Chapter Four: Vigilante
EARLIER THAT DAY
Vincent Bombay sat in his own dark cloud inside the prison truck. The shackles were heavy on his wrists and ankles and he was furious. It wasn't supposed to go down this way. That annoying rich broad had ruined everything with her testimony. She had gotten fat off the money her father had stolen from him. Him! Vinnie Bombay had been taken for a schmuck by a little girl who had hidden in her daddy's closet.
That little bitch kept coming back like a cockroach, no matter how many times he had tried to squash her. Now she had sent him up the river for good. Even the reward he had offered for his escape before he made it to the island seemed to be a bust. The Enforcers were most likely watching his own boys far too closely for any one of them to be able to make a move.
No matter, Vincent Bombay was resourceful, too. He was already making other plans. He knew guys on the inside at Alkatraz. It would only take him a few weeks to get connected to the outside and he would start planning from there. That thought caused him to grin slightly at the armed guard sitting across from him. Even the most impenetrable prison Megakat had to offer wouldn't stop him for long.
The prison truck rumbled to a halt and Bombay heard the doors open and close. This was it. The last time he would be on the mainland for a while. The back doors opened and the guard inside stood to greet the two officers outside. The kats just looked at the guard in the truck and nodded at him. Everything was so quiet. Out the back doors, Bombay could only see the beach. No other kats in sight. No boat.
Something was not right here.
He grinned. Or maybe something was very right.
"This a break out? One of my boys put you guys up to this?"
The guards didn't say anything. They all just looked at him silently. Blankly. There was no life in their faces. Bombay couldn't see the pupils of their eyes.
"What the?!" he sputtered as he stumbled back. His shackles tripped him and he fell on his tail.
Bombay looked up in time to see the guard in the truck raise the butt of his rifle. For a split second, the mobster caught a glimpse of something up the guard's sleeve. Something green, organic and throbbing wrapped around the kat's arm under his clothing.
Then there was a solid blow to Bombay's head and he didn't remember anything else.
Though Molly Mange would never admit it out loud, life was good. It was a lot better than it had been for a long time. And she almost had to owe it to the SWAT Kats. Though again, she would die before she gave those two jerks any credit.
When she and Mac had woken up in Hackle's rinky dink little lab out in the middle of nowhere, there was horror at her new metal body. Then there was exhilaration. Ten times their normal strength, bullet proof, ageless. The sheer feeling of being invincible went to their heads. The second the couple had busted out on their own they were filled with far grander ideas than they had ever had when flesh and fur. Instead of being satisfied with running the criminal underground, they wanted to rule the whole city. Several times they tried, all foiled by the SWAT Kats and their ideals continued to go unfulfilled.
It was the Zed incident that finally caused the couple to change their plans. They learned a hard lesson that even in their current forms they could be hurt, they could feel fear, and they could still be functioning while they were taken apart piece by piece. That experience had been a real wake up call and the Metallikats decided it was time to go back to what they knew, to the business they had always been good at.
They went back underground and started a new gang, this time under the radar of the SWAT Kats. As it turned out, business was good for the Metallikats. Every low life in the city wanted to be in their favor. It didn't take long before they got themselves connections with an illicit cybernetic syndicate. Mac, being reduced to just a head after the Zed incident, was given a full body again. Molly's arm was returned to her with upgrades. And while they were at it, several other kats under Metallikat employ decided they wanted to jump on the bandwagon as well.
Illegal cybernetics were fast becoming the way of the future. Soon every kat in the gang had exchanged a piece of themselves for a robot upgrade. The name Metallikat now represented a full cyborg gang and they had taken over the criminal underbelly of Megakat City in a year. There wasn't an illegal dollar exchanging paws were the Metallikats didn't get a cut. Weapons and drugs were going out and the money was rolling in.
Business was good. Better than it had ever been before their change. Better than when the duo had set off to rule the city on their own. There were many ways to be in charge and the Metallikats had finally found their calling. Yes, Molly had to admit as she propped her long legs on the table and surveyed their cushy little hideout, life was good.
"Molly, why don't you get off your can and help the boys with this latest shipment?" Mac said as he approached her.
