Title: Forgotten: Part 3 - Infiltration
Author: Sage "Sagey" SK
Date Started: October 31, 2001
Date Finished: February 28, 2003
Final Revision: February 28, 2003
Warnings: PG for cartoon violence, and minor scenes of drama and angst
Summary: The dawn approaches as a group of survivors ready a fight for their homeland. And, the dawn is near as a former SWAT Kat runs to attempt rescuing he whom he lost five long years back.
Comments: The finale of "Forgotten!" Wow... took me a while to compell myself into finishing this one. Now, I've got to kick myself into starting/finishing any other fics I have in my list. Ah, if only it were that simple. Oh well.
Once again, my thanks to Kristen Sharpe for the proofreading and constant check-up on this story... and for just putting up with me. ;D
Addenums to other readers:
Helion - thanks for your awesome comments in FF.N. Your question over the "scientist" that inserted the microchip into Jake's mind will hopefully be answered here. I don't know if it provides a well enough explanation, but you'll have to see for yourself. ;)
Jennifer Munoz - Thank you so much for the great songfic you wrote for my second chapter. I do hope this installation gives you the same good read that your fic gave to me. I really enjoyed it!
Dawameren I. - Thanks for putting up with the constant fics I toss at you via e-mail... and for putting up with my hairbrained ideas.
Skybright Daye - Okay! Okay!!! I finished it! Take your cardiologist back!! He's scaring me! XD
"I had enough of crying,
bleeding, sweating, dying...
Hear me when I say
I'm gonna live my life...
~Bon Jovi, 'Everyday'
"Don't mock me," were the first words that escaped Chance's metallic lips once he and the Cybertron walked towards the main city compound. The Cybertron, in fact, didn't say a word, but it did think that Mr. Wanna-Be-A-Bot was taking this whole issue on being metallic a little too far. For one, Chance's incestant "beeps" and "cling-clangs" were getting irritating. Amusing, but irritating.
"I was not," it returned via the display screen on Chance's left eye. "I was merely thinking that you act better as a non-metallic lifeform."
"I can feel you are."
"I am not." The Cybertron paused, giving Chance that look again, the very look that he gave the tabby when he'd spoken to Jake for the first time back at Hackle's.
Chance, however, didn't recognize it. "What is it?"
Beneath his metallic guise, the tabby froze. "Jake?" Once again, his heartbeat increased, as well as his breathing.
"Yes... I'm a bit fuzzy..." Jake's sentences appeared to be forced. "My other half is rather agitated..."
"Some of the Enforcers have escaped."
Chance nearly collapsed, recalling his nightmare from the previous night. "WH.... WHAT?!"
"Feral and fifty of his men escaped the work camp.... I dunno. Maybe they can help you..." Jake was obviously not thinking of any danger to himself.
"NO!" Chance cried. "I can't do that!"
There was a short pause, a series of periods, question and exclamation marks indicating Jake's surprise at his friend's outburst. "Chance... What is it?"
"Y... You don't understand!" Chance shouted. "They're gonna kill you! I just know it!"
"I...." The robot slumped a bit after that, silent.
This act did not amuse Chance in the very least. "Jake...??" he tried, half afraid that his friend had logged off.
"I... have to go... Be careful, Chance..."
"Jake! No, wait!" Once again, the tall kat grabbed the Cybertron by the shoulders.
"It could find me, Chance..."
"You've gotta lead me to where you are!" No. Not again. Jake was NOT leaving without giving him a clue of some sort. Not when he'd gotten this far.
"I'll... I'll download a map into Cybertron. Take care, buddy..." At that, he was gone.
"Jake!" Chance swung around to punch a metallic fist against the nearest wall. "Crud! He's gotta stop doing that!"
The Cybertron beeped an affirmative, then sent Chance the map, asking, "What now?"
"What's the map say?"
"We'll need to access... through the sewars."
"The sewars?!" Chance exclaimed. "We'll rust!"
"We are both well-insulated."
The tabby sighed. "Alright..."
"You'll have to carry me down though...."
"Geez... Pushy, aren't we?" But, Chance nodded all the same. "Okay."
