Title: Christmas That Nearly Wasn’t
Warnings: Mild profanity.
Disclaimer: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
Summary: Is Santa Kat real? Feral, the SWAT Kats, and Viper soon learn the answer in this holiday offering.
“Crud! What a night, seems as if every omega decided to wish us an unMerry Christmas, buddy,” T-Bone grumbled, peeling his sweat soaked g-suit off and tossing it into the laundry basket in the corner.
“I believe it,” the slimmer of the two vigilantes growled, pulling his own dirty g-suit off.
“Well, it’s Christmas Eve; hope to hell they stay in for the night. I’m bushed.”
Jake grimaced as he tugged on a tennis shoe. “Why stop when they’re ahead?” he said, sarcasm dripping in his tone. “I mean, we’ve seen nearly all of them this week, finishing up with the Pastmaster a couple of hours ago.”
“There’s still Dr. Viper. He hasn’t made an appearance,” Chance sourly reminded him.
“Ohhh, that’s right. *sigh* Wonder what he’s cooking up for the main event,” Jake snorted, disgust and exhaustion warring on his face.
“Whatever it might be, I want to eat and take a nap before it happens.”
“Good idea, but first we need to reload the Turbokat.”
A groan was all Jake heard, but his tired friend dutifully headed to the munitions stash, grumbling all the way.
Over his stolen enforcer scanner, Viper was working in his secret lab hidden in the vast reaches of the area known as the Megakat Swamp.
“Blassst thossse other foolsss! They’ve ssset the enforcersss and thossse meddlesssome SSSWAT Katsss on alert. No point going to the Bio Chemical Labsss for that katalyssst I need right now. Bessst wait until after the New Year… might have better luck then,” he bitterly muttered to himself.
He worked for a couple of hours when, suddenly, a loud commotion was heard from outside his hidden lab. One of his plantimals came hurtling into the room, squeaking something at him. Frowning in surprise, Viper hurried up the long, rough hewn stairs that ran from underground to the inside of the huge tree that formed his home. The living mutant tree opened the side of itself smoothly at a command from its master, revealing the swamp lapping at his ‘doorstep’.
There, held firmly by his sentry tree that used long vines to capture prey, hung a sleigh with eight reindeer being supported in other vines. Held by yet another vine and hanging just inches from the ground by his booted foot, up side down, was a Kat dressed in a Santa suit.
Gaping upward, it took Viper several long seconds to truly grasp what he was seeing. Like many adults, he didn’t believe in Santa, but here was the evidence captured by one of his minions that told him the legends were true.
“Let me go! How dare you stop me from delivering my toys!” Santa Kat spluttered, shocked and indignant that someone would do this.
Grinning evilly and rubbing his paws together, Viper ignored the old elf’s complaint. A wicked plan had bloomed in his mind. He would blackmail the city and get what he’d been trying to acquire for years… turning the city into a swamp and ruling over it as supreme leader.
“What a coup! I’ll finally get my revenge on thossse missserable SSSWAT Katsss and the enforcersss without having to put myssself or my lovely creaturesss at risssk,” he chortled. “Bring him and hisss petsss down to the cagesss,” he barked to his minions.
Santa cried out in growing fear and anger as he was handled none too gently and dragged underground by a bunch of grotesque creatures. His reindeer bawled in terror as they were summarily hauled one at a time after him. His sleigh remained hanging from the vines of the odd tree like some weird Christmas ornament.
As he stared through the bars of his cage only a short time later, Santa was panicking. Time was passing quickly, and he’d never make his deliveries in time if he didn’t get out of here. But how? Nearby, in a similar cage only larger, his reindeer were huddled together, bawling loudly as their noses and eyes filled with the nasty scent and sight of mutant things that shouldn’t exist in this world.
Viper gave the animals a glare of annoyance but didn’t do anything to end the racket as he fussed with a video camera, focusing it on Santa and the reindeer.
“Easy, my friends, I know you’re scared, but this noise is only making things worse,” Santa murmured softly, soothing his poor team.
Shivering, eyes round and showing white with fear, the deer heeded Santa’s words, but it still took a while for them to calm enough to be silent.
A grunt of satisfaction made the deer jump, but they didn’t bawl again as they watched the strange, ugly Kat move away from the camera setup and go to a radio sitting on a bench covered with various bubbling chemicals on Bunsen burners.
Viper keyed the stolen enforcer radio and spoke into it, “Thisss isss Dr. Viper… get me Feral or your city isss going to regret what I’m going to do to sssomeone very ssspecial to the whole world!”
