CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Chapter 1: The Attack

The attack had been perfectly executed and they had been sitting ducks. A nauseous looking green gas poured into the room and was so quick acting that no one was able to do more than leap from their chairs before falling to the carpeted floor.

Darkness......something horrifying was racing up on him but he couldn't see it....only sense it reaching for him......breathing hotly on his neck........he'd never known such terror........he was screaming and his heart pounded frantically in his ears.......he had to get away.......run away.....but where......there was nothing to see........he couldn't really feel his body which added to his terror. Was he moving at all?......He couldn't think only run........panic ruled him...

Suddenly, someone was holding him. The person was trying to talk to him, soothing him with his body and voice. "It's alright.......easy......try to hold on......it will be over soon........just hold onto me and don't give in to it." The voice said urgently.

He found himself clinging desperately to that body while at the same time wanting to flee. His mind didn't seem to be his own as he bucked and tried to run and when he couldn't, he sweated and trembled. His mind insisted he had to flee but some tiny part of it tried desperately to ignore that shrilling insistence for the voice and the citrusy, musky scent filling his nose from the person holding him tightly.

His own claws were digging into the person and he'd buried his nose in the other's body to draw in more of that scent that called to him but the dark madness didn't seem to want to let go........he moaned and whimpered then screamed frantically trying to pull away to run again but the male put him in a full nelson hold that was painful and unbreakable while the whole time his voice apologized for the treatment, soothed and coaxed him to hold on.

Finally, blessedly, the darkness began to recede, the fear easing, then a darkness of another kind swept him away completely.

He had no clue how long he'd been out but as he struggled to the surface, smells assaulted his nose telling him where he was as he tried to open his glued together eyes. When he finally succeeded in cracking them open, a bright light struck them painfully....he gasped and squeezed them shut again. A voice.....feminine......spoke to him in a soothing but professional voice.

"Easy, Commander. Let me just shut the blinds." She seemed to move away and he could hear her near a window. Moments later, she was back. "There that should be better. Just give yourself time to gather your wits. Here's some water." She said as a straw touched his mouth. He sucked greedily to ease a raw and parched throat.

Slowly he dared to open his eyes again and sighed when he was able to see without pain. He could see the nurse leaning over him, smiling encouragingly, still holding the cup with a straw. When he seemed done, she straightened up, setting the cup on a nearby rolling table.

"How do you feel, sir?" She asked.

"Uh.....what....happened?" He managed to croak out.

A frown of unhappiness lit her face. "You and the other conference goers were hit by a very nasty hallucinogenic gas by some dissidents that didn't like what you guys were discussing. Beyond that information, I don't know anymore about it. I'm sorry." She said quietly.

"What did it do to us."

"The gas made you all go crazy and it took quite a while to clean up the mess and help you all hold onto your sanity until the gas cleared your system." She explained, a look of sadness passed over her a moment before she became briskly professional once more. "Now you need to rest. A doctor will be in to check you over as well as a psychiatrist."

"I don't want to see a shrink." He rumbled in annoyance, wishing he could get out of here now.

"Sorry, that's not a choice. The gas is unknown and we have no way to tell what its far reaching effects might be. Just rest sir." The nurse said firmly, rolled the table closer to him so that he could get to the water himself then left the room.

He looked around and discovered he was in a small room by himself. It was a typical hospital room and he had no intention of sticking around here any longer. He could rest in his hotel room just as well as here.

Unfortunately, when he tried to get up that set his head to spinning and just trying to lift a leg out of the bed was too difficult. His body behaved as if it were made of lead. Groaning in defeat, he was forced to resign himself to staying put. After some minutes of disorientation, he was able to get some more water.

He hated being in a hospital. He wished he knew all the facts of the incident.....it sucked feeling helpless and unable to do anything but lay here. When no one came to see him after an hour, boredom set in and he fell asleep to escape it. When he woke, the door to his room was being opened and a middle aged, portly, male followed by a lean, grey colored tom entered his room.

The portly Kat was an orange tabby with a huge white mustache. He waddled up to the tom's bed.

"Hello, Commander Feral. How are you feeling, sir."

"Exhausted." Feral said bluntly.

"That's not surprising. Any other symptoms?" The doctor asked as he began to examine the dark tom.

Feral told him about feeling dizzy and unable to move easily. The doctor nodded his head and hummed to himself.

