SO FAR FROM HOME

Chapter 1: Earth Has Some Unusual Visitors

"How many times must I tell you that I don't belong here?" The powerfully built male said in tired resignation.

"I'm sorry, truly I am but your story is really difficult to believe and it's why you are here in the first place." The doctor said gently.

"If it wasn't happening to me, I wouldn't believe it either. But since I'm obviously here and I obviously don't look like I used to, I have no choice but to believe I've been taken from my home and altered. Such things have happened on my world before." The male insisted bluntly.

The doctor sighed and sat back in his chair and contemplated his patient. The male was swarthy in coloring, had short black hair, was some six feet five inches tall, and had a clean shaven handsome face. He had been found penniless, beaten, and exhausted by the police. He insisted that he'd been kidnapped and the police treated it as such until the man also insisted that this wasn't his true form nor was this his world.

There was nothing they could do to shake that certainty from the man's mind so they had no choice but to bring him here for evaluation.

Unfortunately, the male continued to hold to his story for the week and a half he'd been here. Dr. Ainsly had never witnessed such steadfast certainty of the absurd before. With treatment, even the most delusional patient had managed to have occasionally moments of clarity where they knew what they believed wasn't true and that the abuse they had suffered was the reason for trying to escape reality.

However, this patient showed apparent signs that this world was foreign to him. His behavior was very cat-like despite his human appearance and his frustration at the lack of some of his previous body behavior made him angry and upset.

Dr. Ainsly was nearly convinced the man was indeed telling the truth but that would mean admitting to the existence of life on other worlds or even dimensions. This was something he wasn't quite able to accept. Meanwhile, there was nothing for it but to continue to try and find out who this male was and what had happened to him.

The patient was taken to his room. He went to his bed and sat down heavily, putting his head in his hands. 'Gods, all I want to do is go home! I don't want to try and make it new life here.' He thought miserably.

Some two weeks since the odd man had appeared, more odd people began to show up in the same area as the first. The cops were taken aback when the same story was being spouted with angry certainty by these new victims.

Captain Jerson stared at Detective Forman in disgust and frustration.

"So every one of these people is saying they are from another world and no one can shake their stories......is that about the gist of it Forman?" Jerson growled.

He was a big black man, who brooked no nonsense. His squad was one of the best and they admired their Captain for being strong and taking no shit from anyone. He cared about his people and that showed in the squad having the highest arrest rate of any other.

However, today was pushing the limit of belief for him. He was a down to earth kind of guy and things that bumped in the night or came from outer space cut no ice with him. Unfortunately, the number of weirdos showing up saying the exact same thing couldn't be ignored, no matter how badly he wanted to. He was a pragmatic and intelligent man so when a large group of people insisted on telling the same story, he knew something truly wrong was going on.

Detective Forman was a thin Latino male, standing six feet tall, with black hair and mustache and a hangdog look about him. Many mistook him for being dull witted but behind those sleepy brown eyes was a mind as sharp as a knife.

"Sorry, Chief but....yeah....we can't make them shake any part of their stories and they are all the same. It gives me the creeps. That male we picked up the first time two weeks ago, is still maintaining his story as well. I just checked with Dr. Ainsly when these other people began to show up." He told his superior.

"Well fine. No word of this can get out to the press. It would heap ridicule on our department or cause a panic among the light minded. Either way we'd be screwed." The Captain sighed, rubbing his face.

"So, what do we do about this?" Forman asked, uneasily. "You gotta admit Cap, this is beyond weird and what has me spooked, is the number of these guys appearing is increasing. I'm almost afraid to find out why this is happening."

"So am I but that's what we'll have to do." The Captain sighed, standing up.

"What do we have to do, sir?" Forman asked in confusion.

"We have to ask these guys where they are from and how this happened to them, what they did on their world, etc. and we'll have to treat it seriously." Jerson said grimly. "And I think we need to speak to that guy in the shrink ward first. Something he said when we first interviewed him leads me to believe he may be someone of importance."

"Yeah, I remember. He said he was a commander of a military force. Yeah, I suppose he'd be the one who might know what's going on or at least have a very good idea how to stop it, maybe." Forman said dubiously.

"Exactly. Let's go!" The Captain said, grabbing his coat and heading out of his office followed by Forman.

Some thirty minutes later, Captain Jersen and Detective Forman were sitting in patient John Doe's room. Two chairs had been brought in and they faced the patient sitting on the bed who eyed them suspiciously. The door was closed and a guard was put outside so no one would come in without permission.

