The Case of the Fake Death Hoax

"How can this be? The framed kat didn't kill him!" Fango exclaimed to himself. "He has to be innocent or I'm going to get tough!" By that, he meant "go gung ho."

The framed kat Fango was referring to was a former gangster of Katscratch by the name of Donald ("Don") Darvino (whom the SWAT Kats had hired as their pianist, and was slated to officially join in three days). Darvino had been accused of a murder that in reality happened two years ago; the criminal of that murder died on execution row by firing squad, led by Commander Feral. The actual culprits involved in the hoax had stolen a dead lion's body, used red paint and a stolen pistol, and made the fingerprints look exactly like Darvino's. Darvino was in prison, awaiting the trial at this time. Nevertheless, Commander Feral showed his sympathy towards Darvino.

"Relax, Mr. Darvino," he said. "Felina and I know you are innocent, as does my Sergeant. I told the officers who arrested you there was nothing they were doing wrong, but that you have been framed; this counts on their total of arrests, and it's reached 2,000, so this is a good thing for them. But don't panic; everything will be all right."

"Gee, I hope so," said Darvino. "In just three days, I'm scheduled to officially join the rock band as the pianist. I know you do the acoustic guitar, but what about Felina?"

"She just sings, as do Miss Briggs and Ann Gora," Feral replied. "The SWAT Kats do electric guitars with Captain Grimalken, that blue guy. Nimrod Zyme, part-time biochemist at Megakat Biochemical Labs, does acoustic guitar with me. Al, the helicopter pilot, is our bass guitarist, and Fango is our drummer. Hope that clarified things up for you. Oh, I forgot Jonny; he does the keyboard and synthesizer stuff, some of the time."

"It does help, thanks. What I want to know is who the real varmint is."

"I've got Lenny Ringtail working on that right now, as a matter of fact."

"You mean the wacko comedian?"

"Yes, but he isn't wacko anymore. His sanity is back, and he's decided to give up show biz for detective work—police detective work, that is. Playing that detective on TV, Catslock Jones, P.I., for six seasons really helped him get a good start."

"I thought he was Marshal Mitch Mathis."

"Different show. He did both."

"Oh. My bad."

"That was his only Western, by the way: 'Gunfighters of Carson City.' He takes pride in that show because it reveals the cowboy spirit that he and his family have; they came from a family of that era. And since those were 60-minute episodes whereas Catslock episodes were 30 minutes long, commercials included, he feels he got his work's worth out of it."

"Glad to know that." Darvino paused to cough when there came a buzz over the intercom. "Commander, this is Lt. Vanderbilt," came the voice of one of Feral's troopers. "The so-called SWAT Kats have arrived with the Deputy Mayor and they want to hear from Mr. Darvino."

"Hang on just one second, Lt.," Feral replied. "I'll be right up." He turned to Darvino. "Excuse me for a moment, sir. You've got visitors." Feral left the prison hall to guide the SWAT Kats and Callie down to where Darvino's cell was located. The Sergeant joined him on the way back, preparing to take notes.

"Hey, it's the piano kat!" Razor exclaimed when he saw Darvino. "How'd you get in here?"

"It's sort of complex to explain," Darvino replied, "but I'll do my best." The Sergeant began scribbling notes on his notepad.

"Here's the basic rundown," Darvino continued. "Whoever the actual culprits are used a dead lion's body stolen from a cemetery. They used red paint for blood simulation and a six-shooter like on all them TV Western shows. For the most part, they somehow figured out how to make the fingerprints look exactly like mine when the officers who arrested me made a thorough investigation of the pistol. This convinced the officers I was responsible. While pleading to them I was not, they did so anyway; it's the Enforcer policy. The Commander knows I'm innocent, and I'm certain you do too. I just don't want the news crews to publicly humiliate me more than they already have. Besides, the so-called Kat's Eye News Three know that I am innocent due to the fact they're part of the rock band I'm soon to be part of, I hope. Anyway, I have a feeling the culprits either don't like me, don't like rock and roll, don't like the piano, or a combination of all three also formulating in some get-rich-quick scheme."

"Believe us, you will get to rock and roll," T-Bone assured him. "Razor and I always catch our crook, well, except if it's Morbulus. You know, that four-eyed villain whose other eyes are in the back of his head."

"No wonder he escaped by the time I recovered him," Feral put in with a flash of insight. "It wasn't your fault. Well, there's no use dwelling on it. Wonder what Ringtail has found out?"

"That's what I want to know," Callie spoke up. "I can guarantee you, Mayor Manx will throw a temper tantrum over this if he hasn't already."

"We can't have that," said Felina. "Half the time, I don't think he even knows what he's talking about."

Outside the HQ building, the group continued to ponder over the situation. The Sergeant paused to listen to a marching band passing by, absorbing the music by tapping his foot. This explained why he did not want to be part of the rock band; according to Feral, he was "way too patriotic to rock and roll. But that's a good thing, because the Sergeant is a great role model to look up to."

Just then, Ringtail arrived on the scene. He was not wearing his uniform today, and he was grateful he wasn't. "Ah, Commander," he greeted. "I just got a hot tip. You know how he said the body came from a cemetery?"