“You have accessed an unauthorized frequency. This is against the law… Identify yourself immediately!” a self important voice demanded.
Viper glared at the radio in his paw. “I have no time for minionsss with no brainsss. Contact Feral now or sssuffer the consssequencesss,” he snarled, angry some idiot was wasting his time with rules.
The dispatcher on the other end blinked in angry dismay. He hadn’t been trained to handle something like this, so he quickly summoned a supervisor. The night shift duty officer came hurrying into the room and listened to the message on a headphone when the tech replayed it for him. He paled the moment he heard that familiar voice. Swallowing hard, he quickly had the tech switch to the Commander’s frequency.
A couple of miles away, in a sixth floor apartment, the tired Chief Enforcer was drying his hair as he sat on his bed and watched the news in his bedroom. He was only dressed in a pair of Christmas boxers his niece gave him last year and a white tee. A tiny Christmas tree, twinkling with lights and small ornaments, sat on the table next to the TV.
On his dresser behind him were his keys, watch, wallet, badge, and radio. The last item began to tone urgently. He glanced over to it with a sour expression. Sighing, he stood up, tossed the towel in a nearby basket and left the dryer on the bed then swept up the radio, barking into it.
A frantic voice relayed the terrible news in quick, brief words, “Commander, we’ve received a threat call over our open frequency from Dr. Viper!”
“What? Repeat the message!”
The officer did. “Kat’s Alive! Send a chopper for me ASAP. Meanwhile, switch me to his frequency, stat!”
“Yes sir!” The officer reached over and changed the frequency.
“This is Feral!”
Beneath the salvage yard, Chance and Jake had just completed their self-imposed task and were heading across the hangar to the ladder leading upstairs when they heard the open message from Viper over the filched enforcer radio they had on Jake’s workbench.
They froze in midstep as they listened intently. When silence fell as someone got Feral, they stared at each other in dismay.
“What the hell is that mutant up to?” Chance growled, walking toward the bench.
“Don’t know, but we’ll be ready to go the moment that creep tells Feral whatever it is,” Jake said, angry they wouldn’t be getting any rest tonight.
Then they heard Feral respond, and they listened closely as the sibilant tones of Viper filled their ears.
“Feral, follow thessse inssstructionsss…” Viper proceeded to tell the Commander to go to his computer and call up a certain address.
“I’m not at headquarters. You’ll have to wait until I get there,” Feral reluctantly told him.
“Then I sssuggessst you hurry to work, Commander,” Viper hissed then cut the connection for the moment. It galled him he had to wait, but patience was everything right now when the prize was so great.
While Feral hurried to headquarters via the chopper that had arrived to pick him up, Jake was calling up the addy Viper gave on his own huge mainframe computer. What they saw on the screen had them both speechless.
“Is that who I think it is?” Chance finally managed to say, stunned.
“It certainly looks like him.” Jake was equally stunned as he stared at the impossible.
As soon as his chopper set down, Feral climbed out, ran across the flight line, into the building and caught an elevator car, arriving moments later in the comm center. As he dashed in, he saw a small group of techs and his night supervisor standing and staring in shocked disbelief at something on the computer screen.
“Move!” he barked. Instantly, everyone scattered, leaving only the tech manning the system and the duty officer standing nearby as their superior stalked up to them.
Feral blinked in shock. What the hell was he looking at? The more he stared, the more he just couldn’t believe what his eyes were showing him. Holding his radio up, he barked, “What kind of game are you playing at here, Viper?”
“It’sss exactly what you sssee, Commander. It ssseemsss SSSanta managed to run afoul of my pet asss he wasss sssailing passst and wasss sssnatched. If you ever want to sssee thisss jolly fool ssstill alive, you’ll do exactly what I demand.”
“And, what would that be?”
“Hand over the city!”
Feral could only glare at the screen before him in anger. The demand was no surprise but this form of blackmail was unlike anything that nasty creature had ever come up with. What did he do now?
“You know I don’t have the authority to do that!” he said tightly.
“Then get that fat oaf of a mayor to do it, but get moving or my patience will wear out and there won’t be any Chrissstmasss for the kittensss thisss year,” Viper laughed nastily.
Feral hissed and shut his radio off. As he tried to think what action he could take short of getting his honor up and giving into blackmail, the SWAT Kats were already taking action.
“Jake, can you get a bead on his location?” Chance demanded as he went to his locker and began changing clothes.
