BY Shadewatcher

Chapter 1: Bad Day's End

In an alternate dimension...

Crystal woke groaning. Everything hurt, even things she wasn't aware of having hurt. Sighing she thought back on how she had ended up in this precarious position. That hurt too.

The day had started like any other. She and Jade had been testing out some of their new equipment designs when the call came in that Dark Sage was yet again trying to kidnap the deputy mayor. It was bad enough that that nasty she kat was constantly destroying things and stealing, but the fact that she fixated on poor Cal was just too much.

Calvin Briggs had been their friend since long before they took up the family mantle as SWAT Kats, and as he was one of their few confidants, they were very protective of him. As fourth generation SWATs, as they referred to themselves, they had a duty to uphold this city's peace and hopefully proper existence. It was made easier due to the fact that their mothers had long ago signed a truce agreement with the enforcers and now both sides benefited from it.

Crystal couldn't forget how happy it had made her and Jade feel, when the new Chief Enforcer Usira Ferlin had welcomed them to their new roles as Defenders of Megakat City. Since their mothers had announced their retirement the city had no choice but to accept the newbies as their new defenders. That was six years ago.

A strong bond of loyalty and friendship had cemented the SWATs with the enforcers, which made working together much easier. Now, though, all it did was add crushing pressure to Crystal's already broken heart.

They had thought that the simple call from Cal would end as it always did, with Dark Sage cursing them furiously while high tailing through one of her blasted dimensional portals. Well it seemed to end with just that, until they returned to the enforcer flight line to give the commander the stolen goods back. That's when all hell broke loose.

Apparently the wicked she kat had only side stepped to limbo and waited until they were all together, that's when she struck the fatal blow. They never knew what had hit them, or most of them didn't. It turned out, they were the fortunate ones. Crystal however was not one of them.

As she hung suspended from the wall mounted cuffs, she could still feel every blow the hated she kat had bestowed upon her body over the past few hours. As if being blown off the enforcer flight line and watching nearly everyone you knew and cared for die around her wasn't bad enough, Dark Sage had taken her fury out on Crystal, beating her to within an inch of her life.

The she-kat knew full well Crystal's own magic would heal her wounds, though slowly, as she was seriously drained. Their world was a mesh of magic and technology, both being utilized to it's utmost to benefit the populace. Now that very magic that kept her alive also left her to be tortured by their most hated enemy.

She sighed, if she had died at least she would be with Jess and her parents right now instead of this hell. Born Selina Corbell she was the youngest of her clan to take up the mantle of a SWAT Kat. With her dearest friend Jessie Turn, they had whipped tail with the best of them.

The legacy started four generations ago with her and Jess' great grandmothers, Jessica Clawson and Cassandra Furlong, the two having been kick out of the enforcers for something a superior had done, but was too arrogant to admit to and so had laid the blame on the two rookies. Vowing to show the city what they were made of, they took the punishment given to them and turned it into something the city would never forget.

As she thought back on all that had happened in the last five hours she couldn't stop the tears from rolling down her cheeks. It hurt...it hurt more than any of the other wounds she had ever sustained over the years, even the death of her parents hadn't been this bad. Jess was all she had left in the way of family. They had known each other since kitten hood, and were sisters in every way but blood. They had no one else, no other family left.

Well except for Cal anyway. But that wasn't the same; he had prior commitments to the city. Now with Jess gone there would be no next generation of SWATs to come.

Closing her eyes she let the horror of what had truly happened sink in once more. A sudden sound however brought her from her pain as the object of her rage entered the room.

"Ahh, I see that you have regained consciousness once more," The dark she kat taunted. "Wouldn't want you to miss any of the fun," She chuckled darkly. Dark Sage was just that, a tall, lean, well built black furred she kat with hair to match. The magical ornaments she kept braided in her long locks were a testament of her abilities. She was every bit as imposing as her reputation defined, dark and dangerous.

Sneering she made her way across the room to where Crystal hung suspended. With one claw, she shredded the mask that had been the symbol of Crystal's family for four generations. Crystal didn't flinch. This slightly put off the larger kat as she had expected at least a protest from the creamy blond tabby. All she got was a dark stare with nothing but hate and loathing. Growling DS shoved Crystal's head up to look her in the eye. "Nothing to say for yourself SWAT Kat, not even a defense of your precious identity." She demanded coldly.

