But, at least we don't have to worry about the PastMaster anymore."
It was a line spoken in relief. A brief and hopeful remark to comfort a city that had endured a prolonged attack by a demented and selfish creature. If there were such a thing as real justice, it would have held true. Katkind would not have to suffer a repeated encounter with the PastMaster. However... To say a line like that, where fate can hear you? It might just take it as a challenge.
Inside the time vortex was a pure maelstrom of chaos. The sheer raw unadulterated power of time itself, warping and bending with the pulse of moments beyond the understanding of mortal felines. Past, Present and Future existing in the same moment only to be torn away and cast off into eternity over and over again. It was within this madness, a lone figure hurtled through the buffering gaps of time unprotected from all its torment. Had he had some vessel to find refuge within, a plane or some sort of box of a blue hue for example, the figure would have passed through immune to the vortex effects and it would have seemed like mere moments from one era to another but for the figure, he had to endure this suffering for an unmeasurable sense of time.
It was no more than the PastMaster deserved for his actions. Having attempted to wrench his beloved dark ages from its place in the time to copy over the then present, the PastMaster hadn't cared for all the lives in the modern MegaKat City that he would have at best ruined and at worst, erased from existing completely. As it was, there were a few enforcers' families that lost loved ones in the attack as well as who knows those innocent bystanders who suffered when his monsters broke the buildings they were in. So this prolonged punishment could be seen as justified.
Alone with only his thoughts for company, the half pint of terror did not regret any of his actions. Through the moments of clarity when the vortex wasn't overwhelming his senses, he festered on his anger and resentment towards the kats who had destroyed his book and cast him into this turmoil.
"Those infernal SWAT Kats! How dare those blackguards-" An instant of pain wrack through him for a decade before his mind came back to where it left off. "-stand between me and my plan's execution?! Lowly defenders of the present! I am the PASTMASTER! I decide- I dictate what becomes the past, present and future!"
His monologue would have continued and in fact did continue until his skeleton-like frame was finally ejected out the other side of the vortex and the PastMaster came tumbling down the side of a conveniently placed volcano. Now, you may ask yourself what is so convenient about rolling down the side of a volcano? Only the small comfort that had it not been there, then the diminutive villain would have found himself free falling through the air with nothing to slow his decent to the forest below. The rolling soon gave way to stopping as the slope evened out at the base of the volcano, leaving the PastMaster laying there in tattered robes and badly grazed fur. He laid there a good half an hour or more, as still as a corpse. Another kat may have found such harsh treatment as a humbling experience and maybe reflect on the decisions that lead them to their current predicament... But not the PastMaster. He laid there fuming with an unbridled rage so intense his body did not know what to lash out at first. No matter how long he lay there, the orange chronomancer could not move past his anger so would have continued to lay there if his contemplation of contemption hadn't been disturbed.
"Oh get up, you puerile fustilarian!" A voice snapped at the PastMaster from beyond the treeline, breaking the line of hateful thought that kept him pinned to the ground. How many more times this day should he have lesser kats belittle him?! His orange fingers clawed at the ground furiously, scrambling for the direction of the voice if only to wrap his bony digits around the voice's throat. Up on his feet and running like a fully evolved kat once again, PastMaster fully intended to send the voice back into last week manually! However, when he felt a tugging on his robe, the voice was no longer the stunted skeletal sorcerer' primary concern.
Behind him ran a fully grown, two meter long Katseoaurus, its scarred face mere inches from his orange fur as it bit down on his old robes with its razor-like teeth. Pulling the cloth to the side harshly, the dinosaur sent the PastMaster rolling across the ground, kicking up dirt as he tumbled. Shaking, PastMaster stood to his feet as his hand reached into his sleeve for his watch.
"Dimwitted creature! The PastMaster holds dominion over all weak willed beasts of the past!" With a confidence that lived up to the title of Master, PastMaster stood defiant and pointed his watch at the Katseoaurus. The animal reared its head back and watched his lunch's weird motions before calling out with the noise one attributes to a dinosaur, the kind of noise we all know but is very difficult to write down. It put one scaly foot in front of another as it started to run at the PastMaster, jaw open wide with a piece of the PastMaster's robe in its teeth.
