip, retained composure.

“Let’s go!” roared the Commander and the assembled airmen dashed to their planes.

“I hope you’re ready, sureshot. I’ve got a keg bet on us taking this creep out.”

“Haha Chance, no pressure huh? Well, with an acewing at the throttle, I think we’re in for some good business.”

“’Ataboy!” Smiling, the two friends clasped hands. Jake leaped into his seat among the roar of starting jet engines. Chance stood below, patting the side of the jet.

“Turbokat, baby, let’s really smoke today.”

“Are you two hotshots going to get going?” roared the Commander over radio, “You’re taking up the entire runway!”

“Yeah, yeah, Commander,” growled Chance. Moments later, the engines roared and the two lifted off the runway, the city skyline below them as the Earth fell away, the two men soaring into the sky like gods, their hopes and dreams roaring in tune with the engines as the Turbokat leapt toward the Sapphire heavens.

“You know buddy, I love this life,” Jake shouted, fighting the effects of the G-forces wracking his body.

“You got that right, sureshot. Tonight, that keg’s for you and me. Dark Kat, you’re going down!”

 

The humble blue of the mechanic’s overalls reflected to him in the misty window. Gone was the helmet, replaced by a grease- splotched red baseball cap turned backwards. The Turbokat? Well the original one they ended up crashing, along with their careers, into the Enforcer runway they had so eagerly took off from. His face now knew a few more wrinkles, his body a few more scars. Jake sighed, a bittersweet exhale.

His eyes widening, Max raised his paws defensively.

“Aw bro, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring that up.”

“Heh. Well, it’s your turn to be the Enforcer in the family.”

“You guys here are all the family I’ve got. Only Low-breed-friendly, decent people in my life.”

“Max, no–” Jake smiled. “Looks like we’re both gonna just spend the morning apologizing to each other.”

Max grinned sheepishly, the freckles rimming his smile moving in tune to the shifting muscles of his face.

“Maybe, or maybe something along the lines of an edible breakfast will land in my lap.”

Down the hall, the peeling, white-faded-to-beige painted plywood door slams, the knob penetrating the hole in the wall left by the innumerable premature wakings of a night owl – a large, burly, orange-furred night owl rubbing his haggard face with giant paws – each the size of a small saucer. Chance Furlong is not a morning person, and the dim lighting accentuates this fact. Puffy-eyed, drawn, Chance stumbles into the kitchen wearing a stained and fraying wife-beater, shivering from the morning cool.

“Morning, good morning,” Jake chirps.

“Rghh-mmmm’ng”

“My, you’re cheerful.” Max flashes a fang-filled grin.

“Fgggg- urff”

“An inspiration to my day.”

“Magz, shud ubb.”

Walking over to the table, Chance gives Jake a quick pat on the shoulder. Reaching into the cupboard, Max hands Chance a can of milk. Change mutters, takes the can, then gives Max’s hair a good tousling.

“Hey, you’ll mess it up,” the smaller kat protests.

His eyes half open, the bulky tomkat spits into his palm and swipes Max with a gook-covered paw. Gasping, Max is quick to get out of the way. He will let nothing defile his shock of gray-orange hair left in a state of purposeful disregard. Chance walks over to the fridge and as the door is opened, he is bathed in harsh white light. Blindly he gropes, knocking Tupperware to the floor. Grumbling, he finally gets a paw around his breakfast. Chance stoops down and with his free left hand he gathers the Tupperware. The plastic containers land with a crash in the back of the empty fridge.

“A salmon hero? No one told me we had food in this dump.”

Jake looks up. “If you want real food, Max, get yourself some oatmeal. It’s better than that crap you were eating before.”

“Thanks – but – no thanks, daddy. Max Clawson does not eat scrambled vomit for breakfast.”

“Nah,” mutters Chance, “I see it more of as boiled paper mache.”

“Or maybe, curdled Elmer’s glue,” chimed Max.

Jake looks down at the lukewarm bowl to his right.

Chance: “No way. It’s definitely–”

“Stop. Please!… Sheesh! The way you two act in the kitchen, people would think I’m on some miracle diet.”

“Now that was a lousy one-liner,” grins Max.

Jake sighs and stirs his oats.

Max stares at the bowl and several moments later :“Bro, whatever you do, don’t add the cinnamon.”

“Max!”

Max pulls a chair from under the table. The wooden legs grate against the concrete floor. Jake and Chance shiver at the noise. After turning the chair around, Max plops down, resting his head and armpits against the back. He pokes his nose right into Chance’s salmon hero and breathes deep.

“Mmm! Still fresh! Nobody told me we could afford people food!”

