SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

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SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by EricoBard » Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:19 pm

Hey, all. They call me Erico the Super Bard, Fanfic writer now for...15 going on 16 years. Just thought I'd fill you all in that I've uploaded the final chapter of a three part short story for my first (And likely only) SWAT Kats Fanfic, "Foundation of Trust." I cut my teeth writing for fun with Mega Man, although my current 'long term' project is for Starfox. Writing SK: FOT was a reaction to the news of the Kickstarter happening (And all of it without me finding out about it until the week after it finished!)

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11484000/1 ... n-of-Trust

The story follows Calico Briggs, Jake and Chance, and eventually Felina through the critical, yet unseen moments of their careers. There were questions I wanted answered, that I was finally able to. How did Callie get a communicator to let her call up the SWAT Kats when there was trouble? How exactly did they make a new and improved Turbokat after Katastrophe? How did Felina join up, and how did she end up trusting the vigilantes more than the establishment? What happened to them after Unlikely Alloys, with their jet's tail end and control surfaces ruined, its stealth module still fried, and the city having survived pseudo-nuclear holocaust? Why did they call themselves T-Bone and Razor, and was there more meaning in that than just a cool sounding callsign?

Then there were other things I wanted to tackle, in a more mature fashion than I'd seen put out previously. We knew a little of Chances' background, but Jake's always been a black hole. How would Felina and Callie find out about their real identities? How could Jake and Chance operate as the SWAT Kats for so long without raising any suspicions? You'd think a couple of dishonorably discharged Enforcers would be on more folks' radars. And how would the shekats react? Would they angst out, or would they react differently? Based on a study of their personality profiles, I leaned in the direction that angst, at least the sort we all lampoon and roll our eyes at, wouldn't be their natural response. In the haste to establish pairings between the guys and the ladies (Or the guys with the guys, or the ladies with the ladies, whatever floats your boat), I've seen a lot of people not put much thought into how they went from uneasy alliance, to trust, and then they sort of skip all the middle phases of relationship building to get to the heavy petting and awkward groping. Which, if that's your thing, terrific, but I'd prefer to focus more on the emotions and the relationships.

So, after four months of solid work, the end result is finished. In hindsight, it's a little amusing to think that I meant it as just a sheer one-off, with only the first chapter planned. "Fear of Loss" and the concluding segment, "Reasons to Live" were made up after the fact. I'd even contemplated making them separate stories entirely, but in the end, kept them together to make a larger, more encompassing whole.

Give it a read, and enjoy. It's not meant to be a story where they face down a new enemy more awesome than anything seen previously, or they're forced into a crisis the likes of which the show never got into. It's a smaller, calmer piece, placed in the timeline to allow for some breathing room and originality...Something that adheres to canon and respects it, while taking on questions that the show never got around to answering.

I'm also fully aware that Swat Kats: Revolution will likely outmode this completely when it get rolling. And I'm fine with that. At its heart, this was always just a tribute piece, a thank you to them, and to all the people who funded their Kickstarter. I learned about it too late to contribute.

I only hope that this little labor of love makes up for it. :)

-Eric "Erico" Lawson
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by MoDaD » Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:37 pm

I'm also fully aware that Swat Kats: Revolution will likely outmode this completely when it get rolling. And I'm fine with that. At its heart, this was always just a tribute piece, a thank you to them, and to all the people who funded their Kickstarter.
Well, let's wait and see, as I'm not sure if a lot of these questions are the kind of thing it's going to lead to or not, but I guess we'll find out.

And, that's quite a sell you've written up :lol:

You've got my attention - I'll add that to my reading list.

And, welcome to the forums! It's always helpful to leave feedback for other writers if you get the opportunity to do so , too ;)
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by Cait » Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:48 pm

Welcome!

Awww, another one that reaches my list of "must read" <*_*> It looks very interesting!
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by MoDaD » Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:32 pm

The overt theme of "trust" in the opening chapter is really well explored, though I thought the great strength of this was the very well done backstory concerning Callie's car, it's emotional significance, and how that was expertly transitioned into the present day / canon situations of the show. It was a very unique approach that I've never seen before and I really enjoyed. Your portrayal of each character is particularly on-point, Callie in particular. I think we can all relate to her challenges of being overworked, underappreciated and surrounded by frustrating circumstances. The level of vulnerability contrasted with personal strength also feels very genuine.

