Title: Hide N’ Seeker Part 2: Unsought Memories
Authors: The Seeker and Kristen Sharpe E-Mails: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Date: March 4, 1999
If you read no other notes at the start of this thing, *please* read this: It is becoming painfully obvious that Kristen is determined (whether consciously or not) to tie all future fanfics to her fanfic “Technical Difficulties”, so henceforward it would be wise to read at least its summary before reading any of her later stories. The summary should help and she’ll try to restrain herself so you don’t have to read the whole thing to understand her other stories. Thanks to Rauhnee Ranshanka for beating over the opening scene to this thing and providing some much-needed advice when I posted it to the fanfiction mailing list. Thanks to Chaille (pronounced “Shally”), Brett (the *real* McFurland), and Felicia McFurry for the proofreading and opinions. And, thanks to Harley Quinn for the terrific e-mail chat that has provided some great ideas – both for this and future fanfics. For our further ramblings pertaining to this story (There’s more?! You betcha!) see the end where they need not bore you unless you so wish to be.
The darkness that had closed over T-Bone’s head seemingly moments after Dr. Conway had slid the needle into his arm was lightening. Swirls of muted colors appeared in the void that had filled his vision, mingling, twisting, changing. Then, the empty space snapped from existence, blotted by the colors that now solidified into cloudy images. His fogged brain filled with the swirl of visions of the past that had plagued him nights ago. Only these memories were different. These memories were those he thought he had banished long ago, those that were to have been buried so much deeper than even Katz’ leering face. Somehow liberated from their mental cage, they assumed free reign. Muted light filled his mind’s eye as a world now no more re-formed itself in his dreams.
Powerless to stop the process, T-Bone gave in to the memories. Whether brought by a queer twist of his subconscious, the chemicals coursing through his veins or the combination of both, the memories had become one with the big kat’s dreams and now he had to live them again.
Pain. There was supposed to be pain. His face was pressed onto the shabby, scarred linoleum. His nose was supposed to be throbbing, bleeding. His face stinging. He felt the wetness at his nose but not the pain. There was no pain this time… mercifully.
Fear. The fear was there though. He felt the old, the forgotten, terror welling within. Then, the harsh voice of his uncle cut through his whirling mind.
“Git offa the floor, boy! Yer neva gonna maker decsshent tomkat, you misherable little….” the voice trailed off into drunken slurs as Chance scrambled into a sitting position, clamping a small hand over his bleeding nose to stem the flow as he faced the wavering figure supporting itself against the tiny kitchen counter.
Anger. Deep within Chance’s clearing mind rose the familiar boiling anger. Its fires seethed under tight control within the small bundle of tawny fur. Anger – in Chance’s mind, young as he was, ever the companion of pain and fear. He wanted to lash back at the hateful tomkat sprawling against the counter. He knew it was useless though; it would just get him another, harder blow. Fighter though he was, Chance had learned when to be silent and still quickly.
His fury was both checked by reason and stilled by something far less tangible – love. The memory of the gentle kat who always returned, if only briefly and increasingly rarely, to soothe his hurts and comfort him kept the lash of the kitten’s anger, even mentally, at bay. But *this* kat… If he but had the power to destroy the feline demon before him without hurting the kat he loved within… Kitten though he was, he assured himself there would be no hesitation.
The short tomkat sneered at Chance, bloodshot eyes only half-focused on the kitten huddled before him. He lifted the bottle he clutched in one fist to his mouth, gulping its contents noisily. Shoving straggling russet fur from his eyes, he fixed the kitten in an evil glare.
“Don’ even know how yer mother talked me inta’ takin’ you in….,” he muttered. Several seconds slid by in a thick silence broken only by the soft plop of water in the sink. Sudden revelation seemed to come to the kat. “Oh, yeah – she died – that’s how I go’ stuck wi’ you. Wish yer Pa hadn’ alrea’y jumped th’ twig too… Co’a spared me a lotta trouble…” Giving Chance another contemptuous gaze, the stupefied tom dazedly staggered away from the counter, lurching from the room.
Chance watched the kat leave with wide, pain-clouded blue-gray eyes. His fury spent, he sat for several minutes in silence, hurt and despair welling within. Not even the faintest whimper escaping his tightly clamped lips as he squeezed his throbbing nose. A single tear formed in the corner of one eye and trickled down his fur, sliding down one long whisker to drip to the floor soundlessly. Chance watched it dully, squeezing back its counterparts as their wetness threatened to assault his already blurred vision. Where was his normally gentle, friendly uncle? His tiny body shook as a single choking sob at last escaped his lips. Ignoring the facts even a kitten of his few years knew, his mind screamed a wrenching plea into the unfathomable vastness beyond this world, lips unmoving. From the heart of his soul he screamed the age-old cry of children: “I want my Mommy!”
But the beloved face did not magically appear as he knew it never could again. Still, the plea had had release, a release that helped free him of the racking sobs that had been threatening to shudder through his being. Blinking through the tears, Chance stared through the kitchen’s single, grimy window.
At last, sniffing, he forced back the tears and stood. Face setting in determination, he eyed the door that opened off the kitchen of the tiny apartment onto the hallway beyond. Wiping the sticky wetness from his face with the back of his hand, Chance made his decision with the conviction of a kat years his elder. He brushed the dried blood from his facial fur with the hand that he had held over his battered nose. Then, rubbing the stained hand against his threadbare shorts, he silently crept down the narrow hallway his uncle had taken. He paused briefly a few feet from the kitchen to glance at the bedraggled tomkat now sprawled across the lumpy shambles of a couch that dominated the tiny sitting area. One arm dangled off the couch limply, the long-necked bottle lying on its side several inches away. A dark stain was slowly spreading across the carpet from its open mouth.
Chance turned away and hurried on to his tiny room. Reaching it, he quickly snatched up his backpack and began stuffing it with everything he thought he would need. He tossed in a pair of socks and his scuffed tennis shoes. He hated wearing both, but he had a vague idea that they might be needed. The backpack meeting his approval, he crept back to the kitchen. There he stuffed a few cellophane-wrapped snack cakes into the pack as well. Then, he turned to the door.
Reaching back to grab the straps that wound under his arms, the tiger- striped kitten paused and took a deep breath. Fear. His stomach seemed to become a hollow void as he realized the implications of what he was doing. The unknown lay before him and he was facing it alone. There could be no thoughts of turning back. Somehow he knew intuitively that to return of his own will meant he would never be free.
His mother’s voice seemed to drift to him from that time not so long ago. As she had taught him, he bowed his head and prayed silently, swiftly, stumbling through a well-rehearsed child’s prayer before adding his own words. He raised his head slowly as the last words slipped across the tiny opening between his lips.
Slowly, he paced to the door and reached a quivering hand up to turn the lock. It clicked softly and the hairs along Chance’s neck raised. Gently, he turned the knob and pushed it open. The door swung out into the hall with a prolonged creak.
Chance kept himself earthbound with only the greatest effort as every instinct screamed, “RUN!”. Steadying, he looked quickly over his shoulder, fearful.
The door’s alarm was answered only with silence.
The only sound from within the apartment was a steady plop-plop as tear- droplets of water fell from the faucet at the kitchen sink and plopped in the water that had pooled within the stacks of dirty dishes below.
Chance turned back to the door and slipped out the narrow crack he had created, closing the door slowly behind him. The light click of the door at his back was his signal. There was no pausing now, no second thoughts. The choice was made. The kitten bolted down the hallway, rounding a corner and vanishing into the shadows.
The self-proclaimed Commander of the Enforcers lounged at his procured desk, his mouth pulling downward in a full pout. His lips slowly pulled back away from his pointed incisors as his pout became an angry snarl. Steele was humiliated. His entire force was secretly snickering behind his back. A single officer had waltzed into his office and ordered *him* around! Then, he had spent two hours locked in the office while the locksmith figured out that the electronics that controlled the lock were shot. And, *somehow* it had *all* been engineered by Captain Feral – her and those SWAT Kats. Steele’s yellow eyes narrowed to thin slits. The Commander’s upstart niece would pay.
Cold, cold, cold. The deepest chill he’d ever felt. The gold-furred kitten huddled against the rough-hewn two-by-fours at his back, the boarded doorway with its slight overhang his sole shelter from the pouring rain.
Chance tried to sniff his nose, anything to relieve the pressure of his choked sinuses. If anything, the effort made his blocked nasal passageways close further. He shivered with the cold and wiggled his numbing toes within the sodden confines of his tennis shoes. Pain shot from his foot as his chapped pawpads scraped against the suddenly rough interior of the shoes. Chance shivered again, his small body shaking faintly for several minutes after the initial chill had passed. The sub-tropical city had never felt so frigid.
Some feet above him, held to the brick wall by a single rusting screw, a plastic-backed thermometer tugged at its pathetic mounting in the gusts of wind that swept along the alleyway. Its mercury, sluggish but yet responsive to the weather’s mood swings, hovered around the mark indicating seventy degrees Fahrenheit.
The adult T-Bone shuddered in his sleep as his dreams descended into the final darkest nightmare with which they could torment him.
“They doing okay?”
Dr. Seymour Conway looked up from his study of the monitors connected to the SWAT Kats. Seeing the familiar angular face amid its tangle of sable hair, he smiled.
“No real change so far, Captain,” he reported. “I expect the process to take perhaps well into the night. And, even then, they will need some rest to recuperate.”
Felina nodded. “I work late tonight,” she returned. “I knew putting in for night patrol would come in handy some day,” she added with a half- hearted grin before hurrying away to whatever it was she was supposed to be doing.
