Title: FIGHTING DARKNESS
Warnings: None yet.
Disclaimer: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
He’d been trying to keep sleep at bay for three days now despite knowing this would make him less sharp at work. But, by the fourth day, he was barely able to function, and his people knew it. Sidelong looks followed him whenever he passed through the lobby or left his office.
By now, he was truly paranoid. Lack of sleep just made that worse, but the alternative… just sleeping… had him terrified.
For several days before he began staying awake, every time he closed his eyes, a feeling of being pinned down began to steal over him. He would wake with a terrified start, heart racing, and breathing hard, but there would be nothing in his room or on his bed to account for the sensation.
The first time it happened, he just cast it off and succeeded in getting back to sleep with nothing further happening. The second night, the sensation returned, more intense and much harder to throw off but he did manage it and did get natural sleep again. But, the third night it happened, the fight to move was harder and took longer to break free from, leaving him dripping and badly shaken.
After that, he didn’t go to sleep at all. But, Kats weren’t meant to remain awake indefinitely, and his body was crying out in need for it as every hour passed. Now, some four days later, he could barely function and the day dragged on interminably.
He’d taken to remaining at work, never going home, so as the day shift ended, he was still at his desk trying to work on some reports.
“Enough of this, Uncle. I don’t know what you’re trying to prove but working until you drop is not one of them,” a familiar feminine voice spoke right in his ear.
He lurched up and gasped, realizing he’d fallen asleep and hadn’t heard her come in. He turned wild eyes on his niece, Felina, who was eyeing him in concern, a frown on her face.
“Uncle, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you getting any sleep?”
“I…” He couldn’t tell her. Telling anyone he was afraid to sleep because he felt he was trapped would sound like he needed to see a shrink and, as the Chief Enforcer, he couldn’t allow himself to be seen as anything but strong and fearless.
“Just had some problems sleeping lately, and there’s just been so much work, I felt I should just stay and get it done,” he said, rather lamely, startled to notice his words were rather slurred. Okay, that wasn’t good.
The beautiful dark brown female Enforcer frowned even more at the obvious signs of sleep deprivation she could see and hear from her uncle. She reached for his powerful arm and tugged hard, forcing him to rise to his feet. He was embarrassed to realize he was so unsteady that her paw was all that was keeping him upright.
“I’m escorting you to your quarters. No way are you going to make it home. You must get some sleep. I know you have the prescribed sleep aids we all get issued, so I recommend you take one. If you sleep late, don’t worry about it; I’ll cover for you. You’re no good to anyone like this,” she told him pointedly.
He wanted to argue, shove her away or tell her to leave him alone, but he couldn’t seem to make his brain respond much less his body obey his commands. Obviously, he had gone too far, and it showed plainly to all with eyes to see.
Sighing, he nodded and allowed her to lead him out of his office, to the elevator, then down a hall on the floor of the temporary sleeping quarters in Enforcer Headquarters. She helped him into the room with his name on it.
“I can take it from here, thank you,” he said firmly, forcing his tired body to move away from her and make for the bathroom.
She watched him until the door closed behind him then sighed before leaving him alone, locking the quarter’s door after her. She paused to pull out her cell phone and made a call.
Contacting her uncle’s assistant, Sgt. Fallon, she told him the Commander would be sleeping late tomorrow and to not wake him unless absolutely necessary. After receiving an acknowledgment, she hung up and sighed. Giving her uncle’s door a brief, lingering, stare, she shook her head and left for home.
Inside the small quarters, Feral stared in the bathroom mirror at his bloodshot eyes and waxen face. He looked like hell and felt like it too. Perhaps a shower would help, reaching out and turning it on, opting for a slightly cooler temp than the super hot one he normally used.
His body felt clumsy as he struggled to strip off his clothes and finally stumbled into the shower. It didn’t do as he hoped. Instead of waking him up, it caused him to nearly fall asleep on his feet. It took a major effort of will to shut off the taps, get out, dry, then stagger toward the bed and fall on it, nude. He couldn’t even cover himself before he was totally unconscious.
