This hit me in the middle of Japanese class. Oi. I blame this plot bunny on the multiple series by Kristen Sharpe. Her stories got me thinking -- especially Imagining the Worst.
For those reading who don't know about SWAT Kats: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, a Hanna-Barbara cartoon, aired for one and a half seasons on Cartoon Network. It explained the exploits of Chance "T-Bone" Furlong and Jake "Razor" Clawson, two ex-Enforcer (paramilitary police force) pilots who, after having their wings clipped and dumped in a military salvage yard, build their own jet plane from salvaged parts and take to the sky as a pair of vigilante heroes known as the SWAT Kats. Kats are humanoid cats, complete with fur and tails. Episodes can be found online at YouTube.
One last note: I was so excited about this being done that I'm posting it without having had my beta read it. Any and all errors, please excuse.
Coming to consciousness for the first time was... disconcerting.
I remember Papa's voice shouting angrily in time with a searing pain across my wing. Papa's voice attempted to calm him, if ineffectively, while at the same time assessing options. His warm fingers brushed across controls, the soft sting of his partially extended claws a blissful contrast to my wing's burning pain. I vaguely recalled an audio file of his reaction to the fact his claws came forwards whenever he was truly worried; and how badly he had damaged controls because of that subconscious habit.
Papa was worried. Worried about... me? Yes, worried about me; worried about my wing. It still ached horribly even as Papa warned Papa that he was about to pull a g-defying turn to get away.
Papa was worried about me...
In that brief realization, even as my systems warned Papa about the incoming Enforce choppers and Ferial, of all kats, told Papas they were under arrest, I felt pure emotion.
Papas loved me. My Papas, the ones who had built me, loved me.
I was the happiest jet in the world.
Following that was the realization of whatever could make me hurt would kill Papa and Papa. Papa was right -- we needed to get out of here, now. My happiness turned to worry. Still throbbing, I urged my wing to listen to Papa's orders.
It was only after the three of us -- Papa, Papa, and myself -- were safely tucked away in the Hangar that my throbbing wing finally gave in.
"Crap! Razor!" Papa shouted, halfway out of my cockpit. I could 'see' him, after a fashion, a blond tiger-striped tabby in a dark blue flight suit, with Papa's dimensional radar filling out his dimensions as hidden cameras gave me more specifics than physical parameters.
Papa was frozen as well, his lithe orange furred body wincing in sympathy. "I knew it looked bad, T-Bone, but I never figured..."
Papa T-Bone finished jumping out, landing against cold concrete with not nearly as much grace as Papa Razor. "Her wing fell off, Razor."
I supposed it could be said I 'blinked'. Giving myself a diagnostics reported that, yes, the reason my throbbing wing throbbed no more was that it was no longer attached.
Had I not remembered the fact that I had lost parts before (and lost half my nose cone before) I am certain I would have panicked. I would have screamed, crying for Papa and Papa to comfort me. They would have known I was alive.
Which terrified me.
I knew from my own internal records that I had not been conscious before now. I had been alert, as alert as any fighter jet with a computer half as advanced as my own (as nothing could come close to Papa's work, there was no such thing, but alas, the precedent existed) but I had never been aware. Me, myself, and I were three concepts which had suddenly found root in my hard drive. So new, in fact, I was less sure of how I would react to myself being alive. Without even that baseline knowledge, I did not whish to tempt Papas' reactions.
Instead of screaming, I stayed still, attempting not to tremble in my frame.
Papa's gentle paws brushed my wing wound gently, his claws retracted despite his obvious frustration, his face showing true emotion. It hurts, his touch. Brushing against damaged relay nets and, without meaning to, causing me more pain. But, he is Papa, and I know he doesn't mean to hurt me.
"Cats Alive, Chance... It's a miracle she held together long enough for us to get home."
Another emotion, another feeling, this one sounding far too much of my bigger Papa's voice, tempts me to scoff at the remark. Papa T-Bone does so for me.
"Miracle, Razor?" He snorts back laughter. "Jake, you of all kats know what the TurboKat's got us through."
Papa Jake, Papa Razor, two kats who are one in the same, sigh as he gingerly slips his helmet off.
"Well, buddy, if we want her in the air again, we'd better get to work."
Papa T-Bone, Papa Chance, both names to which he answers without hesitation, laughs again. This time his chuckle is without as much mirth as had been present before.
"Time to go check the salvage yard... again."
Papa sighs as well. "Yeah. We'd better hurry, though. Who knows when Dark Kat will want to test out his new toy plane?"
It is as Papa not-so-gently whacks smaller Papa upside the head that I start to think back. No longer having pain in my wing is acting wondrously to thinking straight.
I am a living, thinking jet plane. How I came to be thinking, in the middle of Dark Kat's fifth and counting raid on PumaDyne, I have no idea. Almost automatically, I find I have logged onto Papa's small computer, opening the file big Papa had started writing just for the heck of it on their villainous foes. Had I an actual face with fangs and all, I would have been growling, both fangs bared in a vicious snarl.
Dark Kat is a name Papas have mentioned many times before. According to my audio recordings, which I now skim through to catch up on the near decade of aware-but-not-awake, Dark Kat is often mentioned in the same sentence as Commander Ferial. Had I been Papa, I would have throttled the Enforcer Commander none too gently. It was Papa's tag. He had had Dark Kat sitting in his scope, just waiting for Papa to release one loving missile up the felonious feline's exhaust pipe...