Conway watched her leave and then turned back to the two sleeping kats. As he watched, T-Bone’s face contorted in pain. Conway frowned and cast a quick glance at the monitors. Normal. Tugging distractedly at the short beard-like fur straggling from his chin, he wondered what dream prompted that. He sighed; heroes had private lives like any other kat. Who knew what nightmares plagued the big tabby? Whatever it might be, he silently wished both kats pleasant dreams.
Knocking. The bass thud of a heavy fist rapping demandingly on the false wood.
“Mr. Furris? Sir, this is the Enforcers – we have your nephew…”
Chance squirmed in the big kat’s firm grasp. No, no, NO! He didn’t want to come back. Why didn’t they understand? The tall Enforcer tightened his grasp on Chance’s shoulder, letting his fingers slowly wrap around the straps of the backpack the kitten still wore. Feeling the kitten’s tensing muscles, the Enforcer bent down to look in Chance’s face. His eyes widened as they met the depthless orbs of the kitten’s terrified eyes.
“Hey, kid – easy. Nobody’s gonna hurt you.”
The words had hardly exited his mouth before the door they faced was flung wide and the familiar demon appeared, fur straggling wildly about his face, eyes livid. The nightmarish figure lunged past the first Enforcer, a wide-shouldered gray feline, to grab at Chance.
“What’ve you been doing, makin’ me worry, ya’ little…?!”
The kitten’s reflexes were an instant quicker as he wrenched himself free of his backpack and the Enforcer’s grasp bolting down the hallway.
Shouts rang in his ears. Sound, loud and painful. His own breathing, frantic. The echoing thud of his own heart.
He tripped over a lump of electrical tape intended to secure the ragged carpeting. With a yowling gasp, he tumbled to the floor and the world was sent into an all-too-familiar downward spiral.
“Trish!” Dr. Conway bellowed, spinning from the squealing monitors to find his assistant already at his side. The red-headed she-kat was already assessing the situation.
“Their blood pressures are dropping rapidly. Intensified neural activity…” She paused in puzzlement, but quickly ignored the irregularity in favor of more pressing matters. “They’re not bleeding…”
“Internal,” Dr. Conway returned brusquely, hurrying toward his office. “I’ll get in touch with MegaKat Memorial – we’re going to need some help.”
Chance’s memories had degenerated into a confusing muddle of muzzy images and sounds. Voices circled him now. Distant and distorted, dancing around him. Now nearer, now fading away, they appeared and vanished. He strained to catch the distorted sentences. Slowly, dazedly, he realized that they were talking about him.
“He’s going to be okay.” The voice was soft and distant.
The world around him was small and close. He felt a softness beneath him, whatever it was made of was clammy even through his fur.
“Poor kid – what a life. People like that…”
“Yeah, I know… Sometimes, I wish we could just…” A snarl of fury laced the quiet words.
“He still look okay?” The words were said in a tone to soothe the fury of the speaker’s companion.
Vague murmurs whispered past his ears. Sounds flowed over him, bustling, echoing. The world had regrown to a wide space filled with the reverberations of hurried life. But it was foggy, wrapped in an uncomfortably warm darkness. He was floating in the fog, spinning, tossing, trying to free himself of the suffocating blanket of night.
A droning voice buzzed into his brain through what was seemingly his last remaining sense.
“The child isn’t seriously injured. It was more the fever he already had than the fall that’s troubling him now. He should be okay. It will be up to the court as to whether he stays that way.” The monotonous voice tinged with a warmth borne of both anger and compassion as it too at last faded away.
The world shrank from its tenuous existence. Chance again spun into darkness. Only now the spiral was upward, plunging through random layers of memory, driving free of the pit of his nightmares. A brief sentence brushed his consciousness like the remainder of a memory almost vanished.
“It is the decision of this court that the child Chance Alexander Furlong be given into the care of the State of MegaKat until such time as a proper foster home can be found.”
Then, the voice was gone, and the sensation of rushing through emptiness returned. This time though the darkness yielded to a flaming light in a burst of red fire. Chance felt a short stabbing pain and then there was only darkness. An unfamiliar cold darkness that drove icy needles through his fur. Then, the cold was gone, images filling his mind – one sense traded for another.
At last, Chance saw himself. For an instant’s flash the image was from outside his body, watching his figure as he might watch television. Then, the vision was gone and he was seeing the view through his own eyes once more. Chance stood uncertainly. He felt a strange tingling sensation. He felt somehow disconnected from the world. Disoriented, he took a halting step forward into the vacuous space… and the void again met genesis. Nothing once more became something.
This time the leap from the nothingness was a driving rush. He was hurled into a solidity once more, gold-tinged memory again becoming his sole reality.
Chance tumbled backward in a sprawling heap. His first thought was to search for a blow to his face. His hand ignored the instinct and he remained locked in a sitting position, hands splayed behind him to support his weight. Dazedly, he looked up at the tiny ring of jeering faces. Kittens. A tight knot of kittens, the oldest only around eight, surrounded him.
The tiger-striped kitten’s anger boiled over. At last an outlet on which to release his earlier furies had appeared. But again, his body ignored his decisions, ignored his wish to lunge to his feet and tear into the miniature mob.
Confused, Chance looked down at himself. He gasped softly as he saw the soft orange fur of his bare arm. His hand at last heeding his desires, he raised it to his face to stare at it in astonishment.
A monitor released a piercing squeal.
The heads of both Conway and Trish jerked to stare at the black screen with its green lines.
“There’s no neural activity… Nothing….,” Trish stammered, staring at the screen that was wired to T-Bone wide-eyed.
“Heart rate and breathing check out fine… as fine as they were anyway,” Conway muttered, his voice whispering past her ear.
“But he’s brain-dead….,” Trish let the words slide across her lips, face paling beneath its mantle of soft orange fur.
“The other one’s okay though,” Conway added, hands shaking as he searched for what he should do. Had the kat’s heartbeat or breathing stopped, he would have applied his weak memory of CPR. But there was nothing one could do for *this*. —————————————
“Aw, did the wuss break his hand?” cooed the nearest kitten, the eldest. He towered over Chance, almost menacing with his livid yellow eyes. He was distinctly overweight but large nonetheless, and naturally so; at his slimmest he would have been Chance’s equal in size at the same age.
Chance wanted to snap a fast retort, but another voice made him hold his tongue. As when he had held his silence before his enraged uncle, so he must now. The logic registered. Chance succumbed to the voice, strangely familiar in both its wisdom and its… personality – if voice alone could convey that. Dazed, he settled in for the ride.
<Wait,> the voice said. <Wait.> Fighting was an option, but only if it *had* to be.
“You want me ta’ fix the oth…?” the sneering eight year old started.
“What is this?!” a older female voice broke in, sending the hateful kitten and his companions several feet into the air before they scrambled frantically to run.
Slower than his companions, the ringleader was abruptly nabbed as a tall, white-furred she-kat snatched him up by his collar.
“Brandon! Did you punch Jake?!” the she-kat demanded.
“No, Mrs. Jones, I…,” Brandon started to stammer.
“I’m fine, Mrs. Jones.”
T-Bone heard Jake’s voice coming, it seemed, from within himself. The sensation was so familiar. His mind sharing space with his friend’s mind. Hadn’t this happened not too long ago? Something about Dark Kat and Hard Drive….
Before his whirling mind could take it all in, the world around him shuddered, broke apart. It felt as though *he* was being torn apart. Chance screamed into the eternity of night that once more engulfed him. The sound was echoed in another voice instants later. Jake’s voice. It receded as though into the distance. Then, silence.
With a fast beep the flatlining monitor came to life, startling Trish and Conway.
“I…it… that’s impossible…,” Trish stuttered as the wave indicating T-Bone’s neural activity returned in a weak mimicry of its normal pattern. Even as she watched, the incandescent line strengthened, regaining its normalcy.
Dr. Conway slowly shook his head. Distractedly, he reached a hand up to push his glasses farther up his nose. They now perched midway between his eyes. Distantly, he heard the wail of sirens as the paramedics he’d called some minutes ago at last arrived. He turned to the shocked she-kat at his side.
“Trish, go meet the paramedics and show them the way, would you?” he mumbled.
The red-head nodded and swept from the room, her mind a maelstrom of spinning thoughts. Having a duty to fulfill, even one so simple, would be a relief – an opportunity to focus on something else. Dr. Seymour Conway let himself slump against a nearby counter, emotionally drained. He took his glasses off slowly, sighing deeply and praying the worst was over.
The shadows in the room danced as the sole light source, a computer monitor, relentlessly relayed the images of all that transpired in the Bio-Tech Labs. The control room that had once been Dark Kat’s was as dark as its current tenant’s mood.
The great gray feline paced incessantly. Ground-eating strides carried him swiftly from one end of the room to the other. Nearing each wall, he paused for an instant before spinning on his heel and striding again towards the opposite wall.
The tip of his tail twitched unreadably. Long ago he’d trained it; it responded to his moods as any kat’s tail did, but it didn’t follow the usual patterns of response. The motions that indicated anxiety in any normal kat signaled glee for him. But now, the tail’s tip only jerked to and fro – thought. Deep thought.
The Seeker frowned, glancing back at the display provided by the monitor drones he’d sent to Enforcer Headquarters hours ago. The SWAT Kats’ lives hung by a thread.
Abruptly, he froze in place. The huge kat stared at the far wall for a few minutes before nodding his head decisively. A smile slid across his face.
“Yes,… why not mix business with pleasure?”