Less than ten minutes after his body and mind shut down, the pinned down feeling began to spread over his body. His sluggish mind took longer to realize something was wrong… too exhausted to respond with any degree of self preservation at first.
In his dream state, he began to panic as his body felt like it was tied to the bed. He struggled wildly, but the more he fought, the stronger the sensation of being trapped became. It truly felt like someone had tied his paws and feet to something, stretched him out, then a heavy weight slowly began to press its way into him until breathing became difficult. Panic and terror set in. He began screaming for help inside his mind without hope that anyone would hear him.
“Quiet night, buddy,” T-Bone commented as he flew the Turbokat over the warehouse district near the bay.
“Yeah, sure is. Nice break for once with all the major hitters behind bars at the moment,” Razor agreed, monitoring his console for any alarms or calls from the Enforcer band.
“Maybe we’ll cut this patrol short then and turn in early, eh? I’ve been wanting to catch some extra zzz’s for a while.”
The smaller of the SWAT Kats snorted, amused. “You sleep like the dead. I don’t understand how you don’t get enough sleep in the first place.”
“Hey, I’m just a heavy sleeper is all, not like you who can survive on just a few hours at a time,” the burly pilot retorted.
He turned the jet back toward the heart of the city, though he did his best not to pass too close to Enforcer Headquarters. They usually got a bit peeved when the Turbokat intruded on their air space.
“Just don’t need as much…” Razor began to say when a loud, horrible scream pierced his brain, ripping his shields to pieces,making him scream in unison with the one being attacked.
“Razor! What’s the matter… speak to me!” T-Bone shouted, shocked at the loud screaming coming over his radio, deafening him.
Receiving no answer except for the screaming, T-Bone quickly pulled the power back on the jet and went to VTOL, flipping the autopilot on so he could turn around and check on his partner. His heart was pounding and his mouth was dry, so terrified something was truly wrong with his best friend.
While his partner was freaking out, Razor was desperately trying to shut his mental shields against the intruding mind. Finally, just as the jet came to a halt and T-Bone was practically coming over the seat toward him, he finally succeeded in raising his mind barriers, strengthening them against further assault.
He panted hard, barely able to make out his partner’s shouted pleas for answers as he tried to slow his galloping heart and badly jangled nerves. Strong paws gripped his arms and a sandy furred, masked face came close enough to touch noses.
“Razor, buddy, are you alright?” T-Bone asked anxiously.
“I’m… okay… just give me a second,” the small tom panted out, pushing against his friend, who moved back reluctantly.
Razor needed to find out what had happened and who was in so much trouble, so dove back into his mind to search around. His own mind was unharmed, if a bit stunned, but the mind that had plowed so forcefully into his wasn’t.
Now that he wasn’t under direct attack, he carefully studied the lingering traces of the mind that had blasted into his so abruptly. He could feel the sheer terror of the individual, though not their identity, as they tried to rip themselves free from an intense feeling of being trapped and smothered.
Shuddering, Razor realized instantly what was devouring the person. An old enemy had returned and was up to his usual tricks. The foul mind stench was far too familiar to be mistaken for anyone or anything else. He had prayed he would never encounter it again and hadn’t for some decades, but now it was back and in his city.
He narrowed his eyes. Not for long, he promised himself. But, right now, revenge would have to wait as this person was very close to becoming a mindless puppet… completely overtaken by this enemy who would use the person’s body to spread their evil over the city.
He blinked to awareness again and turned his head to look out his cockpit window. His partner was crouched in an uncomfortable position over his pilot’s seat, his eyes glued to him… a worried expression on the tabby’s face. Razor had no time to bring his partner up to speed at the moment. The one in distress had very little time left.
Staring into the night, he studied their location. Not far away, he could see the bright lights of the twin towers of the Enforcer Building. The distress was coming from there.
“T-Bone! Move us closer to Enforcer Headquarters. Don’t ask me questions right now… just do as I ask… it’s an emergency.”
