Author: Sage SK
Date Started: 09/17/09
Date Finished: 09/23/09
Comments: And yet more characterization, but it's with Chance this time! Dangit! I have to tackle the second part of "Artificial Iniquitous!" Why do all these characterization plots demand to be written?!
'Course, I have to blame Kristen Sharpe for this one. I'm dedicating this one to her.
EDIT: *Thanks to everybody who commented. In regards to Razor calling T-Bone by his alter-ego's name, yes, it was deliberate. I'm not going to give my reasons as to why as I'm going to leave that to everybody's imagination. )
The grime had been no different that morning. Being told to scrub the barracks until there wasn't a single spot of dirt on the floor was nothing new to him. Today was different, however, in the sense that he *hadn't* been told to scrub the barracks. He'd done it voluntarily, half with the intention of forgetting the previous day's events, the other half to be away from the rest of his fellow Enforcers in general.
Chance Furlong focused on a solitary spot on the floor, the brush in his hand slowly rotating as he recalled the day before. He'd been called along with several others to check into an incident at a warehouse near the bay. While his primary duty was in the skies, the captain insisted on having him follow. Hesitant, he went along.
The warehouse was obviously abandoned, but the nearby boats belied its emptiness. Obviously a 'nip trade. Or weapons trade. The group of five made their way inside the building, weapons drawn. Chance hadn't gotten far around the corner of the large warehouse when he'd run into a familiar face.
Well, familiar to him in the academy.
Ben Furwitz had been a friend, a mentor, during their years at the academy. To see him standing there bent over a crate of what Chance recognized as Enforcer weapons struck a raw nerve.
"Wha... what're you...?"
"Aww, Furlong. They sent you here of all kats?"
"I... I don't get it. Why're you doing this?"
"Profit. Duh." Furwitz leaned against the crate lazily, cradling a blaster in one hand. "So, gonna shoot me, or what?"
Chance had almost forgotten the weapon in his own hand, pointing down at the ground as he stared back.
"Can't do it, huh?" Furwitz let out a half laugh. "Spoken like a true wanna-be. I honestly don't even know why you're still with the Enforcers."
"What're you talking about?" Chance managed, trying to control the quavering in his voice.
"I'm talking about you. You're no different from me. Heck, I was teaching your class and look where I ended up."
"I'm *nothing* like you," Chance sneered, getting the courage to finally aim his weapon.
"You keep telling yourself that," said Furwitz. "I know how much you can't stand that idiot Feral. That's what drove me to do this." He gestured towards the crates upon crates of stolen Enforcer equipment. "I'm not about to let some ego-driven commander stop me from making my way to the top."
"And, what difference does this make?!"
"I make more money this way. I know you'd do the same if you were pushed in the right direction, Furlong. I know you've got ambition. I've heard you brag about becoming commander someday, but what good is being commander if you have a leash tied around your neck? You were one of my top students. I know you'd make me proud."
Chance shook his head. "Forget it."
A shot rang out that convinced a startled Chance that he'd been hit, but as he focused more, he watched as Furwitz squalled out in pain, clutching his burning right hand.
"You make me sick, Furwitz," came a voice. The imposing figure of Commander Ulysseus Feral came out from the dark, the blaster in his hand smoking. He turned to Chance, the taller kat's tone of voice decreasing slightly. "Are you injured?"
Shaking off the shock, Chance responded with a, "No, Sir."
With a nod, Feral motioned to the remaining Enforcers. "Place former Lt. Furwitz under arrest and clean this place up."
"Scrub that one tile anymore and you'llve reached the basement."
Chance snapped out of his reverie and looked up to see the smirking face of Jake Clawson.
Chance smirked back. "It's an escape tunnel."
"I won't say a word so long as I get a map, too." Jake sat next to the bucket of water Chance had been using. "What're you doing, buddy? I asked around and guys told me you were in here."
"Forgetting." Sitting back, Chance tossed the scrubber back into the bucket.
"That incident with Furwitz really shook you up, huh?"
"The kat was like a parent, Jake. Next to you, he's the only other kat I trusted here. But now..."
"I know." Jake rested a hand on his partner's shoulder. "It wasn't your fault, though."
"It's not about what happened, Jake. It's what he said. I mean..." Chance paused, rubbing at his eyes in frustration.
"You're not him," Jake returned, albeit sternly. "You never will be. I've seen you do things that'd leave everybody else to shame, Chance."
"Yeah? Name one."