I also really enjoyed Manx's humorous dialogue. Also, the number of technical hand-waves in Jake's spoken and internal exchanges concerning jet fuel in salvaged aircraft and the advanced chemistry of the cement machine gun were really nice subtle touches to help maintain a suspension of disbelief.

Origin story approaches concerning SWAT Kats can be really challenging, and usually there’s something off about them, but what you’ve written in your first chapter is so tonally appropriate that I don’t think I’ll ever look at Callie’s car the same way ever again. You’ve changed my perception of the show, so congrats on that :)

I look forward to reading the next two parts.

Now, on a far less serious note, after reading a particular line in the opening paragraph, I couldn't resist... :lol:

Image
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by EricoBard » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:16 am

Glad that you enjoyed the first chapter. Like you suspected, it serves as a self-encapsulated piece.

Part 2, "Fear of Loss", deals with the emotions involved with worry, panic, and that 'deer in the headlights' feeling.

Part 3, which brings it all to an end, deals with the fallout when there's a lack of trust...and how rational kats can put themselves and their friendships back together again after.

Oh, and you haven't seen the last of the '64 Longclaw. In many ways, Callie's gullwing-door green sedan is a character unto itself. It started this story, really.

And it ends with it.
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by Klawson97 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:38 pm

Very nice; I admire how the dialogue flows with the text - that's something I struggle with when I write.
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by Felix Kayne » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:37 pm

Wow, this was amazing. I loved every second of it.

Also, how come no one made a comment about Bruce Mayne yet? It's too obvious a reference to go unnoticed. :lol:
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by Kooshmeister » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:45 pm

I realized that in my comments over on Fanfiction.net I was needlessly harsh about a few things, so I decided to give this another chance. I'm happy to say that although I still think a lot of the minor characters are a little too one-dimensional in their jerkishness for my tastes (many of them appear to be mean just for the sake of being mean), the overall story of how Callie becomes acquainted with Chance and Jake makes sense and is very well-written.

I can totally see her going to see them to get a second opinion about her car, and their being straight with her when her first choice (curse you, Larry!) tried to screw her over goes a long way towards explaining why she chooses to keep returning to such an out of the way hole in thewall to get her car fixed when she can have her pick of any mechanic in the city, and I liked how she and Jake bond over their mutual appreciation for the kind of car she drives.

And even though I still think Felina is a little too quick to take up the SWAT Kats' banner, I liked that that scene between her and Feral sets up some tension over the issue between her and her uncle and how she seems torn between her loyalties to the Enforcers (and her uncle in particular) and the SWAT Kats.

And if I may say... good lord, the Clawsons are a nasty bunch. Jake should pretend they don't exist. :shock:
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by EricoBard » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:34 am

Koosh. I happened to be awake when your three reviews all came in...all within the span of 15 minutes, concurrent to one another. It wasn't quite the best part of waking up I was expecting. Getting your PM a half an hour later confirmed what I'd suspected: You'd glossed over the story, and made some snap judgments you ended up regretting. Unfortunately, you posted them with a user account instead of anonymously or as a guest reviewer, so no. I can't remove them. Your "Oopsie, I did a bad thing" reviews are stuck there for all time now. Unless I report them as abuse, which is kind of pointless anyways. The Mods there are next to useless in getting anything done. I'd encourage you, in the future, to put some more thought into reviews. Take some time to put together your arguments, your dislikes. It removes those feelings of regret.

After writing for 16 years, I may rely on one-off characters, but only because in the grand scheme, those individuals exist to move the plot forward. You complained about the first car mechanic, Larry, and you didn't like Jake's family or the Enforcer. Good, you're not supposed to. They exist solely as sounding boards to give you a better look at the psychology at play in the kats around them, the main cast. Do you know what happens when you spend too much time writing intricate backstories and psychological analyses of incidental characters? You turn into James Michener. And I don't know if you've ever read any of his books, but James Michener is famous for two things: Having novels that are so long that you could kill a goat with a blow to the head from one of his thick tomes, and having so much character overload that he's forced to routinely cull the herd in mass deaths and killings.

