It had been six months since Marissa moved to MegaKat City and to Chance, everything was great. Sure they had their squabbles, but what couple didn't? But now before he and Razor left the hanger for every mission, he contacted Marissa to find out where she was, to make sure she would be ok. Marissa seemed touched by his concern and she seemed to understand that he didn't want her in danger, but sometimes it could be annoying.
He now spent the weekends over at her house. Jake would call if they had a tow or if the alarm went off and the SWAT Kats were needed. Marissa tried to make things up to him by helping out wherever she could.
She was helping out at the garage late one night when her cell phone went off. She went to answer it. A few minutes she came back into the bay muttering under her breath, looking annoyed.
"What's up?" Chance asked, looking up from the engine. Jake looked over his shoulder at her. She leaned against the large mechanic's tool chest and crossed her arms, chewing on her lip and swishing her tail in annoyance.
"My stupid brothers, they think that I need some additional training since now I live here and might get in trouble again. Tragus will be coming here for a month to work with me. "
Chance looked at Jake. "Doesn't he know you have me to take care of things now?"
"Yes and his answer is that he doesn't know you and the SWAT Kats can't save me all the time and the cursed thing is…he's right."
Both Jake and Chance stood up so quickly that they bumped their heads on the upraised hood. "WHAT?"
She looked at both of them and lifted her hands. "Now look guys, you can't just protect me and Callie all the time. What if you can't? What if one time, you both need someone to step in and protect you? Or if I am at the wrong place at the wrong time?"
"Who says that?"
"I do. I'm not blind to what you guys do. I sit there and worry about you when you're on a mission."
Chance rolled his eyes at his partner and came over to her, gripping his arms and rubbing noses with her. "Then you don't have anything to worry about. I'll always be there."
"Let the big tomcat worry about things." He patted her cheek and went back to the car. Jake was still staring at her, his mouth suddenly open.
"You think that I can't take care of things because I'm a girl?" Her voice was ice cold and deadly. Chance looked back to see her absolutely bristling with anger, her eyes were actually glowing blue.
"No…it's just that."
He couldn't answer, he spluttered, looking to Jake for help.
"You pompous ASS!" Her crystal necklace and bracelet she wore reacted to her voice and sent purple sparks up. She stomped out of the garage. A few moments later they heard the car door slam and tires squealed down the drive out of the salvage yard.
"Oh crud." Jake said.
"What did I say?"
"I think that it was what you didn't say. Maybe she does have a point."
"A girl, right."
Chance sighed and took off his cap, rubbing his head. "Why does she have to be stubborn about this?"
Jake grinned, "Because she's dating the king of stubborn."
"I'd better apologize to her."
"Better take the Glovatrix with you, you might need the shield."
Chance went to her house after work, but she wasn't there. He went back to his car and pulled out her tracer. She'd turned it off, he growled in frustration, finally driving to his favorite place to think, the airport.
He sat on the grass, watching the jets take off thinking. 'She is one of the most capable females I've ever been around and what do I do. She probably could kick tail as well as we can, but I don't want her to get hurt. She doesn't want me to get hurt either. Ah crud, what am I going to do?'
He stayed there until after dark, then got up and brushed off his pants and got back into the car. He drove by Mari's house, not really expecting to see lights on but she was home. He parked and got out, knocking on the door instead of using his key. She answered it. She looked like she had been crying.
She looked shocked for a moment then threw herself into his arms. He hugged her tightly and kissed her head. They went inside and sat on the couch.
"I guess I am a bit of a male-chauvinist when it comes to protecting you, but you are one of the most capable she-kats I know. I know you don't want to see me hurt, but I don't want you to get hurt either. So, if anyone can teach you, it's your brother and me."
He nodded, "I'm not going to let your brother show me up." He grinned at her. You know, you're pretty beautiful when you're mad, like a hawk diving down with claws out."
"Flatterer.", but she smiled at him.
"So when is your brother coming in?"
"Tomorrow, he called from the airport."
"I hope he has an uncomfortable flight."
She slapped at his arm. "That's not nice."
He just grinned at her.
Chance and Jake went with her to pick up Targus at the airport. He was a dark brown cat with black hair and tail. His eyes were the color of amber. He swept up Marissa into a big hug. He shook the other's hands with a nod, looking them up and down. Marissa had warned them that Targus was the quiet one, letting his actions speak louder than his words.
He finally started talking in Chance's car. "I've already made arrangements for us at the Power Plant. "
Jake whistled, the Power Plant was MegaKat City's premiere MMA training facility and it was hard to get into. "How did you do that?"
"Pulled some tails and told them that I would be willing to exhibition and train a few people beside Marissa." He grinned at his sister.
She muttered something under her breath and crossed her arms,
"Mutter and complain all ye like, sister mine. It's either one of us train you or one of us move in with you."
"I can take care of myself."
Tragus lifted her chin. "I know you can, sister mine, but you can't blame us for worrying and making sure that you are ok. You can't depend on those SWAT Kats to rescue you all the time, they've more important work to do."
Chance and Jake bristled at that. Tragus noticed and sat back in his seat. "Offended?"
"Should we be?" Chance asked with clenched teeth and fists.
Jake cleared his throat and shook his head imperceptively. Chance took a breath and relaxed.
"So what do you have planned for me, brother mine?"
He pulled out a small book and consulted it. "Well, I want to go to the local health food store and buy you some supplements. I plan to put you through a lot and I want you healthy enough to take it."
"I thought you were an ancient weapons expert." Jake commented.
"I am, but I am also a fitness trainer and martial arts trainer. You can't use the weapons if you can't use your body. The weapon is only as good as the body. I've been studying tapes of the SWAT Kats and Enforcers. Those guys train constantly, you can tell it by how they fly and fight from the ground. The pilot and plane are one and the other kat is a part of that motorcycle he drives. I want you as good as those guys with the weapons I've chosen for you."
Jake and Chance couldn't help but wink at each other.
"How in the world did you get any weapons past the TSA?"
"Mailed them, they should be at your house when we get there. I checked the tracking before my final leg."
Chance and Jake looked at each other and their passengers and started laughing.
They made the stop to the health food store and her eyes boggled at what he got for her. Vitamins and supplements filled up two bags.
"I'll be overweight if you have me take all of this!"
Tragus looked nonplussed as he loaded them in the car. "Not if you work out like I plan for you to do." He poked Jake in the ribs, "Looks like you need a little bulk on you too."
Chance fell over laughing. "You need to work a little more on your muscle; I can see that you're not toning enough."
Now it was Marissa and Jake's turn to laugh at him.
"Well, now that you've insulted us, can we go home now?"
The mysterious box was at the house when they got there. Targus picked up the box and followed them into the house. He went through her fridge, nodding at what was in there and finding the stash of junk food in the pantry. He surprisingly didn't toss it out, just shook his head at it and closed the door.
"I'm not one of those kats who tell you to stop snacking. It's good for the soul to have a bite or two of the bad stuff, but in moderation. I know better than to tell you not to have your chocolate."
"Especially chocolate ice cream." Chance said.
"Traitor". Marissa muttered.
He pulled out his book and showed her the training schedule. She was to get up at five AM and go on a two mile run, then during her break at work she was to work on stretching exercises and arm strengthening then a 30 min walk at lunch with training at the gym or the Power Plant every evening. Later on she would have a day or two off a week.
"Do you mind if I keep you company while she trains?" Chance asked.
Tragus nodded. "If you plan to be around my sister, I want to see what kind of kat she's getting."
Chance gave his most misbehaving grin. "The best kind, we have an obstacle course at the salvage yard, want to try it?"
"Sounds like fun."
"Can I open the box now?" Marissa asked.
"Ah sisters, wanting their presents." Tragus grinned and handed it to her. It was heavy, about the length of her forearm. She put it on the counter to open. It contained two sais, two wooden practice sais and a leather holster for them.
She lifted the metal ones, feeling the weight, seeing the wicked tips on the middle points. They were a little heavy and felt awkward, but they were the size of her forearm and hand combined, the handles were wrapped in brown leather.
"They were made to your measurement and they are of Agracite."
"How did you get a hold of that?" Chance whistled.
"I made them with scrap pieces from different foundries."
"That must have taken you a long time."
"Since that incident with Dark Kat and Pastmaster, I've been gathering the pieces. I was able to forge them two weeks ago. Put them down and pick up the other ones. They're of the same weight."
She did and gripped them tightly, then bounced them a little in her palms. Tragus took them and flipped them expertly in his hands, spinning them, finally coming around and stopping a fraction from Chance's nose. He didn't move, didn't blink.
"You must really trust me."
"I trust her. She didn't move to stop you."
He grinned and handed the sais back to Marissa. "You'll be handling the wooden ones for right now. You'll also be wearing these until you're used to the weight, then we go heavier." He pulled out a set of wrist weights and strapped them on her arms. "You'll wear these all the time except in the shower." You'll also be doing this whenever you can. "He pulled out a stick, string and a weight. He held it in his hands at arm's length and slowly unrolled it so that it didn't swing then rolled it back up. "I want you to do three reps three or more times a day, starting now." He handed her the string and stick.
Marissa found it harder than she thought, her hands soon cramped and the string began swaying. Tragus would order her to wait until the string stilled before continuing on. By the time she got to the third rep, her hands burned and cramped and her wrists and fingers hurt.
"And that's only the beginning, sister mine."
Chance arrived the next day at Marissa's house to see Tragus and Marissa warming up for their run. He started warming up as well,
The run began well enough, but Tragus would start barking orders such as 'drop and give me five push-ups!' or 'down and give me five sit ups!", "Faster", "Keep it up", "Plank position for two minutes!" Marissa was about ready to drop over. Chance did better but Tragus looked like he wasn't breaking much of a sweat. He placed cones in her driveway sections apart and hand them both run drills, then more exercises before he declared them finished for the morning. Marissa barely had enough strength to get back in the house.
She guzzled her drink and panted at the sink. "I don't understand why I am so weak. I work out, you've seen me Chance."
"Yeah, but there's a big difference between the gym and what your brother is doing. "
"And this is only the beginning, sister mine."
She groaned and staggered upstairs. "You drop those weights and that'll be another mile added on." She groaned audibly and shut the bathroom door behind her.
It was so hard to eat the lunch Tragus had packed for her, much less drink the special smoothie he had made for her. She just had no appetite. She did however, drink a LOT of water. She already knew that if she didn't, she'd hurt worse tomorrow. She did make her walk and another two sets of the wrist exercises. Tragus picked her up himself and drive to the Power Plant. Jake and Chance waited there for them.
"Why are they here, to laugh at me?"
"No. They've had some training, so I want to see how they are, especially Chance."
"He's your guy, isn't he? Have to put him through his paces."
"Orders sister mine. Have to let the others know if I approve or not."
"I'll see whomever I want! I also thought you were kidding about that."
Tragus parked the car and put his hands up in defense. "You're our little baby sister, of course we need to approve of him." He slipped out before she could swat him.
He got their bags out of the car and they all went in together.
It was a huge facility with three fighting cages, a training floor, dojo, weapons center, and small smoothie bar. Since there weren't many women training there, the locker room was small. She dressed in workout clothes quickly and came out. Jake and Chance were already taping up their hands and pulling on gloves. Tragus taped hers up, explaining how he wanted her to do it. He made her stretch out again and walked her out to the training floor. Other fighters stopped or slowed down to watch her, she blushed with embarrassment. Tragus stopped in front of a bag.
"Jake and Chance, I want to see how you work the bags. He indicated two other bags. Chance and Jake immediately went to punching them. He nodded briefly and began teaching Marissa how to punch the bag, first forward, then side, then under. It was difficult, holding back until the full extension to snap the fist into the bag.
"No, no Mari, hold up. Hey Chance, come over here." Chance stopped and wiped his forehead off, then went to him.
"Hit the bag in slo-mo, I want to check it and show Mari when to hit it."
Chance slowed his motion and Marissa nodded in understanding.
"Ok, hit it again…better sis. Thanks Chance."
He nodded and went back to the bag. He had to admit it, Tragus knew his business. A large grey cat with tabby markings came up to introduce himself. His name was Cal Steel, otherwise known in the MMA world as SteelClaw. He owned the Power Plant and he greeted Tragus with a handclasp, pulled into a backslap. He had Mari stop.
"Marissa, this is my buddy Cal, he owns the Power Plant and we tagged up for a while."
"Yeah until I thought I could be a businessman. Geez, sometimes I wonder why I stopped fighting."
"Because you wanted to have the best facility in the world."
He kissed Marissa's hand and waggled his eyebrows at her. "Didn't know you had such a pretty sister, Trag."
"Yeah, but she needs to learn to kick tail if she gets in trouble all by her lonesome."
"So she's single."
A cough from Chance made them look back. "No, sorry bro, she's taken by that laddie there."
Cal went over to Chance and shook his hand. "Sorry bud, can't blame a tom for trying. I don't poach."
"No problem, as long as you keep your hands to yourself."
"I can speak for myself Chance Furlong!" Marissa said waspishly.
"Don't be offended, little sis. In a place like this, expect to get ogled and ogled well. Chance is just letting things be known, it's a guy thing."
"It's just starting to smell in here from all the toms marking." She sniffed, rubbing her nose. All four toms laughed heartily at that.
Cal looked at Jake, "What is this, a kitten masquerading as a kat?"
"Just like having my actions speak louder than my words. "KI-YAH!" He delivered a back spin kick and knocked the bag off the chain and it went flying a few feet.
Cal nodded in approval. "Not bad, not bad at all, you get your punches to do that and I'll sign you up for the fighter program. I'm assuming you can do that little trick too?" He pointed at Chance.
He grinned and backed up his right fist and landed a right cross that knocked the bag off its chain too and it flew and landed near Jake's.
Cal applauded. "You two could be real contenders in the cage. If Trag trains you, you could be ready in six months."
"Nah, we've got other commitments, but we'll keep it in mind." Jake said. Chance nodded, rubbing his fist.
"Trag, your sister is all yours. I'll take these two with me, by the time I'm finished with them, not even the omegas will mess with them and by the by, don't worry about my fees. I owe Trag my life and so it's free memberships for all three of you."
Chance's jaw dropped and Jake whistled. "Wow! That's pretty generous."
Cal shook his head. "If it wasn't for Trag, I'd never have gotten out of the minor leagues. It's the least I can do." He waved Jake and Chance to follow him. Trag motioned for Marissa to take her place in front on her bag and begin punching it. He was shaking his head.
"He's always had a soft spot."
"TRAG! You forgot mouth guards! You crudding idiot!" Tragus laid his ears back and glared back at his friend.
Marissa wanted to do nothing more than crawl into her bed and sleep for a week. But Tragus didn't let her yet. After their workout he had one of the massage therapists rub every one of her aching and screaming muscles, and drink water every time he moved to another position.
When they got back to her house, he made her get into the shower and then drink a mineral drink that the taste alone made the drink she made for Chance taste like ambrosia. He then surprised her by taking out a portable crystal healing kit and buckling the throat device around his own throat.
"Since when do you sing crystal?"
"Since da decided to go back into the Sonics field. He's established a Crystal division at the University. He had me taught how to heal with the crystals and a few other things. I'm not as powerful as you though. I can get by." He snapped a dark green crystal into the front of it and looked at her.
"Well get into bed and get comfortable. We'll see how well I learned my lessons."
"This isn't the time to experiment, brother mine."
"Good thing I know what I'm doing." He closed his eyes and began to hum in a deep baritone. His hands on her shoulders grew warm and she could see a deep green glow around them. She began to tingle all over and she could feel herself falling asleep.
The next month seemed to fly but yet crawl in Marissa's eyes. Tragus did very well in his healing. She was sore enough to take care of her stretching but not sore to make her not move. She and Tragus used their crystals the next day on Jake and Chance, who had fared roughly in training with Cal. He thought their footwork reeked so he had put bands around their ankles and had them work with the bags. While the falls made for great amusement, it really made Jake and Chance pretty mad, determined to do better
Tragus started to train Marissa in the use of the sais, using a pair of fighting sticks to spar with her. He set up a set of pells in the backyard and a target she could throw the sais at. "But don't unless you can hit your target, because if you lose one, it can come back to haunt you." He also began training her in the martial arts. She had to admit that the forms he did made it look like he was dancing.
Tragus did finally get the chance to go on the salvage yard's obstacle course. He really liked it and said that with a few improvements, it would be spectacular. Jake really seemed to like his ideas as well. There were a couple of close calls with Tragus there but he didn't find out about their secret.
Training seemed to get easier and easier as the days passed. Marissa noted that she felt fitter and even seemed to walk with more confidence. Chance liked to come up behind her and wrap his hands around her slim waist. She even walked quietly, sneaking up behind Jake and Chance whenever she could, tagging them with a claw.
"What was that you said about her being a diving hawk?" Jake said irritably as he rubbed his head where he smacked it jumping when she surprised him.
The day came that Tragus had to leave to go back home. He shook Jake and Chance's hand, hugging Marissa tightly.
"I'll be back to check on you and Cal will keep me informed if you don't keep up with the training. I expect you to beat me when I get back."
"Oh I will brother mine. I've got a lot to protect and I CAN protect it now." She looked back at Chance, and smiled.