I've got a lot on my plate lately, and I'm also doing extensive rewriting of a lot of old chapters, and I have total story overhauls in the works for some of my older stuff, as well as trying to find inspiration for yet others. Other than that, I've got a few new games that are occupying my time, but also giving me ideas for new stories that I will release at a much later date, if they pan out. And with that, enjoy.
Disclaimer: I, Lord Genesis Shadow, do not own the rights to SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron.
I turned the wrench quietly when my cell phone vibrated, so I finished the turn rapidly, tightening the bolt in place before pulling the phone out. It was Jake Clawson, so I picked it up, using my shoulder to hold it to my ear.
"Leon Mane." I said. "Good news?"
"Yeah, we're done with the repairs." He said. "It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, it was mostly the paint, which we did by hand, just like before but, a little more vivid. We used our eh, special, customary shade of red."
"I can see it already." I said. He laughed. "I'll pick it up after work if it's not too late, otherwise in the morning." I looked around a little, carefully. "Might need to keep an eye out just in case. You never know who might follow the other bike."
"About that, go ahead and keep it, I'll bring the truck up to give you a ride from your place." He said. "Figure you earned it, since you went out with Felina."
"You heard about that?" I asked.
"It was on the news." He said. "Sorry you didn't win that nice shotgun."
"It went to a good home with the captain's uncle." I said. "It's a wall hanger anyway, not like I'd be able to carry it around all day."
"So, uh, did you get a goodbye kiss?" He asked. I laughed.
"I escorted her to the front door, and she thanked me for a nice evening." I said. "Interesting stuff happened after, but things turned out okay for it." I started turning a torque wrench for another bolt.
"Got a project going on there?" He asked.
"Putting up a stand for my tomatoes and peppers." I said. "Making the apartment a little more, friendly, and it's food I can maintain indoors all year, hopefully. Might end up with the likes of a garden with sun-lamps one of these getting the last bolts in place."
"If you're at home, I'll just come by." He said.
"No, I actually have some stuff I need to take care of up at City Hall." I said. "Mostly concerning some paperwork, might take until night."
"Well, no reason…" He started. "You know, never mind, this dragon of a bike would wake up half the city. Chance and I, eh, made a little modification. It's louder, but gets better mileage, using, proprietary tech."
"Cool." I said. "I'll wait outside in uniform after work then. Should get off at six, but if I'm not there by half past, head to a diner a block east at the corner, tell them to put your dinner on my tab."
"Hey, here's hopin' you work late." He said. I laughed.
"Tell you what, we'll stop by anyway." I said. "You haven't lived until you've tried their pies. Best in the city, easy." There was a knock at the door so I looked over. "Looks like company. See you tomorrow, partner."
"Later." He said. He hung up and I put the phone away, walking to the door and looking through the peephole. It was the superintendant, so I opened it.
"Good morning." I said.
"Morning." He said. "Heard you've got some plants, thought I'd make sure they won't be a problem." I gestured and he came in. "Tomatoes and… What are those?"
"Mondo Chili Peppers." I said. "I'm thinking of making a new kind of fuel. Two drops will take you cross country." He laughed. "Five tomato plants, two chili pepper plants."
"I can't see that going bad." He said. "Mind if I pop by when the tomatoes are ready, buy 'em thirty cents apiece." I held my hand out and he shook it.
"Deal." I said. "I just need to hang these and then I need to get over to City Hall for, the rest of the afternoon." He nodded and walked out, closing the door, so I hung the plants one by one. "Perfect. That's just where they should be…" I nodded and grabbed my jacket and a few things before walking out, getting my helmet ready. I went down the stairs calmly, and as I got down, the two officers from the night before were in the lobby. They immediately looked at me.
"Hey, we heard about that guy you caught last night." The older officer said. "Any chance we can get him for jail?"
"No, he, committed suicide in the interrogation room." I said. "He was a person of interest in an ongoing investigation on our end. Darndest thing, he had a fake tooth with a suicide pill, cyanide at five times the lethal dose." They whistled. "Didn't get a real name or they took him out of the system." The one walked up as I got into the lobby.
