The day was cold and crisp, perfect for the season but hard on one’s old bones, but he had promised to pick up a tree and he was determined to continue looking until he found one.
He’d already visited several tree lots around the city and was fast losing heart. There was one place he’d not tried because it was outside the city limits but – he sighed – it was all that was left.
Walking carefully due to the icy sidewalks, he reached his old but still reliable vehicle. Pulling out into the busy traffic, he headed for the freeway, which he hated driving on since everyone drove faster than him and were a bit irritable about the old relic using their roads when the more modern vehicles now rode on a cushion of air and had no need for gas, tires, and combustion engines. He ignored them as he always did and reached for his radio, fiddling until he found a channel that was playing Christmas music.
It took him more than thirty minutes to reach the farm that still grew and sold Christmas trees, though it was the son that managed it now. Smiling happily, having finally found the perfect tree, he thanked them gratefully, paying the reasonable fee for it. They smiled at him warmly, gave him a cup of hot cocoa to warm him as they tied the tree to his rooftop.
Warmed inside and glad to be finished with his task, he began his trek back to town. He had reached the freeway and was just making the turnoff when something in the engine began making really loud noises before giving a sharp bang, instantly causing him to lose all power. Not panicking, he held the wheel straight while he pressed the brakes until the car came to a complete halt.
Sighing unhappily, he flicked on his emergency flashers then climbed slowly out of his car. Going to the front, he saw smoke coming out from under the hood. He stared at it in dismay but before he could decide what action to take, another old, but powerful, vehicle in the form of a pickup truck, rolled up behind him.
Climbing out was someone he never dreamed he’d see ever again. Scrambling out after the male was a youngster about five years old. The familiar tom walked up to him and stopped in surprised recognition.
“Well, I never expected to see you again. Long time no see Feral,” Chance Furlong said gruffly. “Having troubles with your old hummer, I see,” he said, coming to the dark tom’s side and gazing at the still smoking car.
“Never thought I’d see you either, Furlong,” Feral said roughly, “And, yeah… she was running just fine then began making noises for about a mile before giving a loud bang and quitting altogether.”
“Ohhh, that’s not good. Sounds like you threw a rod!” Furlong said shaking his head, regretfully.
“I was afraid that might have been it,” Feral said unhappily, anguish at losing the only form of transport he was willing to use. He stared at the Christmas tree and wondered how he was going to get it home now.
“Well, why don’t I give you and your tree a lift home? This is going to have to be towed to the salvage yard anyway. You’d have to get a new engine and I’m not sure you’re going to find one for it now. These new fangled things…” Furlong gestured in mild disgust at the modern floating cars, “…are all that you find now.”
“I’m afraid you’re right, but I’ll be damned if I’ll drive one of those floating contraptions,” Feral rumbled irritably.
Furlong snorted in agreement then eyed the old tom, “So…?”
Feral looked at the tabby. Though older now, the tom was still fit with only a little gray showing in his still thick blond hair. The kitten looked very much like him and had kept silent, listening but not interrupting. ‘Good manners,’ he thought idly.
“Okay…thanks…,” he responded reluctantly then shivered and drew his coat closer. He felt cold and miserable now.
“Here, get into the truck where it’s warm. I’ll get the tree.” Without being too obvious, Chance helped the elderly tom get to the passenger side of the truck without falling. He turned to his grandson, “Teren, you get back into the truck too,” he ordered softly while he reached into the cab and turned the engine on so warm heat would blow on Feral. His grandson scrambled into the cab obediently.
In just a few minutes, the tree was laid gently into the pickup bed, Furlong was behind the wheel and they were heading down the road again.
“How have you been?” Furlong asked politely to ease the strained silence.
“Fine. Just puttering around in my garden in the summer and trying to stay warm in the winter,” Feral said blandly. “You?”
“Oh, busy. Jake and I still tinker around. I can’t fly anymore, but I do help him build his designs that are still highly sought after. We can pick and choose the projects that interest us now.”
“That’s good. Glad we got rid of all those omega so we can do what we want to now.”
“Yeah and with the extra bonus of staying alive too,” Chance chuckled lightly. “Did you ever marry?”
“Humph, actually, no,” he snorted. “No she-kat would put up with me. Felina did, however, and has three kits that are adults now. I live with one of them and their two kits. Felina and her husband run a security company together and are doing very well.”
“Really? Wow! Glad she’s doing what she likes best,” Chance grinned, shaking his head. “Well, I did finally find a she-kat that can put up with my ‘nonsense’, as she calls it. We had two kits which are grown too. They’ve presented us with a couple of grandkits so far. Jake married, too, and has four kits and six grandkits. He’s always been an overachiever!”
Feral had to chuckle at that. His mind wandered back to when he and the SWAT Kats had been at each others’ throats. It had taken ten hard years and more losses than he wanted to think about before they finally managed to bring peace to Megakat City.
He continued on as Commander despite having lost an arm for another five years before turning the reins over to Felina, who only kept the position for another six years before leaving to start her own business.
As for the SWAT Kats, they continued to patrol the city for another five years before suddenly dropping from sight, only to reappear as an affluent pair of entrepreneurs, using their former SWAT Kat personas to help them capitalize on Jake’s phenomenally popular designs, especially the Turbokat and their personal weapons. With the money they made, they wiped their debt with the Enforcers in less than a year then ran their own business for more than a decade. It sounded like they had retired and were just tinkerers now. They certainly were wealthy enough to do what they wanted.
Looking at the dark tom out of the corner of his eye, Chance could see life had not been too bad for Feral though he was rather frail now and his hair was all gray. The empty sleeve on his left side, which was pinned up, was where he’d lost his arm to the Metallikats in that final battle with them, the last of the omegas to be destroyed. Chance had always wished he and Jake had been able to get to the scene sooner before Feral was maimed, but that was water under the bridge and a very long time ago.
With Feral’s directions, they reached a modest brick home in a quiet neighborhood. Lifting the tree from the truck bed with his grandson proudly helping carry the tip of it, Chance carried the tree up the sidewalk behind Feral’s slow moving form.
The door popped open before they reached it and a lovely, red headed, cream tabby she-kat stared in concern at Feral.
“Granduncle, what happened? Where’s your car?”
“It blew a rod. I’m going to have to have it towed to the salvage yard,” he said grimly.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I know how much that car meant to you,” she said helping him into the house then directing Chance where to put the tree.
“Desiree, this is Chance Furlong. He happened along and brought me home,” Feral said gruffly as his grandniece helped him off with his coat. Tired, he settled into his favorite chair.
“Oh, thank you so much, Mr. Furlong,” Desiree said, then frowned as a stray memory flashed across her mind. “Oh my! You’re one of the SWAT Kats, aren’t you?” she blurted.
Chance blushed and rested his paws on his grandson’s shoulders. “Uhmm, yeah I was. Surprised you remembered that.”
She shrugged her shoulders and smiled warmly as she said, “Oh, I’m a teacher and we just covered the history of Megakat City’s more colorful past just a couple of weeks ago, so it was still fresh in my mind.”
“Feels funny to be in a history lesson,” Chance said, amused. “Well, we’ve got to be going. You all have a nice Christmas.”
“Thank you for coming to my aid and may your family and Jake’s have a nice one two,” Feral said rather drowsily.
Desiree saw Chance and his grandson to the door. “Thank you so much for making sure he got home safely. It’s too bad about his vehicle though. He really loved that car and now without it…” She sighed and looked back at the old tom who was now asleep in his chair, “…I’m afraid he will never go out anymore. He hates those new cars with a passion. Anyway, thanks again and have a wonderful Christmas.”
“You’re welcome and a Happy Christmas to your family, too,” Chance said politely, then went back to his truck and drove home.
On Christmas Day, Feral’s family were enjoying a quiet morning after all the excitement of opening presents. The kittens were playing with their new toys and Feral was relaxing in his chair, watching a football game, when the doorbell rang.
Desiree hurried to answer it. She was stunned to see a familiar face when she opened the door.
“Hi, Merry Christmas. I’ve only got a moment, but I wanted to leave something for Feral,” Chance Furlong said, smiling warmly and pointing toward the driveway. Parked there, looking nearly new, was Feral’s hummer.
“Jake and I hated to think of Feral losing his freedom and we do like to tinker, so we found a way to make his hummer work with a combination of old and new. It runs similar enough to the way it used to so he doesn’t have to learn anything new to drive it,” he said with shy pride.
Desiree stared opened mouthed for several seconds before she could find her voice. “Oh, that’s so sweet of you. Please let me pay you…”
Chance held up his paw and shook his head. “No way! Jake and I are independently wealthy and don’t need the money. Besides, it was fun to do. Enjoy your holiday!” he said with finality, turning and heading for his truck parked on the street. Another male was in the driver’s seat and she realized it was his partner, the one formerly known as Razor. She waved good bye then closed the door.
“Who was at the door?” Feral asked, curiously.
She told him and all he could do was gape. “It was such a wonderful thing for them to do, Granduncle. Happy Christmas,” she said, hugging him warmly.
Feral had to swallow hard as a well of emotion nearly swamped him. He had to agree, it was a wonderful thing they had done and he intended to thank them when he got the chance. Their simple act of kindness had been the single most important Christmas gift he’d gotten this year.
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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.