BEHIND THE MASKS
Chapter 13: Epilogue
Though he was loathed to do so, Chance knew he had to leave before he was discovered. He paused a moment to take some pictures of his mate holding their daughter then reluctantly, carried her back to bed, bid his mate a warm goodnight with another kiss then slipped out just before the doctor and his crowd of doctors in training arrived.
He walked to the elevator and headed to the roof. He had to wait almost fifteen minutes before he could slip out the medevac doors. He moved away from the doors and the evac landing pad to a spot where he wouldn't be seen or questioned and called for his partner to pick him up.
Razor had been waiting for T-Bone's call and responded the moment his communicator chirped. Within fifteen minutes he had picked up his partner and per T-Bone's wishes, returned them to the hangar.
"So what how did it go? Is Feral okay and what sex is the kitten?" Razor asked impatiently as he flew them home.
"Keep your mask on buddy," T-Bone laughed. "Ulysses is doing fine and we have a beautiful daughter. I got to hold her and took a pic.".
"Congrats! Buddy. What a wonderful gift!"
"Yeah, that's what I told Ulysses as I gave him a big kiss."
Conversation stopped there as Razor flew the jet carefully into its hidden runway and onto the turntable. He didn't have the ease and finesse of T-Bone but he managed. When the jet had reached the upper hangar, they leaped out and hugged.
"This calls for a celebration!" Jake insisted, after changing his clothes then pulling a bottle he'd kept hidden for this occasion from his locker. "Let's go upstairs and you can show me the pics of the little darling."
Chance and Jake got a little drunk as they toasted the new arrival over and over, so they slept in the next morning. It would be hard for a new father to bear, but Chance would have to wait until Uly was ready to be released to see his little one again.
Some four days later, pretending to be a taxi driver, Chance picked up his mate from the hospital. He hurried around the car and opened the door so the nurse that had wheeled Ulysses down, could place their kitten in her car seat he'd made sure to put in then he helped his mate into his seat. Closing the door, he hurried back around and drove off.
The press had been fooled into thinking Feral wasn't being released until after lunch while in fact he had been allowed to leave early in the morning. Making sure he had no tails, Chance made his way swiftly through early morning traffic before turning off the freeway at the far end of the city for their hidden home in the mountains.
It was a long drive and they didn't speak much as Feral was still tired and wanted to nap during the drive home. Every now and then, Chance would look in his mirror and check on his daughter who also slept the whole way home, he just couldn't get enough of her.
When they finally arrived, he gently woke his mate. Helping Uly get out of his seat, Chance released his mate to walk on his own into the house while he went back for their kitten. He took the car seat from the car, grabbed the diaper bag and a plastic bag filled with kitten items the hospital had given them then slammed the car door closed with his foot.
Stepping into the house, he saw no sign of Uly. That's because the poor exhausted mother had gone on to the bedroom to prepare to lay down again. His body felt like lead!
Just minutes after Feral had sat down, Chance appeared with their daughter. He sat her car seat on the bed and dumped his pawful of other stuff to the floor for the moment. He carefully unstrapped Elora from her seat then began to carry her over to her bed when she woke up and whimpered. Surprised, he looked over at his mate questioningly.
Giving his mate a wane look, Feral said, "check her diaper, she might need changing then give her to me to feed, love."
Nodding his understanding, he turned to her new changing table that sat beside her cradle. He quickly checked her diaper.....found it wet and meticulously changed it and cleaned her up. She was fussing loudly by the time he finished......lifting her to his shoulder he caressed her back to soothe her as he carried her back over to her mother.
Feral had unbuttoned his shirt and toed his shoes off then laid down on the pile of pillows Chance had ready for him. He unsnapped the right side of his nursing bra (he'd gone shopping with Ms. Briggs for this embarrassing item as well as a few other strange and required items for a new mother.....he never wanted to repeat that humiliating experience again.....Ms. Briggs had been understanding but he could see in her eyes that she was thoroughly amused by his discomfiture).
Chance carefully lowered the tiny kitten into his mate's arms and watched as Uly coaxed Elora to take his nipple. Within minutes she was nursing strongly and making small noises of contentment which Chance found endearing.