“Two for Tuesday at Subway,” replies Jake as he pulls out a half-eaten donut from the Entenmanns box. He wrinkles his nose and the pastry smacks into a garbage can that has not been changed in days. The extra weight drags the donut to the floor amidst a landslide of oil-drenched paper dishes and moldy styrofoam cups.

“You wouldn’t mind sparing some food to charity. Especially… since today’s a really special day.” Max reaches for Chance’s food and pulls back just as a massive yellow paw smashes the table where his fingers had just been. Max laughs, smacks Chance on the back causing him to promptly start choking.

“Good morning sunshine!” Max sings.

“Somebody kill him please!”

Chance promptly closes his fingers around Max’s ear. With a rough yank, a wide-eyed Max flies yelping into Chance who promptly drops the sandwich and wraps his arms around his victim, keeping him in a concrete hold. His attempts are valiant… but kicking and thrashing, Max knows he cannot escape.

“Ok, Chance, I get the picture. You can let me go–” Chance tightens his grip. “Pleeeaase–?” the word is cut off as Max’s air supply runs out. His tongue lolls out of his mouth as his thrashing slackens.

“You know, buddy,” Jake smiles, “I should’ve thought of this a long time ago.” Dragging his victim, Chance walks over to Jake and slowly releases his grip. The air rushes into Max’s lungs and all he can do is gasp for air. His hammy paws grasping Max’s arms, Chance shoves the smaller kat onto the table. The bowl rattles and Jake’s hand shoots out to barely catch an unbalanced glass of milk. A small drop hits the table, soaking into the Monday morning funnies.

“Why eat a cold meal when you can have nutritious, wholesome oats?”

“Bro! Don’t even try it!” Max wheezes.

Chance looks at Jake. Jake stares back, then down at his brother. Then he grins, leans forward and digs out a spoonful of the tapioca-like substance.

“Come on, little trooper. Say ‘ah’!”

“Ack! Stop! No! No!” Max averts his head as Jake probes his brother’s face with a spoon laden with scrumptious goop. “Quit it! You’ll get some on my clothes!”

Chance shifts the weight onto his left leg and uses his left elbow to maintain a firm hold on Max’s left arm. The tomkat’s free hand clamps down against his victim’s jaw, forcing them open.

“Open up!”

Max’s thrashing is futile and his eyes are bulging in terror as the spoon edges closer and closer to his face. It’s like some freakish alien abduction movie where the probes hover near the victim’s face and you see a close up of the actor and he’s trembling and his eyes are quivering, bulging, pulsating with moistness, and finally, the spoon makes contact! A load of cold oatmeal is deposited in Max’s mouth.

Jake straightens and grins.

“That’s a good boy.” He proceeds to shovel the rest of the bowl in as the tormentors laugh. Chance works his lower two fingers under Max’s jaw while the thumb and index fingers maintain a solid grip on the victim’s left and right sides of the jaw. The Tomkat works the hinge up and down, forcing Max to chew. Max swallows and Chance lets go.

“Thanks Bro,” Jake grins, “this is probably the most exciting thing that’ll probably happen today.”

“Anytime. Blegh! No wonder our family’s so thin. The goop we eat…” He wipes his mouth with his right paw. “I don’t deserve this. Especially since it’s… you know…”

Tomkat and Tabby have returned to their seats. Chance is once again involved with his early morning meal.

“Aw come on! Don’t you guys know what day it is?”

Jake haphazardly recites from behind the funnies, “Monday… November something.”

“It’s the twelfth! Don’t you know what day that is?”

“Yeah,” Chance mutters. “A workday. Shouldn’t you be somewhere else?”

Max pulls back the sleeve, glances down at the imitation Swatch with frayed leather band and scratched glass. The minute and hour hands are perpendicular to each other.

“Damn! I’m late.”

The newspaper lowers and lording over Garfield and Doonesbury, Jake’s face is stony. “Try saying something less bad, like ‘Oh crud’.”

“Sure bro. ‘Darn’ it, gonna have to run like he…ck.” The pitter-patter of footsteps is a staccato of unnatural speed trailing from the kitchen down the hall and into Max’s bedroom. The door slams; it does not close. “Next bus doesn’t come around till ten-thirty!” There is more crashing. Footsteps approach the hall and then the bedroom door slams into the wall. This is quickly followed by howling.

“… toe!” Muttering, Max violates his promise all the way down the hall as something large and bulky bangs against the plasterboard walls.

“Max,” Chance growls, “If you put any more holes in the wall, I’m gonna kill you!”

Sighing, Jake stands up and turns on the kitchen light — a pointless action as the early winter morning sunshine now streams in between the venetian blinds. Chance is about to shove the last of the hero into his mouth when Max comes barging in, his duffel bag banging into the door, the chair, and the table (not to mention Jake as he stands up).

