FIGHTING DARKNESS

Chapter 4: Hunting an Enemy

Late afternoon light filtered through the thin crack of the small room's plain curtains, tracing a line over the huge body huddled beneath the covers of the queen sized bed. The occupant blinked at the dim light shining in his eyes sleepily then memories of the night before exploded into his waking mind sending him gasping and launching himself from the bed in terror.

His precipitous action caused him to fall to the floor face down due to his body still being tangled in the bedding.

Feral lay on the carpeted floor for several stunned moments, his breaths coming out in heavy pants as he worked to regain his wits. Scowling, he cursed his panicked reaction. Even though it was justified, he still felt mortified by his behavior.

Still cursing, he rolled over and worked the blankets and sheet off his legs, throwing the bedding back on the bed. Then, instead of getting to his feet, he drew his knees to his chest and rested his head on them. Taking slow, deep breaths, he kept his mind deliberately blank, working hard to find calmness.

A flush of embarrassment and shame rushed through him as memories from his kittenhood suddenly intruded in his mind. In his ears he could clearly hear the elder of his family, Uncle Torrence, trying to pound into him the importance of meditation, centering and grounding his spirit. He'd been resistant to the lessons from the start.

He'd been told from the time he was old enough to understand that he had a special destiny. Born with a special birthmark on his body that proclaimed him to be descended directly from the wizards of Queen Callista's time, he'd begun training to prepare him to use his special gifts when they woke at the instant puberty descended on him.

But he'd grown to hate the lessons and as time passed, he became rebellious and refused to learn any longer. Turning his back on his heritage, he immersed himself in the technology that ran the world now and firmly ignored the magical core that remained untouched within him.

Furious and disappointed, his family made many efforts to convince him his fate was already decided, but he wouldn't hear it, so they were forced to cast him out. Though it hurt, he didn't let it stop him from pursuing his career in the Enforcers. Replacing family ties with ones within the military, he worked hard and moved up the ranks until he reached the top.

During those years, no thought of magic ever entered his head until the recent and dramatic entrance of the Pastmaster and Mad Kat. But even then, he refused to seek help from his family and solved the problem using only technology that was his life now. And why not? No one wanted to believe in magic despite the evidence before them. As soon as the pair of troublesome enemies were dealt with the populace quickly forgot about magic again. And that was fine with him.

But fate would not be denied. And, despite it taking years, his heritage had returned with a vengeance and slapped him in the face. If he'd allowed his powers to be activated and learned to use them, the enemy would not have found such an easy target. But he'd chosen a different path and, thus untrained, was the perfect vessel.

He'd never know if the God knew what he was and that was why he'd been chosen or if it was because of his position in the city government (that Razor suspected was the case). It didn't matter, for if he'd been taken, the city and the people would have suffered horribly once it had learned what he had hidden within him and used it.

Feral shuddered as he realized just how close the city had come to being utterly destroyed just because he'd turned his back on who he truly was all those years ago. Kat's Alive! How selfish I've been, he thought in horrified anguish.

Burying his head in his paws, he tried to grabble with what he needed to do now. There was no point in berating himself...the past was water under the bridge that he couldn't change. It was what he was going to do now to protect his city that should concern him.

Raising his head, he formulated a plan. He was already tasked with researching the omegas change in behavior. His other task was self imposed. He must rectify his past mistake and see his family. Swallowing his pride, he must throw himself on their mercy and beg them to train him to prevent this enemy from using him to destroy all that he loved.

Decision made, he pushed himself to his feet, sighed and stretched then realized something strange...he felt thoroughly rested but that shouldn't be possible! He'd been tormented by that hateful God for over three days...he should still be exhausted and sleeping. How the heck could he feel so rested and ready for the day or afternoon if that light through the window was to be believed? Had he slept three days? No...that wasn't right, someone would have come looking for him.

Confused and worried, Feral went over to the TV in the corner and flicked it on. Using the controller, he surfed for a moment until he found the round the clock news. After listening a moment, he sighed with relief. It was indeed only the next day, though very late in the afternoon but he was sure Felina had already told his assistant he would be late which explained why no one came to wake him. So how then was he well rested?

The only answer he could think of was Razor had not only made him sleep deeply, but, had given him a burst of life energy to help him recover quicker. That last made him squirm and shiver at the memory of how much power was hidden in that small package.

Okay enough of that! He didn't need to scare himself with the fact Razor was a more powerful creature than all the omegas together could ever be. Just thinking about the Guardian brought unwanted memories of his uncle telling him when he was at the tender age of eleven, that destiny was tied to those of the Guardians.

He had been just a kitten, why would he care about some mythical beings he certainly, didn't believe in. Well, now he'd met one. Fate must certainly be laughing at me now for trying to run from who I am.

Well, no more running for me. I have a job to do and a heritage to reclaim. I have a very bad feeling that I will have to cram a lifetime of learning in a very short period if I'm to save Megakat City and my own soul in the process. More settled now that his mind was set on its tasks, he headed to the bathroom.