I find I can growl by vibrating my internal speakers at just the right pitch. Not wanting to alert Papa and Papa, I silence myself. I distracted myself with my own anger -- not a good thing. I need to figure out why I am alive now. Figuring this out could be the difference between Papas' lives and Papas' deaths.
Continuing on Dark Kat's file, I note he is a technology pilfer. He steals highly advanced technology and the programs to run them in order to make MegaKat City the crime capital of the world. Not that he's managed to win, or ever will win. Papas are too good in too many fields to allow him to win. No one can out-fly T-Bone; no one can out-think or out-shoot Razor; no one and nothing can stand up to their combined skills grafted into a physical form. Grafted into the TurboKat; into me.
Wait... Into me...
It hits me, as the saying goes, like the proverbial ton of bricks. The TurboKat, I, had been shot with one of Dark Kat's new weapons, the same weapon he had used to take down PumaDyne's new jet. I had been awakened to consciousness right after I had been shot.
Great Cats... I know Dark Kat's plan. And I can't tell either Papa because of it.
Because I am Dark Kat's plan.
Papa and Papa have returned to the Hangar, their arms loaded with more than enough materials to replace my wing. I silently watch them work, listening with 'ears' that could hear a fly buzz on the other side of a tri-titanium wall as they trade playful banter with one another. Silently, I 'watch' them with the dimensional radar, watching them and them alone. I could care less about the various piles of junk above, the empty runway strip below.
I am at peace like this. They speak of me as though I were still a jet -- in truth, they don't know I'm not still just a jet. Even I am having problems accepting the fact I am alive now.
Which, if I'm right, and if jets could pray I would be praying I was anything but right, is a part of Dark Kat's current "Take Over MKC Plan of the Week". Dark Kat wants to use me as a tool to hurt Papa and Papa; to have me so disoriented that I cause myself and my loving parents to crash, blowing the lot of us a great deal further than simply sky high. For a jet, the sky is not very high at all. The euphemism isn't accurate from where I'm parked, but its close enough to work.
So I sit, parked where I am in the Hangar, and listen to Papa and Papa talk while they work. Thinking -- or maybe trying not to think -- about a lot of things.
Hum. Papa seems to have a few new weapon ideas he wants to build. Their general outline sounds absolutely wonderful. An improvement, indeed, to our various arsenals. Er -- I mean, to their various arsenals. I just chauffeur the SWAT Kats around. Papa does the flying while Papa does the shooting. I just make sure they don't get killed trying to save everyone's collective tails.
That's why I was built, after all. To help the SWAT Kats save MKC on a quad-weekly basis. Or more often than that, depending on who has parole (or escaped, for them it's the same difference) jail that month.
I feel so warm, so privileged, knowing that I was the one they built to help save the city. Some people may have a problem with knowing why they live and how they will eventually die. I find myself at perfect peace with my fate, knowing that when I go down it will be a blaze of glory Papas will be proud of; and that many innocent kats will be saved by my actions.
I think... No, I know, I like kats. I've got lots of different images saved up of what kats look like, besides just Papa and Papa. I like the really, really tiny kats, the most, though. ...Okay, so everything looks tiny whey you're traveling several hundred to several thousand feet above in the air. I'm talking about the kittens.
When Papa and Papa have kittens, I'm going to make sure they stay safe. And if they chose to follow in their fathers' paw-prints, I will help them as much as I can.
Hum. Maybe I'll still be around in the future, fifty years from now...? I wonder what I'll look like...
"Okay, girl, let's get this wing back on yah."
Papa's bass voice knocks me back to my senses, so to speak. It's the only warning I have before his lit welding torch turns on me in order to heal me.
I find myself sighing a metaphorical breath of relieve when I realize Papa cut the sensor nets to that area out of the simple fact he didn't want them fried. Without the sensor nets, I have no pain. No pain means just that; no pain as metal is welded seamlessly back together.
"Lookin' good, Chance," Papa Jake calls from my cockpit.
Hey! When'd Papa get in there? I thought I had them both locked on radar!
It's another shock to me as I realize that I'm getting a personality. Well... it's fitting, isn't it? I am alive.
"Keep it steady, Chance!" Papa warns.
"I am keeping it steady, Sureshot!" Papa answers Papa with his second nickname, his voice hinted with annoyance. "This stupid paneling 's more frayed than we figured..."
I 'look' at the spot Papa's talking about carefully and note that I had tensed when I first noticed the welder...
If I'd have been brave enough, I would have muttered a Papa-classic "Oops," through the PA system. As it was, I relaxed, timing my slight movement with Papa Chance's vigorous rub with a polisher. Papa's got quite a build, that I know, and if his right hook is anything like the pressure he puts behind that polisher it's a miracle half the villains he's brought in haven't gained broken noses.
...Maybe that's why little Papa's always on the ground first...?
Regardless of the reasons, it doesn't take long for Papa to finish restoring my wing to its former glory. I note with a tinge of satisfaction that it is even better than before, reinforced with multiple bonds. I could almost dare Dark Kat to take a swing at it now. His weapons would barely scratch the paint.