Molly glanced over at their members who were lugging in large, heavy crates filled with the newest automatic weaponry. Even with her robot features, the distaste was clear.
"You gotta be joking. I ain't gettin' my new dress dirty." Molly was wearing clothes again now that the dough was rolling in. Currently she was in a bright red number with a high slit and knee high boots. "Besides, I'm the brains of this operation. I don't do the grunt work around here."
"You don't do much of anything," Mac shot back.
Any retort from his wife was cut short when a few silver canisters rolled into the room from an unseen source. Before any kat could figure out what they were, heavy smoke spilled out, completely enveloping the room.
"What the?!" Mac sputtered before he lost all visibility of his crew.
There were startled cries, the sounds of automatic fire and the sizzle of electricity hidden within the smoke. One of the kats stumbled out, coughing. His sleeves were rolled up, showing off the full cybernetic arm he was so proud of.
"Scratch, what's going on?" Molly demanded, now on her feet.
"Someone's in there, taking out our guys," Radar coughed.
Molly's optics widened. "The SWAT Kats!"
"How'd they find us?" Mac asked, grabbing the nearest weapon.
Scratch saw a figure lurking in the smoke. He aimed his robotic fist toward it. A laser gun extended from his arm and he fired several shots into the mist. In response, a small silver object was lobbed back. It attached magnetically to Scratch's arm and the kat immediately felt his world explode in pain as the entire arm began to fritz and over heat. He cried out in horror as his beloved cybernetics blew up in his face, throwing him into the wall and knocking him out cold.
"Blast those SWAT Kats," Mac growled. "I'm gonna fill them full of lead."
"Don't miss," Molly hissed.
"Shut up! I can't aim with you yammering!"
A rope with four prongs on the end shot out, grabbing Mac like a toy in a claw machine and zipping him into the smoke with a startled cry.
"Mac!" Molly barked. Her temper surged. "Okay, I'm through playing around."
She picked up the desk where she had been sitting, effortlessly flipping the heavy piece of furniture and slamming it flat side down on the floor. The force of the act chased away all the smoke in an instant, revealing what was left of her crew.
Some kats were hunched on the ground moaning, metallic parts of them sparking. Others were out cold. Mac was in the middle of the floor, face down and wrapped up tightly like a present. On top of him crouched a kat in a gas mask and dark suit.
Molly cautiously stepped forward, eying the unfamiliar form. "You're no SWAT Kat."
Black Kat slid off her mask, shaking out her blonde hair. "No, I'm not."
Molly looked the masked she kat up and down and huffed. "Just who are you supposed to be little kitten? You think you're tough enough to play vigilante in this town?" She raised her arm, the new one she had repaired. It transformed into a large energy cannon. "You picked the wrong place to start building a name for yourself."
Black Kat held up a circular device in her thumb and forefinger, placing it on Mac's forehead and leaving a finger pressed against it.
"Hey, what's that?" Mac demanded, struggling ineffectually.
"You saw what one of these did to your friend over there," Black Kat said with a glance at Scratch's unconscious body. "Imagine what it would do to your hubby here if I unleash this little gizmo on his main processor."
"What?" Mac squawked, struggling harder. The thick rope held him tight.
"If my finger goes off this button, it will fry his neural net. Everything that makes him the charming kat you know and love will be gone and you'll be scooping out his circuits with a spoon."
"Molly!" Mac panicked. "Don't let this crazy broad do anything to me!"
"Quiet," Molly barked, gun still trained on Black Kat. "What is it you want from us? If you think you're taking us back to the slammer-"
"I didn't come to bust any of you," she insisted. "I want Vinnie Bombay. I want to know where he's hiding. You give him up and I'll be on my way."
"Bombay?" Molly huffed and lowered her weapon a little. "Boy you're scratching at the wrong post. We don't fraternize with Purrson Heights trash."
Black Kat narrowed her eyes. "With all your connections, you don't know anything? I don't believe you."
"Believe what you want, sister, he ain't here."
"You better give me something or your act is going to go solo, sister."
Below her boots, Mac panicked. "Bombay put word out on the streets, he would offer two mil to anyone who could bust him out before he got to Alkatraz!"