The answer she received was not what she had thought it would be as Crystal stared her in the eye and then spat in her face shrieking. "What do you think you mindless hag, you have taken everything from me...everything! Do you really think my identity means anything now!" puffing up she continued her diatribe "Do you really think that there is anything that you could do to hurt me anymore than you have? I have nothing left, nothing! Do your worst it doesn't matter anymore!" Her screams falling into sobs, leaving the evil kat to ponder what to do next.

DS snorted, "You lie, you shameless hussy, I know all too well how you feel towards my Calvin. He is mine and no matter your performance, I will never believe that you don't care."

Crystal could only gape at the ignorance of the large she kat, her mind in chaos, 'Is this what all of this was about? She blew up the entire flight line, killed dozens of kats, to get rid of what she thought were her love rivals?' She thought in shock. She could only stare in disbelief at the lunatic she kat.

"I know it's true," The deranged kat spouted. "I've seen it for myself, you are always hanging on him, both of you were. Don't deny it"

It started in her chest and moved till it overtook her whole being, there was no way to stop it, so she let it out. Bursting into uproarious laughter may not have been the best idea, but she just couldn't help herself. The notions DS was spouting were so insane.

Gasping she managed to speak, though it looked as if she were going to get another beating for her sudden outburst. She may as well call it as she saw it. "You are an idiot Dark Sage! You killed all those innocent kats over this madness. Cal doesn't even like you, much less want you as his mate. Besides," she snickered "you're the wrong 'type' for his liking." With that she burst into laughter again at the look on the dark she kat's face.

"What the hell does that mean, you freakish little whore." DS spat grabbing Crystal by the throat.

Crystal only smirked "Look in your gazing pool, moron and see for yourself." With Crystal still chuckling Dark Sage did as the blond kat said and moved to view her gazing pool. Staring into it's depths she mentally asked the question, and scowled as the pool swirled to give her an answer. In moments though her scowl turned to shock, then to rage at the sights the depths revealed to her. Upending her own magical pool, she screamed with fury. "How dare you," she raved, "you knew and were mocking me all along!"

Crystal just smirked, she knew all too well that her dear friend Cal had a hankering for toms, not queens, but that was his personal life not hers. She still had to grin at the fury seeping out of the big she kat as she ranted over her futile attempts to have him. His resemblance, a constant reminder of his dark age sire, King Condrel, her lost unrequited love, had her desperate to have him. Now that hope was gone as well. Crystal chuckled to herself in spite of the fact that she would be the one to bear the brunt of Dark Sage's new rage.

Somewhere within Dark Sage's Castle...

Cal had not been idle when he learned what had happened at Enforcer Headquarters. He had personally arrived on scene to help identify the victims. To his horror, he had found Jade, the commander, as well as several others, he had known and counted as friends, among the casualties.

Those that the initial explosion didn't kill, the thirty story drop to the pavement did. Those on the ground suffered as well, it was chaos in the surrounding streets. With so many wounded, dead or dying, no one noticed when he made sure that Jade's body was secreted away to the coroner's office to ensure she received a proper burial.

His sad task done, he moved on to more important matters, finding Crystal. He had learned she had been taken prisoner by Dark Sage and was, most likely, being tortured at this very moment.

To aid in his attempt to rescue her, he went to Crystal's place to collect her familiar, a small dragon mix named Ryu. With this creature, he planned to lead the assault on Dark Sage's castle. She had always been there to rescue him, now it was his turn to return the favor.

They had managed to slip into the castle easily to their surprise. Dark Sage was apparently too arrogant to protect her security. As they cautiously ascended the stairwell, the sounds of ranting could be heard well down to the basement.

Cal chuckled darkly to himself, 'Only Sely could piss someone off that bad.' Sighing he added mentally, 'Thank gods she's still alive.' Now all they had to do was rescue her. 'Yeah, right, how hard could that be,' He thought fantastically. 'This is only the most psychotic she kat ever to live. Oh yeah, piece of cake.' He groaned inwardly at that thought, but then again, Jade and Crystal had taken her on time and time again, just to save his sorry tail. It wasn't like he could back out now.

