After I published my story "A Spell for Halloween" I realized I forgot to explain HOW Callie found out that Jake and Chance were the SWAT Kats. I hope you enjoy this. I do NOT own SWAT Kats, or Ann McCaffrey's "Crystal Singer". I had actually forgot about the story when I wrote about Marissa, depending on my own experiences in working with crystals.
Marissa talked Callie in going to the Mountain Home caves for a day of fun and some much needed girl time. Chance just made a face and said he was staying home; he didn't need a bunch of cackling hens, which earned him some down time on the floor when Marissa yanked the bedcovers off of him, causing him to fall to the floor. He laughed about it and got back into bed, pulling Mari to him and nuzzling her neck while she growled at him.
A few hours later, Mari and Callie were getting out of Mari's car in the parking lot of the Home. They both borrowed a couple of ball caps from Chance to put their hair up in and hide their identities. Mari shaded her eyes past the brim of the cap and whistled at the sight of the mountain.
"This is going to be a lot of fun." Callie pulled out the picnic basket from the back and they went toward the ticket stand.
When it came time for their tour group to start, they followed the tourkat into the cave. The entrance was massive, opening into several chambers that had rope guides on the sides of the wall. The temperature dropped in the cave and the girls were glad that they brought their jackets with them.
The cave system was lit in three ways, the first was just with torches, the firelight flickering eerie shadows onto the walls and ceilings, the second with electrical lights and the last brought a grin to Mari's face.
The tourkat had stopped in an impressive cavern, stalactites and stalagmites were lit up in phosphorant mosses and a crystal lake glittered on the other side. Benches were set up near there; this was where they would eat their lunches. Large globes hung around the cavern.
"This cavern is interesting as this is lit by crystals." There were gasps and examinations from the group. "We have the services of a crystal singer who comes to recharge the crystals once a day. But she's taught me this nice little trick." He cleared his throat and sung out a baritone note. The crystal lights slowly went out. There were a few screams and gasps. The cavern was lit only by the moss and they could hear drips from the cavern roof into the lake.
The tourkat sung out another note and the crystal lights came back on…with the group surrounded by creeplings. More gasps and screams met this sight. Marissa quickly sang out the note to extinguish the lights again.
"Follow my voice and cover your eyes!" She sang a high soprano note and the lights flared incandesantly. Some of the group yelled at the sudden brightness, covering their eyes. The tourkat was held by three creeplings. Mari jumped over to him and got the creeplings off of him.
"Get these people out of here now! I'll hold them off." To prove her point, she hit one creepling with a sweet uppercut punch her brother would be proud of. She noted out of the corner of her eye that Callie had also joined in with a long piece of wood that had been at the entrance. She smacked two creeplings down.
"We're out!" cried the tourkat at the opening.
"Get going! We're right behind you!" Callie yelled. She dropped the piece of wood and she and Mari pelted for the entrance. She shoved Callie through and pulled out her necklace. She grasped it firmly in one hand and covered it with the other, pointing with one of her crystal rings at a rock overhanging. She sang another high note and a blue light blasted from her ring and hit the overhanging. It cracked neatly in two and fell across the door, pinning the creeplings behind tons of rock.
"Now what?" Callie gasped. There were no signs of the tour group and only the echoes of their cries bouncing off the walls.
"Crud, well let's see if my da's trick will work on caves as well as labyrinths." Mari put her hand on the left wall and they began to follow it.
"I have a better idea" said Callie. She pulled out her communicator from her pocket. "I carried this just in case."
"Oh?" Mari feigned ignorance.
"It's a communicator for the SWAT Kats. I'm sure they'll want to know about the creeplings. If I can just get a signal out" she pressed the button and a few seconds later, Jake's voice came over.
"Yes Miss Briggs?"
"Razor, thank heavens you're there. I'm stuck in the Mountain Home Cave system with Marissa. We were just attacked by creeplings!"
"Creeplings! What are Dark Crud's minions doing there?" Chance's voice echoed in the back.
"Roger that. Are you ok?"
"Yes, Marissa's new fighting skills really came in handy. We got lost off the main group and we're lost in the system."
"Try to stay where you're at. There's a GPS tracker in the communicator and we'll be able to find you. There's a good signal but stay there. Miss Callistane, did they install any of the new crystal lighting systems?"
"I don't know how you found that out, but yes in one cavern so far. That's the one the creeplings attacked us in. I was able to use a Triad crystal my father sent me and sealed the cavern. There was one other entrance on the other side. I didn't seal that one, curse it."
"Don't worry about that now Miss Callistane, we'll take care of it when we get there. Just sit tight."
