A couple weeks after Erik and Cassie found out the truth about Jake and Chance found them working alone in the garage. "It's been a week and we've hardly seen hide or fur of those two," Cassie said, closing the lid of the car she just finished working on.
"And as far as I know Callie hasn't called them out, now remind me again what Lynx has panned for us tomorrow?" Erik said, from under the car he was replacing the axle of.
"I think more blood tests," she said, whipping her paws on a rag.
"Great," Erik moaned as he pulled himself out from under the car.
After he was done and the owner drove off, he answered the call for a tow. Driving off alone in the tow truck. When he got back, he had a mega headache from the old woman's complaints. When they got back to the garage, he had hoped she would stop at the door but…
One of the longest hours later Erik came back into living room from the garage paws covering in his ears. "You ok Erik?" Cassie asked, from the sofa a can of milk in hand.
"Just the had a close encounter from the old lady from hell. First I didn't get there fast enough for her, then the repairs weren't fast enough, then weren't good enough. Oh why does she still have a license," he moaned just as he caught the can of milk Cassie tossed him from her seat on the sofa.
"I could say the same for a lot of little old ladies back on our earth," she said, as he popped the can and took a sip.
Pausing in midsip, he lowered the can as he looked at her. "So that's why you didn't come down to help me," he said, eyes narrowed.
Raising her paws in surrender, she said, "hey I could hear her all the way up here and she kind of scared me," and he chuckled.
"Well next time she's all yours," he said, and she moaned before drinking more milk.
"I see you met the little old lady that auto clubs run away from," Chance said, coming up the stairs with Jake.
Whipping around Erik barked, "Where the heck have you two been?" he demanded.
"Hey bro we've been busy," Chance said, raising his paws.
"Busy with what?" Cassie said, standing and walking over.
"With a surprise for the two of you that we just finished," Jake said a grin on his face.
Frowning Cassie and Erik looked at each other before looking back at their friends. In short, order Cassie and Erik followed the two Kats down into the darkened TurboKat hanger.
"Look guys the TurboKat is nice to look at and all but…"Erik started when he reached the bottom of the ladder and turned as Chance turned on the lights and his eyes went wide.
There standing next to the TurboKat was another jet. Like the TurboKat, it was black with red trimmings with pair of solid red tail rudders and white wing flaps. With proud looks on their faces, Jake and Chance walked over to stand just under the nose of the jet.
"We call her The ShadowKat; she's just as fast as the TurboKat with a top speed of Mach 10 and just as heavily armed. The main difference is that The ShadowKat has far superior stealth capabilities. Now if you want we can go over the specs if you like so you could join us in the skis if you want?" Jake said, waving his paw at the jet.
A smile spreading from ear to ear slowly grew on Cassie's face as she leapt up yelling, "hell yeah!"
At once, everyone looked at Erik who had a deep scowl on his face, his ears flat against his head, and fangs bared. "Erik…," Chance said.
"Take it apart! Scrap it! I don't care! But I won't have any part of it!" he shouted before turning and starting to walk away.
"Erik wait! We thought you of the two of you would want this," Chance said, going after him.
"Well I don't! Now drop it!" he snapped continuing on.
"Hey look man what is your problem! What happened to you that made you like this?" Chance demanded causing Erik to stop his paws balling into fists.
"Answer me Erik! Why are you so against this!" he demanded.
At once Erik whipped around screaming, "BECAUSE I GOT PEOPLE KILLED!" and everyone fell silent.
Erik stared hard at Chance for a second before shooting up the ladder and out of sight.
Chance started after him before Cassie said, "No let him go," and the two looked at her.
"Cassie I didn't mean…" Chance started but she waved it off.
"It's ok it's about time he either faced what happened and maybe you can help do that because I've tried everything. But before you do you'd better know what happened," she said, turning to face the ShadowKat.
She was silent for a moment as she collected her thoughts. "I guess I'll have to start with a little more of Erik's background. It was in the days that Erik were at the top of our game. He wasn't just a great pilot, he was the best, top of our class at basic training then at Top Gun…," she started before she was interrupted.
"'Top Gun'?" Jake asked, and she looked at him.
"A school for fighter pilots. Only the best are chosen to go and we graduated top of the class so we were the best of the best. One day we were flying on patrol over the Mediterranean from our ship The Enterprise or The Big E as we called it back then.
Flying with us were our Squadron Commander and two of our closest friends were with us at Top Gun. For most of the flight it was just a normal routine patrol nothing to be concerned about. Then a fighter appeared on radar and we were ordered to stick to our patrol while we watched them come closer and closer.
When he was a little, close for comfort the Squadron Commander us to stay on patrol while he checked if it was really a loner. As we waited for word, the fighter turned right for us and the next thing we knew six Migs blew right past us. We realized that five had hid in the radar signature of the leader.
We maneuvered as they zoomed around us every now and then getting a missile lock on us. Suddenly they opened fire and we engaged. Oh you should have seen him fly then covering our friends he managed to take out four by the time the Squadron Commander got back.
We were just getting a lock on our fifth kill when he told us to disengage and let him handle it Erik told him he had the better shot. He pulled rank and forced his way between us and the fighter and we had to maneuver to avoid a collision. Unfortunately we flew right threw his jet wash and it put us into a vertical spin.
Erik was just regaining control when it happened…," she said, her voice going quite as she laid a paw against the ShadowKat
"What happened?" Jake asked, after a moment.
Slowly she looked at them. "We nicked our friends plane, tore their wing right off and we were forced to eject. The crew searched for them for over a day but found nothing they were presumed dead. Erik was blamed for the whole thing and lost his wings and was blacklisted despite objections from most of the pilots the rest you know," she said, and Jake and Chance looked at each other.
"No wonder he takes it so hard I would if that happened to me," Chance said, looking back at the ladder.
Hours later Chance found Erik on the roof looking up at the stars. "I take it Cassie told you?" he asked, not turning around.
"Yeah she did and I'm not here to tell you to get over it, or anything like that. But I am going to tell you that I do some what know how you feel. When me and Jake were thrown out of The Enforcers at first I thought my life was over because I was a pilot not a Junker.
Then we built the TurboKat and I felt alive again…" Chance started before Erik interrupted him.
"'…because you could answer the call of the wild blue yonder,'" he said, finishing looking at him.
"You didn't kill any friends when you got here did you, or didn't she mention that I was godfather to the kid of the pilot. And that Cassie was maid of honor at the other's wedding. Neither family wanted to see us again when we got back to port," he said, turning back to look up at the stars.
After a few seconds silence Chance said, "ok then listen to this would either one of your friends want you to keep blaming yourself for something that really wasn't your fault. Or would they want you back in the sky, and on that note I'll make a deal with you. You taker her up one time and I'll never bother you again about flying," Chance said, then turned and left and Erik turn to watch him go.
For the rest of the night Erik sat up on the roof deep in thought before falling asleep as he watched the stars move across the sky. Awakening just as the sun peeked over the horizon he got up and went back down stairs.
Shortly after Cassie was awakened with a jolt by him tossing things on the bed. "Erik where the heck…," she started to complain then stopped when she saw the black and red flight suit he was wearing and the helmet under his arm
Looking down she smiled when she saw the matching set he had tossed on the bed. "Put those on we have a date with a jet in five," he said.