"I can name ten. Don't get me started." Jake thought for a while. "Well, eleven if we count the time you super-glued Steele's hands to his face while he was asleep."
Chance managed a chuckle.
"You keep bragging about becoming commander one day, buddy. I'll be in the front row when it happens."
"Front row nuthin' . You'll be standing next to me as lieutenant commander."
"Just don't super-glue my hands together," Jake returned. "I rather like my face in one piece."
- FOUR YEARS LATER -
T-Bone was furious. And, he was making it obvious to his partner.
"Calm down, buddy," said Razor, eyeing the map on his Glovatrix. "Their heat signatures aren't too far from here. The bigger issue would have to be looking for a way out."
"We'll worry about that when we find them." T-Bone did in fact try to calm down, but the kats they were looking for weren't improving his mood any. "I still can't believe he was stupid enough to fall for it."
Razor stopped them at the base of the caverns, eyeing the fork it formed. "We've got two options, buddy."
"I'm taking left. Radio contact at all times."
As he started down the path, Razor gave him a warning.
"I know you're ticked off, Chance*. And, I don't blame you. But don't let this cloud your better judgment."
T-Bone stopped, but didn't turn. "You honestly think I would?"
Razor chuckled. "I know you better than that." Saying no more, he took right and disappeared.
T-Bone knelt beside the unconscious form of Commander Feral, checking for a pulse. Good, he was still breathing. The larger SWAT Kat looked around for another exit. He'd come in through a crevice, but now wasn't entirely sure if there was any other way out of that cavern. Razor had taken a different direction in search of Lt. Feral.
He almost couldn't believe that a small part of him had asked why he d even bothered to come rescue Feral, who had gone into the canyon caves in search of a lead to where Dark Kat was. During the last two weeks, Dark Kat had framed the SWAT Kats over a series of explosions that had occurred near Puma Dyne. The weapons found had been near facsimiles of the missiles that Razor had designed. Feral, of course, wasted no time in accusing them of attempting to cause yet more property damage and endangering civilians, especially so close to a facility that contained the most dangerous technology known to katkind.
T-Bone's better judgment had told him that, despite his anger towards the commander, he still had a duty to maintain. After all, as an Enforcer, Feral had saved his life years back during that incident with Furwitz. But, a darker side of him would have turned around and gone back to the hangar, leaving Feral to die.
He surveyed the cavern, looking for a way out. There! Another exit! As he bent down to help the commander up, he'd heard him manage, "He's behind you."
T-Bone turned in time to see the glowing eyes of Dark Kat boring straight at them. In a heartbeat, he was on his feet, Glovatrix aimed.
"This is an interesting scenario."
"Take one more step and you'll be wishing you hadn't," T-Bone snarled back.
Dark Kat continued to speak, unfazed. "I find it interesting that you and your partner bother to help these ungrateful Enforcers."
T-Bone eyed the menacing giant, keeping himself between Dark Kat and Feral. "What do you mean?"
"It's obvious that no matter what I do, the blame always seems to come back to you two. No matter what you do to protect this city, it's never enough to appease them."
"It's what we do. We have a duty to keep towards this city. Razor and I aren't in it for the glory, you freak."
"Glory or not, all this city seems to do is criticize you for your actions. Calling you criminals considering that's exactly what you are; vigilantes with the most powerful weapons on the planet. Many would love to see you behind bars." Dark Kat gave him a sinister glare. "Here you are coming to help the very kat that would have you two locked up when all you have to do is walk away, never to be bothered by him or the Enforcers again."
"So... what?" T-Bone snapped. "I'm no different from you? Is that what you're trying to say?!"
A barrage of fresh cement embedded itself into Dark Kat's face, catching the purple kat off-guard. A bola missile followed that pinned his arms to his massive chest. Finally, a net missile sent the giant down in a tangled mess.
Blowing the smoke away from his Glovatrix, T-Bone smirked. "Sorry. I stopped doubting myself a long time ago."
"There is something that's bothering me," Feral said as T-Bone helped him out of the caverns and towards a waiting ambulance. Razor and Felina were already there.
"What else is new?" returned T-Bone.
"It's what Dark Kat said. It's no lie that it wouldn't give me a greater pleasure than to see you SWAT Kats behind bars. You could have left me down there, but you didn't."
T-Bone thought of all the possible answers. He could have given the commander a snide comment. He could have been humorous. He could have been cynical. His next words surprised even him.
"I guess it's my way of thanking you."