Title: Exploration
Author: Kristen Sharpe
Date: September 19, 2019
Rating: K
Warnings: None.
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.

Author's Note: Pre-series, continues from my earlier "Discovery" fic, but that's not required to read this.


"I feel like we need spelunking gear." Choosing his steps carefully, Chance Furlong picked his way down rusting metal stairs in darkness only barely brightened by his flashlight.

"It probably wouldn't be a bad idea," his best friend, Jake Clawson, agreed, following behind and swinging his own flashlight over the peeling paint of the stairwell railing to look at the flights below them.

"Now you say that."

They were over a story underground, descending into the depths of the abandoned MegaWar III airbase they'd found hidden under the city salvage yard. The first level of the old bunker wasn't anymore intimidating than a basement. A basement the size of an underground parking garage. But, it was dry and mostly clean. Someone had taken their job of removing military equipment seriously.

That had made them both pout a little. Fifty year old equipment might not be much use, but it would have been fun to poke.

And then, not fun to haul up the ladder and out the small entrance. So, it was just as well.

The real disappointment was the gaping hole where the aircraft lift should have been.

"Well, even if they'd left it in the raised position, the hydraulics would have failed by now anyway," Jake reasoned.

"Meaning they might have left it raised, and it crashed back down?"

"No pessimism allowed."

"Too late."

But, they both knew Chance's pessimism was an act. He wanted Jake's mad build-our-own-jet plan to work out as much as Jake did.

So, having given the first level a once-over, it was time to head down to the lower levels where they'd probably - hopefully - find an intact lift and the launch tunnel. Unfortunately, the only way down was a narrow, metal stairway that could collapse from fifty years of rust at any second no matter how sturdy it looked. It vibrated with every step. But, the rust wasn't as bad as they'd expected.

"I'm amazed there's no water in here after all this time," Jake mused, running a hand along the railing. "This place is really well-built."

"Just wait. The bottom of the launch is probably an underground lake," Chance returned.

"Mmm." Jake rubbed his chin, tail twitching. "That would be perfect to fill with piranhas or sharks, but I'm not really the evil overlord type."

"Make them robot piranhas and sharks, and it's right up your alley."

"Haha."

A final turn, and they could see gaping blackness ahead.

Chance swung his flashlight out. "Now, to see if it's water or just a bottomless pit."

The light illuminated smooth concrete marked by brighter lines of peeling paint. Chance followed the painted lines to a thin, darker line in a wide curve that outlined the unmistakable shape of a huge turntable.

Jake whooped. "We have a lift."

Chance grinned. And, decided not to mention all the work the ancient hydraulic system was going to need. Knowing Jake, he had already had blueprints in his head on how to improve it anyway.