Larry the mechanic may have been rude, but he was honest. He was up front with Callie. "Your car is old, and worn down, and to fix it would cost a lot of money." "I don't have the parts for it, but there's a place that probably does, and it'll be expensive." "At this point, it's only good for scrap, there's no resale value, so you'd be better off driving it to the junkyard south of town." And then after the fact, since he has very little respect for the junkyard kats who work there, "What the hell, they think they're mechanics. They may be able to help you." Start to finish, did he insult her? Make a pass at her? No. He was just no-nonsense about it, and made it clear that putting her '64 Longclaw back to rights would be prohibitively expensive.

I didn't put a donut in his hand, he wasn't drinking coffee, he wasn't reclining in a chair or telling her he could fix it with a lot of unnecessary repairs. He isn't corrupt or lazy. He's a kat in Megakat City worn down by life, and he doesn't have time to pussyfoot around. Plus, he doesn't have access to the parts and equipment that Jake and Chance do. When the car pulls into their lot, Jake takes Callie and searches the junkyard, finding just the right vehicle out in the maze of rusting steel which he can yank gear out of. "It's amazing what you can find in a salvage yard." Larry's just a car mechanic working in the city. For him, parts are what he can order from the Napa Auto Parts dealership a block away from his shop.

As for the Enforcer who kicked in Jake's taillight, yeah, you're not supposed to like him. He's a dick, and one who knows who Jake and Chance used to be, and decided to rub it in Jake's face. There are corrupt cops out there. There are also good cops out there. Hence, Felina. Again, why should I spend time filling in a backstory and personality for an incidental character when he isn't important? He exists solely to create an incident where Jake Clawson and Felina Feral can meet face to face. Felina doesn't take a side until she's reviewed the evidence, and found traces of the Enforcer's bootshine on the busted in pieces of tail light. After that, poof, he can shove off and disappear. He isn't important.

They're not strawmen. A "Strawman", as indicated by TV Tropes, refers to a caricature with a particular position or agenda which I'd make for you to to hate and rally against. I very much doubt I have any political agenda I'm promoting with Larry or the Enforcer. One's just unable to give Callie's car the tender loving care it requires because it's so damn old, and the other doesn't have an agenda. He's just a dick.

You also mentioned that you didn't like Jake's family. We do not live in a world where every family is perfect. Mine sure the hell isn't. I have an uncle who's still married to his wife, is a family physician and doctor, and has three kids. He's also nuts. He rules over his family with an iron fist, and has made his wife fearful of him. Oh, he's not dumb enough to hit her, but you don't need physical violence for there to be abuse. He disowned his daughter for getting pregnant out of wedlock, became hyper-conservative and uber-christian (Only when he started making loads of money), and isn't speaking to my mother or anyone in my family because mom, dad, and my sister DARED TO ATTEND THE WEDDING OF HIS DAUGHTER WHICH HE DID NOT APPROVE OF. I've heard other horror stories in my time too, but end of the day, there are families out there who are so screwed up that it leaves you feeling squeamish.

My mother couldn't sit at my grandfather's bedside when he passed away because Dr. Dickhead Uncle wouldn't be in the same room with her and do his fricking job as an M.D. She's cried enough tears over it, and you got a brief glimpse of that with Jake drinking a six-pack of fermented milk after getting the phone call from his brother about his mother passing away and being told flatly he can't come home for the funeral. Authors often use experiences from their own life to empower their writing. Songwriters write songs for loved ones. Eric Clapton wrote "Tears in Heaven" when his son died. He refuses to perform that song in concerts. If I have an agenda in putting that in, it's to make clear to all of you just how screwed up some families are. And, to hopefully encourage you to do better when you become parents and uncles and aunts yourself. Live vicariously through the lives of others, and learn from their mistakes so you don't end up repeating them.

-----------------------------

Last thing you didn't like: Callie getting sentimental over her car. If anything dug at me in your reviews, it was this sticking point. Because her car, in so many ways, is the very heart of this story.

Remember, that's not her car. It was her father's car, and she loved her father an awful lot. She and Jake bond over liking the same kinds of music, but it's more than that. Jake's an auto mechanic who cares about putting the work in and fixing things. She has fond memories of Saturday mornings hanging around in the garage when her father was working. When she and Jake drive out to the junk piles and go looking...a little peace and remembrance comes back to her.

