A few minutes later the Swat Kats and Matthew arrived at the salvage yard. Once they were close to the hangar, T-Bone used the remote control to open the hatch on the ground. Then he performed the landing maneuver which he had done so often such that he could do it in his sleep. A moment later the three were standing inside the hangar of the Swat Kat's hideout. Matthew whistled loudly and said:
“So, this is the secret hideout of the Swat Kats. Impressive.”
“I'm glad you like it.” T-Bone responded.
“I never would've thought that it would be located under a salvage yard.”
“That's the general idea behind a secret hideout, isn't it?” Razor explained. “But it just happened to be that we set it up here.”
“So you run this place? I mean the scrapyard.”
“Yeah, although we aren't really in charge here.” T-Bone started to explain. “We were assigned here by Commander Feral to pay off our debt for crushing a jet into the Enforcer Headquarter quite some time ago. Back then we were both pilots at the Enforcers, you know. I could still get in rage when I think about that we took the blame for this accident, although Feral had caused it.” Then he added: “But at least we were allowed to set up our own repair shop business here. Otherwise we wouldn't earn enough money for a living.”
“I think I've heard of that incident.” Matthew remembered. “It was all over the press for days. According to them the Enforcers were in pursuit of Dark Kat who managed to escape because two pilots disobeyed orders which resulted in the collision with another plane.”
“That's the official statement, yes.” T-Bone said in a serious tone. “But it's not the whole truth. We had a lock on Dark Kat but then that idiot Feral interfered. I guess, he wanted to have the credit for blasting Dark Kat out of the sky for himself. His plane got too close to us when he tried to pass by and so we collided. When we lost control of our jet, the only thing we were able to do was to eject. Our jet crashed right into the Enforcer Headquarter and while Feral was distracted by watching it, he let Dark Kat escape. The rest is history.”
“I see.” Matthew replied. “Did you have a lot of combat experience back then?”
“A little,” T-Bone answered. “But way less than we have today. Why do you ask?”
“I don't know. I just thought that Feral might have reacted that way simply he didn't believe that you were ready to handle Dark Kat by yourselves. Maybe he wanted to make sure that Dark Kat was shot down by doing it himself.”
As Matthew realized that he had chosen a rather unpleasant topic and that the Swat Kats started to look angry at him he tried to calm them down.
“I'm sorry guys.” he apologized. “Please don't get mad at me. I wasn't there, so I can't judge what happened back then and I have my own quarrel with Commander Feral right now. But I have to admit that I'm starting to think that it's not completely wrong what he said about me.”
“I think we should change the subject.” Razor said in a serious tone, although he tried not to sound too unfriendly. “We should concentrate on the task ahead – the infiltration of Puma- Dyne. Luckily, we have the advantage that all of us have already been there and T-Bone and I also have infiltrated the place once.”
“You did?” Matthew asked surprised.
“Yeah, well,” Razor started to answer. “Not in this dimension, but this is a story for another time.”
“Okay... whatever you say.” Matthew replied, although he hadn't understood a word of that what Razor just had said.
“Which leads us directly to you, Matthew.” Razor continued. “How good are you in shape, physically?”
“Me?” Matthew asked surprised. “Well, I'm a programmer... Which means that I'm sitting on a chair most of the time and I'm also a rather lazy guy, not to mention that I just came out of hospital. So I think I could be in a much better shape than I'm actually am.”
“Then we have to start working on that right away.” Razor noted.
“What do you mean?” Matthew asked confused. “What does my physical fitness have to do with this?”
Razor suddenly got a grim look on his face and raised his voice. “Matthew, do you really think we can enter Puma-Dyne through the front door while they roll out a red carpet for us? No! We'll have to sneak in, get onto the roof and crouch through ventilation shafts. We'll also have to move around quietly and stay out of sight the whole time.”
Matthew looked embarrassed at Razor. “I haven't thought about that, Razor.”
“It won't be possible to take you on our shoulders or hold hands. That's why we need to get you in shape as good as possible in the short time we have.”
Razor went over to his locker and opened it. Then he grabbed a spare flight suit and a spare helmet and threw it over to Matthew. Matthew was a bit smaller and more corpulent than Razor, but still he should be able to wear his flight suit.
Matthew now looked completely confused at Razor.
“What are you waiting for, Matthew? Dress up! We haven't got all day, you know.” Razor commanded in a tone he used to know when he and T-Bone were rookies back at the Enforcers.
“Okay, okay.” Matthew said and started getting into the flight suit. “But could you please explain what this is all about?”
“Simple.” Razor started to explain. “You cannot show up at Puma-Dyne as Matthew Doubt, right? So you have to be disguised when you and T-Bone infiltrate it.”
“Me and T-Bone?” Matthew asked. “And what about you?”
