Me again. One of your (hopefully) favorite writers! This is set in the alternate universe of “A Bright and Shiny Future,” with a few changes. This is the intro story of an ongoing series on its own, and new parts will be written ****when I feel like it.**** It has a few things similar to Sonic, but don’t bite my head off. Comments and questions are welcome! You guys know my address. (And if you don’t, shame on you!) Enjoy!
She stood there, on the very edge of the swamp, staring at the distant, far-away lights of the city she had once called home.
Once it had been a bustling metropolis, energetic, and for the most part, peaceful. A city with, parks and business, of *life*. Her hand clenched as she thought of what it had once been. Of what Megakat City had always been before It had happened.
And now it wasn’t Megakat City any more, it was Metallikat City.
Now it was a city of robots, of slave camps, and where City Hall had once been now stood a huge control center. The streets, once filled with cars and sidewalks where little kids would run, were now grim black roads which no one but Mack and Molly’s attack and defense force used; were now roamed by Enforcer-like who droned endlessly if they saw you: “Non-me-tal-lic life-forms. Su-rren-der.” And if you tried to resist, to run away: “Re-sis-tance will be dealt with ter-mi-na-tion.”
And this could have been prevented! This might have never happened, if they had just melted down the Metallikat’s heads! Their city might still have been theirs, if not for some stupid little twist of fate.
But then again, it still might have happened. The Pastmaster was a devious thing; he might have gone back in time to pluck the Manges just before her uncle blasted them with the whatzziz gizzmo that the Professor had designed.
The Professor. She liked him, she supposed. He really was a gentle soul, one would find it hard to imagine that *he* was responsible for the creation of the Metallikats in the first place. If only he hadn’t removed to that island, then he might’ve seen the news of the two thugs that escaped from Alkatraz, and left the bodies alone, or maybe, knowing him, given them a decent burial.
But there was no going back, was there? Not unless you were someone like the Pastmaster, who could manipulate time.
But they could make it better, couldn’t they? If only just a little? Now and then they were able to free some of the workers, though many had died from the sheer joy of being free. But some survived, joined their little resistance group and expanded it, filled with more hatred then even the original Refugees for the Metallikats, for they knew first-hand of the horrors they had been forced to go through in the slave camps.
Footsteps behind her. Turning her head to see one Chance Furlong standing there, the infamous T-Bone watching her. Older now, less hot-headed, like her. It had been necessary to reveal their hidden identities. And Callie had told her uncle, in very plainly, that if he were to arrest the SWAT Kats once Megakat City was itself again, she would personally see that he was thrown off the force, did he understand?
He had grumbled, protested, complained like a bratty little kid, but had finally given in with a sullen “Yes, Miss Briggs.”
And they had met another group of about ten others like themselves just two weeks ago. Louis, a tall male kat in his early twenties and his cousin, Celeste, slightly younger, seemed to be in charge. So far, they had proved a valuable asset to their little group. And Celeste had quickly become fairly popular with the former citizens of Megakat City. Especially with Jake. Now, if the two of them got together after this was all over . . .
It was strange, really, if you thought about it, she mused. Despite the fact we’re stuck here, in the middle of a stinking swamp, we can still have friends and have happiness, even in the face of all that’s happened.
“Hey Felina.” He referred to her by her first name now, never as Lieutenant Feral anymore. In a way, she supposed, she was relieved they had dropped all formalities. Except for her uncle and Mayor Manx. He was old, slightly senile, and even though he was younger then Hackle, he was definitely deteriorating faster than the white-haired professor. Probably because he had been in power for so long, it was hard for him to accept the fact that he wasn’t the guy in charge anymore, just another refugee.
He sat down next to her. The strain of this life had affected him and Jake as well. His pale-gold fur was now irregularly streaked with silver even though he was only in his late thirties; and there was a cool wisdom in his eyes that had always been characteristic of Jake, even so long ago.
Only *her* looks had not changed. Her hair was still mostly black, with the white streaks alongside her head. She had always looked this way, even when she had been small. She was one of those few people who never changed in looks, no matter what they go through.
Chance sighed and pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them. “Something wrong?” he asked quietly as the crickets started their nightly serenade. Crickets. How odd it seemed to hear them even out here, to hear the timeless chirps of the small green insects.
“No, not really. I was just . . . remembering things. Thinking about the old days, when we were, well, I guess rivals.”
He nodded wisely. “Some of the others were getting worried about you. ‘Specially Feral. They wanna know when you want to come back.”
“Ahh, I might as well come.” She stood and offered a hand to help him up. He waved it off and stood, and together they walked back to camp.