Feral was growing impatient. It had been hours since he'd sent his recons teams to the city. He waited within the swamps, each second muttering a silent prayer for an answer.
Feral looked up quickly to see his niece running towards him, face worried. No. They couldn't have fallen already. They'd barely set up the strategy.
"We found the source."
At that, Feral's face lost a hair of its grim look.
"I am aware that sewars are considered odious... Though I can't smell...
You really don't have to keep describing the aroma..."
Chance ignored Cybertron's complaints as it rolled beside him on the ledge of the sewage system, located in the very interior of Metallikat Headquarters. "I have every right to. I have the nostrils."
The robot made a squawking, offended beep in return.
Geez! Did that robot get offended by anything non-metallic?!
"Alright! I take it back!"
The Cybertron paused, making the map appear on Chance's wrist display.
Chance forced his gaze towards the direction the map was pointing. "Up... there?"
"A maintenance access for the main headquarters...." Cybertron explained, and before adding anything else to its statement, shot a grappling hook upwards.
"Great...." Chance continued grumbling as he shot a grappling hook after the Cybertron in order to pull him upwards. Upon being pulled a good few feet upwards, he dared a peek below, the sewars now barely visible below them. "That's.... a long way up..."
He watched the Cybertron prying the access hatch open. Height obviously was the least of the Cybertron's concerns. Granted, being thrown off a building had that effect.*
"How far are we?" Chance asked.
"JakeClawson is on the fortieth floor."
"We're on the EIGHTH!" the tabby cried. "This'll take us all night!"
"We will get there," the Cybertron replied nonchalantly.
Chance could only sigh.
Jake was perplexed.
"I know I'm missing something... Something important." He mused as he checked his systems. There was just.... Something was there! There had to be! Why was it bothering him so?!
"They're onto us!"
His thoughts were cut off as Mac stormed inside. Spinning around in his swivel chair, Jake faced the Metallikat.
"Who?!" he demanded.
"Those rebels!" Molly broke off her husband's incoherent ranting. "Robot units spotted them nearby!"
Once again, Jake checked his systems. The chip was in dangerously close to overloading as he realized what it was he was seeing. "Rebels nothing! It's Feral."
"FERAL?!" Mac repeated, flabbergasted. How...? How had the Enforcers made it this far?
"The Feral that escaped from the work camp...." Jake retorted, in a tone that obviously indicated that he was surrounded by idiots.
"I KNOW WHICH ONE! YOU were supposed to CATCH HIM!!"
Jake snarled in return. "Don't PUSH me, Bucketbutt! I've been working all night!""
"Shaddap da' both o' yas!" Molly interrupted. "Those Enforcers outta be here any minute! Send out more Metallikat Units!"
"They're on their way," Jake said, turning his chair back to his consol. "And, it *will* work."
Mac growled. "Just in case, we's gonna go out there ourselves."
As the robots left, Jake once again held his head. Why? Why was it hurting so much? "This is my fault," he murmured. "I was supposed to be finding Feral last night... Only I was... I... I don't know what I was doing!"
What was going on? Was he going crazy? What was the chip doing? What. Was. Going. On?!
"Thirty... nine... floors."
The words were forced out in a series of gasps and pants as Chance reached the near top of the main pipeline. "Not even when I was a SWAT Kat did we have to climb like this."
"It's only one more," the Cybertron returned.
"Yeah. You have no worries. You're not the feline carrying over ten pounds of metal on his body."
"Must I remind you that it was your idea to disguise yourself, ChanceFurlong?"
Chance sighed. "No. I c'n make it... Are there any obstacles?"
"Great." Upon reaching the fortieth floor, he aimed his Glovatrix and fired the ice beam as the Cybertron indicated the opening it'd found.
Shoving in the now frozen entrance, the Cyberton hefted itself through and then detached its cable, waiting for the disguised robotic kat to land beside it.
"I shoulda had this thing a long time ago," Chance muttered. Once again, the map was brought up on his display, the Cybertron indicating the command center... in the very heart of the building.
Chance didn't waste any time. He ran in that direction as the Cybertron followed after, looking for defenses.
The systems abruptly alerted Jake to an irregularly moving object.