"You do that well," he smiled at Uly.
"Only because they showed me how. I had no idea what I was doing," Feral said ruefully.
"You learn fast then. Do you want anything to drink?" Chance asked as he picked up the diaper bag and hung it up then looked into the plastic bag to see where everything should go.
"No, I'm fine for now. However, if you see that kitten care book they gave us, I'd like to have it. Might as well read it now while she's eating."
"Sure.....uhm.....here it is...." the tabby carried a slim book with a mother and kitten on its cover, over to his mate and said, "....when you're through, I'll give a read too."
Feral smiled and nodded then yawned hugely. "Damn, I was told I'd be tired but never did I dream I'd be this wrung out. The doctor told me to expect to be out for at least four weeks. I'm very glad now that we have no major troubles around and that my second is trustworthy and hard working or I'd be going crazy with worry about what was going on at work."
"You just worry about taking care of Elora and getting rest. Everything else takes a back seat," Chance admonished him firmly.
"I know....I know.....you don't have to tell me. The doctor hammered it into me and threatened to put me back in the hospital if I didn't rest," Uly grimaced unhappily.
"Then that's what you'll do. I think she's finished, love," Chance commented when he noted Elora had her face beside the nipple, her mouth closed with a trickle of milk on her lip and chin. He smiled warmly at the image then gently retrieved his daughter.
"Burp her just a little, Chance. I was told she shouldn't have much problem with gas nursing from me as she would with a bottle."
"Okay." He laid her against his shoulder and gently tapped her back. She never made a sound so he desisted and after wiping her mouth, he laid her tenderly in her new bed.
Life with a newborn had begun.
It took Feral more than four weeks to recover which irritated him a lot but Elora's needs and his own obvious weakness, kept him from complaining too much. During those early weeks, they quickly learned what sleep deprivation meant though both had experienced it during their jobs this was different in some way.
Chance made the best use of his time each day by getting to know his daughter before he had to go to the salvage yard to work. Jake made him work only a few hours and told him not to feel guilty about leaving early. There wasn't much work in the first place and he could handle what there was by himself. He'd let his friend know if it was going to be too busy. Jake wanted Chance to spend as much time with his new kitten as possible.
Finally, five weeks later, Feral was fit enough to return to work. That was when the issue of a kitten sitter became acute. They hadn't been idle looking for one, but as time passed they became frustrated with the fact one that fit their special needs was in short supply.
They were both getting terribly stressed when time was running out and no caregiver had been found. It was around this time that Jake found the answer for them from a completely surprising source.
Dr. Liter Greenbox had redeemed himself after the disaster with his repair robot and the GemKat lab disaster by becoming an aid of Professor Hackle. The old professor was having more and more difficulties getting around and a much younger assistant who believed as he did was a Godsend so he prevailed upon the parole board that he would take responsibility for the young tom and monitor his work. Greenbox had many great ideas and with Hackle as his watcher and mentor he was beginning to restore his reputation among the scientific community. It was a perfect partnership.
One day, while Greenbox was visiting an inventors website, he came across Razor's ad on the sale of his inventions. Striking up a friendship on line, the two occasionally collaborated on some ideas. When Greenbox heard about Commander Feral's pregnancy, he had mentioned how incredibly brave it was for the dark tom to do that. Razor had agreed and had offhandedly mentioned his curiosity on how the Commander would be able to find a safe kitten sitter when he had so many enemies, attempting to see if Greenbox might have a solution.
To Razor's surprise, Greenbox did. He said, he and Professor Hackle had been discussing some of the really important things Katkind could use during peacetime to make robots less military and more home friendly. They eventually came up with the idea of a nanny bot and had been working on a prototype for a few months now.
Without giving away his excitement, Razor casually asked how soon they thought they would have one to be tested.
"Well, Professor Hackle likes to be certain his invention is safe before risking something as fragile as a kitten but from the last few trials of the prototype, it looks like it could be ready for testing in a few months. Why do you ask?" Greenbox typed.
"Oh, I was thinking Commander Feral would be a good test case. He knows how to do proper testing of all types of equipment and knows how to report problems correctly and thoroughly which is what an inventor needs if they are to perfect their invention and there's the important fact that I happen to know he's still needing a kitten sitter and soon." Razor typed back in return.