The camp was quiet, Hackle and Jake puttering around with their gadgets and tools that the Professor had stored in his van. They appeared to be working on a remake of the Cybertron that Hackle had presented to them so long ago. Chance smiled slightly at old memories. The little robot who had stubbornly followed them, saved their lives twice, and had, until the very end, stuck to them, even when he had snubbed it, told it to stay at the hangar, felt like taking a stick and beating it over its small metal head.
He walked up behind his partner, who had sat back on his heels and was frowning and shaking his head, brow furrowed.
“Wha–oh, hi Chance. Can’t really talk, we’re busy right now.” He turned back to the Professor, who was fiddling with some knobs and dials on what appeared to be a large black metal box. “But Professor, it won’t work the way you want it to unless we move *this* dial twenty degrees to the right . . .”
He wandered off. Even now that sorta stuff bored him beyond tears. How could *any*one stand it? He walked around the camp, feeling bored. Felina was pacing around the fire, small at the best, buy the largest they could afford, even out here, so far away from the city itself. Huge robot sentinels sometimes roamed this area, both looking for them, as well as run away workers that somehow managed to escape from the slave and labor camps. It didn’t matter. If they found them, the result was always the same: they would be captured, and either put to work or put to death.
Some, in fact many, preferred the latter to the endless drive of the slave whip, the unending work and painful punishments.
Like the electric shock; high voltage electricity pouring through the body, zapping every cell, not unlike the electric chair, only much worse, for one survived it, lived on to suffer it again.
He knew that better than most.
He closed his eyes, trying to fight back the memory, even though it still came, ruthless and terrifying as if those nights were being done all over again.
It had happened one quiet night, much like this. He had had an argument with Jake about something so petty, so trivial that he didn’t even remember it any more.
He had stalked away from the camp, ignoring Celeste and Callie and some of the others calling for him to come back. He had been so angry, so very, very angry. And in his anger, he made one of the biggest mistakes of his entire life.
Heated in a red rage, he had stomped to the edge of the swamp. Tearing down any vines and plants that got in his way, snarling at anything that annoyed him in any which way. Not really paying attention to the bright lights of hover units over him until too late.
Bright lights overhead, blinding him, hurting his eyes. Even as he threw up his head, writhing in the pain, some dull thought came to him of Jake: He would not be able to apologize for the argument. He would die without gaining the forgiveness of his best friend. And even as the robots came and took him away, all that he could think of was Jake, how he would not be able to explain how he had been angry at the time, how Jake had just accidentally set him off while he was in a bad mood. Not even the thought that he was extremely lucky, in a way, to be caught *without* his mask came through his guilt about the fight.
They had taken him to the work camp where his old home, the salvage yard, used to be.
And, heavens above, he was so totally surprised that he nearly had the proverbial heart attack when he saw Burke and Murray there, old and gray and wrinkled, struggling to lift some parts. All of the old resentment, the old anger, came back in a hot rush as he stared at the twosome with whom he and Jake had argued and fought with in civilian clothing all those years ago. But, as he watched, for some reason unnoticed by the metal guards that paced behind him, something melted inside of him. He pitied them, felt sorry for the two junkmen, broken and worn down with age.
“Hey, guys,” he said quietly, walking up to them and helping them lift the parts. Burke stared at him, his eyes dulled by age, and, as he stared, he spoke, in a voice that was no more than a hoarse whisper: “You!”
Murray was staring too. “Hey, hotshot,” he quipped weakly, “where’s your little friend?”
“He’s somewhere else,” he had murmured, deliberately avoiding the question, not wanting to think of Jake, yet somehow couldn’t help it. His friend’s image came into his mind, one eyebrow arched and a look that said “yeah right” on his face. He wasn’t aware that he had stopped moving until a pair of cold metal hands suddenly clamped on his arms, so quickly he couldn’t even cry out in pain. “Move you,” droned the voice of a robot in his ear. He whirled, Burke and Murray fleeing while they could, to stare directly into the eyes of someone who seemed vaguely familiar . . .
He suddenly knew who it was.
Marianne Measse . . .
Marianne had been a childhood sweetheart. She could outswim, outplay, outrun any boy, even him. And he had admired and respected her for it. Now she was this . . . this . . . thing *thing*, this mindless and totally frightening thing; did she even know who it was she was ordering around?
“Marri!” he cried softly, knowing if was futile.
As he had known it would, the old nickname did nothing but anger the programmed robot. “Move you. Idle-ness will not be tol-er-ated.”
He refused to budge, and finally, Marri had signaled to the overseer robot. “Take him a-way. He will be giv-en shock trea-t-ment.”
He hadn’t know what this “shock treatment” was, but from the sudden gasps and pale faces from the other workers, he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to like it.