"Huh." He curiously brought it up on screen. For some reason, he didn't know if he was supposed to be surprised, or even shocked. But, all he did was remain staring at the figure. Letting a faint smile curl around his lips, Jake simply leaned back against his chair.
"He made it."
Then came the everlasting pain. A pain so similar to that of a head-splitting migrane. Screaming, he grabbed his head.
The chip had just figured out what he'd been up to all this time.
They were in hiding, waiting for the precise moment to strike... to hit the robots when they were their most vulnerable.
The rebels knew that they were outnumbered. They knew that their weapons were unable to destroy the robots. They hid in their reserved areas until Feral gave his signal. Timing had been critical, and there was no room to make any mistakes. However, Feral *had* given the order to improvise *and* fire at will, so the outcome was unpredicatable.
Taking in a deep breath, the once Enforcer commander stepped out into the clearing, blaster in hand, not ready to surrender. With a glare that clearly matched his last name, Feral stood at attention.
"Mac and Molly Mange, I suggest you surrender at once. You're under arrest."
Of course, he did expect them to laugh at his attrocious statement, but continued regardless.
"You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, you will be provided with what little we have left. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." He took in a deep breath. "Do you understand these rights?"
Behind him, Enforcers and volunteers held their weapons at ready. The time was near.
Molly processed everything the taller kat had said. It was clearly *the* most ridiculous thing she'd heard the non-metallic say in the past five years, and her husband couldn't agree more.
"Looks like th' swamp watah got to his head, Mac."
"Yer no longer in control, Commandah," proclaimed Mac, taking a step forward. "You're no longer in command. *We* are. You can't arrest us."
The commander smirked.
"You still have the right to remain silent..."
The clicking sound of a single gun mixed itself with the swamp's cricket chirps. One coming from the upper area of the trees. Where a once Enforcer sureshot lieutenant aimed carefully at the two renegade machines, her ears perked for her Uncle's signal.
"...and I suggest you exercise it."
She fired, the flash of the neural neutralizer encompassing the two robots.
Abruptly, a flash of flood lights surrounded the clearing, blinding nearly everything to the naked eye, enough to startle the remaining army of robots present as their leaders fell to the ground.
"FIRE AT WILL!"
Feral's order was carried out immediately. With a scream of both adrenaline and hatred, the precious few of what was left of MegaKat City's defense force ran into the clearing, guns-a-blazing as they fired with everything they had towards the robots. They were taking their beloved homeland back, and there was no turning back.
The swamp had obviously been the only area that the Metallikats hadn't bothered searching all these years. But, that was exactly where they'd found the rebels. And, they took no time in attempting to bring the brigade of nonmetallic outlaws to their knees. But, with the resistance that the former prisoners were showing, this task wasn't going to be carried out as easily as their robot minds had surmised.
And, he watched the battle from the tallest and darkest tree he could find. Weak, hungry, he didn't dare to move from his spot, curled up in a cowardly and tight ball of fur and skin.
His florescent yellow eyes narrowed, his tail twitching. He wasn't exactly rooting for either side to win. But, deep down, he did hope that the Enforcers would be the last ones standing. After all, this city was theirs, right? The city belonged to the felines.
And, he was feline himself... Wasn't he?
He shook his head fiercly. *Half*-feline. Ever since the accident at MegaKat Biochemicals, his once golden yellow fur had dulled down to a nauseaous green. However, given his current condition, it may have had been a blessing. In his case anyway. A blessing, and a curse. Blessed with the ability to create life, cursed to run from those who attempted to destroy it.
He sighed as the battle continued, willing the memories to leave.
Memories. Memories of his alliance with Dark Kat and the Metallikats. Memories of capturing the SWAT Kat Razor the very day they'd formed the alliance. Memories of combining Dark Kat's technology along with his ability to create a creature strong enough to hold down the hollering kat as the chip was inserted. Memories of torture, pain.
Memories of encountering the SWAT Kat's partner. Memories. Those green eyes narrowed into dangerous slits behind the tabby's mask. Being grabbed by the collar. Facing the larger SWAT Kat's fury.