"It is not in the past, you beetle-headed knave! You are in its present!" The voice spat out in time for the PastMaster to react. His hold on the creature no longer assured, the diminutive evildoer quickly jumped over the stump he'd crashed into earlier and avoided the Katseoaurus as it smashed into the stump instead! There was a horrible snapping sound and the creature fell to the ground dead. Panting, PastMaster looked down at the body as a growl reached his throat.
"I suppose I should be grateful." PastMaster said as he jumped down on to the body of the creature, even though it had passed, the villain's spiteful nature would not let it rest in peace. Of course, that wasn't who he was addressing, his green iris rolled around the inky blackness making up his skull-like eyes to look at the bushes where he'd heard the voice. "However I know you were governed by your own self-interests so I won't be."
"Well of course it's self-interest! Who else would help a immature fop like you?" PastMaster emerged from the bushes and approached the PastMaster. It was as if the miniature menace were confronting a fun house mirror, only no one was having any fun. The second PastMaster went by the first and motioned for him to follow. "Now let's move on. You tread upon my patience."
"Immature? I take it you are a future version of myself."
"Of course! Do you remember looking at a past version of yourself yet? Take me at your own word, it is unpleasant enough that seeing yourself as a crude fledgling that the memory would not be forgotten. I was once Alpha but now all others will call me Beta with your arrival." They walked passed some trees and around the base of the volcano where the PastMasters had to step over an out of place "modern" hose. Of course "modern" is a relative term when you have the power of time travel but it was definitely not of this era.
"Beta? That likely makes me Alpha, I take it?" The first PastMaster, now known as Alpha, mused with a rub to his pronounced chin. "How many of the others are there? Why are they all here?"
"Did I really ask such bothersome questions?!" Beta snapped at his younger self as the reached an entrance to a cave. He muttered to himself, his actual self rather than the other himself that was walking with him. "You would answer very well to a whipping. Yes, you are Alpha as this is the first time you have landed here. As for how many others there are..."
Rather than finish his sentence, Beta moved deeper into the cave. Defenses were set up along the way, including a rope bridge over a pit of spikes laced with a few small dinosaur bones and such. There was a tripwire Alpha nearly activated before Beta pointed out that it was linked to a swinging spike log, that is to say the log swung down and had spikes on it, not that there was a log standing nearby with spikes swinging on it because that wouldn't really help if the log itself didn't move. And after all that, there was a simple thick wooden door with arrow slits on the wall either side and just to make Alpha feel at home, some murder holes above them where rocks and boiling water could be unleashed down upon any beast that made it past all other hazards.
Knocking with his bony hand, Beta waited for the door to be opened. Of course, he did not wait long as the PastMaster on the other side of the door knew this was coming as this was the third time he'd been involved in this knock. Once when he was Alpha hearing it for the first time, once when he was Beta actually knocking and now it was his turn as Gamma to respond to it. After a while, you get sick of the same moment over and over again, which is why he knew the next time he went out in the world to enact his plan he would succeed and not become Delta even though Delta assured him he once thought that way too. Opening up the door, Alpha's black dead eyes became a bit more alive as he was presented with a small village full of PastMasters. Within his immediate cone of vision, there were at least a dozen of identical purple hooded chronomancers going about their business of making the place more habitable.
There were five all sat at a table, scratching out words and runes on slate tablets which looked as though they were attempting to rewrite their beloved tome of time from memory. Kappa had told them it was folly as he had attempted it back when he was their age, however their pride and arrogance would not let them believe their elder. Clearly just because their future-self was a failure does not mean they would be tied to the same fate, however the fact they are working together may have doomed them as none of the later versions want the earlier versions to succeed.
To the left of the five, Kappa and two other older versions of the PastMaster were working on a cooking station. Only cooking for themselves obviously as they would not feel the others deserved to be waited on by them. It was not a pleasant smelling culinary creation, whatever it was they were making. It seems when you spend all your time over a cauldron perfecting spells and working with monster figures little effort is spent on using the cauldron for actual food preparations. In fact Sigma, who stood next to Kappa at the cooking station had a plot brewing in his mind. Next time he was able to venture out into the world, he would do so after Gamma failed to marry Queen Callista and bind her to his own timeline so she would be forced back here with him if the eighteenth rendition of the PastMaster had his way. Of course, Tau had tried this too but the old fool was a simpleton who'd been bested nineteen times so he was clearly just too stupid to succeed.