Black Kat eyed him warily. "And you two weren't interested at all in that fat prize? I don't buy it."
"Yeah, we sent somebody," Molly said defensively. "But by the time our guys got there, Bombay was already gone. All they found was that empty prison truck."
"So who helped him escape then?"
"We don't know. Our guys didn't see nothing."
"I... I saw something," came a hesitant voice.
All three turned their heads to see a younger kat, barely 20, holding a bloodied nose.
"What do you know about it, Glitch?" Molly accused.
Glitch was the youngest member of the Metallikat's immediate gang. He was a homeless kid that got his start by being a runner, picking up packages and sending information. He knew the underground tunnels below Megakat City like the back of his paw and could get to certain places quickly without being noticed. The only reason he had earned himself a place in the immediate gang was with his unique power.
No one knew how he got it, if he had any special implants or not. The kid looked completely normal on the outside. But he had the ability to summon powerful electric charges through his body. One zap from him could knock a kat off their feet. That ability made him special enough to be able to call himself one of the Metallikat's boys. The side effect of such a power, however, caused the young kat to twitch every once in a while from the energy coursing through him. Hence how he earned his name.
"Earlier when I was running through the tunnels," the young kat said softly. "That Bombay guy that's always on TV, I saw him, but he was out cold. He was being carried by some other kats in Enforcer uniforms. But they looked... wrong."
"Wrong how?" Black Kat asked.
"Their faces were blank. Like they were just on automatic, like someone was controlling them. Their eyes glowed in the darkness and I saw... the kat in the back I saw his neck. He had something attached to it, something alive."
Black Kat's eyes widened for a moment then narrowed again. "Where did you see them?"
"In the tunnels under the Megakat water processing plant."
"Gah, Glitch! Don't tell her!" Molly growled.
"But-but the boss..."
"I'm the boss!"
"Shut up, Molly!" Mac cut in.
While their attention was diverted, Black Kat threw a handful of tiny beads at Molly's feet. They exploded in a fanfare of bright sparks, overloading her optics and temporarily blinding her.
Glitch had to look away from the bright lights as well, his eyes so accustomed to the darkness of the underground tunnels. When he glanced back, the masked she kat was right in front of him.
"Thanks for the help, sweety," she purred and kissed his cheek.
That was more than poor Glitch could handle. His cheeks flushed as his heart pounded and he reacted out of reflex. Behind the vigilante, Mac had managed to free himself and was coming after the masked she kat. But Glitch had already fired off an arc of energy, shooting wildly at whatever was near by. Black Kat managed to dodge out of the way just in time for Mac to catch the full force of the energy attack. It was like being hit with a bolt of lightning. His body spasmed as his vocalizer fritzed. He fell to the ground twitching.
Molly look at her smoking husband and growled. She opened fire on Black Kat with her massive energy cannon. Again, the she kat was missed as she narrowly moved out of the way. What Molly did hit was a crate of high powered weaponry and the entire shipment exploded on contact.
Black Kat fired a line from her wrist toward the ceiling, out a broken window. She was whisked up into the air, the heat of the explosion at her back. Molly's angry screams about her new dress were soon drowned out. The explosion knocked out all the windows on the roof, sending Black Kat's body hurling into the night air.
"Woah, woah! Do you see that T-Bone?" Razor said from the cockpit.
His partner frowned at the glow of fire burning in the distance. It could be trouble, but not necessarily the kind of trouble he was looking for. Bombay wouldn't be anywhere near that if he was trying to get quietly out of the city. And he was the one on T-Bone's hit list.
"I guess we should go check it out," he said as he begrudgingly steered the Turbokat toward the flames.
Firefighters were already arriving on the scene. So were the Enforcers. T-Bone was glad, there didn't see any reason for the SWAT Kats to get involved. Everything looked taken care of. As T-Bone surveyed the area one last time, he noticed a figure standing on a rooftop, trying to wave them down. Now this was one kat he was happy to see. Maybe she knew something they didn't.
"Hey Razor, there's your girlfriend. Let's pick her up."
Razor opened his mouth for the traditional "she's not my girlfriend" comeback. But then realized it wouldn't do anything to stop his partner's teasing so he just kept quiet.
