The double doors of the Grand Regal Hotel's conference hall loomed before her, brass knobs winking at her as the lights shone on them. She tugged at the right sleeve of her neatly-pressed pink suit, checking a button that she knew wasn't there; ran her left hand through her waist-length blond hair. Thank God for Professor Hackle. He had a way to fix anything, even her dye issues.
She looked down and busied herself with counting the floor tiles, tracing invisible patterns with her eyes. Technically, she had ten minutes to go before Mayor Manx officially presented her, but she wanted to get in and get it done right now. That, or run like hell. Those reporters would have questions out the ears; some would wonder if she'd return to her job as Deputy Mayor.
She had a definite answer to that one.
That was the only question she really wanted to answer. This press conference was mostly a PR campaign set up by Mayor Manx, nothing more. She knew that. But what she really had to say would shock everyone, including him. She smiled as she imagined the look of complete surprise on his face, maybe even a little bit of fear.
A hand on her right shoulder made her flinch. "Hey. Is everything okay?"
She looked toward the voice, owned by a she-kat around her height. Red hair hung down to the middle of her back and adorned her mid-length tail, but almost milky white fur covered everything else. A black leather choker around her neck and cozy black flats on her feet were the only dark things on her; the rest was all bright and lively. Cream colored jacket and slacks, a casual, short-sleeved light blue shirt.
The blond tried to smile, but it fell short of her eyes. "It's just nerves." Yeah, just nerves. She was about to ruin the life she'd just gotten back. "I'll be fine."
The auburn-haired queen shrugged. "If you say so. But if I were you Ms. Briggs, I would stop your paws from shaking. Makes a bad impression about how fine you are."
Calico Briggs looked down at her paws. Shit. She clenched her fists, dropping them to her sides. She wished Chance were here; at least he'd be able to calm her down. "How long do we have until this starts?"
"Eight minutes. That's plenty of time to do your calm-down thing."
She sighed. Why'd she always call it that? Granted, she didn't know what to name it herself, but anything was better than that. Callie rubbed her forehead with her right hand. "I'm not sure I'm ready to do this. Maybe I should have just stayed dead. Things were so much easier when everyone thought I was gone."
A squeeze on her right shoulder again. "Well, we all have to die in some way to find out what's important. I guess now is a bad time to find out that this isn't important, but… if it's not, we can leave and pretend this was never arranged."
Callie shook her head. "No, Snowy. This is important to me. I have to do it, or else we're all in trouble." That sure was a light way to put it. If things kept on going as they did, the city was done for, one way or another. She checked her tie, straightened her shoulders. Perfect posture, head high. No more excuses. She closed her eyes, taking in a controlled breath of air.
The world began to fade as her thoughts slowed their pace. Heart rate lowered, tension released, muscles relaxed. Seconds turned to minutes as she stopped thinking altogether and reached into that part of her that was well-trained by now. Callie stepped outside of herself, and began to feel instead of see.
She could feel her friend to her right, looking right at her ...kats walking behind them, past them ...the reporters inside, anxious, waiting for the announcement ...the mayor, wringing his hands together, eager to break the news.
Callie let herself take in all she could, then shut off the flow. Opening her eyes, expression far calmer than a few minutes ago, she asked, "What's our time, Angela?"
The redhead checked her watch. "He should be coming on now."
Callie smirked. That explained why the Mayor was so eager. "Let's do this."
Kanto the Slayer presents
A SWAT Kats Fanfiction
Mayor Manx was almost giddy with anticipation. What a relief, that Callie wasn't dead! Without her, he wouldn't have time for his golf game at all. He'd practically been running on fumes for the past few months, trying to keep his ears above water and his tail away from the sharks. His business contacts had all but abandoned him after hearing about the loss of the Deputy Mayor.
Even they knew he was worthless. As if he cared. Besides, no one would seriously run against him. Anyone that threw up a challenge met one of two fates: they were outspent or outmaneuvered. If there was one thing he was good at, it was a campaign. As long as he held the seat, nothing else mattered to him.