“Yeah, just give me a second to triangulate the signal from the stolen radio,” Jake muttered as he worked furiously on his computer. “Got it! Sending coordinates to the onboard computer.” Triumphant, Jake jumped from his seat and raced to change his clothes as well.
T-Bone had already run to the Turbokat and jumped aboard. He had engines warming up by the time Razor leaped aboard to join him. The canopy closed as he strapped himself into his seat and warmed his console, calling up the location as the jet platform lowered to the runway below them.
Minutes later, the Turbokat was shooting into the sky then flying southward for the swamps. It took some ten minutes to get there with all rockets flaring. When they got to the edge of the swamplands, T-Bone pulled their speed back so Razor could get a fix on the signal they’d been following.
“Go twenty degrees south and east,” Razor instructed, eyes glued to his monitor. T-Bone obeyed, turning the jet in the right direction.
“We’re here!” Razor shouted.
T-Bone immediately put the jet on VTOL and hovered about the location.
As they peered through their canopy, they could see a huge swampy area with only a meager patch of ground nearby. Directly below them was an immense tree and next to it a slightly smaller, odder tree that had moving vines rather than branches. As they stared, the odd vines moved in the night air, some trying to reach the jet and nearly succeeding. But, it was what was tangled in the huge tree beside it that held their attention.
“Crud! Is that a sleigh in those branches?” T-Bone asked in disbelief.
“Sure looks like it. Guess this is the place alright,” Razor said then used his instruments to find a firm landing spot. “A yard north of the trees is ground firm enough to hold the jet’s weight, buddy.”
“Copy that!” T-Bone acknowledged and coasted the jet toward the spot and set down. After opening the canopy, they leaped down and hurried across the marshy ground toward their target.
They almost reached the tree with the sleigh in it when the weird tree’s vines suddenly reached for them. Using their glovatrixes they cut, fried and burned the moving limbs, succeeding in making it cease its attack. The smell of burning vegetation was nasty. With the tree afraid of them, they were able to get close to the rear of it that wasn’t under water.
Using a scanner in his glovatrix, Razor studied the tree. “My instruments indicate this thing is hollow with some kind of large structure beneath it. Though I can’t detect Viper because he’s cold blooded, there are many warm life signs below us. Could be our missing Santa and reindeer,” Razor said.
“Sounds like Viper’s hideout to me. Since I don’t see a door, guess we make our own,” T-Bone smirked as he used his mini-laser to cut through the bark.
The tree screamed, literally, making them grimace and lower their ears in defense, but T-Bone didn’t stop cutting. While the tree writhed in agony, trying to escape its torment, below, Viper heard its cries and rushed up to see what was attacking it. He burst out the door he normally used and, at first, didn’t see the pair of vigilantes because they were behind the tree.
Having heard the mutant come out, T-Bone went one way to attract the Kat’s attention while Razor peered around the other side, waiting his chance to charge the lizard.
Viper was shocked the SWAT Kats had managed to discover his hideout and furious. He leaped for T-Bone, who shot a tarpedo at his face, while at the same time, Razor followed up with a vicious jolt from his amped up taser to the lizard’s back. The omega went down screaming and writhing, his skin burning from the tines of the taser before he passed out from the shock.
“Fantastic! Got him out faster than he could think. How about that, the last omega caught by the end of the year,” Razor said, grinning triumphantly.
“Yeah, just wish they’d stay locked up well into next year. Oh well, it’s a nice Christmas present,” T-Bone sighed, smiling broadly.
“Speaking of Christmas, we better save Santa quickly,” Razor said, hurrying into the tree and down the stairs.
The two got to stare at the real thing moments later. It just boggled their mind… Santa… it was really Santa… in the flesh and there were his reindeer.
“Sir! Look! It’s the SWAT Kats!” the tech shouted to Feral, who was turned away from the monitor, trying to think of a plan.
Feral whirled around and stared. On the computer screen he could see the pair freeing the person who was dressed up like Santa. He raised his radio to his mouth and shouted, “SWAT Kats!”
T-Bone turned and searched for the radio he heard Feral’s voice coming from. Quickly locating it on a nearby bench, he clicked it on. “Yes, Commander?”
“Out cold. Here’s the coordinates…” T-Bone rattled them off.. “We’re going to help Santa get on his way again. Viper will be jailed in one of his cages for you to pick up. Watch for grasping vines around when you get here. SWAT Kats out!” He cut the connection.