The Turbokat landed on the roof and the pilots leapt out. Despite T-Bone's teasing, Razor would have been lying if he said he wasn't happy to see Black Kat. Though her charred and disheveled appearance took him aback.
"Woah, what happened to you? Are you okay?"
Black Kat coughed a little and tried to smooth out her tail which was frizzed from the electric feedback. "Yeah, I'm okay. It's just been a rough night."
Razor noticed for the first time that her tail wasn't solid gray, but had a subtle row of stripes. So much for his Mayven theory, especially since said she kat had been wounded and was now recovering in Purrson Heights.
"Your handy work?" he asked, nodding toward the flaming building a block over.
"Sort of. I dropped by the Metallikat's gang for a talk, but they weren't satisfied with a mere exchange of words."
"Wow, you've really been busy. How did you find their hideout so fast?"
Black Kat dug into her belt, pulling out a device the size of a pocket book. "Believe me, the one thing I know how to do is hunt down gangsters. You just need to follow the money trail."
"Forget the Metallikats, we're after Bombay," T-Bone growled with force. "Are you going to help us look for him or what?"
Black Kat's eyes widened for a moment at the emotion behind that statement. The larger kat suddenly seemed far more intimidating.
Razor cut in to defuse tension. "We've decided to get ourselves involved over what happened. You've probably heard what happened to the last witness after Bombay's escape."
The she kat's shoulders relaxed. She closed her eyes as she let out a heavy breath. "Tawny Furfax... I tried so hard..."
"We're through with that scum running amoc in our city," T-Bone said angrily. "I'm going to find that guy and I'm going to end him personally."
She raised an eyebrow at him and then turned back to her device, folding it open. "Well I'm making sure he goes back to Alkatraz for good," she said with finality. "He's not slithering out of this."
The device in her hand projected a holographic screen in front of its user. Black Kat began to navigate the system by pressing buttons on the hologram.
Razor was instantly intrigued at the gadget. "T-Bone, I know what I want for Christmas."
"Ask Santa, I'm broke," T-Bone huffed. He watched the she kat work as well. "What exactly are you looking at?"
"I'm digging through Megakat schematics of their tunnel systems. I found a witness who said he saw Bombay being carted off underground by his Enforcer escorts."
"And why would the Enforcers do that?"
"They were being controlled by the same nasty slugs we all saw the other night."
"Viper," Razor and T-Bone said together.
"Exactly," Black Kat nodded to them. "These guys were seen in the tunnels near the water purifying plant. The tunnels are warm and damp down there, perfect for a reptile like him."
"But why is Doctor Viper getting involved in this?" T-Bone asked. "It doesn't make sense."
"Try the two million dollars Bombay offered to anyone who could spring him out," the she kat responded. "That could buy a lot of hard to find chemicals on the black market. So how about it, boys? They say only a fool follows a snake into its lair, but I figure three fools have a better chance than just one."
T-Bone and Razor looked at each other for only a second.
"We're in," they said in unison.
Vincent Bombay fell into consciousness as his body was dropped none too gently on the ground. The first thing he noticed was the smell. Stale air perfumed with the stench of rot and stagnant water. His nose wrinkled and he coughed.
"What's going on around here?" he demanded as he pawed around in the darkness, waiting for his eyes to adjust.
"Vincccent Bombay," said a voice as dry as old leaves. "You've been quite a ccccelebrity here lately."
Bombay noticed he was no longer in shackles. He stood up tall, adjusting his prison jumper as if it were a million dollar suit. "Yeah? And who are you?"
In the darkness, two glowing yellow eyes peered out at him, accompanied with a very unkat-like hissing sound. Bombay found himself taking a few steps back despite his earlier bravado. He bumped into another body and instantly spun around.
Three sets of white eyes glowed dimly. Bombay noticed all three kats were wearing Enforcer uniforms and readied himself.
"They will not harm you," Dr. Viper said as he slid out of the pitch blackness. "They are completely under my control."
Bombay couldn't help but openly stare at the mutated kat. He had heard of Doctor Viper, everyone had. Not just for his mutating accident, but for the bizarre and devastating chaos he had caused in Megakat City. But all of the stories couldn't compare to seeing the real deal in person. Viper's hunched form was hairless, paws deformed and skin a sickly, scaly green. He was half the size of Bombay but the mob boss couldn't help but feel there was power and venom underneath that hide that could turn on him in an instant.
On the other side were the blank faced Enforcers. Bombay looked them over for a moment, trying to figure out what was wrong with them. Then he noticed the unnatural squirming beneath the uniforms.
"What the-?" he wondered as he took a step back.
"I assssure you, they are completely under by control. No need to worry," Viper said with a hiss.
Bombay didn't ask. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. Dr. Viper's mad, mutated world wasn't exactly something he wanted to be a part of.
"Okay, so what now? How we gonna do this? You know I gotta get out of the city, right?"
"Of courssse. Your essscorts have been waiting for you, Mr. Bombay."
Viper gestured to the shadows and two familiar figures emerged. Bombay instantly recognized them as two of his kats and immediately felt better about the whole situation.
"Your releassse has already been paid for, Mr. Bombay." Viper held up the metal case in his claws. "It was a pleasssure doing businesssss with you. Perhapsss we could establisssssh even further connectionssss. They have quite a few interessssting geneticssss ressssearch in Purrssssson Heightsss."
"What?" Bombay demanded. "No way, snake. You ain't slithering into my town. Megakat trash stays here."
Viper didn't appear too offended. The mutated kat merely continued to look at him with glowing eyes. "Are you sssure you don't want to reconsssider? I'm sssure there are many wayssss we can asssissst each other."
That voice made Bombay's skin crawl and his fur stand on end. He didn't want anything to do with Viper any more than he had to. Even with this, he loathed that he owed his freedom to such a repulsive creature. Despite more than adequate payment for the favor, Bombay couldn't help but feel he still owed the snake some how. That was something he couldn't live with. He couldn't ever chance Viper crawling up to his door, asking him for a favor in return. No, this loose end needed to be tied up now.
"You know what? I have had a change of mind," Bombay said in a haughty tone. He turned to his boys. "Bobby, Itchy, I don't like how I was handled and I'd like a refund. Plug this guy."
His two thugs didn't move.
"Yo, Bobby, you hear me?" He snapped his fingers in the first kat's face. No reaction. Bombay began to feel the panic welling up. "Itchy?"
The other kat's face was blank. Just as blank as the Enforcers. Viper's dry laugh could be heard at his back as Bombay stared in horror at the pulsating movement beneath the clothes of his two thugs.
"They can't hear you," Viper gloated. "Just a little inssssurance. I don't trust anyone."
Fear turned into anger. No one double crossed Vincent Bombay. He whirled around, fists clenched in rage.
"You sick little freak! If you think you-"
He yelped as Viper's thick, strong tail whipped around, knocking his legs right out from under him. Bombay landed flat on his back, the air escaping his lungs. His boys, Bobby and Itchy moved mindlessly to hold him down. Now Bombay was scared. He had never felt fear like this before as Viper crouched close to his face, a syringe in his hand.
"Missster Bombay, you will be helping me with my experimentssss one way or another," Viper said lowly.
"No! Please, no!" Bombay screamed as the needle moved closer. "I'll pay you anything! Please don't!"
He cried out as the needle pierced his neck and a thick substance was forced inside. The kats holding him down moved away as Bombay's cries turned from fear to pain. He writhed on the ground, clutching himself as his entire body felt like it was on fire. Massive lumps under his skin began to grow and move, distorting his form. A scream of agony rocked the tunnels.
Dr. Viper watched the sick show calmly, a small satisfied smile on his face. "Welcome to Megakat Ccccity, Mr. Bombay."
As usual, the SWAT Kats had just the vehicles for the job. They were modified versions of the wave runners they had used the time Viper flooded the city. Razor had termed them "Prowlers" and they were now hovercrafts built for land and water. They were much smaller than the Cyclotron to allow them to fit in the sometimes tiny tunnels below ground.
Of course there were only two vehicles. Razor pretended that he didn't feel warm where the she kat had her arms wrapped around his mid section. Since she had the map, they were in the lead with T-bone following behind. Every now and then Black Kat would rest her chin on his shoulder to speak directions in his ear above the whooshing of the air around them. Razor did his best not to let on that her voice sent delicious prickles down his spine.
They searched the maze of tunnels beneath the water treatment plant systematically, looking for the most likely areas Viper would use for a nest. Some place warm and dry, but with an accessible water source and a supply of electricity.
The group of masked kats didn't find anything promising until they arrived at their third probable location. Razor slowed the Prowler as they emerged from a narrow pipe until a large underground dome. The air was warm and sticky, a slab of concrete raised above the water level surrounding the area. There were immediate signs that someone had been living there.
"Bingo," Razor said quietly as he let the Prowler silently float up to dry land.
T-Bone pulled up next to him. "All the comforts of home," he said drolly.
Razor jumped off his Prowler before offering Black Kat a paw. T-Bone was already nosing around the lair. There was a sort of nest in one corner made out of random plant materials and other odds and ends. It had a sickly sweet smell that made the pilot wrinkle his noise. Razor and Black Kat met him at the make shift lab. A few warped tables covered with stains and empty beakers, a centrifuge with a few broken tubes.
Black Kate swiped a gloved finger over the mouth of a beaker. "Little bit of dust, but he's been here fairly recently."
"Looks like he finished whatever it was he was working on," Razor observed. "All the containers are empty."
"So what would be his next move then? How do we find this guy?" the she kat asked.
With a growl, T-Bone whipped his arm across the table, sending several glass containers shattering on the ground. "I don't want Viper! I want that scuzzball mobster!" He punctuated his statement by slamming both fists on the table. The rotten piece of wood completely collapsed under his strength. The next table was on the receiving end of T-Bone's wrath as he tossed it on its side, spilling glass everywhere.
Razor flinched at the outburst, but didn't say a thing.
Black Kat looked worried. Not so much scared of the large, angry tom, but afraid for him. She moved toward T-Bone, but Razor grabbed her paw and gently held her back.
"Give him a moment," Razor said quietly. "He's been having a bad day."
Without anything else to break, T-Bone ripped off his own helmet and chucked it with a frustrated cry. It bounced harmlessly off the wall and rolled back toward his feet.
At that point, Razor realized he was still holding Black Kat's paw and made himself let go. The she kat didn't seem to notice either way, her focus was on T-Bone. Gingerly she approached the larger tom. She raised a paw to touch his shoulder, but thought better of it and let her arm drop again.
"It will be okay," she said softly.
T-Bone shot her a harsh look before going back to stare at the ground.
Black Kat closed her eyes, breathing deep as she wrestled with a decision. It wasn't in her plans, but maybe now was the time to do it. "T-Bone, I-"
"Wait!" Razor cut in, his voice full of urgency.
He had suddenly noticed something they had missed. In the back, hidden in the shadows, were a group of crudely made cages varying in size. All seemed to be empty and intact, except one. A fairly large one was bent and broken, as if something had forced its way out from the inside.
There was a very animalistic growl from somewhere in the shadows. Something large and heavy sprang out in their midst. T-Bone shoved Black Kat protectively behind him, keeping himself between her and the creature.
It moved on four legs with pointed ears, large thick talons, and a heavy, bone-crushing jaw. Its skin was hairless and dark with a long lizard-like tail. T-Bone growled at the thing, determined not to show he wasn't intimidated. The monster snarled back and tensed to pounce.
Razor shot it with cement right in the eyes before it could pounce. The creature roared in fury. It blindly lashed out in Razor's direction. A frog-like tongue covered in barbs whipped from the mouth. Razor tried to dodge it, but it slashed his leg, cutting through his suit to the skin. He rolled along the ground and quickly checked his injury. Not too deep, he should be okay.
"Hey!" T-Bone yelled at the mutation. "No one hurts my partner!"
The creature was still trying to rub the cement of its face with a massive paw. T-Bone fired two electric missiles at the beast. It howled as it was electrocuted, but the attack only made it angrier. It lunged at T-Bone. The big kat took the brunt of the hit, landing on his back with the snarling creature on top, snapping its jaws for a taste of the SWAT Kat.
