11:26 PM

Calico Briggs lay on her right side, a light veil of sweat making her coat glisten in the soft, pale yellow lights of Chance's master bedroom. A trail of wrinkled clothes led to the bed, evidence at the scene of the crime. Her blindfold hung from the headboard, the pearlescent silk reflecting a myriad of colors. The black restraining straps that held her to the bed while the detective had his way with her had a place of honor right next to the sleep mask, and she couldn't think of a more appropriate location.

She rubbed her thighs together, still sticky from the aftermath of his victory, and shivered in delight. Yes. This was how it should be. If he could turn her into a pile of goo like this every night, she wouldn't mind at all. Callie took a moment to wonder if he was up for a second round before shaking her head. Work tomorrow morning, for the both of them.

She turned to look at the peaceful look on his sleeping face. How long had it been since she'd seen him so at ease? What drove him to take her with such force? When he finally let loose, it was with a furious intensity she'd only seen from him a few times. Callie grimaced, as the memory made parts of her ache that she never even knew could be sore.

Then she smiled. To hell with a tiger in the sack, Chance was an entirely different animal altogether. No idea at all which one that was, or if it even existed, but she wanted more of him.

They'd never leave if they started again though, and she knew it.

She ran a hand along Chance's forehead. God, he was so handsome when he was at peace. Sure, Chance was sexy when he was angry, focused, or in what she called his "thinking pose". But when the lines of his face no longer showed, when she could run her fingers along his face and find no tension, he looked his age.

Callie's mind stopped working.

Just how old was Chance anyway? Did he have any family, or were they all but gone? Her eyes narrowed. Why did he join the Enforcers in the first place, and how did he and Jake meet? The questions continued to pile up, until her eyelids squeezed together, brows pressed down and mouth pinched.

She'd slept with him four times, loved him more than nothing else in this world, but she knew all of jack shit about the tom in bed with her.

Callie lay on her back and ran a hand across her forehead in an attempt to clear her head. He might as well be wearing that mask again, because she had no idea who he really was, where in the city he was born, what he liked and hated. She glanced over at him again. Time to change at least one thing about that.

She put her right hand on his left shoulder and squeezed, just enough to get his attention. "Wake up, beautiful." She smiled. "I want a midnight snack."

Chance moaned, brows pressing down on his eyes. "You want another round?" His voice came out in that sandpaper tone she loved.

Callie chuckled. So cute when he was sleeping. "If I did, this isn't how I'd wake you up."

The big tom's face sported a smirk as he turned to look at her, green eyes clouded and recovering from sleep. "We still have pizza downstairs if you want. Never did get to start on that, did we?"

Callie snuggled up close with a sigh, her left hand running along his chest. "In a bit… I don't want to leave yet." She didn't want to leave at all, but sooner or later, she'd have to make good on the excuse she'd used. She took a moment to feel his heart through the fur and skin and muscle, and smiled once she found it. Her eyes closed, chest rising as she took in his scent.

"Tell me your dreams, detective," she sighed.

Chance's eyebrows lifted. "This can't be why you woke me up."

Callie opened her eyes, giving him her best not-kidding stare. Yes, this was going to happen now, before all the craziness started up again.

Chance sighed and turned back toward the ceiling, staring at the fan above the bed. He spoke after a few moments. "You remember that one time those pirates came from space and tried to take all our water?"

Callie huffed, her features darkening into an expression of loathing. "How could I forget? That was a logistical nightmare! I had to work with three different utility departments on that day and the Enforcers at the same time." She'd never hated the mayor more than she did on that day.

Chance smirked. "Yeah, well I was lucky enough to meet kats that didn't tolerate that crap. Those Aqueans were pretty awesome, and they helped us out with a lot of things, the least of which was the TurboKat." He turned toward Callie again. "I never told you what happened on that station, the day we took out Dark Kat for good… but before we went, Jake reverse-engineered what they did with the jet and put it into a pair of armored suits for the both of us."

Callie's eyes widened. It wasn't the craziest thing she'd heard, but… that was alien technology in those things! The possibilities were impossible to count… "Why exactly did he give those plans to Pumadyne again?"

