Feral had gotten back to the city some thirty minutes after leaving the scene that had changed his life forever. He pushed back his nervousness about the meeting later tonight and concentrated on making up a report that sounded plausible on how Dark Kat met his end. The report went off to the Mayor by courier an hour later, and by quitting time the news was all over the city courtesy of a hurriedly gathered news conference by his honor, telling the world Dark Kat was finally dead.
The radio, TV and evening papers were filled with the news, and, by nightfall, a celebratory mood held sway over the city. A sigh of relief and joy flew through the enforcers when word was brought back by those at the battle scene. Add in the fact Dr. Viper was still under lock and key (for now) everyone felt they had a right to feel they might be getting their city back.
Though he too felt elated to finally have that menace gone permanently, he was too mixed up emotionally about all the other things that had happened to bring about that death. His part in it still made him feel guilty in some way. He knew, if they were still alive, his father and grandfather would have been furious with him for giving himself away.
But, the more he thought about it, the more he realized there was nothing else he could have done and, more importantly, he was no longer alone, which had hurt bitterly for so long. He actually felt anger at his family for denying them the safety and comfort of belonging to a community. He hoped Adair could answer his question about why his family had done what they had done in the first place. It just made no sense to him.
Anyway, he was glad but anxious about finally having met a member of the community and to have a mentor at last. Though his only real problem now was the fact the elder dragon was masquerading as a SWAT Kat. Since he was the Chief Enforcer, this put him in a strange position that was confusing to say the least. How the heck was he supposed to reconcile the fact he hated the vigilantes for their constant interference with his need and desire to be mentored by one of them? However, he had another concern that bothered him even more.
‘Kat’s Alive! What a mess. How the heck can I still do my job and be a dragon too? It doesn’t help that in the dragon community I’m still thought of as a mere hatchling. I hope that doesn’t mean all the years I’ve worked to take care of myself and live responsibly among Kats will be thrown out, and I’ll be required to live in the community until I’m old enough. Also, I hope I haven’t done anything wrong living on my own like this as well as reaching such a high position among the Kats,’ he worried to himself.
Having made himself thoroughly nervous, he took his dragon shape and took off into the night sky from his apartment house roof to head for city hall and his meeting with Adair.
Adair vaned lazily, high above the city hall clock tower, watching for Feral to arrive. His wait was short as the young golden dragon was punctual. Dipping his head in nervous greeting, Feral floated close and waited for the elder dragon to make the first move.
“Let’s go somewhere comfortable to talk,” Adair said gently, noting how tense the hatchling was with fear and worry. He tilted his wings and soared away to the west, Feral following a short distance behind.
The flight took over fifteen minutes and put them over the desert. Adair dropped down and flew through the canyons of sandstone until he came to a fairly large cave. Landing on a small apron of outcropping, he walked inside, ducking his head to enter. Inside, the cave opened up and the night sky poured through an opening high in the ceiling above.
It was warm inside, left over from the day’s heat, which made it comfortable for them. Adair settled himself onto the sandstone floor, flipping his wings to his back. Feral stepped in, looked around the spacious cave a moment before settling to the floor himself, folding his wings neatly along his back.
“How did the rest of your day go?” Adair asked, thinking simple conversation on the young one’s workday would calm him.
“Uh, alright. I managed to write up something feasible on Dark Kat’s death then got it off to the Mayor. He didn’t waste anytime getting it disseminated to the press. By the time night fell, news of the worst omega being dead had the city in a celebratory mood.”
“That’s good news. Megakat City has needed a break from the violence, and, with Viper in jail, perhaps we’ll get it finally.”
“I’m still not very happy about how I had to lie on the report and to everyone else. It just sits wrong with me,” Feral admitted unhappily.
“That’s your sense of duty talking, and I’m pleased to know it had disturbed you. It means you’re honest to a fault. Keeping a secret isn’t easy, who better to know that than I. However, sometimes it is necessary.”
Feral eyed the elder dragon thoughtfully. “How did you fare when you told the community about Dark Kat being the one who attacked them and being a dragon?