He cleared his throat to get the reporters' attention, his face beaming. "I would like to take this time to thank you all for attending this press conference on such short notice. You may be wondering why I called you all here, and I will get to that in due time. But I would just like to state, for the record, that I am once again running for reelection. Now, no one's told me who my opponent is yet, but I certainly hope they're ready for a fight. This proud city has been my home for thirty years, and the only way I'll let go of it is when I'm too old to run another race. Have to admit, that's not too far off…"
Good, that got them laughing. Always be entertaining. "But I wouldn't be able to do my job without a Deputy Mayor to take care of all the things I am unable to do alone. It would be nearly impossible to execute all the functions of all my office without one. With that in mind, I would like to introduce the focus of this press conference." He made a grand, sweeping gesture toward the double doors at the back. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Calico Anne Briggs!"
Gasps resonated throughout the room and flash bulbs went off as the blond bombshell entered into the room with a confident switch in her walk. She didn't have her glasses today. How strange. A pretty little redhead walked to her right, dressed in white and blue. Had she been making new friends?
He stepped out of the way as she approached, nodded toward him. She stopped in front of the podium, reached for the glass of water to her left and took a sip. Even that seemed graceful. She cleared her throat and leaned forward, just slightly, speaking into the mic. "No, ladies and gentlemen, you are not seeing a ghost. I am very much real, and very much alive. And before we begin, I would like to explain why."
The crowd fell silent as she started, and Mayor Manx sat down in a chair to the right of the podium. Even he wanted to hear this one.
"As you all well know, I was tortured by Dark Kat regarding information about the SWAT Kats. Their location, armaments, identities; just about anything he wanted to know. In a way, I can understand. I was the closest to them, have worked with them on occasion, and publicly defended them from ill-intentioned scrutiny. Of course, I refused, and for that, I almost paid with my life.
"Even after Dark Kat's defeat that night, I still believed my life was in danger. Everyone in the city's underworld knew I was a key player in running this city, and whoever had me would have significant leverage on the mayoral office. The only way to reduce the chances of that was to make myself vanish… so I did."
She looked around the room, probably reading the mood of the crowd or something. She was good at that.
"The car bombing was a ruse, a distraction to fool any potential threats. I needed something convincing, something that seemed final. I can't reveal who helped me orchestrate all this; probably never will. But rest assured that it was both for my best interests and for those of the city at large. That said, I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to the Enforcers and the people of MegaKat City. It was a deliberate deception, however necessary, and one that I deeply regret. I will spend every waking hour, starting now, making it up to everyone."
She nodded. "And with that, the floor is open for questions."
Once she said that, the clamor started, making Manx's ears ring. All right, she really was the star of the show. No question about that. But he was the mayor, and he had the final say on what she did and did not do. He was content with letting her field the questions, until a specific one caught his ears.
"Ann Gora, Kat's Eye News. Great to see you back among us, Ms. Briggs. Do you have any plans on going back to work as Deputy Mayor?"
Mayor Manx stood from his chair. Okay, now he'd have to interject. "Of course she does! I'll happily welcome her back to her station as soon as she's gotten herself…"
"I'm afraid not."
Manx went stiff as a board, his jaw slack. His brain tried to process what his ears just heard, but before his mouth got the message, she kept rolling along. "That is because I hereby announce my candidacy for the Office of the Mayor of MegaKat City."
An explosion of voices filled his ears. He didn't hear. All he could do was sputter, his usually silver tongue rendered useless. "But I … You …!" He turned to look at her, eyes wide with shock. "C-Callie, what is the meaning of this? And who is this she-kat you brought with you?"
She smiled graciously, as if she'd just heard the best question of the day. "I was just about to get to that. I would like to introduce one of my best friends and my Deputy Mayor, should I be elected into the office. This is Angela Snowshoe, and over the next few months, you will hopefully come to know her as well as I do."
