This story takes place just after the events of my story “The Case of the War Drum”.
In his 200,000 square-foot solitary confinement cell in Megakat Prison, Dark Kat winced. When was he ever going to succeed in taking over the city? When were those SWAT Kats ever going to leave him alone? Those were just a couple of the questions he wanted answers to, but couldn’t get the answers. Never in his life.
Many times the SWAT Kats, those vigilantes of virtue, were just too much for Dark Kat, and if that wasn’t enough, our heroes had a patriotic side to display as well. Dark Kat hated thoughts of cats carrying the Stars & Stripes around displaying their love of America because of his villainous ethics. Yet, those thoughts entered his head. Old Glory was a nightmare, or more appropriately, a night terror to him. And, what bugged him more was Megakat City’s widespread use of the two instruments most likely to stir up the patriotic spirit in a cat’s blood: the drum and the fife.
And now, the SWAT Kats could add themselves to the list.
What was Dark Kat going to do about it? Nothing. The jail cell he was in was so great he couldn’t escape even if no one was looking or the security system was broken.
Dark Kat said to himself one day, “Well, if I cannot control this city, I might as well be led to an execution. If the cats of this wretched metropolis use drums for different reasons than I, why is it that I can’t take it? Is it my obsession with that one particular drum? Could it be that I am getting too predictable? Could it be my purple skin? Or it is simply a case of one versus the other in terms of musical talent? Prior to me stealing the drum, I had no musical knowledge. Now that I have proven myself able to play the drums, I seem to be in a state of depression. I have to have that one particular drum to keep myself happy. But, it is not to be. I had better adjust to the widespread use of the drum as these wretched cats use it, for I am basically doomed to die to the beating of the drums that lead to a drum roll as the guillotine blade falls and chops my head off. The question is: am I going to be executed that way?”
“You are not going to die,” said the Sergeant upon hearing the remark. Commander Feral had sent him to give Dark Kat a message. “The Commander sent me to give you this message.” He handed the message to Dark Kat after the purple overlord made his way over to the bars that separated him from the outside and the outside world. The message read: “TO: Dark Kat. FROM: Dr. Leo Konway.”
“Who’s that?” Dark Kat asked.
“He’s the biochemist in charge of our lab,” the Sergeant replied. “You may also notice I’m carrying a snare drum of my own.” He pounded a few rhythms, and then continued. “This way you won’t have to suffer in here the entire time, although you’ll still be here.”
“At least I have been official in repenting of my sins,” Dark Kat nodded as he opened the letter. It read:
“Dear Dark Kat,
“I am sorry to hear you are suffering so greatly from the usage and obsessions of your ancient war drum. I have asked the Commander and several other friends of mine in a stunt to help promote Leo the Patriotic Lion’s next speech on being true to the red, white, and blue of our flag. You’ll still be playing the drums, but it will be for a cause you may be uncomfortable with. If you refuse, I won’t be upset. If you accept, I’ll tell you more information. I am waiting with the Commander outside his salvage yard if you choose to accept. Signed, Dr. Konway.”
“I’ll give it a try,” said Dark Kat. “I seem to have obsessions and nightmares of drums leading to executions by guillotine. The great big drum roll occurs before the blade drops and chops me off, and right as it’s about to hit me, I wake up.”
“Harsh,” said the Sergeant. “Hopefully, this will cure you.” He unlocked Dark Kat’s cell and escorted the purple overlord on foot over to the yard, in time to his own drum beats. When the two arrived, it soon became evident that Dr. Konway had organized his own drum and fife brigade, with him, the Commander, and Lenny Ringtail (now working for the Commander since he recovered from Madkat’s possession as a police detective) playing the fifes.
Playing the snare drums were the SWAT Kats, their dark counterparts, and Fango, and now the Sergeant was going to add himself to the count. Playing the bass drums were Lt. Commander Steele, Hard Drive (also working in the detective department after converting to good at the Commander’s advice) and David Litterbin (who was doing it unbeknownst to the general public as a way of meeting up with Lenny in person again; it had been at least three years since the infamous episode where David had Lenny as a guest, and no one but the elite few would know about David’s service). Konway had been so successful at doing this that no word ever had or ever would get to Lt. Felina Feral, Callie Briggs, or the Kat’s Eye News about this. It is true, however, that Kat’s Eye News would bring live coverage of Leo the Patriotic Lion’s speech, but the cameras (naturally) would focus on Leo.
“I see you have decided to try this, Dark Kat,” said the Commander as soon as the Sergeant stopped drumming.
“Yes, sir,” said Dark Kat with a salute. “It beats having those night terrors of drums involved in my execution.” Quickly, he told Feral the story behind the events since his arrest for use of the ancient war drum of his. Then he asked what he was going to be doing.
Feral replied, “You are going to be the seventh snare drum soldier, if I got that right, Konway.”
“Yes, you did,” said Konway. “Three bass drums are enough to suffice the crowds, as are three fifes. One can never have too many snare drums, however.” He chuckled.
T-Bone and Razor continued their attention poses, looking as serious as ever. (Needless to say, Dark Kat, the SWAT Kats, Hard Drive, and David Litterbin were posing barefoot. The rest had their usual shoes on.)
And so, the cast was set. Konway’s first order of business was get the corps officially established with Leo the Patriotic Lion. This led to extensive practice of “Yankee Doodle,” “American Patrol,” and several British drum-and-fife tunes found in certain medleys, as well as drum solos, Civil War-style. Dark Kat found himself playing his drum during lots of the down time he served in his jail cell.
When Leo the Patriotic Lion arrived at the scrap yard on the day of auditions as Konway called it, T-Bone exclaimed, “Uh-oh! Here comes the King of the Military Musicians!” This was T-Bone’s private nickname for Leo, since he had previously served as U.S. Lion Corp Band Commander-in-Chief.
“All right, men! Time to perform!” Commander Feral bellowed.
The band began their routine of “Yankee Doodle.” They played with such enthusiasm and proved their skills to be fantastic. The Sergeant had the most serious look of all, as his eyes didn’t blink one time. He just looked ahead and played his drum. The bass drums were silent during “Yankee Doodle” but made their presence known in “American Patrol” and the medleys and solos.
As soon as everything was finished, Leo applauded. “Excellent job!” he congratulated with that famous voice of authority of his, known for its harsh, judgmental tones and its overexaggerated use of a stereotypical authority you would expect from a drill sergeant. “You cats certainly have what it takes to stir up the spirits. It is without question and doubts that I approve of you. As it turns out, I would’ve approved of you no matter what.”
“Why is that?” asked Razor.
“I accept any drum and fife corps that’s willing to serve our country. If you had sounded ugly or terrible, I would’ve, as the public puts it, ‘coached’ you on becoming a better corps. But, you already have the skills and talent, so that takes a load off my back.” Leo turned to Dark Kat.
“You. I read the story in the paper on you and your obsessions of that war drum now in the Museum of History.”
“Have you?” asked Dark Kat in a nervous tone. “Here it comes.”
“Here comes what?”
Dark Kat again explained his night terrors. Then he added, “I’ve heard of your reputation and your authority. Whatever you say, America does. If you are here to signify my death, do it.”
“I’m not going to do that,” Leo replied. “I have no intentions of killing anybody unless it fits the crime. Your crime is nowhere close to that. So, stop dreaming of that, and that’s an order!”
“Yes, sir!” Dark Kat saluted. “I will do that.”
“Well, now that we’re approved, shall we do lunch?” Konway asked.
“I’d be happy to,” Leo smiled. “The fact you can show your patriotism through music is going to help greatly.” The group put away their instruments and headed for the nearest diner to eat.
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