Steele ambled down the largely empty corridors of Enforcer Headquarters in a sour funk. His surly demeanor kept the few lower ranked officers and janitorial staff he passed from even venturing a glance in his direction. Steele glared at the janitorial kats briefly. Forget old Feral’s dumping ground for his dissenters at the city salvage yard. If anybody ever crossed John Steele they’d find themself waxing floors at Enforcer Headquarters for their next five lives… under his perpetual sneer.
His wicked little thoughts were abruptly interuppted as a hulking figure filled the hallway before him. Steele glanced up, prepared to assert his rank and order the offending kat, whatever their size, from his pathway. His breath caught in his throat and he gasped hoarsely instead as he recognized the tremendous tomkat.
“Y… you…!” he stammered, starting to back up. His feet took two steps backward and, throwing dignity to the winds, he attempted to spin around and run. The newly washed floor, however, made this move more difficult than the pointed-nosed feline had anticipated and his intended ignoble retreat became a clumsy tumble onto his behind.
Splayed arms and padded rear end taking the brunt of Steele’s abrupt mishap, the acting Commander of the Enforcers was left comically sitting on the floor before the massive apparition.
“Caution – it’s slippery when wet,” the darkened figure purred. “And, yes – I am the Seeker.” So saying, he stepped forward to bend down over Steele and look him in the eyes.
“Wha… wha… wha…!” Steele whimpered, ducking his head to stare at the floor for a second before squeezing his eyes shut.
“What do I want?” the huge kat finished the sentence for him. “Just to help you.” He extended a hand.
Glancing up, Steele cringed.
Sighing, Seeker let the piece of paper between his fingers slip free and flutter to the floor beside Steele.
“Read it,” he rumbled. “I think you’ll be pleased.”
Steele looked at the paper for several seconds. At last, he reached a tentative hand out to snatch it up.
“It’s a map…,” he whispered in confusion, staring at the paper.
“Yes,” Seeker returned simply. “A map to where I’m hiding Commander Feral. Merry Christmas.”
“Bu…. bu… but why?!”
“Ah good, you’re finishing you’re own stammers at last,” Seeker replied with a grin. “Why?” he asked, coming around to Steele’s question. “Because I’m getting a bit bored waiting on the SWAT Kats and the Commander is annoying in any case. Besides, if *you* interfere, it’s not like I’ve not broken my word.” He turned away from Steele. “Well, whatever, use it or don’t.”
When Steele’s wide eyes at last looked up to search for the black-suited feline, the hallway was empty. He stared back at the paper in his hands, still in wide-eyed astonishment. Then, slowly, an evil grin slipped across his wolfish features.
Brow furrowed in confusion, the broad-shouldered tomkat studied his computer screen in consternation. The insignia on his crisp military uniform identified him as a general. The shocked expression he next bestowed on the unresponding monitor identified him as one whose past has abruptly returned… unexpectedly.
“…. I did think that this would interest you, old friend. Don’t worry about being chosen for the mission – I’ll see to it that the job is yours. I think you’ll find the endeavor mutually beneficial… Though, as you recall, the one with the debt unpaid is yourself.”
The general leaned back in his seat slowly, sighing.
“I suppose I do owe you, you fiend. I do indeed. If you just weren’t such an honorable demon, I wouldn’t have this problem.”
Mark Thacker had grudgingly left the cool water of the shower. Now, even as he made his way to his locker, clad only in a towel, he was starting to sweat beneath his damp fur. The humidity of the Enforcer locker room was almost solid. The slender brown-furred tomkat felt as if he were literally wading through the unbearably hot, moist air. Mark growled faintly to himself, wishing the miracle of a freak cold spell upon MegaKat City’s blistering spring weather. He refused to even ponder what he knew summer would bring.
Approaching the main locker area, raucous snickers reached his lazy ears. They pricked as he listened to the remainder of the Enforcer SWAT Team Delta enjoy themselves. He rolled his eyes at their hijinks, forcing down the half-smile he felt forming on his lips as he stepped around a row of lockers and into his companions’ view.
“Thacker!” a tall kat with a short crop of red hair announced at his arrival, momentarily throwing aside the formalities that came with his title of commanding officer of the team.
“Hey, he didn’t drown in there after all,” another commented, looking up from his current focus, which was holding Lieutenant McFurland in a tight headlock.
“Drown? Oh, ya’ mean when he fell asleep?” a third tomkat chimed in, turning from his locker.
“I can be tired if I want – working an extra shift, handling a *traffic jam* of all the stupid….!” Thacker muttered, going to his locker and pulling out his civvies.
“Years of training, rigorously learning skills, surviving boot camp and all its horrors, – and now – at last – we’re qualified to… direct traffic!” the burly kat holding McFurland declared before breaking into gruff snickering.
“Raise your hand if you think Steele is a moron,” McFurland pitched in with a strangled voice.
Ever kat in the group threw a hand into the air with a hearty declaration of, “Moron!” McFurland took the opportunity to squirm free of the large tomkat’s grasp, clumsily stumbling over the bench that ran the length of the locker room as he hurried to get clear.
“Hey, I sense an ulterior motive in that suggestion…,” the kat grumbled as McFurland, teetering dangerously for a minute, at last vaulted over the bench, slipping into an open area where he could run if need.
“You know not, Chadd,” McFurland returned with a sly grin as he bent down to tie a trailing shoe lace on his sneaker.
“So, do you think we’re gonna get the Commander back?” the red-haired tomkat queried, still maintaining the laidback tone in the room. He was close enough to and respected enough by the team to be able to drop and reassume his status as commanding officer with ease, whether it was wise to do so or not – he’d long since stopped debating the issue with himself.
“I hate to admit it, but we need him,” he added. At least, *he* knows how to organize this force.”
“Unfortunately, I agree with you,” he muttered. “We need the Commander – every irritating inch of him.”
The large kat who’d been holding McFurland released a deep chuckle.
“I hear Steele had a nice quiet time with himself in Feral’s office this morning.” He turned to wink at McFurland.
“What?” McFurland demanded innocently. “You think I had anything to do with it?” His grin belied his words.
“You and Captain Feral,” the kat who had held his silence until that point chimed in with a widening grin.
“Don’t start, Brad,” McFurland shot back, trying to hide his own smile.
“Whoa, Mickey, my man…” Chadd stepped up to McFurland and laid a brawny arm across his shoulders. “So, what’s up with you and Captain Feral?”
“Nuthin’ that I know of,” McFurland mumbled, slipping out from under his friend’s arm, a red flush creeping up his cheeks and an unsuppressable grin sliding across his face.
“He’s blushin’,” Brad remarked, a silly grin still lighting his face.
“You got a thing for the Commander’s niece, Mickey?” the red-headed Major Mark Harris demanded, at last joining the fun as a broad smile that mimicked his mens’ evil grins filled his face.
“Well, she’s… niiice,” McFurland relented a hair as the entire SWAT Team surrounded him. Eyeing them with suspicion, the gray kat grinned and charged the nearest kat, Chadd.
A mock scuffle ensued with all but Harris and Thacker joining the fun. Harris watched the proceedings with a grin, sitting down on the bench to enjoy the show. Thacker leaned against a row of lockers with his arms crossed.
“You idiots,” he taunted playfully. He waited until the mock fight seemed to be dying down before throwing in his two cents worth on McFurland and Captain Feral.
“She is nice, Mickey,” he commented. “Beautiful… and a born commando.” He grinned. “Still, I gotta admit, Mickey – I think she likes you. Maybe she won’t blow you away…. ’til after the second date or so anyway.”
“Date?! Me and the captain?! You guys are crazy! If I dated Feral’s niece, my career as an Enforcer would be over in a heartbeat!” McFurland yelped, smiling bigger than ever as he tried to downplay the accusation and his own actions. He quieted quickly. “Besides,” he shrugged, giving them all a confident smile, “why would I wanna date ‘Commando Girl’ anyway?”
The other tomkats snickered.
“Uh huh – suuure,” Harris purred.
“Yeah, yeah. Look, guys, I gotta head back to my apartment – if I don’t get at least a little sleep tonight I’ll never survive whatever moronacy Steele throws at us tomorrow,” McFurland pronounced, yawning as he headed toward the exit to the locker room.
“Sure thing – see ya’ in the morning, Romeo!” Brad called after him, his comment chorused by the rest of the team’s laughter.
McFurland pretended to stomp down the hall outside the locker room, twisting his face into a study in sourness for the benefit of his friends who weren’t present to appreciate one of his better acts.
“Me and Captain Feral,” he mumbled, dropping the facade to grin and shake his head as though the thought were ludicrous. His efforts didn’t do much to hide the funny glow he could feel. He sighed, his genuine emotions at last escaping his facial facade. Well, a tomkat could dream, couldn’t he?
A familiar angry, whining voice interrupted his thoughts. Curious, McFurland’s ears pricked to catch the words. Their source was somewhere around the corner he was about to reach. The gray-furred Enforcer quickly slowed his steps and crept up to the edge of his particular section of hallway. “Sir, most of…,” Sergeant Katmull was starting to say.
<Does that guy *live* here?> McFurland thought to himself. He broke from his thoughts to hear what was unmistakably Lieutenant Steele cutting the graying kat off.
“Call in whoever you have to!” Steele snapped. “We’re going to rescue the Commander now – I’m not playing to that madkat’s whims!”
<Suure that’s your real reason!> McFurland growled inwardly.
“But, Sir…,” Sergeant Katmull started a second time.
“Stop standing there arguing with me, Sergeant! I want a strike force organized and waiting on the roof by 2200 hours!” Steele barked before spinning on his heel and stalking away from the surprised – and angry – Sergeant.