"Alright, sir. Over the past two weeks since your, supposed arrival, more people claiming the same thing as you have appeared. That brings the total to eleven counting you. As much as I want to, I can't ignore that something really strange is going on. So, I'm covering my ass here by coming to you and listening to your story and I will try to take it seriously. So tell me what happened to you starting with your name." Captain Jerson said flatly, sitting back and waiting.

A grim look of concern spread across the male face during Captain Jerson's explanation.

"Kat's Alive! Looks like I wasn't an isolated incident after all but damned if I know which of our super villains are responsible. Blast it! I hate it but I truly hope those annoying vigilantes can figure out what's going on and get us out of here. Gods! I can't believe I just said that!" The male said more to himself than the pair sitting in front of him. He rubbed his head in frustration for a moment before looking at them again.

"Okay, listen closely. My name is Ulysses Feral and I'm Chief Enforcer for a place called Megakat City on the planet Aristal. My city is plagued by super criminals. They trash, try to alter to a swamp or send back to the dark ages our poor city on a regular basis. My enforcers and a pair of irritating vigilantes with a souped up jet defeat these guys frequently. Unfortunately, they always manage to come back and do it again over and over. This means we are always on a constant state of alert.

On this particular day, I was heading for my office after fighting for funds from the city's truly worthless Mayor when I was struck by a bolt of blue lightning which knocked me out. When I came to, I was on your world in an alley, altered and in shock. A group of thugs saw me, thought I was drunk and tried to rob me. That was their last mistake." Feral grinned coldly.

"I may have a body I'm not familiar with but I'm still a highly trained enforcer. The fools didn't stand a chance but in the tussle I was beat up a bit. After that altercation, I wandered around your city for a while, hungry and tired. I was completely bewildered by how much your world is similar to mine but how different at the same time. I was at a loss as to what to do next when your officers picked me up." Feral finished.

Captain Jerson stared at the male. His report was succinct and too full of facts to be a total fabrication also the other displaced people had described the exact same thing. That many people could not be suffering from the same delusion but before he could be certain these people were telling the truth, he had one more question to ask.

"You told my officers that your body was altered. What did you look like before?" He asked.

"The closest thing I've been able to see on your world that looks like us is cats. Except we stand upright and have only three fingers with one opposable thumb. We have retractable claws and possess fangs. Just like your cats we come in short and long furred coats but we have hair on our head and our females have less fur on their faces compared to the males. If you can give me some paper and a pencil, I can draw a facsimile of myself for you." Feral suggested.

The Captain signaled Forman to give Feral his pad and pencil. For some minutes, they sat and waited as Feral quickly sketched something. Five minutes later, he handed the pad to the Captain and the pencil to the Detective.

The Captain looked at the sketch and sucked in his breath. Forman leaned close to look as well and blinked in amazement.

The sketch showed the male before them looking like a giant cat with a coat of fur, a short crop of hair on his head similar to what he had now except his ears pointed skyward on his head and he had some formidable fangs in his mouth. His eyes were larger than a humans and his hand....paws?.... were huge. He had drawn himself wearing a distinctive uniform with some kind of rank insignia on his shoulders and, of course, there was a thick tail extending from the rear of the image.

"Wow! Uh.....that's the damndst cat I've ever seen!" Forman said.

"So this is your true appearance?" The Captain said, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Yes."

"Okay. This is so far outside my experience, I've no clue what to do next." The Captain grimaced unhappily, scratching his head.

"Believe me, I can sympathize. I've been in that position far too often." Feral said in commiseration.

"What do you suggest we do, Commander? If any of this gets out to the public there will be a panic and then there will be those, my superiors included, that will brand me as addled." Jerson said in frustration.

"You definitely don't want this to get out. I know exactly how the public will handle that. We may be Kats but we handle panic no better than you humans. As for what you can do, unfortunately I have no suggestion either. I would like to be with the others that have arrived to see if I know some of them and see if they know anymore about what's happened to us. The only hope I have now of getting us back is those vigilantes I told you about. The smaller of the pair is a genius and somehow manages to come up with just what is needed to solve most of the problems that's been thrown at us. I just hate the idea of waiting to be rescued by bigger of the pair. He's an arrogant tom and I will never hear the end of it from him." Feral growled in annoyance.

Captain Jerson couldn't help smiling. "Really don't like them much do you?"

"They operate outside the law and cause unending grief for me by causing millions of dollars in property damage for which I have to clean up and endure ridicule from my Mayor about. You bet I don't like them." He snarled.

Forman chuckled, "Yeah, you don't like them alright and you sure do sound just like a harried cop too."

Returning to a more serious mien, Captain Jerson made a decision. "Alright, here's what we're going to do. I'm going to get you out of here and take you and the others to a safe house on my own recognizance and hope I don't lose my badge over this then we will have to wait and hope this pair of vigilantes finds a solution because from our end I see no other solution at the moment." He said heavily.

