Chapter 2Grand Theft Data

Later that day, Matthew Doubt, the CTO of Young Digital Entertainment, sat at his desk somewhere inside Megakat Tower. He always liked it to be close to his team members, so his desk stood in a large office together with theirs. Most of his colleagues had already left the office.

“Don't overwork yourself, Matthew.” the last attendant colleague said, while walking towards the door of the office. “Even you need to get some rest sometimes, you know.”

“Don't worry, Terry,” Matthew responded. “I'll just make some little more adjustments to Sally and then I'll go home. I promise.”

Then Matthew dived back into his code, mumbling sometimes. A short time later he ceremonially hit the keyboard a last time and then straightened up while saying to himself loudly:

“There! This should be it! Sally is ready for the convention.”

While joyfully admiring his work the lights on the ceiling suddenly started flickering and a “Network error”-message appeared on his screen.

“What now?” he asked himself. “Hmm, maybe a short disturbance in the power supply.”

Then the power failed completely.

“Oh, great! A blackout. Good thing that I've stored my last changes just in time. I think this is my call to go home now.”

The next thing that happened was, that a flash which came out of a power outlet jumped wildly through the room. Being scared, Matthew immediately searched cover under his desk. Shortly after, the flash hit the ground in the center of the room. From it a man wearing a weird looking coat like from a Cyberpunk movie emerged from it. Hard Drive. Then the lights at the ceiling and the computers in the office suddenly received power again.

“Matthew! Long time, no see!” the stranger addressed Matthew. “Oh, please! Don't cower under your desk like a scared little mouse. This just looks embarrassing. Come out! Hiding from me won't help you anyway.”

The stranger started laughing dismissively. With fear in his eyes, Matthew slowly came out from under his desk.

“Who... who are you? What do you want?” Matthew asked very frightened.

“So, you don't even remember me. Just as I thought. No matter. It might be even funnier that way. Does the name Hard Drive mean anything to you?”

Matthew gulped. “You mean... that you are...?”

“Yes,” Hard Drive answered proudly. “I am Hard Drive and for your information: I've just stole Sally from you and swiped your servers clean. Now it's all in here.” He pointed with his finger at his coat. “And there is nothing you can do about it.”

“B.. b.. but why? This is code for a... for a game. How could this be of any interest to someone like you?”

“It has, no doubt. You see, this game code of yours is capable of much more than you can obviously imagine. But you will see soon enough. You know I could have stolen the code from outside, but I wanted you to see how it gets stolen and by whom. So now it's time to say 'Goodbye' to Sally.”

“No! I won't let you get away with this!” Matthew shouted and stormed towards Hard Drive, forgetting his fear for a short moment while rage had taken control over him. As he came close enough, Hard Drive raised his hand and touched Matthew who immediately got struck by electricity. Then Matthew flew through the room and crushed with his back against the wall.

“Fool! … Did you really think you would have a chance against me? I could squish you like a fly right now if I'd want to!” - Illustration by Jan Rathje

“Fool! … Did you really think you would have a chance against me? I could squish you like a fly right now if I'd want to!” - Illustration by Jan Rathje

“Fool!” Hard Drive shouted. “Did you really think you would have a chance against me? I could squish you like a fly right now if I'd want to! But this would be much too quickly. I want you to see what Sally is really capable of. I want to see you suffer. I want to see you being consumed by your own regrets. Oh, sweet revenge... Farewell, Matthew.”

Matthew groaned and raised his arm towards Hard Drive who was way out of range. Hard Drive smiled contemptuously and then transformed back into a flash. Matthew desperately watched how the flash disappeared back into the outlet from where it came from. Then all that was left to him was silence and pain. Matthew fainted away.

The next morning back at the scrapyard garage, Chance and Jake were fixing a car which belonged to a grumpy old lady. The TV was running in the background.

“This is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News, live in front of Megakat City Central Hospital where Matthew Doubt, the CTO of Young Digital Entertainment, has been admitted to this morning.”

“What?” Chance asked and started paying full attention to the broadcast as soon as the name 'Matthew Doubt' was mentioned.

Ann Gora continued her report: “Details are still sketchy, but according to the authorities, Mr. Doubt had been attacked in his office last night. As it seems the assailant has stolen corporate data from Young Digital Entertainment. There are speculations that Mr. Doubt had caught the thief off guard and was injured in the struggle that followed. Mr. Doubt seems to have regained consciousness, but the doctors have denied any interviews, since he still needs to recover from the assault.” She made a short pause while the camera moved back a little. “With me now is Commander Feral of the Enforcers and Mr. Young of Young Industries.” Then she turned over towards Feral. “Commander Feral, can you give us some more detail about what happened last night at Young Digital Entertainment?”