<2200! That’s in twenty minutes!> McFurland did the math quickly in his head. He could hear the Sergeant’s footsteps fading into the distance of the adjacent hall.
Steele. He was going to get the Commander killed no doubt and there was nothing he could do about it. How was Felina going to take this? The thought skipped amid the random jumble of his mind, bringing back his earlier ponderings. Mickey shoved it aside. No. Now, there had to be *something* he could do about Steele.
“It would appear that you need some help….”
At the sound of the voice interrupting his thoughts, McFurland whirled to face the speaker. His yellow-green eyes widened at the sight of the black-clad tomkat leaning casually against the corridor wall.
The dark figure smiled amicably and stepped away from the wall.
“What? You think *I’m* afraid to come here?” the Seeker purred. “Steele and his entire force couldn’t catch me.” He chuckled darkly. “I dare say that every Enforcer in this building put together couldn’t capture me even on a good day.”
“What do you want?” McFurland asked softly, backing away from the massive figure ever so slightly as his right hand slowly curled into a fist.
“Hey, whoa – chill, dude. I’m just here ta’ like help an’ stuff,” Seeker stammered quickly, his deep voice slipping up an octave and assuming a ridiculous stereotypical “surfer” accent.
McFurland’s head cocked to one side in total amazement. *This* was the guy who kidnapped the Commander and Miss Briggs? The infamous Seeker?
“Yo, dude – I’m like multi-talented,” Seeker assured him. He abruptly dropped the accent. “Now, if you’re interested, I believe I have a proposition for you. All you’ll need to do is keep Steele occupied for a few hours.”
McFurland nodded for him to continue, still ogling him in utter astonishment.
“All you have to do is cause a little confusion. It shouldn’t be too hard to keep Steele from even getting your force mobilized,” Seeker purred. “It’s only taken him eight hours to completely destroy the organizational structure of this force,” the gray-brown kat chuckled.
“He takes the term ‘scramble’ to new heights,” McFurland agreed, a tiny smile lighting his face.
Seeker paused and looked at him for a moment. He frowned slightly.
“Don’t cut in on my act, Dude,” he rumbled half-playfully.
McFurland chuckled nervously and held his silence.
“What if we *do* manage to get mobilized?” McFurland asked at last, still trying to grasp the Seeker’s sudden offer to help.
“My… associate will handle things,” the Seeker responded, slipping backward into the unlit portion of the hall.
McFurland gaped, pupils dilating, eyes widening as he searched the shadows for the suddenly nonexistent figure. A deep-throated chuckle rippled through the still air.
“Be careful if you do – he has less of a sense of humor than I do.”
There was no sound in the hall, but McFurland could feel the waves of amusement peeling from the invisible kat. Then, nothing. The Seeker was gone.
McFurland pondered his options for a moment. Then, the germ of an idea formed in his head. Before any kind of hesitation could set in, he spun and bounded down the hallway.
The still-chortling SWAT Team was making its way down the hallway toward the back entrance of Enforcer Headquarters when McFurland caught them.
“GUYS!” he bellowed, charging up behind them.
The kats looked over their shoulders to see the panting tomkat barreling down on them. He skidded to stop just behind his buddies.
“We can’t go off duty yet, fellas,” the gray kat announced, catching his breath. He flung friendly arms across the shoulders of the two trailing kats, Thacker and Brad. “Steele needs a strike force to go save Commander Feral and I volunteered us.”
They looked at him incredulously.
Mickey nodded to reassure them.
“Yep, we’re gonna help Steele out of the sweet goodness of our hearts.”
His wicked grin said he had either pitched off the far side of sanity… or they were going to like this.
All was going according to his plan McFurland thought as he slithered back into his uniform, feeling the sweat-damp clamminess that still clung to it. The rest of his team were in varying stages of redressing as well, either passing quiet jokes or lost in private worries of the success of their planned venture. It *was* risky, the gray-furred kat had to admit. There was the possibility that they could all lose their jobs, knowing Steele’s temper.
A loud female voice interrupted his thoughts.
“McFurland, are you in there?”
“Whoa! Miiiic-key, your girl’s lookin’ for ya’!” Chadd cooed, his voice *far* too loud for McFurland’s tastes.
“Shhhh!” McFurland hissed, pulling his pants up quickly. He hurriedly secured them and rushed to the doorway. He flung it open to meet Felina’s quizzical and vaguely peevish face.
Loud snickers and catcalls resounded from the locker room behind him.
“Woo-hoo! Mickey and Captain….!”
McFurland quickly leapt out into the hallway, pushing Felina before him as he turned to hiss a final, “Can it!” back into the locker room before jerking his head clear and letting the door close. Regaining his composure, he faced Felina with a nervous laugh.
“Eh, heh… heh-heh… – aren’t they entertaining?” He could feel the blush creeping across his face and he *knew* Felina had to see it through his pale fur. He tried to ignore it and rambled on. “I thought you had night patrol?!” he asked.
“I did. I got called back. Of all things, the officer who called me said to speak to you!” she retorted. “*What* is going on around here?!”
McFurland cast a glance upward.
“The Commander’s evil fairy godkat strikes again,” he murmured.
“What?!” she demanded in surprise.
“We gotta stop Steele,” he replied. “He’s gonna get your uncle killed. We gotta delay ‘im… Seeker’s helpin’ us….”
“Yo, Mickey! Time to gooo! We need to get out of the locker room!” Mark Thacker hissed, pushing his head through the doorway.
“Oh right – 2200! C’mon,” McFurland grabbed Felina’s arm. “I’ll tell you everything on the way.”
“Where are we going?”
The gray-furred tomkat half-dragged Felina down the hallway.
“I can run by myself, thank you,” Felina growled.
“Fine. Just c’mon!” McFurland released her and opened up into a full sprint through the empty corridors. “You’re fallin’ behind, guys,” he added to his friends.
The hurrying SWAT team and Felina reached the roof well in time. Steele was nowhere in sight. An array of angry, bleary- eyed Enforcers, however, greeted them. Commanding officers were barking sharp orders right and left to quiet the malcontents. The steady wail of an ambulance’s siren could be heard faintly from the street far below.
“Fun, fun, fun…,” Thacker murmured drilly.
“Hear that?” Harris’ ears pricked to catch the siren’s wail. “Sounds like somebody’s already gotten violent.” He grinned faintly.
“Recruits for our cause,” McFurland announced as he looked over the angry Enforcers, a far too happy smile lighting his face.
“The cause of killing you?” Brad mumbled.
“No, the cause of humil… stopping Steele,” McFurland returned, clambering onto the wing of a nearby jet fighter. He paused for a moment and then stood. Cupping his hands, he shouted across the rooftop.
Every eye turned to him. The widest were those of his companions. Several commanding officers started to call him down. Anticipating their action, Felina hauled herself up on the jet’s wing with McFurland. At the sight of the Commander’s fiery niece, everyone held their peace. Felina was both respected and… well… feared. Debatedly, the right words to her uncle could cost them their jobs. That, and she was quite an imposing personality in her own right.
Tossing the dark-eyed captain a grateful smile with a quick nod of his head, McFurland began his… “speech.”
“I know you’re all a little upset,” he started. “Let me say first that I had nothing to do with this. I wanted to go home and have a good night’s sleep too. I was thinking about watching some TV and reading this new book I got by Max Lucado. It’s a really good book – you should read it – it’s called….” The gray-furred Enforcer sensed the tension building in the air and broke off mid-sentence. “Oh yeah, anyway… We’re all here because Lieutenant Commander Steele plans to go out and *rescue* Commander Feral. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Steele really has the Commander’s best interests at heart. I mean, think about it – if Feral dies because we interfere when the Seeker said not to, guess who our new commander will be.”
A murmur whispered through the cluster of Enforcers that now circled the slim Enforcer jet on which McFurland and Felina stood. The calico she-kat who’d spoken to the SWAT Kats earlier that day stepped forward to belt out a strident question.
“Don’t we ignore madkats’ threats all the time and go into situations that could be potentially dangerous to hostages?” she demanded.
“Well,…” McFurland fumbled for a snappy reply.
“But we usually intend to save the hostages,” Felina snapped, unconsciously stepping slightly in front of McFurland. “Do you think Steele intends to save the Commander?” She pointedly didn’t say, “to save my uncle.” She didn’t need to.
More whispers trickled from the conglomerate of officers.
The calico she-kat shook her head to force the few strands of black and caramel hair that had slipped free of the tight bundle in which she kept her hair out of her face and looked at Felina unobstructed.
“No. I’ve seen the way Steele is. I know what he wants. And, I think everyone else here does too.” The calico stepped up to the jet just below Felina and turned to face the crowd.
“Well, decide,” she announced. “Yeah, the Commander can be a royal pain in the neck – no offense intended, Captain -,” she flashed Felina an apologetic look, “but he can run this force. He *is* a capable leader and I don’t think there’s a one of us that would deny he’s got the right motives at heart. And, as for the Lieutenant Commander…” She took a deep breath before plunging into words that could easily get back to her current “boss.” “He’s a self-promoting, spineless wuss who thinks he can pay off the world to let him have his own way. Do you want someone like *that* running this force?”
The she-kat dropped her gaze, indicating that her speech was over. For several interminable minutes, she, McFurland, Felina, and the members of SWAT team Delta waited in silence for the final word from the other Enforcers. At last, a voice toward the rear of the group asked, “What do you want us to do?”
No other voice interposed a dissent. Clearly, the decision was unanimous.
As McFurland leapt into his own thoughts, joined quickly by Harris and the other high-ranking officers present, Felina drew back to speak to the calico she-kat who’d spoken up for them.