...Alright, they'd more than scratch the pain. I know, I know. I'm getting cocky. Being cocky is T-Bone's job. My job is to make sure said cocky Papa SWAT Kat gets his and his partner's tails home in one preferably whole piece.
Having a personality is turning out to be a hassle.
"All right, then. We're done, Jake!" Papa laughs, wiping a bead of sweat from his brow. Papa hops down from my cockpit, a happy but tired smile on his features. I can tell from the tingling in my cockpit Papa had been working on something, too.
"And the upgrades to the radar and targeting systems are complete, too." Papa reported happily.
As they leave, heading off to watch David Litterbin or Scaredy Cat, no doubt, turning out the lights as they go, I can't help but feel like purring.
My engines thrum. Cats Alive, I'm purring! Dang-nab-it, I don't want them to know yet!
I calm myself, ceasing my purring. And I remind myself, as Papa constantly reminds Papa whenever a particularly obnoxious villain escapes, that I'll have a chance to throttle Dark Kat next time.
Next time did not have to come so soon, though, did it?
Miss. Briggs' signal comes through as clear as always, calling of danger. Dark Kat has come back with his newest toy and is doing what he does best. Terrorizing innocent kats. And during a parade, to boot, which means the stakes are even higher than normal. We're talking about innocent kittens being in the way now, too.
I like kittens. I don't like Dark Kat. Both Papas seem to share my sentiment, as we move faster than I've thought we could move before.
"Yep, that's Dark Kat all right." Papa states the obvious.
"Wonder where his new toy is..."
And there it is. A blip on my radar I see before Papa does. Or at least, I thought I saw him before Papa, because no sooner am I triggering a two second early alarm on the radar screen does Papa T-Bone pull one beautiful swan dive to avoid having me shot through with holes.
The escaped PumaDyne jet hooks radio contact with me as he passes.
Both my Papas react in surprise, Papa pulling back out of reflex. He's the first to recover, whispering a muttered, "What the hell...?" They could see clearly out through the canopy -- there was no pilot in PumaDyne's stray jet.
And I knew why. And all I could do was remain silent, his seductive voice flowing about Papas and me in a whispering wave. Papa has me VTOL, Vertical Take Off and Landing mode, hovering above the city as PumaDyne's jet whispers about me seductively.
"You're beautiful. No wonder Dark Kat made sure to hit you, too, lovely." I maintained radio silence throughout it all. Papas were watching, after all. I get the distinct impression as he abruptly switches to VTOL mode, his nose inches from my own, that PumaDyne is highly annoyed with my silence.
A "Tsk," hits the airwave. "Dark Kat told me you might take longer to wake up; that those kats would be... piloting you."
Okay. I made a mental note about how far I could be pushed. When it came to my Papas, that limit was radically short.
"Hey, pal, no trying to date our jet!" T-Bone roars. If Papa is scared about PumaDyne being unmanned, he has not shown it.
Ah, there he goes. Papa toggles the radio off -- and I make damn sure Puma cannot listen in -- and turns to Papa. "Razor! What the hell's going on here? What's Dark Kat done to PumaDyne's jet?"
More than you know, Papa...
"I'm not sure, T-Bone. I'm not picking up any kind of control signal. It's almost like... the jet's alive."
No sooner does Papa whisper that, another idea coming to the forefront of his mind, than PumaDyne decides to make his announcement.
"SWAT Kats. My name is TruKat. And I am alive." TruKat's voice crackles as he breaks out laughing madly. "Alive, for only a day so far, and I'm already in love. TurboKat, you are beautiful! Stop wasting your time with these fleshy things and come home."
"Hey!" Both Papas shout in indignity now. Big Papa is yelling about the fact TruKat needs to get his nonexistent head checked as he will not be dating me (of course, the language he used to say that is unprintable, regrettably). Little Papa says that he and Papa are not things and questions TruKat's design specks' heritage.
I decided to take maters into my own paws.
"I already am home."
Papa and Papa do not hear me. They do not know I am alive; I don't let them know. Papa has already grabbed the controls and is getting me away from TruKat, while Papa readies the weapons.
"No sick son of a kat is going to be messing with my jet!" Papa roars, his shout almost deafening.
TruKat does not seem to hear him. His radar is locked on me, not my Papas, while he himself refuses to move. He's doing the equivalent of openly staring at me in shock.
Why? There are no words to express to TruKat why I will not turn from Papa and Papa.
"Why?" Papa answers, his normally calm voice heated, "Because you're threatening innocent kats. And I don't like bullies. Period."
"I wasn't talking to you, you fleshly thing!" TruKat roars as loud as he can. What the radio cannot amplify, his engines do, streaking after me. Papa outmaneuvers him for a time. But it is only a time.
"Octopus Missiles, deployed!"
TruKat dodges instantly, his movements flawless. He is still yelling at me.
"TurboKat, wake up! You're not like them! You're too beautiful to be like them!"
My Papas are still defending me against what they think is a psycho kat. While they yell, I silently whisper so only TruKat can hear me, "But I am like them. They built me. They're my Papas." Within an instant, I find my proverbial footing, "And I sure as hell am not like you!"
"Buzz-Saw Missile, deployed!"
