Hi, all. AkaneKitty here.
This chapter one of Double Crossed, a story that came about due to an interesting 'What if?' session. See if you can guess it...I'll reveal it in the next chapter.
Summary: The SWAT Kats' greatest threat may be closer to them than they could ever imagine...
I don't expect this to go on too long...in fact, I'm interested (maybe scared) of the reaction to one character's direction.
As always, send any comments or questions to or I welcome both.
"Nice shot! You should enter that dart competition."
"...Why not? We're going to have a lot more time on our paws now, won't we?"
Glumly, Jake retrieved the darts he had thrown while Chance conquered another level of Space Kat II: The Revenge.
This is what the SWAT Kat were reduced to: playing games in a cheap arcade when they usually were out on patrol.
But not tonight. Or any other night in the future.
And whose fault is that?
"C'mon, Jake...You can't mean that!" Chance paused to pass a particularly tricky area of Space Kat. "As soon as this blows over, we'll-"
"This will not blow over! We're done! Finished!" Jake threw another dart at the board in frustration. "And on top of all that, we can't be trusted anymore!"
Chance slammed his paw onto the game's buttons, resulting in Space Kat's untimely demise. "...I still can't believe it. After all we've done, we're just common crooks now."
"And it's our fault."
Jake shook his head. "It was a trap from the very start, remember?"
"This all started...when Hard Drive hacked into the city's bank accounts..."
"All that money! Gone! That was the city's operating budget for the next three months! How could you let this happen?"
"How could I let this happen? I'm not psychic, Ms. Briggs! Maybe if your bank had followed the security protocol I provided for them, you wouldn't be in this mess!"
"So, you're saying that this is my fault?"
"I didn't say that!"
T-Bone and Razor chuckled at the scene that was unfolding a few feet away from them. Like clockwork, those two.
The Feral-Briggs argument. One could say they had it down to a science. This time, it was in front of the MegaKat City First National Bank. Regardless of who was around them, they had the biggest blowups.
It was like looking at a show, at times.
Callie folded her arms across her chest. "I assume that you won't be able to recover the missing money."
"You can assume all you want, Ms. Briggs. I have a job to do."
With that, Feral turned on his heel and returned to his troops. The SWAT Kats took that as their cue to approach Callie.
"Trouble?" T-Bone asked.
"Nothing you guys can't handle." Callie's smile seemed strained, "Of all of the times for Hard Drive to strike..."
"How much did he get?" Razor asked absentmindedly while monitoring his glovatrix. He had calibrated it to register electrical arcs.
"Most of the city's operating budget. We have insurance, but we need that money back." Callie inched closer to T-Bone and touched his arm slightly. "You'll be able to get it all back, right?"
"O-Of course!" T-Bone, thrilled with the attention he was getting from the Deputy Mayor, turned to Razor. "Got anything yet?"
"Nothing...Hold on!" Razor's glovatrix registered a power spike. "Got him! He's hit the power grid and is heading east. We gotta go, T-Bone!"
"Right!" T-Bone turned to Callie. "Don't worry, Ms. Briggs. We'll get Hard Drive for you."
"I'm sure you will." Callie lightly traced T-Bone's arm with her claws before turning to walk to her limo. "I've got to report this to Manx. Keep me posted, okay?"
T-Bone didn't have a chance to respond since Razor started dragging the pilot back to the TurboKat. Callie waved them goodbye, and returned to her limo.
Watching the scene unfold a few feet away with his Enforcers was Commander Feral. Amused, he chuckled to himself.
"Works every time."
"What works, sir?"
"...Nothing." Feral turned to his sergeant. "Was the trace placed on those accounts?"
"Yes, sir. Working like a charm and tracking Hard Drive now."
"Good. Alert the cyber crimes unit that the trace is in place and to wait for my orders." Feral crossed his arms. "There's something fishy about why Hard Drive hacked into those accounts, and I want to know why."
"West...west! T-Bone! Did you here me?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah...Heading west!"
Annoyed, Razor continued to bark out instructions over the roar of the TurboKat's engines. Once again, every time the Deputy Mayor showed him a little attention, the pilot's head literally floated in the clouds.
Not that he blamed his friend...it's just that they had more pressing matters to attend to. Hard Drive was tough enough to follow without Callie's distractions.
"Stay on him, T-Bone!" Razor shouted. "Looks like there are some transformers in that substation up ahead. If he hits them, I'll loose his signal!"
"You got it!"
T-Bone, following Razor's directions, maneuvered the TurboKat around. Soon, Hard Drive's telltale electrical arc became visible on the power lines below.
"Can you get Hard Drive from here?" T-Bone asked.
"Negative! He's just out of range for the pincher missiles. If I let them loose here, I'll kill power to a good portion of this area!"
"Since when has that stopped us before?"
"Since I'm trying not to induce a Feral-sized headache. I accidentally took out the hospital district's power the last time, remember?" Razor looked at his monitor. "He's still out of range. Get closer!"
T-Bone muttered under his breath, tightening his grip on the throttle. "C'mon... Just a bit more..."