"T-Bone!" Razor tried to run to his partner's aid, but his injured leg suddenly felt so heavy. All too fast, he felt his motor skills leaving him. It was like trying to move through molasses. His limbs were starting to go numb. What was happening to him?
T-Bone was continuing to struggle not to get his head bitten clean off by the snapping jaws. Black Kat tossed a bola. It wrapped around the monster's muzzle, trapping it shut. The creature was suddenly distracted as it scratched at its face and tried to free itself. T-Bone kicked free, scrambling to his feet. He looked over for his partner to find Razor flat on the ground.
The beast had snapped the ropes and was stalking toward the prone SWAT Kat.
"Black Kat, help Razor," T-Bone said. "I'll handle Fido."
She put a few capsules in his paw. "Get these into its mouth and it will be out like a light."
He grinned. "Roger that."
The two surged forward. Black Kat slid protectively next to Razor while T-Bone rushed the side of the mutation, thrusting all his weight and power into the attack. He sent both of them flying away from his vulnerable partner.
As the two fought, Black Kat slid an arm under Razor's head, trying to assess his condition. For his part, Razor was wide awake and completely aware of what was going on, he just couldn't move any of his limbs. Black Kat reached for his face. For a moment, Razor was afraid she would remove his mask. But all she did was check the temperature of his cheek and neck.
"Well you don't have a fever, that's good."
"Paralyzed..." Razor managed to rasp through tight vocal cords.
Black Kat glanced at the wound on his leg and then everything made sense. "T-Bone! Nevermind what I said! Stay away from its mouth! It will paralyze you!"
"Great, now she tells me," T-Bone muttered as he and the beast circled each other. To Black Kat he called, "Just try to get Razor out of here if you can."
Black Kat was trying to figure out just that. As slight as Razor's build, he was all muscle which made him heavier than he looked. She wasn't so sure she could get him onto one of the Prowlers, let alone be able to drive it while holding onto the immobile SWAT Kat at the same time.
She reached into her belt and pulled out a syringe. "I have an idea. It's a little drastic, but it's the only one I got."
"What is it?" Razor asked weakly.
Razor looked at it for a moment. "Do it."
"You're a braver kat than I, Razor."
She put the syringe in his arm. After a few moments, Razor jerked up with a coughing gasp, sucking air into his lungs as if he had been running a marathon. His body jerked as he tried to find control over himself.
Black Kat grabbed his panicked body, clutching him tight. "I've got you," she said gently. "Calm down, breathe."
She rubbed his arm, sending sensation back into the skin. The complete numbness of Razor's limbs gave way to a horrible prickling sensation as if they had all been asleep. Unfortunately, even though he could still move, his motor skills were clumsy and weak.
"I could use some help here if possible," T-Bone called.
Anything in his Gloveatrix just wasn't quite suitable for a monster like this. Most missiles just made the beast mad. The net he fired was too small to properly hold it. And since he now couldn't get anywhere near the mouth, he was running out of options.
"I've got some darts here," Razor said, shakily reaching for a pouch on his belt. "They're tranquilizers." His Gloveatrix was frustratingly heavy to lift. Black Kat took it off and he did his best to show her how to load and fire it. "Hopefully three will be enough for something that size."
"Got it," she said as she put on the large glove.
Without her support on his back, Razor immediately fell backwards again with a heavy thunk.
"Oh, sorry," she said.
"I'm fine. I'm wearing a helmet," Razor sighed.
"I'll be back for you," Black Kat said, blowing him a kiss.
Razor sighed again as she ran off, feeling rather pathetic. "I'll be here," he mumbled.
Meanwhile, T-Bone had fired the last of his nets, only succeeding in tangling up the mutation's legs for a few moments. Black Kat ran in and fired all three darts, embedding them in its side. The creature snarled and fought to free itself. Since it didn't seem to be tiring, Black kat continued to rush it, barreling into its head, pinning it down with her body weight.
"Now, T-Bone, put them in its mouth. Use your gloved hand."
T-Bone was there in an instant, shoving the capsules she had given him into the creatures mouth as carefully as he could. He jumped back as the monster snapped at him, its jaws now foaming up. It shook the she kat off of it and then got to its feet. It only made it a few steps, however, before it stumbled to the ground, completely out cold.