Alpha's legs would not carry him further into the chamber, his eyes wide in awe seeing his face so many times moving without his own input. Others having his face, deciding what that face would do and say. It was a powerful feeling that washed over him which probably didn't have a name. How could it? Who else aside from the PastMaster could experience this?
"That soon falls to the chasm of your memory." Beta said, having experienced the same thoughts and feelings Alpha was going through. He reached behind Alpha to shove him forward so Gamma could shut the door keeping the dinosaurs at bay. Beta frowned at his younger self, a sourness built on his tongue for the PastMaster in his charge as he was Gamma's and so forth. Why the others could not walk the whelp through his first time here was beyond him. "You have many questions and I grow impatient. With all the time that lay before us ripe for the study, watching you come to know what is already known bores me!"
"You would be wise to hold your tongue, Beta. No one addresses the PastMaster in such a manner, not even a moth-eaten version of my old bones!" Such disdain and harsh words blazed over Alpha's wonderment, replacing it with his normal anger and contempt for those not of his present.
"Don't believe I won't strike you, Alpha. Even if I am hurting my past self, time heals all wounds."
"Oh, so you think you know time better than me?" Alpha PastMaster gave a cocky smirk as one would expect from a presumptuous youth even if that is relative given he was already a couple of hundred years old at this point. Afterall, the PastMaster was arrogant during normal interaction so you can imagine how he would appear to an older being than himself even if it is himself in a future time frame.
"Of course I do! I've already lived it!"
"Then tell me what befalls me to land here a second time."
The elder purple robed-wearing troll sent back an equally conceited smirk to parry Alpha's attempt to provoke Beta into telling him how to escape his future which lay in Beta's past. It was a fair try but for the fact Beta's remembering how helpful Gamma was back when he was the lowest denomination in the PastMasters presence.
"Hmm, not a bad thought... You going back out into the world with the knowledge of what's to come. There is only one slight issue with that." Beta knew the others were watching, and they enjoyed this part. True, it was happening or happened-ing to them back then but they had the distance of time to make it just another case of schadenfreude which tickled their visible funny bones. Beta forced his hard barely flesh-covered finger into Alpha's chest quickly several times as he pointed out why he wouldn't tell Alpha what is next to befall him. "Why should you reap the benefits of my experience while I am blinked out of existence?! I gain nothing and lose everything!"
Alpha stumbled, the jabs of the other's finger hurt his ribs and forced him to fall backwards on his tail, landing in a small pile of moist dirt... At least the PastMaster hoped it was dirt and not some form of manure. One of his futureselves and by extension the futureselves beyond that one would learn the difference given how they were forced in to manure not once, not twice but thrice when they went back to the future, however this is not their story, not yet anyway. Alpha looked up at Beta who sneered down at him as the others chuckled and laughed.
"Consider this. The sequences time follows are ours, we are the PastMasters... However the only constant is your own. You must maintain that at all cost!" Beta leaned down and offered Alpha a hand before pulling it away, knowing that Alpha would reject it. Alpha tried, swatting at the extended paw that was no longer there with enough force he managed to fall over even while he was still on the ground. The elder walked around his juvenile charge and leaned in again to try and explain it in a way Alpha would understand and quickly come to terms with. "When we reach the point in time when the council imprisons the PastMaster in a time chest so tight not even time itself seeps through... Will you warn him? Or sit back and watch as he is stolen from our beloved dark ages?"
Alpha glared at Beta and his mastery of his present future. Were they both back outside, he would raise that Katseoaurus from its dead slumber and set it upon Beta. See how smug he would be then. Alpha let a snort of breath out of his nostrils as he calmed himself now presented with a chronological problem.
"Of course not. I would screw the lid down myself! If it insured my place in time, I would join that accursed council myself!"
"Welcome to the council, Brother Alpha." Beta motioned to the surrounding PastMasters and the other laughed as they watched the realization spread across Alpha's boyish face as he stood back onto his feet. The hooded figures, the mysterious council he'd hated all this time, those who sent him to the future and the first encounter with the SWAT Kats... were himself?! Beta's voice joined in the laughter. "How did you think the council were strong enough to put us in the blasted box to begin with?!"