"I certainly wouldn't want that to happen to you. How are you going to cover the costs for holding us and explaining why the manpower is needed to guard us?" Feral asked seriously.

"Damn, you really are a cop!" Forman said shaking his head.

"I'll come up with something. Don't concern yourself about it. Just promise you won't leave the place we're setting you up in and that you keep your fellow citizens under control. Can you do that?" The Captain asked.

"Don't worry, I have the authority to accomplish that. No one will leave or talk to anyone but you and the Detective here." Feral said with a grim nod.

"Good. Alright, I've got to make the arrangements. It might take an hour or more, so be patient." Jerson told Feral.

"It's not like I have any choice." Feral said giving a shrug.

The Captain snorted in amusement. "That's true. See you later."

He and Forman sought out the doctor and told him his patient was part of an important case and would be taken to a safe house. The doctor objected, of course, but the Captain overruled him.

It took the Captain more than an hour to pull in favors to set up the arrangements without drawing too much suspicion. It helped that only Forman and he were in on the real reason for collecting these people while letting everyone else think it was a possible cult that was under investigation and that this group was to be kept in safe custody until they caught the leader.

Three hours later, Feral and the rest of the people were transported to a comfortable house with five bedrooms. It would be tight, but the displaced strangers were just glad to be with others who knew who they really were.

When they were safely in the house, Feral immediately gathered them in the living room and barked a command for order.

"Quiet! I'll explain what is going on when you calm down."

Captain Jersen and Detective Forman stayed near the door as they listened to Feral speak to his people. They were impressed by the immediate response the big male got from the frightened people. The group fell silent and watched the male with varying looks of fear, anger, and worry.

"Alright, tell me who you are before we talk about how we got here. I'm Feral." He said.

"Oh thank god! Commander Feral can you get us home again?" A male asked anxiously.

"No, unfortunately, I can't. All we can hope for is the SWAT Kats can locate us and get us home again." Feral admitted with a grimace.

"I never thought I'd hear you say that Commander." A female said with a small smile.

"Is that you Ms. Briggs?" Feral asked, shocked.

"Unfortunately, yes it is." She sighed.

"Well, the only good news about that, is the SWAT Kats are definitely going to be trying to find you." Feral said, trying to hide his relief.

"This might be beyond even those vigilantes capabilities, sir." A young male said flatly. He had blond hair and was slim built.

"Please tell me you aren't Steele?" Feral said, unhappily.

"Sorry, sir, yes it's me!" Steele said, ignoring the Commander's obvious displeasure at having him here.

"Oh joy!" Feral muttered in disgust. "Okay, who are the rest of you?" He demanded.

"Dr. Konway here, sir." Answered the Chief of the Enforcers BioTech Labs.

"Second Lt. Fairclaw, sir, Alpha Chopper Squadron." A young dark haired male said.

"Dag Sinclair." A nervous and slightly overweight male said.

"Jeren Dewclaw." This from a tall red headed male.

"Mary Shadow." Came the soft answer from a petite black haired female.

"Detective Rickert, station house forty-four, sir." A deep baritone responded from a male nearly as broad as Feral.

"Major Gerald Firestar, Beta Squadron, sir." A trim, grey haired male answered.

The last person kept in the background trying to be unnoticed and didn't identify himself. He was of average height and blond haired.

Feral noticed him though and stepped closer, making the male nervous, a flash of fury flickered in his eyes.

"So who are you?" Feral asked, ready to grab the male who behaved as if he had something to hide.

"I don't need to tell you." The male hissed, tightly, eyes shifting around looking for an escape.

Feral reached out like lightning causing the Captain to gasp in surprise. His big hands grabbed the male's shirt and jerked him off his feet.

"I say you do! Now answer me!" He snarled in the male's face.

The male nearly spit in Feral's face then choked as the Commander switched one hand for the male's throat. The unknown male tried desperately to get Feral's hand off him but the big male only squeezed tighter.

Forman nearly shouted an objection to this treatment and began to move forward to interfere, but his Captain put out a restraining hand. Uneasy, the detective nonetheless obeyed and waited tensely.

The young male's face was turning blue when he finally capitulated. Feral let the male go abruptly allowing him to fall to the floor. The male coughed and rubbed his neck. He glared up at Feral angrily.

Feral leaned down and narrowed his eyes. "Who are you?" He said coldly.

"Hard Drive!" The male said in a surly tone.

Everyone in the room except for the humans, gasped, recognizing the name. A few backed away in fear. The enforcers moved forward instinctively but their Commander had things well in hand. Though taken aback at learning who this was, Feral didn't hesitate to reach down and snatch Hard Drive by his shirt again, raise him up and slam him against a nearby wall then shoving his face into the criminals.