"Yes?" Feral replied in anticipation.

"I found out that the same graveyard is the graveyard where the undead Pastmaster was rediscovered during that incident where his summoned Megasaraus Rex almost destroyed the mayor's clock tower. Does that ring a bell?"

"Somewhat."

"I don't remember anything about the Pastmaster," Razor put in.

"Well, the Pastmaster had nothing to do with it. These kats have, however. I can speak from experience, too." Ringtail held up a poster with the faces of the grave-robbing duo, Jack and Tom, who were guilty of awakening the Pastmaster from 800 years of undeadness. (The SWAT Kats battle with him in the ancient pyramids of Katchu Pichu ultimately led to his death. No one had ever been there since the day Randall tried to take a picture in the hopes of winning the Purrlitzer Prize. Needless to say, he did win it, to everyone's surprise.)

"Jack and Tom?" T-Bone exclaimed. "You mean those idiots who freed the Pastmaster?"

"Oh, great. I should've known they were behind this!" Callie snorted in disgust.

"What experience can you speak from, Ringtail?" Feral continued.

"It all dates back to that alligator incident where I was almost eaten alive. As the gator chewed me, I overheard Jack say something about earning $2.5 million after they modify the body to where it looks like a gladiator, so that they can make the money and invest it in some other business involved with their grave robberies. Boy, am I glad I dressed as if I was a nobody today."

"Well, that explains Darvino's mentioning of the 'get-rich-quick scheme' involved," Razor spoke up.

"Exactly. But I remembered something else. I saw Tom was sitting in a wheelchair after he spoke about some injury; of course, he was lying to deceive me, but I knew better. When I went inside the gator's gullet, the cast was on his right leg. When I emerged 90 seconds later, the case was on his left leg. He probably took it out for a good scratch and put it on the opposite foot."

"Trusting, of course," Felina added, realizing the truth, "that the experience you got from almost being eaten alive by that huge cannibal from Florida would distract you from noticing the switch."

"Congratulations, Jones!" T-Bone smiled, referring to Ringtail's character of Catslock Jones, P.I. "You solved another one! All we have to do now is find Jack and Tom and cuff them! Probably should let you do that, Feral."

"I think you'd better. I know I've said 'The Enforcers will handle it!' thousands of times before, but this time, I really mean it. But of course, I now respect you two. In the case we ultimately will need your help, however, if by the off-chance you do happen to find them while flying your fighter jet, contact us."

"Will do, sir," Razor replied. He and T-Bone saluted, and the Sergeant and Feral saluted back. The SWAT Kats marched off towards their hanger where their jet was. Feral, Felina, the Sergeant, and Ringtail got inside Feral's police sedan and drove around town, looking for Jack and Tom. It seemed they were doing a lot of driving and going nowhere fast.

Suddenly, alarms went off and gunfire emerged. "Uh-oh!" Ringtail exclaimed. "Bank panic!"

"Let's check it out," Felina spoke up. The Enforcer officers and their newly-hired police detective stepped outside and ran into the bank, each armed with a gun. "Police officers!" Feral bellowed as the two masked criminals were running away. They stopped in their tracks when they recognized Ringtail.

"Going somewhere, boys?" he asked, imitating his Western character, Marshal Mitch Mathis.

"Oh, no!" one of the robbers shouted. "It's that Marshal! It's the Mitch Mathis kat!"

"Right both times," Ringtail quipped, playing along with the humor. "And this time, you varmints can't escape me no more!" He grabbed the masks and yanked them off, revealing the correct answer—Jack and Tom.

"Aha!" he shouted. "Jack and Tom! The city's most notorious grave robbers!"

"You won't get away so easily!" Feral added. "Furthermore, unlike most criminals, you do not have the right to remain silent! Confess now! You framed Donald Darvino for that dead lion hoax so you could get rich, couldn't you?"

"$2.5 million's worth of $1 bills to be exact," said the Sergeant, reviewing his notes.

"All right! All right!" Tom screamed, ticked off at the officers. "Just don't touch us. We confess. We did it. Just leave us alone. It's getting so a kat can't earn a dishonest living no more."

"And it's a good thing they don't," said Feral. "Cuff them, Felina."

"My pleasure, Uncle," Felina replied. She proceeded to handcuff the criminals and escort them inside the sedan. Feral called Callie to report the arrest, and in turn, she told the SWAT Kats it was taken care of. The SWAT Kats continued their workout by means of karate moves that brake bricks.

"Mr. Darvino," Feral reported over the intercom when they returned to HQ, "good news! We caught the real thieves after Ringtail correctly found out their scheme. You're free to rock the night away!"

"All right!" Darvino exclaimed in excitement as Felina came down to free him. "See you at practice," she grinned.

"You too, Lt.," said Darvino. He walked outside HQ and made his way over to the junkyard. By that point, Jake and Chance had finished their karate practice, had donned their normal work uniforms again, and helped Darvino get up to date on their rock band status. Overall, it was a great night to celebrate citywide after Ann Gora made the report that the case was closed.

THE END

SWAT Kats © Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros.