Title: Getting Out
Author: Kristen Sharpe
E-Mail: skgirl@hotmail.com
Date: June 4, 1999
Completed: June 12, 1999
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This is set roughly fifteen years after my regular fanfic series (the
Technical Difficulties series). A few things have changed for the SWAT Kats,
but I've managed to keep a lot of my unnecessary additions out of this as I'll
leave their explanations for the proper place in my regular series.
Why did I skip ahead fifteen years? Well, I invented a future SWAT Kat (as
in the son of a current SWAT Kat, not some kat from the year 3000) who's become a
favorite character of mine and I just couldn't resist telling a little of his story
early. I think the plot's easy enough to understand, sooo... away we go!

FFN note: Eh... Hesitated on posting this one. It's been up on my site and the
SWAT Kats/DJ Clawson's Fanfiction Archive for a while and I do like it. I just
don't want it to ruin the end of the Tech Diff Series for anyone. Of course, what I
consider the series proper ends before Max comes along. It ends, in fact, when the
SWAT Kats get married. Yep, that's the finale. This is just a speculation for
after that.

Rating: PG I guess for mild violence. Nothing more.

---------------------------------------

Still wet, the would-be wings quivered with their owner's anticipation.
Fluidly, he spun his large frame around so he could drink in the exciting
beauty of the great metropolis before him. More so than ever tonight, the
chemically-augmented adrenaline in his veins shot through him in a white-hot blast
of excitement.

Unable to contain himself any longer, the young tomkat flung his new
wings wide, slinging jelly-like drops of unhardened material to the winds.
A wild, excited light filling his eyes, he stood, poised for an instant atop
the low hill at the desert's edge. Then, with a powerful thrust from both his
legs and his wings, he leapt into the air, wings beating to get him airborne.
Defiant, he beat gravity down and took to the skies.

Then, he was skimming along on a hot, dry wind blowing off the desert
sands. MegaKat City sprawled before him.

In seconds, MegaKat City was far below. Maxwell "Max" Furlong screamed
a whoop of joy and dove downward. The city came to meet him in a blast of hot,
smoggy air and a roar of sound. Max met it with open arms.

---------------------------------------

"Chance!"

Chance Furlong plunged through the layers of sleep and into reality to
answer Callie's urgent call. As he shoved away the pillow and pulled his head
from its downy softness, he met his wife's gaze.

"Max's gone," Callie stated softly, her face lined with worry.

---------------------------------------

The young tomkat grinned down on the city from his perch on the top of
MegaKat Tower. His lizard-like tail twitched madly with his in-held excitement.
There was so much down there... and he wanted to see it. Jumping to his feet,
Max flung himself from the roof, spinning as he fell and spreading his wings.

A band of street punks looked up suddenly, startled by the large shadow
that swept overhead. Their leader, a dirty-furred feline who usually answered to
"Scab," spat out a stream of unpleasant syllables that translated roughly as an
exclamation of shock. Then, he smiled. This was weird, but there could be some
amusement in it.

With a wicked smile, he screamed an order to his followers. They needed
little encouragement. The thick, hot air was split with a multitude of crimson
blasts.

---------------------------------------

Chance found his longtime partner and friend waiting for him in the
TurboKat's hangar. Jake "Razor" Clawson greeted the big kat with a simple nod and
a worried face as he tied on his black mask.

Chance returned the greeting and hurried past his friend. He paused midway
to the familiar, green locker that held his flight suit. He turned back to face
Jake, now fully dressed as his alter-ego Razor, and met his friend's level gaze.

"I should do this on my own," the big tabby murmured quietly, his comment
more question than statement.

Razor nodded and regarded his partner sadly.

"I'll be here," he returned.

Chance responded with a sad smile and a thumbs up before turning back to
open the locker and snatch out his own flight suit.

---------------------------------------

It was the burning sensation, not the smell of ozone, not the scarlet
light, that Max recognized first. Red hot fire sliced across his tail. A
second flash of pain slashed his thigh.