It had been a lot to take in. The trip back in time, the fight with the Katseoaurus, meeting not just one but multiples of his future self and then finding out that he himself will play a part in his past in the future. For most kats, that would be enough for a day and at that moment in time, Alpha didn't care if it went along with the crowd and mentally checked out. He was lead into a crude sleeping chamber where the cave wall was bare with only a few runes painted on the walls to make it feel more lived in. Once left inside by the others, he laid out on a bed of straw covered with cloth which allowed him to breath smoothly. Finally, a comforting feeling of home to rest his weary bones. Pulling his watch from his sleeve, he clutched the time piece to his chest and fell into a deep sleep.
A smile spread across his face as Alpha dreamed, a wheezy half chuckle escaped his remaining teeth as he dreamed. Dreaming of how he would make these PastMasters truly pay for what they've done to him this day and as it would appear done to him in his history which now lay before them all.
'The best revenge is a life well lived.' It is this kernel of an idea that would evolve and grow in his slumbering mind. 'If I were to work with them until we put my younger self in the time chest and then take back my life that I left in the Dark ages... I could then take all that they would have longed for the most! Ruler over an eternal Dark Age which would prevent those SWAT Kats and my future selves from existing. But the real kick to the teeth before I cause all other PastMasters to be ripped from time mmmm... Marrying Queen Callista. Revenge and Marriage. Mmm Yes. That will do very nicely indeed.'
It was not the best wake up call. When you are dreaming of the radiant beauty for the golden haired, emerald-eyed and heavenly regal voiced Queen Callista, it is rather jarring to hear her drop several octaves and adopt a Katilifornia accent. Alpha PastMaster opened his blackened eyes as a hand, which while not fat, was more plump than his digits had ever been, gripped his shoulder. He looked up to see a brown shaggy furred faced tom with long ratty blond hair underneath a backwards cap of some nature and a small tuft of beard just below his lower lip.
"What fresh new underworld of pain and torment have I been summoned away to?" The diminutive druid-looking dwarf forcibly removed the hand and shoved the offending appendage away from him. Perspective allowing him to take in the rest of his visitor's visage and Alpha eyes were affronted with what he saw.
"Woah bud-ski, I, just like, wanted ta ask why you were crashing on my crib, is all." Stood looming over the PastMaster was a tall gangly kat decked out in a ill-fitting yellow vest which proudly announced 'I Recycle - I Wore This Vest Yesterday' over some faded denim shorts which lead to pipe cleaner thin legs. The bottom of the tom's legs wore footwear that only strengthened the PastMaster's resolve to blot out whatever future those pink and green hi-tops may have come from.
"Your 'crib'?" It was hard to fit much disdain on to a word as short as crib but somehow PastMaster found a way.
"Shhh-yah, bro-dacious. That is, like, where I grab my Zzzs and junk." Before the affronted villain could dwell on how one grabbed letters of the alphabet or reach for rubbish from the bed, the walking eyesore grabbed his hand and shook it. "Name's Gary, Gary Sue... My friends call me Spud. You must be, like, the new guy, right?"
"What an astute observation." PastMaster's eyes narrowed. Not quite knowing if the kat studied time to the point he can see where Alpha came in the timeline or if this was some form of trick.
"Naaah, bra. I said Sue not Stu." Gary leaned back on the rock wall. "I kid, dude. I just know you are new cause, like, you know, most of the other yous have, like, totally built their own places already away from me. Sucks hard cause I was, like, having a blast with them. Up all night, like, telling them all about my surfing trophies."
With his dreams having fled and the inane ramblings of Gary grating against his barely awaken brain, the PastMaster got up on his feet to abandon this conversation. The rest of the straw beds lay undisturbed leading credence to the moron's words, clearly he would have to fashion his own dwelling or else endure more time with this waste of space's company.
"Why are you even here?!" Gary had followed the PastMaster out of the sleeping chamber and had not stopped talking all the way to the cooking station. It was almost as if Gary hadn't even stopped to take a breath!
"Duder, you sent me here!" Gary chuckled as he took a look into the cauldron bubbling away before he stuck his finger into the mixture bubbling away to taste what's cooking. The surfer gave a shudder. "Ew. Like, I ain't sure if this is meant to taste like that or, like, if I need to wash my hands more... Anyway I was, like, hanging out at my job in the library when you, like, busted in looking for, like, a spell book for yetis or something. And I was all 'Like, shhh, man, this is a library and stuff. And besides, Yetis in the library is, like, a no-go cause we only, like, we got this 'service animals only' policy.' Next thing I know, like, you vortexed me here."