"So eh, he was, like a spy?" He asked. "And, you caught him?"
"Well, I'm that good." I said. "But no, he was just some kat that had a wrong address to deliver a letter to. No idea who he was dealing with, you know?" They laughed. "Well, if there's nothing else, I have a meeting with the mayor, off duty stuff thankfully. That party last night wore on a little." They laughed as we walked out, and they pointed.
"So uh, who stole the SWAT Kats' super bike?" The younger one asked. I got on it.
"They let me use it for a while, might even let me keep it if I'm lucky." I said. "I'll find a place to keep it once I get my own bike back." They stared as I started it up and put my helmet on and gave a salute. "Keep up the solid work, guys." They returned it and I drove off at the speed limit almost instantly, and I went through stoplights fairly quickly, up to City Hall. As I parked, I locked it down with the code and put the helmet in a compartment before walking in. At the desk, I held out my ID. "I'm here for a meeting with Mayor Briggs."
"Of course, she's expecting you." The clerk said. She gestured to the elevators and I walked over, putting my wallet away, but a kat got up.
"Hey, I've been trying to get a meeting for months!" He yelled. "I need to get stuff done!"
"Sorry, but this is marked as vitally important to the city." The clerk said.
"Screw that, I'm taking this appointment!" He yelled. He went to grab me, but I spun and caught his wrist, using a pressure point on the back of his hand to stun him. He just stood there, still as a statue as security came over, and when I let go, he practically melted to the floor, just slumping. They stared as I held my hand up.
"Takedown technique I picked up." I said. "Works wonders." They stared as I got into an elevator after a few kats stepped out, and I hit the button for my floor, holding it to make sure for a second. While it went up, I listened to the song, a piano version of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. When the door finally opened I stepped out to a few security guards, armed. I held up my ID and badge, and they nodded me over.
"Purpose of visit?" The one on the left asked.
"I've got a meeting with Mayor Briggs, private." I said. They nodded and let me through, closing the door and locking it behind me. I walked over as she turned a few papers over. When she looked up, I was already at the chair, and she jumped slightly.
"Oh, wow…" She said. "You're, quiet."
"Sorry, new shoes." I said. She laughed as I waited, and she gestured, so I sat. "So, what was so important I had to override a guy downstairs?"
"What do you mean?" She asked. "What guy?"
"He's been trying to get a meeting for months, apparently." I said.
"Oh, that's Peter Nylex." She said. "He thinks the city owes him money, when, after a lot of checking on a lot of people's parts, shows that he owes the city fourteen thousand dollars in back taxes because he moved to Canada for a few years but never got nationalized and he never renounced his ties to the US, so he still owed city taxes for the house he kept here, along with a lot of other taxes. He's living out of the most expensive hotel and claims he's living on the streets." I nodded. "But since that's going to court in a few days, he's supposed to be barred from the building." She shook her head. "At any rate, I asked Feral for copies of the data on you from the program, as they're going over it again. One thing you and Felina skipped over, probably because we were all so tired, caught my eye this morning." She pushed a page forward. "Those chemical treatments." I put my hand to my forehead. "You said something about shots?"
"Steele." I said. "I was going to get back to the 'immunizations', but then he interrupted and I forgot about it." I sighed quietly as I looked at the paper. "It surprised me when I learned of it, but truly I wondered if it was about me or if it was an email from another facility. Now I guess, it is. It has to be."
"Three times the strength of a kat your age and size, and species." She said. "Now, correct me if I'm wrong, you're, six foot four and a half inches?" I nodded. "And you're seventeen, and to top it off, a liger, so you'll probably top out at what, six foot six?" I shrugged.
"Conservatively." I said. "But yes, I get strong fast, and can work out harder and longer than I should be able to, and recover faster. It is another thing that makes me so capable in a fight. But it is all toned muscle, compacted, one might say. The muscle tissue just has more density per cell, triple what it should."
"So when you took down those thugs at Jenkins apartment…" She said. "Or their friends at the poll, or the robber, or even the kat at your apartment?"
"I was holding back a fair bit to avoid crippling them or, breaking their skulls." I said. She nodded.
