The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

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The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:03 am

Good morning to everyone. I recently joined the forum and decided to share with you this story that I started last year. At the moment of publishing this, I have already finished 10 chapters -all in Spanish- so I will take the time to update: between completing this fic, translating it, and completing the other fics I have pending, and... well... routine life.

I just want to clarify three things before I start:

- My English is not very good: I use translators to be able to publish it; with time I hope to improve. If you notice any grammatical errors, please let me know.
- This fic is a crossover that takes elements from another franchise; almost all my works are crossovers. I don't have the rights to any of the franchises.
- In the places where I published it, I had a little more freedom regarding bad words. I will correct that to publish it here; don't worry.

Anyway, that's it. I hope you enjoy it.


LOGLINE: Before becoming known as T-Bone and Razor, Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong had their first big adventure from which they barely escaped with their lives. Fifteen years later, and after the disappearance of a child in their old neighborhood, everything indicates that the past has not forgotten about them, although it seems that they have forgotten about him.



__________________________________________________________________________________________



Chapter 1: Beware of the Door.


Gatalina Valley, Megakat City. Fifteen years ago.


— We're almost there, Jake! Run Run!!
— She's following us, Chance! We're not gonna make it!
— Sure we are, there's the door! Come on!

There it was: in the midst of the thick and stale darkness, the barely illuminated threshold with a half-open door stood up. Chance was the first one to cross, barely followed by Jake, who after the cry of "Close it!", hurried to look for the key in his pockets while Chance turned his back on the door to try to block it.

A loud knock shook the door, accompanied by an eerie scream that shook the two little kids. Chance wasted no time in blocking the door; despite being only ten years old, he was a robust and strong child for his age, while Jake, a year and a half younger, was much thinner and excelling in his intelligence.

— The key, Jake! Get the key!
— I'm not finding it: it got tangled up in my pockets!
— Hurry, she wants to get out!
— I got it! -In an attempt to take it carefully it slips from his fingers- Crud!
— JAKEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
— I got it, Chance!
CLOSE IT!!

With hasty movements, Jake put the key in the lock and turned it as far as possible to lock it; then he hastily took the key out and held it in his paw before another loud knock on the door surprised them. He immediately helped his friend lock it with all his might.

It didn't take long for the banging and screaming to stop; the presence of any kind of threat soon vanished. Both children relaxed and sat down on the floor, supported by the door and extremely tired.

— I think she's gone, Jake. -Chance sighed- Finally.
— So it seems. -answered the youngest child with cinnamon fur; suddenly, he started crying- We couldn't save them, Chance.
— I know... -the older one put a paw on Jake's shoulder and patted him, but he couldn't hide his disappointment- But they said that the important thing was that we managed to escape; don't worry.
— But I promised! I told them I would get them out of there and I couldn't! -the little boy ended up hugging Chance; He didn’t know what to say- If I had not slipped...
— Jake, you tried; we tried. And we’re alive, and so are your parents: that's what matters.
— What are we going to do now?

Both boys looked at the key on Jake's right paw: it was black, very old, with a button head. Who would have thought that a key would bring so much trouble? Well, now they knew.

— We have to get rid of it.
— I will do it; trust me: no one else will ever see this thing again. -he replied more firmly and calmly. He had stopped crying- Chance...
— Yes?
— Thanks for coming to save me, buddy.
— Nah, it's nothing. -Chance replied, as if to diminish his importance- I had to it. Who would help me with my summer vacation homework if something happened to you?

Normally that comment would make him angry, but instead, Jake laughed along with his friend; at least Chance recognized that he wasn't that bright in school. Jake looked at the clock in the living room: it was almost dawn.

— I have to return home. -said the robust child- Or my parents and my brothers will kill me.
— You'll be fine?
— HAH! Do not worry. -he replied with a heavy heart as he was about to leave the house- I know how to avoid being discovered.
— Well, be careful.
— Jake… -Chance turned to him, facing him: his expression was more serious than usual. He put his right paw close to his friend- Let's make a promise.
— Promise?
— Promise me that we will never, EVER, cross that door again, not to mention what happened. And if someone breaks it, we will stop being friends.
— But Chance ...
— Forgetting it little by little is going to be the best, don't you think?

Jake was hesitant about such a request. Not to talk about it again and otherwise stop being friends? It was a risky gamble: neither he nor Chance were exactly the most popular kids in school. On the other hand, was it worth sacrificing something so valuable for a matter that had already been settled? Chance was right: forgetting it would be for the best.

— I promise, Chance.
— Right. So I'm leaving before my family wakes up. You’ll come to my house to play later, right?
— I'll try. -he answered unconvinced- I don't know what I'm going to tell my parents…
— You're smart, Jake. -he smiled knowingly- You'll think of something, and don't forget to help me with my homework!
— Of course. See you, Chance.

Jake stayed for a few moments on the porch of his house to watch his friend walk down the sidewalk in the dark, lit only by the streetlights that would soon stop working to make way for the daylight. That was what Jake lacked: the courage and bravery of Chance to walk alone through the streets of the neighborhood at night despite being only ten years old, or to enter his house without permission to rescue him from...

No: he had to keep his word even within his mind. Chance had saved his life and that was all that mattered; he would keep his promise. After closing the door of his house, he turned his eyes to the key, even in his paw: there was one last thing to do before burying everything that had happened in oblivion.

Taking advantage of the fact that his parents were still asleep -assuming they had returned- he took care of getting rid of the key before going to bed.



__________________________________________________________________________________________



Megakat City. Today.


The living room was empty, save for a little ten-year-old boy, with gray tabby fur in blue shorts and a white short-sleeved T-shirt, sitting on the couch in front of the turned on TV and hugging an old doll who looked very much like him.

Normally he should be in his bed trying to sleep because it was past nine o'clock, but nobody was there to reproach him: his father had gone out of the house, and who knows what time he would come back; his mother was in her room, lying down and possibly reading in silence. That did not matter to him: he preferred to be there alone watching the TV at those hours when the news of the night shift was on; if he was lucky, he could see the only interesting thing at that hour.
And that night, he was lucky.

“This is Ann Gora of Kat's Eye News reporting from the Megakat City downtown where moments ago the Swat Kats stopped another of Dr. Viper's evil plans.” -the camera points to the night sky, focusing on the of the Turbokat cabin- “There they are!"

Seeing their faces, which despite the distance, were recognizable, provoked a smile on the boy's almost inexpressive face: seeing his heroes was a rejoicing balm in the face of the dreary routine life. Then came the babbling of Commander Feral complaining as always; no matter how much that grumbler scolded: the Swat Kats were very popular among school children, and it was common for many to play at being them or even to build replicas of the Turbokat out of cardboard and pieces of wood.

He kept watching the news, even though they talked about boring things, always hugging his doll, who noticed a certain sparkle in its button eyes. Possibly from the reflection of the TV, he thought.


__________________________________________________________________________________________


"Jake ... Chance ... How much they’ve grown ... I missed them so much"


__________________________________________________________________________________________



It had been a busy night: Viper was leaving on his one-million-third attempt to turn the city into a paradise for the most psychopathic ecoterrorists, and of course, they had come to stop him ... and of course, the Enforcers were late so as not to make a big deal out of it, as usual.

— I'm beginning to wonder if Dr. Viper is missing a brainstorm, T-Bone: his latest plan reminds me so much of one of his earlier plans.
— Freeing up a mutant salad buffet all over the city? -asked the Turbokat pilot mockingly- Yes, it brings back memories of roasted cabbage.
— Let's just hope that if he takes the trouble to come back, he'll be a little more original. Or fighting it will get a little boring.
— Nah: kicking that lizard's tail will never be boring, Razor.
— Sure!
— What do you say? A little night patrol before going home?
— Roger, T-Bone. After all, Callie can't be our alarm forever; she needs to sleep.
— Right! I know a shortcut that’ll save us time!
— You and your shortcuts, T-Bone!

The Turbokat crossed the Megakat’s skies, watching for any suspicious movement they might find; some passers-by managed to see the silhouette of the jet ploughing through the darkness and hearing the roar of its engines as it crossed between the buildings in daring maneuvers, the vast majority just hearing the famous plane without seeing it. And some other vermin ended up surprised to hear such a noise at night and raise their eyes to the sky in search of the source of that deafening noise. From the Turbokat, its occupants couldn't tell who was looking at them down there. Did it matter? The people had their own affairs, and so did they.

Nor could they see all those eyes that looked at them with curiosity, with astonishment, with anxiety. Least of all the little ones: tiny black beads with a faint crimson glow, whose source raised its head and pointed at the sky after the Turbokat passed by.

“We are small but we are many
We are many, we are small
We were here before you rose
We will be here when you fall”




__________________________________________________________________________________________



After touring the city and finding nothing that required their help, the Swat Kats returned to their hangar. It was dark, and the Salvage Yard was deserted, so there was no risk of being discovered: Razor had insisted several times on installing security cameras around it, but T-Bone said it was a bad idea with a very good justification. Why put surveillance cameras on a junkyard? Although the smaller Swat Kat had good reason to disagree, he admitted that his partner was right: if those idiots Burke and Murray found them installing those cameras, they would tell Feral, and he could come and investigate.

Fortunately, Feral had left them in that Salvage Yard since he kicked them out of the Enforcers and never set foot there. “Better for everyone”, thought Razor, who pondered this and that as they approached their home.

— Today is Friday, right? -T-Bone asked pleasantly- Let's go outside and do something: the city owes us.
— How to get girls or something?
— Only if you put the kittens, Razor.
— Sure, T-Bone: I can invite Callie; But who do I leave your leash with?
— You invite Callie? Oh, you want to make me jealous, huh?
— Stop talking nonsense. -the gunner scoffed- Let's go out and get some pizza; I'm not paying for the delivery.
— Sounds good to me. Extra cheese and extra anchovies!
— And double portion of pineapple!
— Razor... putting pineapple on pizza should be a crime that we fight more often.
— I'm just kidding, T-Bo…! Huuh?

Razor turned to his right, towards a pile of garbage a few metres from the hangar: out of the corner of his eye he saw—or thought he saw something— moving, and with bright eyes. moving, and with shining eyes. They were already storing the Turbokat underground when T-Bone asked him if something was wrong.

— Uh ... nothing. I thought… saw something; maybe it was a raccoon.
— Ah, then there is no problem: they are very common. You have very good eyesight.
— I'm your gunner for a reason, buddy.

Once safe, they took off their uniforms and dressed in civilian clothes ready to go out: both of them with jeans and a pair of sneakers, Chance in a black tank top, and Jake in a red collared shirt. Jake turned his eyes silently thinking that Chance wanted to show off his physique if he was lucky enough to find a pretty girl at the pizzeria. So what will you do if you get one? Will you bring her here? Or will you pay for a motel? He thought. Then he erased those thoughts from his head when the "Shortcut Master" made a gesture for him to go with him.

Fortunately, the Turbokat was undamaged, so it did not require repairs or any major overhaul. Unless an emergency arose, they had the night to themselves.

— You´re planning to achieve a conquest, Chance?
— You never know. -he laughed heartily- The night is young.
— I hate to ruin your expectations, but with the car we're going to use, I doubt a girl will come near you.
— Is the kitten going to go out with me or with the car? Come on, get in: we'll take a shortcut, since I'm starving.
— Oh, Chance...

Chance's shortcuts were known to be winding roads, full of potholes, with many turns and a driver who was willing to do anything. Fortunately, they managed to survive such a labyrinth and reach a downtown pizzeria: since it was Friday, and it was also summer vacation, there were many children in the company of their parents. Some were running around the pizzeria and others were having fun in the play area.

Despite the noisy environment, they chose to stay there. They placed their order at the counter and settled at a table for two to wait for it to be ready. To pass the time, there were free breadsticks that they would take advantage of.

— If you were thinking of making a conquest ... -Jake said smiling maliciously from ear to ear as he looked side to side at the place- you chose the wrong time and place.
— We came for pizza, not for girls. -he replied with a shrug, pretending to downplay the matter- If you want to look for them, we can go somewhere else later.
— I prefer pizza, Chance. It's more… cheaper.
— Sure.
— And if I wanted to invite a girl, it would be Callie.
— Good luck with that, Jake. -he added before ate a breadstick; him sight stopped at the children's playground- What days, huh? It's a shame we're too big for that place.
— I hate that box of balls: once they made me try them and they tasted horrible.
— Hahaha!! It's true: they told you they were fruits and you believed it. How old were we?
— It was my seventh birthday, Chance. My parents organized a party and invited the whole class. -Jake remembered, folding his arms- You ate a whole pizza and two slices of cake.
— I remember, yes. Your father's business was still going good.

A sudden memory crossed Chance's mind as he mentioned that fact. What date was today exactly? When he realized, his expression changed to a more serious one.

— Jake...
— Yes?
— There are a few days left of the...
— I know... -he sighed reluctantly and some disgust. It wasn't exactly his favorite topic- I know.
— You’re planning to visit your mom?
— For what? It is not something we want to talk about; Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings are already quite… tense. -he put another breadstick in his mouth- I don't even know why I keep going.
— Buddy: it's your family.
— Since we got kicked out of the Enforcers, I'm practically the black sheep of the family, Chance. My mother was very disappointed in me; she thought it would be the only good thing to come out of her relationship with… my father.
— My family was also disappointed in me, but I keep in touch with them.
— It's not the same, Chance.
— Jake...
— Look: I understand what you want to do, and I appreciate it. But as far as I'm concerned, you’re my real family. Now, can we pay attention to when they call us to pick up our pizza?
— Yes… Sure.

It was only a couple of minutes before their pizza was ready and they had to pick it up; Jake took the box along with a few cans of milk and urged his friend to come home. Chance followed him and got in the car without saying anything, other than to give his friend a sad look from time to time without him noticing.

Interestingly for Jake, the road back was less turbulent than usual for Chance's shortcuts, which was strange. With the milk cans by his feet and the box in his lap, he settled down in the passenger seat and slowly began to fall asleep.


Spoiler:
Gatalina Valley, Megakat City. Fifteen years ago.

— I can't believe it: ten resignations in one week. You are a terrible manager.
— Is it my fault, Lilly?! My father left me with a bankrupt business!
— You're lying, Isaac! You’re always making excuses! Your father was an excellent businessman: since you took over, everything went to heck.
— Ahh... so it's all my fault!! Then why don't you leave me so I don't have to go on with "this loser"?!
— I'm not leaving Jakey. -she grumbled- Maybe we should sell this house: it's expensive to maintain.
— Are you crazy?! It's the only thing my father left us before he died!! I grew up here: I’m not leaving this house!!
— Stop yelling, you'll make Jake wake up!!
— WHAT DOES IT MATTER THAT JAKE WAKES UP??!! STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!

Several blows and shouts were heard through the wooden walls, followed by several objects breaking, to end in cries and grunts that ended up fading away until they were devoured by the silence.

Little Jake, contrary to what his parents would have expected or wished, had heard it all from the beginning. Curled up between his sheets and with his head pressed to the pillow, he sobbed in silence, wishing that the fight would soon be over: it had been months since the family business of selling mechanical parts inherited from his grandfather and managed by his father began to decline, and he hated getting used to that situation full of anguish, restlessness and conflict.

The worst thing was that they were a little over a month away from summer vacation, and if things didn't work out, she would have to endure those discussions all day long instead of taking refuge in school and homework. Perhaps he could go to Chance's house to play and spend the day, but he could not make it his private refuge either; his poor friend had his own problems at home.
He covered himself with his blankets and hugged his doll, “Jake Jr.,” tightly before falling asleep.


— Jake, Jake… Wake up, buddy.
— Huh? ... -he asked confused after feeling a few pats- What?
— That happens for not taking my shortcuts: they make you drop your guard.
— This isn’t the Turbokat, Chance… -he blinked repeatedly, still struggling to open his eyes- Where are we?
— We're going to rent a movie. -Jake turned to his right and looked out the window: they were in front of a video store with a few customers inside. He turned to his friend- What do you want to do? Laugh, cry or scream?
— Laughing sounds good.
— Then… “Scaredy Kat, The Movie!"
— I said laugh, not cry, Chance.
— Come on, it's not that bad! If you want, to rent two. Any suggestions?
— I doubt the pizza will be enough for both of us... and if I think about it, maybe not even one, considering my partner.
— Very funny, Jake. -he gave him a light slap on the head- Go?
— If you don't mind, I'll stay here.
— Okay ... Hey, I ... I'm sorry I ... touched on that topic. I know that…
— Don't worry, Chance. Come on, go: I take care of the car.

With Chance at the video store, Jake was left alone, thinking about that dream he had just had. Okay; in fact, he had to admit that more than a dream, it was a memory of his childhood: a not very pleasant one. His father's business began to lose money and that was the reason for strong discussions in his family, discussions that always ended with his father mistreating his mother... and in the worst cases, himself. This bastard, who by mere formality called "father", was unable to tame his problems and ended up blowing off steam in his family. Was it really worth visiting his mother to remember him?