Memories of helping the smaller SWAT Kat understand his duties towards the alliance. Memories of Dark Kat's betrayal. Of the Metallikats turning in on Dark Kat before the purple monster could react. His escaping into the swamps hoping to never be seen again. Hunted down by robots as his once robotic partners wished him dead. After all, he could not ruin their ruling.
So many memories now gone. Driven into the back of his mind. He perked his ears at the sudden shouts of joy and victory. At the shouts of the nonmetallic rebels.
The Metallikats had fallen.
It was over.
Meekly, Dr. Viper slithered from his tree and crawled through his swampland. It was time to retire.
Chance was impatient.
"How long 'til the Enforcers get here?!"
The Cybertron beeped vaguely. Just how would the small bot know when the Enforcers were arriving? Surely Chance Furlong knew better.
Chance sighed in return. "Sorry." He looked down the hallway. "Which way now?"
The smaller robot had just indicated an area just beyond the hallway, but for the first time it'd miscalculated. Beside both the robot and nonmetallic vigilante, a wall flew open.
And, from within, it revealed Jake Clawson, sitting at his command center, wired up to just about everything surrounding him.
"Ahh... There you are at last."
Chance skid to a stop and froze, eyes mesmerized at the sight of his smaller partner, mind flashing back to the day he'd encountered Dr. Greenbox when the scientist had merged with his protocol, Zed*. And, Jake's appearance hinted the same madness that Greenbox had shown him.
Once amber eyes were lost in a sea of redness, a hint of sanity within them. Jake's fur was incredibly rugged, the smaller kat thinner than what Chance had last seen him.
And, his tone of voice was completely different from normal.
"Yes, I know what you've been up to..." he sneered. "I finally discovered all of my other self's little schemes. Misleading my bounty hunters, botching plans... helping save your miserable hide."
Chance was appalled. "Jake?"
"It is the other," the Cybertron warned. "Not Jake Clawson."
Jake's bloodshot eyes narrowed towards the Cybertron as Chance realized what it meant.
"The chip," the tabby growled.
In response to the Cybertron's obvious statement, Jake sent out a barrage of small attack drones, aiming them towards the smaller robot.
Chance fired a few rounds with his Glovatrix towards the drones, the Cybertron itself firing a few rounds with the only mini blaster it had.
At the rate this was going, Jake mused, there was no way of bringing those two to their knees. So, he called for something more formidable. The smaller kat had obviously taken notes from the Zed incident.** Wired tentacles shot out at his command, grabbing onto Chance before the tabby could react.
"Give it up, Furlong! You're on my turf at last!"
Chance squalled in return, barely turning to see Jake's smirking face.
"JAKE! WAKE UP!" he screamed. "You're not like this, buddy!"
Little did either kat realize that the Cybertron, even if it was pinned under the tentacles, managed to activate his link to Jake. His last ditch programming. An extra ace up its sleeve.
And, in turn, it sent a wave of memories. Flashbacks. Stories of long ago. An eruption of pain flew across Jake's head. And, the more he shook his head, the more the pain came.
"You're my best friend! My partner!" The voice seemed like an echo. "You were once a SWAT Kat! Protector of MegaKat City! Doesn't that mean anything to you?!"
Whimpering, Jake held his head, the voice now multiplying, echoing whispers surrounding him.
"This isn't like you, Jake... You're stronger than this."
Weakly, the cable finally let go of his captives. Chance freed himself of the metallic armor. Everything, that is, except the Glovatrix.
"I..." Jake began, hands gripping his head tightly.
"I came here to help you, Jake," Chance said, attempting to unhook the slimmer kat from his cabled restraints. In turn, the smaller kat simply ignored him, not stopping him. Reassured, Chance disconnected Jake from his weapons connections, the smaller kat slumping in some relief.
"Jake? Can you hear me?" the tabby asked again as he removed the remaining cables.
A faint mumble came back in reply.
"C'mon, buddy. Let's get you outta here."
"Chance...." Jake started, followed by a slight sliffle. "Metallikats... still here..."
The tabby could only smile in return. "We'll evade them. And, we have Cybertron to help us."
However, no sooner had Chance managed to help his partner up to his knees than Jake abruptly pulled away, snarling in pain.
"My head..." He snarled again, his eyes flashing a crimson red. "I will not...fail!" Growling, he tackled Chance barehanded.