Confused, T-Bone pulled reluctantly back into his seat, strapped in, then sent the jet ahead slowly, using only VTOL to control their speed and distance. When they were about a block away, Razor called a halt.
“Hold steady here for a minute.”
He allowed his inner eye to replace his normal vision. The world changed dramatically. It was darker than normal night, and the city was nothing more than ghostly outlines of itself. A cold sensation began to seep into his bones, but he ignored it as he searched the building before them.
The only lights to be seen now were the soft ambiance living souls gave off whether animal or Kat. The building ahead was ablaze with this light except for one. That one was all but encapsulated by a pulsing ugly red/black light, which was slowly eating away at the yellow. Time was nearly up.
Razor quickly determined the location of the fading light and flicked his eyes back to normal, ignoring the usual faint dizziness that occurred when he did this.
“We’ve got to get into the building ASAP or someone is going to be worse than dead. Park us in our usual place for infiltrating,” Razor ordered urgently.
Angry and even more confused, T-Bone nonetheless did as ordered, flying the jet toward a rooftop two buildings away from their destination. Landing, he quickly shut down everything so as not to be spotted by a passing patrol. Their stealth device prevented any security system from detecting them, so the Enforcers had no idea they were close.
Opening the canopy, the two leaped down with Razor pausing long enough to engage the special security system he recently upgraded. It now possessed a shield that kept it from being seen or harmed when anyone got close to it. A little something he stole from Dark Kat the last time they tangled.
As they raced across the building’s roof for the edge facing the next building, T-Bone demanded an explanation.
“What is going on, Razor? Why do you say someone in there is in danger, and how do you know that?”
Razor sighed mentally. “T-Bone, it would take too long to explain, and there’s simply no time. Just go along with me… all will be explained later. However, I must warn you, when we get to the one in danger, don’t interfere with what I must do. It will freak you out, but interfere and I and the person I’m trying to help could die. Understand?”
“What… are you crazy? What do you intend to do?”
“Do you understand?” Razor repeated, ignoring his friend’s questions.
T-Bone stared at his partner as they paused a moment at the roof’s edge. He could see Razor was grimly serious so ceased arguing and nodded. Relieved, Razor shot his grappling line to the next building and swung over, repeating this on the next roof until they reached the side of the Enforcer Building.
They’d done this a few times before, sneaking in to speak with Feral. The Commander hated the ease the pair had of getting past his security net to get into his office, but he was never able to find out how they did it.
In very little time, they were slipping into the building, but, instead of going up to Feral’s office, Razor lead them to a quiet hall on the eleventh floor. At the stair door, he peered out and used his special sight to find the right door. No one was about, so he slipped out followed by his partner and raced down the hall to a specific door.
He never glanced at the nameplate as he quickly disabled the lock and hurried in. T-Bone, however, had looked at the small plaque and gaped.
“Razor… no… it’s…” he began, hurrying to try and stop his partner.
But, Razor was already standing over the big tom laying face down on the bed unmoving. The tom was nude and, from what T-Bone could see, barely breathing.
Closing the door behind him then going to stand next to his partner, he felt the fur on the back of his neck rise and a shudder of unease race down his spine. The tom laying there should have heard them come in so abruptly as he had a very good sixth sense about danger, which was the reason he’d succeeded in surviving all the things he’d had to endure as an Enforcer, but he never moved nor responded at all.
Something was clearly wrong. But, how had Razor known?
Said person was now on the bed, straddling the tom’s body and reaching for the big head with both paws, clamping them tightly over each temple, and still the supine tom didn’t move… didn’t react at all.
Okay, none of this felt right, but all T-Bone could do was watch and not interfere as he’d promised. The room was silent except for Razor’s heavy breathing.
That feeling of wrongness increased, and T-Bone wasn’t ashamed to admit feeling a strong desire to leave, preferably at a run. The only thing that told him a battle was even going on was the look of strain and sweat on Razor’s grimacing face.
His partner had a lot of explaining to do if he survived whatever was going on.
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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.