There was a detail of his memory that intrigued him: he was in his bed, and he had a doll. It was a doll, right? He wasn't the type to play with those things: most kids his age saw them as girlish. But he was hugging a doll in that memory. Who had given it to him? There was something about that doll...

His ears suddenly stood up: he had heard something hitting the car, small but audible; he even heard something like soft and constant tapping. He opened the door, put the pizza on the seat and went out to see what had caused it: outside there were few people walking on the sidewalks, but beyond them, and after turning around he saw nothing strange. When he wanted to return to his seat, he ran into Chance, who was watching him with intrigue.

— What are you doing, Jake? If you wanted to come with me, you would have said so.
— No; is not that. It's just that I thought I heard something hitting the car.
— TO MY BABY?! -Chance ran to the car, checking every millimeter- What did they do to you?
— Didn't you have "another baby"? -referring to the Turbokat-
— They’re all my babies! What did they do to him, Jake?! -he began to get exasperated- Who was it?
— I dont know; I don't even know if I really heard anything. Could you calm down?
— Well... It doesn't look like there's any scratches. Let's go home before the pizza gets cold.
— And before you lose your mind.

They returned to the car and made their way home without any inconvenience... except for another of Chance's famous shortcuts. The rest of the night was for them: without the alarm sounding, they were able to enjoy a moment of rest that Megakat rarely gave them on weekends; as if even the villains took advantage of them not to carry out their crimes.

The pizza was good, and so was the milk; the movie ... well: if you could call “movie” an episode of Scaredy Kat of more than 105 minutes and wrapped in a pathetic plot attempt by a mediocre scriptwriter of few ideas... it was moderately passable. It made him laugh several times; Chance, for his part, was a volcano of continuous laughter whose secondary effect was the repeated eruptions of milk coming out of his nose and that ended up splashing it even on his face. It didn't matter: it was clear that one liked physical comedy and the other something more intellectual, but in the same way they were having a good time, and Jake got over it after remembering "that" imminent date.

After finishing the “best comedy movie of all time” -Chance's words- the idea of watching the next one came up: "Independence Day". It wasn't a bad choice; they both liked it and from time to time they talked about the idea of imagining themselves in the place of the two guys who entered the alien mother ship and saved the world: Chance as the pilot -obvious- and Jake as the one who created and downloaded the virus.

While it sounded childish, they laughed at just discussing this crazy fantasy.

— It's a little late, and we’re out of pizza. How about we save it for tomorrow, Chance?
— Looks like we don't have another one, right? Besides, we have work early tomorrow.
— Right. -Jake turned off the TV- Shall we clean up before bed?
— Nah, leave it like that; we'll do it tomorrow. Let's go to sleep.
— Whatever you say.

They just turned off the light and changed their clothes to lie down on their beds. Tomorrow would be another day in the garage, another day for the Swat Kats.


__________________________________________________________________________________________


“We are small, but we are many
We are many, we are small
We already know where
you are and she will know.
She misses you very much
and you will see her very soon."
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Re: The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by Kooshmeister » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:40 pm

I'm generally averse to crossovers. I tried to do one a long time ago where the Tick and Chairface Chippendale ended up in Megakat City, and never finished it because I had no idea where to go with it. But this looks pretty interesting so far.
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Re: The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:46 pm

Kooshmeister wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:40 pm
I'm generally averse to crossovers. I tried to do one a long time ago where the Tick and Chairface Chippendale ended up in Megakat City, and never finished it because I had no idea where to go with it.
I personally love crossovers; almost all my fics are. A friend on Facebook told me a phrase her girlfriend said: "There are no bad ideas, there are bad executions." But I believe that every crossover is possible; you just have to find a way to put the concepts together. I encourage you to try again: you are free to do so.
Kooshmeister wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:40 pm
But this looks pretty interesting so far.
Thank you very much.

I hope that the translator has done his job well, as well as the revision based on my limited knowledge of English has borne fruit. I had to correct some things because in the original writing, I used a lot of bad words.

If for some reason, someone finds something that I think violates the rules, let me know and I will try to correct it. I accept all advice and suggestions.

Anyway: this is Chapter 2; I hope you like it:


Chapter 2.: Return to Gatalina Valley.


A new day, another day of work at the Megakat Salvage Yard: if Feral saw it as a kind of purgatory for the two of them, he would have been disappointed to see Clawson and Furlong taking it with utmost humility and dedication.

It wasn't a glamorous job and one that you strutted about, but it was legal and honest, and they did it well: Every morning, as he watched the sun rise over the mountains of twisted metal, with the aroma of his morning coffee mixed with rust and motor oil, Chance savored the idea of seeing Feral arrive all pompous in that forgotten corner of Megakat, expecting to see his ex-soldiers submerged in humiliation and misery, only to find them both working hard and a smile from ear to ear that hid all the unimaginable insults. Oh, how I wished it: since I could not break his face, at least to show him that I had not succeeded in bending his spirit by leaving them there was an appetizing consolation prize.

That opportunity never came: after expelling them from the Enforcers, Feral never set foot in the Salvage Yard; instead, he left the jerks of Burke and Murray as guardians of such an unusual Underworld to control them -and make their lives impossible- from time to time. It was partly a relief: unlike those pathetic attempts of Cerberus, Feral was smart -he had to admit it, however nauseating it might be- and if he thought of visiting them, he could -God forbid- start suspecting them and discovering their secret. Fortunately this never happened: for Commander Feral, the Enforcers, and the city of Megakat almost entirely, Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong had ceased to exist. A few pariahs, a few forgotten and dusty files in some filing cabinet, a mere anecdote in a few poor lines on some page of the Megakat Times, a few minutes of reporting in Kat's Eye News: that was them, that was their legacy.

And it couldn't have been better.

They both always wondered how people never suspected them as the famous Swat Kats: Two mysterious pilots who came out of nowhere shortly after the dismissal of two Enforcers? Their first ally was time: to build the Turbokat from the waste of the Salvage Yard, to condition that mysterious underground bunker they had found under the garage, to prepare their uniforms and to design and build their other vehicles and equipment took their time: enough so that when they made their first appearance as Swat Kats, nobody remembered their civilian identities anymore.

Why didn't we become criminals? That question was asked by Chance alone: both hated Feral -he above all else- and in a way, even felt some repudiation for the way the Megakat City treated them after the incident. Perhaps, it was said, that's why their alternative versions of that parallel universe had become evil: resentment, humiliation, fury, hate, had overcome them. Not here: his desire to help had been stronger; he almost felt sorry for those Evil Swat Kats.

Almost.

He heard the sound of an engine approaching; he left his coffee cup on a counter and went outside to greet his client; Jake was inside cleaning up last night's mess and would be out shortly. He lowered his eyebrows in disgust that it was the two jerks' truck loaded with garbage. Oh, what a great start to tomorrow.

— Good mooooorning! -a shrill and irritating voice was heard, as if from metal claws scratching a blackboard-
— Good morning, losers!
— Burke, Murray, hi.
— We're here to drop off the week's delivery. -said Murray after getting out of the truck with a planchette in hand; he passed it to Chance with a pen- The Enforcers have had a busy week.

Chance knew it all too well: in the last few days the villains of Megakat had been involved in several crimes in which Feral's guys had tried to stop them, and had lost several planes and helicopters, while they, with the Turbokat, barely had to make any repairs. Didn't Feral think about the waste of the city's budget that meant losing each of those vehicles every day and constantly replacing them? Maybe Mayor Manx did, and that's why he was pushing him; at least, as they said, some people's trash is other people's treasure.

Oh, great: the fact that the Swat Kats depended on the incompetence of the Enforcers meant that they were part of that waste of the city's resources. “What a reason to feel guilty”, he thought.

— It seems so. -He simply said after seeing the huge load on the truck: propellers, wings, engines, cabs, all turned into garbage- At least Jake will be able to take advantage of it.
— See it as a favor from us. -said the lower guy with a mocking smile devoid of empathy- It's the closest you'll ever get to an airplane in your lifetime.
Don't tell them you're a Swat Kat. Don't punch them in the face. Don't break their necks. -He said to himself in an attempt to contain his anger. He heard something snapping- Huh?
— Oh... You broke my pen! Again! -he laugh slyly- I'll tell Feral to deduct it from your salary.
— Grrr...
— Aren't you forgetting something? -said the planchette. Chance signed with the useful part of the pen to confirm that he received the order, and returned it to him. Murray refused- Keep it: it will be very difficult for you to buy a new one.
— Goodbye, losers!

The truck drove away, leaving behind a dense cloud of smog, dust and the irritating laughter of Burke and Murray in the background. Chance watched them drive off in a rage and threw the pen onto the scrap heap: the last thing he needed was their pathetic attempt at charity.

Jake left the garage shortly after to see who had arrived; that made his partner relax a bit.

— Who was it, Chance? -after seeing the mountain of scrap metal recently brought in, the answer came to him- Ahh...
— Our favorite jailers, buddy: they left us a little gift.
— How... nice of them. It will take all day to put it back. -suddenly the alarm went off; they both turned to their garage- It's Callie!
— What a shame. -Chance joked sarcastically- We won't be able to work.
— Chance...
— Just kidding. Let's rock!


__________________________________________________________________________________________



The problem was the Metallikats robbing a bank: nothing unusual about them; the only thing T-Bone and Razor could not understand was why if they kept causing trouble, when they were caught they were not disconnected and thrown into a volcano. It would remain as a "suggestion" to Manx and Feral for later.

They landed in front of the bank, and got off the jet; surprisingly, the Enforcers had not yet arrived, although the sound of the patrols in the distance anticipated their next arrival. The entrance to the bank was practically non-existent: it had been blown to pieces; you could hear screams inside: they had hostages.

— We'll have to be careful, T-Bone.
— Got it.

Inside, in fact, there were many regular customers of the bank, employees, and a few guards. All of them were guarded and threatened by Molly, with the help of her laser gun on her right arm; Mac was further down, carrying large bags of money.
And as usual, they were arguing.

— Hurry up, you dumbhead! I remind you that we don't have any transportation!
— That can be solved quickly: we stole a car and that's it, Molly.
— But I'll drive: you're a disaster at the wheel! And you have no idea what it took me to rebuild you!
— Ok, ok! Women: you need to complain as much as you need to breathe!
— We don't breathe, you idiot: we're robots!

— What if we let them kill each other, Razor?
— Negative, T-Bone: we won't wait for the divorce papers.

Razor used his Glovatrix to attack Molly by surprise with mini-explosives: she ended up turning around to see the person responsible for the attack, although she already guessed who they were.

— The Swat Kats!
— Couldn't they be like normal thieves and leave their marital fights for later? -Razor scoffed- Even their hostages are getting bored.
— There's a reason we need the money! -he answered as he shat his gun- Therapy doesn't come cheap!
— Free the hostages, Razor! I'll take care of the lady's attempt.
— LADY'S ATTEMPT?

Ignoring the exchange of insults and shots between his partner and the robotic grunt, Razor would help the hostages by untying those who were tied up and leading them to a safe place outside the building. The noises of the Enforcers' patrols and chops began to sound louder: they had arrived.

— This is Commander Feral! Mac and Molly: you are under arrest! There is nowhere to escape: we have the building surrounded!
— As always being late... -T-Bone muttered-
— Hey, Molly: stop playing with those idiots and let's go! -Mac was heard in the background- I already have what we need!
— They’re not going to escape!
— Ah, of course not. Not without leaving them a little gift.

Before even thinking about a quick answer, T-Bone yelled at Razor to chase the Metallikats around the back of the bank. They ended up leaving through the back door just in time, when there were numerous explosions from the front and the sound of a landslide that raised a lot of dust. Fortunately there was no one inside.

Both Swat Kats ended up on the floor coughing because of the dust.

— Aghh... Those guys are crazy.
— How'd you know they'd put bombs in the bank, T-Bone?
— Usually, when they say they're leaving us a "little gift," it's usually a bad thing, Razor.
— Roger... -he hissed reluctantly: clearly T-Bone wasn't just referring to the robots on the verge of divorce- We must find them!

In the background, one could hear the Enforcers' chops and the sirens of the fire trucks; ahead were the footsteps and mocking laughter of the Metallikats. The two Swat Kats ran through the alleys between the buildings in search of the robotic criminals: they were dirty, damp and loaded with the stench of garbage from the accumulated containers and crates, as well as dark despite the fact that it was morning. Every few steps, they lamented not wearing shoes when they were "on duty".

They managed to reach them when the next street at the end of the alley could be seen: the curious thing is that they seemed to be waiting for them.

— They took too long.
— Aren't they supposed to be running away?
— And aren't they supposed to be dead and bleeding under a pile of rubble? -complained the robot woman- We're not the only ones who are disappointed, Swat Kats.
— Enough! -grunted the larger Swat Kat, pointing her Glovatrix at both robots- You will not escape!
— We disagree with that... fatty.

Mac shoved a pile of boxes and trash cans piled up next to him; the pile of trash and miscellaneous objects fell on both vigilantes who fell unaware, and briefly buried over all that trash. The malicious laughter of the Metallikats was overshadowed by the horrific screams of dozens of black rats who had hidden in that pile and were now circling around, apparently frightened. It didn't take long for the Swat Kats to get up and shake off what they had on them, and set out to chase the Metallikats.

The rats were running in all directions, as if circling around the garbage pile and the Swat Kats; some were even climbing on their extremities and the Swat Kats were shaking them without seeing them completely. Once they were on their feet, the rats stopped running and came to a dry stop, surrounding them. There was one on T-Bone's left arm, standing on his hind legs on his Glovatrix and looking at him and his companion, both entirely motionless: their glances ended up crossing.



FLASHBACK
Spoiler:
Gatalina Valley, Megakat City. Fifteen years ago.

Chance left his twin brothers Tom and Zack's room resignedly: it was late afternoon, dinner was just around the corner, and his father hadn't arrived yet, while his mother was busy downstairs in the kitchen. Since no one else was around and it was a little late to go visit Jake, he thought maybe his brothers could help him with a math problem from one of his many summer vacation homework.
Bad idea: Initially they ignored him to the rhythm of heavy metal music that barely allowed him to hear his own voice, and after tolerating him long enough, they told him in unison to leave. Chance left grumbling against his brothers and his stupid music back to his room. If someone had told him that in a couple of years, he would love to rock, the little blond kid wouldn't have believed it.
Before arriving, he thought he saw a kind of gust out of the corner of his eye passing by him in the opposite direction: he turned back, and initially he saw nothing... Then he saw a couple of rats running quickly in search of shelter, leaving one behind, quite big, bigger than his own paw...

That one suddenly stopped, stood on her hind legs and turned to the little blond tabby boy. The first thing Chance noticed was his large, long incisors; then his other teeth, extremely sharp and showing them in an expression loaded with ferocity and an attempt too close to a smile mixed with a grunt. And there were those eyes, staring at him: he thought they were black, but swore they had a subtle reddish glow -and were looking directly at him.

The boy was paralyzed with fear until the rat turned around and ran in the same direction as the others. Once he was gone, Chance ran down the stairs screaming for his mother.


The intrigue turned to curiosity, and the curiosity turned to nerves, which led to an irrational fear that caused T-Bone to violently shake his arm to the sound of screams of "Go away, go away!", even though the intruder was firmly clinging to his arm: finally the rat made a violent leap towards Razor landing on his shoulder, turning to him and then jumping to the ground. The other rats broke the circle and slipped away to any corner they could find, until they disappeared completely. At no point did T-Bone realize that Razor reacted in the same way.
What he did realize, and only made him angry, was the taunting of the escaping Metallikats.

— Well, well: who would have thought that the tough Swat Kats were afraid of rats?
— I would have loved to have had a camera to record it! -Molly shouted- But I'd rather have my money.
— Even Feral would have paid us to immortalize this sweet moment! -a car door slammed- Bye bye, Swat Kitties!

From behind you could hear the footsteps of a group of people with boots: they were the Enforcers, led by Feral and Felina who came to where the Swat Kats were.

— You’re okay? -Felina asked- We thought you were caught in the explosion. What happened?
— We’re fine. -replied Razor- We managed to get out in time.
— And the Metallikats?
— They escaped. -T-Bone spat without looking at her face; he looked downcast- They set a trap for us and escaped.
— Well, well, I don't know why I'm not surprised. -that was Feral's voice- First they wreck millions of dollars worth of public property, and then they let two extremely dangerous criminals get away. Maybe they're not as good as they say out there.
— Uncle...
— At least we are here to solve their stupid mistakes and...

Razor was quick enough to avoid what could be a possible cause of his arrest: with a quick movement of his paw and a small struggle, he prevented T-Bone from hitting Feral directly in the face, using his forearm to stop the movement of his fist. Although his partner only grunted briefly, he then calmed down a bit. Felina was surprised to see what T-Bone was about to do; Feral not so much, but he didn't care: he expected anything from the Swat Kats.