The tabby squalled in surprise, trying to fight him back, desperate, trying not to hurt him. "Jake! STOP!" His partner was crazed, claws out, flailing, trying to attack. "Jake!" A loud snarl escaping Chance's throat, he pinned Jake to the floor. "SNAP OUTTA IT!!!" And, as Jake continued to struggle, he added, "Whoever you are, STOP IT! Jake is NOT your puppet!"
He was starting to realize as Jake kept repeating himself. "I will... not... fail!!"
The blood-red eyes. His partner's cold and revenge-thirsty attitude since the very beginning. Flashbacks flooded Chance's mind as Jake continued to struggle. The fall of MegaKat City, rumors of the backstabbing that ended up with two of her rulers dead or missing as the Metallikats in the end took control. However, Chance knew that one of the robot's targets was smarter than what they'd expected. *He* was always anticipating, waiting for the right moment to show that he'd known what his enemies were planning. Like *he* knew that it would somehow end up with *his* own purple fur skinned.
That was it. The ugly truth. Chance had just realized that the chip wasn't only a device to awaken the desire for conquest within his partner's mind. It was a home. A home for an evil and misbegotten spawn of hatred. The closest to the king of the underworld that Chance had ever encountered until the Metallikats proved an even bigger obstacle. His worst enemy had taken over his best friend's mind. A fresh snarl erupted as Chance pinned Jake to the floor even harder.
"I'm not letting you... DARK KAT!"
"Get him out of my head!!!!!" Jake cried.
"Stop it now!" Chance barked. "You're killing him! The charade's over! Get outta my friend's head!"
Jake's face twisted again, the purple demon now speaking through him. "Now, that's a bit impossible when one is disembodied wouldn't you agree?"
"You'r surrounded by machines!"
"Bah. I don't want a machine. Besides, this is far more fun. Tormenting my hated enemies." Dark Kat cackled manically, sending a flow of anger through Chance's veins and a fresh leer appearing on his host's face. "But, I was already quite safe here before you ever thought of stopping me. Five years, Furlong. I'm amazed that with your intellect you couldn't see this coming a mile away."
"Jake is *stronger* than that!" Chance retorted through teeth that were literally grinding together. And, once again, he repeated his statement, this time to capture Jake's attention. "Jake, you're stronger than that!" He watched as Jake fought for control, but even he knew that the situation had been wearing the smaller kat down for five years. And, he wasn't going to let doubt get in the way. "I know you're still in there, Jake Clawson! You better snap outta it and help me get this creep outta your head or I'm not speaking to you again!"
"I...." The single worded sentence was said softly as the caramel kat fought for control again, his partner chanting words of encouragement, like a coach at a football game.
"You heard that, Clawson?! FIGHT IT!!"
Jake's face shifted several times, expressions changing. From pain, to anger, to hatred, to sadness. But, getting a torment such as Dark Kat out of his head was more than what he'd bargained for. He just couldn't....
"CHANCE! GET IT OUT!!!!!" His voice was choked, desperately begging his friend to help him.
In return, Chance couldn't think of anything else but to call the Cybertron for help.
"How do I get it out?!" he demanded.
The smaller robot merely "blinked." "That would require surgery, ChanceFurlong... It is embedded." Curious, it cocked its head at the distraut expression on Chance's face, then turned to Jake. Finally, in a quick move, it linked itself to the outlet of the chip and to Jake.
[JakeClawson, can you not channel the chip's programming into my own?] it asked, drowning out any other noise from the outside so only Jake could hear it.
[Are you nuts?!] Jake cried back, realizing what the robot was up to. [He'll take over YOU!]
[I am not alive.] The robot seemed unphased. [My programming can be restored later.]
A fresh scream of pain echoed through their link. [I want him GONE!]
[JakeClawson... I am a machine... My primary, earliest programming was to help you. I will help you.]
From the outside, Chance could only take a wild guess of what was going on. The expressions on Jake's face told everything.
Once again, a soft "I..." escaped from the smaller kat, his expression now set on concentration and determination. And, the Cybertron stood nearby, waiting and ready.