"Just get here as soon as you can. I don't like the idea of Dark Kat in these caverns." Callie said. She turned off the communicator.
"Let's try to keep as quiet as we can, just in case those things are around." Mari suggested.
"Yeah, but I hate the idea of just sitting here like birds for the taking."
"Maybe I can do something about this?" Mari mused. She put her hand on the cavern wall and hummed, her rings and necklace glowed but soon she pulled her hand back.
"Well I can tell you that in spite of all our running, we're not that far from the cavern we were attacked in. I can't get an exact fix. This cave system is full of crystalline veins and my tune is getting bounced all over the place." She rubbed her head and sank to the ground. Callie joined her.
"Wish we could have saved our lunch."
Mari snorted with laughter at that.
Ten minutes later, they clutched at each other as the electric lights went out. Mari gasped at the sudden darkness and Callie couldn't help squealing.
"It's ok; I can make some light with my Triad."
"No, better not, just in case."
How long they sat there in the pitch blackness, they couldn't tell. After what felt like forever, they saw a light in the hall.
"We're getting close." It sounded like Razor.
"Razor, T-Bone!" They called out.
"Miss Briggs? Miss Callistine?" His voice called out.
"We're down the hall. We're coming out too!"
Hand in hand, they went toward the light, shading their eyes and squinting. T-Bone took Marissa in his arms and Razor hugged Callie.
"You guys ok?"
"Yes, now that you're here. Did the tour group get out?"
"Yes. They were the ones who cut the power here."
"Yeah, the Enforcers are not that far behind either. It took them a few minutes more to get their cave crawlers here." T-Bone snorted.
"Let's get out of here." Callie said.
"On the way, I want to see that cavern where the creeplings were." Razor stated and he punched some buttons on his glovatrix. A three-dimensional map was displayed on the cavern wall.
"Hmm, we're here and the main cavern is here." He pointed to a spot. Mari went up and pointed with her finger at a spot on the map.
"This is the entrance I sealed up."
"The other entrance is here. Just have to turn left then around the bend."
Mari snorted in annoyance. T-Bone grinned at her. "Don't worry about not getting too far from the cavern; it's easy to get lost here."
She made a face at him.
"Let's get going before any more of those creeplings show up."
They carefully made their way around to the other side. Razor headed up their group, Callie and Mari were in the middle with T-Bone bringing up the rear.
There were no sign of creeplings when they got to the other entrance. T-Bone and Razor, glovatrix raised, stepped in carefully. Mari and Callie stayed by the entrance. Mari hummed enough to activate her Triad, a soft glow from necklace and rings attested to that.
"Look up there, Razor." T-Bone focused his light on it. There were holes where the crystal lights had been dug out of the walls and there were new holes where the creeplings had dug out.
A light from Razor hit one of the holes with a creepling with a grenade in hand. It hissed at them and tossed it at them. They dived back for the entrance and knocked Mari and Callie over as the grenade hit. There was an explosion and an ominous rumble but the cavern held on.
T-Bone had tackled Mari and she went limp and curled up, he tumbled over and over and hit another wall with his shoulder. He cried out in pain as he saw a blue shield activate around them. They slid to a stop and they lay there panting and shaking.
"You ok?" He gasped; looking into Mari's concerned eyes.
She nodded, "Just banged up a little. I couldn't activate the shield fast enough. You ok?"
"Shoulder" he hissed with the pain.
Marissa clamped her hand on it. "Cracked shoulder blade, I'll heal it later." She unzipped his G-suit to his waist and tucked the injured arm in it.
Razor cried out in pain and they heard a splash, then Callie's startled gasp. "YOU?"
"Uh oh." T-Bone said. He tried to get up.
"No. You stay here." Mari got to her feet and went back into the cavern.
Jake had his mask and helmet off at the edge of the lake, using it to pour water into his eyes.
Callie was on her knees near him, clutching his mask, her eyes wide and her mouth wide in astonishment.
Mari fell to her knees beside him and grabbed the mask out of Callie's hands. She sopped it in the water and gave it to Jake. "Cave moss?"
"Yeah, burns like hell."
"Keep laving it with water. Your cover's blown."
"Thought it was you near me."
"YOU KNOW?" Callie yelled.
Mari turned to look at her best friend. "Yes. I bonded to T-Bone when I was here in MegaKat City the first time. He told me that first night."
"You couldn't trust me?"
"Callie, you're the DEPUTY MAYOR! Also it's not my secret to tell."
Callie's mouth opened and closed a few more times, and then a look of determination set in her eyes. "Tell me what I need to do."