Chance chuckled and directed his gaze back toward the ceiling. "Ever since then, I've wanted to go back out there…" He scoffed. "I'm not talking about those times we went suborbital in the jet. I mean… out there."

Callie examined his features for a moment, her eyes soft, and she understood. She could feel the intent, the emotions of wonder and curiosity. They were subtle, unlike most of what Chance did, but they were there… in his voice and in his face, and in the way he breathed. She could hear his heart rate climb just enough as he continued to talk, and once he'd started, he couldn't seem to stop. A gentle smile graced her features and she propped herself up with one elbow, unable to close her eyes as he told her of what he thought was out there.

Just like a kitten, he was.

Callie waited for him to finish and settled back into the bed. "Well, now that you've put it that way, I think I'd like to take a trip out there, too." She shook her head. "Not like I'll have time… I'll be too busy trying to put this city back where it belongs." She ran a hand along his chest with a sigh. "And I won't be able to see you while you're all the way up there, fighting your monsters and rescuing space kittens in distress." Callie chuckled. "Not like I'd even let you if I were—"

Everything stopped as Chance kissed her, her eyes wide with surprise. It only lasted a brief moment before she purred and returned the favor, but even the gentle touch of his lips only lasted for a fleeting three seconds. "Y'know… there are better ways to make me be quiet." She touched her forehead to his. "But I can't think of them."

Chance smirked. "I always did like how quickly you picked up on things." His features turned solemn. "I would never, ever go anywhere without you."

Callie's eyes darkened, her lids partly covering them. "Promise me."

Chance smiled. "I'll never go anywhere without you, not if I can help it." He kissed her again, only a brief touch. "And trust me, most of the time, I can."

She ran a hand along one of his ears. Maybe Felina was right… she should just ask him to marry her right now. But she didn't want to take that option away from him, not yet. "I'll be holding you to that, detective." Callie sighed again. "But for now, let's actually get that pizza fixed up. I have a feeling we're going to need it for today…"

Kanto the Slayer presents

A SWAT Kats Fanfiction

MegaKat Shield

"What exactly is this, Snowy?"

Angela shrugged as she drove toward their next stop, a borough known as the Southern Hills. She wasn't sure why Penny gave her this book, but after reading the first few pages of it, she lost her taste for the thing. Besides, the Goth said it was for Callie. "A present from our systems analyst. She has some weird tastes."

Callie opened it and found a vid chip in the front cover, along with a scribbled note.

Be good if you can. Be ruthless if you have to.

She chuckled and pulled the chip out of its plastic casing. "I didn't think she had a thing for Meowchiavelli."

Angela stopped at a red light and glanced at the book. "Well I think the guy's a creep, and a jerk. The stuff in that book is absolutely horrific." She grimaced, the disgust roiling through her like something slimy. "I know you declared war on Manx and his little cronies, but this stuff is…"

"…Amoral? Deceitful? Evil?" Callie shook her head. "Maybe you're right. Maybe this won't help at all, and we'll both be better off without it." Callie removed her phone from its dashboard-mounted cradle and slid the chip inside one of the slots near the bottom. "But we no longer have a simple, single opponent. We have a lot of them, and none of them are playing by our rules."

The redhead turned her attention to the road again. "Don't you mean the rules?"

"No, I mean our rules. No slander, no targeting other kats outside of the process, no backroom deals." She put the phone back in its resting place and leaned back in her seat. "So we're not doing what's right anymore, Snowy. We're doing what's necessary…"

Angela sighed. "…So we can make way for what's right. I get it." The light turned green and she toed the accelerator. "But I still don't like it. It's wrong to lie, to hide what we're doing from everyone. We're basically doing the same manipulation that Manx is doing." She scoffed. "Or rather, letting others do for him."

Callie shrugged. "It's effective, Snowy. He wins the elections because he relies on people more clever than him that run things behind the scenes. That way he can work on making himself look good for the people. And if there's one thing that he's good at doing, it's making himself look good." She focused her attention on her phone as the video started. "The thing is… I'm just as good at that."

"Well I sure hope so, because if anyone finds out what we're about to do, they'll have all our heads. And you know no one's going to like this idea at the meeting we're gonna hold before the rally." Angela shrugged. "But they don't have to, right? They just have to do what they're told."