"One kid apparently wanted to file charges for Enforcer brutality." She said. "But since you were off duty, and it was self defense, the judge refused to even hear their complaint. But, are you also, three times faster, or, are your eyes three times as sharp, your ears?"
"My senses are, unique." I said. "Yes, I can run fast, but maybe twice as fast as I should be capable of, while my senses are just about to the level of a blind kat, while actually improving my sight. I can hear quite well, and see a bit better, and I can smell things more distinctly, but at the end of the day, it is not tripled senses or agility. Double speed and maybe twice as good as another kat for senses." She nodded, looking through the pages for a moment.
"It says here that you had some friends." She said. "Can you give the names?"
"Pointless now, as I don't know how many are alive." I said. "But… There was one, my girlfriend at the time."
"Oh?" She asked. "They, didn't frown upon that?"
"We weren't really soldiers." I said. "We were kids, and that was that. They figured, teenagers with hormones are going to do what you don't want them to when it comes to their personal lives, so instead of denying us and finding out later that, oh, this kid got that girl pregnant, or that girl got a pregnancy scare, it was more to encourage us to form meaningful bonds instead of just trying to pair up and see how long we could stay together." I looked at the papers for a moment. "Penny, was her name. Incredible pilot, literally the second best of the entire program, though, it could never be said she was a 'close' second. Thirteen lost fighters, accuracy was less on average by twelve percent, and she never did well on solo missions, did three before it was kicked my way." I laughed. "She had a cute laugh, always made me smile… She was a lynx, a little wild, but not remotely like I was known to be during hand to hand drills. You know, one time, we were put against one another, and…"
"You beat her?" She asked.
"She beat me." I said. "Handily. Up to that point they said I was the top ranked hand to hand fighter at our camp, but she took me down three times in a row, before we became an item… I went all out, using all of my focus, and she still managed to beat me. From that point on we were rivals of a sort, I would challenge her after a few weeks of dedicated training, she would beat me, but I always felt like I was closer… We were separated, though. I stopped getting calls from her, never heard from her again, but not for lack of attempts." I pointed at her phone. "I would try to call her each day on our private phones, but I never got in touch. Came to find out the final day her phone had been fried somehow, and she couldn't get my number, but she was just on the other side of the facility… They ran things harder there, I had heard, so maybe she just couldn't find the time, or, something, but that was that, or so I believed."
"What happened?" She asked after a moment.
"The last day, we were brought before a five star general of the Army." I said. "He stood in front of us, hands behind his back, a pipe in his mouth and blowing smoke at us all. He stands before us, and he says that we are to be separated for good, and that coming into contact with one another, while not illegal, would probably not be a good idea. Penny and I were side by side up until the end of his speech, where he guides us, both of us, to a group of helicopters, side by side. He gives us a few minutes to say goodbye and to pick the chopper, one leading to Megakat City, which I chose. There were, maybe two dozen in all, maybe more, it was a little hectic and there was little time to look around." I leaned back. "The kids say goodbye to one another while Penny just stares at me as I look at the Megakat chopper and then her. I offer my hand, tell her I've been trying to call her for months, but she just, gives me this look, and says, that we can't be together anymore, because I didn't try hard enough for her. I told her that each day I would ask about her status, but no one would tell me anything apart from 'we don't have a number to give you, sir', and she tells me that I should have pulled rank… When she got into the other chopper, she told me to never even think about looking for her, or she would just leave without a word." She was silent. "Now, seven months later, I am still here in Megakat City, trying to keep my new life on track." She nodded.
"You're doing a great job of it." She said. "Some kats might have just, spent a long time crying themselves to sleep."
"Well, crying is not what I do, but, I think about the good times most nights." I said wistfully. I looked to the windows. "Often I dream about being in my Phantom, chasing down terrorist fighter jets, or drug carrying planes or, trains, or ships… Penny flying at my left, the rest of both of our squads right behind us, ready to spread out and stop a war, or keep the catnip lines running thin."
"And, Felina?" She asked.