"T-Bone cracked a shoulder blade when he hit a wall. Razor's going to be blinded for a bit until we get that moss out of his eyes, unless..." She looked around and found her picnic basket and pulled out a flask of vinegar she was going to use for her salad. She hurried back and mixed the vinegar with water.
"Razor, lay back here." Razor blindly felt backwards until Callie guided him to where his head rested on her lap. His eyes were red and swollen almost completely shut. T-Bone had come in and slumped down, grunting in pain. Callie glared at him and then nodded.
"Vinegar should neutralize the moss. Your sight should come back in a few hours when the swelling goes down. It's going to burn though."
"Doesn't feel pleasant right now" he made fists at his sides, trying not to tear at his eyes.
"Hold his paws, Callie." She started to pour the vinegar water into his eyes. He gritted his teeth and squeezed Callie's paws. She hissed in pain but grasped his just as hard. After she finished, she washed out his eyes again with plain water.
"That's much better." He could actually open his eyes a little. Things were blurry but he saw Callie's blurred face over his.
"We have things to discuss Jake Clawson." She growled out. He winced.
"You're in trouble." T-Bone chuckled.
"You're not off the hook either, mister." Her head whirled around to glare at T-Bone.
"Calico! Think about things before you start yelling at them." Marissa shot out.
She glared back at Marissa and finally her shoulders slumped. "You're right. I'm just shocked, that's all but it all makes so much sense." She stroked Razor's forelock back. He gripped her paw.
"We have other things to worry about. Neither T-Bone or Razor can fly the Turbokat. How are we going to get them back where I can work on them?"
"I can fly with the auto pilot if you can help me manage the pain for takeoff and landing." T-Bone said.
She looked around the cavern and found a shard of clear crystal. "This'll work."
"I'm going with you too." Callie said firmly.
"You can help get Razor into his seat and stay with him."
They managed to get out of the cave system without the Enforcers seeing them and got into the Turbokat through its cargo hold. T-Bone still swore angrily as Mari strapped him into the seat and wedged herself behind him.
"Razor, can you open a frequency to Enforcer bands?"
"Yes." Even blinded, his fingers knew which buttons to press. "You're on."
"Commander Ferel? This is Miss Briggs."
"Are you all right Miss Briggs?"
"Yes. The SWAT Kats rescued us and are taking us back to MegaKat City. The cavern that Marissa and I were trapped in is filled with holes that the creeplings came through and they removed all the crystal lighting."
"Without a Singer, they can't utilize them. Don't worry Miss Briggs, the Enforcers are here and we don't need the SWAT Kats to come back."
"Don't worry Ferel, we'll do the important work and you can just stick with the mop up." T-Bone goaded.
"If I EVER catch you two!" Ferel's voice was cut off as Razor shut off the radio.
"Must you goad him?" Marissa asked in between breaths.
"Best part of my day." T-Bone snorted, then cursed again as he moved wrong.
They managed to get back to the hanger and it was a few harrowing moments as Marissa and Callie got the two injured SWAT Kats out. She laid Razor on a cot and sat T-Bone down on a cot near them, sitting another chair between them. She dug around in a cabinet and pulled out her portable crystal kit and picked out a green crystal.
"Callie, they'll be asleep when I finish, just ease T-Bone down."
Marissa took a few breaths to center herself and began to hum. The crystal glowed green in the throat device and her eyes began to glow whitely. Her hands glowed green as well, soon T-Bone's eyes began to close and Callie lowered him as gently as she could. He was so heavy and massive when limp. Not knowing what else to do, she knelt by Razor's cot and took off the helmet and wet mask. His eyes looked better already. She stroked back his forelock again and sighed.
A few minutes passed and Marissa stopped humming. Jake's eyes were only slightly swollen. Both of them were fast asleep. Marissa sighed tiredly and unstrapped the throat device, stretching and yawning.
"Ugh. What a day."
"Why did they become the SWAT Kats? Because of a Commander's desire to take credit for bringing in the most dangerous Omega. Jake and Chance got blamed for Ferel's mistake and were sent here to pay for it. They just couldn't let the city go unprotected, so they decided to do something about it, even if it meant they became vigilantes. Perhaps they were a thorn in Ferel's tail before, but they've learned a lot since. They've become better kats...and better Enforcers."
Callie was lost in thought for a while then smiled up at Marissa. "Then I'm glad we think the same way. I just try to protect the citizens in the political ring, they are more paws on. I also know that they try not to do so much property damage. I won't betray their secret. I think I'm rather envious of them."
"They've been wanting to tell you, but didn't know how to."
"How did he tell you?"
"The first night we were together we bonded. Bonded kats can't keep secrets from each other. So, he felt right about just letting it out."