— Yeah, yeah, Feral: we know your speech by heart and we are glad that you do too. -the smaller Swat Kat intervened before T-Bone made everything worse by opening his mouth; he stretched out his friend's arm and they walked towards the Turbokat, which was a block away- Now if you'll excuse us...
— Where do you think you’re going?
— We have work to do, and so do you, Feral.
— Come back here: we're not done yet!
— Feral... -T-Bone turned to see him- CLOSE YOUR CRUDING MOUTH!

Razor, Felina and even Feral were shocked to hear him scream so loudly and threateningly: that was not T-Bone's usual behavior... or Chance's, for that matter. Felina stared at them, wondering what had happened to him.

For Razor, it was a miracle that they managed to get out of there without getting into trouble because of some tremendous screw-up. They simply walked silently into the Turbokat and took off.

Once in the air, as they returned home, it was time to explode.

— Are you crazy, T-Bone?! What were you thinking trying to hit Feral? You were going to give him the perfect excuse to arrest us!
— You're gonna tell me you didn't want to hit that bastard who ruined our life either, because you'd be lying, Razor!
— I leave that to my imagination, where I do NOT end up in prison. Look, maybe you should calm down a little...
HOW THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO CALM DOWN? -a loud bang was heard at the controls; the Turbokat shook briefly before T-Bone stabilized it- The Metallikats escaped and it was all because of some cruding rats! RATS! How the heck could I have been afraid of things that our ancestors fed on until the Middle Age?
— Oh, man... you're gonna make me miss breakfast.
— I want to know something, Razor. -his tone dropped noticeably, but it was obvious that he was still angry- And tell me the truth.
— Sure, buddy.
— Did you get scared by those things too?

The Swat Kats’ gunner had a hard time answering, but he ended up saying that it wasn't easy to admit something as stupid as being afraid of rats, and even less so if you are someone with military training, and who has seen worse things in the time he has been a vigilant. And yet, there was something about those rats that was not at all ordinary... but rather frightening, and worse: something... familiar. Why were they afraid of those animals?

His answer calmed his partner a bit, but not enough. To break the ice, Razor kept talking. There was something left to do.

— Do you really think Feral ruined our lives?
— That's the stupidest question I've ever heard from you, Razor.
— Think of it this way: if we hadn't been kicked out of the Enforcers, we would still be following Feral's orders, we never would have built the Turbokat, and we never would have formed this team.
— What's your point?
— Don't you like being a Swat Kat?
— I take it back: That's the stupidest question you've ever asked. Of course I like being a Swat Kat! I love being T-Bone! I love this jet, I love fighting crime, I love fighting to protect our city, I love humiliating that useless Feral at every opportunity! I love the team we make together!
— So why do you say he ruined our lives? We owe the existence of the Swat Kats to him.
— Because... because...
— Yes?
— Because... because... -he sighed- because it's not enough, Jake.

Before Razor could continue, Callie's alarm went off. Had they found the Metallikats? Since he thought him partner was not exactly in the best of moods, he took the trouble to answer the call.

— Go ahead, Miss Briggs.
“Razor, what happened? I just talked to Feral, and he told me that the Metallikats escaped because of you.”
— We were set up; a very stupid one. -he sighed disappointedly- And took the opportunity to escape; we'll look for them, don't worry.
“I hope you manage to catch them. Tell me, is T-Bone all right? I can't hear him, and he's usually more talkative.”
— He's just... a little upset; that's all. -he let out a forced laugh- He'll survive.
“I understand, thank you very much. And don't worry, guys: I know you'll manage to catch them; don't be discouraged, good luck.” -there was a pause- “Oh, shoot, I forgot I have to change the oil in my car. I'll do it after noon. Huh? Haven't I hung up yet? Oh, excuse me. Bye, guys”
— So, "altered", huh? -he laughed maliciously- You're a real opportunist when it comes to Callie, Razor.
— I just wanted to keep you from ending up yelling at her for something she didn't do. I just saved your tail, T-Bone.
— Yeah, I know. It's good to know I have a partner who's willing to hold on to my leash when I need it most.
— That's what friends are for, T-Bone. -suddenly he arched his eyebrow; something had changed- Hey, you sound a lot happier. What's that about?
— You’re deaf? -threw the rhetoric at him with a big smile- Callie needs an oil change! Do you know what that means?

The Turbokat suddenly increased its speed in the direction of the Salvage Yard: of course Jake knew what that meant. He kept wondering if Chance was managing to make sure Callie required his services as a mechanic constantly.


__________________________________________________________________________________________



After stowing the Turbokat in the hangar and changing into their civilian clothes, Jake and Chance resumed their work in the garage. As expected, the one most enthusiastic about returning to work was the biggest guy, even though it was less than nine o'clock in the morning; in the end they had agreed to look for the Metallikats during the night, once they had finished their work in the garage, and to avoid risking Burke and Murray suddenly appearing during working hours and not finding them: that was a constant fear every time they were forced to go out in the Turbokat during the day, and although they were lucky so far, they preferred not to take too many risks.

Most of the morning consisted of reorganizing the scrap received at the beginning of the day: electronics here, mechanical parts there, armor for one corner, broken glass for another corner, twisted metal for recycling... There was a lot to sort and organize: they used gloves to avoid possible cuts. It was still engraved in their memory when Chance played the bold and worked without gloves reorganizing the scrap metal, only to cut the palm of his paws horribly. Never again: Jake had said after attending to him with the help of the first aid kit.
At least the constant work and knowing that Callie was going to visit them had improved the mood of the bigger Swat Kat, to the point of making him smile. For Chance Furlong, those clouds that had appeared in the early hours of the day had almost completely disappeared thanks to the bright rays of the sun... A sun with long blonde hair, an elegant pink dress and an old but elegant green sedan.

Noon arrived: they had a simple lunch inside the garage and rested for an hour before resuming work. There was no sign of the Deputy Mayor and the pile of garbage was still there in front of the garage. At about one o'clock in the afternoon, shortly after resuming work, the sound of wheels on the rocky ground of the Salvage Yard was heard; Chance took off his cap, did some hair and put his cap back on before running outside.

Here we go again, Jake thought.

— Good afternoon, guys. -she greeted them both, then turned his gaze to the thinner guy, carrying junk a few feet away- Hi, Jake.
— Good afternoon, Miss Briggs. How's it going? -a purr was heard- What can we do for you?
Mmm... I appreciate you being subtle about not saying the oil change, but could you stop using your quasi-pornographic tone, Chance? -Jake was saying to himself in his head as he rolled his eyes at such an unsubtle attempt at flirting. At least Callie didn't fall for it.-
— I was in the mayor's office when I remembered at the last minute that I had to have my car oil changed. In the middle of Saturday morning! Can you believe it? -Chance just nodded sympathetically. Poor Callie wasn't so perfect, but she was still charming- Al because the mayor asked me to transcribe a bunch of papers for him. Could you help me?
— No problem at all. If you like, I'll do a quick check on the car to make sure it's not inconvenienced by anything else.
— Won't that be too much trouble? -she asked after seeing the pile of trash in front of the garage- I see you have a lot of work.
— Not at all: it's a courtesy of the house.
“Courtesy of the house”. Translation to Chance’s language: “you will pay me with your prolonged presence by seducing my senses”. -Jake thought, laughing to himself-

While Jake continued to sort the trash, his partner began working on the deputy mayor's car while she watched him closely, despite offers to rest in the shop's lobby: the oil change wouldn't take long, while the car was being serviced…

There was the sound of the garage’s phone; since Chance was so busy checking the car -and thinking about Callie, all at once- it was Jake who went back inside to answer it.

— Jake and Chance's Garage. How can we help you?

Minutes later, Jake left the workshop to inform Chance that he would be going out to do some work. He found him, of course, talking to Callie as he checked the car under the chassis. That car won't be there today, he thought.

— Guess what: they just called to ask for a trailer for a crashed car to be repaired. I have to go to Gatalina Valley.
— Our old neighborhood? -exclaimed Chance from under the car with great joy; Callie raised her ears when she heard it, knowing so little about her favorite mechanics- We haven't been there in years.
— I know. Amazing, isn't it?
— You guys lived in Gatalina Valley? -asked the blonde girl- That place is pretty nice for a suburb.
— Jake and I lived there when we were kids; then we moved downtown. -his cheerful tone suddenly changed to a more... serious one; he stuck his head out of the frame to look at his friend; his look indicated distress- Jake... Do you want me to do that job for you? For... you know.
— Don't worry; I'll be fine. It's just a round trip.
— You’re sure?
— Sure, Chance: it's not something out of this world. Stay here and watch the fort... and Miss Briggs.

Normally he would have laughed at that comment as he did at all those who made fun of him in his attempts to flirt with the deputy mayor; it was a game between them that they knew well. But this time it was different: Jake would return to his old neighborhood, be back near his old house, and all within days of his father's anniversary.

The last thing he saw, even under the green sedan, all upside down, was Jake getting into the tow truck, pulling out and saying goodbye to both of them before leaving the Salvage Yard. The clouds were returning despite the Briggs sun. I hope you know what you're doing, buddy.

— Chance, is everything okay?
— Huh? Well: the brake pad still works, but I would change it in a couple of months; the radiator has nothing...
— I'm talking about Jake. -Callie thought for a moment before continuing- And you, by the way: you sounded so strange talking about your old neighborhood.
— Ah... "it". -he replied without taking her head out of the chassis- Well... see, Miss Briggs...
— You can call me by my first name, Chance: don't worry.
— Well, you see, Jake and I had a complicated childhood. We don't like to talk about it.
— I see... So you've known each other since you were kids.
— We met in the second grade, when Jake was transferred to my classroom from the first grade. From there we became friends and...
— It has been like that ever since. Something tells me that they are very close.
— Quite a lot: he's practically my little brother.
— So, could you tell me why you didn't want Jake to go to Gatalina Valley? You sounded worried, like you wanted to stop him from going at all costs.
— Callie, I really...
— Look: I imagine that you have some kind of male friendship code or whatever you don't want to break... but the truth is that I'm worried. He didn't look the same as I remember him: as if he was trying to hide something behind that carefree face.

Chance didn't know whether to feel comprehensive or jealous: Callie cared about both, but especially about Jake. Why the heck do I keep insisting on conquering her if she likes Jake? It was a question he couldn't answer other than the fact that he also liked the deputy mayor and couldn't help himself.

Should I tell Callie why I am concerned? She was probably the only person who showed any kindness to them since they were abandoned to their fate at that junkyard; she already knew they were once members of the Enforcers, and ironically she never suspected their identity as Swat Kats. “If you were as good at looking behind our masks as you were at looking behind Jake's face, you might have discovered our secret long ago”, thought Chance.

— I want you to promise me that you won't tell Jake what I'm about to tell you. -Chance he continued under the car- He should tell you anyway, but clearly he won't do it the right way.
— I promise.
— Well. -he sighed before continuing- Life has treated Jake harder than it has treated me. And every time his father's anniversary approaches, he becomes more... sensitive about it. That's why I didn't want him to go back to our old neighborhood: his father's anniversary is just a few days away, and coming to his old house will only bring back bad memories.
— Anniversary of what? I don't understand.

On this occasion, Chance took his head out of the chassis to look at Callie directly; she saw in those eyes and that face a sadness that she was not used to seeing in that robust and good-natured guy.

— He killed himself, Callie.


__________________________________________________________________________________________



To get to Gatalina Valley, one had to cross the entire city: either by taking the ring road around the city, or by passing through the center and driving in a northeasterly direction. Jake chose the latter.

Although it was the longest route, it was also the most interesting, and the young mechanic was overcome with a sense of nostalgia after almost fifteen years of never setting foot in his old neighborhood again. He had the opportunity to take a little walk around the downtown neighborhood where he lived after moving from Gatalina Valley: the old school, the apartment where he lived with his mother until he joined the Enforcers... everything was still the same. He then followed the route to the suburbs; traffic was normal, and despite the occasional honk or insult from an overzealous driver, the trip was smooth.

Originally, Gatalina Valley was a completely independent town located in a small valley with a lot of vegetation on the outskirts of what in the future would be known as Megakat. But when the latter began a rapid urban expansion, it ended up absorbing the once small town, turning it into one of its suburbs. In spite of this, it still retained traces of its past as an independent municipality: the neighborhood itself had a certain small-town feel, with its two schools, its small church, its commercial avenue and its medical clinic.

As you entered Gatalina Valley, you could feel the tranquility of a residential area in the middle of summer: children on the streets, freshly mowed lawns, few cars on the road, single or two-story houses. So different from the center of Megakat to which they were accustomed, with its constant crimes, attacks by psychopathic villains... so far away from everything. What had become of their neighbors, of their classmates?

A stopover at Midwich Elementary School made Jake aware that the building had barely changed, except for a new coat of paint and an improved playground; the businesses on the commercial avenue had mostly changed, except for an old candy store and the pharmacy. Even the branch of his father's business had not survived: it was now an electronics store. Great irony, he thought. He passed by the church, small and in the Spanish colonial baroque style, perhaps the oldest building in the neighborhood: it was still there, imperturbable to change, like a tiny mountain in front of the Ocelote Plaza, a small and modest but beautiful green space with many trees, flowers and games that in his childhood was the only decent place for children to have fun: now it looked much better.

He checked again the address: 732 Barbera Street. That was less than two blocks from his old house... Bad sign. He would get there, tow the car and go home. It was a good plan.

The client's house was modern, with a well-kept garden with a few hedges; the walls were white, the roof slate-colored; nothing like his old house. On one side of the sidewalk, there was the reason for his visit: a burgundy colored family car with a totally crushed front; miraculously not only the windshield survived with a few cracks, but also the driver was enough to ask for a tow truck.
He rang the bell. He was greeted by a man in his late fifties, with gray fur, wearing ash blue pants and a white shirt. There was something vaguely familiar about him...

— Good afternoon, did you request a towing service?
— Yes, boy. You’re the mechanic? -he looked at the name tag on his overalls- Jake… from “Jake and Chance's Garage”.
— That's right.
— Funny... Those names sound familiar.
Oh, oh... I think I know who he is this man. -Jake thought- What happened to his car?
— Uff... A catastrophe! I was on my way to work, when a man came by like a rocket as I was crossing the street: we both skidded off the pavement; we were lucky to get out alive. The jerk blamed me for the accident, but I had the upper hand. We didn't get to sue each other, but in the end, the insurance won't be able to cover my expenses.
— Really?
— They're leeches. You pay them every month to help you and in the end... Don't you work with insurance companies?
— We're a pretty modest garage, sir.
— Even so, they recommended them to me: they say they do a good job and at a low cost.

That was true: they had been running the garage for some time, and had done a lot of repair and towing work. Without realizing it, they had made a reputation for themselves: not one that was too popular to attract attention, but one that made a little more money.

— Here in Gatalina Valley they’re usually a bit expensive... and at this moment I’m not in a position to spend too much.
— Don't worry about that: we can give you an affordable quote and your car will be good as new in... a week or two. What do you think?
— Wonderful, you're a good boy, Jake...

Then the look of the man with the gray fur became more open, as if he had a wonderful vision. The young mechanic realized why... I know who this man is.

— Jake... Clawson, right? Is that you? -he looked at him again: every faction, the tone of his fur, his posture: it was him- It's you, long time no see! -Jake ended up getting a hug from the subject; he didn't deny it. He was very sincere- Don't you remember me? I'm your uncle, Dan Gueyrod.

Of course he remembered it, and no, it wasn't really his uncle: that was a pet name. Mr. Gueyrod was a neighborhood acquaintance and a very close friend of his father's since kindergarten. He had been quite nice to Jake as a child, and he remembered him well, except for two things: first, that his son Tod was a mess; he could never get along with him because of his... "eccentric personality.”

The second was that it was Mr. Gueyrod who discovered his father's body lying in the room of his old house and had given the news.
The universe is conspiring against me today, Jake thought. CRUD!

— Yes, I remember, sir.
— I haven't seen you since...
— My father's funeral.
— Ehm... yes. -quickly changed the theme- How much you have grown! Although you’re still as thin as ever.
— It must be my metabolism. -he answered without giving it any importance- How is everything here? How is your son?
— He moved to Canada: he said he "wanted to live in a country with more freedom". -he laughed with sarcasm- You can imagine what kind of "freedoms" he was looking for. -he made a gesture to inhale a cigarette- Anyway, tell me, what has become of your life? If you're the Jake, Chance is...
— Furlong, yes. He's my partner in the garage.
— I'm glad you've been able to keep in contact. You're still friends, right? I remember that you got along very well as children.
— Yes, we still are. -although he wanted to leave soon, he got curious- Do you know anything about Mrs. Krucible?

Mrs. Krucible was a very respectable old lady at the time Jake was a child: she used to support all the fundraisers for the underprivileged, school activities, etc... And her tuna cakes were well known; besides, she was his next-door neighbor. She had become good friends with her mother, and when they left her house, they went to her first. They hadn't heard from her since.

Mr. Gueyrod's expression did not bode well.

— Oh, Jake. I'm sorry to tell you that she passed away five years ago: she was too old, and she hardly went out much. Now there is another family living in her house.
— It's a shame. -Jake said very honestly. If there was anyone she would want to meet again in that place, it was her- But I guess I should have figured it out.
— Hey, next time try to come more often, huh? I don't want to have to destroy my car just so you can stop by for a visit.
— I'll try. I promise to bring the car to you as soon as possible.

He turned around to couple the car to the tow truck; greeted Mr. Gueyrod as if to say goodbye and started the engine. Before leaving, the man approached the window; he was very distressed.

— Your father... your father loved you very much, Jake. He loved you both.
— …
— Don't think that I defend what he did to you and your mother: that is unjustifiable, and I know that you suffered a lot. -he paused to take a breath- But... he suffered a lot too.
— Nobody knows that.
— I do: I know him from kindergarten. -he answered firmly, sounding so convinced that discussing it would be useless- I could see him in those thirty days of agony before... That wasn't my old friend: I wanted to talk to you and your mother about it after the funeral, but she wouldn't let me come near you.
Maybe it was for the best.
— I still want to talk about it with you, but it's up to you. Anyway; I don't want to bother you too much with this: you have to go to work.
— I'll have it ready as soon as I can. See you later, Mr. Gueyrod.
— See you soon, Jake. Think about what I said, okay?

He received no response, other than the sound of the engine and the crane driving away with his wrecked vehicle. His eyes were fixed on the transport his best friend's son was driving, thinking about how much he had suffered all these years.

All Jake could think about was the steering wheel and going home: remembering those things, those people, talking about his father again. He was fighting back tears that wanted to flow after thinking about that damn sunny day at the local cemetery with neighbors, acquaintances and classmates grouped around the casket: some expressing their sincere condolences, others muttering to each other. Damn gossipy neighbors.

There were his teacher, his classmates, Chance and his family, Mr. Gueyrod and his son trying to behave and Mrs. Krucible at his mother's side. He was alone: he didn't want to be next to anyone, not at that moment. He had left the group, seeking loneliness: it did not last him, as Chance came to talk to him. At first he didn't say anything, then he exploded and demanded that he leave; his friend said no, that he wouldn't leave him. In the end little Jake ended up falling to his knees, and crying inconsolably; his friend would give him a few pats and words of encouragement until his mother came looking for him to return to the ceremony.

With adults you couldn't argue; not if you are a child. He was forced to remain there, quiet and well-behaved against his will. Not only had his father died, but every positive image of him.

You made many good people shed tears for you; tears that you did not deserve. After much effort, the battle against his own tears had ended in victory for him. Never again... Never again will I cry for you. Then he thought about what his "Uncle Dan" had said. If you really loved us, why did you do this to us? Why?

He was so immersed in his thoughts that he barely noticed a bump on the hood of his crane truck, causing him to slow down abruptly from surprise and to be little more than a bump on the steering wheel. When he came to, he saw what appeared to be a raccoon on his vehicle: silver-grey fur, a ringed tail and slightly larger than usual. The animal looked at him for a few seconds, then turned around and stood at the edge of the hood: something had caught his attention by producing a noise.

Jake got out of the truck to find out the source of the noise. He was paralyzed when he saw a boy with gray tabby fur in blue shorts and a green T-shirt lying on the ground: he was just a few feet from being run over. If he hadn't been distracted... He immediately went to help him.

— Kid, are you okay? -he checked if he had any wound; when he saw that it was not so, he helped him to get up- Sorry.
— I am well, sir. Thank you; I just... got scared.
— I would tell you to look before crossing, but the truth was my fault for being distracted.
— Oh, boy... -said the kid; he sounded incredulous but happy- An adult who says he was wrong: you don't see that every day.
— Hahaha... I'm not that old... yet.
— It seems so. Thanks!

The boy said goodbye and went back on his way, possibly going to play with his friends or go explore the neighborhood; Jake didn't ask him, although it was most likely. He heard footsteps approaching, but dismissed them as being a neighbor walking.

— Well, well... Who would have thought that I would end up meeting one of my favorite ex-soldiers.
I know that voice... -he turned to see who it was- You must be kidding...

Of all the places in Megakat where they could cross, I did not expect to meet the Commander Feral here. Although he thought with relief that Chance would not have to deal with him there and now -his friend would not hesitate to give him the punch he so desired to be face to face right there- he cursed his own luck. It's official: today the universe hates me; all that's left is for a pigeon to poop on my head. He took a deep breath.

— Commander Feral... -he tried to sound as calm as possible- How is everything going?
— I was enjoying a walk around the neighborhood before returning to my brother's house, when I came across your failed attempted manslaughter, Clawson.
As charming as ever. Do you need to be in that ass mood like air to breathe? Luckily, nothing bad happened, and the boy is fine, as you will have seen. I didn't know his brother lived here.
— I usually visit him once a week to relax, and today all the more reason to clear my mind of the meddling Swat Kats and their cruded mistakes.
Scratched disk...
— And what you’re doing here, Clawson?
— I came for a job. -he pointed to the wrecked car attached to his crane- We work in a garage in the Salvage Yard. -at least that could be held against him- Your idea, Feral.
— I suppose you also took the opportunity to satisfy your nostalgia, didn't you?
— Huh? -How did you know he lived there? Ah, of course: as a former Enforcer, I'm sure Feral had his file, where he lived and studied- No, not at all: I'm leaving soon.
— It will be better: you don't want to disappear again.
— What are you talking about?

Feral gave him a look full of disbelief; as if he had suddenly become a freak before his eyes. And what did Feral's grumbler mean? Disappear?

— I should have known you'd cause me trouble when you joined the Enforcers, especially your little friend Furlong. You were good, you had potential: I gave you the opportunity, even with your rebellious background. But it became clear that you would always be a rebellious little boy.
— What are you talking about, Feral? I never disappeared or ran away from home in my whole life.
He’s kidding? -Feral thought; his tone changed from stern to more... hesitant- Don't... don't you remember?
— Remember what?
— Forget it, Clawson. -Feral gave up on the subject, chose to resume his walk- Get out of here and get on with your work. That's an order.

An order? Who did Feral think he was? They may have been forced to work at the Salvage Yard, but they were no longer his soldiers. Even the garage wasn't necessary, considering what Callie had told them some time before about they alleged "debt to society”. Bloody sadist.
When he turned to return to the crane truck, he discovered that the raccoon was still leaning on the hood: the little animal looked him in the eyes, tilted its head slightly to the left and returned it to its normal position: its eyes, small and black, shone with an unusual sign of curiosity... and with a weak bluish tone. Jake had never seen a raccoon behave like this: so... smart.

— Shu, shu...
— …
— Please leave: the hood is not the best place for a ride, and I must return home.
— …
— That's crazy; I'm talking to a raccoon. -as soon as he finished his sentence, the raccoon jumped up and left, heading across the street, hiding in the bushes- What a weird animal.

He got into the tow truck and started the vehicle again: just before stepping on the throttle, Jake's eyes were like plates when he realized where he had parked: Across the street, and a few yards from the corner, on his right, was an old Victorian-style house with two floors and an attic, cream-colored walls, a slate-grey roof, large windows, a large brown entrance door on the right side, a porch surrounded by thin carved wooden columns, a conical-roofed turret on the right side, and on the side, a flagpole with the American flag flying timidly. To one side was a garage with two cars parked in front; the house was fenced with a wrought iron fence; there was a large tree in front on the sidewalk, another behind the house and a smaller one on the right side.
Spoiler:
Image
He had changed almost nothing in fifteen years: it was his old house.

Time to go, Jake thought. He stepped on the accelerator and said goodbye to Gatalina Valley. With any luck, it would be forever.
Last edited by EditorElohim on Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:48 pm

__________________________________________________________________________________________


The green sedan remained outside under the intense summer sun without having concluded its revision; the pile of garbage was still not completely classified, but nobody paid attention to them. Reluctantly, and only because the deputy mayor wanted to know the truth, Chance had her come in from the garage to explain it better.

While looking for something in the refrigerator to offer her, Callie took her first look at the place: she had never been in there long enough to pay attention to it, and she felt a little uneasy sitting on that couch. A cement floor, sideboards full of tools, worn-out second-hand furniture, an old TV, faded carpet, some grease stains on the wall and the occasional sign of clutter, were clear signs that she was in the two-man house and that the female presence was almost non-existent. He even slightly frowned at the sight of a calendar with pictures of girls in bikinis: it was very common in auto repair shops, he knew, although fortunately this one was less provocative than the others. Her eyes ended up on something perched on a sideboard on the left side of the place where they were watching TV, which made her smile with a warmth that made her see that her mechanic friends had their sensitive side, especially Chance, who from what she knew, was the typical big and gentle subject with quite evident masculine pride.

— Chance...
— Yes, Callie?
— Tell me... Do you like Swat Kats?
— What? -that question took him by surprise. He had to calm down before committing something foolish- Eh, yeah... -he answered with indifference- They’re good guys.
— Which one is your favorite?
— Ehm... Well... T-Bone, I guess. -how hard it was not to laugh at him praising himself, he thought- I like his style.
— I understand. I like them both.
— Tell me, do you want milk or something else?
— Water will be fine. It's a very warm day.

The mechanic returned immediately with a glass of cold water for her and a can of milk for him. He sat down next to her on the couch without getting too close to make her feel uncomfortable and went straight to the point.

— It started fifteen years ago. His dad was taking over the mechanical parts business his father had entrusted to him, Jake's grandfather. At first, everything was going well: they were making enough money to support themselves and that big house. They even rented a pizza shop for Jake's seventh birthday.
— I guess you went.
— Guest of honor, of course. -he laughed after drinking his milk- All the pizza and cake you could eat. How could you resist? -then he stopped laughing- But then things started to get worse: the business was losing sales, employees were quitting, and Mr. Clawson was getting nervous about not being able to solve his financial problems. -he paused briefly and looked at the TV, which was turned off- You know what happens when someone feels this insecure.

Callie could get an idea. Poor Jake...

— At first it was discussions, then verbal fights and then it came to blows. Mostly at night, when Jake was already in his bed, he would hear everything.
— And his mother didn't report him?
— No, and I think it was out of embarrassment or because she was still hoping things would get better.
— But from what you told me, they didn't.
— That's right: overnight, he became more violent, more... eccentric. -after he finished his milk, he crushed the can- He started screaming and hitting Jake: he was acting like a crazy person.
— Holy Kats... And how long were they like that?
— Two months. -he said, Callie couldn't believe it- Finally, Mrs. Clawson and Jake left the house and went to a neighbor, got a restraining order, and moved downtown. A month after that, Mr. Clawson shot himself in the head inside his house: a friend of his found him shortly after he shot himself. It seems he talked to him on the phone before...
— My God... Really, Jake suffered a lot.
— After that, he suffered from many nightmares. He had to go to the psychologist and... -suddenly, he began to have a surprisingly sharp pain in his head- Aghh... Crud.
— You’re okay?
— Yeah... Don't worry. It's all right.
— But there is something I don't understand: Why didn't his father look for them after they abandoned him? -Callie knew of many cases like that after reading a lot of Enforcers files- Usually that's what abusive parents do: they literally seek to hold their family hostage.
— Jake's father was already... “strange” before he changed his attitude. He was a good guy, a good father... until he had that change. Jake never forgave him: he's hated him since the funeral.
— What do you mean he was “strange”?

Chance bit his lower lip; bringing back that particular memory was difficult.

— I was in third grade when I went to visit Jake at his house to play with him; his father welcomed me: despite his attempt to smile nicely, he looked very depressed. He let me into Jake's room without any problems. When I told him about his dad's strange attitude, he said it was normal for him to act this way on his birthday.
— Was it his father's birthday?
— Yes, I was surprised, too. I asked if they were going out and he said no; that they would spend as usual at his house alone. -he paused briefly before continuing and looked her in the eyes- Callie, this guy didn't celebrate his birthday or let anyone do anything special to him. It was as if that day was the saddest day of the year for him.
— It didn't make any sense.
— No, it doesn't. -he sighed- Anyway: that's the story of Jake's father. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him I told it to you, or he'll tell me to go to heck. He doesn't like to share these things.
— Don't worry, I won't. But Chance, you...

The garage's phone started ringing, and Chance had to leave to attend: since there was no one else but him until Jake returned, he had to take care of any potential work.

— I don't think your car will be ready today, Callie. -said the mechanic- Not if the drivers of Megakat are still having problems.
— Don't worry: I don't work until Monday. I can handle myself well in a cab or bus.
— Jake and Chance's Garage. How can we help you?
Chancey?
— Huh? Mom? H… How are you doing?

Callie raised her ears when she heard the mechanic mention his mother. She hated being a gossip like her high school friends, but... Something told her that call was anything but welcome.

"I'm very well, and you?"
— Working, as usual. To what do I owe your call?
"Sorry to interrupt you, but I wanted to let you know that we were going to have a little family reunion next week..."
— Uh-huh...
"Where we will meet Zack's new fiancée..."
— Uh-huh...
"And we would like you to join us."
— Uh-huh...
"You’re planning to come, Chancey?"
— I'll be busy. -not that I was lying technically: I never knew if I'd have a job or not in the garage- I don't think I can; maybe another day.
"You don't want to go, do you?"
— Mom...
"Why don't you want to come? We hardly see each other throughout the year."
— We have Thanksgiving and Christmas. -he replied in a cold, almost mechanical way- And there is still time for that.
"Chancey, please. We miss you."
— Nothing stops you from coming to visit me: I'm not in a nuclear waste treatment plant. You know that.
"It's just that..."
— Dad is still ashamed of me for getting kicked out of the Enforcers. See? I read minds.
"Not true: we think it was a mistake on Feral's part to punish them like that."
And why didn't they say ANYTHING? -no; he would keep that to himself- Aha... I believe them. -It was everything but the truth-
"Speaking of which, is Jake okay? The anniversary of his father's death is coming up."
— He's fine. I'm making sure of that.
"I'm glad about that. Aren't you going to come, Chancey?" -his mother insisted again- "It would be very important for your brother to be there."
That's a big lie and you know it. -that was NOT going to be left alone- If it's so important to Zack, why doesn't he call me and ask? Or better yet, why doesn't he come here in person to see me? Sure, like my older brothers really care about me.
"Chancey..."
— Tell him I'll wait for his call... or his fourth attempt at a wife. Goodbye. -hung up-

After hanging up the phone, he felt bad about answering his mother like that; he had never done it before. But hearing about his brother "wanting to see him" broke his patience. Who did she think she was fooling? He had twin brothers for twenty-five years, and they hardly took him into account; moreover, they considered him almost a burden or a parasite. It was the misfortune of being the younger brother, and seven years apart.

His mother knew it: she was not absent-minded.

He became so engrossed in the discussion on the phone that he completely forgot that Callie was just a few feet away, hearing how he had raised his voice and responded to his mother. He had never felt so sorry in his entire life.

— I'm sorry, Callie. You... shouldn't have heard that.
— Neither of us has an easy family, right?
— Families are never easy. They would only be if we could choose them.
— Chance... Why are you still here? You know the city already paid for the damage they caused to the Enforcer Headquarters; I told them so myself.
— That's not up to us, it's up to that poor bastard of Feral. -He leaned against the wall, crossed his arms- He doesn't care if they pay for his stupid building, but he cares about punishing us for disobeying him and proving him wrong.
— Sounds like very capricious and... childish behavior.
— You're wrong, Callie: it's adult behavior. An adult with power who refuses to acknowledge that he made a mistake.
— Maybe if I talked to him...
— Leave it at that: you better not get in trouble for us. Or us for you. -he thought; that made him feel dirty and selfish, and even worse because it was true-
— Fine. -she replied with regret, then picked up on the question she was going to ask earlier- Tell me, don't you think you're, I don't know, a little overprotective of Jake?
— What?
— I mean, the way you tried to prevent him from going to his old neighborhood at all costs, or the hesitation you showed in telling me.
— I know Jake: I saw everything he went through up close, and for his own good, I think it's best to try to keep him away from a place that brings back bad memories.
— He's an adult now: he can decide that. I doubt that his other friends will act that way.
— Who? -he asked with bitter irony- We’re alone, Callie: all the friends we could have had in the Enforcers turned their backs on us.
— What about your friends in elementary school? Or in high school?
— We lost touch with them years ago: that's what happens when you change schools and move across town. We kept some of them for a while, but as soon as they heard about our "accident", they vanished. -He sighed half-heartedly- There are only two of us left: a few outcasts.
— I’m very sorry. -she apologized: she didn't expect her mechanic friends, whom she saw as so happy and carefree, to have such a... sad and lonely story. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable- I didn't know anything about...
— Don't worry: it's not your fault. -He said with a conciliatory smile- These things happen.
— Maybe I should go, so I can let them work. Could you call me a cab, please?