"The least believable part of that is that a dimwitted mutton head, like you, worked in a library." Yes, that would serve the annoyance right. Ripping him from the timeline to endure this prehistoric torment. It is the least he deserves for what he is doing to language. Any kat who uses "Like" as a moment of punctuation deserves whatever befalls them!
"The real, like, question that I don't get is, like, what are y'all doing here? Aren't you, like, a time lord or something? Like Professor When only without the funky time machine and hawtie assistants."
"..." It was still a moment as the most out-of-touch kat you can create tried to make sense of someone using pop culture references through some form of half-broken language. PastMaster dragged his hands over his face and decided he'd carry on getting some food ready. As luck would have it, as he had arranged the station at some point in the future, everything was already where he'd keep it. "From what I can discern from your mess of a question, you want to know why I don't simply use a time vortex to make my way back to the future?"
"Is, like, what I said, bra."
"Traveling into the future is so trivial. All things travel forward in time, even a deformed offering of a kat like you! Merely at the rate of a moment per moment." Pulling a lump of some kind of meat from a barrel, the PastMaster dipped it in the cauldron before slapping it back onto the cooking station's stone surface and cut off the ends with a crude flint knife. As he used the knife to scrape the removed ends back into the cauldron the short supercilious scoundrel lifted his nose into the air. "I would not dirty my watch with it!"
"I dunno, dude-mister... You gonna just wait till when you wanna get outta here?" Gary the Surfing Librarian raised his brow and rubbed his neck. His eyes wandered into the cauldron before blinking in an overblown fashion as the mixture seemed to effect the meat ends. They started to regress in time, forming the rest of the meat before becoming bloody and then came the creature it was cut from which let out a meek squark before it snapped back into the cut of meat that had been dipped prior to cutting. The PastMaster reached in and plucked it out, returning it to the barrel.
"From the markings on the cavern's wall, I believe it is what my other selves are planning. They are similar to that of a time chest which once entombed me in the future." The food prepared, he sat down and started to eat as he mused. "It has gaps so it is merely slowing the passage of time in here rather than stopping it completely but as we speak, years may be flying by outside. Hmm, maybe I will craft an actual time chest myself. Move things forward for myself at a faster rate and use that to wait until I return to my cherished dark ages but before then... there is much to do."
"NO! NO! NO! NOOO!" The rant echoed within the cavern accompanied by the sound of a shattering slate board. It was all to common to hear in the cave with all the PastMasters yelling out their own 'no' from time to time. And after a while, in a very much clockwork style, you could count down to the sound of the shattering sound inverting as it was magically reformed. The PastMasters were an angry kat but at least they could pick up after themselves with relative ease.
Gary merely rolled his eyes as he heard the outburst while he worked on his own little project. Using a few crudely fashioned ground stones he wanted to make something smooth to take away from the harsh environment. Not being much of an artist or even much of wordsmith it was still something he had taken to as a way of getting some space outside the cavern.
A mellow tom, Gary took most things in stride but when you are surrounded constantly by the kat who sent you back in time, it can harsh your chill from time to time. Outside was full of dangers but sometimes it was worth it for a little peace. Sighing, he leaned back to look at his work and smiled which gave way to a snerk. It was modern art... Of course, any art he made now would be modern art for a couple thousand millennia. Plain but strikingly stark. Gary was proud of his work.
"I don't understand! I just don't get it! It makes no logical sense!" Alpha came storming out, still venting from the "No's" that had taken place before hand. While they all looked the same--because physically they were and it was just chronological order that they differed--Gary could tell this version of the vertically challenged villain was Alpha. Most of the others kept to themselves, only sniping at each other in passing and basically ignored Gary for the most part. Alpha though was still adjusting and more than likely just wanted someone to rant at who wasn't part of the echo chamber. It might even be the reason he ends up sending Gary back to the past when they met in future.