"I am trying to think of a good place to take her out on a date, later this month." I said, looking at her. "She and I figure that there is no harm in it, and if things do not work out, we can always just find a way to stay friends, or at least part without animosity between us. She is a mature woman, and I like to believe I am mature for seventeen." She laughed.
"Well, the way you were raised, I'd say you're right." She said. "Heck, if you were three years older, and weren't dating Felina, I'd be hard pressed to not ask you out." I smiled a little.
"You know, my father always said the men of the Mane family had a curse." I said. "Always saying that when I was older, it would 'kick in' and beautiful women would find me hard to resist." She laughed quietly and I pulled out a picture of my parents. "My CO, had this picture acquired for me, copied of course, and, well…" She looked at it and smirked. "Tell me now that you don't think there's something to the curse. How could my father possibly end up with a tigress like that if he didn't have something supernatural working for him?"
"No kidding." She said. "Is she a swimsuit model?" I laughed as I put it back.
"No, I, can't remember what she does anymore." I said. "It's been a long time."
"You know, I just noticed, how tall were they?" She asked.
"Ah, why am I tall, is why you ask." I said. She nodded. "My father is five seven, my mother is five eight, but an interesting fact, I looked this up myself by the way, a liger will grow to be much larger than either parent. They are of the average height for lions and tigers, but I am average for a liger. Look at the basketball circuit. Four ligers across the teams, and they stand nearly a foot taller than anyone on the court, upwards of eight feet. Six and a half feet is just a little on the tall side, as most get to be my height."
I stared at the bike, running my hand over the tank carefully. It was better than new, by far.
"Chromed the handlebars, repainted the tank with a high gloss finish." Chance said. "Did some work on the pipes, redid the forks, and modified the engine to work better with those tune-ups you did before us. Add it all up, and you get the dragon."
"It is entirely amazing." I said. "The paint is so vivid, and everything looks brand new… I'm at a loss for words past that."
"Yeah, well, you really stuck it to Burke and Murray." Jake said. "Ran 'em off the road for good measure, and that's always good for a laugh. And I had an idea about the Cyclotron we gave you. If you don't have anywhere to put it, why not keep it at Enforcer HQ in the garage, where you can use it if you ever need to get somewhere a jet can't go." I put my hand to my chin. "If nothing else, who'd steal a bike from the Enforcers?"
"Good point." I said.
"Getting home might be a bother, at first, but then again, you've got your partner." Chance said. "Jenkins, was it?"
"Yeah…" I said, laughing. "You know the charity ball?" They nodded. "Well, Jenkins went, bought a ticket, and he was almost dragged off by, get this, Cammy Lynx." Chance sighed.
"Man, some guys get all the luck." He said.
"I don't know, she's had some problems lately." Jake said. "I heard she's been getting into catnip lately, and she's, eh, how to put it lightly…"
"She's been drinking heavily lately, like a fish." I said. "When she got near our table, I could swear for a few moments my vision was blurry and I couldn't think straight just from when she laughed."
"Oh, yeah, I'd heard about that." Chance said. "But eh, what she was wearing… That was photoshopped in, right? No way was she wearing that thin and tight of a dress." I laughed, holding my hands out in front of me.
"She hugged Jenkins, and I thought two watermelons were beside his head." I said. "She gave him two hugs, if you get my drift." They both laughed. "I swear, if it weren't for me, he'd have had to let her down, and I don't think he had it in him to do so gently. He looked more than a little uncomfortable."
"Sheesh, if that were me, I'd at least stop by a pharmacy on the way home." Chance said. "If you get my drift." I laughed.
"Well, you would, but I don't know." I said. "The catnip thing… She's been arrested nine times for possession."
"I thought it was eight." Jake said.
"She broke out a baggy of it in front of Feral." I said. "He was forced to arrest her on the spot." Chance groaned.
"Darn, and she did a great job in her last three movies." He said.
"You mean the ones where she played college students, all of them nymphomaniacs?" Jake said. Chance sighed. "Yeah, she's not like that in real life."
"Hey, ask Jenkins and Feral." I said. "And the guards watching her, his brother…Felina and Miss Briggs." They laughed. "The officer that drove her to the jail, the list goes on a fairly long ways."