“Thanks,” she whispered. She paused before slipping away. “What’s your name?” she asked, curious.
“Captain Mazie Rackham,” the calico returned. “Pleased to meet you in person at last Captain Feral.” She grinned at the flash of surprise in Felina’s face. “You have quite a far-flung fame, Captain.”
John Steele smirked to himself, straightening his tie as the elevator to the rooftop hangar ascended. At long last…
Sergeant Katmull eyed him with only half-veiled hostility. Steele glanced at the graying kat, giving him a better view of his self-assured grin. The Sergeant looked away.
He’d served under Commander Feral for ten years and under his father, the former Commander, James Feral, for twenty years. And, if this irritating little sleaze had his way, he’d be serving under him. The Sergeant smiled briefly to himself. Like as not, he’d only serve under the half-sized weasel for two months… and that was providing Steele was lucky. He frowned again quickly, debating the Commander’s chances. He knew Steele’s plans well enough, but there didn’t seem to be *anything* he could do about them.
A soft “ping” from the elevator told them that they had reached the proper floor. Still smirking, Steele stepped from the elevator first… and into chaos.
Pilots and support crews scrambled wildly around the hangar. There was a clot of jets at the entrance, apparently caught in a disorganized traffic jam. Every member of the standing squadron of five that was permanently stationed at the headquarters appeared to be involved in the disaster. Peering under and around them, Steele could see that the scene on the rooftop was no better. Choppers, their pilots, and crews were trundling about in a mass of confusion.
Steele’s jaw had practically reached his knees before anger replaced disbelief. Jaw clenching, he strode to the nearest officer, the Sergeant following him with a look that mingled between confused and elated.
“What on Felinus* is going on up here?!” Steele bellowed, his nasal voice more irritating than severe. “I didn’t order any jets be scrambled! We only need the choppers!”
“Sir.” The officer, a flustered-looking lieutenant, saluted quickly. “We’re preparing for the mission at 2300, Sir. We were told to prep as many jets as possi…”
“2300!” Steele shrieked, cutting him off. “My orders were for a force to be assembled by 2200!”
“And, they didn’t specify what vehicles you required,” Katmull murmured dryly just behind him.
Steele shot him a look that would have curdled milk still in the cow before turning back to glower at the lieutenant.
The lieutenant’s face blanched visibly beneath the muted vermillion fur of his face.
“Sir,… I… I… just got here… I was told 2300… by Major Richards…,” he stammered.
Steele brushed him aside in a swiftly building fury. He stormed to the front of the hangar, yanking a megaphone from the hand of a crew chief.
“Attention!” he screamed into the megaphone.
Several heads turned in his direction, but, for the most part, the bustle of the busy troops continued unabated, heedless of either Steele’s presence or his amplified voice.
“Listen up!” Steele raged on, furious at being ignored. “This is your commanding officer!” Still no response. “I SAID ATTENTION!!!!”
His screams still unheeded, Steele began to shake with a scarcely controlled fury. His breathing had accelerated into a heavy panting snarl.
Sergeant Katmull stepped up to the incensed Lieutenant Commander and, noting his condition, dryly asked, “Do you need a paper bag, Sir?”
Steele whirled to face the graying kat with a full-throated growl. Teeth clenched, he at last found intelligible words.
“NO! I am *not* hyperventilating!” he snarled. Furious, he turned from the Sergeant and addressed his troops again.
After a few minutes more of their lieutenant commander’s screams and the funny looks and questions of the officers not in on “the plan”, the Enforcers could no longer ignore Steele. Gradually, the bustle slowed and heads began to turn in his direction.
Steele bellowed a bizarre intermingling of threats and orders for a good twenty minutes more before he realized that every eye was on him.
“AND, IF EVERY KAT IN THIS… room…!” Steele’s voice trailed off as he saw that he had the Enforcers attention at last. And, from their stance, he’d had it for some time. Not quite able to pin down just exactly what was going on, but bright enough to know that he was being the butt of some joke or scheme, John Steele glared out at the assembled Enforcers. It was a few more interminable minutes before he found the proper words.
“I can’t begin to explain what was just going on…,” he started slowly. “But, I sense a plot… My orders have been miscarried, misunderstood, mis…repeated, and disobeyed…”
“Ooo, I think he just created a word,” Thacker whispered just loud enough for his team, Felina, and the nearby Captain Rackham to hear.
They snickered collectively but sobered quickly at Steele’s quick glance in their direction.
“I sense a plot,” Steele repeated. “Someone wants this operation to fail…”
“Maybe it’s the Seeker!” a voice chimed in from the rear of the crowd.
Steele searched for the offender, finding several likely- looking kats, but no sure suspects.
“Perhaps it *is* that deviant,…,” he allowed. “But we’re the Enforcers, MegaKat City’s finest – no two-bit commando with a few high-tech gadgets can stop us!”
“*Where* does he get this stuff?!” Thacker mumbled.
“Too much TV?” McFurland volunteered.
“Does someone in the back there have a comment to add?” Steele growled, glaring directly at the little group.
“No, Sir. We just thought one of my men was having an asthma attack,” Harris quickly interposed as McFurland obligingly began to choke out a few hacks and wheezes.
Steele’s jaw tightened as a dangerous scarlet hue began to lap at the edges of the paler fur that rimmed his muzzle.
“I want everyone on those choppers in *one* minute!” he shrieked, his fury peaking.
The little band of scheme orchestrators exchanged glances. If they tried anything else at the moment every kat involved would risk losing their job. A few glances at the scowls of the uninvolved commanding officers warned them that it wasn’t just Steele they were fighting right now either.
Major Harris leaned toward Felina, simultaneously attracting the attention of his squad.
“I’ll see if I can get a few of the others in with us. I know a couple who are decent kats and at least one who isn’t but he’s no friend of Steele’s.” He raised a hand to silence McFurland, catching the eager look in the gray tom’s eyes. “Only *I* can do it. It won’t look odd for me to be talking to the other commanding officers. The rest of you get loaded on the chopper.” He glared at McFurland first and then the other likely dissidents in turn. “I mean it.” With that he hurried from the hangar and across the airstrip.
“Good idea – I’ll see what I can do too,” Captain Rackham added, also dashing away.
McFurland poked out his lower lip.
“It’s my idea and I don’t get to have any of the fun,” he murmured, dropping his head in feigned sadness.
“Deal with it,… *Mickey*,” Felina returned with a smirk. —————————————
The smirk had been replaced by a vicious scowl a few minutes later when Steele found Felina to personally relay an order.
“Your *only* duty is to drop your load of kats off at the assigned drop point. When you’ve done that, I expect you to get your chopper back to Headquarters,” he growled, glaring at her – though his eyes were only on a level with her squarish chin.
Felina narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t dare attempt her “fear tactics” on Steele in public. Finally, she snarled her response.
Satisfied, Steele turned and strode away with the air of one who has won an important battle.
Felina’s eyes followed him as a sneer befitting her last name played across her face.
“Alright, Corporal Klawner, you have your unit’s entry point?” Steele demanded. At the corporal’s nod, he turned to Harris. “Major Harris, I want your unit entering… here.” Steele’s finger stretched to indicate a winding line on the wrinkled map he held one-handed in his right hand illumined by the powerful torch he was holding in his left.
The commanding officers he was speaking with nodded, responding with, “Yes, Sir,” before turning away to check their own copies.
They stood in huddled groups spread along unused portions of the airstrip, making last minute checks and receiving their final orders. There were to be only two strike forces actually entering the sewers. Steele had intended to send all the men he had in, but, thankfully, the intelligence of his commanding officers had won out. The remaining Enforcers were to stand ready as backups.
Harris trotted up to his team, who were milling about the chopper, keeping a safe distance from the steaming Felina. They straightened to face the red-headed tomkat as he approached.
“He’s actually laid out a decent plan,” he murmured to the waiting group of kats, motioning them and Felina into a huddle and presenting his copy of the map. “Gimme a light, Thacker,” he said shortly, waiting for Thacker to produce a flashlight and aim it at the paper before continuing. “Cheer up, guys – we get to go in by the landlocked route,” he murmured before his voice settled into business mode. “We go in through a service entrance off the subway,” his finger stabbed a spot on the map, “just beyond the Katalina station. The way I see it, if we head down this tunnel…,” he indicated a thin line running away from the main access tunnels Steele had showed to him, “we can intercept the other squad…. and, if they’re not with us,…” he grinned, “we give ’em trouble.”
“Great plan,” Felina inserted shortly. “I don’t suppose you know anyone who isn’t doing anything and can fly?”
The assembled tomkats looked at her blankly.
“I can. Well, I could once… But I don’t think I’m so rusty I can’t handle the leisurely flight you have in mind.”
Every head turned to face the speaker.
Sergeant Katmull had stepped up to the group, a smile playing across his usually blank features.
“I know exactly what the lieutenant has in mind and if you can pass me off as a member of your team, I should be able to tag along and get her chopper back to headquarters.” He raised a hand quickly. “However, if it comes to responding on the radio, I refuse imitate to a she-kat.”
A funny half-smile slid across Harris’ face.
“However, then I’ll have one extra kat,” he returned.
“Five, six – Steele won’t know the difference,” Felina jumped in, her dark eyes sparking with mischief.
“She *is* a good shot, Sir,” McFurland inserted, feeling a red flush creeping into his face as he heard his partners’ stifled snickers. “We could use…”
“Alright,” Harris sighed, outnumbered.