He didn't even bother to insist that she stay, even though she wanted to; he phoned for a cab for Callie and accompanied her to the exit of the Salvage Yard. Even that made him feels like trash: part of him wanted her to leave, not to worry so much about the two of them. What if she ended up defending them to Feral? He might ask himself why so much interest in those two unhappy outcast mechanics, and... if he thought about it too much, make an analogy to the defense that the Deputy Mayor made with the Swat Kats. Too much paranoia perhaps, but when you had a secret to keep, you couldn't let your guard down.

Life sucks.

— I'm sorry I caused them so much trouble; especially you.
— You didn't cause any trouble, Callie. We just... had a bad day: that's all. I'd even say you're the best thing that's happened to us since we got here. Heck, why did I say that?
— Really?
— I sure did. You already said it; no way, Chance. You care about us, you visit us, you do the hardest work in the world...
— I don't think so; Mayor Manx works very hard for the city.

Neither of them could hold back the laughter: it was very funny, almost hilarious, to think of Mayor Manx doing more than play golf or take care of his wig... and his tail when it suited him. That brief moment relaxed the previous tension, relaxing both of them.

— That was a good one, Callie. "Manx working hard".
— Do you know how hard it is to try not to laugh or get angry at the things Manx says or does? -She smiled- Yeah, maybe you're right: I get the hardest job in the world.

They were at the entrance of the the Salvage Yard when the cab finished arriving; Callie got into the car, but asked to wait a moment more before leaving.

— You know, you're good people; I wanted you to know that.
— Thank you. You’re too, Callie.
— Things are going to get better; I'm sure they will. Hey: I was thinking, wouldn't you like to go for coffee sometime?
— A coffee?
— A girl inviting a guy? -complained the cab driver- What a crazy world today.
— You, me and Jake. To go out as friends: I know a café that serves delicious cupcakes.
— Ohhh, what a great date...
— Hey, do you get paid for driving or for meddling in things you don't care about? -Chance grumbled before talking to Callie again- I would have to talk to him about it, but yes: we would. Next Saturday maybe?
— Sounds good to me. And you'll have my car to...?
— Monday, or Tuesday to be sure.
— Hey, lady. You want me to put your conversation with your boyfriend on your tab?
— Didn't I tell you to shut up?
— I better go before I get charged for breathing. Bye, Chance; say hi to Jake for me.
— Uff... Can we go now?
— YES!!

He watched the cab drive away for a while before entering the Salvage Yard again and without anyone noticing, take a leap accompanied by a roar of victory: even after the visit of Burke and Murray, the escape of the Metallikats, those odious rats, the insufferable Feral, talking about Jake's past and the call from his mother, Callie Briggs had the ability to make the sun continue to shine despite the constant clouds. If that wasn't a superpower, besides supporting Manx and being the de facto mayor, all at once, then what was it?

He walked back to the garage, already much livelier, and returned to his work.



__________________________________________________________________________________________




With one hour to close, the sun was beginning its slow march towards the horizon, and Jake had just arrived at the Salvage Yard: he carefully left Mr. Gueyrod's car in the garage, next to Callie Briggs' car. That got his attention, and he mentioned it to his partner, who was already putting his tools away.

— I couldn't finish reviewing it; I'll finish it by Tuesday at the latest.
— You didn't even finish reclassifying all the trash that Dumb and Dumbess brought in. What were you two doing? -Jake swallowed spittle- Didn't...?
— Please, Jake: don't be a crud pervert! -Laugh the blond mechanic- We were just talking. -by the time his partner was more relaxed, he added- Besides, if anything happened, I'd tell you.
— Chance!
— Hahaha! You asked for it! I love making you angry with that joke. Relax, man: you know I'm joking. Help me close the garage and get ready for the night. How did it go in our old neighborhood, by the way?
— Well... it didn't really change much.

Jake thought a lot about what he would end up saying to him as he helped close the garage. He mentioned the few changes at the school and the Ocelote Plaza, and even the incident with the boy, but he kept Feral's to himself... for now. He then pointed to the car in the garage.

— It is from Mr. Gueyrod.
— That name sounds familiar...
— He was a friend of my father.
— Oh... -the "O" in Chance's mouth said it all: that same guy had discovered Mr. Clawson's body- Yes, I remember.
— And he told me that Mrs. Krucible passed away five years ago.
— Did she? What a shame: she was a lovely old lady who made delicious cakes. Not like that grumpy lady who has car trouble every week.
— To be fair, we stood her up most of the day once, remember?
— Oh, is true. Well, let's get this over with. As the saying goes, when the garage closes for the day...
— Swat Kats go out at night.
— Yeah... -Chance nodded as he walked to the back of the workshop- Al and Peggy-bot won't escape our paws again.
— Sure, bud... Huh?

Out of the corner of his eye, Jake saw -or thought he saw- something on a sideboard. How long have they had that there? As he turned to look at it better, that something was gone.

— Ehm... Chance?
— Tell me, partner.
— Do you know anyone who has made Swat Kats toys?
— What? No! -he heard it in the distance, raising his voice- Did you see one?
— I think I did.
— Crud it! They make merchandise with us and we don't get our royalties!
— Sure, man. -Jake slapped his temples- And who will the check be made out to?
— Right, you're right. Heck... Well, enough chitchat! The Swat Kats must be finding some dangerous criminals! And... if there's any time left, see "Independence Day".

Jake chose to play along with Chance and go down to the hangar to prepare to search for the Metallikats... and then enjoy what was left of their Saturday, which, in the main, turned out to be worse than he expected. But he kept thinking about what he had seen: he swore and perjured himself that he had seen a T-Bone doll made of rag. Had it been real?



__________________________________________________________________________________________



It was a splendid night, with a clear sky and a full moon, and without the suffocating heat of the day, although the light pollution prevented us from seeing all the stars. It was also extremely quiet, with little or no criminal reports on radio stations: normally this would be excellent news for the Swat Kats, but for the Turbokat pilot it was terribly frustrating not to find the criminals who had humiliated him that morning. Razor knew his partner well enough to know that his pride had been hurt and it would be difficult to remedy.

The only tension that night was T-Bone's anxiety.

— It seems to be a quiet night... too much for Megakat.
— Too calm for me. -grumbled the pilot- Where the heck are those two idiots?! They're supposed to be criminals: let them do criminal things, crud it!
— You should relax: you’re literally screaming for them to assault, rob and kill just so you can catch them.
— Sorry, but... How are we supposed to find them? We don't know where they live, and Professor Hackle can't trace them.
— They may not even stay in Megakat: they took a lot of money.
— Aha... And they won't want more: how naive, Razor. Any brilliant idea of WHERE they might be?
— Ehm... I don't know: Las Vegas?
— Bah, forget it.

There was no case: neither T-Bone was cooperating to calm down nor were there any clues or even the slightest hint of finding the Metallikats. He had joked about the Las Vegas thing, but if they weren't in the city causing trouble, where could they be? In an attempt to break the tension he asked him about what they had discussed with Callie, hoping it would help him relax.
How wrong he was...

— Mmm... Of... things. -He paused; there was no point in hiding it- My mom called.
— Oh... -now it was Razor's mouth that was drawing an "O" expressing everything with that syllable- And what does it say?
— Nothing... She sends her greetings.
— I doubt that she called just because of that.
— Pfff... She called to invite me to a family meeting to meet Zack's third fiancée.
— Third? I thought it was his second. And you're going?
— Of course not. -he spat, as if spitting out a fat hairball from his throat- The last thing I need is another meeting where my brothers will show off their "success in life" and rub my face in what a failure I am.
— Whatever happened to "it's your family" and "keeping in touch"?
— It went down the drain this afternoon as it reminded me how cruddy life is, Razor.
— You won't even do it to see your nephews?

“You had to bring them out in the discussion; you're a evil, Razor”, thought T-Bone. Yes, he had nephews from his brother Tom, who unlike his twin, was not a disaster when looking for a couple: he was a disaster as an older brother and an unscrupulous lawyer. But at least he managed to form a stable family. His nephews, four-year-old Ben, and two-year-old Jonas, were the only thing that brought him any joy at those sour and soporific family meetings. At least they hadn't inherited their father's bad attitude... and their mother, who wasn't a good sister-in-law either, looking down on him at every opportunity.

For Ben and Jonas, Uncle Chance was a big boy who could play with everything and take walks while his parents talked to adults about adult things: that "babysitting" treatment of his nephews didn't bother Chance at all; on the contrary, he loved them deeply. If his job as a mechanic allowed it, he would buy them a present for their birthday, spend some time with them and then go home. No: not even his nephews' birthday could be attended without the derogatory look of his sister-in-law... or his own brother.

— I'll think about it, Razor. -he just said- I'll think about it.
— Ehm... T-Bone.
— What happens now... -he sounded jaded, but he watched his tone-
— Remember I said I almost hit a kid?
— Yeah... I hope you'll be more careful next time; there's a reason I'm flying the Turbokat.
— I met Feral shortly after.
— What? And what the heck was he doing there?

Razor explained it to him, with all the details about his brother living there. And that his attitude had not changed at all.

— If I had been you, I would have punched him in the mouth.
— So it's a relief that it wasn't you, T-Bone. -He one just moaned- Tell me, did I... did I ever... run away from home?
— WHAT?
— Feral... said I once disappeared.

He didn't know why, but as soon as he heard that answer, he felt an uncomfortable pain in his head, like a continuous prick or bump that caused a headache. Fortunately, the effect was brief, and he kept the Turbokat steady, but his partner noticed.

— You’re okay?
— Just... it was a little headache. Too many things made me angry today.
— Ah...
— You were always a good kid, Razor. Unlike me. -he smiled with a certain malice at the thought of his childhood- I didn't miss the chance to do some mischief. -the smile vanished at that moment- You never ran away from home, not even when you had real reasons to do so.
— …
— Take my advice, buddy: don't listen to Feral. He's a bastard who'll make up anything stupid just because he hates us: let's be Razor and T-Bone, or Jake and Chance.
— I guess you're right. -He sighed and kept quiet before taking up the word again- You're not a loser, Chance: I'm just reminding you.
— Thanks, buddy.

Another hour passed without any sign of the Metallikats or any other active criminals; there were also no calls from Miss Briggs, so they decided to return to the hangar, enjoy what was left of Saturday, and resume the search tomorrow.

There would be no action that night for the Swat Kats.



__________________________________________________________________________________________



— I had a great time. -said the boy before saying goodbye- The dinner was delicious.
— I'm glad you liked it, Max. Did you have fun with your dad?
— Oh, yes: the garden is much more interesting with those new games.
— All to make you happy, champ.
— Can I come over tomorrow too? -asked the little gray-haired boy- I know it's Sunday, but...
— Of course, honey. -said the woman- You can come as often as you like: we’re here for you.
— We just want you to be happy.
— What's more, if you come tomorrow, I'll probably have a surprise for you for being so good.
— A surprise? Really? Then I'll come tomorrow: I promise!

Max opened the door where he arrived and entered the hallway, not before saying goodbye to them, who answered him from the other doorway with a "Come back soon". He returned to his house, specifically to the living room, which was empty and the lights were off. He saw a string of light coming out of the kitchen doorway. There was his mother, sitting at the table with a cup of coffee on her paw.

— I thought you were asleep.
— I was... playing. Where's Dad?
— He went out. -she answered and drank her coffee- I don't know what time he's coming.
— Well... I'm going to sleep.
— Max... -said his mother before she left the kitchen- Is everything all right? Anything you want to talk about?
— No. Nothing, mom.
— You’re sure? You just went out this summer to play with your friends.
— I went out today. -he said, jaded, without showing much. The last thing I wanted to do was have a conversation with his mother at that hour- And there's not much to do.
— I understand. Better go to sleep: it's getting late.

Max left the kitchen and happily walked up the stairs to his room, looking forward to tomorrow to find out what surprise his "Other Mother" had in store for him.



__________________________________________________________________________________________


With the city seemingly calm - for better or worse - Jake and Chance had the night to rest, and both felt they needed it more than ever after a day of unpleasant encounters. Unlike the night before, they opted to order their meals from home: when the delivery man arrived, they left him a sizeable tip when considering the long drive he had to make to bring two family-size pizzas and six cans of milk.

— Funny; I would have expected you to order beer instead of milk.
— Why? -asked a confused Chance-
— I'm just saying: after the lousy mood you were in all day, I was hoping for something like "let's get drunk and forget this cruddy day" or something like that.
— Nah... It wasn't that bad. Besides, tomorrow is Sunday, and you know what that means.
— Obstacles track?
— Exactly! Megakat won't be quiet forever, and we can't afford to be careless. -he settled down on the couch- But now, let's forget about all the bad stuff. Put the movie on: I want to see spaceships and things exploding!

The movie began to play while they were eating their dinner: time passed and all the tension of the day faded away. Half an hour later, Jake asked me to put the movie on pause to go to the bathroom.

— Oh, by the way. I almost forgot: Callie invited us over for coffee next week.
— Really? Both of us? I thought you would have preferred a date with her.
— She had the idea, and I agreed: a date as friends. I told her I'd check with you. What do you say?
— Sounds good... I like the idea, as long as no idiot attacks Megakat and Callie tries to call the Swat Kats while we're standing next to her.
— Hey, man! Be positive: we can't be that unlucky.
— I guess. I'll be right back.
— Don't be long: I want to see when the ships fire and everything goes to heck.

Chance was left alone in the small living room with the TV on and a table with two half-eaten pizza boxes. Out of boredom while his friend was away, his eyes poked around the room as if staring into space, thinking about whether he would go to the family reunion or not, whether he would tell Jake that Callie already knew about his family, whether they would find the Metallikats soon...

It was then that he saw them -or thought he saw them- standing there on a sideboard on the left side of the sofa among some old books and tools, with big white eyes, looking at the couch, as if observing them carefully. As he had barely seen them out of the corner of his eye and then turned around until he realized their presence, he got up from the sofa and went to the sideboard. He did not find them.

— What's up, Chance?
— Huh? -he turned back: it was Jake, looking at him strangely- I thought I saw... something.
— Like what?
— I think... a rat. Nah, it must have been just a shadow.
— Or maybe it was a rat: this place isn't exactly the cleanest. Anyway, shall we go back to the film?
— Sure!

They went back to the couch, finished their movie with their dinner and then went to sleep. The next day they would have a lot to do: training to do, villains to defeat, cars to repair...

Sleeping, however, was not entirely easy for both of them: each had his own problems in mind related to his family. And for his part, Chance couldn't get his mind off the fact that he was being watched by a pair of white eyes before going to sleep.
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Re: The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:41 pm

Good morning, afternoon or evening; after some time away, and after recovering from the "fashionable illness", I move on to update the story.

I hope you like it:


Chapter 3: Rain.


He woke up like any other Sunday: he saw the clock on his bedside table striking five in the morning. When he got out of bed, however, he noticed a peculiar silence: looking at the top bunk, he found it completely empty and tidy. Where was Jake? Did he wake up before me? Chance wondered.

Believing that he would be ready to sign up for the obstacle track downstairs, he put on a tank top, went to wash his face and went downstairs. There was no sign of Jake in the living room, workshop or kitchen. At that moment, he heard a very familiar sound coming from downstairs: the hangar door, followed by the engines of an airplane. Had Jake gone out to fly the Turbokat? Although he was the most experienced pilot, his partner was competent enough to fly his jet. The question was, why did he do it alone and at this hour? He hurried down the secret stairs leading to the subway hangar: it wasn't that he was angry about Jake taking the Turbokat just like that, or about his overprotection of the plane. It was more a matter of concern as to what drove him to do what he did. Had an emergency occurred while they were asleep and only Jake came to the rescue?

Something isn't right at all.

When he set foot in the hangar, and saw the plane, he had to hold back a scream so as not to draw attention to himself and hide somewhere. He knew that jet, and the one he was watching was not his own: almost completely black, with few touches of blue, and that horrible green gremlin head on his nose. He was about to say something when the cabin opened, letting its occupants jump out: one of them was carrying something on one paw the size of a ball wrapped in a sack.

No, they don't! Impossible!

— Good hunting, partner.
— Yeah... -the other one was laughing; he sounded disturbingly pleased with himself- Three office towers, two apartment blocks, two elevated stretches of highway...
— And the Enforcers' Headquarters as the ultimate prize! -T-Bone laughed like a madman, followed by Razor- Too bad you didn't manage to destroy that crud in time before you got out of there!
What the heck did these crazy guys do? -thought Chance- I've got to get out of here.
— How much do you think it will cost to repair that eyesore?
— I don't know... -opening the bag- Let's ask Feral, shall we?

