Chapter 1: The Problem

Author's Note: My original A DREAM OF FREEDOM LOST had been written some years ago and turned out to be very popular but when I read it now, its sadly lacking in emotion and action. I know its unusual to do this but I decided to actually rewrite it. I've been posting it on DA and it was well received so I decided to post it here along side the original. I don't feel I'm copying or repeating since I've dramatically rewritten the story hence the altered title. There are even a few newer chapters as well. Hope you like this newer version of an old classic.

Dr. Mewser was on his way to see Dr. Abi Sinian at the Megakat Natural History Museum on one of his rare days off. He'd put this mission off for some time but the danger his patient represented forced him to take action sooner rather than later. He hoped talking with her could help him come up with some way to save his patient and hopefully, others of his kind from the same fate he faced.

His patient of many years, had ignored his pleas to change his ways. Now some five years later since he'd become aware of the danger, he could no longer wait to take action even though it crossed the line of his Hippocratic Oath.

"Thank you for taking the time to see me, Dr. Sinian" He said, shaking her paw then taking a seat in one of the two stuffed chairs before her desk. He glanced around her comfortable, spacious office surrounded by the tools of her trade as she puttered near a small table with a tea service.

"You're welcome, Dr. Mewser, though I'm uncertain how I can be of assistance to you. Our fields aren't the same, after all." She smiled warmly, handing him a cup of tea and sitting down in the seat next to him with a cup of her own.

"We may not be in the same field, doctor, but we do deal with the history of Kats and other Kat-like species that live among us. And its in that area where I need your more experienced knowledge to address the problem I'm faced with," he said earnestly.

"Well, I'll certainly try to be of assistance to you."

Mewser nodded his thanks and launched into his problem. "You see, I've a patient whose condition is gradually deteriorating but if you were to look at him you'd think there was nothing wrong. He's strong and healthy looking on the outside but he's a ticking time bomb on the inside, as are many of his species."

Abi's brows raised at that statement, "Oh my, that sounds serious but I'm still uncertain as to how the knowledge I possess could help you aid this poor Kat."

"Well, you see he isn't a Kat but a Sabren. I'm sure you know the Sabren race is unique in its requirements for mating. Being born male in appearance but female for breeding, they must have a Kat male for a mate. Add to that is their astonishing ability to draw on the energy that flows around us into their bodies and use it as defense. Their main drawback though, is the way they must find a mate," he said, pausing to sip his tea.

"Oh yes, I know about that. In ancient times, social mores were more relaxed and taking many lovers was acceptable but as society changed, it became more difficult for Sabrens to go through many lovers to find their mate without being labeled someone with loose morals. Of course, for the Sabrens, the need to go through many lovers is a biological necessity not a desire. If they didn't dump energy through a lover it would back up in their bodies and effectively make them a walking bomb," Abi said, nodding in agreement.

Dr. Mewser relaxed a bit, pleased to be speaking with someone just as knowledgeable about this species as he'd become by necessity.

"But unfortunately, that reason got buried, Dr. Sinian, and the Sabrens made it worse by not raising a stink about it. The main psychological reason was so they wouldn't be perceived as different. So they kept their mouths shut and did what they had to in secret, pretending they are just like everyone else when they most certainly are not. That decision caused them to restrict the number of lovers they seek out, setting them up for failure in finding mates and, in turn, making them the very threat they had hoped to prevent. The next generation now suffers from those wrong decisions," he said, shaking his head at the folly of a whole species.

"I hadn't realized it had gotten that bad but then I deal with the ancient past not the most recent one. So the situation has gotten progressively worse with time?" She asked, getting upset.

"Oh yes, most definitely. Now don't get me wrong, there are Sabrens that have been brought up with healthy lessons on the importance of finding a mate but unfortunately they are in the minority. It's those numerous, ill trained, Sabrens that are unwilling to search for a mate by the hit and miss game of dating, refuse to have anything but meaningless, temporary sex or worse, be celibate, that are dying by the hundreds. Failure to dump their energy fully with a mate, insures they continue to build a greater energy store than they can handle then 'boom' instant combustion. Kat kind has failed to recognize what's happening and has chalked the odd deaths up to the rare and unexplained category," Mewser stated, grimacing unhappily.

Abi's expression showed her disgust and dismay at both races stupidity. "And because of that attitude, the Sabren species is heading for extinction. This is very serious news, Dr. Mewser."

"Yes, it certainly is. That's why I'm hoping you and I can come up with something that can save this race from destruction and save my patient as well," he said gravely, finishing his tea.