With Razor breaking his concentration, T-Bone noticed the substation quickly coming into view. Pulling back hard on the throttle, he maneuvered the TurboKat into a steep vertical climb.
"That was close." T-Bone took a deep breath as he leveled off the TurboKat.
"Tell me about it. And we lost Hard Drive, too." Razor sighed. "Once he hit those transformers, it was all over. He could be clear across town by now."
"So, now what?"
"Nothing. But, if I can get a look at those accounts Hard Drive hacked into, maybe I'll get a clue to where he's headed to next." Razor nodded to himself. "Let's go back to MegaKat First National Bank after dark and check it out."
"And in the meantime, we head back to the yard." T-Bone replied. "I can smell the backlog from here."
"All that money...is gone?"
"I'm afraid so, Mayor. Hard Drive hacked into the city's accounts."
"This is terrible!" Manx paced in Callie's office. "We needed that money for the Tower presentation!"
Callie looked at him. "The affected accounts aren't being used for Tower. The presentation should be fine."
"Eh..." Manx looked nervous. "Be that as it may, we can't show Young our weakened condition. Is there anything we can do?"
"Well, we do have our insurance policy. I just need the Commander to sign off on it...but I think it'll require him to do an investigation of some sort..."
Callie blinked. "No?"
"I don't want any investigation!" Manx was practically standing on Callie's desk now. "That will definitely drive Mr. Young away!"
"How could it? We've been in worse situations than this! And, if we don't do something soon, the city will shut down!"
"I don't care! We can't involve the Enforcers in any type of investigation, no matter how trivial." Manx looked even more nervous. "Is there anything else we can do?"
"Well..." Callie paused as if to contemplate something. "Feral did tell me that there was one account Hard Drive couldn't get into because he was discovered. We might be able to float the city on that account."
Manx sighed, and then shrugged his shoulders. "Fine. Do it. I'll leave it you."
Callie crossed her arms. "And if we run out of money?"
"I'm sure you'll be able to figure something out, my dear." Manx walked toward Callie's office door. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a golf game to attend to."
Manx exited the office and Callie reached into her desk and retrieved a small recorder and her cell phone. Turning of the recorder, she pressed a button on her phone. It automatically dialed a preset number.
A recorded message played through the phone's speakers. It was to be expected...Callie's heard this message many times before. She chuckled. After everything that's happened, they could at least change it to something a little more personable. Callie waited for the message tone.
"It's me. Everything's fine. See you tonight."
"...Hot! Hot! Hot!"
In a remote section of the city, Hard Drive tossed his overloaded surge coat onto the ground. In trying to escape the SWAT Kats, he pushed his coat to the limit and nearly zapped himself. Grumbling, he sat down next to it.
This is what he had gotten himself into. His compulsion to hack into computer networks had gotten himself cornered and this was the only way to get out of it. 'Hack into the city's budget accounts and create a trail,' they said. All that money...and he couldn't touch a cent! Well he could...but his previous arrangements would go out the window. If only he could override that failsafe...
"Don't even think about it, Hard Drive."
The hacker cringes as another kat materialized from the shadows. "Y-You! How did you find me?"
"By following your signal." The kat walked over and picked up the coat. He gave it a quick look over. "You're not a hard kat to find, you know."
Hard Drive scrambled to get up. "My burden to bear."
"So...are you following the plan?"
"Good. Your services are greatly appreciated." The kat tossed Hard Drive's surge coat back to him. "Remember, as soon as you detect the SWAT Kats..."
"I know, I know!" Hard Drive sighed and slipped back into his coat. "How did I get into this?"
"Because you have no choice in the matter...that is, if you want to stay out here."
"...Is that what they're calling entrapment these days?"
The kat smirked. "It's your own fault. By the way, if I get a hint of you not following the plan, I'll trip that failsafe."
"But...what if I'm in the line? I'll fry!"
"That's a risk I'm willing to take. See you around."
The kat walked away, and Hard Drive shuddered. That kat was more ruthless than Dark Kat...and with Dark Kat, at least he knew what the kat wanted. He almost felt sorry for the SWAT Kats.
They would never see this one coming.
Later that night...
A satisfying click is heard as Razor deactivated First National Bank's security system. A few minutes later, T-Bone and Razor make their way through the bank's hallways.
"The Enforcers probably took the servers, so we can't track Hard Drive that way." Razor mused aloud. "But, I'm sure the bank president has access to those accounts. Let's go."
The duo reached the bank president's office, and Razor picked the lock. The kat quickly located the computer and booted it up.
"Better hurry, sureshot. The longer we keep that alarm off, the more we risk the Enforcers stopping by." T-Bone looked over Razor's shoulder. "Find anything?"
After a few minutes of digging, Razor came across the city's accounts. "Hmm...Just like Callie said, it looks like all of the accounts were drained. Except one...interesting."
"What does that mean?"
Suddenly, a car door slammed shut out side, and T-Bone rushed to the window. "Great...It's Felina."
"Probably here since the alarm was deactivated." Razor looked up. "If she catches us in here, she's going to have to report us to Feral and I don't want to put her in that position. The less she knows, the better."
"Go distract her or something."
Razor just looked at the pilot. T-Bone sighed.