When her father dies, all she has left to remember him by aside from photos, is that car. That '64 Longclaw. It's not a set piece, it's a character unto itself in the story. It is the plot engine which causes a young Deputy Mayor, fresh out of hope and bordering on despondency, to run headfirst into the two kats who will do more to restore her faith in katkind and Megakat City's recovery than anyone else. It may be an "Old crate", but it's hers, and there's a lot of memories tied into it. Plus, remember that she's fresh out of college and sitting on a mountain of student loan debts. Buying a new car and tagging on yet another loan? Probably not in her plans, or her budget.

Never underestimate sentimentality. Why do some people keep around stuffed animals? Why do some people race into burning buildings to save household pets, get themselves killed over a cat or a dog? Why do some people put such value on home keepsakes? You've heard of people who go on Antiques Roadshow, get some family keepsake appraised, find out it's worth thousands of dollars, and yet will still refuse to sell it, because "It's worth more than that to us." Memories have value. It's easy to dismiss these individuals as stupid, or soft, or overly emotional, but what objects and memories do you value in your own life, and refuse to let go of?

The timing of her car accident in the third chapter coincides with Callie also discovering, unintentionally, that the two mechanics she's friends with, the one she's had a crush on for a while now, might be more than what he seems. That evening is when she pages the SWAT Kats, gets Razor...and realizes it's been Jake all along. Her world is falling apart around her. Her father's car, which she's held onto since he passed away, has been totaled. To find out that Jake, who refused her advances, is Razor, just flattens her. It's Callie's low point, lower than when we first saw her in chapter one.

That '64 Longclaw is more than memories of her father. It's a symbol for herself, and Megakat City. It represents fond memories of a time when violence and super-criminals weren't an ongoing threat. When there wasn't quite as much unemployment, or a wide gap between the rich and the poor. When there was hope.
Callie losing her car is the loss of all of that hope.

Callie finding out that Jake's been working on rebuilding her car from the ground up in his spare time...that revives her entirely. If she didn't love him before that point, that sealed it for her. All of them working on fixing that Longclaw up at the conclusion of this three chapter story isn't just four friends, two newly minted romantic couples all being together. It's about them, a younger generation rubbed raw by life, refusing to back down and give in to depression, hopelessness, and futility. Them working on that car at the end is a declaration that there are things worth keeping, worth protecting. Worth saving. It is sentimentality, yes, and I'm proud of it.

To me, that was what SWAT Kats was about, at its heart. Yes, it's a show that has high flying action, smarmy catch phrases. At its core, though, it's about capable kats, capable people who've been tossed aside, and who have basically said, "Screw it, we're still going to do our jobs and make life better for the people around us." It's about people doing the right thing, even when it isn't popular. About taking on a mantle of responsibility when everyone else is interested in ducking their heads down, looking out for themselves, and just shuffling through life one day after another. That's certainly what keeps Dark Kat coming back over and over. I'm positive that if he ever defeated the SWAT Kats and toppled the Enforcers and city hall, Megakat City would roll over and submit to him. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, after all...

In my youth, I cared little for romance, or sentiment, or theming. Were you to read my (shudder) early works, you'd see I was obsessed with just doing adventure stories.
As I've gotten older, my perspective, what I value, has changed. In the second chapter with Backdraft, you got a taste of how I do an action scene.
I value the sentimentality just as much now.
That's why Callie's Longclaw is so important.
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Re: SWAT Kats: Foundation of Trust

Post by Kooshmeister » Sat Jun 04, 2016 3:08 pm

Oh well. What's done is done and I'll own up to my screw-up. Although I get the feeling I'm being given a dressing down here. I probably deserve it, though. :lol:
EricoBard wrote:To me, that was what SWAT Kats was about, at its heart. Yes, it's a show that has high flying action, smarmy catch phrases. At its core, though, it's about capable kats, capable people who've been tossed aside, and who have basically said, "Screw it, we're still going to do our jobs and make life better for the people around us." It's about people doing the right thing, even when it isn't popular. About taking on a mantle of responsibility when everyone else is interested in ducking their heads down, looking out for themselves, and just shuffling through life one day after another. That's certainly what keeps Dark Kat coming back over and over. I'm positive that if he ever defeated the SWAT Kats and toppled the Enforcers and city hall, Megakat City would roll over and submit to him.
You do the citizens of Megakat City a disservice, I think.