“How do you think? Anger, fear, shouting, threats to go back into hiding… just about everything,” Adair sighed. “And, they are still debating the issues I brought up as we speak. I hope they reach a consensus that benefits us all by tomorrow.”
“What did you ask them to do?” Feral asked, curious.
“To reveal their Kat personas to everyone of the community. Today’s events showed why it is a bad idea to continue hiding from each other. Hiding our dragon selves was bad enough, but hiding who we are when we live among Kats has been a cause for unnecessary turmoil and stress for those that needed help but didn’t know a fellow dragon was near to get it before the trouble overtook them.” Adair sighed and shook his head.
“That is bad, but I think I understand their feelings about not wanting to give that last identity away. I’d have a problem with that myself. How does the community decide something like this… Do you have a leader or a council?”
“We have no one that is elected the leader. To solve big issues, we debate then vote… The majority rules, and you must be at least a hundred to cast a vote. Our eldest member helps to keep the subject under discussion on track and peaceful, sums it up when a consensus seems to have been reached then asks for a vote. Its been our way for the last two centuries.”
Feral absorbed that for a moment, realizing events were moving without him and that he’d have to go along whether he liked them or not because he was too young to vote (now that was an odd feeling), but it was nice to know when he came of age and was a full member of the community he would have a say. Pushing that aside, he changed the subject.
“Adair, why did my family feel it necessary to hide from other dragons and to never take our dragon form?”
Adair sighed and stared at the hatchling for a long moment. ‘Okay, time for a history lesson,’ he thought. It took over an hour then another hour to answer all of the hatchling’s questions that the lesson had spawned.
“Even though I can understand why it happened so long ago, I can’t understand why it continued to hold true to modern times,” Feral said, frowning.
“Fear is the answer, Ulysses. In your position, you understand more than anyone how fear makes people do what they do.”
Feral sighed and nodded. “That is very true.”
For several minutes they were silent, then Feral remembered his other concerns. “I know it’s getting late, but I still need to know how I fit into this new scheme of things. You’re a SWAT Kat and an elder. How do I fit into this rather confusing picture?”
Adair chuckled. “Nothing has to change, little one. When we’re in our Kat personas, behave as you always have. That secret must continue to exist. Only Dr. Sinian knows that Razor is a dragon, but I have no intention of anyone else knowing that outside the dragon community. As for you, I have a feeling being an open dragon might benefit you. Your troops look up to you now, but how much more respect would you gain if they knew you had the ability to take out the bad guys personally?”
Feral scowled at that and shook his head. “I disagree! Dragons living among Kats is still a new thing… a frightening thing… I may gain respect, but I could also suffer a riff between my officers and I, because of fear of me. They may not trust my motives for a long time, and this could lead to disobeying my orders.”
“You have a compelling argument there, however, my primary goal has been to have dragons come out of hiding. Only then can Kat kind learn to be comfortable with us being around and used to us switching back and forth as we wish and knowing who we are in both forms. We can’t hide forever, Ulysses… technology and modern times won’t allow it. We need to change while we have the choice rather than having it forced upon us.”
Feral sat silent absorbing Adair’s passionate argument. He had to, unhappily, admit the elder was right… They couldn’t hide any longer, but he still felt uneasy about revealing himself and he knew his other reasons were still very valid.
Adair guessed the hatchlings thoughts and said quietly, “I understand what I’m asking is frightening, and, yes, you may encounter many problems in your job until everyone gets used to it, but time is not on our side. Many older dragons are afraid of this too, but someone has to make the sacrifice for the plan to work or all our efforts will have been in vain. Kat kind will forget us and relegate our existence to fairy tales again.”
The golden dragon sighed and nodded. “You’re right, of course. It is scary, and I’m going to have a hard time actually doing it, but I do understand it has to happen. Besides, I can’t let you be the only brave one to take this step… I do have my pride, you know,” he said, more tongue in cheek than being disrespectful and trying to be more upbeat about this serious subject.