Far too quickly for the Enforcers of “the plan,” the strike team was assembled and choppers were lifting off the roof of Enforcer Headquarters. There were a few sporadic efforts to slow it. One overeager young officer went so far as to fall out of a chopper, shrieking as though he were plunging to his death. It was quite a spectacle, but it only succeeded in irritating the “nonparticipants” and endangering the young kat’s job.
McFurland hunched forward to rest his head on his hands, elbows balanced on his knees as he felt the chopper ascend. Had he bought enough time? Was Seeker’s plan underway? And, for that matter, what was this plan anyway?
He sighed in frustration and confusion, passing a sideways glance at Felina. She averted her eyes from her piloting to grin at him. The gray-furred tomkat looked away. At least she was still smiling. He made a mental note to do extreme bodily harm to his friends and teammates as soon as this affair was over. He could still feel the heat in his cheeks from the moment they’d insisted he occupy the copilot’s seat. He could still feel the smirk Felina had treated him to as he’d boarded. Oh, they would pay!
A flash of light below caught his attention. The tall tomkat straightened in his seat to peer down at the street in front of Enforcer Headquarters. He could just make out the flashing red and white lights of what had to an ambulance. He frowned, wondering what the trouble was. At length, he shrugged. He already had enough on his mind.
“I need to continue to monitor them,” Conway was explaining to an unoccupied paramedic as his companions secured the two SWAT Kats to stretchers.
“Given the nature of your… procedure here… Well,… we’ll deal with the bleeding and any other injuries,” the paramedic returned. “I’ll let you explain the details to whoever they’re assigned to.”
Conway nodded, checking the pocket of his lab coat for his car keys. He felt he could load all the necessary equipment in the tiny sedan. It shouldn’t be much; the monitors the hospital would insist upon would provide the basic life signs he needed.
As the EMTs wheeled the SWAT Kats from the room, Razor moaned softly. Conway and Trish glanced at him quickly. They exchanged a glance as the blue-suited figures disappeared through the doorway.
“The big one was the only one that acted like that before,” Trish whispered urgently, her amber eyes wide with shock and fear. “It couldn’t mean that he’s… in the other one, could it?”
“I’ll do what I can for them, Trish,” Dr. Conway replied, his voice gruff but gentle. “I know… Only time will tell if they’re… alright… I don’t think I’ll mention that particular little stunt to the doctors…” He sighed, letting a small smile slip free of his tightened facial features. “They wouldn’t believe me anyway. You get some rest – I’ll go with them.”
A tall EMT paused to look back at the two kats as his fellows hurried on down the hallway. He tossed a smile to Trish and Conway.
“They’ll be just fine,” he assured with a strange air of confidence.
Razor cringed within himself as he plunged through a nightmare world. It was surreal only in its memory coloring. Every other feature was starkly real. He felt warm winds in his fur, dirt beneath his bare feet,… the stinging lash of pain. It was no dream. It was memory. Memory with the clarity that cannot come from the conscious mind. It was deeper than that… stronger than that.
Eyes fogged by pain, his head jerked up to face the russet tomkat’s cold glare for it seemed the millionth time. He shuddered, recognizing the kat, but not. Reliving the memory, but powerless to make his own actions within it.
<Chance,> he thought, wondering if his friend could hear, <how did you survive?>
The tall EMT who had spoken with Dr. Conway and Trish accompanied the two prone SWAT Kats to the door that lead outside, holding it open for the stretcher. He lingered at the doorway, watching the SWAT Kats.
Yes, they’d be fine. He was reassured; he’d made it fair again.
Satisfied, he turned to amble back into the building, vanishing into the dimly lit corridor.
“Yes, all taken care of. Now, it’s time for… the fun.”
Lieutenant Commander Steele smiled in satisfaction as he watched the first chopper take off. Soon. He turned his gaze to the second chopper which Klawner’s team was still boarding.
No sooner was his back turned than a large hand clamped down on his shoulder.
“Shouldn’t you be going along?” a voice purred in his ear.
A stab of fear shot through Steele’s spine.
“You really should go,” the voice assured, pushing Steele toward the helicopter.
Klawner looked up as the wide-eyed lieutenant commander approached him, a large Enforcer pilot trailing slowly in his wake.
“Sir?” he asked.
“I’ll be…,” Steele started, glancing back at his huge shadow, “coming along, Corporal.” He straightened, eyes narrowing in what was obviously a show. “I’m making sure that this mission goes over flawlessly.”
Klawner arched a brow but said nothing. He simply nodded.
Steele waited until Klawner’s eyes had left his face before hazarding a glance at his tormentor. The kat was gone.
“Adios, bye-bye – have a nice trip,” the gray feline called as he watched the helicopter carrying Steele and Klawner’s team lift off the roof and speed away across the city. “Have fun,” Seeker added. “I know *I* will.”
Everybody check your Porta-packs – *now*,” Harris ordered his squad as they exited the helicopter in a hastily cordoned off section of the street.
“Quick! Peak in the Porta-John!” Chadd snickered, removing his blaster from its holster and checking its power charge.
His teammates chuckled appreciatively at the familiar joke as they checked their own blasters.
Paragon’s Portable Recharge Pack, called a Porta-pack, was handy in a pinch. Still, its recharging abilities weren’t infallible. Due to its tendency to fail Enforcers just when they needed it most, the gadget was given the “affectionate” name of Porta-*John*. The Enforcer ranks were rife with Porta-John jokes.
“Good luck,” the Sergeant called to the group as he prepared to head the chopper back to headquarters. “Captain,” he inclined his head to Felina, the last to leave the chopper. He paused, breaking off his intended words and simply nodding.
Felina returned the gesture with a smart salute before stepping away so he could take off. She watched the chopper make its way back toward headquarters for a few minutes before turning back toward the members of the SWAT team.
Harris caught her glance and beckoned toward the subway.
Only a few minutes later found Brad and Chadd muscling the rusty service door that led to the sewer open. A foul odor wafted from the opening.
“Phew!” Thacker muttered, crinkling his nose at the smell.
“Smells like Spangler’s socks,” Brad inserted, his face set in a scowl despite his teasing words.
“I keep them that way so I could use them as weapons,” Chadd Spangler returned with a smirk.
“Can it,” Harris ordered, stepping to the doorway. “Everyone on your guard, blasters at ready, mouths shut,” he ordered before stepping into the darkness.
Noses wrinkled in disgust, the members of the SWAT team, plus one stubborn she-kat, descended into the cavernous MegaKat City sewer system. Designed in 1910 when MegaKat was the sole shred of civilization clinging to the western coast and striving desperately to grow, the sewers were a meandering labyrinth. Few accurate maps of the entire serpentine network existed. The copy in Major Harris’ hands was based largely on those maps laid out by the besieged Kattainian** forces during the Siamese occupation of MegaWar II. The Seeker’s choice of hiding place was brilliant.
<And typical,> Felina thought to herself. She let her eyes rove the too-close tunnel, wary. The black-haired captain fully believed McFurland’s words about the Seeker’s involvement in all of this. How else could Steele know where to find her uncle? She scowled. ‘Helping’ or not, the Seeker was up to something and she didn’t trust him as far as she could throw his massive frame.
Felina let her gaze fall on McFurland, another taunt starting to form on her lips. The words vanished in an instant as she saw the nearly invisible red targeting beam wobbling indecisively along Mickey’s chest.
“Get down!” she screamed, lunging to throw McFurland to the damp floor of the tunnel.
The rest of the team went on the alert instantly. Blasters were jerked from holsters and ready stances assumed even before Major Harris bellowed, “Watch it!”
Harsh, deep laughter cut through the passageway as the Enforcers scrambled into alert.
“That’s touching, Captain… Just concern for one of your fellow officers… or is that one special? Your kat, perhaps?”
The voice echoed down from somewhere above. Thacker quickly cut his flashlight’s beam toward the source of the sound. A hulking figure was just visible crouching in the narrow opening of an upper tunnel entrance.
“Hold it right there,” Harris warned, leveling his blaster on the figure’s chest.
“Fer once I’m on your side, *Sir*,” the deep voice sneered the term of respect into an insult. “You can take my help or leave it – it’s your choice,” the growling voice added.
“A guy who targets one of my officers sounds like a *lotta* help!” Harris growled. “Thacker!” he barked, “can you give us a better look at who we’re dealing with?”
Thacker quickly pushed his flashlight to its limits and flashed it across the tomkat’s face, revealing a familiar visage. Familiar to one of their company anyway.
“You! You sleazeball!” Felina snarled, leaping to her feet as her right hand scrabbled for her blaster.
“Easy, Captain…,” Harris soothed. “I take it you know our… friend here?”
“The name’s Brett Katz.” Katz inclined his head toward Felina. “Sorry about your uncle, Babe.” He smiled broadly. “Too bad roughing him up got my pay docked a little…”
Felina growled and would have charged forward if not for McFurland placing a surprisingly strong arm around her waist. She almost punched him, but remained still as he whispered in her ear.
“Don’t… He’s just playing with your head. The SWAT Kats said they saw the Commander alive with the Seeker.”
“And, just who is your boss?” Harris demanded, noting that Felina was secured as he took a few steps closer to Katz.
“The Seeker. By the way, he sent me to help you keep the other Enforcers from finding the Commander.” Katz’ face contorted into a flash of disgust. “Stupid games a’ his… I’d a’ killed the jerk an’ been done with it…” He shrugged abruptly and relaxed. “He’ll die soon enough,… and I’m gettin’ paid too good ta’ disobey orders.”
“Seeker! I knew it!” Felina yelled, pulling against McFurland’s grip. Seeing her temper at least in check, he heeded her wishes. Free, the captain stepped forward to stand by Harris, dark eyes flashing in the wavering uneven light as she continued. “He paid you to kidnap my uncle and Miss Briggs so he could have his little games with the SWAT Kats! Now, he’s bored, isn’t he? He started all this so he could see some action! He’s playing both sides!”