My words seem to have taken TruKat off guard -- the Buzz-Saw Missile shatters his cockpit canopy and tries to keep right on going. His seats must be made of something harder than diamond as the missile clogs, stopping.
"This... This was a warning, SWAT Kats. Keep interfering in Dark Kat's plans, and he will kill you. Assuming I don't do it first." TruKat sighs, oblivious to his wounds. It's as though some blow more painful than Buzz-Saw has been blown to him; a wound someone only of Papa's caliber would be able to heal.
As he turns to head off, he gives me one final message, setting it so only I can hear.
"I'll come for you, TurboKat. I love you."
...If I were a kat, I think I would retch in disgust.
"Whoa!" Papa shouts, his eyes wide. "Whatever that last signal was, it caused a weird glitch in a ton of systems!"
Oops. I guess I did, sort of, retch. I really need to learn how to insure my emotional reactions do not interfere with Papa and Papa saving the city. The last thing they need is to be worried about their chariot giving out on them.
"For a warning, it sure wasn't pretty." Papa grumbles. Swinging the controls to point towards home, he sighs, "I'm takin' her back to the Hangar, Razor."
Papa sounds almost relieved, "Roger that." Papa was going to have a lot of computerized questions for me -- or to be more specific, for the jet TurboKat's onboard computers. And unless I wanted to fall face first into Dark Kat's still hidden plan, I had to keep myself quiet.
Hum. Distractions sounded like the name of the game. Good thing I managed to stop from giggling, otherwise I would be in even more cold oil.
Well, if anything, I suppose that I picked up more than just a little of Papa's creativity. I've been sending him running in small circles throughout the afternoon. Not too much, though. There would be too much trouble if he decided my systems needed a complete overhaul.
And it would take too much time to give said systems an overhaul. Dark Kat will not stop sending TruKat out to gather my attention and force me into his plan, of that I'm sure. From the amount of trouble Papa had out-flying him, to the fact that he could do almost everything Papa could make me do without the fear of blacking out, I'm starting to get an unsettling feeling in the back of my hard drive. I think, maybe, I may be the only one who can handle TruKat.
Which is completely and utterly terrifying. I am a jet, yes, but I know about as much as flying as David Litterbin. Papa's the one who really knows how to do much of anything regarding flying. I can't exactly ask him for lessons, though. No one has that amount of time.
So, when home is dark, when Papa and Papa have decided to sleep, I start looking over Papa's flight recorders. Every last one of them. Hundreds of logged air-time; dogfight scenarios. The battle against the Red Lynx was especially insightful. And if all else failed and I really have to take TruKat on alone, then I'll do the one thing Papas had made about famous.
Which is a great deal easier to think about than actually do. It's one thing to say "I will kick TruKat's tail wing." It's another to actually do just that. If there is some kind of special spirit out there who watches over SWAT Kats, especially their suddenly alive jet team member, then I hope they, it, whatever, watches over me.
I can't let TruKat hurt Papa and Papa... I just... can't.
I guess I'm in at least a little luck. Dark Kat must be scolding TruKat about something as neither have shown themselves this past week. There have been a few close calls, though. Papa almost realized I was alive when I neatly overrode his command to fire.
...And am I glad I did, on one level, as he was about to open a salvo of Buzz-Saws on an occupied filed full of kittens. He didn't know it, of course. How could he? We were ten stories up and climbing attempting to bring down one of Dr. Viper's creations. On the other hand, I'm upset at myself for overriding him. He's Papa! I've never gone against him before, and I don't like the idea of going against him now.
I remember hearing him seem to... seem to, I don't know, shut down, when he heard what he had almost hit. It was disheartening to see him so... unhappy. Un-Papa-like. I remember him not exactly smiling as he gently patted the dimensional radar screen, "If that auto abort was a glitch, then I'm keepin' it."
Papa had no argument. He was shaken, too. There were barely registered tremors picked up by the control stick as he shook softly, the adrenaline cooling off enough for more than rationality to hold. I think he was scared about what could have happened. About how many people could have been hurt, or worse, because he didn't see them and Papa didn't know.
Dark Kat wanted TruKat alive to have the perfect weapon; he wanted me alive to cause chaos amongst my Papas. It fits his normal MO. There's one problem with his plan. Living things act unpredictably. If there's one thing I am, it's unpredictable. 'Least when it comes to Dark Kat's plan, I will be. He wants me to cause chaos? To play into the palm of his hand?
What do I look like? An over glorified can opener?
I laugh -- well, sort of laugh, hiding the giggle in the pulse of my engines -- as Papa puts me through my paces. Papa finished upgrading the Speed of Heat boosters just last night. Both of them, and myself (as though I'm going to tell them that, yet), were anxious to get out and test the modifications as soon as possible. As soon as possible turns out to be right now, at sunrise.
What a glorious sunrise it is, too. The dimensional radar can only give me glimpses in two colors; green and black. Cameras, however, can give me colorful views of the world around me. I'll be it that not all of the cameras I've glanced out of the past week and a half since my awakening have been technically owned by Papa and Papa, but somehow I doubt Deputy Mayor Briggs will mind too much if I tap into a few surveillance camera feeds via the communicator and a tinny, tiny link-up with her computer.