Again, Chance had to suppress another scream -even covering his mouth with both paws was difficult for him- when he saw what that T-Bone had hanging from his right fist by a few hairs. Commander Feral's head, severed from the base of his neck, and with an expression of terror engraved on it after his death, was still dripping blood on the concrete floor. Both Swat Kats laughed like psychopaths as they mocked that head.

— Tell us, Commander, how much money do we owe the Enforcers?
— Come on, Feral. -Razor scoffed- Did they get your tongue?
— No. -replied T-Bone, stretching his tongue out of the commander's mouth- It's still here, hehe...
— It seems that he is not as talkative as when he asked you to let him go.
— Oh, I remember the look on his face when he found out what we were going to do to him... I enjoyed every crudding second!
— And let's not even talk about his stupid niece! She was stunned!
— She'll be next. -He threw Razor's head as if it were a ball- Put it over there: we'll see where we can put our new trophy.
These guys are more insane than I thought. - Chance thought, really scared- Where the heck is Jake? We've got to get out of here before...

In his attempt to "subtly" climb the ladder that led to the workshop above, he caused a group of oil cans to fall to the ground, producing so much noise that he gave away his location to his evil counterparts, who immediately pointed their Glovatrix at him.

— Look: it's your Boy Scout version! -grumbled Razor- The bastard was spying on us!
— Forget the stupid Felina: I just saw my new trophy.
— I'm out of here!
— Don't run away, you coward! Razor, don't kill him: I'll rip his head off myself!

Chance rushed upstairs like a devil's advocate and left the garage shortly before it exploded: his counterparts had fired explosives at the building. What were those madmen thinking? Unarmed, alone and barely protected, he was forced to sneak through the mountains of debris and think of a way to get out of the Salvage Yard without being seen. He could hear the two Swat Kats giving each other directions to find him.

Something was definitely not right. Was that his world or the parallel universe where he and Jake ended up months ago? Why were these evil Swat Kats so different from the others? They looked the same, yes, but the ones they met got along terribly, to the point that he and Jake wondered on several occasions how the heck they managed to team up and work for Dark Kat. Furthermore, how did Dark Kat come up with the idea of recruiting those two? The ones he now had on his heels and at the tip of his tail worked better as a team -I could even say they were friends- and worse: they were wilder, more psychopathic and dangerous than the ones he remembered.

Where the HECK is Jake?

He stopped in front of a pile of boneless cars ready to recycle for some air: he was panting from the chase and the heat. The only thing on his mind, apart from the whereabouts of his friend, was to run away.

— Pss... Chance.
— Huh? Jake?
— Sigh... -the voice, which seemed to come from the garbage heap, moaned before answering- Chance, you have to hide.
— Who are you?
— Shh... Speak lower.

That was definitely not Jake: that voice was too high-pitched, almost childish. What was a child doing hiding in the Salvage Yard at that early hour? And even more so with those crazy people running around.

Something that caught his attention was that this voice was... familiar to him.

— What are you doing here, kid? It's dangerous!
— Really...
— I'm not kidding: there are some crazy killers on the loose.
— The Evil Swat Kats, I know... -he replied boringly- I'm used to those fools.
— How do you...?!
— Shh... They'll hear you, you idiot. -the voice paused- Listen: there is a green minivan around this corridor: slide the door and go down the entrance.
— What are you talking about?
— I want to help you, Chance! -the voice almost shouted out loud; it managed to keep its tone down- He approaches… -the boy stops suddenly- …
— What's going on?
Shhh... Don't talk to me.
— Who is coming? -Chance asked quietly- Kid?
A spy...

What was that strange child talking about? The Evil Swat Kats were the threat and he was talking about something else. Why didn't he give them the importance they should have? He sounded almost bored when he heard about them. He looked on both sides of the corridor and saw no sign of them: then he looked up and...

Then he saw it, standing there on the chassis of a car on top of a pile of twisted metal, staring at it without moving a muscle. Was it the Evil T-Bone? It had to be, right? Who else could it be? I had the perfect opportunity to attack him with the Glovatrix, kill him and take his trophy. Why didn't I do it and still stand there? It was that he realized that his helmet was not like his evil version, since instead of the green skull he had a red inverted triangle... like his own uniform.

And then there were his eyes... there was something strange about those peculiarly bright, round eyes. They were... they were...

— Chance, don't look him in the eyes!
— Huh? -he asked the boy- What do you say?
— There's the crudding Boy Scout! -Chance turned around and discovered the Evil Razor- T-Bone, go get your trophy!
— Roger!
They don't see the other one...?
— Stop wasting time, Chance, and wake up!
— What? Is this...?
WAKE UP, YOU PIECE OF ANIMAL!


__________________________________________________________________________________________



His awakening was tremendously sudden: he hit his head against the base of the top bunk so hard that he not only ended up screaming in pain and with a bump on his head, but he ended up suddenly waking up Jake, who literally felt a jolt similar to a small earthquake.

— Chance!! What the heck is wrong with you?! Why are you making so much noise?!
— I hit my head, genius! -caressing the bump- Agh...! I'm gonna need some ice.
— What made you get up like that? Don't tell me "Independence Day" gave you nightmares.
— Don't be silly, Jake. -He peeked out of the right side of the bunk, looking for something on the floor- It takes something MUCH more brutal than that to scare me.
— Uh-huh... Like some alien Ci-Kat-A, for example. -Chance ignored that comment- And what are you looking for?
— My pillow: I heard it fell.
— You have it behind you.

When he turned around, he confirmed that his friend was right. But if it wasn't the pillow, what was that seemingly soft thing that fell to the floor? As he stood up, he felt a slight shudder through his body, made worse by sweat. Jake felt the same way, and was forced to put on a T-shirt that he had hung on the headboard of his bed.

— Hey... Is it me, or is it a little cold, Chance?
— Did you leave the air conditioning on full blast?
— Chance... -Jake looked at him seriously- We don't have air conditioning.

It was true: their workshop and home did not have an air conditioner because of how expensive it would be to buy one, and because SOMEONE capable of building the best Megakat fighter jet, all sorts of weapons, gadgets and backup vehicles from recycled Enforcers scrap, was not capable of making a crud air conditioner under the excuse of "we have no refrigerant". Why had the temperature dropped significantly?

Now that they weren't talking, you could hear a soft but constant thump on the roof; Jake felt something wet fall on his cheek. Quickly the two friends ran to the window and opened the shutters.

— Is it... Is it raining?

And it was not just any rain, but a real deluge: it was as if all the rain that fell in Megakat in a year -or more- was falling at that very moment, which was very unusual, since summer was the driest season of the year and it was in August, added to the fact that the city had 320 days of sunshine a year, and a rather dry climate. Outside, the curtain of rain was so intense that the city's horizon could barely be seen because of the fog.

— Well... it was quite hot yesterday: usually it is a warning of a big storm. -Jake reasoned- It must be about 18 degrees Celsius or less now.
— But for it to rain this hard? Don't you think it's a Viper thing or something?
— If it was, Callie would be calling us. The only emergency I see right now is the fact that we'll have a hard time reclassifying our remaining trash. And that we can say goodbye to the obstacle track... Unless the training is to get muddy and slippery as heck.
— I'm going to take a look at it. -added Chance, leaving the room- You’re going to make breakfast?
— Sure, "Mr. Furlong”. -Jake joked- What do you want for today?
— Anything eatable, "Jenkins".

Like Jake, he put on his T-shirt and went downstairs, where there were some puddles of water from some leaks in the roof, or from the advance of water from outside; otherwise, everything was normal. He put on a raincoat from the closet and went to investigate the state of the track. The rain was falling uninterruptedly and intensely: walking through it was like passing through a waterfall that splashed your face at all times: the floor of the Salvage Yard, yesterday arid, now was all mud, soiling your boots.

Just as his friend predicted, the obstacle course was a sea of mud that could not be used until the ground dried out completely, and with such a deluge, that would take time; he took one last look at that pond of water in which he almost drowned months ago and turned around. Before returning to the garage, and out of mere curiosity, he took another path: the memories of his dream -rather like a nightmare- were still vivid, and he went through the same path of his dream until he reached the place where his counterparts found him talking... With who?

He followed one of the corridors until he came across a green minivan among the garbage. What did it exist with... Did he mean this one? He opened the sliding door, letting the water splash on it, and looked inside: there was nothing unusual but a metallic skeleton. Satisfied -in part- him curiosity returned to the garage, where Jake was already waiting for him with his raincoat on.

— Well, how about our obstacle track?
— Unless you have a slider, it won't do us much good. -laughed Chance- But we have the gym.
— I guess...
— I was thinking, what if we look for the Metallikats after breakfast?
— Mmm... I'm not so sure: we have work to do and...
— Jake?
— We could look for them later, but I really want to start with Mr. Gueyrod's car, and you have Callie's car. -when Chance didn't seem convinced, Jake patted him on the shoulder- If they cause any trouble, we'll know, and we'll catch them this time: I promise. But remember that besides Swat Kats, we have other responsibilities... -he pointed out Burke and Murray's little pile of junk- like the one that's still there because SOMEONE stayed to flirt with the customers.
— Hehehe... You weren't going to waste it throwing it in my face, were you?
— Nope. Come on, let's go have breakfast.


__________________________________________________________________________________________



After breakfast, simple but appropriate for someone in training, and a short break, they went down to the gym to train with weights and punching bags for two hours; then they returned to their jobs. At no point did it stop raining, or give any indication that it would, so Chance set about finishing up Callie's car, and Jake assessed the damage to Mr. Gueyrod's car to prepare his budget.

Jake was just as eager to go catch the Metallikats as his friend, but he wasn't going to admit it. More than just kindness, he wanted to finish repairing that car as soon as possible so he could return it to its owner and not have to go back to Gatalina Valley in... well, what was left of his nine lives. The car at first glance was a real mess; after a long time of driving around and meticulously checking it out, he deduced that it would take time and effort to repair it completely. New headlights, new bumper, new windshield, totally rebuild the engine and a coat of paint and wax to finish: all this was going to a sheet where the young mechanic of cinnamon coat was writing down everything, fixing the costs, and the necessary materials. Many spare parts would have to be bought.

— Is everything OK? -asked Chance as he looked at his desk in the shop, and then he saw Gueyrod's car- Wow, man. Did the driver really survive that?
— Yes, he did. -He hissed indifferently; it sounded almost as if he wished he hadn't. He leaned back, crossing his arms- This is going to be a little tricky: we're going to have to buy some things.
— Count on me if you need help, buddy. -Jake nodded- I've finished Callie's car. I'm going to finish separating Dumb and Dumber's trash.
— In this rain?
— It's just water: it won't kill me.
— Just be careful... and bring a life preserver.
— Very funny, Jake.

The budget calculation normally followed: it calculated where and how much I would get such a share, and if there was a possibility of lowering the cost of repair. He momentarily left the pencil on the table and looked at the car again: he would definitely need Chance's help to get it ready on time. As he got caught up in his calculations, he began to feel uncomfortable, as if there was someone else there in that workshop. The feeling was so strong that he ended up getting up from his desk because of his nerves.

— Chance, you’re done? -when he looked around the workshop he didn't see anybody- I'm alone; I thought that... -he heard something on the sideboard- Look, buddy: if this is a joke, it's starting to bother me.

There was no one: only him. He went to the room to look out the window, and saw that his partner was still out there with his raincoat, handling the scrap metal to be sorted with gloves. Fortunately, he thought: no Macho Kat for today. There were no prints to indicate that he had recently returned from the outside, so it was just his imagination? He returned to the workshop's desk to finish his budget and start the repairs he could.

The restlessness, however, that feeling of being constantly watched at all times, didn't go away.

— I'm done. -He heard Chance entering the workshop, hung his raincoat on a hanger, and kept dripping- Holy Kats: the rain doesn't stop. Jake... Jake?
— I'm busy with the car. -replied the alluded one- I'm really going to need your help to finish this.
— Did I ever deny you my help?
— I thought you might want to do something more fun like watch TV or play video games.
— Nah... I have to make sure you give the customers a real car and not a rope toy.
— Excuse me? -he said, pretending to be angry- A "real car" is like Callie's car that you made blow like a volcano?
— But then it moved beautifully, didn't it?
— Oh, Chance...
— You don't want me to help you with the car. -Chance's smile faded as he asked the question- Do you, Jake?
— What you’re talking about?
— You know what I'm talking about.
— It has nothing to do with... "it." I just want to do a good job.
— And you will; we'll do it together. We're a team, aren't we?

Jake couldn't answer, because that's when the alarm went off. Really? It's pouring out and there are villains committing crimes? It was the first time he wished he could stay in the workshop and not go on his Swat Kat duty. What is wrong with me?

— Go ahead, Miss Briggs. -Jake was so self-absorbed that he didn't realize his partner answered the call- Let it be the crud Metallikats, Chance thought.
“T-Bone, I received a communication: Hard Drive is robbing a store downtown.”
— Hard Drive?! -they exclaimed in unison- In this weather?
— He's the villain I least expected to attack today. Is he crazy?
“I don't know, Razor, I just know he's playing around: Security cameras at a store called ShockWave caught him stealing items from inside. I know it's a small thing for you, but the Enforcers are busy helping the firefighters with the problems caused by this rain in the slums. Megakat is not prepared for such weather."
— Understood, Miss Briggs: we'll take care of it. -the call ended- Well, buddy: it seems we have another responsibility.
— That's right. -He remained silent for a moment until...- But seriously... Hard Drive?
— He must be bored; I don't really blame him. Well, the Turbokat!


__________________________________________________________________________________________



In spite of being noon, the thick layer of clouds and the intense rain -accompanied by some occasional lightning strikes- that didn't stop since it started at some point in the morning, gave the sensation of being the hours of twilight. When T-Bone and Razor looked out of the cabin momentarily to see the city, they found it almost empty, with very few vehicles or pedestrians with umbrellas circulating and the streets turned into small streams. Maybe it was partly because it was Sunday, and on those days, the city used to be quieter; but it was more than obvious that that strange rain gave Megakat an atmosphere very unbecoming of summer, more somber, gloomy, melancholic, disturbing... and even boring.

— This looks more like Gotham City than Megakat City.
— Yeah... It doesn't seem to be summer. There is something very strange about this rain, Razor.
— I only know that it seems to be affecting me. -he let out a sigh of exhaustion- I don't feel good.
— What's wrong with you, buddy? You’re sick?
— Negative. It's just... I don't know... I feel... discouraged, and I don't know why.
— That's what happens when the Seattle's weather falls on us Southern California’s guys. Don't worry, buddy, we'll get some action and make you feel better.
— I hope so.
— Just try not to get too discouraged. -laughed T-Bone- Or I'll have to take you to a sunny beach by force.
— Hahaha... -laughed Razor a little more animatedly- Interesting offer. To Acapulco maybe?
— We'll see, we'll see...
— We are about to arrive: land in front of that building over there.

The Turbokat landed on the asphalt of the avenue, almost empty, in front of an electronics store on the first floor of a twenty-storey building. The metal doors were closed, suggesting that Hard Drive had entered through the electrical wires and inadvertently triggered the alarm. How was he going to get out if he couldn't take all the merchandise with him? Or could he?

The first thing they noticed after getting off the jet was the layer of water almost a centimeter thick on the asphalt soaking their feet.

— I think we should consider wearing shoes more often with our uniforms, T-Bone.
— We'll see about that later: we need to catch this nerd. Any ideas?
— Assuming he didn't hear us land, I propose entering through a back door to get the element of surprise on our side.
— It's good to know the rain didn't kill your neurons, Razor.

The service access was at the back of the building, and you could only get there by crossing an alleyway at the side: in the rain that place was even worse, as the humidity turned the dust into mud, and accentuated the unpleasant odors of the garbage containers. Again, the idea of including shoes in his Swat Kats uniform as an option came to Razor's mind as they walked down that narrow corridor from which, in addition to the rain, the walls were dripping.

That alley ended in an internal backyard that served as a parking lot for small trucks and for loading and unloading merchandise: at the back of the store building, there was a small wooden door on which a fluorescent light was flashing and a larger metal door for depositing the products; on the opposite side of that wall, about seven meters away, was a white cargo truck with the store's logo.

— It doesn't look like noon; it's too dark.
— Uh-huh... I'll open the door; watch my back, T-Bone.
— Right.

While Razor used his Glovatrix to SUBTLY open the door, T-Bone watched the surroundings somewhat uneasily, not knowing that his companion, who was determined in his task, felt the same even if he did not show it. He didn't know if it was the rain, or something else, but he felt uncomfortable being there. When he turned back...

— Razor...
— ¿Yes...?
— Look behind...