His own mystical abilities were rivaled by none, yet he remained a pacifist and refused to fight, till now anyway. Now there was no other alternative, those meant to fight no longer could, now it was all up to him and a few enforcers who had been lucky enough not to have been caught in the earlier melee.

As they got closer to the tower room, the sounds of rage were suddenly accompanied by screams of pain. Cal's blood froze, 'No,' was his only thought, this would not continue. With the enforcers close on his tail, he launched up the stairs and through the old doors at the top.

There was Crystal, covered in her own blood with Dark Sage flailing a whip at any part of her body that she could strike. New streamers of blood oozed down her front and sides. It only took Cal a heartbeat to react, Dark Sage had not yet noticed them and this was her biggest mistake.

Cal let his magic explode outward in a force wave that hit the large she kat with the power of his rage behind it. Caught off guard, the evil sorceress was knocked backward onto her helpless hostage.

Gasping she spun around and gaped at the object of her fury staring coldly at her. She roared and lunged toward him only to be knocked back again. She hadn't been aware that Cal was this powerful and it shocked her that he'd chosen to keep his power reined in all this time.

"So you've come to save your little friend, hmm?" She hissed then gave a chilling laugh, as they tried to stare her down. Cal could feel the enforcers behind him shiver, most were young rookies and had never had to deal with this sort of thing before; they had only heard the rumors till now.

Growling to himself, Cal stepped forward to hold her attentions off the rookies, "Let her go Dark Sage, it's me you want, release Crystal and I'll come quietly."

DS snarled in renewed fury and spat, "What do you take me for, a fool. I have seen you in my gazing pool..." gesturing to the overturned stone basin, "...and guess what I've seen? You think me so stupid? No, I see can see through this ruse and will not fall for it. If I can't have you as you are then you will not have what you desire either. "She said letting out a shrieking cackle as she made the symbol signs to open a gateway. "You will regret forever vexing me, Calvin Briggs, as the life you sought to save will now suffer for eternity!"

With that she finished and cast out the spell, but not for herself, it reached out for Crystal to Calvin's horror. In the blink of an eye, Crystal was whisked from sight to gods knew where. Done, DS cast another quick spell opening a portal and vanishing through it before anyone could act to stop her.

Calvin stood frozen, staring with shock at the empty space his friend had occupied only seconds ago. He could still hear her last scream as she was shunted away to wherever it was that Dark Sage had sent her. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees and began to sob. He didn't have the power or skill to find her much less be able to bring her back. None had ever returned when Dark Sage banished them.

As he shuddered with sobs, a warm beak pressed his cheek. He shuddered and looked up into the amber eyes of Crystal's familiar. Thinking he would see pain or sadness there, he was surprised to see a look of amusement in the dragon's eyes.

"Ryu, what in the world? Crystal's gone and you're still smiling." He frowned not understanding the creature's response to what had happened. Familiars are closely bonded to their masters as such Ryu should have been suffering, but he seemed only moderately concerned by the turn of events.

Finally the little dragon took pity on him and spoke, which thankfully Cal was capable of understanding. She is not dead Cal, only lost. We must find her, I can still feel her but we must hurry before the trail grows cold, it rumbled, the scaly beast knew far better than he the physical well being of its mistress.

With a sob of relief, Cal laughed and hugged the little beast. So now the question was how to find someone cast through time and space. This was not going to be easy, but then again stranger things had happened in Megakat City and as deputy mayor he did have authority to institute an all out search.

Megakat City, different reality...

Crystal was just becoming aware of the fact that she wasn't dead, the sudden thump and pain when her body hit the concrete was a pretty good indicator. The other thing she noticed, it was night out.

"Gods just how 'lucky' could one kat be?" She grumped aloud to herself.

Not knowing where she was, but assuming Dark Sage had expected her to die from that fall; she began to drag herself toward the sounds of life and light just in front of her. If she could find help and get to Cal then nothing else would matter. She would deal with the loss of her secrets as well as the misery threatening to overcome her, later. A healer was what she desperately needed now.