"Then Jake and I." Callie sounded sad.
Marissa's paw covered hers and she looked up into her friends crystal-blue eyes. "Have an easier time than Chance and I. Bonded couples HAVE to be in harmony and we have to work at it harder. You and Jake just flow with the pattern. If the bond is there, it will happen later. That sometimes does, just don't worry about it for right now. Get used to the new information you've been trusted with today and let tomorrow take care of itself."
She squeezed her paw back and nodded. "So they're going to sleep for a while?"
"Yes, sleep is the best medicine. T-Bone's shoulder blade is sealed but still will be weak for some time to some. Razor will be ok. We can always come back later."
"Ok, I'd like to get home and get a bath; I feel creeplings all over me."
Marissa laughed merrily at that.
The next day she went back to the garage. Chance was working on some paperwork in the office. He grinned sheepishly at Callie. She smiled back shyly at him. "Where's Jake?"
"He's upstairs. His eyes are still sore so I told him I'd take care of the paperwork." He made a face. He hated paperwork, but since Jake still had trouble seeing he'd had little choice. "He's been to the eye doctor and got some ointment for his eyes."
"What excuse did you give him?"
"We'd been in some caves, exploring when the shake from the Mountain Home shook off moss into his face."
"Good one, are you ok?"
"Yeah, Mari fixed it right up. It's gonna be fragile for a bit but at least I have full use of the shoulder. Although that mineral drink she makes up when she speed-heals tastes like exhaust from the Turbokat."
Callie laughed heartily. "Can I go up?"
He nodded, a smile twitching his whiskers.
Callie made her way upstairs and saw Jake stretched out on the worn out couch. His eyes were covered by dark sunglasses.
He quickly sat up and snatched his glasses off and squinted at Callie. They were only slightly swollen but still red.
"Um, hi Callie."
She went to sit by him and looked into his eyes. "How are you doing?"
"Pretty good, my vision's not been damaged. I'll be right as rain in a day or two, thanks to Mari."
"I'm so glad." She took his hand and snuggled into his side. He put his arm around her shoulders and rested his head on hers.
They sat that way for a long time. "Why? I asked Mari but I want to ask you."
Jake sighed. "When Ferel kicked us out I was just numb until we got here and Chance was tossing a fit. I saw this part of a wing and thought, 'Wow, it's still good', and I thought if this piece was here, I could build our own jet and we could still be Enforcers, but outside the law, doing things our way instead of a megalomaniac telling us what we could and couldn't do."
"Too bad you can't sell your stuff to other companies. You'd be out of debt in no time."
He coughed and then jerked upright. "Why not? I could start my own business and sell my stuff back to the Enforcers or whoever would be able to pay. Why didn't I think of that before?"
"Maybe because you guys have been so busy being the SWAT Kats that you've haven't a chance to think about the future."
Jake turned to her and smiled, squeezing her hand again. "It's time I started thinking." Callie blushed.
Chance and Mari were thrilled about the idea and she put him in contact with her father and soon plans and ideas were flying across the ocean to their in-boxes. Meanwhile, Callie helped him with the paperwork to form his own corporation and business under the name of 'Razor Works'. The check from their first invention cut a big chunk into their 'debt to society.' Callie suggested that he start two bank accounts, one for his savings and another for the debt and then pay it off all at once. "Wouldn't you like to see the look on Commander Ferels face when you present the cashier's check for the full amount?" Jake and Chance just looked at each other and grinned wickedly. Jake also brought Dr. Hackle into 'Works' as well and started working on patenting his drone robots to help with dangerous construction work. It would still require kat minds, having the user wear special glasses and gloves to control the robot. Another major company, MegaKat Marine Salvage, had already put in orders for over 100 of these robots.
Callie was amazed at what Chance and Jake had done in the short time they'd been 'sentenced' to the salvage yard and converting the old bunkers they found under the yard. She was even more impressed about their nature as well. Instead of turning the anger and hatred inwardly as most kats did, they brought it out as the SWAT Kats. Finding that bit of balance they obviously needed in their instincts to protect those around them. She became more of a part of their lives as she could while not working with issues that came up with the mayor's office. Jake offered to make her part of the growing company as well, it was a tempting offer, but she said that she was ok with being in an advisory position until they paid their debt. "Then we'll talk about salary and perks later." She told Jake, smiling.
Jake rubbed the back of his head, blushing. "Um, there's a city Halloween party coming up soon, isn't there?"
"Yes. It's a costume party."
"Would you mind if I took you? We can double-date with Chance and Mari if you like?"
"I've been waiting a long time for you to ask me out." She hugged him tightly.