"Oh really? Gee, he does sound perfect alright. Well, I'll approach the Professor about it and we'll see if Commander Feral is receptive."
"Wonderful! Hope it works out for all concern. A nanny bot would be a necessity now a days as more people feel safe enough to work out of their homes more."
"That is certainly true. I'll let you know what happens."
Just as the three were becoming concerned, Hackle called Feral (who Razor had already briefed on the option) and told him about the robot. Pretending he was just now hearing about this, he agreed to test the nanny bot. Razor had already promised him to check out the robot thoroughly before it was allowed to care for Elora.
Feral and Chance went to the Professor's lab to see the robot. It would have been better for it to interact with their kitten in a home environment but they wanted know one to know where they lived. Further, Chance was wearing the mask he had worn to Hidden Faces to hide who he was from Hackle and Greenbox.
A little surprised but understanding the need for this much security, Hackle and Greenbox demonstrated how to control the bot and entered the parents voices as a security measure. The little bot resembled Cybertron I that the Professor had lent them some years ago. However, this one was a little taller and thinner with arms that had been molded to feel just like a Kat's arms and a full mask of a calico Kat with long copper hair placed over its metal head.
Demonstrating with a doll, the robot was put through its paces, changing diapers, burping, feeding, comforting. It's voice was a soft, well modulated female one that could also purr if need be. Its logic chip held first aid, complete care of kittens, emergency procedures, as well as a very effective protective weapons to keep its charge safe from harm.
The parents were suitably impressed. With a book of instructions, a safety shutoff control box, and direct phone line to the scientists for advice and assistance, they felt comfortable enough to take the robot home.
When they got the robot home, Jake was waiting. He spent the next hour carefully examining the robot thoroughly. After programming his own voice on the security system within the robot, he deemed it safe enough to use.
Despite all that, Chance and Ulysses still kept a close watch on the nanny bot's every move but after more than a month, they had to admit the robot was everything they hoped it would be. With a more relaxed state of mind, Feral returned to work.
Chance, however, was still leery so never left the robot alone with Elora more than a few hours a day but after six months, even he was comfortable with the nanny and what was more important, so was Elora. She suffered no separation anxiety when her parents were gone.
With the success of the prototype, Hackle and Greenbox began production with a company they had researched thoroughly first. Soon, the HackGreen Nanny Bot was being sold everywhere.
Four years later..................
Feral continued to be Chief Enforcer for another two years before finally retiring to spend more time with their daughter who would soon be attending school. Elora was the light of her parents lives and was very intelligent. Feral thought to start a security consulting business from home so he'd be around when his daughter need him and Chance encouraged him to do so. They never had another kitten....he wouldn't allow it because of the risk to Ulysses.
As for Jake, he singlehandedly paid off he and Chance's debt in less than two years. As a reward, Feral released them from their servitude at the Salvage Yard which allowed Jake to find a home of his own, date, and continue designing inventions to sell on line.
Chance had decided he wanted to work on classic cars which were his passion. He hooked up with an old kittenhood friend who ran a specialty garage just for classics. Jake would kid him on still being in a garage. But Chance would just say, "yeah, but now they are cars I want to work on." Jake could only laugh. He was glad his friend was happy.
As for the SWAT Kats, they flew on a regular basis, worked out to stay fit, but never really had to fight much any more but weren't ready to quit just yet. They continued to use the underground hangar right under the nose of Burke and Murray but took the precaution of sealing the two hatches that lead into it from the garage and apartment. Fortunately, the bothersome city workers didn't live at the yard so that made coming and going easy.
Ms. Briggs went on to become Mayor five years later when Manx passed away, dropping dead on the golf course he spent most of his life playing on. She made an excellent Mayor and Feral was finally able to see the funding the enforcers needed reach them at last even if he was no longer there to see it happen himself.
The club, Hidden Faces, became so popular, five more opened up throughout the city. When they felt the urge, Ulysses and Chance would mask up and go to the original club just for old times sake and on anniversaries. They never forgot how it had brought them together in the first place and absolutely loved how it kept their sex life strong and interesting for years to come.