Pass the Buck

T-Bone and Razor had just returned from their current mission when they spotted Callie standing beside the runway that led them back into the hangar. "Wonder why Callie's standing here?" Razor asked. "We finished the mission."

"I know," said T-Bone, "but sometimes when one mission's done, another one has just begun."

The two brave pilots landed their jet, then trudged back out to where the city's devoted deputy mayor was standing. They could see the irritated look on her face.

"What's the problem, Miss Briggs?" asked T-Bone. "We saw you standing out here."

"Well, I would've called you on my communicator, but it's broken, and I'm getting it fixed," said Callie. "All I could do was wait. But here's what happening: Commander Feral was just told he won the lottery, and he didn't even play. Yet he has no choice but to accept the $10 million prize anyway. After confirming it was real money and not counterfeit money, he's unsure why he has to accept the wealth he doesn't really think is his."

"Does he happen to have any idea if the money was stolen from somewhere?" asked Razor.

"No, but he says he's not the only one to win the lottery without even playing. I think the lottery system is just corrupted. Then again, it could be one of those plots where the rich suddenly revert to bad behavior. If that's the case, Commander Feral will start showing hatred towards you two again."

"He won't," said T-Bone. "Not if Leo the Patriotic Lion has anything to say about it."

"That's true," said Callie. "I just don't know what to do."

"Don't doubt anything, Miss Briggs," Razor replied. "T-Bone and I will get to the bottom of this."

Meanwhile, the Sergeant was listening to the local Enforcer Corps of Drums rehearse for the next performance while marching to the beat. As he was doing that, Feral and Lenny Ringtail (now the Enforcer police detective) were discussing the $10 million.

"I don't get it, Ringtail," Feral commented. "Why is it the lottery likes to surprise people and call them winners even if they didn't enter? This is the fourth time it's happened, and I happen to be the victim of greed."

"I wouldn't say you are a victim of greed, Commander," Lenny replied. "I would say it has more to do with the 'reward for doing your job' scenario. The last case I ever cracked as Catslock Jones, P.I., was exactly this type of case. The guilty party did it before they ultimately committed suicide by jumping into the Bermuda Triangle and disappearing. I know there is no suicide here, but if the guilty party is responsible for a bank theft, for example, this is to get you framed for it. If they are simply infiltrating the lottery, they're using you as a test case. I have it narrowed down to those two types."

"Okay," said Feral. "But if you know me, you know I'm not going to wait with unlimited patience. Wish I could; it's a weakness of mine."

"I think it's a weakness we all share. Oddly enough, I never see the Sergeant mad at anybody. Could it be those drum habits of his?"

"It is, Ringtail. My Sergeant speaks so few words, he prefers to let his drum do the talking. The faster the beat, the more likely it's expressing anger, and the slower the beat, the more likely it's expressing solemn or a funeral. At a moderate tempo, his patriotism shows."

"That's a reasonable thing to say."

Felina walked in with a notepad in her hand. "Uncle, I just got word the SWAT Kats are on their way under orders of Deputy Mayor Briggs. She wants to get to the bottom of this case."

"That's just what I was about to ask, Felina. When will they be here?"

"About now, judging from the Sergeant's views." Felina turned and saw the Sergeant saluting the SWAT Kats, still absorbing the beat coming from the Corps of Drums. To humor him, the SWAT Kats saluted the Sergeant and return and made their way towards the commander and his niece in time to the beat, marching their bare feet in perfect unison.

When the SWAT Kats came to a halt, Feral was the first to speak. "I see you SWAT Kats came under order of Miss Briggs?" he spoke.

"Yes, we did," said Razor. "Miss Briggs is under a state of confusion. She told us on the way over—we walked because our jet's in need of a refueling and because that last case of Dr. Viper is closed—she wanted to know three things: 1) who is the guilty party, 2) why did the lottery choose you as the winner of the $10 million Super Lotto giveaway, even though you didn't even participate, and 3) what are you going to do with the money?"

"Well, tell her that I'm going to give half of that to charity, and the other half will go in the bank, except for maybe a small bit that I would normally withdraw from an ATM. As for the lottery choosing me, according to Ringtail, I'm either a test case for the guilty party as they infiltrate the fairness of the lottery system's rules and regulations as conducted by the Megakat City Lottery Commission, or I'm to be blamed for a bank robbery."

"But the last bank robbery had nothing to do with this," T-Bone objected. "That money was for Dr. Viper's own use of his ugly mutants."

"So that means I'm a test case."