They had taken him into a dark little room, where the little kitchen had once been. Now, instead of the miniscule stove and table, there was now a huge thing hanging like a lamp from the ceiling over a small metal dentist’s chair. Five wickedly sharp-looking spikes were firmly planted in it, and a delicate silver line traced from the base of one spike to another, like some hideous connect-the-dots, forming a five-pointed star . . .
He was very firmly strapped to the chair, red robot eyes unfeeling and cold as before, their strength more than a match for his, forcing him down.
Then, the terrible device was slowly making its way downward, inching ever-so-slowly down toward his prone body. Unable to do anything but watch, he had waited to see what would happen.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of a *click*, much like that of a switch being thrown. And without warning streaks of blue-white lightening erupted from the very tips of the spikes, sizzling downwards toward him, electrifying him, torturing him . . .
Hours later, he had opened his eyes; he was in a small, dirty, gray-walled room, and peering anxiously over him were the faces of some of the workers.
One of them, who seemed to be the leader–or as much of a leader as one could get in this slave-like situation–smiled at him. “Ah! You’re awake! Good. We were afraid that the treatment would be too much for you, like it is for so many . . .” he trailed off and a grimace of forgotten pain crossed over his face. Obviously he had lost a loved one to the terrible torture of the electric shock.
“Hey, I’m all right,” he had said, rolling over and trying to sit up, only to be restrained by a woman, who pressed him back down to the shabby little bed. “Hush, child. Lie still. Acht,” she said, shaking her head, “look at ye. Ye look like road kill, sonny.”
He had been tempted to say “So that’s what I feel like?”, but refrained from doing so. He had merely laid back and stared glumly at the ceiling. He had survived that pain, managed to live through it. That meant that he would be able to do it again, and the next time he stepped out of line, they might make it even worse than it was this time . . .
He had dropped off to sleep.
It hadn’t been two days when he was freed. By sheer luck he and a group of others–most notably the ones who had cared for him after his unpleasant encounter with the shock treatment–had managed to fool the robot guards, and, with Jake and Felina’s help, managed to escape.
But they had not gotten away scot-free. The leader had been shot by one of the guards, a pure shot of luck that managed to hit him in the back. He had fallen, and even though Chance had tried to help him, the poor fellow died at the edge of Megakat Swamp.
They had buried him in the little cemetery they had made for those who died. On his tombstone, after finding out his name–Ross–they had held a funeral for him. On the stone they carved, for his daughter, still alive (he had lost his wife to the shock treatment):
“With your departure,
You take with me
They had sung the traditional Katholic funeral hymns, then left him there, his daughter crying on his grave.
“Chance? Hey, Chance, you in there?” a voice was calling to him through his haze of memories. He looked up–Celeste. She had a vaguely worried look on her face. “You’re not thinking of running away again, are you?”
He smiled and allowed her to help him to his feet. “Nah, I was just remembering the beginning. I’m coming.” He followed her to the camp. The others were waiting for him, as he knew they always would, even Feral.
He smiled at the thought. The SWAT Kats were not dead, not broken, in fact, they had just grown bigger.
Mack and Molly still held an iron fist over Metallikat–Megakat–City. But that was okay. There was now a dedicated band of freedom fighter refugees, all eager to restore the city to what it had once been. No, the days of the SWAT Kats were not over yet, neither were the days of Megakat City. In fact, it was just beginning anew–and tomorrow was another day. Just as tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow are always there, always waiting.
There was no way they were going down without a fight, and robots can only be relied on so far. There were still many kats in the labor camps, resentment and hatred and anger boiling deep inside of them. If need be, they would all rise to defeat a tyrant, like they did in many other tales.
But this one is finished. Let the book be closed, please join us again soon. And remember: What passes for charm . . . Is a charm.
Walk safely all, and good-night.
Some extra side notes:
1. The little verse on Ross’ tombstone was taken from the back on Selena’s Spanish/English CD, “Dreaming of You.”
2. The line “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” was taken from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” We did a play on it, and I thought, What the hell? Might as well. <G>
3. “What passes for charm . . . Is a charm,” was taken from Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Lestat,” from Lestat’s brief career as a rock star. The song itself is called “The Age of Innocence.” I dunno why I put it in there. I just liked that line, so there. =P.
Send all comments and suggestions to me, and tell me what you think of these ideas:
1. T-Bone (alone) confronts the Pastmaster, who sends him into a parallel dimension where he must figure every riddle posed to him.
2. I develop a romance between two characters. (I don’t know which ones yet. If you like this idea, tell me which characters you’d like to see in a relationship together!)
I might also write little side-things of the story, which have not much to do with the main storyline. Bye. =D
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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.