“At this point I can't give you any more information about the ongoing investigation, I'm afraid. But we are taking this matter very seriously. This act of violence won't go unnoticed. The Enforcers will do everything in their power to identify the assailant who attacked Mr. Doubt and take him into custody.”

“In other words, they have no clue like always.” Chance commented Feral's statement.

Ann turned over to Mr. Young. “Mr. Young, do you have any comment on this situation?”

“Only that I wish Mr. Doubt the best and hope that he quickly recovers from his injuries.” Mr. Young answered. “The thoughts of all our employees are with him now. We will support the authorities in any way we can.”

“Do you already know what kind of corporate data had been stolen last night?” Ann Gora continued asking him.

“We are currently checking our servers and databases,” Mr. Young started to answer but was interrupted by Feral who took over: “But the information we have so far is classified. So please, don't stress this subject any further at this point. We will provide an official statement as soon as the investigation has been completed.”

Realizing that she wouldn't get more information out of Feral or Mr. Young, Ann Gora concluded her interview. “Commander Feral and Mr. Young, thank you for this interview and good luck with the ongoing investigation. From Megakat City Central Hospital this is Ann Gora, Kats Eye News.”

Chance turned the TV off.

“Man, I can't believe this.” he said. “Why would anyone assault Matthew Doubt or steal data from a games company?”

“Maybe a competitor who doesn't want to let Young Digital Entertainment take over the market?” Jake guessed.

“Maybe.” Chance replied thoughtfully. “I think we should pay him a visit at the hospital.”

“Chance, please.” Jake said, thinking that Chance was exaggerating. “I know that you are a fan of his games, but this is something the Enforcers can handle. We can't take care of every job for them, you know.”

“You're probably right, Jake. But I still have the feeling, that there is more to it.”

“Don't be silly. You just want to talk to the guy who made one of your favorite video games.” Jake insinuated. “That's all.”

“Trust me, there is something going on.” Chance replied confidently. “Why do you think Feral was so reserved when he was asked about the details of the theft?”

Noticing that Chance wouldn't let it go, Jake finally complied. “Oh, well. We'll visit him this afternoon if this makes you happy. But I still think you just want to see him and make him compliments.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Chance replied. “Think what you want, but there is something strange going on. I can feel it.”

Later that day T-Bone and Razor landed the Turbokat near Megakat City Central Hospital.

They knocked at the door and entered the room where Matthew Doubt had been accommodated to. Matthew lay in his bed, gazed at the ceiling and was lost in his thoughts. The TV which was mounted at the wall in front of his bed had been turned on, but he seemed not to be paying any attention to it. He looked very sad and hadn't noticed that the Swat Kats had entered the room. After a short while T-Bone and Razor looked at each other, uncertain what to do and then shrugged with their shoulders. Finally, T-Bone decided to attract Matthew's attention as he cleared his throat and started to address him:

“Mr. Doubt? Excuse me.”

Matthew turned his head towards his guests.

“Sorry, if we are disturbing you.” T-Bone continued.

Matthew's look on his face seemed to brighten up a little when he saw the Swat Kats. “No, you are not disturbing at all. Please come in.”

As T-Bone and Razor were approaching him, Matthew continued: “I didn't expect a visit from the Swat Kats. But after what happened last night I have the feeling that everything might happen to me now.” He laughed silently, filled with bitterness.

“Thank you for receiving us, Mr. Doubt.” Razor replied.

“This may sound a bit weird,” T-Bone started to explain their unannounced visit. “But we've watched the press conference about your new game yesterday and we've also heard about the attack last night. I can't tell you why, but I have the feeling that this was more than just a simple data theft.”

“You are called T-Bone, right?” Matthew asked and T-Bone nodded. “Well, T-Bone, you guessed correctly. It was indeed more than just a simple data theft.” Then he suddenly changed the subject like he couldn't stay focused. “You know, that you two were one of my inspirations for Airborne Kats?”

“Really?” T-Bone responded excited. “You know, I really love this game. I spent hours and hours playing it. Finally I've beaten it on the hardest level. Man, it was tough, but when I've finished it, it just felt great. I had the feeling that I've saved the world.”

“This is exactly the way we want our players to feel. I'm glad you like it that much. I wouldn't have thought that a fighter pilot like you who is flying regularly is still able to feel this way.” Matthew responded and T-Bone started smiling.

“I hate to interrupt your nice little chitchat here,” Razor intervened. “But I think we didn't came here just to exchange compliments.”