"Duder, it's, like, modern art. It's, like, meant to transcend understanding and junk." The librarian lost in time had to chuckle as he passed comment. He was well aware the PastMaster was not talking about the art project but sometimes when fate sets them up, you just have make a flippant joke even if the audience doesn't appreciate it.
"Not your moronic monolith, you Maltworm!" The PastMaster stomped over the soil and kicked over the water bucket Gary has been using to wash his ground stones. The surfer merely sighed as his ears drooped. It wasn't that he couldn't get more water and it wasn't as if the PastMaster had undone all his work so far but it was just the inconvenience of it all. At least the little shadow played against the black stone like some entertaining shadow puppet show as the PastMaster manically gestured. "I am still tolling over something worthy of note, unlike you! If I work out why the time portals would open up and suck me away to this retched armpit of an era, then I can avoid being flung back here and relegate those proven failures of my futureselves to some plain of non-existence!"
"Bra, look... Maybe, you know, it was, like, trying to get even with you. Your karmic balance must be, like, totally bogus with how you act to the time stream."
"Time itself is trying to punish me?" A snerk came from under the purple hood. "I have to admit, you've proven me wrong, my clod of a companion... I once believed even your stupidity had limit but you've show me it is as infinite as time itself."
A grunt reached the PastMaster's ear and for the briefest of moments, he believed he'd finally broken the dullard's relaxed demeanor. No more chattering like a hen at least, even if it meant he was stuck listening to himself all day. But no, it was not the worm turning but the sound of some curious creatures. Unlike any either the PastMaster or Gary had seen before so clearly a beast that was a bit of an evolutionary dead-end or even non-starter.
About the size of a hunched-over kat with black fur all over their body apart from their feet and their rather ugly face which was made all the more uglier by their baldness. They didn't even have a decent muzzle, just flapping their gums and making an odd ook sound. The beasts moved on all fours, however at the bottom of their front legs they were walking on their knuckles.
One ventured closer and looked at the kats before looking at the monolith. It stared for the longest while before gingerly reaching to touch Gary's work but before it lay one digit on the art-
"Away with you! Foul creature!" Time's short-tempered short-terror hurled the bucket at the creature's head. The resulting blow had it running back to its pack, screeching all the way. The beasts collectively took back to the tree line, displacing a pack of feline creatures.
"See? This is the kinda drag you, like, bring ta things, my lil' hodad." Gary motioned in the direction the ooks had took off in. "Like, maybe time was all, you know, 'Woah, this ankle buster just ripped a mega cruncher out of my set here and moved it all the way over here! Now I got, like, way too much thrash down here and back there is no waves at all. Let's move some back'."
"..." At this moment, the PastMaster knew he had spent too long with the waste of fur before him. At that moment the moron had made sense. "When I tore the Megasaurus Rex as well as others from this time it could have left a hole to fill. That would explain why the portals were remaining open and kept opening without me using my watch. Some sort of Chronological Redistribution."
"Fer Sure, my tom." With the PastMaster lost in thought, Gary smiled and watched the feline creatures displaced earlier made their way over to his work. There was a moment. Gary felt the universe grow still as the felines, eyes transfixed on his black, smooth monolith, started to stand up on their rear legs and reach out their front paws. And then it happened. Shaking as it stood, the leader of the felines touched it. It was transcendental. He had started something and it was something Gary felt should be protected. "Hey, PastMaster... Maybe you should, like, make a note of that chronologicalness. You left your, like, slate inside right?"
"Hmm? Yes. Enough of your pointless prattling. I have work to do." PastMaster did not even notice the skinny tailed dude addressed him by name. Gary followed him back into the cave and glanced back just before they left the sight of the felines who studied his work. One was even trying to pick up one of his tools between its front paws. Swishing his own tail, Gary was thankful to see that. Sometimes you just know you have seen a moment that truly wouldn't pass again. And, of course, the one who claimed to be a master over time missed it, too wrapped up in himself. "Maybe I can negate the effects using a proxy. Clay dolls might work."