"I wasn't aware the problem had reached such epidemic proportions but I was aware of the Sabren's difficulty in finding mates. However, I've not heard of anyone coming up with a solution to the problem," she sighed unhappily, setting her cup down on the desk.

"I've had plenty of time to think about this and I'm hoping I've come up with a workable solution. The problem is I don't possess the abilities to design or invent it. I was hoping perhaps you might have the contacts I need to carry this idea forward."

"Hmm, its possible. Tell me what you've come up with and perhaps I can direct you to the right people." Her face showing interest.

"Since Sabren's are energy creatures, I thought there should be some way to use that ability of theirs to make a device that would allow them to find their compatible mate faster. What would have to be done is to experiment on a Sabren and his mate to see what it is that causes them to know they were right for each. In other words, what is the frequency the Sabren body is using to determine this. I'm not a scientist so I don't know how to go about discovering this but if we find the right people to figure it out, then the next step would be to make a device the Sabren could wear that would sound off the moment that perfect tom comes his way," Mewser explained excitedly.

Abi blinked at him in astonishment. 'Such a simple solution! Why had no one thought of that?' She wondered, shaking herself mentally. Sighing at the blindness of them all, she said, "I'm truly amazed no one thought of that sooner, Dr. Mewser. I think you may be on the right track and I can think of someone, actually three someone's that could not only test this theory but build the device you're wanting."

"Really, that's wonderful. Who would they be?" Mewser asked, hope lighting his eyes.

"The one who could test your theory would be Dr. Konway at Bio Tech Labs in Enforcer Headquarters and for making the device would be Professor Hackle and Razor."

Mewser blinked in shocked surprise, "the SWAT Kat?"

"He's brilliant! Just look at the things he invents to fight crime with no help from anyone. Yes, he and Hackle, who is a brilliant inventor, are the only ones I think can do this for you for free and quickly without all the paperwork and government interference of other agencies. Speed is what you need right now, correct? Especially, if things are as dire as you say they are." A questioning lilt in her voice.

"You're right on all points, doctor. I won't look a gift horse in the mouth because time is of the essence," he was forced to agree.

"I take it your patient is in the danger zone for you to be so willing to accept any help you can find?" She fished a little for information.

Mewser grimaced unhappily, "oh yes, he most certainly is and it doesn't help that he holds a position of power. Losing him could be very detrimental to the city's welfare. Then there's the real fact that the amount of energy he's retaining could take out a significant portion of the city should his will power finally give out."

Abi gaped at him then blurted, "You're joking?"

"I wish I was but it's the truth! So you see, I'll make a deal with the devil if I have to because time is definitely running out," he said gravely, rising from his seat.

She stood as well. "Then I best get a hold of Professor Hackle and have him get with Dr. Konway as soon as possible. They know how to reach Razor and with luck and hope this problem will be solved very soon. I pray your patient's will power will continue to hold until they succeed."

"So do I. And let me speak with Dr. Konway, after all, I do work at Enforcer Headquarters," he told her. "Thank you for all your help. You've given me new hope," Mewser said warmly, shaking her paw.

"You're welcome but don't thank me yet until I've delivered on my promise. I'll contact the Professor today," she reassured him, seeing him out.

He left the museum with a lighter heart. Now all he needed to do was explain what was needed to Konway (really irritated at himself for not having considered the doctor in the first place) then wait and keep an eye on his patient, hoping there was enough time to save his life.

Dr. Sinian did as promised and contacted Professor Hackle that afternoon. The old inventor had been shocked and appalled by what she'd relayed to him. Telling her he would set his own work aside and willingly work with Dr. Konway, she thanked him and hung up, with him already muttering to himself.

Less than twenty-fours later, Dr. Konway's lab associates were surprised and curious as to why Professor Hackle was working with their superior and so secretly too.

Konway felt keeping the project secret would prevent a certain someone from learning about it and becoming angry. He and Hackle worked on it in Konway's personal lab. Much to their surprise, they found their volunteer Sabren couples among the enforcer population. The couples had been told not to discuss the project to anyone until it was released to the public. Since it would benefit them, the couples had no problems complying.

Dr. Mewser carefully explained what he knew about Sabren biology and what he hoped to accomplish, to Konway and Hackle. After two weeks of trial and error the pair found the frequency they were searching for. Now it was up to Hackle and a certain SWAT Kat to turn that information into a workable device.

Razor had been surprised and shocked at the reason and need for this kind of device.

"I never knew those odd explosions reported in the paper or on the news were caused by Sabrens literally blowing up. That's just wrong!"