When he did so, he was slightly startled: on the small freight truck, there were small dark figures barely recognizable behind the curtain of falling water. Despite the darkness, they could almost tell that these tiny figures had little reddish eyes watching their movements carefully.

— Are those...?
— Those crudding rats. Who do they think they are? -He took a small stone from the ground and threw it at the truck- GO AWAY!
— T-Bone! You’re crazy? They're just rats...
— Rats who think we're a show or something. Open the door, Razor: I'm getting nervous.
— Oh, oh: that's always a bad sign. -a soft metallic click was heard- That's it: let's go in.

They entered the back room, a place with shelves and drawers in storage; it was dark, except for a thread of light coming through the barely open door to the store where Hard Drive was located.

— I can't avoid but think we forgot something, T-Bone.
— I hope it's nothing important, because we have to catch him. Ready, Razor?
— I'm always ready.

Hard Drive was in there filling his pockets with all kinds of electronics from the shop windows and shelves: cell phones, digital cameras, consoles, anything that could fit in his Surge Coat, which he wasn't exactly prepared to steal, but he had apparently modified it a bit.
A simple shot from the glove projectile was enough to get his attention.

— Swat Kats!!
— The store is closed, Hard Drive!
— Really? I'm here for the discount offer... four fingers.
— Didn't they teach you at home that stealing is bad?
— Mmm... -Hard Drive looked at the floor and smiled; his paws started to spark- And didn't they teach you guys that you should never go barefoot during a storm?
Oh, oh... Now I know what I was forgetting. -Razor thought- T-Bone... run... RUN!
— Eat lightning, you crudding meddlers!

Razor’s reaction was quick enough to dodge the electrical attacks and protect himself behind plastic windows; T-Bone was not so lucky, and although he avoided being electrocuted, he slipped because of his wet feet and hit a shelf full of artifacts that fell on him, leaving him on the floor.

— T-Bone! You’re okay?
— Twelve hundred dollars for a cellphone?! Oh, right... it's Apple. -said the alluded one as he pulled out the pile of artifacts on top of himself- Silly brand of spoiled children.
— T-BONE!
— See why I'm stealing these beauties? They're a real steal!
— I hope you like the taste of cement, Hard Drive!

With the help of his Glovatrix, Razor fired quick-drying cement minibombs at Hard Drive; he acted quickly and took a sideboard behind his back and used it as a shield so as not to get trapped. He hated to admit it, but the villain was learning.

Then, Hard Drive attacked again with electric shocks, preventing them from approaching him, especially T-Bone, who was trying to knock him down at an opportune moment that was not coming.

— Please, Swat Kats: that cement thing is a known thing, be more original, I'm getting bored!
— Original, huh? -grumbled Razor- Oh, you will have fun...
— Ehm, Razor... Any ideas? Our little friend is bored.
— Just pray this doesn't work too well. -His friend answered while preparing his Globatrix by putting some small metal balls inside it- Or we'll have to walk home.
— The truth is that I'm already bored: goodbye Swa...
— Eat this, you failed hacker attempt! EMP Minibombs, Fire!
— Minibombs what...??
— NOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Hard Drive's pleas came too late: three small metal balls hit him directly in his coat, causing an explosion of blinding light followed by a blackout throughout the store. When the light dissipated and they were left in the dark, Hard Drive was lying on the floor and stunned, with his coat completely disabled. T-Bone put improvised handcuffs on his wrists so he wouldn't escape.

— What did you throw at him, Razor? -he asked angrily- And why didn't you do it before?
— An electromagnetic bomb, you Swat Kat idiot. Don't you know what an EMP is?
— Nobody asked you. -He hit him on the head to keep him on his knees-
— A device that I created recently in case we face Hard Drive again, and that I brought before coming. -He explained with a certain pride, followed by a certain insecurity- But I never managed to put it to the test and I didn't know how powerful it would become.
— Great: I’m the subject of the crazy experiments of the Swat Kats.
— Shut up! -another blow to the head- Let me get this clear: you prepared to bring the ultimate weapon against this idiot…
— Hey!
— But did you forget that water conducts electricity?
— That's why we're still debating whether or not to include shoes in our uniform, T-Bone. -He gave him an ironic smile- Now his coat is completely useless; I just hope the Turbokat isn't ruined as much by the electromagnetic pulse.
— Now tell me, loser. -the larger Swat Kat headed for the Hard Drive- Why did you have the bright idea of robbing this store in this crazy climate, huh? This rain doesn't do you much good either.
— As if I would answer someone who slips so stupidly for walking barefoot in such weather.
— Don't make me angry. -He grumbled as he gave him a murderous look: like T-Bone, Chance had the freedom to show all his aggressiveness and threatening attitude without so many strings attached- Believe me, you wouldn't want to see me angry.
— Especially if you haven't had lunch yet. -Razor scoffed-
— I was bored! OK? -both Swat Kats are looking at him like a freak; that... wasn't the answer you'd expect from a villain- Just look at this rain! It overwhelms you, it suffocates you, it depresses you! It's frustrating to be locked up in your house unable to do anything!
— Let me get this clear... You stole this store just because you were dying of boredom in your HOME?! Why don't you just... I don't know... watch porn movies?!
— Oh, please, Swat Kats! Who are you kidding? -scoffed Hard Drive- I bet you were as bored as I was today; you were longing from your guts for something to force you out of wherever you were hiding. You enjoy being a hero, don’t you? The action, the adrenaline, the...
— We... don't do this for fun, Hard Drive. -Razor sentenced in a cold and sharp way- We're doing it because it's the right thing to do, let's be clear about that.
— Yeah, the fun is only a consequence; not the cause. -Razor looked at him in a quasi-homicidal way- What?
— Forget it.
— Do you hear that? -from outside, there were sirens- It must be the Enforcers... late as usual.
— Let's open the store and get him out of here.

After climbing the metal door of the store they found only two Enforcers' patrols, and among them the Commander Feral accompanied by Felina and other officers. Feral entered the store first to inspect the damage: shelves and cupboards smashed, merchandise scattered on the floor; some broken and all of them disabled by the EMP of Razor's mini-bombs. Then he went to the Swat Kats, with Hard Drive ready to be arrested.

— I hope you're proud, Swat Kats: you destroyed thousands of dollars by damaging the store of a noble working citizen to catch... this pathetic ATM robber.
— Grr...
— It's good to know that you put the status of material assets above whether criminals are caught or not, Feral: that says a lot about you. -Razor replied with a certain poison hidden in his ironic smile- Tell me, you’re really an Enforcers’ Commander or do you work for an insurance company?
— …
— Good one, Razor. -T-Bone whispered in a low voice-
— Very funny, "Vigilant". But someone has to point out all his mistakes, like the Metallikats' yesterday.
— Uncle...
— Still can't find them? -asked T-Bone- We looked for them last night.
— No sign of them. -replied Felina, nicer- We think they ran away from the city.
— Maybe Razor is right and...
— Well; enough of this pleasant and unnecessary conversation. -He gestured to his soldiers to take Hard Drive away, which they immediately obeyed- And you, better not cause any more trouble.
— Yeah, we love you too, Feral. -Razor replied again with sarcasm- Have a nice Sunday.
— Agh... This crudding weather: I don't remember it raining like this for fifteen years. Felina...
What did he say? Fifteen years ago...?
— I'll stay a little longer, uncle.
— Okay, but don't be late. I don't want you to get the recklessness.

After Feral left for the patrol, and after ignoring another of his "sweet" comments, they stayed talking to Felina; she was very intrigued by the Metallikats' whereabouts, but also by the unusual weather.

— Don't you think this rain is very strange? It was not predicted in the weather report last night, and it shows no sign of ending.
— We think the same thing, but it's unlikely that it's the work of some villain, like Dr. Viper. -Razor replied- Unless there are cases of mutations that we haven't heard about today.
— Beyond a few floods, the shutdown of subway service and some blackouts, there has been nothing more serious. -she sighed- Of course, and the fact that the Megakat’s children will be bored during these days of vacation locked up in their houses.
— It's true. -muttered T-Bone-
— Well; I must go. -Felina then looks at the Swat Kats' feet- Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea for them to wear shoes in weather like this?
— We're already debating it. -Razor replied- Thank you, Felina.

The lieutenant returned to the patrol car where her uncle was impatiently waiting for her, and then left with him. T-Bone and Razor remained at the door of the store, observing for some moments the sky that did not stop letting fall its constant rain.

— Your nephews must be very bored at home.
— Yeah… -sighed T-Bone, thinking about it- And to think that Tom had children's games put up in his backyard so they could have fun outside.
— Maybe they need a visit from their favorite uncle. -His partner hinted- Don't you think?
— It could be... but his uncle has a job, remember?
— It's true... Let's go home.

They had no more to do, so they got into the Turbokat, checked that the PEM pulse from the mini-pumps didn't affect their systems, and took off; seconds before, Razor heard his partner grunt in a low voice but it lasted only a few seconds. What had made him angry? Anyway, he didn't bother to ask: T-Bone looked livelier on the flight home, and so did he... at least until he settled into his gunner's position.
Watching the rain fall relentlessly on Megakat, and the water drops dripping onto the cabin, fogging the windows, had its effect on the Swat Kats gunner: there was so much on his mind, and that rain somehow relaxed him, maybe too much...


FLASHBACK
Spoiler:
Gatalina Valley, Megakat City. Fifteen years ago:

Jake had just looked out the window at the backyard, and now, from his room, he was looking out at the front yard: they looked like a miniature version of the Everglades, a real green-tinted, muddy soup in which it would not be uncommon for an alligator to suddenly appear. It was summer, and the rain, against all odds, was more typical of the wettest places in India or Hawaii that he had read about in his geography books than of Megakat itself: a depressing vision for an eight-year-old boy in the middle of his summer vacation where the house was turned into a prison, its occupants into prisoners or mere jailers against their will, and those merciless drops of water that kept falling from the sky and dripping down the windows, walls and ceiling into the cold bars.

He had already read all the books in his room, his toys were boring him, and he had no more things to do. He only had to turn to his parents: first he went to see his mother, but she was fixing up his room and he had no time to play with her. Then he went to his dad, who was in his study, working on some beads.

— Dad, I'm bored. Can you play with me?
— I can't now, Jake. -Mr. Clawson replied, politely, though with a slight hint of boredom and not looking away from his beads- I'm working; ask your mom.
— She's busy.
— Read something; you've got lots of books.
— I already have. -He sighed- I'm still bored. Can I go to Chance's house?
— Is it still raining?
— Pouring!
— Then no; we don't want you to catch cold.
— Can you give me a ride in the car?
— Jakey… -his father turned to face him, serene but visibly tired- I'm busy; I can't take a few minutes to drive you; besides, you don't know if Chance will be available at home.
— I can call him, and...
— Son, please. You can't expect people to be available to you all the time.
— …
— I'll try to finish soon and we'll see what we can do, okay?
— Fine...

But that "fine" came out very insincere on his side: Jake went back upstairs to his room, pouting with whimsy, anger and depression: he was bored, his parents were busy, he couldn't go to his best friend's side and he was stuck in his own house. The misfortune of being an only child, it was said: at least Chance had older siblings he could talk to. Well, if they were willing to do so, because his friend didn't exactly talk wonders about his teenage brothers, and he probably spent most of his time avoiding being bothered.

He lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling for a while, trying to think of what he could do to kill time, until...

He checked his pockets, then looked in one of his drawers and found it. How could he not have thought of it before?

— I know a place where I can have fun.

He quickly walked down the stairs carefully so his parents wouldn't notice, and...

— Razor... Razor...
— Huh? T-Bone, what... what happened?
— You fell asleep, man. That's the first time that's happened to you while flying the Turbokat.
— If I remember correctly, something similar happened to us when we traveled to prehistoric times.
— Ah, right... but now we're in the present and we'll get home. If you want to rest a bit...
— No way: I have to keep working on that car. -a very loud grunt was heard- And from what I hear, preparing lunch... -he remembered quickly; he had remembered something- And go to the supermarket afterwards.
— We could go now...
— Oh, sure: great idea, T-Bone. -he added sarcastically- Let's land the Turbokat in the parking lot and let people see the Swat Kats choose the brand of milk they usually drink.
— It would help our public image.
— T-Bone...
— I'm just kidding, Razor.

Upon arrival at the hangar, one of Jake's predictions came true: rainwater had taken advantage of the Turbokat's entry and exit to fill it with puddles that needed to be drained as soon as possible. Chance had offered to clean it up while Jake prepared the food: it was a fair deal. Fortunately for him, that underground bunker had a good drainage system that made it easy to get rid of rainwater. Both friends never managed to discover the origin of that mysterious bunker, possibly built during the Cold War or even before, but they were deeply grateful to have it; without it, the existence of the Swat Kats would be very difficult, if not impossible.

After lunch, which was a simple stew of rice and meat that Chance took advantage of, and after a brief rest, they returned to their work. Although he was not sleepy, Jake made himself a cup of coffee to avoid falling asleep again, even with Chance helping him; despite the help he received, it was difficult to concentrate: he had too many things on his mind to think about.

"You enjoy being a hero, don't you?"

"I don't remember it raining like this for fifteen years."

"I know a place where I can have fun.”


— Jake, Jake, Hello?
— Wha...? What?
— Dude; I swear you're falling asleep on your feet.
— Nonsense... I was just thinking about... things.
— It must be very tiring or very boring stuff. Are you doing mental calculations of missile trajectories again?
— No, not at all. It's just... Hey, how did you know I fell asleep in the Turbokat?
— I was making fun of the stupid things Hard Drive said about how bored I was, and you didn't respond as usual.
— Ahh... So you need my sarcasm, huh?
— There is no point in having a sense of humor if nobody laughs. Come on, Jake: there's something wrong with you, isn't there?
— Chance... Do you think Hard Drive is right? That we do this for fun?

His partner crossed his arms and gave him a serious look at first, followed by a more understanding one. It was Jake, after all, and I knew him very well.

— How long have we been living in Megakat?
— Since forever. -Jake replied- We were born here.
— So we know all about the number of criminals and corrupt people in this city, don't we?
— Of course we do. Even Callie has told us how rotten the city's politics are.
— And I mentioned to you that I always wanted to be one of the good guys.
— That's right.
— So why do you doubt it, Jake? We decided to form this team to fight criminals because Feral and the Enforcers don't do it right. In fact, it was your idea to form the Swat Kats.
— That's why I'm asking you the question. Do we do it because we care about the good of the city or because we enjoy playing the hero and making fun of Feral every opportunity we get?
— I always said that if you didn't have fun doing your job, it wasn't worth the effort.
— Chance...
— Look: I'm a mechanic, I love planes and cars. That's the only reason I'm still sane in this place. And I want to help people, and I have no doubt that you do too.
— Well... yes.
— You see? Then I don't understand your doubt. It sounds like you didn't believe what you told Hard Drive.

Jake didn't answer, and that worried Chance. It was understandable that he was sensitive given the proximity of the anniversary of his father's suicide, his recent visit to Gatalina Valley... and that tedious rain that kept falling and gave the impression of existing only to depress. But...

— You don't even believe that, do you?
— I... sometimes ask if... it is possible to distinguish altruism from selfishness.
— Huh???
— Do we do things for others because we care or because we see it as the right thing to do?
— Oh, Jake... -he sighed; regretting that his partner was going through dilemmas like that- I think you think things through too much. Don't you remember that Dark Kat took advantage of those kinds of doubts of yours months ago?

How to forget: in one of his missions, one of Razor's missiles ended up destroying a building and -apparently- causing injuries. Jake's guilt was so great that he almost quit the team; fortunately for him, the "wounded" turned out to be Dark Kat's henchmen whose aim was to provoke those same feelings of guilt and weaken him emotionally. How on earth did Dark Kat know that Jake was the more sensitive of the two? He never knew, but the bastard almost did.

— This is different.
— You're too sensitive, Jake. You shouldn't let it get to you.
— You say that like it's a bad thing. -He added, sounding a little upset- Do you think I'm weak because of that, Chance?
— What? No! That's just like you, just like it's like me to be impulsive.
— At least you admit it...
— Being impulsive is good in certain situations and bad in others; the same goes for your sensitivity. -Chance patted Jake on the shoulder- You've always been worried about what other people will think about you, so that's one problem you have. What does it matter what I think about you? What does it matter what that idiot on Hard Drive thinks? Or that jerk Feral? Or what your mom thinks about you.
— What's the point of bringing my mom into this?
— I know you well enough to know that you think she sees you as the biggest failure of her life. Almost like you're ashamed to be alive just because...
— That's enough. -Jake said, pointing a finger at him accusingly- I don't want to talk about it. Is that clear, Chance?
— Can I say one more thing before you hit me? -he asked almost mockingly, Jake reluctantly nodded- The only thing that matters is what you think of yourself.
— ...
— Are we going to keep working or do I have to charge you for my psychologist session at home?
— Pay you? -he laughed. That was something Chance had very naturally: he always found a way to make people laugh- You don't even have a license; let's keep working on this car or we'll never finish. Besides, I have to go to the supermarket.