An hour later, showered, fed, and refreshed, Feral arrived at his office. Passing his surprised secretary, he hurried to his desk and flicked on his computer. To ease his impatience while it warmed up, he took care of some of the more pressing matters waiting his attention.

Tossing those into his basket, he immediately began flipping through multiple layers of security to reach the archive section. Grunting in satisfaction when he found what he was looking for, he settled down to some serious research.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

The night before...

As they flew patrol, T-Bone's mind was filled with all the shocking revelations he'd experienced earlier that evening: saving Feral from having his soul sucked out, learning his friend of long standing was a Guardian for Bast, and they had an enemy or enemies that were immortals messing with the city and their lives.

It was a lot to take in so it was understandable the two of them didn't feel like talking when they left poor Feral sleeping and finished their patrol.

Nothing suspicious jumped out at them for which T-Bone was very grateful. He simply couldn't handle anything more tonight. They ended their patrol a little after ten and he watched as his friend prepared to leave him to go somewhere no mortal could follow.

T-Bone's thoughts...

When I'd shut down the engines then opened the canopy, Razor leaped to the floor and waited for me to do the same.

"I'm leaving now. I can't tell you how long I'll be gone..."

"Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I can handle things by myself," I'd interrupted him, uncomfortable with our parting.

Razor smiled wanly at me. "I know you can, Chance, however, I do have a request for you."

"What's is it?"

"Keep yourself available to Feral. He may have you check some things out for him that he might find in those archives."

"Sure, no problem. Anything else?"

"Yeah, keep a close eye on him. Despite the fact he knows I'll keep him safe, the nightmare he went through will mess with his head, enough to trouble his sleep. Badger him more than usual even for you, to help keep him focused and annoyed with you and off his fear. But one thing you must never do is allow him to think you feel sorry or worried about him," Razor warned.

"I won't...promise. He's still a hardass so it won't be a problem," I'd said, pulling my mask off then a worried thought came to me. "However, I can't forget his expression just after you freed him. No one should be that afraid, especially him. You sure he'll be okay?"

Razor sighed. "I don't know Chance. I'll help him as much as I can but there are things about him I dare not interfere with so, unfortunately, he must push through this terrible time as best he can on his own."

"What is so different about him? That's the second time you've mentioned it. What is he hiding?"

My friend shook his head. "I'm afraid that's his secret to reveal, buddy, not mine." Then he clapped me on the shoulder and announced, "I've got to be going."

I gave him a weak smile in farewell then Razor stepped back and simply vanished without a sound. I just stood there staring stupidly where he'd been. My only thought was: Wow, what a cool way to travel!

Shaking my head, I decided I'd reload and fuel the Turbokat before heading up to the garage to clean up the area so it would be ready for the morning. It took me over two hours but it helped push back my fears for the time being. It was well after midnight by the time I finished my self-appointed tasks and dragged my tired tail to bed after a very hot shower.

Early next morning...

Unfortunately, his sleep continued to be disturbed by the night's events, leaving him a bit cranky and out of sorts when he gave up around dawn, threw his covers off and got up to shower. Being up earlier than was normal for him, Chance got some breakfast and watched TV to pass the time and to keep his morbid thoughts at bay. As the sun got brighter and poured through the living room window, he sighed, stretched and shut off the TV. He cleaned up the kitchen then went down into the shop.

As he opened the big doors and prepared to greet any early customers, his mind drifted back to the issue of him working with Feral. It wouldn't be easy doing that right under the very noses of his own Enforcers. Try difficult as hell! He snorted.

Then there was the favor his buddy had asked of him. How was he supposed to watch for mental difficulties in Feral when he couldn't legitimately hang around the big tom to observe if something was off about him or not? And what about those unanswered questions about him? Would they change things?

Adding to that was the fact he and Feral were thoroughly outclassed by this new enemy. No fancy high tech gear and jet were a match for what they faced. It was very humbling to learn that no amount of skill and courage could defeat these foes but that didn't mean they would display their bellies and let the enemy take over. No, he and Feral were made of sterner stuff. So despite being terrified to their very souls, they would fight to the death to protect their city.

So for the first time since the SWAT Kats took to the skies, he and Feral would be truly on the same side and no longer at odds with each other. What that meant for the future he didn't bother to think about.

Let's get past this threat first, he chided himself.

A honk outside told Chance his first customer of the day had arrived and soon he was busy on a beat up pick up truck's brake system which helped him to push the danger aside for a little while. There was nothing he could contribute to Feral's efforts at the moment until the tom called. Later, he planned to do a solo patrol around nine that night. Until then, he put his head down and worked in the garage.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

While the two mortals went about their daily life, Jake Clawson aka Asar, appeared on the steps of Bast's temple in the city of Heliopolis. As he climbed the steps, he nodded in greeting to others of the goddess' elite force that were her eyes and ears in the mortal world. They were called Bast's Eyes and were feared by their enemies.

Bast's Temple was magnificent and he thought it more impressive than all the other God's homes, but then he was rather prejudiced. The stone steps led into a mammoth vestibule bracketed by two huge columns. The walls and the columns were covered extensively with thousands of images detailing Bast's history and the people of Aristal. The curtain wall he was approaching, as he stalked proudly across the slate floor, was carved with many reliefs of their Goddess in all her glory. Behind this wall were her quarters, offices, audience chamber and the residences of her servants and soldiers.