The redhead grinned and gave a short wave. "It's a pleasure to meet you!"
Mayor Manx groaned. Of all the things she had to say, why'd it have to be that? She had to be joking. Yes, that was it; this was a trick and she'd come back to work tomorrow, and he'd go back to working on his game. Everything would be just fine. Maybe he'd even see about getting her friend a position on the City Council!
He nodded. It was all just a joke. She'd work for him just like always.
Callie doubled over with laughter outside of the conference room, paws clutching her sides. "Oh my God, did you see the look on his face? Priceless! I hope there are enough pictures to go around!" She tried her best to get some air back as the conference replayed in her head. Hell of a way to start a campaign, that.
Angela giggled. "Especially his mouth! He looked like a fish out of water!"
Callie laughed even harder as Angela tried to mimic his face once she told everyone she'd run. God, he really did look like a fish out of water! She'd never let him live this one down.
"Well, I'm glad you're having fun with this. Joking like that isn't funny, you know."
Callie turned her head toward Mayor Manx, his arms folded across his chest. She straightened herself, cleared her throat, and tried not to laugh again. Just looking at him was enough to play that scene back all over again. "No, I'm not joking. What gave you the impression that I was?" Probably his ego.
Manx looked sour. "I'm disappointed. I thought we'd be a team, just like always. Why did you decide to do this now of all times, during an election year? You don't even have the funding for a proper campaign!"
Callie smirked. Yeah, keep talking. "Well, you know me; I like solving problems. It just so happens that you're the problem. You've been the problem all along." Her expression turned into a judgmental scowl. "The job's gotten to your head. This city is on the verge of collapse. You've never signed a single sheet of paper in your life, and you know it."
The Mayor smiled. "That's what you're for, Callie! Listen; let's forget this ever happened. You probably said all that because you're tired from today's conference. Go home, get some rest, and be in the office tomorrow by—"
"Shut up." Her eyes narrowed, fists trembling at her sides. Years of pent-up frustration began to bubble and steam. "You know, I've been nice to you because you're my boss. Everything you've asked me to do, I've done, without question. I've spent my days off, my vacation time, my life, working to keep this city from going under." She stalked toward him, forced him back toward the conference hall. "And what do you do to help me? What time have you given to making the city a better place?"
Callie pinned him to the wall with her icy stare, and soon had him against the double doors. "You've done nothing, that's what. I've watched you sit around and be completely clueless, not a care in the world. And I let it happen by doing your work for you." She stopped, mere inches away from him. "Not anymore. We were never a team, because you never led. And now all that you've neglected to do is about to bite you in the ass. So get ready, because this is the last year you will ever see that leather swivel chair in City Hall."
The wide-eyed fear on his face made her very happy. She turned and stormed out with Angela in tow. She needed to be away from him before she did something unladylike. "He is such a perfect asshole. I had half a mind to slap him!"
"Yeah, well that wouldn't have been good for your public image. After all, you're in the running." She tilted her head to the right. "Speaking of that, where exactly is our funding going to come from? We don't have a staff, sponsors, anything."
Callie just kept on walking, her mind racing. "You let me worry about support. You have the job of putting together the team. I want you to scour your contacts; find the best people you know. They need to be friends of yours, because I don't want any division in our camp."
Angela grinned, pulled out her phone. "I'm on it!"
Callie smirked. This was just the beginning of her surprises for him. By the time this was over, he'd never work in this town again.
A knock at the front door made her groan. She couldn't catch a break today, could she? She sat up in bed, stifling a yawn with her right hand. She didn't look at the clock to the right of her bed. It'd only remind her of how tired she was. The blond stumbled out of bed, pressed in a panel to the right of the bedroom door. It slid upward, revealing a five-inch monitor that turned on once the false section of the wall fully retreated.
A brunette with white hair near the ears, brown eyes, and dark fur shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Felina Feral. She wasn't much for fashion, really; that dark blue shirt and black jeans combination was almost a second skin for her. The leather jacket was a recent addition, but it wasn't anything flashy. It looked like she hid something behind her back.