"So... like... This is it, huh?" Now withered by the passage of time, his fur turning grey at the tips and his long hair mixing into his long white beard, Gary looked out of misty eyes, once bright and brilliant blue, now more of a duck-egg tint. His body was a whisper of its former self, kept up by a long staff and clad in some black robes with only his tatty pink and green hi-tops peaking out to allude to the tom he once was. Before the old tom was the Tomb of the PastMasters. Long had they tolerated each other but when the ice age claimed the area outside forced them all to remain in confined quarters it became too much. So rather than endure that the PastMasters had decided to construct time chests as little sarcophagi for themselves. Set to open just before the dark ages so they would have time to establish themselves as the mysterious council and start the cycle that would insure they all remained in existence. The time line is nought but their plaything, but their own time line must be protected at all costs.
In front of Gary stood Alpha, Beta and Delta, unchanged due to his immortal nature. The others already laid out in their sarcophagi, well all but Gamma who was planning to break the cycle by moving far from the others to a land of sand and feist sun. The day he had left, Delta had not stopped smirking, knowing how that would end for his younger self.
"Of course, you empty-skulled simpleton. Only I will live forever." Alpha glared at the elderly fool as Beta and Delta folded their arms. "So this has to happen while you still draw breath. We need some kat to seal us away and even with your limited intellect you can turn the seal to activate their enchantments."
"..." Gary's tired old ears turned down and he looked away. "Like... after all this time, little buddy... Thought we'd have, like, connected, you know? Be homies, you know? But..."
"I just said I need you, you cloth-earred dolt." Alpha mutter through his yellowed teeth. That was as close as he ever got. As an immortal you build up barriers and you have to say a lot of goodbyes. To admit to needing someone, especially someone as annoying as Gary was a grand gesture in the dark eyes of the PastMaster. "Despite your ineptitude, your atrocious use of language and general foul oder, you were passable as a distraction. There I said it. Happy?"
"... You rock, too, bra." The old tom smiled as he walked the last three to their time chests and helped them in. A warm thought drifted across Gary's mind. The reason the other two had stayed out with him may just be the fact the PastMaster did care enough to watch this goodbye, at least twice before they get bored with it.
Delta was first into his time chest and he scratched the 'Due Date' in a runic fashion on the outer shell with an extended black claw. Of course, Delta knew once Alpha had their help starting the cycle by sending the PastMaster forward into what would become MegaKat City, Alpha would then 'trick' them back into their chests so as to have the Dark Ages to himself. They were all, of course, fine with it even though they wanted their Dark Ages back. Stopping him would change their own time lines and they would never want that to happen as they would cease to be. Attempting to end their futureselves from happening though, that was fair game because none of them cared for the future anyway. That can be changed as Beta would find out. So knowing all this Delta inscribed another due date for when he found himself back in his chest, taking into account when he would next be in there rather than counting from now, else he would be confined to the chest much longer than intended. It would bring him out in time to make a deal with some pirates but that is not the story being told here. Once shut, Gary was shown how to seal the chest by the other two PastMasters.
Beta then scratched his due date on to his lid and laid back to let the others seal him in. He winced in the few moments it took for him to succumb to the enchantment, knowing what laid in store and he knew he only had himself to blame. Really and truly, as at that moment he knew Alpha was scratching an additional eight hundred and twenty-something years onto his due date. At that point he would wake up twenty years after his first trip to MegaKat City.
However, he could still manage some measure of vengeance against the SWAT Kats when he was in their future by ripping them from the time stream after the point they fought him the first and second times. He pondered that it would probably be best to use some other villains as lackeys rather than ripping others from the time stream. After all, all the fact there were still so many PastMasters in the cavern showed they were still suffering the chronological redistribution for that blasted dinosaur and the clay doll proxies were no help at all.
"That's for calling me a puerile fustilarian!" Alpha cackled as he slapped the time chest he just altered. It caused Gary to glance up from activating the seal, oblivious to what Alpha had done to his futureself. "Not you, you fool."
Now the last PastMaster standing Alpha looked across the tomb and sneered. The future was his enemy and here he was facing it with such contempt. Not a single one of these failures had succeeded when they were Alpha but he would change all that and with the combined power of him and Queen Callista he would be able to stave off any complications with sending his past self into a future he would erase. It had to. He scratched the due date into the lid of his box and climbed in.
"So... guess I'll, like, smell you later, huh?" Blinking, Gary stumbled over what he meant. It ended with him holding his forehead with his bony hand.
"Well... I won't. Like... I'll see you earlier which is later for you but I'll be gone so it won't like be me... I- You know what? I, like, hate time travel past and future tense."