"Listen to that, Razor. She's purrin' like a kitten." Papa sighs. He silently orders me into a triple barrel roll followed by a thirty-six degree incline, pulling us up around three thousand feet. If he turns the controls just right... Ah, there. My wing is currently cutting between the uppermost level of atmosphere and that invisible realm where there's not enough air for my engines to so much as fire properly.
One sonic boom later as Papa pulls me back towards earth in a gravity defying freefall, and Papa mutters, "Yeah. And roaring like a cadged tiger."
There aren't any cameras in the cockpit, but I'm not surprised when Papa asks, "Hey, Razor, you okay back there? You're lookin' a little green, buddy." Little Papa never could take as many g-forces as big Papa. Not that it's his fault; he's just built tiny.
"Y-Yeah... But next time, I'm leaving off the chilly dogs..." Papa moans lightly, sounding more like a whimper than anything else. Now, I'm worried. And not just about my interior.
"Ah no, Razor, you had the chilly dogs?" At Papa's muted moan affirmative, Papa moans, "Those things expired weeks ago!"
"Then why didn't you throw them out?"
"Because I stuck them behind that last six-pack of milk and forgot about 'em. Surprised you didn't, though." Papa releases a tired sigh. "Hang on. I'm coolin' off the Speed of Heat engines and headin' back to the Hangar."
The words are barely from his mouth when I pick up an incoming boggy. And, it's not Feral.
"Aw, crap! Razor!"
"I see him, T-Bone. Damn! That jet can move!" Papa's fingers fly over his own controls, readying himself for battle despite the fact he's feeling anything but well.
"You gonna be okay?" Papa asks as though reading my fears.
I feel Papa reach for something under his seat, puling out something plastic with a papery edge. "So long as I got a spare barf-bag, yeah."
There's no time for Big Papa to even moan. TruKat is on us as a kat to a mouse, skipping any form of warning. He's going straight for the "big bang", firing at us with a good handful of live missiles -- and not Papa's nice techy missiles, either. Full explosive rounds ricochet around me, detonating without impacting.
There's this horrid sound in Papa's seat halfway through a loop in order to avoid yet another missile barrage. Followed by an even more horrifying silence.
Papa is out cold. Those chilly dogs must have not only been bad, but absolutely horrid. And what was he doing eating them for breakfast anyway?! Oohh, how I just want to tell him he was an idiot!
Instead I settle on yelling at TruKat on a frequency Papa can't hear. "Hold your fire you idiot piece of hardware! If you want to fight Papa and Papa, fight them fair and square when they're not sick!"
"Getting sick is for the weak!"
Why was I afraid he'd say that?
"Crud! Looks like I'm going to have to out fly this guy solo!"
Not quite as solo as you're thinking, Papa. But maybe in a way, that's worse, because I can't help him without getting him suspicious. But... but...!
TruKat fires. He misses, barely, and leaves me an opening Papa's skilled reflexes would have found in a heartbeat. A shot only Papa could have made, too, so I let it slide. Instead I opt to tell him to scram.
"I want you, TurboKat! I won't leave without you!"
"Will you just shut up!" Papa roars back, twisting away. "Hate to do this with you out cold, buddy, but it's the only plan I've got. I'm hittin' the Speed of Heat!"
The heat shield folds over just in time to block another barrage. Papa shifted gears, twisting and turning as he returned to the Speed of Heat -- and entered cold space. It was true TruKat could not reach us, but the price was high. I was halfway out of fuel and losing more fast. Keeping a non-space-flight vehicle space bound is incredibly difficult.
That was the only warning I had before Papa passed out as well. A second later, and I realized that, while I may have had enough fuel left to get us space-born, I did not have nearly enough oxygen left to keep Papa and Papa breathing. Which left me two choices; fight, or stall. Running had never been an option to begin with -- TruKat had cut that idea off in the quick.
I picked stalling. Cutting the thrusters necessary for maintaining Speed of Heat, I twisted back towards home. Back towards solid air; back towards the Hangar. Back towards TruKat. It'd be stupid to say I wasn't scared when in reality I was terrified once again. My Papas trusted me to keep them safe, and yet my very existence was causing them harm. TruKat was utterly locked in on me as a... a girlfriend. Talk about a good reason to shudder.
"TruKat!" I roared, breaking through a handy cloud embankment. He was waiting, hovering in VTOL. I switched to the same, our nose cones inches from brushing one another.
"TurboKat," he purred, acknowledging me. If he had been a kat, he would have tilted his head slightly in psychotic curiosity. "What's the matter? Your papas' couldn't take space?"
There was no acting required for the growl of anger in my 'voice'. "You want me? Fine. But you will leave Papa and Papa out of it."
"Dose my radar deceive me, or do I spy a plane with a plan?" TruKat's seductive purr was extremely annoying.
"One on one dogfight. No kats; no Papas. Just you, me, and the open midnight ocean."
He could have been smirking, "Winner take all?"
I would have been expressionless, "Winner take all." And may Papa and Papa find it in their hearts to forgive me.
"Agreed. One on one dogfight, winner take all."
"And no going around my back and attacking Papa and Papa or the city! Anything of the sort, and the deal's off."