“Yes, you're right, Razor.” Matthew confirmed and changed back to the last topic. “You are interested in what happened last night, right? So I'm gonna tell you.” His face started showing bitterness and sadness again. “I had a strange visit last night, shortly after I had finished my work on Sally.”

“Who's Sally?” Razor asked.

“My latest project.” Matthew explained. “The most enhanced artificial intelligence system ever created... which is gone now.” He sighed and his thoughts obviously started to drift away again.

“What about that strange visit you've mentioned?” Razor asked, trying to keep Matthew on focusing.

“What?” Matthew asked. “Oh yeah, my visitor. The lights in the room started flickering like crazy and then a lighting bolt suddenly appeared which then transformed into a kat. He claimed to be Hard Drive and from what I've learned about him from the Enforcers I have no doubt that it was really him.”

“Hard Drive?!” T-Bone and Razor asked loudly and surprised.

“Why that little creep!” T-Bone said, almost shouting. “Just wait until I get my hands on him!”

“Easy, T-Bone.” Razor said, trying to calm him down. “Remember that we are in a hospital here and that Mr. Doubt doesn't need any more excitement.”

Matthew continued with his story. “He said something about having his revenge on me and that I will suffer for something I did to him.” After pausing for a moment he added: “That's the reason why I can't get a clear thought right now. I'm desperately thinking about who I've had annoyed that much such that he'd steal my work from me and light me up like a Christmas tree. Do you know who he is by chance? The Enforcers I talked to didn't want to tell me for some reason or didn't know themselves.”

“Unfortunately not.” Razor replied. “We also just know him as Hard Drive. Could it be possible that he acted on behalf of someone else? Do you have enemies, Mr. Doubt?”

“Possibly. Everyone who's having a public reputation might be drawing the attention of dislikers. But I can't think of anyone in particular. There are some people having an opinion about me and my games which is a bit drastic for my taste. But I don't think that anyone of them would be going that far.”

“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Razor asked, finishing his part of the interview.

“Not really. He only mentioned that Sally is capable of more than I can imagine. I don't know what he meant. He also said that he watched my every step since I've left my former employer.”

“What happened after your conversation with Hard Drive?” T-Bone asked.

“When he told me that he had swiped our servers clean and was going to leave with Sally, I've tried to stop him. Which was pretty foolish, now that I think of it. When he touched me I thought he was gonna fry me like a sausage.”

“You've attacked him?” T-Bone asked pretty concerned. “What were you thinking?”

“To be honest... nothing. I've just tried to protect my work. I failed and he got away. He took Sally away from me... I didn't have a chance.” Matthew answered indignantly and shook his head.

“You should be glad that you are still alive, Mr. Doubt!” Razor countered.

“Trust me, I am. But still, being ripped off and beaten up like this has left its mark on me.” Matthew replied, sounding heavily depressed. “I'm feeling so helpless and being toyed with.”

“We'll find Hard Drive,” T-Bone promised, almost being choleric. “And when we do, he's gonna wish that he had never laid hands on you, Mr. Doubt. I promise!”

“I really appreciate this,” Matthew replied. “Although I normally deny violence in real life. And please, call me Matthew.”

Suddenly a loud melody sounded from the TV, drawing everybody's attention to it.

“And now we have a special report from Ann Gora, live from the Megakat City Golf Course where something extraordinary just happened.” the announcer said. “We are switching directly to her for a live report.”

Then Ann Gora appeared on the screen.

“This is Ann Gora reporting from the annual Mayor Manx Golf Tournament. This event which has been organized by Mayor Manx for the public and his business partners seems to have attracted the attention of some unknown visitors.” The camera changed the view from Ann Gora to six objects which were floating high in the sky. “We currently have no information what these objects are or from where they came from. The Enforcers have been informed and will investigate this matter.”

Suddenly, the objects were quickly getting closer and started scattering from each other. Next, they fired laser beams at the golf course. The camera view changed rapidly as its operator started to run in panic, seeking for a place to hide. Ann Gora who was doing the same still tried to report while sounding very anxious: “They've opened fire at the golf course!”

For a short moment the camera showed how Mayor Manx and Mr. Young were running away in panic. The mayor cried: “Let's get out of here! It's every kat for himself!”

T-Bone and Razor started to run out of Matthew's room, trying to get to the golf course as quickly as possible.

“Sorry, Matthew, but we have to go.” T-Bone said, as he looked back at him. “Of course.” Matthew replied appreciative. “Good luck and take care, you two.” Being alone again, Matthew turned his attention back to the report on the TV.