"Yes, I know.....very shocking indeed. But, you and I have a wonderful opportunity to right this great wrong. Thanks to an idea by Dr. Mewser, Chief Medical Officer for the Enforcers, Dr. Konway and I have isolated the frequency by which the Sabren's determine who their perfect mate is. All you and I have to do is design a device that will signal them when such a mate crosses their path. Right now they are at the mercy of actually having sex with every male they meet, something they dislike doing despite the fact their very lives depend on them doing it that way," Hackle said, sadly.

"Yuck! I don't blame them. I don't think I'd want to 'sleep around' as it were either. Okay, Professor. Let's get working on this," Razor said eagerly, his mind already tackling the problem.

T-Bone, who had been listening, just shook his head and told his partner he'd be willing to keep up with their other life while he focused on this project. Razor thanked him and began that very afternoon. For the next four weeks, he and Hackle worked to find the right, compact design that would be workable but easy to wear and not bad to look at either. The last consideration was necessary, because if it looked like a piece of electronics most would not be willing to wear it.

When they were ready to present the working model to the public, Hackle informed Dr. Sinian who in turn told Dr. Mewser. The two decided the best way to get the public involved with this project and sort of coax the Sabrens to wear the device, was to have the Mayor present the idea at a news conference.

Having been briefed on the project by Razor, Ms. Briggs immediately set up a meeting with all the parties involved, only telling the Mayor this was a serious matter that faced the city, to make sure he attended.

Less than a day later, the group met in the Mayor's conference room. Attending were Doctors Konway, Sinian, and Mewser, Professor Hackle, Razor and T-Bone, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Manx was stunned and upset when he learned the explosions happening around the city were not an act of nature, an accident or caused by an omega.

He had paled visibly but despite his fear, he was more concerned with his image due to the loss of life and damage to his city more than the plight of some of his Katizens. Callie knew that for a fact and was barely able to keep her annoyance off her face. At least he was listening as Dr. Sinian explained the reason for developing the device.

Then Professor Hackle explained how the device worked. "the principle behind this device is very simple. It identifies the specific Sabren's energy signature then it searches out a compatible biological energy signature of a male kat. It will give off a loud tonal alarm when a match is found. The Sabren wears this as a medallion around their neck."

He held up the device for all to see. It was the size of a pocket watch, round and smooth with no images on it, colored silver with a heavy duty silver chain. The mechanism that ran it was sealed inside making it waterproof and shock proof as well. He demonstrated the sound by flicking a switch at the top of the medallion. It let off a very loud tone making everyone's ears lie flat. He quickly shut it off.

"It's perfect. So all we need do is convince the Sabrens to wear them and hope for some quick matches to encourage all to use them. How many have you made?" The Mayor asked watching Callie examine the device in her palm.

"We just finished making about a thousand of them to start with. The Professor has contracted with a small manufacturer to begin production of them once they've proven their viability. He's also footing the cost," Razor told him before the Mayor could complain about cost and ask who was paying.

"There is one other thing, Mayor Manx. Razor and I have realized, as we worked on this project, that it's not enough to just help the Sabren's find a mate. Many will have large energy reserves built up. It seemed a waste to have such energy simply pass through their mate and into the ground. We propose collecting the Sabren's first mating energy output which is the strongest they will produce in their life. We can do this by virtue of building or converting a room at the Megakat Electrical Power Plant. This room would absorb all that energy and transmit it to the storage batteries providing free electricity to the city and significantly reduce the cost to the city," Hackle explained earnestly.

The others in the room were gaping at them in astonishment. It was Callie who managed to regain her power of speech first.

"That would be fantastic and definitely go a long way to gaining the public's acceptance of Sabrens as useful members of society. It will also encourage the Sabrens to come out of hiding and accept the medallion more readily. Excellent work everyone!" Callie congratulated them.

"Yes, excellent work! I'm proud of you all. Callie, set up a press conference immediately. Just let me know the time and place," Manx said echoing her, pleased by the outcome and about how it would make him look in the papers. He left them to finish the details.

Callie just rolled her eyes mentally, knowing she was now in charge of this project. Turning to the Professor and Razor, she asked, "How long do you think it will take you to build or convert a special room at the power plant?"

Hackle paused a moment to glance over at Razor who frowned in thought. "Well, we will have to go check the facility to see if there's something we can use. If there isn't, then we have to determine where to put it and how big a building we will need. Either way, we should have it done within about a week and a half, Ms. Briggs," Razor said cautiously. Hackle nodded his head in agreement.

"Wonderful! I'll contact the plant and get them to cooperate with you and do whatever needs to be done using the Mayor's authority to prevent any objections. You should be able to start as early as tomorrow if you wish."