"Well, that should pass after a few more hours. I'm going to put you on pure oxygen for about an hour to flush the rest of the gas out of your system. Dr. Sanchez here would like to assess your mental state." The portly doctor said kindly as he stepped back then moved around the bed to fiddle with the equipment hanging there. Moments later, he leaned forward and placed a nasal cannula into Feral's nose then left the room. The lean gray furred doctor moved closer and took a chair next to the bed.

"Commander, many others are suffering as you are. To help all of you, I need you to be as honest as you can about the hallucinations that occurred during the attack. Holding back anything could prevent us from finding a way to counteract its effects." Dr. Sanchez said earnestly, apparently having already encountered reluctance from his patients.

Feral grimaced unhappily but proceeded to tell the doctor what he could remember.

"The voice and scent of the male helped you cope?" Sanchez asked, his eyes keenly focused on the Commander's face.

"It seemed to." Feral responded, shrugging.

"Do you have any idea why? Was there a strong feeling of safety or comfort that allowed you to stay glued to him rather than run as was your inclination?" The doctor pressed.

"Why does that matter so much. Shouldn't it have been enough that whoever it was helped me stay put?" Feral growled. He didn't care for his emotions to be picked apart.

Dr. Sanchez sighed. This was the reaction he got a few times already with the patients he'd interviewed. "Let me tell you something, Commander. The members of the conference that survived, succeeded in doing so because there was something about the one holding them that helped. In one case, the person had a relationship with the one who saved her another had been attracted to the one who'd save him, etc."

Feral gaped at him as one word the doctor had said sent chills down his back. "Survived?"

The doctor's face went grim. "Yes, many of your colleagues died in that conference room from sheer terror. This gas......its terrible effects must be analyzed before someone decides to use it again. Not all the dissidents were caught and they would have learned by now that their gas is deadly. Who knows what can happen if those people are attacked by someone who wants to harm the city or some other country and steals the formula and the gas from them. We only know that these dissidents were trying to get the public's attention and had no intention of harming anyone. The ones in custody are horrified by what has happened."

Feral went cold. If that gas got into the paws of someone like Dark Kat........he shuddered.

"Are your police trying to find the gas?" He asked tensely.

The doctor nodded his head gravely. "Every available cop, security force, and military is out hunting for it. The dissidents in custody don't know everyone in their group so could only tell the police about certain key members. We just hope they will come forward on their own but...." He just let the sentence hang, shrugging his shoulders.

Feral shivered, turned his head to stare out at the sunny day that held such a nightmare in hiding.

"I hope they are successful then." He said with great feeling as he turned back to the doctor.

"I agree. Now, please tell me what you were feeling when the other male held you. I promise the information will be kept in strict confidence. The information will not have your name on it when it is compiled with the others. We're only interested in the mechanics of how the gas works and how some survived while others did not." Dr. Sanchez said grimly.

Blushing in some embarrassment, Feral nonetheless tried to tell the doctor about what he'd felt. He wasn't one to analyze his feelings in the first place so this was difficult at best.

"I can remember being held, a tenor voice spoke soothingly to me and he had a citrusy/musky scent I was captivated by so clung to him even though I badly wanted to run. I fear I dug my claws into him but I didn't let go and pressed my face into his neck or chest, I'm not certain which to take in more of his scent. That above all else seemed to keep me from fleeing in terror besides him putting me in a full nelson hold." He said ruefully, not able to look the doctor in the eye.

The doctor took notes and nodded. Finally, he looked at Feral who reluctantly returned his attention to him. The doctor reached out and gently patted the dark tom's shoulder.

"It's alright. What we've learned so far, is that voice and scent are the keys to ones survival of the gas and the reason for that is.....attraction. Though you never met this person, which was the case in half the survivors, the scent of the person holding you triggered the attraction sense in your mind. This function of the brain is very strong. It's how we find our mates. That attraction was strong enough to overcome the worst effects of the gas allowing you to survive." He explained.

"Weird and scary!" Feral muttered. "So, I've met someone I would find attractive under more normal circumstances." He said more to himself than the doctor. "That actually feels like a dirty trick since I never saw him and, since I don't live here, probably won't run into him again."

The doctor gave a small smile at that comment. "Actually, it seems the rescuers felt the same attraction and have been returning to the patients to see them, not being able to stay away. I suspect the one you met may do the same, though I can't say for certain. The first responders on scene tried to get the names of those who showed up to help......EMTs, other police, visitors to the center......so that we can verify our hypothesis and hopefully find a way to counteract the gases affects should someone use it again. God forbid. Unfortunately, some of them left before we could identify them so we need to know if your 'rescuer' does show up to see you." The doctor told him seriously then he stood up.