"Probably." T-Bone began to tap his foot in time to the drum beat.

"What do you think, Ringtail?"

"That's just what I concluded. I haven't got enough evidence, however, to produce a warrant. Any good detective knows that you need ample evidence to produce a legal warrant, and then, with the warrant, you can arrest the crook."

"Hmmm," said Razor. "Sounds like we'll have to go all out on you for this one. I mean, since you are a detective, this is a case we'd better let you solve instead of us."

"I don't blame you for doing that," said Lenny. "Actually, there's a possibility Dr. Viper's bank robbery could be connected to this. I'd better go talk to the bank manager."

Feral, Felina, and Lenny got inside Feral's sedan, waited for the Sergeant to come (after Feral whistled for him), and drove to the bank that had previously been robbed and was in the process of returning its stolen loot to its rightful place in the vault. It was about 7 p.m.

"What can you tell us about the robbery?" Lenny asked the bank manager.

"All I know is that Dr. Viper's mutant army was responsible for the mess," said the manager. "As you can see, we had to hire a specialist team in the janitorial industry to be able to clean up the mess. Our vault has $10 trillion in it, and the goons only wanted $20 million. Half was to be given to that idiot Viper for his plots, and the other half was to be used for the lottery's latest Super Lotto Giveaway winner."

"I happen to be the winner, and I didn't play the lottery at all," said Feral. "The committee told me to keep the money anyway and they'd award $10 million to the real winner in a week or so. What time did the robbery occur?"

"5 p.m. exactly."

"And did you see the SWAT Kats in action?"

"No, I didn't. I heard their jet fly by, so I knew they were on the case."

"Did you say anything about the robbery to anybody as the money was being returned?" asked Lenny.

"No, but I did tell my hairstylist to hurry up so that I could get back to supervising the money's return before 7 p.m., when we close our doors. We let you in so you could speak to us, however."

"Well, that's all we need to know. Thank you, sir." The four officers left the bank and headed for the nearest burger joint to eat dinner (where they would've gone anyway).

"So Viper's goons are the guilty party after all, huh, Uncle?" Felina chimed in.

"They are, Felina. And I now see why I'm supposed to be the target blamed for the robbery."

"But since it was too obvious, your name is going to be cleared," Lenny assured the commander. "I'm sure Kat's Eye News is going to talk to the manager right now."

"Don't they ruin the TV schedule enough?" Feral commented.

"The way I see it," said the Sergeant, "they take their jobs too seriously. If Ann Gora misses a story, she fears she's to be fired."

"Well, in that case, let's hope she keeps up the good work," said Feral. He turned on his pager to contact the SWAT Kats. "SWAT Kats," he reported, "tell Miss Briggs it was all the work of Dr. Viper. His goons took $20 million out of the vault of the bank that was robbed. Half went to me, which the lottery authorities told me to keep, and the other half was to go to Dr. Viper. But that half is back in the bank, while the other half is obviously mine. Now Miss Briggs can go home in peace."

"Yes, sir!" T-Bone replied with the authority of a drill sergeant. "Miss Briggs shall know about it right now!" After disconnecting the line, he switched over to Callie and reported the news to her, prompting her to turn on her television set and tune in to Kat's Eye News.

"That puts it in the books, then," Lenny announced after making notes in his composition notebook and dating the notes. "Viper's goons tried to infiltrate the lottery and simultaneously frame you for the robbery. I just received word from Lt. Vanderbilt that they all are rotting in prison right now, and because Dark Kat's in solitary, there's nothing he can do to break them out."

"Congratulations, Ringtail!" Feral smiled. "You solved another one!"

"Oh, it's nothing," said Lenny. "It's all part of the job. Am I glad I played Catslock on TV for six seasons, because it prepared me for the real thing."

"Joe Friday ain't got nothing on you," said Hard Drive, who was also in the detective department as Lenny's assistant, and had come with the group on this case. "Let's just hope you don't have to go to a board of inquires like he once did. I mean, I watched an episode where he went to inquiry for firing his gun when a Laundromat robber shot at him. It turns out it was within departmental policy, and the crook died later on. Meanwhile, a side case with a runaway girl who was in love with the deceased, blaming Joe for the death of the crook, was put back in another foster home."

"I remember that one," said Lenny. "Yep. Even officers are subject to interrogation. Well, let's eat. I'm starving."

"Good idea," said Feral as the quintet of officers exited Feral's sedan and walked inside the restaurant.

THE END

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

Dragnet © Jack Webb, NBC, and all others who own the rights

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