“It’s a rigged deck,” McFurland breathed behind her, “but if we don’t play along on our side…”
“Steele will end up with the royal flush,” Felina finished the sentence.
A high keening abruptly filled the air around them.
“Well, that’s my cue… Don’t have time for this crud anyway,” Katz snapped as the sound reached his ears. The Enforcers heard the scuff of his boots against the stone flooring and they realized he was leaving. His voice echoed back to them now within the confines of the upper tunnel. “I’ll be doing my job while you debate whether you should get in on the action and make sure I don’t have too much fun. See ya’ round, Doll,” he added to Felina. “Try not to get yer little mug blown off by Seeker’s insurance.”
“Insurance?” McFurland repeated in mounting apprehension as the distant whine grew louder, his comment half-masked by Felina’s furious snarl at Katz’ words.
Crimson light suddenly lit the tunnel as laser fire splashed around the Enforcers.
A shudder ran up John Steele’s spine as his leg sank to the knees in the algae-clogged muck that filled stagnated pools along the edge of the waterfront. Harris’ comment that his men were fortunate for getting the landlocked entrance was well-founded. The second unit had to enter from the opposite side of Feral’s prison, the side that faced the bay.
Steele and his team were to enter the sewer through a massive drainage pipe that emptied run-off water into MegaKat Bay. Their transport had deposited them on the freeway nearest the drainage area, leaving them to clamber down the muddy embankment.
Tugging his coat around himself, the orange-furred kat watched his men struggle to pry free the grating that sealed the tunnelway. Water was inexorably seeping through his thick boots. Abruptly, the boots reached the end of their endurance and cold water gushed around his toes.
Steele’s patience ran out.
“Forget that! Burn it open!” he shouted to the kats working at the grate.
“But, Sir, we may need the power for our blasters later if there’s a firefi…” Klawner started.
“That’s why we carry recharge packs, Corporal. Get that grate open!” Steele shrieked.
The rusting metal was little match for the Enforcers’ lasers. Seeing the impeding bars reduced to lumps of smoking slag, Steele strode to the head of the group to lead them into the sewer.
“Follow me, men,” he called, awkwardly clambering into the pipe.
He’d hardly stepped forward when his yellow eyes caught movement in the gloom just ahead. Steele scrabbled to jerk his blaster from its holster as he heard something approaching. He gasped as the blaster hung in his large overcoat. The sound was getting closer. It was nearly upon him when he at last freed the weapon.
“Freeze!” the orange tomkat screamed, leveling the gun in the direction of the approaching noise.
A large rat skittered from the shadows seconds later.
“Sir?” Klawner asked, stepping up beside the faintly quaking figure of his commanding officer.
The pointy-nosed tomkat recovered.
“We’re wasting time! Let’s get this thing moving!” Steele ordered.
Klawner noted that the lieutenant commander didn’t offer to lead this time. He stepped to the front and signalled his men. The smile that curled his lips was the only indication of the mirth that threatened to explode within. —————————————
In a more hostile part of the sewer, Harris’ unit was just engaging their attackers.
“Take cover!” Harris ordered, feeling like an idiot; there was no cover to take in the narrow passageway.
As he pressed himself to the wall and drew his blaster, Thacker aimed his flashlight at their attackers. The beam illuminated a cluster of miniature flying saucers swarming down the tunnel.
“Fire at will!” Harris screamed, taking aim on the lead drone. His shot reduced it to a lump of flaming slag smoldering on the fungi- encrusted floor as his men followed his lead.
The red-haired tomkat ducked and jerked toward the wall, crushing his shoulder into the damp stone as another drone’s fire sliced through the air above his head. He heard a sharp intake of breath to his right.
“You hit?” he asked Felina, turning to find her clutching her right arm midway between elbow and hand.
“I’m fine,” she snapped, switching her blaster to her left hand and obliterating the offending drone. “Gotcha,” she purred.
Seeing their pathway clear, Harris rose to his feet, offering Felina a hand. She accepted it and he helped her to her feet, calling to his men as he stood.
“C’mon, we gotta catch up to Katz. I want the others stopped, but not permanently.” The red-head pulled the map free of his pocket and gave it a quick glance, reconfirming the outline already etched in his head. “This way.” Harris indicated a wider opening that branched off to the left.
His team followed him into the darkness. If the first main tunnel had been like descending into a cave, this was a black hole. The powerful flashlights the kats carried only penetrated a scant few feet ahead, the light being quickly lost in almost a century’s worth of stagnant air. The thick gloom seemed to press in on the Enforcers, increasing their sense of dread as they felt the floor beneath their feet sloping downward. Over a hundred feet of rock and concrete were now between them and daylight.
McFurland was oblivious to the dismal corridor as he hastily brushed past several of his teammates to get just behind Felina. The let him pass with conspirator’s smiles. At the moment, he was blind to those too, in more than a literal sense.
“Hey, lemme look at that,” the gray-furred tom asked, trying to shine his light on Felina’s wound.
She jerked the arm away.
“It’s just a burn,” she hissed, her ears laying back.
McFurland backed off, his crestfallen attitude discernible even in the pitch black gloom. It wasn’t necessary to see his face; hurt washed from him in a near-tangible wave.
Felina bit her lip, surprised at her own actions. Teasing him had been fun earlier… What was different now? Her pain, her frustration, her worry? Or was it Katz’ comment? She shoved the thoughts from her mind and forced herself to give Mickey a faint smile.
“I’ll be fine… Got anything I could wrap around it though? My sleeve’s rubbing on it something awful.”
He obliged and after a minute’s searching handed her a scrap of cloth before retreating at her obvious desire to secure it herself. McFurland slipped into the shadows behind her to fidget with something. As she was tying the makeshift bandage on, Felina noticed the familiar feel of the cloth. She rubbed it between her fingers experimentally. She was almost positive it was part of a uniform. The dark-eyed she-kat smiled to herself as she felt a curious warm glow filling her. She pushed it away, but still found herself fighting the urge to glance back at McFurland and confirm her suspicions. The sudden whine igniting the air told her there were more important things at hand. More drones. Another fight was in the workings. Felina grimaced. She wasn’t such a great shot with her left arm.
The little band was met with more drones every step of the way. Had anyone wished to track them into the bowels of MegaKat City’s subterranean realms, it wouldn’t have been hard; a trail of dismembered metal fragments littered the paths they’d taken.
Lieutenant Steele scowled as he felt the sewer’s dampness inexorably seeping through both fur and clothing. He hated sewers. He hated rats. He was beginning to hate his men. He’d caught snatches of whispered snickers ever since the rat incident. The orange-furred kat broke from his thoughts as he heard Klawner, several feet ahead, giving the order to stop.
“What’s going on?” Steele demanded, forcing his way through the other Enforcers to meet Klawner. His eyes could just make out the shape of a doorway in the flashlights’ bobbing beams before he stepped out into a cavernous room.
Hearing Steele bulling his way through the troops, Klawner turned to see the fox-faced feline approaching. He was careful to keep his flashlight’s beam low enough that it didn’t shine in Steele’s face. His own was lined with worry that showed through his considerable facial fur. He didn’t need the incompetent leader distracting or pulling rank on him at the moment.
“I thought we should pause here and consult the maps – the tunnel branches in several diff….” he began.
“Yes, yes – check the map and let’s get moving,” Steele snapped.
The corporal’s jaw tightened ever so slightly before he resumed what he had been saying.
“The men I sent ahead to check tunnels claim to have heard something – we think it’s coming from there.” Klawner gestured toward a wide entrance on the opposite end of the circular room.
Steele unconsciously pricked his ears forward. A regular thudding was emanating from the gaping hole that Klawner had indicated. A cluster of kats was slowly advancing on the opening, blasters drawn.
“What’s that?” Steele demanded even as the steady thud drew nearer.
“Uhm…, Sir…?” the Enforcer standing nearest to the entranceway called over his shoulder, edging back toward the group.
“What?” Steele and Klawner both demanded.
Following the officer’s gaze, Steele yelped and leapt backward, nearly slamming into Klawner, who drew his breath in sharply.
A single metal leg stepped free of the shadows. The Enforcers jerked their blaster rifles into firing position with a collective gasp.
A second leg freed itself of its den of night and at last brought the monstrosity’s body into view. A simple rounded form, the body was its least frightening feature. Supported on eight thin metal legs the *thing* was disturbingly spiderlike.
“Fire!” Steele shrieked, drawing his own blaster and spattering the smooth metal body with laser fire.
The troops paused, waiting for Klawner to verify the order.
“You heard him,” the corporal shouted. “Fire!”
The ruby beams scored the metal hide in over a dozen places. With a shudder, the metal form crumpled to the stone floor, its legs curling inward toward its body.
As it stilled, the lieutenant commander at last released the trigger of his blaster, hands still shaking. Slowly, trying to collect himself, he holstered the weapon and studied the buglike apparition. At length, the orange-furred tomkat smiled and stepped forward to stand by the robotic corpse.
“Is that the best the Seeker can throw at us?” he demanded, a smirk sliding across his face as he faced his men. He paused, seeing that the other Enforcers didn’t seem to share his elation. In fact, their eyes were wide with horror. Sensing impending doom, Steele turned his head ever so slowly to look back at the titanium creature.