Callie shook her head. "No they don't. I'm going to give everyone a chance to leave, to back out before things get nasty. They don't have to pay for the things I'm about to do." She glanced to her right. "You have that same chance too, you know. Just tell me you want no part of this, and I'll—"

"—You'll stop right there, that's what you'll do." Angela huffed. "If we're gonna get muddy, we'll both get muddy. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean I can't do it."

The blonde smiled. "When we're done getting our hands dirty, our goal is to clean house." The smile turned to a grimace. "Find what works, find what doesn't, and go from there. I will brook no tolerance of crap." She turned her attention to the phone again. "And if this is the way to start, so be it."

Callie's fingers ran over the book in her lap. The title of the black hardcover, inscribed in gold, was Il Principe… Meowchiavelli's The Prince.

Angela glanced over at her from time to time as her boss took in the text running along the screen. Her features had a dispassionate tone to them as she took it all in, and for a moment, the redhead wondered if Callie was even moving at all. The only signs of it were the subtle rise and fall of her chest as she breathed, and the occasional tap of the finger on the phone as she moved to the next page.

Suddenly, she understood how Callie could take what was in the book without flinching. She'd had to do bad, illegal things before to achieve good ends. After all, Angela was one of the few kats who knew what Callie had to go through to protect herself against any future incidents with the armies of gangs and super-criminals.

So why the hell couldn't she take the same news with equal… what was the word? Aplomb? Yeah, that was it. Maybe it was the translation of the thing. All that talk about virtue made it cloudy. She cleared her throat after taking note of her surroundings. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we're almost at our hotel. You might wanna put a bookmark on that."

Callie nodded and stopped reading, putting her phone on standby as they pulled up to the valet station. "Let's go discuss the change in policy, then..."

Donovan could not take his eyes off of the still image, frozen on the flat screen monitor mounted just behind his place at the boardroom table.

The blond tom with orange markings pointed at the camera… at him… the glare evident even through the mirror coating of his aviator shades. Someone had informed the detective, told him of the connection between Axim and the operations in this underground facility.

It wasn't a surprise that he'd made the connections from there. Chance Furlong had made the first strike, and it was quick, decisive, all at once.

Donovan attempted to kill the detectives and their captain by proxy. This was the price of his failure: A determined, skilled, and SWAT-trained pair of Enforcers was now on the hunt for him, and who knew what intelligence they had wrested from the squealer. The same mistake would not happen twice.

He'd handle this personally now.

But first… Axim had to die.

Donovan swiveled in his chair and pressed a button underneath his place at the table. His Security Chief's voice channeled through the overhead speakers moments later. "Rochford."

"Chief Rochford, I have a proposition for you." He smiled, a wicked glint in his eyes. "How would you like to make up for your previous failure?"

"That depends on what you had in mind, sir."

Donovan retrieved a remote from a hidden compartment in the table, swiveled to face the monitor, and rewound the newscast until Axim's face could be seen. He then transmitted the image to Rochford's computer. "I want you to memorize that face. Study it carefully. Once you have the image firmly in your mind, destroy that recording and send your best kats to kill that overweight, pompous little bastard before he becomes more of a nuisance." He turned back toward the table. "Do it yourself if you have to, but I want him removed from the game."

A pause for a few moments, then a response. "Quiet or loud?"

He placed a hand under his chin for a moment. Perhaps it would be fitting for him to have a violent, destructive end, it would send everyone else a message. It would also send the Enforcers on his trail. He didn't want the detectives finding him just yet, not until it was too late to change things.

Donovan was past the point of caring about a spectacle though.

"Loud. The board does not need an isolated pawn." He terminated the conversation and propped his elbows on the table, forming his hands into a steeple. All he had to do now was wait for the results. Rochford wasn't incompetent, he did his job well and didn't have to be reminded of what was at stake. Which meant if he failed this time, it meant there was someone that much better, or the Enforcers anticipated Axim being targeted.

Donovan stood and headed out of the board room. At the very least, it would keep them occupied until he finished his next move against Briggs.

Speaking of that...