And, from within Jake's mind, the battle for conquest was a raging war that the caramel kat was fighting with the remnants of his strength. Dark Kat wasn't about to go down that easily. However, what with being disconnected from one of the primary sources that kept him "alive," the purple demon's strength was just as low.
[Don't you dare, SWAT Kat!] he snarled in vain, as if expecting Jake to let go altogether.
Jake didn't listen. [Oh, I dare... You've tormented me long enough.] A virtual punch flew out. [You turned me into a monster.] Another punch. [You made me lose everything dear to me.] A third punch. [This is my body... and my life... AND I WANT THEM BACK!] The hardest punch he could throw out staggered Dark Kat's subconscious even dangerously closer to the link between Jake and the Cybertron. And, at this point, Jake concentrated his hardest, his scream both mental and spoken. [Get out! GET OUT NOW!!!]
A snarled "Nooooooo!!!!!!!" echoed as Dark Kat was sent into the link, where the Cybertron was standing ready.
In a flash, the smaller robot caught the demon and shut down its program, wiping his hard drive. Then, it was silent.
Everything was silent.
A silence that Chance couldn't bear to take anymore. "Jake...?" he whispered.
And, in return, Jake slit his eyes open, once again in their ever so familiar amber color. "It's over..." he whispered.
"Over? Are you...?"
"He's out...," Jake confirmed. His eyelids drooped, the smaller kat both mentally and physically exhausted.
At that, Chance looked over at the Cybertron.
The smaller robot was slumped over, the lights in its eyes out, no sign of running. It'd completely shut down, its memory wiped. Its last attempt to finish off Dark Kat for good. Gently, the tabby set Jake down and attempted to wake it up. "Cybertron?" Nothing. There was no chance of rebooting. It was as though the Cybertron had been consumed by the deadliest virus it'd ever encountered, both winning and losing the battle. He sighed, his ears drooped, laying a hand on the smaller robot's shoulder. [Thank you, Cybertron... You were a big help. And, I'm so sorry... You risked everything for us... Sure hope Hackle can reprogram you.]
"I told him not to," Jake whispered, depressed.
Chance could only sigh. "Let's get you home, buddy. It's time you left this metal prison."
But, Jake couldn't move. This time, rather than being exhausted, he was crying. Crying for Cybertron, shedding tears for his haggard, prematurely aging friend, for himself, for everyone he hurt. He was just finally crying. Something he couldn't do for the past five years. And, all he could do was just let his once lost best friend engulf him in a bearhug. A welcome and yet very overprotective bearhug.
The embrace didn't last long. Chance had barely lifted his head to suggest they leave when he saw the Enforcers barreling into the complex. And, he couldn't help but go back to his nightmare. No. He couldn't let it become a reality. Without hesitation, he planted himself in front of Jake, shielding him.
Instead of the sniper, however, the Enforcers paused in their tracks, blinking, confused. And, leading them was Commander Feral.
Realizing who it was that was standing in front of them, the taller kat arched a brow. "Furlong?"
"Please... don't..." Chance returned.
Feral merely shook his head, assuming Jake was already "subdued," judging by the unconscious form lying down behind the tabby. "Are you alright?"
"I am now," Chance returned gruffly. "Please... don't hurt Jake."
His pleas only had Feral make a strange face... an expression so unlike the commander that it would have scared him had he'd looked in the mirror. "Easy, Furlong. I'm not. C'mon, it's over.... And, it looks like you need some medical treatment."
Now Chance was confused. Was he actually speaking to *the* Commander Feral? Had he had room to laugh, he could have. But, the situation was so serious that not even the once cocky SWAT Kat that mocked the Enforcer commander daily could crack a smile. Instead, he slowly turned to scoop up his unconscious friend. "What about the Metallikats?"
"We took care of them. C'mon."
Wait. A. Minute. "How'd you do that?!" The tabby was rather shocked, but there'd been enough surprises for one night. He just couldn't deal with all of them.
And, with that, Feral only smirked. Somehow, Chance doubted that Feral was seriously gloating. Instead, he followed him out of the fortress, hoping, praying that Jake was alright.
Restoring proper order had been a lot harder than Feral had expected, but at least it could be done without having to worry about renegade robots aiming laser guns at his head. He gazed towards the city from his now remodeled office in what once was Metallikat HeadQuarters.