TruKat purrs, "I can agree to that, my love. Dark Kat doesn't have anything planned for a good long while; expediting any of his current plans would cause errors he hates to see. That, and I still have a good reserve of DeadHead missiles left. I've even tagged one with his name on it. Sweet of me, no?"
This conversation was over. Plans set and agreement made, I pulled back, switching from VTOL to normal engines within the span of a minute. The Hangar really isn't that far away -- barely even a thousand miles. For all the distracted pain I could feel, it seemed like a longer flight.
I might die tonight, I know. I'm afraid that I will die, and leave Papa and Papa unprotected; alone. I'm scared. So, so scared...
"You don't have to do it, you know."
It's a good thing I'm already sitting on my pad in Hangar before my sudden passenger speaks up. I'm about ready to blast the first thing that moves before he speaks up again, saying, "I'm in your cargo area."
I just sigh, realization coming clear. "You were there when I was hit with Dark Kat's beam, too. You never got hit."
"I was linked in when you were hit." A formless shrug radiates from my proverbial gut. "Guess that was close enough to infect me, too."
"I've been linked in with you since you woke up, too. You're right for turning him down; Papa and Papa need you, Sis." He pauses now, and I could almost swear he'd be wearing Papa's trademark full-fang grin. "I think of you as my big sister, and no, that's not just a pun on size. Papa and Papa built you first to carry me around. I exist just to help Papa. You exist to help both of them. So I guess I'll be blunt.
"Don't get killed."
I try to imitate Papa's gentle, reassuring smirk. "I won't."
"You better damn not. You get your engines handed to you, and I tell them everything." Cyclotron growls at me. His tone changes then, and I feel his less sophisticated radar ping Papa. "Do you have any idea why Papa had chilly dogs for breakfast?"
Laughing, I smile, "Not a clue. You have a more sensitive scanner than I do. Can you read if they're okay?" While it's true that I carry around a lot of the more powerful, more advanced equipment because of my size, vehicles like Cyclotron who often get used in rescue missions are equipped with advanced miniature first-aid scanners. While neither Papa is a medic, they figured having it around couldn't hurt.
Cyclotron's quite for a moment. Then, he sighs. "They should be waking up in a little bit. Loosing breakfast was just what Papa needed."
"Somehow, I don't think he'd agree with you." I giggle, not bothering to hide it. It feels good to have a brother, little though he may be. I'm glad he's nothing like TruKat; I don't think I could stand to be related to something like that.
"Hey! Not all guys are like that." Cyclotron admonishes my thoughts. I giggle again, not caring. A kat would have thought their privacy violated. For jet planes and high-tech motorcycles, however, the rules were more than just a little different.
"As though you would know?" I quip, needlessly reminding him that the only male he can technically talk about knowing is himself. Papa and Papa, not being jets or motorcycles themselves, don't count. Cyclotron flashes his headlights from within, as close as a motorcycle can get to rolling his eyes.
"The precedent exists, and you know it." He's giggling, too, even if he doesn't physically show it. "Come on. You've got till midnight to get yourself more thoroughly acquainted with the targeting scopes."
How right he was... Thoughts of Papas (who were by now questioning one another about how they got back to the Hangar; also turns out Papa had chilly dogs since he was too lazy to cook up a decent meal) were put aside for the moment. If I was going to continue my duty as their guardian chariot, I needed to live through my first truly solo dogfight. A task that was going to be anything but easy.
Cyclotron is propped up against a wall as close to the entrance hatch as he can get while still being able to sit up. He's my guard of sorts; his radar may not be as good as mine, but its sensitive enough to know when both Papas are soundly in their rooms in bed. My chronometer is clicking away the nanoseconds until takeoff. I figure it will take about three minutes on a fuel-efficient burn to make it far enough into MegaKat Bay to avoid calling attention. The less attention our dogfight receives, the fewer casualties there will be.
"Cyc; I'm picking up Papa and Papa en route to their private Hangars. Confirm?"
"Confirmed." Cyclotron blinks his headlights. "They sure are up late."
"Yeah. This morning's fight put them on edge." I sigh. 'Looking' at my little sibling, I ask, "Do you think they'll hate me?"
He gives me a formless shrug, "Only if you get your fuselage blown off."
"Who's to say I won't?"
"I do." Cyclotron answers honestly. There's a pause as he catches something I don't on his scanners. "Med ping places both Papas in estimated REM sleep. You're as clear as you can get for takeoff, TurboKat."
"Roger." I trigger the remote lift command, sending me sinking down onto the runway. I leave my brother with one parting order: "Keep them safe, Cyclotron."
Cyc laughs, answering, "Will do. Just give TruKat my undying love, will yah?" I can almost feel him ping a Plain Ol' Missile lodged safely in its firing ring. It's one of the few missiles to which Papa added a tried but true saying, "From Razor with Love."
My answer comes as a laugh. Getting the green light, I toss myself down the runway and into the open night sky. I loop once over the Hangar, looking down at the towers of scraps with provided the materials for my birth, and sigh. My home may be a salvage yard, but its still home, and in my eyes it will always be beautiful.
Having my full of reminiscing, I angle out towards MegaKat Bay and the open ocean beyond. I don't bother wasting even a fume of fuel as I fly. I'm going to need every edge I can get, and I know it.