“You won’t be making the bus today.”

Max makes eye contact. “Oh?” He sighs. Releases the duffel bag strap and the bundle clatters to the floor. “Yeah… guess I’m too late.” His eyes perk up. “Hey… maybe you could spare me a seat in the–”

“No.”

“Oh come on! A: you forgot what day it was–”

Chance stares forlorningly at the empty wrapper as if he could somehow conjure a replacement. He arches back against the chair, stretching out his arms and abdomen while releasing a loud, obnoxious belch, interrupting the conversation. Relaxed, he smacks his lips and interjects.

“It’s the start of a new week. Forty-eight more to go. Stop crying.”

Max, breathing in an overpowering stench of salmon and milk, is slowly turning a subtle shade of crimson.

“It’s bad enough I’m going to be late. It’s worse still that I’m your brother,” (Jake buries his face in Dilbert), “and your friend,” (Chance starts picking the lettuce out of his teeth. He gets a good helping of green and white on his claw which he licks and swallows), “and you won’t throw me a lifesaver. It’s even worse that I won’t be getting a decent breakfast. But what’s the worst is that this is all happening on a special day that you two, of all people, don’t seem to remember!”

“Chance, is there something important going on today?”

“Beats me. Think Callie’s bringing her car in today.”

“She is? Yeah! Why didn’t I realize? Thanks a lot, buddy. Ahhh, now that’s something to brighten up a Monday.”

If this were a cartoon, steam would be coming out of Max’s ears. Instead, a red faced kat hunches his shoulders and smacks his forehead. “RRRgh. Fine!… I’ll catch you later. If I walk, maybe I’ll make it to the way-station some time tomorrow.”

Max gets to his feet and saunters off to the door, dragging the duffel bag behind him. He passes Chance who places a paw on Max’s shoulder and with a “sit down”, pulls him down onto a chair.
Minutes later, the trio is standing in front of the rusted garage doors. Effortlessly, Chance heaves the door, the metal flying up to smash against the reels above.

“Chance, you know we have a remote opener,” Jake frowns, holding out the controller.

Grinning, Chance flexes his arms. “And I also have these.”

Sighing, Jake pushes Max into the garage. Before them is a brand new vehicle.

“Happy Birthday Max.”

“Oh wow!” Max yells, running to the car.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Chance grins proudly, “but that car was chop shop material last month.”

“Yeah Max,” grins Jake, “but don’t go too fast. You might take off.”

“And you guys even filled her up! Gee…I… I”

“Pleasure, bro. Besides, don’t forget about Chance.”

The Tomkat huffs. “Piece of cake. We had to tow some rich boy who’d totaled his sports car so guess who’s gonna be going 110mph down the Deaf Child Area.”

“Chance!” Jake grins.

Max laughs, high-fives Chance. “Heh heh. Read my mind, Twinkie. Hey!… Maybe I can bring in the squad car for you guys to soup up?” Max looks up with rather large glittery puppy eyes.
The answer is unanimous.

“Yeah well… Thanks a lot anyway.”

Chance pats the hood.

“Guys, thank you.”

“No problem,” the Tomkat grins. “Tell you what—you find the paperwork that keeps us in this dump, burn the sucker, and we’ll call it even.”

“Roger that, Twinkie. I’ll see you guys tonight!”

“Happy Birthday Bro!” says Jake, patting the trunk of the car. “Don’t cause too much mayhem.”

The two mild-mannered mechanics stand at the garage door, waving off the young hot-blooded Enforcer, a spitting image of their own past youth. Jake is beaming ear to ear, the pride not lost on Chance who promptly mutters, “What are you, his mother?”

Jake grins and pulls Chance’s whisker, eliciting another expletive. “Come on buddy. We’ve got the Deputy Mayor’s car and a definite visit from her once we finish finding what’s making the engine scream.”

“Definitely the intake.”

“Chance, it’s definitely something with the gear shift.”

“What? Jake—you can shoot, but when it comes to fixing cars, Callie’s car, it’s like flying—and you’re staring at number one.”

“You think so huh Chance? How about a bet?”

“You’re on, buddy! A keg it’s the intake.”

“We can’t afford that yet. A can it’s the gear change.”

“Get ready to get your tail whipped.”

“All I’m ready for is the girl and the can.”

The two clasped hands, sealed the bet, and ran inside. Outside, the breeze scattered newspapers as the dried leaves of autumn took off from the ground, rising effortlessly into the sky, soaring on invisible currents, toward the embracing skyline of the city poised gloriously against a clear morning. City Hall, the tallest clocktower on the continent rang 9 o’clock as the small dot that was Max Clawson’s vehicle joined the migration that was the morning rush hour.

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