"You won't be a worry much longer... Seal me in... ... ... dude." And with that, the seal was cast and the silence of the cavern was deafening. Gary was left alone. It was over. All of it. All the insults. All the time chatter. All the spells. All the-
"All my life?" Gary looked at his hands. No longer full of life, with a board in one hand and a beach bunny in the other. Now they were only full of wrinkles, now both clinging to his staff to keep him standing and they wanted to let go. "Bogus."
He hobbled along, using the staff in one hand and supporting himself on the rock walls with the other, now cooled as the volcano grew dormant and headed outside, no longer feeling the cold from the ice that covered the world. It was, in his words, very chill but no words came from his lips. There was only a smile as he let go of the staff and fell into the snow.
He shuddered and smacked his lips. It felt like his tongue had just cleaned the underside of something unpleasant. Not something disgusting like an armpit or a skunk but something less tangible, like the word 'millennial' or an updated hashtag-filled version of Macbeth (hashtag three witches hashtag regicide lol hashtag cesarean macduff). It wasn't the taste anyone would want in their mouths but it reminded Gary of the time he stuck his finger in PastMaster's cauldron and had a taste before he saw it had time reversing properties. After that, the tom had done his best to steer clear of the continuity corrupting criminal's cooking.
Sitting up, the surfer rubbed his head with one hand while the other supported his weight. His forehead felt different, smooth and soft rather than the creased and thin skin he had become used to feeling on his old body. He felt young again, a bit dusty due to circumstances but he felt young! His eyes snapped open and looked at his hands firstly, moving freely without the snapping and creaking they'd grown accustomed to doing when he got arthritis and they were full of meat rather than being the thin bony things they'd become. No greying of his fur, it was still lush and vibrant.
More frantic searching of his frame showed his body had matched this new discovery. No longer brittle and ready to fade, but full of a life yet to be lived! Even his clothes were back to what they once were. The death-like robes were replaced with his classic 'Recycling' vest and faded denim shorts, which even though they were faded were still newer then they had been when he last wore them. His violently coloured hi-tops were popping in the dusty surrounding.
Gary looked around frantically at where he was. It's his old library! Broken beyond all reason but it was still the building where he was cast into the vortex all those years ago. The shelving was smashed and the books in heaps that littered the floor with the loose pages torn from their bindings mixed in with the wood splinters that had been unleashed from the shelves' destruction.
Clearly whatever had happened meant he was gonna have to miss the 'Three Keggers ThrashMania' this weekend helping with the clean up... Wait, this weekend?!
"GARY!" Eve ran over to him, she was still dressed in her dark blue suitdress with tan brown shoulder pads that he remembered seeing her in all those years ago. She had joined the library staff the same time he had, so while they had vastly different personalities they had become friends. She was even still wearing that little falcon brooch he'd bought for her last birthday. He noticed that the most as she nearly cut him with it as she fell onto him, hugging his face tight against her. "Oh, I was so worried about you!"
"Erm hey, dudette... Uhhh, like, what happened?" Gary looked at her striped furred face, her yellow and brown fur matted by tears under her eyes. She, too, had dust on her from whatever had happened.
"Oh, you poor thing. You must have been knocked out." Eve brushed his ratty blonde hair forcing his cap off his head. "You went to ask that kitt to quiet down and then all of a sudden, there were yetis in the library! A sweeping hoard of snow-furred beasts with that kitt riding one of them! Only that kitt was the PastMaster!!! But don't worry, they're gone now. The SWAT Kats came barreling in to take care of them."
She paused and looked back at the massive hole in the library wall before giving a resigned sigh. Eve was grateful, she really was, but part of her wished they were more ground-based so they could have at least used a door.
"Yes, I'm fine, just glad you aren't hurt or worse." Eve smiled at her friend.
"What about the PastMaster? He okay too?" This response caused Eve to blink at Gary which was quickly followed by an eye roll of the highest order. She shook her head with a smirk.
"I know you have a very aloof nature, Gary, and I love that about you, but sometimes you are too chill for your own good. You know that, right?" It was true but in all the time he'd spent with the PastMaster, Gary had never been out and out angry with him for what he did. It was like being angry with water for being wet. "He ended up getting sucked away to who-knows-where so at least we donÆt have to worry about the PastMaster anymore."
~ End ~