Donovan emerged from the boardroom into his command center, abuzz with more activity than seen before. Instead of fingers typing at keyboards, technicians unplugged cables and wires, pulled servers from their racks, and packed it all into reinforced crates. He folded his arms as he oversaw the process, a grim mask of finality on his features.

If they wanted to find him, he'd make them work for it. Besides, his team could operate on the move, and the battle had shifted to another district. Add the fact that Briggs was already on the move to her next rally location, and the wharf was no longer an ideal base for his work. After a few moments, he headed toward the a/v station, where members of his team expected him.

It was time to send a message of his own. No need to have his guests leave empty handed, after all.

"What're the odds he bugs out before the week's over?"

Chance stared at the screen as the address tracer did its work, his eyes narrowed. "Damn good. Chances are he's already getting ready to move. The question isn't where he is, it's where he's going to be when he stops." He glanced toward Jake. "You sure he can only have one IP? What's to say he can't switch it?"

The hacker shook his head. "He's stuck with that address for a good while, unless he changes up his whole network. I mean server boards, devices, the whole nine yards." Jake leaned back in his seat. "Since we can't confirm his current location right now, this is what we gotta do. Once we get a lock on what address is his, we can hit him no matter where he lands." Jake grinned. "The slightest broadcast of any data will light him up like a fireworks show at midnight."

Chance nodded, eyes still narrowed as he turned his focus back to the tracer. "And then we kick his ass."

Jake shrugged and swiveled in his chair. "He'll be ready for us when we do find him. Whatever hole he'll be in will be on total lockdown, and his security team will be dug in tight. He knows he can't run forever and probably has a contingency plan just in case he does get caught."

"I hope that plan doesn't include 'remain silent' or 'hire the most expensive lawyer you can', because neither of those will save him from this."

Chance looked over his right shoulder, only to see Felina headed toward them. "You're just in time, Captain. We're about to lock onto him."

Felina leaned forward with her hands on Jake's desk, her eyes giving the screen a good once-over. "I've already got a SWAT team briefed on the situation. Once we find this asshole, we'll grab him, drag him back, and—"

"—you're not gonna find him." Jake shook his head. "Chance and I already talked, he's probably packing his shit as we do this." Before Felina could respond, the program chimed and the screen stopped scrolling. The slim tom grinned. "But keep that team on standby. The next time he logs in, we'll know."

Felina's expression soured. "So you're saying that he's already planned for this, and we should have hit him first. Without Axim though, we wouldn't have been able to track Donovan like we are right now." Her jaw tightened. "Give me some good news. Please."

Chance cleared his throat. "We still have the list of collaborators, names of the companies trying to keep City Hall in their pockets. Axim was just the first, and he was responsible for hiring the kat we're currently trying to lock up. If we can lean on the rest of them, get them to tell us where he'll be next—"

"—then get it done." Felina pushed off from the desk. "I want results within the next two days. We can't have Callie under pressure for much longer, especially not with her rally tour going on." She turned toward Chance. "Who's next on the list?"

Jake pulled up the file before the big tom could respond and checked the names. "It's an agracite mining corporation, Lakatta Heavy Industries. Invested in the military, ships directly to Pumadyne and sometimes to us." He shook his head. "Seems they've taken to favoring a few unsafe conditions for the sake of profits, and Manx has given them the loopholes needed to cut corners in exchange for their campaign support." Jake scrolled down to the list of board members until he found what he was looking for. "Current CEO is one Patti Longtail."

Chance nodded. "Then that's who we hit." He headed for his desk, snagged his leather jacket from the back of his chair, and made his way for the exit. "Let's have a talk with Ms. Longtail about her other unethical business practices. I want everything we can get on her while we're driving."

Jake stood and jogged after his partner. "I'm on it!"

Chapter 18 — Declaration of Hostilities

OMG. It's been how long now since I've updated this? Forever? Yeah, forever.

Well forever is over. I hope the wait's been worth it.

My compy got hit with a virus that made Word work funny, so I had to look for an alternative resource. I found it in Google Docs, and man is it ever fucking handy. Guys, seriously, start using that shit, because it's the best collaborative method to make a good story ever. The beta reader and the author work in tandem to make each chapter work, and that's exactly what happened with this, though Ulyferal didn't seem to have any complaints.

By the way, she's a badass. Read her shit.