He rarely had need of his quarters as he was normally assigned for years on end in the mortal realm but it was there in case, like now, he needed it.

Approaching the reception area, he was pleased anew, as always, by the fact his Goddess was smarter than the other Gods when it came to keeping pace with modern technology. She felt it important to be informed on the methods mortals were using. It made her more in tune with them so her soldiers could better fit in when fulfilling her missions for her. Sure the Gods had the ability to see everything if they so desired but that got tiring and annoying plus it was simply too much minutiae filling up their heads and besides, they had much more important things to worry about and take care of. But while most of the Gods didn't feel the need to have an informed populace that took care of their needs and their realms, Bast felt differently.

She knew an educated and much happier people were more efficient and better able to handle what needed doing in her realm. By allowing her servants to learn and progress, they were more willing to be loyal to her and keep her informed of events in the mortal realm and her own. Her methods were far more effective and made life in Heliopolis far less hectic and stressful. She had a larger workforce than all the Gods because no one ever wanted to leave her service. Why should they when they were treated fairly, fed well, and their every need was provided for by a loving deity?

Of course, this made the other pantheons extremely jealous. Too bad. Because Bast bothered to take care of her servants, she benefited the most from their happiness by having the best damn intelligence gathering system of the Gods. Her peers could only bitch and complain when things went afoul in their realms but they stubbornly refused to change. Bast only smiled and continued to do what she wanted to and remained the most powerful, the most informed, and most respected of all the Gods.

His thoughts returned to the present, his attention on all the secretaries and administrators flitting about handling all her business with ease and efficiency. Using her magic, the modern computers he saw at many desks, functioned as did the massive view screen she had in her private briefing room.

As he dealt with modern technology every day, it never ceased to amaze him to see such things in a place that had no nuclear or electrical power plant yet everything mechanical worked, defying the laws of physics but that's what made her a God after all. Nothing was impossible for her.

His musings were interrupted by Bast's head secretary returning to her desk and eyeing him questioningly. "Hail, Tendra!" He greeted her formally.

"Hail, Asar! Haven't seen you in a very long time so it must be something serious that brings you home," the beautiful Abyssinian-like female queried him, lightly, a warm smile on her lovely face.

"'fraid so, Tendra," he said more flatly than he intended, his eyes grim.

Her smile faded, her eyes worried. "I am at your service, Asar. What do you require?"

"To see Bast...it's urgent."

"I'll see if she's free." Turning away, Tendra picked up a remote mic that was connected to an intercom system. After a moments quiet speech, she turned back to Asar.

"If you will wait five minutes, she will be able to see you," she told him.

"Thank you, Tendra. I'll wait near the door." Bowing his head, he turned and walked away.

Normally, he would engage her in conversation, but he was in no mood today, the subject too grave. He walked past the secretarial pool and went around the curtaining wall. Down a short hall that was lit by a skylight high overhead, he took a waiting stance outside an enormous pair of gold plated doors.

Two ten foot tall guards with lion-like heads wearing golden helmets and bodies that looked like ordinary cats but more muscular and wearing only a loin cloths around their waists stood on either side of the doors. The pair held huge scimitar swords in their paws and made no sound nor movement though their eyes missed nothing. No one made conversation with either of these creatures. They neither slept, ate, or needed the bathroom. And they were very intimidating even to Bast's Eyes. The Goddess was safe with them around even from other Gods.

As promised, the doors opened only a three minutes later, allowing a few of Bast's military leaders to file out. They nodded at him as they passed but seeing his expression, none spoke to him. He waited a moment until they had all exited before stepping into the huge room, the doors closing silently behind him.

The floor was a black marble veined with gold. Oddly enough, there was no throne or center seat of any kind. All one was greeted with was a huge slab of rose marble set atop a stone base that served as Bast's desk. She had a computer, a perfectly ordinary file box, a variety of desk related items strewn across the surface, a phone, and intercom. Around the room were many beautiful plants that relieved the starkness of the otherwise empty space. There was even a small Koi pond near a far window with seats that allowed her to sit and think if she desired. More skylights provided natural lighting to the space.

And there sitting at her desk and reading something she held in her paws, was Bast. She was beautiful...ethereally so. Her alabaster fur was sleek and short. Her head had red on the muzzle, ear tips, paws and tail. Long copper tresses fell to her lovely rear held back by a head dress that held the runes of her pantheon. Her large almond shaped eyes pierced one with their midnight blue hue.

He walked on silent feet toward her desk. She glanced up when he immediately dropped to his knees on the cushion set before her desk, head properly cast down to stare at the floor.

Frowning, a brief flash of surprise flicked through her eyes then was gone. She set aside her work and contemplated his sudden presence.

He waited patiently, saying nothing and making no movement.

"You are not expected so your presence here means something untoward has occurred... rise and face me, Asar," Her voice was soft but formal.

He took a deep breath and stood. She is definitely not going to like what I'm about to say, he thought, ruefully.