“Everyone knows that there are two Swat Kats, right? What do you think would happen if suddenly three of them would be seen? It would probably raise unnecessary questions and since Feral has already seen us together he may figure out who the third Swat Kat might be. That's the reason why I'll stay in the background and monitor your progress from the outside whenever possible.”
“Sound reasonable. But there's still be a problem.” Matthew argued, who just had finished dressing up.
“And what would that be, rookie?” Razor asked determined.
“I mean, look at me. Even if I'm wearing your flight suit, mask and helmet you can still see my fur, which has a much lighter color than yours. So I still don't look like you at all.”
“That's right.” Razor replied with a slightly mean smile on his face. “That's why we'll have to dye it before you go in there.”
“Dye my fur? You can't be serious, Razor.” Matthew complained.
“Hey! Who had the idea to infiltrate Puma-Dyne in the first place?” Razor countered and then fell back into drill instructor mode. “So stop complaining and follow my orders! You are a Swat Kat's recruit now and we haven't got time to argue!”
“Yes... sir.” Matthew replied not very confidently. From the look on his face and his posture one could easily determine that he felt pretty intimidated by Razor now.
Razor realized that, of course, but ignored it.
“Good! Now get through that door over there!” he ordered and pointed with his finger towards a door behind Matthew. “It leads to our underground training course. I want to see you at the starting line on the double! Then we shall see what you are made of, recruit!”
Matthew gulped, turned around and moved quickly towards it. When Razor was about to follow him he felt T-Bone's hand on his shoulder.
“You got a minute, buddy?” T-Bone asked.
“What is it, T-Bone?”
“Do you really think this is necessary? I mean he has just has arrived and didn't have a chance to get used to this place. It's also obvious that he didn't expect that one of us would order him around. Please remember that unlike us he hasn't got any military background at all.”
“I know, T-Bone, and I'm not feeling very comfortable with this either, believe me.” Razor replied. “But he won't stand a chance at Puma-Dyne if he hasn't been trained. And what's even more important, how else can we find out if he is capable to participate in such an operation at all?” he asked and immediately continued: “Only if we test his abilities. We also need to see how he handles stress. If the two of you run into trouble and he freaks out, then what? That's why I'll treat him like an Enforcer rookie from now on.”
“I think I'm getting your point, Razor.” T-Bone replied, but didn't seem to be very happy with Razor's plan.
“I know that you're not comfortable with that what I will do to him.“ Razor remarked. “But this is necessary. I have the feeling that you're admiring him too much and would go too soft on him. So I'm trying to help both of you by taking the role of the drill instructor. Don't think that I like that role, but if I don't do it you two will probably run into serious trouble sooner or later, once you are inside Puma-Dyne. Even if we prepare him as good as possible it will still be risky and you know that.” After he had made a short pause he added: “If you disagree with me, then it would probably be better that you take over from here.”
“No, Razor, you're right. I like that guy too much.” T-Bone admitted. “I probably couldn't prepare him for what's laying ahead of us like you can. I haven't forgotten how we've been treated when we were rookies, but please remember that he is a game developer and not a pilot.”
“Don't worry, T-Bone, I will.” Razor assured him.
“Tell you what,” T-Bone started to propose. “You set up the training course and I explain everything to Matthew such that he understands what's going on, alright?”
“Sounds like a good idea.”
Then both went over to the training course. Once there, Razor went over to a console in order to configure the features of the training course while T-Bone went over to Matthew who still looked confused and intimidated. T-Bone explained shortly to him what was going on and why Razor suddenly had changed his attitude.
“I understand, T-Bone.” Matthew replied when T-Bone had finished his explanation. “Thank you for telling me. I was a fool thinking that we can just go in there and get what we want. I'll accept Razor's treatment, although it will be very hard for me. I'm not used to get shouted at and following orders without thinking about it.”
“I'm glad you understand and I hope you are feeling a bit better now.” T-Bone said relieved.
“A little.” Matthew replied. “But to be honest, after being fried by a large doze of electricity, accused of being responsible for the drone attacks and now being shouted at, I'm not really feeling like myself anymore. More like a ghost.”
“I'm sure you'll get used it, Matthew. You cannot change what happened anyway.” T-Bone said, trying to cheer Matthew up a little. Suddenly something came into T-Bone's mind and he started to smile. “We shouldn't be calling you by your real name when you are wearing this flight suit, you know. You'll need a call-sign like we do. Any ideas?”
“T-Bone, please.” Matthew answered not very enthusiastic. “Do you really think that I'm in the mood to come up with a cool sounding call-sign right now? As I told you, I'm feeling like a ghost.”
“Like a ghost, hmm.” T-Bone mumbled to himself. “Ghost. I like it, but I think it's too common.”
“What are you talking about?” Matthew asked, being confused once again.