Callie sighed. Fine, she'd indulge her. The flaxen she-kat trudged out of the master bedroom, feet sinking into the carpet with every step. She straightened out her white cotton blouse and pink Capri pants as she headed down the steps, past the entrance to the guest bedroom. "Sit tight," she shouted, "I'm coming!"
"You better," came from the other side of the door.
Callie smiled. Okay. That made her feel better. She trotted toward the door and opened it, revealing the recently re-instated Enforcer. "You certainly look nice, considering you just got off work. Come on in." She stepped to the left, allowing Felina access. "So, what brings you here, Lieutenant?"
"Actually, it's Captain now." Felina grinned. "I guess someone up top realized how valuable I am." She brought her hands from behind her back and presented a light blue box, gift wrapped with a white ribbon. "Saw you on TV. You looked like your old self."
So it was a present. Figures. Callie took the box as Felina kicked her boots off and walked into the apartment. "Yeah, well I'm my new old self now. If that even makes sense." She tugged at the ribbon. "What's in here?"
"Open it and you'll find out."
Callie raised an eyebrow. That didn't sound good. She nudged the door closed with her left foot as her hands removed the ribbon with one pull. Her eyes widened as she opened the box. "No you did not."
Felina smiled at her from the couch. "Yes, I did. Who loves ya?"
"You do!" She reached in and popped a chocolate-covered strawberry into her mouth. A purr came from her throat and her tail curled as the chocolate melted in her mouth, mixing with the sweet juices of the fruit. "I haven't had these in forever. Where'd you find them?"
Felina sank further into the plush white leather of the couch. "Oh, just this little dessert shop close to the station. Small place, family-owned. They make the best stuff on the block; hell, I'd say in the city." She looked over at Callie. "I should take you sometime."
"You should!" She popped another strawberry. "So then, how's Jake?"
Felina paused for a moment. "He's… adjusting. Been used to that scrap heap for so long he's almost forgotten what it means to have an apartment to come back to. Maybe that's why I invited him to stay with me for a while."
Callie grinned. Yeah, right. "Sure it's not because you're hot for him?"
Felina stuck her tongue out at the blonde. "Yeah, like you're not hot for Chance! Speaking of that, why haven't you invited him to shack up with you? Shouldn't he be around the house somewhere, watching TV?"
"You'd think I haven't done that." Callie's head bowed, her expression tinged with worry. "But he keeps on saying he'd be in my way. He's trying to be his own tom somewhere out there, and I can see his point." She shook her head. "I just want to do something for him. He's done so much for me; hell, I owe him my life. The least he could do is let me give him a place to stay."
Felina scoffed. "He's just being a mule. You need to get it through that thick skull of his that you're worried about him, and to just marry you already."
Callie reached for another strawberry and put it into her mouth. "Yeah, I know, right?"
Then it sank in.
Callie spit out the strawberry she'd been chewing on, bits of fruit flying onto the coffee table. She wiped her mouth off with her right paw, staring at Felina with eyes the size of dinner plates. "What!"
Felina grimaced. "Oh, that's nasty."
"Well you made me do it! And what do you mean, get married! I'm not ready for that kinda thing yet!" Callie blushed. "Well, maybe I am… But he probably isn't." She shook her head so fast, her hair whipped about. "Whatever! What about you and Jake, huh?"
Felina shook her head. "Are you kidding? I'm definitely not ready. Don't think he is, either. But we're still shacking up, because he needs it." She smirked. "And because he's a tiger in the sack. So… you could call us together, but at the same time not. Y'know?"
Callie's blush deepened. "You're unbelievable, Felina Feral."
Felina grinned. "And you love me for it, Calico Briggs." She reached over and mussed the blonde's hair. "So, what's on TV?"
The bathroom lights made her hair shine as she ran a brush through it, her negligee shimmering in the glare of the mirror. Just about everyone had come to visit her today, one after the other; Benny, Jake, Snowy with news about the team she was putting together. It surprised Callie to no end Angela could work so fast. She'd be a good Deputy Mayor.