With the coordinates in paw, Feral watched as the pair helped Santa and the reindeer out of their cells and out of the place, returning moments later with Viper in tow. He was placed in the cage that Santa recently occupied then the pair took off once more. Feral turned away, shouting orders for alpha chopper flight to scramble ASAP and for his own chopper to be readied for immediate lift off.
It took some doing to get the sleigh down from the tree, but the SWAT Kats finally managed it while Santa watched then helped him hitch up his reindeer.
“I can’t thank you two enough. I swear coming to this city is always a hazardous thing, but I can’t disappoint the kittens after enduring such mayhem all year long. I just hope I can get the deliveries done in time,” Santa fretted as he climbed aboard and grabbed the reins of his sleigh.
“For someone who can go around the world in one night and do what you do, I seriously doubt you can’t make up the time easily,” Razor assured him, grinning widely.
“That’s certainly true,” Santa laughed heartily at the reminder. He turned and reached for something in his huge sack in the sleigh that had miraculously not fallen out. “Here, for saving me and Christmas. A small token of my appreciation.” He handed each of them a brightly colored package.
They took it then moved out of the way as Santa shouted the names of his reindeer and they jumped skyward like a rocket. Santa waved and shouted, “Merry Christmas!” then vanished from sight.
The two tired warriors grinned like kittens at each other but held off opening their presents until they got home. Hearing the enforcer choppers approaching, they ran to their jet, leaped aboard, then quickly lifted off and shot home at top speed.
Feral arrived in the area, catching sight of the Turbokat’s afterburners as it disappeared from view. Snorting in annoyance, he landed his chopper where the jet had been with his troops landing behind him. He stepped out then stomped across the soggy ground toward the two trees.
Forewarned about the smaller tree’s defenses, he and his enforcers were ready when it struck out at them despite its intense pain from the earlier attack. Because it was injured, they were able to overcome it quickly and go down inside it to Viper’s lab. Taking the mutant lizard into custody, Feral made an unusual command decision. The tree and lab was to be torched. He wanted none of what Viper was doing to be used again by anyone least of all the mutant lizard himself. Perhaps this would prevent the creep from being a nuisance when and if he escaped their custody again.
With Viper on his way to prison, Feral stood by and watched the tree and lab burn to the ground. When all was ash, he sighed and climbed aboard his chopper, signaling a return to base. On their flight back, they saw a stunning sight. Leaving the city, Santa passed closed to Feral’s chopper and waved a jaunty farewell and gave them a broad smile before vanishing swiftly out of sight.
Feral’s mouth dropped as did his pilot’s as they continued on their flight home.
“Well I’ll be! He does exist!” he finally said aloud.
The pilot could only nod his head vigorously in agreement.
Still a little stunned by his encounter with a myth but happy to have the last omega locked up, Feral went to his office to do the report on the incident, though how he was going to say Santa was involved he wasn’t certain. When he walked up to his desk, he was surprised to find a beautiful Christmas package sitting there waiting for him.
He approached it cautiously and studied it from all angles before daring to touch it. Reading the label, he was stunned a moment then a huge grin crossed his face. The little tag said, “Merry Christmas, Ulysses, from Santa!”
Feeling like a kitten again, Feral couldn’t resist opening the package. Inside, his eyes gleamed as he pulled out a top of the line laser pistol, much better than his old one.
“Wow! Thanks, Santa,” he murmured, checking his new weapon over. What a cool Christmas this turned out to be.
The SWAT Kats arrived home and happily stripped their clothes off then hurried upstairs, carrying their gifts from Santa. Taking a seat on the couch in their living room in the apartment above the garage, they ripped into the packages eagerly.
“Oh wow! It’s the first edition copy of Kat Kommando’s. I’ve been wanting one for ages!” Chance shouted for joy, already opening it with great care and beginning to read.
Jake grinned at his happy partner then looked inside his own package. His eyes widened at the new heads up display helmet nesting in the box. He pulled it out and whistled. It was streamlined and looked like an ordinary helmet but, once he put it on, he discovered just how advanced it was compared to the present one he wore as a SWAT Kat. He was floored. Before he could set the box down, he noticed there were schematics to the helmet in the box that would allow him to make more helmets. He grinned from ear to ear.
His friend looked up and smiled. “Wow! That is soo cool. Can’t wait till you build me one of those,” Chance said eagerly.
“This is the best Christmas ever, buddy.” Jake said, grinning.
“Yeah, it sure is and the weirdest,” Chance agreed.
“Merry Christmas, Chance.”
“Merry Christmas, Jake.”
Navigate This Author's Stories
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.