Awkwardly, Max tried to dodge. He knew he didn't have a chance even
as he searched for a way out. He'd practiced flying, sure - straight routes,
moving with the air currents, gentle banks, brief dives. But, the moves he'd
need to save himself were far beyond his limited skill. His Uncle Jake himself
had doubted how well the leathern appendages would move even as he worked to
teach Max how to shape them aerodynamically.

The flood of thoughts swept across his mind instants before another blast
caught him in the chest. Half-conscious, Max's numbed brain fought through the
pain to try to make an attempt at landing.

The young kat dipped down amid the city skyscrapers, seeking a hiding place.
A narrow alleyway caught his eye and he plunged toward it. The wind failed him as
the buildings closed in, sending Max plummeting. Max's powerful flaps only succeeded
in fouling his wings in a fire escape on the way down. His consciousness fading,
Max tumbled into the dark alleyway, floundering into a pile of putrid garbage bags.

---------------------------------------

Chance, in the guise of T-Bone, began the TurboKat's launch sequence with
his brain on auto-pilot. Fingers hit switches, eyes checked status meters, tongue
and vocal chords collaborated to order the computer* to track Max's unique bio-
signature. Every instrument complied as T-Bone's veritably hard-wired reflexes
brought the jet from its launch tunnel into the clear night sky.

The big kat sighed, heading the jet across the mountains that surrounded
the SWAT Kats' current home and base of operations. Flying by rote, he let his
mind wander to years past.

---------------------------------------

"Congratulations, Mr. Furlong," the dark-haired doctor announced, hair
flying wildly about her exultant face. "You have a son."

That was all it took. All that was needed to send the rest of the world
flying into the shadows. Even the sounds of Callie's pained labor dimmed as Chance
met his first child.

Chance peered in wonderment at the still-wet bundle of fur the doctor passed
to a waiting nurse. The bundle kicked fiercely for its diminutive size, pushing
aside the blanket in which it had been wrapped to reveal a squalling kitten.

Chance's jaw dropped as he leaned close to stare at the tiny face. He
reached a tentative finger out toward the crying newborn.

"Would you like to hold him?" the nurse asked, offering the kitten to
Chance.

As Chance took his son, the doctor cried out.

"Here comes the little girl!"

His eyes left the precious charge he was cradling to watch as his daughter
entered the world. The big tabby felt himself torn in a thousand emotional directions.
He wanted to scream with joy, to cry, to laugh. His body was suddenly far too small
for the rapturous emotions exploding within.

A single sentence finally escaped his lips.

"Callie! ... we have kids!"

The golden-haired she-kat smiled at him, exhausted and radiant simultaneously.

"Yes," she whispered as he stepped to her side.

---------------------------------------

"Where'd it land?!" one of Scab's gang growled eagerly.

"Close," Scab returned simply, signaling for a halt with one hand.

The mismatched collection of twenty-odd motorcycles and street vehicles
came to a stop with the gesture. The gang eyed their leader.

"Split up," Scab ordered. "Call out if ya' find it." He paused to glare
evilly at the assembled street scum. "Fry it before I join the fun and yer road
slag," he warned.

---------------------------------------

Chance was perched on the edge of Callie's bed, her damp hand clasped in
his as she dozed peacefully. Abruptly, a nurse slipped into the room, swiftly
but on quiet feet. She motioned for Chance to follow her outside. With a frown,
he complied, gently disentangling his hand from Callie's. Her eyes fluttered,
but he brushed her cheek, murmuring an assurance before padding from the room.

The nurse closed the door quickly behind him and faced the tiger-striped
tomkat.

"It's about your son," she explained, refusing to meet Chance's gaze.

---------------------------------------

The voices were distant. Loud, jeering. They were coming closer.
But, the rhythmic thudding that overshadowed them was closer. Thump-thump.
Thump-thump. White hot flame engulfed his chest for the second time. The
tiger-striped youngling screamed in terror, sure he was being shot again.
Then, the flames banked, ebbing away to be replaced by no more than an acute
itch.