Adair chuckled at that last comment, pleased with his pupil’s positive attitude. The golden would become a valuable asset to the community as he grew to adulthood.
“Is there anything else you wish to discuss before we head to our respective homes?” he asked warmly.
“Well, I was concerned with the possibility of being in trouble with the community for having hidden myself then interfering in dragon business the way I did.”
Adair cocked his head and blinked in surprise. Hearing the note of fear in the hatchling’s voice, he rose to his feet then went to the golden’s side and knelt to wrap him in his arms, hugging him close.
“Ohhh, little one. We’re not angry with you. You did what you had to and survived. We’re proud of you and amazed. Don’t worry so. You do not have to meet the community right away; only when you feel more comfortable will I present you to them. Until then, relax… don’t worry about being accepted or about your past behavior… all is forgiven,” he reassured the hatchling.
Feral sighed and relaxed in relief. Feeling those powerful arms enfolding him was just so wonderful and helped ease his tension, soothing away his fears. To be so protected and cared for was a new thing for him, and he was beginning to crave it like a drug he was willing to be addicted to. He hugged Adair back, making a soft chirring sound of contentment in his throat. However, there was still one more question nagging him.
Still holding tightly to the elder, he murmured, “Adair?”
“Exactly what does it mean for you to be my mentor?”
“Oh, well it means I will be teaching you how to be a dragon, to understand the changes your body is undergoing, the rules by which dragon society operates, etc.. In your case, it also means physical and emotional support as well as being a listening ear when you need it. We’ll meet as frequently as we can, spending quiet time together as I teach you what you need to know.”
“That sounds really nice… I’ve never had anyone to confide in before… My father and grandfather didn’t encourage discussion or questions. You might say their method of training was more ‘do what I say and shut up’, Feral admitted softly, looking away.
Adair frowned in anger as he hugged Feral even tighter. ‘Damn it, they had no right to treat such an exceptional hatchling that way,’ he fumed.
Feral stirred uneasily as he felt anger coming from his mentor. “Did I say something wrong?” he asked uncertainly.
“Oh no!” Adair was quick to reassure him, leaning back and using his clawed fingers to raise Ulysses’ face so he could look into it. “I’m just angry at how those responsible for your care could treat you so callously. Your training under me won’t be all sweetness as you are a stubborn soul, but I will never deal out physical punishment in that way.. .ever… I solemnly promise this to you,” he said seriously. “You may well come to hate me because I am a firm task master, but you will be cared for and you will be listened to.”
Feral felt his throat tighten with emotions he’d never experienced before. He knew Adair meant every word he’d promised and to know he would be so cared for and, even more importantly, that his opinions and questions would be heeded was a gift he never expected. It was almost like a dream except those strong arms still held him and a look of concern for his well being shone from those ruby eyes convinced him it was very real. His heart had finally found a home.
As for taking instruction from someone he had long thought of as a troublemaker, yeah, he had no doubt they would have words between them, mainly because he was stubborn and because he still had to wrap his head around the fact Razor was an elder and had earned the right to be treated with respect. However, he would learn, and he was thrilled to have been fortunate enough to come under the notice of such a powerful mentor.
“That is the most wonderful news to me. Yeah, I have no doubt we’ll clash… a lot and I am stubborn to a fault, but I can’t wait to get started,” he said sincerely, smiling joyfully.
Adair laughed, gave a last tight hug before releasing the hatchling and said lightly, “We’ve already begun your lessons, so I hope you’ve been listening.”
Feral blushed and gave a small bob of his head. “Of course I have been. I’m just a little flustered by all this. So much of my life has suddenly changed.”
“Yes, I imagine so and all for the better too!”
“Definitely!” Feral said, smiling shyly.
Adair shook himself out and prepared to leave. “Time for you to get some rest. I won’t be available again until probably tomorrow night. I’ll send you a message when and where to meet, until then, sleep well and have a good day!” he said, moving away and heading for the cave entrance then taking to the air with ease.
Feral sighed and murmured a “…And you too, sir..” before reaching the exit as well and launching himself into the late night sky, his heart lighter.
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