Yeah, if they won. Callie sighed. The fact still lingered in her mind that Mayor Manx had never lost when it came to campaigning. He had a staff with enough resources to smother an opposing runner within the first few months of their attempt. She knew she'd get hit with all sorts of negative attacks from the get-go. They'd make the people want to eat her alive by the time they were done.
She wouldn't stoop that low. Much as she disliked Mayor Manx, she would not resort to personal attacks and smearing. If she was going to fight, she'd fight fair. No sense in making things worse than they already were. She finished brushing her hair and started on her tail when the doorbell rang. She groaned. What, again? And it was almost nine in the evening, too!
She left the bathroom and slid into her plush cotton slippers next to the closet before heading downstairs. This was the last thing she needed right now. The hairs on her tail stood on end as she headed toward the door, making her raise an eyebrow. What the …? She stopped where she was, her ears twitching.
This feeling is—
She tried to slow her breathing, since it'd sped up just a bit. This late at night, it didn't take much to clear her mind, and this time her eyes were still open. The aura behind the door was potent, strong. Her skin tingled as she reached for the door knob. She'd felt this before, many times. Unless she missed her guess, it was…
She opened the door. Her heart raced as she laid eyes on him in a dark blue, worn denim jacket. She could smell the body spray he'd probably used on himself before coming here. It only made him more imposing, despite the docile look in his eyes. His dark brown t-shirt fit close, displaying his chiseled body. Black cargo pants clung to his hips, tucked into eight inch black boots.
Chance Furlong. Even before opening the door, she knew it was him. No one else had this effect on her. "H-hello." Like her voice not working right. Damn it. She cleared her throat. "Are those for me?"
He smiled. "Yeah. Figured I'd get you something to celebrate your big announcement." He handed her a bouquet of irises. "Can I come in?"
She took the flowers and stepped to one side. "Sure, by all means." Please don't leave. She shivered as he walked past her. His energy made her skin come alive with sparks of static electricity. "How are things going? Have you found a place yet?"
Chance shrugged out of his jacket. "Getting close to it. Hasn't been easy, lemme tell ya. Kats around here are stuffy about who they let in. I'd say a few more days, week tops." He tossed it over the back of the couch, turned toward her. "You okay?"
No. She wasn't. She wanted to run from him, or run to him. Her mind flip-flopped between the two options as she closed the door. "I'm …passable. It's been a long day." Callie sighed and turned toward him again. "Everyone's been doing the whole well-wishing thing."
Chance chuckled. "Well they should. You probably knocked the Mayor flat on his ass with that."
Callie smiled and approached him until she stopped a few feet away. Too close and she'd trip all over herself. His deep, soft laugh made her ears flick, and not in a bad way either. "Well I wanted to make a good first impression. Besides, he has everything that's about to happen coming to him." Her face soured into a scowl. "He's had it coming for a while now, if you ask me. Did you know he asked me to come back to work for him right after the press conference?"
Chance frowned, eyebrows knotting. "Asshole!"
She nodded, right hip cocked with a hand placed on it. "Hell yes. I wanted to knock his teeth in and step on his tail." And that was just for starters. "I don't know how I'll make it through this without some kind of violence. God knows I'll try, but if he acts like he usually does, I might lose it."
Chance shrugged. "Well if you wanna do that, just remember what you're doing this for."
She knew, all right. The reason was right in front of her. Felina's words echoed in her mind as she got even closer to him, right into his personal space. She felt light-headed as his scent hit her full force. He could never get rid of it, even after a shower. "Where are you staying?"
His features softened. "The usual place, really. It's all I got." He smirked. "I'm lucky Burke and Murray haven't kicked me out yet."
She shook her head. Figures. "Stay with me."
Chance raised an eyebrow. "You mean just for tonight?"
No, forever. Callie shook her head again. Not yet. "I mean, until you get your place."