Still fearing the worst, Max lay still, again listening to his own
heartbeat. It had slowed, quietened to normal. The foul stench of rotting
food wafting into his nostrils finally brought him back to reality. The young
kat gagged and shook his head, trying to drive the smell out. Quickly, he
pushed himself up with one hand, the other probing his chest. His probe found
smooth, bare skin with the faintest hint of new fur appearing.

Gasping in surprise, Max stood and looked down at himself. Most of his
shirt had been burned away with the blast, giving him a clear view of the pink,
healing skin on his chest. Briefly, Max marveled at his recovery. He'd known
it worked with little cuts, this ability to heal himself quickly, but this...

The voices interrupted his inspection. Too late Max regretted his
earlier scream. They'd found him.

---------------------------------------

"His... vitals are fine," the doctor assured as Chance cradled his
somewhat altered son, now twice the size he'd been at birth two hours ago.

"Why didn't you call me when this started?" Chance snapped.

"There was nothing *to* be done... but wait it out," the exhausted
physician explained, brushing straggling hair from her eyes for the thousandth
time. "The transformation took only minutes." The bespectacled she-kat shrugged
helplessly.

"Can you undo it? Use antimutagens? *Anything*?!" Chance snarled.

"We've taken a blood sample. One is being examined here while another has
been sent to MegaKat Biochemical Labs. We should know *something* before the day
is out."

Chance's eyes never left the kitten, who, rather than exhausted by his
trials, seemed invigorated, his frog-like feet kicking at Chance's arm merrily.

"What about Carrie? What about the girl?" he asked, his shoulders slumped
in despair.

The doctor paused, adjusting her glasses as she chose her words carefully
before replying.

"We're monitoring her. Nothing is even hinting at a similar change at
this point," she responded. "Not that he gave us any warning." She gestured
to the kicking kitten in Chance's arms, wearily. "We did take a blood sample
from the girl too..."

Chance nodded, cutting the aging doctor off. Understanding his feelings,
the she-kat stood.

"I'll bring you any results as soon as I have them," she assured, starting
to leave. She stopped, blue eyes soft. "He is still your son, you know."

The look of hurt that knifed through Chance's face stopped her.

"I know," the big kat replied. "It's not him I'm angry with."

As the doctor left, Chance looked down at his finally calming son.

"It's me," he responded. "I'm so sorry, Maxie."

---------------------------------------

Max searched for a way out as his would-be attackers neared. A brick wall
barred one exit, the sneering gang the other.

Reflexively, he started to flap his wings only to find them gone. His
body had apparently returned his wing material to its gelatin state and reabsorbed
it during his healing process. There was no room to spread them here anyway.
Fighting was his sole option. That clear, Max faced the approaching kats, pressing
his back to the wall and preparing to go down fighting.

---------------------------------------

Chance's fist smashed into the white-washed wall so hard the drywall cracked.

"If you weren't in MegaKat Maximum Security, I'd kill you, Viper!" he
screamed. The fury ebbing with his blow, Chance leaned against the wall. "But I
shoulda known... That creature bite... My mutation..."

In the still corridors of the abandoned hospital wing, the bare walls and
empty rooms awaiting imminent remodeling found their silence shattered as the tomkat
sobbed.

---------------------------------------

The first kat to lunge at Max was a lean, gray feline. Max met him with his
tail, swinging around to strike the kat across the face with the lizard-like
appendage. The blow sent the lanky kat flying.

"Woo-hoo!" Scab crowed, watching. His eyes lit with wicked delight. "We
got us a live one, boys! Work the freak over!"

A cluster of teenkats behind him smiled in anticipation and stepped forward.

---------------------------------------

"There's nothing we can do." The doctor meet Chance and Callie's joint gaze
levelly. "His body actually produces both catalyst X-63 and Viper Mutagen 368. If
we inject him with an antimutagen,... it could destroy every cell in his body."