“Ghost, ghost, ghost... What could we call you instead?” T-Bone continued without really noticing Matthew's question. Then suddenly he seemed to have an idea. “What about Specter?” he asked excited.
“Specter?” Matthew asked, still being unable to follow T-Bone's thoughts.
“Yes. Specter. As your call-sign, you know.” T-Bone explained.
“You have a weird way of associating things, you know that, T-Bone? But I think this actually is a fitting call-sign. Then so be it! Specter it is.”
Suddenly Razor joined the conversation with a loud voice: “Alright! With this being settled and the training course being set up, it's time to see some action. So get into position at the starting line and be ready, Specter!”
Specter did as he was told.
During the next few days T-Bone and Razor trained Specter as good as they could. Specter had given up counting how often he'd got through the training course. He spent most of his time there and Razor was unforgiving. He left Specter only a few hours each day to rest and recover.
At the beginning Razor had turned off all of the course's special features, since they probably would have been a serious threat to Specter. As Specter progressed, Razor carefully reactivated some of them one after another, so that the course always kept challenging. As the training course was getting more dangerous T-Bone or Razor accompanied him to make sure that he didn't get hurt seriously, but also as an additional motivation for him. They also explained him how to use a Glovatrix. When Specter got familiar with it Razor activated the target practice section of the course.
T-Bone and Razor also tested his stealth techniques again and again. For this they created situations where Matthew had to sneak around them without attracting their attention. It was frustrating for him to hear sentences like “Stop breathing so loudly! I can hear you from a mile away!” or “Too loud!” or simply “Gotcha!” again and again. The sound of a Glovatrix being fired was even more frustrating, as it meant that he would be caught in a net or be restrained by a Bola Missile in the next moment.
He also learned some simple hand-to-hand-combat techniques in order to defend himself, if necessary. Of course, he was light-years away from T-Bone's or Razor's performances, but Razor still seemed to be satisfied with Specter's performance in the end.
When Razor had the feeling that Specter might have a chance to be successful at Puma- Dyne he talked to T-Bone:
“T-Bone, do you think we've trained him well enough?”
“I think he performs okay and showed good progress in the last couple of days. But it's not an easy thing to infiltrate a facility like Puma-Dyne.” T-Bone answered. “Still, I think that I can rely on him, but I wish you could be there as well.”
Razor thought about T-Bone's last sentence for a while. “You know, T-Bone, maybe I can.”
“What do you mean, Razor?”
“We could mount a camera to his helmet so that I can see what he's actually doing.”
“That's a good idea, but aren't all signals blocked inside the facility?” T-Bone asked skeptical.
“Maybe.” Razor answered. “But we don't know if the whole facility is blocking signals or only its most delicate parts. If Specter needs my help with anything in there and can get to a spot where we can get in contact with each other I can analyze the recorded video data. At least it's worth a try.”
“I guess so.” T-Bone agreed. “Let's talk to Specter about it.”
After explaining it to Specter they tested some scenarios using the helmet camera. After Specter seemed to get along with it, Razor finally came to his conclusion:
“Alright Specter, I think we'll make a break here. You should get some rest now, since you'll need all your strength when you participate in the infiltration of Puma-Dyne. We'll get over there in two days.”
“Really?” Specter asked excited and a bit surprised. “So, I'm ready for it?”
“Hardly.” Razor replied in a serious tone. “Specter, I won't lie to you. You've progressed quite well in the last couple of days. But it would take weeks or even months until you would be ready for it. We are simply running out of time. Dark Kat has taken over large parts of Megakat City by now and it's only a matter of time until he turns his attention to Puma-Dyne. And when that happens its security measures will be increased rapidly, assuming that they haven't already. With what you've learned from us you'll hopefully not act like a complete amateur in there. I will guide you as far as possible, but you can't count on that. If our communication breaks up, you'll have to stick close to T-Bone and do everything he says. Understood?”
“Yes, sir.” Specter replied, sounding a bit disappointed. “But what if we get separated?”
“Then you are on your own. Remember everything you've learned and try to get to a place where we can get in contact with each other.”
“But what if I get caught?”
“Then you'll be in serious trouble. T-Bone and me too, by the way. So you better don't.”
“I see.” Specter said, starting to feel uncomfortable.
“Now get some sleep. You've earned it.” Razor said. “And tomorrow we'll dye your fur.”
“Oh, great! I can't wait for it.” Specter said with an ironic tone. But before Razor could have replied anything on this remark Specter added “Well then, see you later, Razor.”
When Specter had left, T-Bone approached Razor.
“You know, I'm very curious how our new Razor will perform.” he said.
“Me too.” Razor replied. “But to be honest, I don't really like it that he'll pretend to be me.”
“Me neither, but if that's the way to go...”
“Yes. Let's hope that everything goes well.”