"Hard Drive!" He hissed furiously. "What do you know about what's happened to all of us?" He demanded.

"It was Dark Kat's plan!" Hard Drive growled. "I had nothing to do with it."

"Oh sure you didn't! So how did you end up here, hmmm?" Feral asked sarcastically.

Hard Drive looked away sullenly. "I didn't like what he was doing. I told him it was dangerous but he didn't like me arguing with him so here I am." He said bitterly.

"And how did he make this happen?" Feral demanded, shaking the tom.

"He found a way to open a dimensional window. He had me knock out random victims besides you and Ms. Briggs, inject you with something Dr. Viper made up then sent you all here." He admitted flatly.

Feral dropped the criminal in disgust. "So we truly are stuck here until the SWAT Kats find Dark Kat and get us back as well as, hopefully, return us to our true forms." He announced to the others.

"Well, knowing those two, it shouldn't be too much longer." Ms. Briggs said in relief.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Briggs but that might not be as fast as you think." Came the cautious voice of Dr. Konway.

"What do you mean, doctor?" Feral demanded.

"How long have you been here, Commander?" Konway asked instead of answering.

"Uh....about fourteen days." Feral said with a frown.

"That's what I was afraid of." Konway said shaking his head.

"What are you talking about?" Feral demanded, getting frustrated by the lack of answers.

"Hard Drive, when did you send the Commander here?" Konway asked the criminal not answering Feral just yet.

"Two days ago. The rest of you yesterday and Dark Kat sent me here today." Hard Drive answered, wondering where the doctor was going with this.

Several of the Kats were just getting the picture as was Feral.

"Crud!"

"Yes, I think you can see the problem. In our world it was only two days ago but you sir, were here already fourteen days before the rest of us showed. Time definitely flows differently here. Though the SWAT Kats will try to retrieve us quickly, it will still be a long while to us here. I'd guess approximately another two weeks before we might see them." Dr. Konway said heavily.

"Crap!" Feral groaned.

"Oh no!" Ms. Briggs blurted.

"Oh man! That's a long time guarding them, Captain." Forman said, shocked.

"Yeah, but there's obviously no choice. Alright people. Commander Feral is in charge of you. You must never leave this house nor use the phone for any reason. We don't want you harmed here before you're returned to your home so relax, rest, watch TV and we'll be sure you get food and any personal care items you might need. We're sorry this has happened to you and hope you return home safely very soon. Please tell Commander Feral what your needs are and Detective Forman will get what you need. Only he and I know the truth about you so please don't talk to your guards for your safety and security reasons." Captain Jerson told them. He gestured Feral to come to the kitchen for a private chat. Forman followed them quietly.

"I take it Commander, that this guy known as Hard Drive is one of your criminals?" The Captain asked.

"Unfortunately, yes. I'll keep him under wraps. Do you have some handcuffs I can use? It will make us all feel a bit more secure." Feral said grimly.

"Certainly."

Forman took his out of his pocket and handed them over with the keys. Feral nodded his thanks.

"I hope that doctor of yours is wrong and you'll get home sooner." Jerson said with a sigh.

"Yeah, so do I but these eggheads know what they are talking about. He might be off a few days but is usually fairly accurate in his assessment." Feral said in resignation.

"Okay, there's food in the fridge. Forman here will be back later this afternoon to get your requirements. If you need me, here's my direct line. If I'm not around don't speak to anyone else, just leave a message that 'destiny' needs to speak with me and I'll get back with you as soon as I can. Alright?" The Captain said.

"Thanks. Hopefully, I won't need to call you." Feral said.

"Me too. I'll drop by to see you tomorrow evening." The Captain said as he and Forman turned to leave.

Feral nodded, then followed them to the front door and said good bye. He locked the door behind them and turned to face the rest waiting patiently.

"Please find yourself a room and those you don't mind sharing with. We are going to be living in close quarters so try and make the best of it. Hard Drive you're with me as well as Firestar and Steele. Fairclaw, Rickert and Dr. Konway should share a room next to mine for security reasons. Once you've found a room and roommates, put together lists of the things you absolutely need, no frills. The cost of our care is coming out of this squadron's funds and I don't want to get Captain Jerson in debt. He's stuck his neck out and risked his career to help us. Dismissed." Feral ordered.

No one argued as they made for the rooms both down and upstairs. Feral took a downstairs room and shoved Hard Drive in and had Firestar guard him, giving him the handcuffs.

He sighed tiredly as he went to the living room and waited for everyone to get settled and to give him their lists. He sent Steele to secure the house to give him something to do. It was going to be a long day and an even longer night.