Callie shook her head.

"Then, he'll stay like he is. He's alive, healthy - I don't care if he
isn't exactly 'normal'!"

The doctor nodded, a sad smile appearing on her lips.

"And, as best we can tell, the condition is sex-linked - it comes with the
Y chromosome... The girl won't have it." The doctor beamed as Chance and Callie
breathed sighs of relief. Though she knew in her heart that this wouldn't be easy,
she was glad to see their reactions. For better or for worse, they were behind
their son... come what may.

---------------------------------------

Max eyed the five gang members closing in on him in grim silence, his tail
lashing. Suddenly, an idea leapt to his mind. Max grinned at the thought; now,
he just had to wait to execute it.

An otherwise albino tomkat with brilliant purple hair ended his wait,
throwing the first punch. Max ducked, releasing the gelatinous ooze from which
he formed his wings with lightning speed. The two jets of slime formed a semblance
of arms as they connected with the two kats on either side of Max, sending them
rolling.

Two threats nullified, Max meet his first attacker with a punch of his
own. The white kat grunted and reeled back with the force of the blow. Seeing
an opening, Max bolted, dodging the two remaining kats. His intent was to
plow through the rest of the gang into the open street where he could form his
wings. The business end of Scab's purloined Enforcer issue energy rifle brought
him up short.

---------------------------------------

"It's your fault!"

Chance shrank away from his son as though struck.

"It's your fault I'm a freak! Your fault I can hardly leave this house!
Your fault I can't go to school like Carrie and Ryan**. I hate you!"

With that, the young Max ran from the room, slamming doors in his wake.

Callie looked at Chance, eyes shining with tears.

"He didn't mean it," she whispered quietly.

"Why shouldn't he?" Chance returned, burying his face in his hands.

---------------------------------------

Scab's rifle discharged even as Max spun away, in time for the mutant
kat to catch the discharged energy in the back. The mid-level blast sent him to
his knees on the garbage-strewn asphalt. He could hear feet hurrying to circle
him, voices taunting.

"Fight, Freak Boy."
"Git up, Mutie Freak."

Breathing heavily, Max forgot his fear. Fear died as fury rose to replace
it. With a guttural snarl, he leapt to his feet and threw himself into the pack of
sneering teenkats.

---------------------------------------

The lights of MegaKat City's suburbs flashing by broke T-Bone from the
memories. The SWAT Kat started, refocusing on the moment as he murmured his
thanks to the computer for keeping the jet on course.

"Max is several miles away, towards the bay... in the heart of the city,"
the artificial intelligence stated quietly. He slipped back into his former quiet
as T-Bone responded with an affirmative and took full manual control of the TurboKat.

---------------------------------------

The tiger-striped Max knew his luck was running out. His wounds were more
than even his body could handle with new injuries constantly being inflicted. And,
the pounding he was taking was nothing compared to what he knew would come when
they tired of him. Desperate, Max fought on.

Everywhere he turned there were more kats. Some fought with their fists.
Some wielded metal poles and knives. A few had even resorted to their bare claws.

Max used his tail as a multi-purpose defense, ripping weapons from his
attackers' hands or knocking them away and throwing it up to deflect blows to his
unprotected back. The appendage had long since lost any sensation of pain. The
"arms" he'd formed from his wing material were little better; thankfully, the
gelatin was largely nerveless.

Faces flashed past the young kat in a blur as he confronted foe after foe.
His tail whipped madly at those behind. But, for all his abnormal features and
strength, Max was tiring. He was hopelessly outnumbered, his normally nicely
featured face battered beyond recognition. More and more the battle was growing
distant, the world fading around him.

Then, he was punching at nothing. Max paused, listening, his legs weak
beneath him. He was just in time to see Scab flung into the side of the nearest
dumpster with a metallic clang. The broad-shouldered gang leader slid to the
pavement limply, unconscious. Max's dimming vision vaguely registered the
sprawled and moaning gang members around him. Disinterestedly, Max surveyed
the battle scene. The smell of ozone from recently discharged blasters
reached his widened nostrils as he drew gasping breaths. Slowly, he let his wing
material dissolve from its current shape into its more liquid form and be reabsorbed
by his body. Finally, he locked eyes with the figure approaching him slowly.

