THE DEFINITION OF PEACE
Chapter 42: Epilogue
"Reo, I told you to tell one of us when you plan to stay at a friend's house. Why is that so difficult for you to remember?" Feral rumbled angrily at his twelve year old son.
"Aw, Dad! I was only over at Mitchell's house. You know I go over there a lot," Reo whined.
Feral frowned, sighing mentally. Their son was headstrong, fiercely independent, fearless and stubborn which made him a pawful to deal with and put him in situations that made his parents want to pull their hair out.
He really couldn't blame his son for feeling a bit smothered by them, though. But Feral and Sheara were not ready to tell Reo about why his reaching puberty was so important and so dangerous. They didn't want him straying to far or out of their sight too long in case his body decided to alter at a most inappropriate time. They couldn't tell him their fears because they didn't want him to know it was possible he would change......because what if he didn't? He might mope around or worry incessantly about it and that was something they didn't want so they kept him in the dark and watched him closely.
Reo had been told about his parents, though, because it was being taught in school. Their history lessons told them about the war and the soldiers that had been kidnapped and altered against their will. The schools had been warned not to mention anything about the possibility that kittens born of these parents could alter too.
Reo had taken the news his parents were alters, with pleased surprise and pride. It made him feel special and his friends were envious, especially when they learned his parents were tigers.
Feral and Sheara hadn't exposed their son to their altered form until he was ten years old and gave him an abbreviated version of the reasons for their ability to alter. Now that he was older and had received a more in depth education on the subject at school, it made it easier for their son to understand how and why his parents could do what they do.
But the waiting was really beginning to grate on Reo's parents. Puberty could start anytime from the age of twelve to fourteen and Reo's birthday was in a week. Feral and Sheara were on pins and needles as they watched for any sign their son was going to be able to change. This was why it was so important they know where their son was at all times but Reo just didn't understand that and Feral couldn't make his reasons clearer just yet.
Sighing and praying for strength, he gave his son a stern look. "You will just have to trust me son. It is extremely important to know your whereabouts at all times. Though the danger to the city has become less, my position as Chief Enforcer has made me the target of very bad Kats and they wouldn't hesitate to try and harm you to get to me. Do you understand?"
Reo's eyes widened. His father had never mentioned that to him before. "Oh, why didn't you ever tell me! Of course, I understand and I'll tell you where I am all the time.....promise!" He said solemnly.
Feral gave a relieved smile. "Thank you. Now go on and clean up for supper." He knew the promise wouldn't last but it should hold up for a little while.....he hoped. Being just twelve years old, Reo just didn't understand why this was so important and that left Feral constantly reminding him.
"Okay!" His son zoomed out of sight for his bedroom.
Feral hated to lie to his son like that but it was the most plausible excuse he could use to make his son do his bidding. As an alter, no criminal in their right mind would even think of going near his son if they valued their lives. He never worried about his son getting snatched but the kitten's natural inclination for getting into tight spots was the main concern he had for his son's safety.
On that, he had to trust to luck that nothing really bad would happen to Reo. This was a parent's worst nightmare that he never dreamed he would be living. Sighing, he went to his own room to change clothes.
During Reo's growing up time, the world had gradually settled down, the stock markets were climbing laboriously back to normal, and Megakat City was enjoying the longest period of relative peace from major violence since the omegas hit the scene over twenty years ago.
There were still scientific accidents that caused some panic but these were nipped in the bud so quickly that most forgot about them before they could form any lasting memory. The SWAT Kats worked paw in paw with the Enforcers during those type of emergencies but were otherwise, rarely seen since the enforcers were able to handle most of the crime in the city now.
Chance and Jake were enjoying living lives of their own. Jake had met a really nice she-kat and had married her a few years ago. Chance was dating someone steadily but hadn't made the leap to marriage yet. Both were enjoying being free of their responsibilities to the enforcers and their much lighter duties as the SWAT Kats.
Chance had regained his pilot's license and was doing test flights for a new aircraft design company and Jake was doing what he did best.....designing security systems and non-lethal weapons for various companies around the world.
The alters gradually began to tentatively date and marry regular Kats without too many problems occurring. Since the births had gone so well and there was no sign of new alters (yet), they felt justified to go on with their lives. They did have to take great care with their more primitive side by allowing it out and keeping their diets sufficient to satisfy its needs but other than that, they were able to live fairly normal lives.
The only ones still nervous and concerned were the alter parents about their off spring and only time would tell them what the future held there. There was a new concern as well.....the alters who took up with a normal Kat....would they breed alters too? Too many questions that only time could give them the answers on.
Reo celebrated his thirteenth birthday without incident. It was a festive affair and he had a great time.
More than a week later, things changed.
Reo had been walking along a creek bed near his home with his best friend, Mitchell, on a sunny late Saturday afternoon.
"Hey, look what I found," Mitchell shouted reaching for something in the creek.
"What is it?" Reo asked excitedly, coming to his friend's side.
Mitchell carefully opened his paw and a tiny frog sat there blinking up at them.
"Should we keep it?" Mitchell asked studying his prize.