He watched as the squadrons took off in neat formation, the choppers circling close by to return civilians back to their homes.
Yes, it would take time. But, at least, MegaKat City was free of any strain that'd held it down for so long.
He remembered the battle. His men had barely managed to take down what was left of the Metallikat Forces. They were lucky, however, when the messangers to Katskill City returned with reinforcements in time to boost their attack. Not to mention that the 'informer'*** that had mobilized Katskill Forces the night the Enforcers escaped had given them the exact coordinates.
The Enforcer Commander had been relieved when he'd received a call from Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs as she among others were transported back to MegaKat City. Her sending the Katskill troops had been a blessing. She'd explained that the work camp guard had been recently paid for his services, promised a new life if he cooperated.
Feral couldn't complain. Not this time.
His city had been recovered. He had a speech to write for the new founded heroes of the newly recovered MegaKat City.
Speaking of heroes, he couldn't help but wonder what had happened to Furlong and Clawson. He hadn't seen them since the raid on Metallikat HeadQuarters. Maybe it was time to reconsider their expulsion from the force. Of course, that would be up to them to decide.
For the first time, Feral actually smiled.
"How deep was the chip embedded?"
Chance's tone was tired, but relieved. For the first time in five years he'd slept soundly, not waking up until he felt his body was fully rested.
"Quite deep," returned Hackle, polishing his glasses gently as they sat at the kitchen table. "But, the doctors seem to think the surgery was completely successful, although they did mention that he might have some memory loss.
"Memory loss? You mean... forget what happened these past five years?"
"We won't know how much his memory has been affected until he awakens." Hackle sighed. "One could hope he would forget that."
"Would be for the best," Chance murmured. "How's the Cybertron coming along?"
The aging inventor chuckled a bit. "I've been adding the backup files I found among Jake's files to my own backup for him. He'll have some memory loss as well but not much."
The tabby could only sigh in some relief. He'd been worried day and night about his friend's condition... if the chip had been removed successfully. Speaking of which...
"How'd you stop the Metallikats?"
"An improved version of my neural neutralizer. The Enforcers found me before the battle."
"So it deactivated them?"
Hackle nodded, his frail eyes drooping to the table. "I'm already working on disassembling them." There was a sad tone to his voice, one that had Chance lay a hand on his shoulder.
"Isn't there anyway to give them a different hard disk? Or has that been tried?"
"It's... very confusing deciding what to do. Deciding how much real kats they even are anymore."
Chance's ears drooped. "I'm sorry. I know you see something in them that the rest of us just can't..."
The old scientist interrupted him. "I'll have to debate it. Now, you go on and see if Jake needs anything."
"Alright," said Chance, as he got up from the table. "Thanks, Doc... for everything."
"You're welcome, my boy," returned Hackle with a small smile on his face.
Jake was asleep in a tight ball by the time Chance made his way upstairs, snuggled into his pillow, a bandage covering the area where the chip had once been.
Chance dragged a chair over and sat with the back in front of him, watching his friend, tired, but relieved. He paused to remember the operation, his carting Jake over to the nearest area where he could find a doctor. Asking that very doctor to perform a miracle - to save his best friend.
Hackle taking him by the arm and telling him to relax. To let the doctors do the work now. All he could do was wait. He'd fallen asleep along the line, waking up the very next day, remembering, pitching a fit when he couldn't find Jake until Hackle sat him down and told him to calm down.
He smiled, shook his head. His best friend was safe. That was all that mattered. He closed his eyes briefly, but not before whispering, "Welcome home, buddy."
At that, Jake stirred, slitting his eyes open as he'd laid on the bandage and the area was still tender. Rolling over, he saw Chance.
Chance opened his eyes again. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty."
"Wha... What's going on?" asked the smaller kat as he sat up. Pausing briefly, he rubbed his head, finding the bandage. "What happened?"
"You've been asleep for a good 72 hours."
"Did this happen with Mad Kat?" Jake cocked his head curiously, memories flitting back and forth, mixed out of order.
Chance only smiled and shook his head. "Metallikats, actually... managed to knock you out." It wasn't the whole truth, but the tabby felt half the truth was just as good.