"I don't know about tomorrow but we will get right on it Ms. Briggs," Razor assured her. "We will also need to train the facility technicians on how to maintain the room as well as build extra safety features into the plant to handle the increased energy load."

"Well, it certainly sounds like you've got it all planned out, I'll leave you to it. Thank you all again for your hard work and especially, you, Dr. Mewser for coming up with the idea in the first place," she told the doctor as she rose from her seat, putting an end to the meeting.

"Thank you Ms. Briggs," Mewser said, blushing at the compliment then he cleared his throat and asked, "Uhmm, could I speak to you in private for a moment, ma'am?"

"Certainly! Where would you like to go to talk?" She asked eyeing him in concern.

"Uhh, somewhere we won't be overheard. The subject is rather sensitive," he said carefully.

Her eyebrows rose in surprise but led him to a small conference room. They stepped in and she locked the door.

"What seems to be the problem?" She asked.

"I'm sorry to seem so cloak and dagger, Ms. Briggs but the kat I need to speak to you about is well known and is in grave danger." He said uncomfortably. "You see, I've been his physician for the past five years and no one but me is aware he is a Sabren and he insists on keeping it that way. I'm actually breaking a confidence by revealing who he is but the danger is far too great for me to just keep my mouth shut and he's just stubborn enough to refuse to wear the medallion. I know for a fact he's failed to take even a temporary partner for months. My last measuring of his energy levels showed he held enough to lay waste to a mile wide area and where he works that would wipe out thousands of Kat lives."

Briggs gasped and stared at him in shock.

"Please understand, he isn't deliberately trying to endanger the city, it's just he isn't able to have sex with a stranger for the purpose of energy dumping, it's too demeaning and upsets him a great deal. I know something must have happened between his mother and him that makes him this way but he won't talk about it. He needs counseling badly but that too is ignored. Whatever happened in his past has twisted him up inside and made him firmly believe mating would be slavery. We're just lucky he's extremely strong willed or he wouldn't have survived this long."

"I'm so sorry, doctor. Believe me when I say, that I certainly don't hold it against you for having to break a confidence. We all have to at some point in our lives to help the greater good but it doesn't make it any easier doing it. Is this why you're telling me.....because he's a threat to the city?" She asked, frowning in concern.

"Yes that's part of it but it's also because you know him and can order him to wear the medallion. He needs to be mated and soon!"

She blinked at him in confusion. "I know him? Who is he and why would he listen to me?"

"Oh yes, you know him only too well, Ms. Briggs. It's Commander Feral." Mewser said wincing at Briggs sudden loud exclamation of surprise.

"Commander Feral is a Sabren?"

He nodded solemnly. She turned and stared out the window beside her, her mind whirling at this new twist. Things had just become really complicated.

Sighing, 'well there was nothing for it', she thought, turning back to the doctor, "Alright, I'll speak to him but only after everything is in place. It will be easier to get his cooperation after the device has been announced and we have some Sabrens using it."

"I understand, Ms. Briggs. I only hope there is enough time left to get everything done and still find a mate for the Commander."

"We'll get it done as fast as we can and hope its quick enough doctor. Don't lose hope! You're right, the Commander is a very strong willed kat. If anyone can hold out he can." Briggs said, praying it would be so.

She unlocked the conference room door and said farewell to the doctor. Returning to her office, she called Ann Gora and other news crews then worked on the speech the Mayor would give during the news conference.

The plight of the Sabrens was big news and caused a tremendous upheaval among Kats and Sabrens all over the city. Some Sabrens were hostile while others were hopeful. But no matter how they felt about it, Project Sabren was launched. With Razor's help, Professor Hackle and the power plant crew got the Energy Capture Room, as it would be called, completed and operational in less than nine days.

It took a little time to convince the Sabren's to come out of hiding but once they did the devices proved themselves fairly quickly. As more and more Sabren's found mates and the city began to benefit from the surfeit of electricity created, the Sabrens finally began to be more comfortable being themselves as the public began to accept them more readily.

This was no fast fix. It took more than four months to reach this point and one Sabren in particular, was not happy about all these changes. Feral's severe psychological fear about being bonded to another made him highly resistant to wearing the medallion.

Despite his angry objections though, the Mayor insisted he wear it, once his honor learned Feral was actually a Sabren instead of a Kat. Feral complied only when he was on duty and likely to be called on it by his superior, but whenever he could get away with it, he left it off.

However, during those times he had to wear it, he was in a constant state of fear and anxiety, hidden only by his firm control over his emotions. Meanwhile, other Sabrens were enjoying their new acceptance among Kat kind and beginning the unraveling of decades of self destructive behavior.