Reo frowned and thought. "Naw, he wouldn't survive if we tried to so better let him go."
Mitchell was reluctant and continued to hold the frog for some minutes longer when suddenly there was a loud noise coming toward them from beyond the trees in front of them.
A huge dog came barreling toward them after a terrified rabbit that raced past the kittens feet and on into the brush behind them leaving them to face the on rushing dog.
There was no time to get out of its way as its forward motion caused it to plow into them. They all fell to the ground in a tangle then they manged to separate.....the kittens on their butts on the muddy bank with the dog standing less than inches from their bodies, its fangs gleaming and its eyes wild with excitement and fear.
All three remained frozen and still then the dog growled warningly in its throat. Frightened, Mitchell whimpered suddenly and the dog lunged for him but ended up being struck in the face and sent sprawling on its tail by something larger than it. The other creature roared at the dog which howled in fright, scrambled onto its feet and fled in terror.
At Reo's home, some forty feet away, Feral was working in the yard and Sheara was cleaning house. Feral had turned off the mower and was wiping the sweat from his face when he heard the howl of a dog, cries of terror from kittens, then another howl. In seconds, he altered to tiger and was racing toward the sounds.
When he skidded to a halt by the creek he came upon a shocking sight. There was no sign of the dog he'd heard but what he did see was a horrified kitten and a small tiger standing over it.
Groaning in shock inside, Feral realized the tiger was his son, Reo. He altered back to his normal form and went to Mitchell's side quickly.
"Easy, its okay........Reo back off!" He said as he cradled Mitchell in his arms and pushed his son back with his foot.
Confused, Reo snapped at his father.
Feral made a distinctive warning off, huff sound of an adult tiger and the kitten immediately cowered to the ground and stayed there.
"Mitchell, its alright, you're safe.....sssshhh....easy," he gently hugged the terrified kitten until he had finally managed to calm down.
The kitten huge orange eyes stared in shock at the smaller tiger. "Is..is...that Reo?" He asked in a small voice.
Feral sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid it is. We weren't sure if he was going to change or not that's why we hadn't told him but apparently the fright the dog gave you two made him change."
"Wow! That's so cool!" Mitchell managed to say in a hushed voice then looked up at Feral. "Commander....sir...that dog just came out of no where chasing a rabbit. We couldn't get out of the way and it was about to bite me when Reo changed and saved me."
"Well, I'm glad you're both alright. Come on, let's back to the house and clean you up and call your parents," Feral said, as he helped Mitchell get to his feet and pretended it was no big deal that he was nude so the kitten wouldn't be embarrassed. He made a distinctive call in his throat that bid the smaller tiger to follow them.
When they reached the house, Feral called for his mate. "Sheara!"
"What is it.....oh....oh no....!" She exclaimed when she saw the small tiger then hurried toward it.
It backed away in confusion and fear but she made purring sounds in her throat and coaxed him to her. Once he got her scent he relaxed completely which caused him to alter back to Kat.
"Momma?" He asked in amazement and surprise.
"It's alright son, come inside and we'll explain," his mother soothed, hurrying him indoors after Feral and Mitchell who'd gone in already.
The next couple of hours were surreal as Feral explained what happened to Mitchell's parents. They were shocked and surprised but grateful too that Reo had saved their son. Thanking the kitten, they took Mitchell home.
Mitchell had recovered from his fright and made Reo feel good when he told him he wasn't scared of his tiger form and thought it was cool.
After they had left, Feral and Sheara sat him down and explained carefully to Reo what was going on.
"So, you didn't know I could change but thought it was possible? Why didn't you tell me?"
"We didn't want you to worry unnecessarily especially if you didn't change at all," his mother told him gently.
"Oh, okay that makes sense. So now what happens to me?"
"Well, we train you on how to behave and control your primitive side. This ability comes with some very strict responsibilities. I'll explain those as we go along but the most important thing you need to know is never change just to show off to your classmates or for any other reason except to save your life. Your instincts are new and dangerous. Even as small as you are, your teeth and claws can cause a great deal of harm to someone. We don't need any accidents because Kat kind could turn on you and kill you in their fear, do you understand me?" His father said sternly.
Reo's eyes widened at that piece of news. At first he thought this ability to change was really cool, but when his father said he could be killed it frightened him. Maybe it wasn't such a great thing at all.
Seeing the fear in his son's eyes, Feral felt sorrow. He hated to curb his son's enthusiasm but he also didn't want him to die and that threat was very real.
He reached out and gave his son a tight hug. "Don't worry Reo, your mother and I will ensure you know how to deal with this and stay safe."
"Thanks, Dad," Reo said in relief. 'Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all,' he thought.
Feral immediately sent word to the scientists about his son's change. Word went out around the world to the other alters, warning them that their kittens would change. Whether it would happen as Feral's kitten had due to being attacked or just spontaneously, no one could say but now the alter parents knew their kittens would change.
As for those married to Kats, it soon turned out their kittens had a 50-50 chance of being an alter or not.
The world was going to be an interesting place in the future as the population began to have those that could and those that couldn't alter their forms. A strange new world indeed.