__________________________________________________________________________________________
Last edited by EditorElohim on Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Swat Kats and the Mysterious Door (Crossover with Coraline)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:41 pm

A couple of hours before sunset - if that was even noticeable behind such a layer of clouds - Jake had gone out to the supermarket alone in the workshop crane: although Chance offered to go with him, he refused, arguing that he had no problem going alone - and that besides, they would save a few dollars by not having SOMEONE sneak things into the cart.

The reality was that he wanted to be alone; his friend's words only partly calmed him down: the seed of doubt was already planted and he couldn't get it out. To make matters worse, the rain was not helping: it kept falling like a relentless curtain of water languishing all around him, including his mood. Crud rain: you had to fall right now, right on THESE DAYS. For his fortune, he didn't have to go too far to go to the supermarket, as it was close to the Salvage Yard.

His visit to the supermarket lasted an hour and a half; by the time he returned with everything he needed, the rain had slowed down a bit, but there was no sign of it disappearing completely or clearing the sky; besides, it was already night. Upon entering the garage, he found Chance watching the TV, laughing his head off at the Scaredy Kat movie. Oh Chance, how many times have you seen that movie? He wondered with some embarrassment.

— Working hard? -Jake scoffed, with a couple of bags on his paws- If you have any energy left, I'd appreciate your help.
— Chance Furlong to the rescue. -He laughed, pausing the film and walking to the crane and back with some bags- Hard Drive is right about one thing: this rain is depressing. So I put the movie on to cheer me up a bit. Although there were a couple of blackouts while you were gone.
— Here too? -Jake left the bags in the kitchen- Also in the supermarket, but they didn't last long. It must have happened all over town.
— Hey! What happened to the chocolate milk I asked for?
— The budget came, slapped me and took my money, Chance.
— Crud. -he snorted, closing the refrigerator after placing some vegetables- I'll survive on white milk.
— Crud it! Now I remember that I could have left the movies in the video store that I was on my way to.
— Don't worry, buddy: we have until midnight; we can go after that. Hey, don't you want to race him at the Need for Speed?
— Aren't we supposed to have a work to do?
— Oh, come on Jake. You don't think you're good enough to beat me... two out of three?
— Chance...
— Three out of five!
— We have work...
— Five out of seven!
— Make it eight out of ten and the loser will wash our uniforms for a week!
— That's the attitude!

Crudding competitive attitude you gave me, thought Jake, laughing to himself. Or had he really always been like that and not shown it before? He ignored the irrelevant questions and started to play. He had to admit that there was a catch in the whole thing: maybe it was Chance's way of saying "I'm sorry I brought up your mother and made you feel bad"; of course Chance would never say it directly, nor would he claim it. At least his friend was fighting the game, which he took very seriously. They played for at least an hour and a half, which was not unusual when they both got excited about one of their friendly competitions. The loser, despite his efforts, was Chance, who had to carry the laundry load for a week.

Despite the distractions, he had made progress with Mr. Gueyrod's car, Callie's car was ready, and Saturday's pile of garbage was fully sorted and put away: it hadn't been such an unproductive Sunday after all.

It was already night, and although it was barely nine o'clock, they went to return the movies, taking advantage of the fact that it had finally stopped raining completely, even though the sky was still completely overcast. When they returned home an hour later, Chance settled down on the couch while Jake prepared to make dinner.

— Let's watch the news. -suggested the blond tabby guy- They may not be as interesting if we don't show up much, but they will say something.
— At least they will talk about the effects of the rain. -Jake replied from the kitchen- What do you want for dinner? We have fish soup, lentil soup with ham, and vegetable soup.
— Lentils with ham!
— Okay... Heck, I wanted that one: no way, vegetable again. Next time I won't tell you what we have for that one.
— Did you say something, Jake?
— I said, could you turn up the TV? Good thing he didn't hear me. Without breaking it, Chance.
— Very funny, Jake.

"Today's rainfall has caused a great surprise to the citizens of Megakat, who had not seen such heavy rain in years. Metro service has been cancelled until further notice due to flooding in the tunnels"

"The Fire Department and Enforcers continue to receive reports of power outages and flooding throughout the city. Affected citizens are encouraged to go to established shelters.”


— Wow: the city is really in trouble, Chance.
— At least the Enforcers will have something to do.

"Meteorologists cannot find an explanation for the recent rainfall, although they suspect it could be a consequence of global warming.”

— Well; there's the great explanation, Jake: it's the fault of global warming.
— Mmm...

"At about noon, the criminal known as Hard Drive, robbed an electronics store located in the Megakat downtown. The intervention of the Swat Kats prevented him from carrying out his task and escaping, although material damage and losses in thousands of dollars are reported. Currently, he is in the custody of the Enforcers in Alkatraz"

— How much do I bet that reporter likes Feral?
— Chance...
— If it had been Ann Gora, she would have showered us with compliments. Where would she be?

The answer was not long in coming: the image changed abruptly from the television studio to an outdoor one. One that Chance knew too well.

— “This is Ann Gora of Kat's Eye News reporting from the suburb of Gatalina Valley outside Megakat, where a kid has been reported missing today.”

As soon as he heard the name of the place and the "missing kid", Jake turned off the kitchen and went immediately to the TV. His friend was already there, staring at the screen and his face freezing: it wasn't about the disappearance of the kid himself, but about the place from which Ann was reporting with Feral and the kid's parents, who were extremely distressed.

And when he understood why, he felt the same way.

— Jake... T... that... is...
— My... old house.

In fact, it was 422 Derry Street, with its renowned Victorian style that he knew so well. Jake didn't expect to see his old house again so soon; now, with that post-rainy cloudy weather and darkness, he realized how dreary it could be. But there was something else: he felt something strange when he saw that house, at least at that moment. Something that gave him the creeps.

— "Commander Feral, could you give us details about this unfortunate event?”
— "The parents mention not having seen him since noon; they thought he had locked himself in his room when he felt resigned to not being able to go out. When they went to look for him in his room in the afternoon, they did not find him"
— "He wasn't there, it was as if he had vanished!” -cried his mother, a woman with a silvery fur- “We looked for him everywhere, but he wasn't in the house!”
— "We called the neighbors, but no one saw him leave.” -added the father, with his slightly darker fur and black stripes, trying to comfort his wife- “We saw that he didn't bring any umbrellas or raincoats, because they are still in the house".
— “We have already talked to the neighbors, and no one has seen him leave the house all day; we have not found any footprints either”. -said Feral- “Unfortunately, the occupants of the house next door…” -Jake recognized Mrs. Krucibile's house on the TV screen, with the lights off, and remembered that she had been dead for five years- “went on vacation several days ago and there is no one occupying it at the moment.”
— "Have you spoken to the kid's friends and acquaintances?"
— "We're working on it, Ann. As soon as there's any news, we'll let the public know," -Feral paused briefly- “This isn't the first time a child has disappeared in Gatalina Valley: we'll find him.”
— It's not the first time a child has gone missing from THAT house in Gatalina Valley, you mean. -Jake thought automatically, wishing he hadn't- Right, Feral?
— "Anything you can tell us about a previous case?”
— “Just that the boy showed up days later safe and sound, and that he's living a normal life. Out of respect for the family, I will not reveal his identity.”
— Yes: that that child was Jake Clawson, a former Enforcer pilot, whom you left abandoned in this Salvage Yard with his best friend Chance Furlong. -Jake thought again-
— “I understand. This is Ann Gora from Gatalina Valley: if you have news about the whereabouts of this child, please notify the authorities".


The photo of the child, along with his data and phone number appeared on the screen. Once again, Jake was stunned, as if it were a macabre joke: he was the same kid he had almost run over yesterday. His name was Max, he was ten years old... and now he lived in his old house.

The TV suddenly turned off, leaving the screen dark. Chance had the remote control on his right leg, visibly worried. At least, that's how Jake saw it.

— Poor boy; I hope they find him.
— Y... yes... I hope so. -He answered sincerely; in spite of his attempts to be calm, his voice came out choppy- It's... very... dangerous to come out wi... with... this rain.
— It's a coincidence that this kid now lives in your old house. -He added with great serenity- It could have been anyone else.
— R...Right, Chance. But the important thing is that he appears.
— Of course. Now... is dinner ready?
— Huh?
— Dinner, Jake. Hello? You were making soup and I was here starving.
— You... you're always hungry!
— My endomorphic body athlete metabolism demands constant nourishment to replenish my muscles. -he then did a push-up to show "his point"- Or do you think this is maintenance free?
— I'm going back to the kitchen. -he replied; didn't feel like answering- I'll be right back.

It didn't take him that long to reheat the soup and serve it for dinner: as usual, they ate dinner in front of the TV on.
But this time, they had dinner in complete silence; he did not even remember what channel they had left the TV on: they could have been watching the news, Scaredy Kat cartoons, a boring documentary or an erotic movie channel -if they had cable- and no one would have paid attention to the screen. Nor did they talk to each other over dinner, which was unusual: usually, they would bring up some topic for conversation such as jobs throughout the day, something about their missions, some joke or other triviality. That night, neither of them brought up anything for conversation.

After finishing dinner, Jake washed the dishes and prepared for bed: tomorrow they would return to work as usual in the early hours of the morning.

I kept thinking about Ann Gora's story. Why had Feral mentioned that this wasn't the first time a child had disappeared in Gatalina Valley? Why hadn't he given the identity of the case he was referring to? Assuming that he was referring to him, and given that what he had mentioned yesterday was still on his mind, why didn't he give his name? Contrary to what Chance had said, wasn't Feral lying? Was Feral keeping a minimum of respect for his person to protect his privacy?

That wasn't his only concern. Was it really just a coincidence that a child living in his former home had disappeared?

But there was another detail, something that disturbed him even more, and caused him a terrible displeasure: there was something in his friend, in his attitude towards the news. He had no doubt that he cared about the missing child, but he acted as if... he wanted to avoid the subject at all costs. And why didn't he propose to look for him himself? While it was unusual -not to say exaggerated, even for them- for the Swat Kats to take on the disappearance of people, including children, it was strange that Chance didn't even suggest the idea. Where was the "I want to help people, and no doubt you do too"?

When he went to bed, Chance was already in his bed, about to sleep; they didn't exchange a word beyond good night. Within minutes, he could hear his partner snoring in the bed below. It was not his snoring, however, that prevented him from sleeping: he remembered the view of his house on the TV, which made him feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was a hallucination, nerves, or something else, but... he could swear that that house... or something in that house, was staring at him... and possibly, though without understanding how and why, at Chance as well. That was impossible, Right?

Putting that illogical reasoning aside, one thing became very clear to Jake Clawson before he fell asleep:

— Feral was not lying. -he said in an almost inaudible voice- I... I disappeared. But why don't I remember?


__________________________________________________________________________________________



His alarm clock rang as usual, and like every start of the week, Jake got out of bed, went to the bathroom to clean up, put on his mechanic's uniform and prepare his breakfast. Chance was already on the couch, with a cup of coffee on one paw, and probably looking forward to putting something in his mouth. He looked more... cheerful than last night, as if he had gotten rid of a weight from above, and for a moment, he didn't notice the weather.

— Good morning, fellow in purgatory, I say dormitory. -Chance scoffed- How did you sleep?
— Pretty well actually, hey! The sun's out already.
— It's about time, isn't it? Yesterday's weather was terrible: we have to go back to our obstacle track one of these days... if it doesn't rain again.
— Let's hope not. What do you want for breakfast?
— Eggs and bacon... No! Make it fried anchovies instead of bacon.
— Lucky I bought them yesterday from the supermarket. -He went back to the kitchen- Two breakfasts immediately.
— Perfect! I'll go take a look at your automotive repair attempt.
— Very funny, Chance.

Already in the kitchen, I was about to break a couple of eggs when the alarm sounded. So early and the villains were starting to bother? Of course, they are villains for a reason, Jake thought: They have no regard for anything or anyone. Since Chance was not around, he answered the call.

— Go ahead, Miss Briggs, what's the problem?
"Jake..."

He was petrified when he heard his name on the other side of the phone, to the point of almost letting go. It was not only the fact that he had just called him by his real name, revealing that he knew his secret identity, but also that this voice was not Callie's; it sounded higher, in fact, more like that of a little boy. How did he manage to call him by that emergency line? Had Callie dropped the communicator and a child picked it up? Even if that had happened, how did that child know who he was?

"Look, Jake. If you've finished your mindless ruminations, then do the following: in two minutes, go through the bathroom door and close it tightly and immediately after you're in.”
— Who are you? -he asked quietly- How did you get this line?
"Two minutes from now, Jake.” -The voice answered sternly, "I'm waiting for you.”

What was that voice that had just been cut off talking about? His request was the most absurd I had ever heard, and how did he manage to call them? He would have asked himself more questions, if not for the fact that Chance appeared, sweating.

— Callie called, right? What's the problem?
— Ehm... The Metallikats are back! They're attacking Puma-Dyne!
— That scrap metal couple will get what they deserve for humiliating us! Come on, Jake!
— I'll catch up with you, Chance: get the Turbokat ready. I'm... going to the bathroom.
— Now? Well, don't delay: the last thing we want is for those two to make fun of the fact that the Swat Kats don't control their bladder.
— …

I didn't know why, but he ended up obeying the mysterious voice and running to the bathroom counting the seconds. Besides, he had lied to Chance without hesitation, "A mysterious boy called from Callie's communicator, he knows my secret identity, and possibly yours, and wants me to go to the bathroom in less than two minutes." Now that he thought about it, if that didn't convince his friend that he was lousy at making jokes or that he was crazy, he didn't know what other proof he would need.

Thirty seconds... twenty-nine... twenty-eight...

What the heck am I doing? There would be nothing in there but a simple bathroom modest and possibly still wet after using the shower- as soon as I opened the door at the right time. At least that's what logic dictated.

Twenty... nineteen... eighteen...

He had to recognize that it was a very elaborate joke; extremely bizarre, but very elaborate, perhaps too much so. How did that child know his identity? Would he have told anyone else?

Three... two... one...

He opened the door after a while, crossed the threshold, and closed it immediately. He did it so quickly that he hardly noticed that inside there was no bathroom; in fact, there was nothing but darkness. Behind his back, he felt that the door had completely disappeared, leaving only the air; trying to feel it with his paws, he felt something else: his paws were wearing gloves -and now that he was thinking about it, he was wearing something over his head, and he was not wearing his shoes, feeling an earthy surface at his feet.

When his eyes got better used to the darkness, which ended up not being as intense as he thought, he realized why: he was wearing his Swat Kat uniform. How had he changed so quickly? And where the heck was he? It was a wide place covered by darkness; you could hear the flow of a water stream a few meters away. Was it by some little stream or creek? Even though the place was wide, like an open field, Jake had the feeling of being in some kind of cave.

— Follow the current, upstream, Razor.
— Where are you? -he demanded to know the voice, which was heard in front of him- Where have you brought me? And how do you know I am Razor?
— If you want to know, please follow my instructions.
— How do I know that you’re not the PastMaster and you brought me to another place and time?
— Do you really think that cadaverous gnome lover of the Middle Ages would be talking to you instead of sending you somewhere else with his useless portals? Come on, Razor: we know you're smarter than that. Please do what I ask. It's not complicated, is it?

What other choice did he have? He was practically lost, and at least now, that voice sounded kinder. And no: the Master of the Past did not act that way.

He approached the creek to feel the current and go in the right direction: the place was almost as dark as a night with a crescent moon in the forest, and yet, you could see little more than an endless plain and a few rickety trees in the distance. Interestingly, he could see himself quite naturally, as if he didn't correspond to reality.

Finally, he reached a kind of waterfall from which the stream fed; next to it, there was a kind of gigantic deposit or dam, the size of a large mansion, whose walls reached three floors in height. Whatever it was, it looked extremely imposing and simple at the same time. In spite of the darkness, Jake saw a small figure sitting on the edge of the wall above the structure.

— Hey! I'm here!
— So it seems. -said the voice as he stood up. Why did it sound so familiar?- Let's get it over with, time is pressing.

The figure then jumped to the ground, and to Jake's amazement, landed without any major problems. How could he jump the equivalent of three floors as if nothing had happened and without suffering any injuries? When he had him in front of him, he could see him more clearly: he was unquestionably a boy, a little over eight years old, with cinnamon-colored fur, a slender complexion and a height that was somewhat short but not alarmingly low for his age. He was wearing blue shorts, a gray short-sleeved shirt with a black baseball team print and white tennis shoes.

The boy stood in front of Razor with his arms crossed and with a look that only the villains he often faced would convey: an extremely defiant, if somewhat more serene look than his enemies could express.

— Very well, "Razor". -He said- We need to talk.
— This can't be!!! You... you are...!


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