Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Listening at Keyholes.

Beruthiel Beauregard lazed in a patch of sunlight on the porch of DERP's West Virginia's head quarters. It was good to be home. The smells smelled right. The heat and humidity was perfect not the cold of Wales. She may be a long haired cat but she'd lived her life in the South and was happy to be home. Three days and she'd adjusted to the rhythms of home like she never left. She enjoyed traveling and working other places, seeing the world, and experiencing other cultures, but she loved her home. Even if her younger, by a couple minutes, brother was in charge.

Speaking of Dale, he came out of the house at that moment and leaped to his perch on the porch railing. He turned around three times and sat down. He didn't curl into a ball to sleep but settled into a position where he could see the whole porch. Tucker came out and sat on the porch swing. Immediately he was swarmed by a dozen kittens, all too young to train. They covered his lap and shoulders and went to sleep. Phoebe wondered out and took a seat next to Tucker and the kittens. A couple other cats came out of the house and sat on the braided rug in the sunshine next to Beru. Dale surveyed the scene and nodded to himself.

“Now that we're all here,” he started. “I mission I'm assigning you. I guess, Miss Phoebe, you'll get a chance to see how we do things in the field as well as how we run headquarters.”

“I'm looking forward to actually doing something,” Phoebe agreed.

“You'll get your chance,” Dale agreed. “I've gotten word from Homeland Security that one or more of the militia groups in our area have been a lot more talkative on the radio lately. There is something going on but every time they try to get a man in, they shut up. So it is up to us to go in either unnoticed or to be barn cats. No one ever notices barn cats, provided they do their job and hunt the rodents.” He looked at Phoebe. “You do know how to hunt in a barn?”

“We do have barns, though we call then stables in Britain,” she assured him.

“Good,” Dale said. “You and Marley will go out Highway 60 and check out the group out that way.”

“Sure thing, Captain,” said a huge Marmalade cat as he lumbered up from his spot next to Beru. “I'll see you later, sweetheart.” he said to the Maine Coon next to him.

“You can count on it,” Beru said as she rubbed her head on one of his front paws before he lumbered away.

That must be Marley, thought Phoebe. He looked like he could handle himself in a fight and had on a number of occasions by the number of scars on his ear and face were anything to go by. It was interesting the way Beru acted with him. She'd never mentioned a significant other before but she hadn't mentioned not having one either.

“Beru, you've got the patrol of downtown around the museum, Old Stone Church, and the Lewisburg Cemetery,” Dale said. “If these nuts are patriotic and as history minded as the DHS says, then there'll be activity there.”

“Got it,” Beru said as she stood and stretched in the sunlight.

“Jed and I will go out and survail the group out Seneca Trail way,” Dale said looking at the other cat, a tiger stripe.

“I'll be here with my ears on, if'n y'all need anything,” Tucker said. “Just give a holler, and the cavalry will come runnin'.”

The cats geared up, as much as they could, which meant they took the collar best suited for their environment. Phoebe, Marley, Dale, and Jed had to trade in their tactical collars with all the bells and whistles for ones that were frayed and seemed old, as if they were house cats that been left to run free for some time. The only thing these were equipped with was the two radio. The little bell on the end could be detached and used as an ear piece but other wise it had a microphone and a transmitter so the overheard conversations could be recorded. The cat could be located by tracking the signal but it wasn't as precise as the GPS on the tactical collar. Beru had a similar collar but looked a lot newer. She was going in as a cat that was taken care of at night but was free to roam during the day.

After the collars had been tested to make sure they were working as expected, the cats went their separate ways. Phoebe and Marley headed out a bit further West while the other three headed into town.

Once they reached town, Beru took of to the Greenbriar County Library to start her patrol, while Dale and Jed headed South. Beru was to make it look like she belonged so she couldn't beg. The others would hunt but Tucker would come in every day to use the library, visit the museum, do some business at the shops around the center of town, or something and leave her food in an inconspicuous place. She might seem to have the easiest job as her patrol was in town and relatively short but she would be the one that would be more noticeable. She had to evade the well meaning humans who might realize she was a stray and turn her in to Animal Control. She also had the best vantage to hear more people talking.

Beru completed a slow circuit of the town. She learned that the school needed their computers updated so that many came to the library to do their work. She learned who was running for local elections and more shockingly who wasn't and why. She learned many things but not a thing about a plot but it was still just the first day. The sun sack below the hills around the town and she needed to look for a place that no human would notice her. The only building she could find open was the special shed that housed the Conestoga wagon that belonged to the historical society. She curled up beneath the wagon and went to sleep. She was sure she'd find out something in the morning. The town was humming with gossip, it was just what she had heard so far wasn't the right gossip.

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