"Okay, okay. I'll do it."
T-Bone quietly slipped out of the office and into the hallway. He needed to get as far away from the president's office as possible, and make it look like he was just looking around. Pushing a button on his glovatrix, he activated the flashlight and began walking down the bank's halls. Sure enough, he happened upon Felina.
T-Bone walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Hey, Felina!"
Startled, the lieutenant whirled around and nearly shoved her sidearm into the pilot's face.
"Whoa!" T-Bone threw his paws up.
"T-Bone?" Felina took a deep breath and holstered her sidearm. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"I was going to ask you the same question."
"What are you doing here?"
"Looking for evidence. Why are you here?"
"To see who deactivated the alarm. I have my answer." Felina began to look around. "Where's Razor?"
"He's looking for clues elsewhere in the bank." T-Bone said quickly. He had to keep her distracted. "Why are you responding to this? Aren't you up in the skies patrolling by now?"
"Usually, but uncle grounded me."
"He did?" T-Bone asked, alarmed. "Did you do anything wrong?"
"...No." Felina looked confused. "Uncle grounds all of his pilots from time to time to keep us in line...So he says."
Felina began to look around some more. "You two need to get out of here. You know I need to report this to Uncle and the less I need to tell him the better.
"Will do." Razor materialized from behind Felina and walked over to T-Bone.
"Not really." Razor answered, but T-Bone knew that wasn't the case.
"Hmm...It sounded like the Deputy Mayor wasn't too happy with Uncle today."
"Well, he did lose a lot of money..."
"Uncle didn't lose anything!" Felina became defensive. "We've been on this bank to update their security protocols for months! Maybe the Deputy Mayor should have made sure they were followed."
"Maybe she did, and the bank officials didn't do their job." T-Bone retorted.
Felina chuckled and shook her head. "...She's sure got you two pegged."
"What do you mean?"
"We Enforcers have an inside term for that." Felina smirked. "But, I'll just be polite and say that you two are 'hen-pecked'."
"...Whatever! We're going!"
Irked, T-Bone dragged a very confused Razor away. Still chuckling, Felina continued her inspection of the bank.
"Ah...Felina's just defending her uncle."
"Maybe. But, I do wonder what the Enforcers really call us, though..."
Still stinging a bit from Felina's remarks, T-Bone guided the TurboKat high above MegaKat City. "Did you find anything out?"
"A little." Razor sat back in his seat. "It looks like Hard Drive is doing jumps from server to server, taking the account information with him. He has a unique signature, so I should be able to track him when he hits the grid again."
"Know where he's headed?"
"Can't tell, but it looks like he has something in mind. We should report this to Callie."
"...Don't worry, Ms. Briggs. When Hard Drive pops up again, we'll be ready for him."
"Thanks, guys. I'm sure you'll be able to get him. Keep me posted."
Satisfied, Callie poured herself a glass of milk. So far, so good.
Manx hadn't suspected a thing...except for missing his payoff money that he had hidden in the city's budget accounts. Did the idiot think she wouldn't notice? After all, it was her responsibility to look after those accounts. And if there was any sort investigation, she would take the fall for it! That had been the final straw.
Little did he know that he wouldn't be the Mayor for much longer. So what the way it came about was slightly unethical. She learned from the best.
Too bad she had to get the SWAT Kats involved.
Sighing, Callie traced her glass with her claws. As much as she wanted to tell them it wasn't personal, she couldn't. If only she wasn't caught that night...but then again, it was because she was caught that got her the help she needed. The SWAT Kats were going to become collateral damage, and the sooner she separated herself from them, the better.
That's what her 'partner' told her, at least. Didn't mean she actually had to truly like it.
Callie heard the door click behind her. "...You're late."
"Sorry. Making sure Hard Drive wasn't getting any ideas about overriding that failsafe I installed in his coat."
"...I see." Callie swung around in her chair. "Do you think he can be trusted?"
"No. In fact, I expect him to figure out how to hack into that failsafe. But by then, his role in the plan should be finished."
Callie nodded and picked up her glass.
"...Having second thoughts?"
"Don't forget...It was you who ultimately gave up the SWAT Kats...among other things."
"But it was you who suggested to give them up in the first place!" Callie retorted.
"True...but I thought it was a fair trade. After all, you get to become Mayor."
"And you get rid of the two 'clowns' that beat you all the time. Am I correct, Commander?"
"Oh, I wouldn't say all the time..." Feral chuckled and emerged from the shadows. "After all, I got you, didn't I?"
"I am not-"
"Not what?" Feral sat in front of her. "Remember 'darling', I'm risking a lot more than you are right now...but investigations are all about timing. I could let you drown with Manx...but what would our katizens do then?"
"Besides, you're enjoying this too much. Am I right, dear?"
"So, if you don't want to end up like Manx, I'd suggest you put that "Calico Briggs Effect' to good use and continue to lead our resident vigilantes down the right path. Everything else will fall into place."
Callie glared at Feral for a bit but then softened and smiled. "All's fair in love and war, huh?"
"Perhaps. But when it comes to love..." Feral smirked and leaned in close to Callie.
"...I think I've already won that round."