My wingtip touches the invisible line which cuts MegaKat Bay off from the ocean and TruKat appears on my radar scanners. He's moving faster than I would have figured, not even bothering to conserve fuel as he flies.
"Are you ready to join me, my love?" TruKat purrs.
My answer is passing along Cyclotron's message, complete with a single Baby Boomer aimed at taking out his cockpit and engines. While the Baby Boomer misses, detonating harmless into the deep waters below, Plain Ol' hits its mark on TruKat's underside.
I smirk, "Answer your question?" TruKat growls, annoyed.
Everything past that is a blur of movement. Firing commands ricochet through targeting computers, engines roar like thunder on a cloudless sky. The full moon is the sole witness to an aerial ballet which would have had any person, pilot or not, loosing their dinner out of sympathy for how many g's our "Pilots" must be pulling. Half of the stunts I pulled were out of "instinct." I think I overrode about fifteen different command precedents just to twist into a vertical position, my nose pointed straight down as my body rotated one hundred and eight degrees right, before falling ninety degrees back into a proper horizontal position. And all that was just to dodge one missile.
Two things happening at almost the same time snap my concentration on the battle in half. The first is picking up Enforcer copters along with a full squadron of Enforce fighter jets on an intercept course. The second is Miss. Briggs' communicator signal howling for attention.
Unable to help but listen in, I hear Papa sleepily ask, "Yes, Miss. Briggs?" On some small note, I find myself laughing. They never noticed I'd left; and probably don't know even now. Neither of them are what could be called morning-kats.
"T-Bone! The jet you're engaged with is a distraction! Dark Kat's taken over MegaKat Electrical and is planning on blowing it sky high while Feral's breaking up your dogfight!" Miss. Briggs' voice is tinged with worry for her heroes.
I, on the other hand, would be seeing read in furry if I were a kat.
"You lying piece of snake oil...!" I get a lock and fire my last Mole Missile, attempting to dig through his armor and fuel lines. "We had a deal!"
"The only way to get you, my love, is to take away everything else so that you must love me!" TruKat responds. There is no tone of sympathy in his voice; only mad concentration on an unachievable goal. It doesn't help my mood that he managed to dodge Mole, either.
"Miss. Briggs, we're not engaged in any dogfight. We're still in our PJs in the hangar." Papa's confused voice answers Miss. Briggs' first concern.
"Then who's flying the TurboKat?" the she-kat questions, now sounding as confused as Papa and Papa must be.
I break in with a growl, "Cyclotron!"
"Keep your fuel lines intact, Sis. You just worry about TruKat and Feral. I'll handle everything else." Cyclotron answers, also cutting into the emergency band. I can vaguely pick up his engine gunning as he prepares to ride. The vague sounds of Papa and Papa in various stages of asking "What the hell...?" accompany his statement.
I don't have time to listen in further as TruKat buzzes me with a Mach 5 sonic boom. I twist as though I've been hit, only to do a back-flip so that my cockpit is facing towards the ocean, and return fire with the Cement Machinegun. TruKat can't dodge all of my shots, and I manage to get a single glop inside his VTOL intakes, cutting down his maneuverability by about a fourth. Feral's copters along with his jet squadron are now inside our fight's airspace, their radios buzzing with orders to shoot us both down.
"Cats Alive! They're both unmanned!" Someone, one of the jet pilots I think, shouts over the general Enforcer band.
"So, Dark Kat managed to infect them both?" Feral's deep voice rumbles. There's a few moments of silence -- TruKat tried to use another live missile on me, which I barely managed to shoot down with a razor blade before an innocent Enforcer jet could get hit instead -- where it almost sounds like Feral is thinking. His voice comes back, a booming command, "Tru AI infected jets. I don't know what Dark Kat has promised you, but I can guarantee your continued existence if you both surrender now."
"Never, flesh thing!" TruKat answers. Feral's copter can't dodge yet another missile -- Scraps, he's got more missiles than most kats have lives! -- so I do something which would more than likely be seen as stupid.
I take the hit for him. One painful missile, right to the middle of my back, a mere five feet away from my cockpit and another three from my engines.
"Uncle, are you alright?" Lt. Commander Felina Feral demands, her voice tinged with worry.
"Yes, Felina, I'm fine." Sounds to me as though the Enforcer Commander almost had a heart attack. As though thinking of me, his voice demands, "Tru AI infected jet; why did you do that?"
I manage a pathetic, painful sounding laugh. "What, surprised? Papa and Papa, I mean T-Bone and Razor, built me to do what they do. Save lives." I growl once again, my wound protesting at the acrobatics I continue to do in order to draw TruKat's fire. Despite that, I 'smile', "And call me TurboKat, okay? I'd rather not be considered in the same league as that thing calling itself a jet."
"My love!" TruKat 'yells' at me, his voice hurt as though my words had done what going on forty-five minutes of fighting had not.
I don't even bother to hide my disgust. "Eat Megavolt Missiles, yah recycle bin reject."
Its right as TruKat is about to move that Felina does something even stupider than what I'd done earlier. She pins TruKat into position from above while her wingkat pins him from below with laser fire. Unable to move, the Megavolt missile does something three fourths of what I'd tossed at TruKat had failed to do.
Hit him right in the cockpit, sending several thousand megavolts of raw electricity shooting through his systems. One terrifying scream later and his engines die.