Not to steal the SWAT Kats' thunder, but plenty of people besides them take responsibility and are depicted as altruistic, unselfish and brave. For the most part, only Manx ever avoids taking responsibility for anything. Callie clearly does her job, and no matter how many times they're shown up, humiliated and knocked down, Feral and the Enforcers keep getting back up, dusting themselves off, regrouping, and trying again. They're clearly just as dedicated to protecting the city as the SWAT Kats, and if anything, despite having more manpower and weaponry and a bigger budget, they're the underdog, so their tenaciousness should make them worthy of everyone's respect rather than their derision.

And there are the scientists. Except for a certain snake-tailed maniac and, eventually Greenbox, all of the scientists in the show are dedicated solely to katkind's betterment and helping the city. Dr. Zyme wanted to solve world hunger and donate his miracle formula. Hackle wanted to save lives with his revolutionary mind transfer process, and although you could argue replacing people with robots for servants and workers would put a lot of people out of a job, his goal was not to make money but make life easier, so his heart was in the right place, he just lacked foresight. And even the folks at Pumadyne, which you'd think would be depicted as a villainous or shady organization, gave the Enforcers such things as an advanced super-tank to fight crime with, a machine for stopping earthquakes and a machine that can turn off weapons systems. It isn't their fault these things went horribly wrong, were stolen or otherwise used for evil. After all, what is the alternative? I'll tell you. It's doing nothing at all, which would make them guilty of what you say, of being complacent and uninterested in ever changing anything. But clearly, these scientists believed the potential benefits of their work outweighed the risk that the results might be misused, and while we can agree or disagree with them, their intentions were good, and not a one of them ever tried to avoid responsibility - even when Zyme is told, to his face, it isn't his fault Purvis was such a greedy backstabbing little troll, he still continues blaming himself for the whole thing and mopes about it, and Hackle, of course, is not only forever trying to make up for past sins, but for recent ones as well, such as trying to put the proverbial genie that is the Metallikats (assuming genies robbed banks instead of granting wishes) back into the proverbial bottle, to try and salvage something positive from them because he feels so guilty for having unleashed them upon the world.

Or, heck, on a smaller scale, take Taylor the mining company foreman in Caverns of Horror. His men have been disappearing, five so far, and Conklin still wants them to go back down and keep working, "or pack up your stuff and get outta here!" He throws his drill down and refuses to risk his life needlessly, inspiring the other miners to join him in standing up to Conklin, and even goes behind his boss' back when it becomes abundantly clear Conklin isn't going to do anything ("The Enforcers? Who called them?!" "I did!"). Taylor doesn't knuckle under to Conklin's demands and threats. Yeah, he's refusing to do his job, but only because Conklin won't guarantee his safety and the safety of his men. Heck, it's also his quick-thinking that gets everyone out of the mine (thanks for nothing, Commando #1!). The only reason he, Felina and the others even need the SWAT Kats at that point is because the unstable elevator shaft threatens to collapse in on itself, something which is beyond his control.

Or, heck, how about the manager of the mint in Unlikely Alloys? The set on that guy! And I don't mean his ugly vest and bowtie combo! :lol:

Here he is faced with two armed, murderous gangster-bots... and he tries to use himself as a shield to prevent them from getting into the vault. He could've done nothing and just hid somewhere waiting for the Enforcers or the SWAT Kats to show up, or for the Metallikats to simply get what they came for and leave, but he chose to stand up to them. Yes, he was an idiot and it almost got him killed, but the bravery of fools is still bravery, and he probably saved the life of the guy Mac picked up, because in turning to deal with the manager, Mac puts the other guy down and forgets about him. In fact, giving the timing, I like to think the manager's sudden attempt at a brave stand was done in response to seeing someone being endangered.

There's plenty of responsible and brave individuals in Megakat City, proving it is a city worthy of being cared about and saved.
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