T-Bone looked his son over, trying to cover his frantic worry with an
appropriately parental scowl. Max stood wavering in the midst of fallen kats.
T-Bone hadn't counted those with which he'd dealt, but at least eight had been
taken down by his pummeled son.

Max was twelve years old. Twelve, and he'd taken out eight streetwise
thugs. T-Bone wondered anew at this amazing child. At length, he found words.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I will be...."

T-Bone stepped closer to study Max. The boy was right; his disfigured
face was already losing its puffiness. Again, T-Bone marveled at his son, he'd
never really grasped the abilities that came with Max's mutation. Quickly,
he pushed the thought away. There were other things to be considered now.

"C'mon," T-Bone announced curtly, spinning on his heel to stalk back
toward the street where he'd left the TurboKat. Concerned as he was over Max's
well-being, they still needed a *long* talk after this stunt... that could have
gotten Max killed.

"What if I don't *want* to come?" Max snapped, shaking his head to clear
it and glaring at the big kat's back.

T-Bone turned to face him slowly, his face tight.

"You really want to stay out here? And, get hunted like an animal by
the likes of them?" He pointed to the scattered and unconscious rabble as he
spoke.

"Maybe better than staying cooped up as if I was too hideous to take out
in public for the rest of my life!" Max yelled.

He immediately regretted his words. The hurt look on T-Bone's face
couldn't be hidden behind his mask. His whole body sagged with the words.
With a hopeless shrug of his shoulders, the SWAT Kat turned away again and
continued walking.

"It's your call," he murmured.

Subdued, Max looked after his father. His face softened.

"Da... T-Bone, wait!" Max ran to catch up to T-Bone as he spoke. He
slid to a stop as he reached the other kat. "Let's go home," he whispered.

T-Bone's saddened face warmed in a brief smile as he turned to Max. The
youngling smiled back then abruptly staggered. He would have fallen, had T-Bone
not jumped to catch him. Max smiled up at his father again before giving himself
to the darkness, his entire body aflame again as flesh and fur regrew.

T-Bone gathered his son into his arms, kneeling on one knee and searching
the boy's battered body for any serious wounds he might have missed. To his relief,
Max was whole, every bone intact. The big kat paused at a particularly vicious
slash that had nearly severed the tip of Max's tail. Even as he watched, the
oozing wound began to seal itself.

The SWAT Kat drew in his breath sharply, stunned. Never had he imagined
Max could regenerate like the mutant creations of Dr. Viper that he'd fought for
years. Dazed, he shook his head and then struggled to his feet. Max was no light
load, already he was easily as big as Razor.

As he began to walk back to the TurboKat carrying Max, T-Bone looked down
on the tiger-striped face. Unconsciously, Max had snuggled up to him, face pressed
into his father's flight suit. What could be seen of it though was calm. The
young kat seemed to be merely sleeping deeply now. T-Bone smiled remembering
the first time he'd seen that face. Then, he sighed in body and to the depths of
his soul in relief. Max would be alright.

And, he still had time. Time to continue to try to heal the gaping hole
between himself and this child, both of whom blamed him for Max's condition. Well,
there was nothing to be done about the past, but, at the moment, the future's
promise was glowing just a little bit brighter.

---------------------------------------

* - "The computer" is an understatement. My concept of the SWAT Kats' future
computer is a sentient artificial intelligence. "It" considers "itself"
a he and "he" has a name. But, to get into all that is really unnecessary for this
story. True, the computer would have spoken more to T-Bone, but it would just get
too far off the point to explain the computer's origins. That and the point of this
story is clearing up questions - to get into the computer mess would only create more.

** - Ryan is Jake/Razor's son.