He frowned, his eyes turning sad. "You know I can't do that."
"Because you're making your own life, right? I get that." Her eyebrows curved upward. "But that place is run down, horrible to live in, and you have to deal with those jerks just about every day. And the noise has to be completely nerve-wracking." Her eyes took on a troubled cast. "I can't stand to see you like this."
He nodded. "I know. It'll get better, I promise. I just have to wait until the application goes through and I'm good."
Callie's jaw tightened, the corners of her mouth turning down. Damn him, why'd he have to be so stubborn? Couldn't he see she needed him? "All right, then stay just for tonight. And tomorrow." She lifted a finger before he could get another word in. "I'm not giving you a choice here."
Chance raised his hands as if blocking her words. "Hey, I'm not complaining!" He looked behind him at the couch. "Guess I could use this to sleep on."
"No, you're not. There's a guest bedroom for a reason, Chance. Come on." She headed toward the back, motioned for him to follow. She could feel his eyes on her as she led him toward the bedroom in question, and swished her tail just a bit more with every step. Callie smiled when she heard Chance cough. He sure as hell wasn't sick, that was for sure.
She opened the bedroom door and turned on the light. The place was comfy, not too small. Off-white walls with vines and leaves painted on the left-side wall. A queen-sized bed to the right with earth tone sheets and a brown comforter. An oak wood dresser a few feet in front of it with a television on top. A sliding door closet at the far end of the room. The same plush carpet that extended through the majority of the house was here as well. It'd probably feel nice to wake up and walk on something other than a cold tile floor for a change.
Callie turned toward him with a smile. "Home sweet home, at least for now. You like?"
He smiled. "Yeah, it's nice. Who got you such a nice place?"
She rolled her eyes. "The Mayor. Figured he'd do me a favor, probably to butter me up so I'd work for him. Thing is, he just gave me a base of operations, since I'm the one paying for it now and not him."
Chance's smile turned into a grin. "Funny how that happens, huh?"
She wrung her paws together. He was still too close. God, how would she be able to sleep? She stepped to her right, giving him access. "Let me know if you need anything. Don't worry about breakfast tomorrow; I'll take care of that." Probably had to wake up early for it, too. She had tons of shit to do in the morning.
He made his way forward, his tail brushing her thighs. Callie tried not to shudder as her heart picked up its pace again. Time to go. "I really need to sleep now." She made her way out of the room, tried not to be too quick about it. "Good night."
"Good night," came from behind her.
Her skin settled down as she left the circle of his presence and skittered off toward the master bedroom. Callie closed and locked the door, pressed her back against it. She could still feel him, just a few feet down the hallway, moving around the guest bedroom. Her heart tried to kick its way out of her chest and head back there. "I can't take this." This was why she didn't want him here. The sex they'd had didn't change a thing; he still made her feel like a lovesick kitten.
She smiled. Then again, that was exactly why she wanted him here. Callie headed toward her bed and slid under the covers, thanking whatever star made her lucky tonight. She might not get any sleep, but her dreams would be a hell of a show!
Chapter 01: Throwing Down the Gauntlet
I told you it was coming. YOU HEARD ME SAY IT. Now it's here.
You are about to witness part one of what I call the SWAT Kats Universe, a collection of stories that reaches for new heights and re-defines the series. New locations will be added, new faces will be seen, and new villains will rise to change the face of the game.
Yeah, I know. I sound a bit ostentatious. But I was this way while writing Endgame, and I refuse to back down from that stance. I'm trying to become the premiere writer of SWAT Kats fiction, and this is my start. Get ready for something that will blow your mind, throw the pages of the script out the window, and change the face of the cartoon that started it all. Again.
Special thanks to ulyferal for beta reading this chapter. She made it look like it does now, and without her I wouldn't have gotten this up when I did. Big shout-out goes to the SWAT Kats fans that made Endgame so big. Let's do it one more time!
Until next chapter, this is your Slayer.