"That's all for today. We will be monitoring all of you over the next few days. We're concerned about side effects and possible flash backs from the gas. So, as much as you dislike being here, you are not going to be released so get some rest." He warned Feral.

"Here's a remote so you can watch TV also there's a phone by your bed so you can contact family. Being in security yourself, I know you won't say anything about the gases affects. The only thing that's been released to the public is a gas attack was made against the conference goers and some have died." He informed his patient, placing the remote on Feral's table.

"Understood."

"Good, have a restful evening and I'll see you tomorrow." Dr. Sanchez said then left him alone.

Feral sighed and grumbled to himself, flicking on the TV but not watching it, his mind on the fact that he'd actually met someone he could be close to but who hadn't yet chosen to come to him. He turned his face and stared out the window, the sun was going down.

'I've been alone for so long, do I really want someone in my life now? And what if he doesn't want to leave here? Why should I care?' He questioned himself mentally. 'Because you're lonely and you've never admitted it.' His subconscious growled at him, ruthlessly honest.

He continued to stare at the waning day. "Yeah, I guess I am." He said aloud. Shaking his head, he shoved that information from his mind and concentrated on the threat of the gas.

Frowning, he went over what little information he'd gotten. Obviously, an amateur chemist whipped up this gas without thoroughly testing it. Now they'd succeeded in making a terrorist threat that no self respecting megalomanic could pass up. This would be typical of Megakat City but he wasn't home.

The special military conference he'd attended in the Sandeval Bay Federated territories, had been ironically, concerned with terrorism. It was a subject that was unhappily turning up all over the world by a variety of fanatics concerned with various problems afflicting the world, such as; air and water pollution, nuclear power usage, dictators, food shortages, religious beliefs, etc.

The conference was discussing the formation of a task force made up of various countries to fight this growing epidemic. Wouldn't you know it, a group of dissidents took offense at that solution.

'Gee, what a surprise.'He thought in disgust.

Sighing, he reached for the phone and dialed a number. The phone rang at least six times before an out of breath female voice answered it.

"Yes?"

"Felina." He said quietly.

"Uncle! Oh God! Are you alright.......we only just heard about what happened?" Felina asked anxiously.

"I seem to be alright, though I'm stuck in a hospital. The doctors are holding all those that survived to monitor us for any bad effects from the gas." He told her without going into too much detail.

"I have a feeling you're not telling me everything......" She said, certainty lacing her voice.

He smiled, she was sharp and that was what made her such a good enforcer. "I'm afraid this isn't a secure line, Felina." He murmured blandly.

"Uh huh. Gotcha. Would you like me to come out there and see you?" She asked carefully.

He frowned to himself and thought about that. He'd known she'd want to do that but this wasn't his territory and though she was his niece, the fact she was also an enforcer might make the locals a bit miffed. Sighing he decided against it, however.........

"I'd love you too but the officials here might be put off by you being an enforcer. However, I do need to give you a warning. Got any ideas on how I can manage that?"

"Hmmm...oh!.....Ms. Briggs!" She said abruptly.

"Huh? Why her?" He asked in surprise.

"Because Mayor Manx was concerned about what had happened and since you were there, if it might affect Megakat City in some way." She said in mild amusement.

Feral snorted in disgust. That was just like his honor. Manx was afraid of losing profits if Sandeval Bay thought Feral being there was the reason they had been targeted. After all, Megakat City got all the weirdos, who was to say they hadn't followed the Commander.

Though he thought that really far fetched, he couldn't dismiss it either. He didn't know that much about these so called 'dissidents'. It might be feasible they were in cahoots with one of Megakat City's omegas. Uneasy about where his thoughts were going he returned his attention to Felina waiting patiently on the other end.

"You know, as much as I don't want to think that, there may be a seed of possibility he's right. Just in case, have Ms. Briggs see me. When is she due in?" He asked.

Sighing, also not happy with the suspicion her uncle had now placed in her own mind, she told him, "I really don't know but suspect she's already on her way, uncle."

"Okay, I'll call her cell phone. I'll give her what I know to give to you. Now I'd better get some rest and you do the same." He said.

"I'll wait for her return. Take care, Uncle. I'm so glad you're okay." Felina said in parting.

"Yeah, well, thanks. I hope I am. Later Felina." He said then hung up.

He then dialed Brigg's cell phone number. After several rings and no answer, he guessed she had it off due to being on a plane. He'd try her again, later. He settled himself and began to watch TV.