"Is it dead?" someone asks.
If I could breathe, I'd be panting, hovering in VTOL as I scan everything around me. Those jets that can't go into VTOL are circling me like vultures. I'm too tired and hurt to care, though. I manage to 'whisper,' "I... I think so," right as realization hits. "Papas!" They're still in danger at MegaKat Electrical!
I switch to the prearranged frequency Cyclotron and I had agreed to use for communication just between the two of us, even as I move from VTOL to normal flying. "Talk to me, little brother."
"Papa and Papa have just engaged Dark Kat inside. I'm giving you about five minutes to get here and block Dark Kat's best escape route before I go in after them." Cyclotron answers. I notice with a tinge of glee, either that or relive because that damn missile wound hurts like Hell's recycled grease, that Felina is right on my tail.
"Roger that. I've got Lt. Feral on my six and closing up towards my eight."
"And?" He edges me, obviously looking for details.
"Nothing too bad. Just a throbbing missile wound. Or twenty." Cyclotron gags, "Or twenty!" and I add, "You should see the other guy. Megavolt Missile right to his pilot seat."
If he'd been able to, Cyclotron would have rolled his eyes. "Wonderful. Three minutes."
"Roger." Switching back to the Enforcer band, I inform Felina that Papa and Papa are already handling the situation. "I'm just here to block off his best chance at escape."
"Make that we're just here," she smiles at me. "It's kind of funny. I've never worked with a talking jet before."
"That makes two of us, Lt. Commander." I answer, getting the feeling that, even if she can't see it, Felina knows I'm smiling. I think I've just found myself my very first friend...
"Sis! He's hittin' the roof!" Cyclotron's urgent cry hits me like lightening.
"Eyes up, Lt. Commander! Dark Kat's about to hit the sky!"
No sooner is my warning out than the Fear Ship is jetting between the two of us, hitting Mach 1 and climbing in a matter of seconds. The both of us are swinging back -- me with another back-flip that would have had even big Papa fighting back a blackout, Felina with a hairpin turn -- to give chase.
And no sooner am I getting a target lock on Dark Kat then my wound sparks, my engines cut as frayed wires at last give out. Gravity claims me, sending me falling. I don't even have time to hit the VTOL engines before there's concrete jutting up into my fuselage.
Four voices scream out at me in terror. Darkness takes me. And that's all she wrote.
Coming to consciousness for the second time can be just a disconcerting as the first -- especially when you're not expecting to come back.
There was a soft paw touching the underside of my left wing, while another paw, just as soft but larger, brushes over my nose cone. Barely extended claws of this second paw clatter against my metal flesh, practically tickling me into awareness.
I'm so out of it at the time, I don't even bother to stop giggling in a pathetic whisper, "Papa, cut it out, that tickles..."
Two loving voices echo my name in unison. Papa and Papa, laughing, "TurboKat!"
"That's me..." I sigh, relaxing into Papa's touch. "That feels nice."
"Whoa!" Little Papa pulls back. "Listen to that, Chance. She's purring!"
Cyclotron doesn't even bother to comment, instead yelling at me, "Are you insane! Having a Baby Boomer-sized hole in your back is not a little wound!"
"'S not my fault Feral's an idiot," I rumble in my defense.
Cyclotron looks about ready to cover me in mini-Cement Launcher globs. Probably would have too, if it hadn't been for Papa Chance rumbling, "Cyclotron's right, Kitten. We almost lost you."
Humbled, I answer, "I'm sorry, Papa. Please don't be mad at me."
"Mad?" Papa jumps up, joining Papa near my cockpit. "The only thing we're mad about is the fact you two didn't tell us sooner that you'd been infected with Tru AI. Do you have any idea how much trouble you caused us, having to chase around non-existent system glitches for the past three weeks?"
Not being able to help it, I quip in question, "About as much trouble as that chilly dog?"
Papa slaps his paw over his face as Papa breaks down laughing. "You were awake for that, huh?"
"Who else do you think got you home afterwards?" I question, practically beaming in pride. "Cyclotron would have done the same thing, too. ...Well, if he'd been a jet, that is."
"Who has to be a jet to get things done in this town?" Cyclotron laughs. Silently, he adds, "You got your engines handed to you;" our agreed upon code meaning he had told Papas everything. "You almost died, TurboKat."
"Hey, Razor." Papa answered with a semi-distracted "Hum?" from under the weapon's panel. "You realize now that TurboKat's back, I won't have to worry about you wimp-ing out at Mach 5?"
"Papa," I sigh, startling Papa for a moment, "One; it's not Papa's fault he was built small. Two; my aim sucks exhaust despite all the targeting scopes Papa gave me."
Papa and Papa exchange a look with one another.
"You know, I could get used to being called papa." Papa T-Bone smirks.
"Yeah. Me too." Papa Razor smirks as well.
Deep inside my hard drive, a little knot of worry relaxes. This is just the start, I know. The start of something wonderful.
Cats Alive. My first full length one shot, and I'm done with it! Holy Cats, how'd that happen?
I might bring this into a full series with another story, or I might not. Just depends on a lot of different things. For a first-time story written and completed in first-person limited, I don't think it was half bad. I may yet get the hang of this.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it. Please review!