"Okay." Jake could somehow sense there was more... and almost remember something more, but it wasn't coming to him. That is, not until he leaned over to squint at the gray hairs on Chance's head. "You've got... white hairs?"
Chance could only give him a smart smirk. "Told ya' worrying about your condition would give me gray hairs."
Jake narrowed his eyes. "Hmm..." He KNEW when Chance was lying, and after looking around carefully, he knew they weren't in the garage.
"You don't believe me, do you?"
Chance nodded. "Thought so. I'll explain right after you recover all your strength. You're gonna need it."
Jake's ears twitched forward, seeming to think for a minute, but he gave up as his head hurt. "Alright." He paused again as the Cybertron rolled in. Now THAT he remembered. "Hey! Cybertron!"
His tabby partner spun around. "CYBERTRON!" He stood and picked up the little bot, giving it a hug best he could. Jake could only blink in confusion. Chance hated that bot. "Yer back!"
The Cybertron could only beep back happily.
And, once again, Jake looked on in confusion. "Chance...?"
Chance set the robot down, then turned to Jake. "Like I said, I'll explain everything. Now, you better regain you strength."
"Oh here, let me plug into the wall," Jake joked.
Ever so suddenly, Chance became alarmed. "I beg your pardon?" No... the chip HAD been removed.
The caramel kat abruptly sensed something in Chance's tone. "Well, you make it sound so easy. Like I just flip my recharge switch and..."
"You don't HAVE a recharge switch!" Did he??
Jake blinked, ears drooped. "I know... I was just kidding."
Half relieved, Chance paused, realizing his outburst.
"I'm sorry, Buddy..."
"Chance, what is it?" Jake wasn't sure if he could wait around for an explanation. "Just tell me. It would spare me some confusion."
"Alright." Chance sank into the chair again, and started the tale. His finding the Cyclotron in the tunnel when Razor didn't reply to his call on that fateful day five years ago, his hunting him down to the swamps, his confronting the villains, learning the awful truth about his partner, fighting, watching his city fall, being on the run.... Five long years. He choked his way through some of it, glossing over parts, shaking through others. Finally he finished after taking in a deep breath. "And... you're here."
Jake listened as Chance talked, face only shifting slightly, ears and tail twitching often. Both drooped once Chance was finished. "I'm sorry, Chance..."
"Why are you sorry, Buddy? This whole incident wasn't your fault..."
"I... I just feel like part of it was..."
Chance interrupted him by shaking his head fiercly. "Only physically. Mentally... well... Dark Kat was running the show."
The Cybertron beeped indignantly. Neither was about to let Jake beat himself up over it. At that, the smaller kat grinned.
"Well, if the two of you're gonna gang up on me."
Chance grinned back. "Might as well."
"Okay, okay, you two. I'll try not to beat myself up... At least not before breakfast." A wry grin followed thereafter.
"You BETTER not beat yourself up. I'll do it for you if you do." Chance smirked as Jake lay back a bit, a smile engulfing his face this time. "I'll get ya' some breakfast. Just relax, got that?"
Jake nodded. "Okay. And, Chance..."
He didn't finish his sentence. Instead, he stood up best he could and grabbed his partner in a tight and thankful embrace.
And, at that, the once tired and frustrated tabby held his tears from streaming down his cheeks as he returned the bear hug.
Five long years. Five years of running, fighting, waiting, planning... they were finally over. It would take time to pick up the pieces, but at least the once crime-fighters were reunited.
Who knew what came in the near future? No one in MegaKat City, at least.
Perhaps it was time for the SWAT Kats to make another entrance. And, this time, stay for good until the very end.
* - Referring to "Deadly Pyramid"
** - Referring to "Unlikey Alloys"
*** - Refers to "Stratagem"
"You Can't Take Me" - Bryan Adams - (Jake's song)
"Plowed" - Sponge - (Chance's song)
"Everyday" - Bon Jovi
"Phantom of the Opera" - Techno Remix
"Set Me Free" - DJ Sonix (Battle Between the Enforcers and the Metallikats)
"Ressurection" - Paul Oakenfold - (Enforcers Defeat the Metallikats)