He was faced with a single giant eyeball, its cornea lit a faint yellow by hidden light sources. As his face contorted into a frozen scream of horror, the eye’s tiny pupil dilated, extending to a size roughly that of his own head, a black hole framed by a blood red iris. A deep-throated gasp rattled in Steele’s throat as the beast rose slowly, revealing a pair of titanium pincers. As Steele watched, seemingly rooted to the spot, a viscous green sputum dripped from the tip of one pincer to sizzle on the stone flagging.
A crisp beam of light energy striking the floor just inches from the toe of his boot at last snapped Steele from his stupor. With an undignified squall he leapt away even as the metal beast snapped at the air where his head had been with its vicious pincers.
“*That* woulda been a loss,” the burly Chadd chuckled as he and the rest of the team fanned out behind Harris and Felina, emerging from a tunnel opposite the other Enforcers.
Felina let a brief, wicked smile cross her face before she focused on shooting the monstrosity instead of the floor. Steele was just as lucky he hadn’t lost a toe as he was that his head was still atop his shoulders – her aim was miserable shooting with her left hand and arm.
Meanwhile, Steele had scrambled back among his men, who, on Corporal Klawner’s orders, opened fire on the titanium beast. The fact that he was, at least temporarily ignored, was lost on their blonde commander as he turned a shocked and outraged glare on Felina.
“You shot at me!” he spat.
Felina paused in her efforts to destroy the spider, now lumbering towards Steele’s men, long enough to respond.
“And, if I hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here now,” she snapped.
“Waitaminute! You’re not even supposed to be here! I gave you a direct order!” Steele shrieked back, remembering his earlier words to her.
Felina ignored him. Blocking out any further words from Steele, the ebony-haired she-kat centered her blaster on the spider’s underbelly.
It was a dangerous firefight. The Enforcers were divided into two camps – in more ways than one Felina thought ruefully. With the spider in the middle of the camps, the Enforcers were shooting at each other as much as their real enemy.
Felina tried to take careful aim, switching her blaster to her right hand. Her arm throbbed as she raised it into a firing position. The she-kat grit her teeth and took aim. This time her aim was true. Sparks danced as the blast found a less armored area.
“YES!” Felina crowed as the steel monster’s progress slowed, its hindermost four legs growing sluggish and unresponsive. Quickly, the captain crouched low and readied herself to leap away when the creature charged her. In her experience as an Enforcer in MegaKat City even the dumbest robots had remarkable self-preservation programming.
The spider, however, remained oblivious to the damage, relentlessly pressing through the wall of fire the other Enforcers were laying down.
“What is it with that thing?!” McFurland bellowed, trying to copy Felina’s shot.
“Try to hit its underside! And quick!” Harris screamed to his unit. “They’re gonna be outta power soon!” His next shot was a pink glow that lazily splashed the beast’s side. “Case in point,” Harris muttered between clenched teeth as he ripped the rechargable power pack from his blaster and slapped in the spare he kept in his belt pouch.
“Did someone not go to the Porta-John before we left home?” Chadd snickered, trying to lighten the mood.
“Can the jokes, Spangler,” Harris shot back with a grin.
McFurland had just glanced down at the power meter on his blaster when he heard Steele’s yowl. The gray-furred tom’s eyes flew up from his examination to see the spider burst through the ranks of the other Enforcers and charge Steele. A sudden connection clicked in McFurland’s mind as he bolted toward his would-be commanding officer.
“Mickey, what are you doing?!” Felina screamed, catching the movement.
“McFurland,….!!” Harris bellowed, turning at Felina’s shout to see the tall tomkat slip around the spider, running close to the wall.
“Mickey, you moron, what are you doing?” Thacker murmured under his breath as he watched his friend. Steele was firing wildly at the metal beast as it advanced on him, his frantic fire doing more harm to his own troops as it bounced off the creature’s armored “face” than to the spider itself. Unfortunately, Steele was paying no attention to his blaster’s power meter. Unheeded, his blaster’s fire was growing dimmer and dimmer. It was several seconds after even a pink haze had stopped to spout from his weapon’s muzzle that Steele at last stopped squeezing the trigger. His yellow eyes widened in terror as he hurled the blaster at the spider.
“Get away! Get back, you metal freak!” the terrified kat shrieked as he was backed into the wall.
The spider’s response was to step forward and open its green- flecked pincers menacingly. “Get your tails over here and help me!” Steele howled to the other Enforcers.
None of the battered and beleaguered kats were in a position to do anything, however. Their blasters were ineffectual at full power and all of them were running low; their auxiliary packs even at exhaustion. To make matters worse, the long-nosed feline had backed himself into a corner.
Steele continued to back away until he felt the cold stone wall at his back. He stared up at the spider in horror.
“Aaaaaaaa!!!!” McFurland bellowed a hoarse-throated war cry as he charged *under* the monster toward Steele. The beast’s response was seconds too slow as the gray-furred tomkat grabbed the front of Steele’s coat and dragged him to “safety” under the metal monstrosity.
Emerging on the other side, McFurland screamed to his fellows, “Don’t shoot ’til I give the signal!”
With that, he hauled Steele across the room toward the passage through which the creature had come. As he’d guessed, the spider followed, turning around as quickly as it could with its damaged legs.
“Wha… what are you doing?!” Steele squalled as he was tugged along in McFurland’s wake. “Stop! I order you….!”
McFurland skidded to a stop just within the passage. Unable to slow in time, Steele smacked into the taller kat.
“Ack! What’re you…?!” Steele yelped as Mickey spun him around to face the spider.
“Just sit tight,” the gray-furred kat whispered to him. “Your friend still wants to talk.” He smiled confidently at Steele’s back. The show of bravado was lost on Steele.
“What… You… You’re not serious!” Steele shrieked as he felt McFurland behind him clamping both of his arms in a vise-like grip. He mouth opened in a soundless scream as the metallic beast advanced.
“What is he doing?!” Harris demanded, not expecting anyone to answer.
“Giving us a chance,” Felina shot back, catching on to Mickey’s idea.
“Huh?!” Harris looked at her in surprise.
“Of course,” Klawner jumped in, coming up behind the two. “When he signals, order your men to shoot the top of the doorway, Major.”
Understanding, Harris nodded, hoping he wasn’t agreeing to both McFurland’s and Steele’s deaths. Felina’s drawn face said that she felt the same way.
The titanium monstrosity, dragging its damaged hindquarters, moved ever closer to the kats within the passageway. McFurland’s eyes narrowed, darting from the spider to the archway at the opening to the tunnel. He could feel Steele’s muscles tensing, becoming like steel rods beneath his grip. The terrified kat would bolt any minute and it was debatable if he would be able to hold him. He looked back at the spider. Close enough.
“NOW!!!” the tall tomkat screamed. “Shoot the arch!!!”
Harris and Klawner echoed his call, directing every bit of firepower their combined units had into the aging stone.
Shattered rock showered onto the spider as, with a mighty crack, the great stones began to break free.
“GO!!!” McFurland bellowed, shoving Steele forward.
The orange-furred kat hardly needed the impetus once he was released. He scrambled under the spider even as its pincers snapped futilely at the tip of his tail. Before it could raise the weapons again, McFurland dashed after Steele. He felt a rush of air just after his tail as the beast took a final swipe at him.
The stones of the arch at last gave way with a shudder, crashing onto the creature below even as the gray-furred officer appeared on the other side of the spider. Hearing the wave of sound, McFurland leapt forward. He yelped as he realized that his trajectory was heading him straight towards the fleeing Steele.
Mickey slammed into Steele, their combined momentums sending them tumbling across the stone floor. Behind them, the metal spider was buried under several tons of rock.
The other Enforcers rushed toward the two tangled felines. Felina reached them first.
“Mickey?!” she shouted.
“Huh?” His raised his head off the floor to meet her gaze. He smiled when he saw her.
She returned it for a minute, then scowled.
“You…,” she started.
“…moron,” Thacker finished, joining them.
“Yes, you moron,” she chuckled, stepping back to let him stand.
“Thank you, thank you,” Mickey returned, getting to his feet and nodding to each of them in turn, a wry smile teasing the corners of his mouth. “And, for my next trick…”
“For your next trick you can turn in your badge, you idiot!” Steele snarled, struggling to his feet.
Harris, Klawner, and Felina leapt to protest even as a voice rang across the cavern.
“That’s enough. As of now, this mission is aborted.”
Every head turned to see the broad-shouldered tomkat who stood, flanked by a small force of troops in military uniforms, at the entrance through which they’d all come.
For an instant, Felina thought it was her uncle. Then, the figure stepped into the light, revealing an orange-furred feline.
The general surveyed the scene for a moment, his eyes at last coming to rest on Steele. “Dad?!” Steele gaped.
To Be Continued… (quite obviously)
Notes (aka ramblings):
* – Felinus is the SWAT Kats’ planet in this tale (and, yes, this holds true for all stories written by Seeker or Kristen unless otherwise stated).
** – the Kattainians are the citizens of the SWAT Kats’ country. The country? The Republic of Kattainia. It’s their planet, Felinus’, equivalent of the United States. This also holds true for all future fanfics.
For this fanfic we’ve given Dr. Conway a first name. We’re to understand that, for some reason, Samuel was long ago decided upon as his true first name and that Conway should be spelled Konway, but we never heard Samuel on the show or saw a correct spelling in the credits. Even if the evidence blatantly denied it, Kris still wants to name him Seymour in honor of someone we know – amazingly, the two look alike.
Sewer sequence inspiration music — music tracks from the games Descent I and II
Max Lucado is a real author for the records. Look him up – he’s good.
Captain Mazie Rackham’s name is derived from *Mazer* Rackham of Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”
This story is a work of fiction. Any relation to any persons living or dead is probably deliberate.
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Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.