The two masked kats watched it, tensed and silent. All that moved was the beast's chest as it breathed heavily.
Black Kat breathed out. "Hopefully that will last for a few hours. I can let the Enforcers know it's here- uh," she paused when she reminded herself it wasn't her turf, "unless you want to?"
"Knock yourself out," T-Bone said with disinterest. "The Enforcers and us don't exactly talk. Besides, I gotta get Razor out of here."
Razor was doing his best to get to his feet, but his legs were shaky and weak. They still felt somewhat numb and he wasn't having much luck. T-Bone stood over him and Razor's eyes widened in horror.
"No, T-Bone! No!" he protested. "Please don't-"
It was too late, T-Bone had already effortlessly hefted the lighter kat over his shoulder.
"I'll get you back for this," Razor vowed in low tones to his partner's back, his arms dangling uselessly.
"There will be other times to impress the ladies, hot shot," T-Bone responded.
To add to his humiliation, Razor had to sit on the Prowler with T-Bone in front of the burly kat so he could drive and keep his weakened partner on the vehicle at the same time. Black Kat took the other Prowler and the masked kats left the ruined lab and the sleeping monstrosity behind.
It was 4 AM. Felina was up and ready for her morning work out before reporting in for her shift. She loved being a morning kat, up and on the prowl before the rest of the katizens were awake. It was her quiet reflective time before the chaos of her job descended upon her.
She flung open her curtains, expecting to see the peaceful cityscape just before dawn from her apartment window. Instead, there was a kat crouched outside, blocking her view.
Felina gave a startled gasp, stumbling back and immediately reaching for her gun. Her paw gripped only air. She was in her sweats and not wearing her holster.
The kat on the other side of the glass was female, gray fur with platinum blonde hair. She was wearing a mask. The she kat knocked politely on the glass.
Frowning, Felina unlocked and raised her window. "How did you get up here?" she immediately demanded.
"Good morning to you, too," Black Kat responded in a chipper voice. "I brought you a present." She handed Felina a key chain flash drive that looked like a happy cartoon fish.
"Cute," Felina muttered, dangling it from one finger.
"It contains a map of the tunnels below the Megakat water purification plant. You'll find one of Doctor Viper's old hidey holes. And, if you hurry, one of his sleeping creations."
Felina's eyes widened. "Why are you going after Viper? I thought your business was only with Bombay."
"I found a witness stating Viper was the one who orchestrated Bombay's escape, using those nasty slugs of his to control your Enforcer escorts."
"And you found proof of that in this lair?"
Black Kat sighed. "Unfortunately, no. But it's the best I have to go on so far. I thought I'd let you guys know so we can close in on that rat."
"Why?" Felina asked suspiciously. "The SWAT Kats never tell us anything."
"I'm not the SWAT Kats. Look, I don't care who collars Bombay or who gets the credit. I just want him behind bars. I'll tell anyone everything I find if it puts him back in custody. I've worked too hard for this conviction to let him go now."
"Tell me who you really are, then," Felina shot back.
The masked kat smirked. "If I thought it would help me capture him, I just might. But right now there are more important things to attend to."
"Fine," Felina accepted. "I'll get a team down there."
"And something else." Black Kat produced a coin-sized black device with a red circle in the middle. "So you can get a hold of me later, we can exchange any new info."
Felina held the device in her palm with distaste as if she had just been given a dirty rock. "I'm not using this. If we find anything, I don't have to tell you jack."
Black Kat just shrugged, unoffended. "It's up to you, it only works one way. You can call me, I can't call you. But if you call me, we can be friends." She gave the lieutenant her cutest look, hands tucked under her chin. "Don't you want to be my friend?"
Felina snorted. "Batting those baby blues doesn't work on me." She shook her head and looked around for her holster. "Now get off my window sill." Under her breath she added. "Frigging blondes."
"Yeah, tell me about it," she heard Black Kat retort.
"But you are a blon-" Felina looked up and the window was empty. She moved to look out, but all she saw was the city in the fading darkness. No sign of the vigilante.