Another day dawned over the Revolutionary City, as the promotional material called Colonial Williamsburg. Beru, Phoebe, and the other cats had been there, along with the human support staff, for about a week. It had been mostly boring but they had gotten the rhythm of the place down and could now tell when something was out of place, like now.
Phoebe and Beru sat outside the Raleigh Tavern Bakery, where the crumbs, scraps, and news were plentiful. They were people watching. There were three basic types of people who went into the bakery for sandwiches, cookies fresh from the wood fueled oven, and fountain drinks in the refillable cups with Tri-corn hat lids: costumed workers on their breaks; tourists with their clip on ticket badges; and college students from William and Mary getting the free refill on soda before class. The tourists covered all walks of life from farmers to big city folk but they all had a ticket of some type clipped somewhere visible so that the costumed guides at the restricted buildings would know who to let in.
A farmer, without a ticket, was looking around the little courtyard beside the building and not moving to get in line for the nummy smelling baked goods. He had a backpack and was constantly checking his watch. Finally he walked out of the courtyard.
Beru and Phoebe nodded at each other and followed him out. The sidewalk was crowded. The morning's little play about the dissolution of the House of Burgesses was in progress. The crowd was surging towards that building and the cats had to keep out of the way of all those feet. Phoebe took the right side of the crowd and Beru took the left. The scene of the Governor proclaiming the dissolution was over and the crowd dispersed around the building. Some went to other parts of the city and some lined up for the guided tours. Others just milled around looking at the building. The suspicious farmer did that. He circled around to the back where almost no one was and bent down as if to tie his shoe and let his back pack slide off. He nudged it next to the building and straightened up. Then he looked around saw the coast was clear, except for a couple of cats and wandered back around front.
Phoebe and Beru looked at each other and again silently communicated. Beru would follow the man while Phoebe would look into the back pack. One might think that a cat, a creature without opposable thumbs, might not be able to open the zipper on a back pack, but one would be wrong. Phoebe was a
M.E.O.W. trained agent and could open doors with doorknobs and undo zippers. She dug her claws into the fabric on the side near the zipper pull and hooked a fang in the large hole on the tab of the zipper. She shook her head to one side while pulling with her claws to the other. The zipper opened about six inches, which was enough to see what was inside. It was a bundle of Semtex and a digital clock counting down. Six and a half hours to go. Phoebe unhooked her claws and pushed the button on her collar and excitedly chattered away. Anyone listening would just think the cat had seen a bird in the tree and was calling to it, when she was relaying the information about the backpack and its contents.
Twenty minutes later the bomb was defused and Beru had chased down and subdued the farmer. Everyone thought they were in the clear. That is until Jed spoke up.
Jed's call came from over by the courthouse. He, too, had followed an unticketed farmer with a back pack. The pack had been set down at the base of the pillory, as if someone had taken it off to take a picture in the pillory and forgot about it. The bomb squad moved over there. They had it defused and were breathing easier when Dale's voice came on the line.
Dale had followed a third farmer and found another backpack next to the Governor's Palace. Its clock also set to go off at 5pm like all the others. The bomb techs moved over there and defused that one too. By this time it was getting to be late after noon.
“Guys, there is something you all ought to know,” spoke up Bobby, one of the bomb techs, over the radio. “None of the Semtex recovered from the bombs today was actually Semtex.”
“What do you mean?” asked Tucker. This was weird. Either the group wasn't as serious as they were reported to be or they were testing security.”
“It's blocks of modeling clay,” Bobby explained.
“Thanks, Bobby,” Tucker said. “Remember just because these bombs were as phony as my Grandmammy's Rolex doesn't mean that the next one won't be the real deal.”
“You expect another?” asked Phoebe's computer voice.
“Sure as shootin',” Tucker said. “So far we've found one every two hours since this place opened for business today and there are still four hours to go. I expect to find at least two more. So keep your eyes peeled.”
The cats redoubled their efforts. It would be easier if any of the three suspects arrested would talk but so far all they'd say was their name, they knew their rights, and the name and contact info of their lawyer. The fact that all three had the same lawyer out of West Virginia did seem to connect them to the plot they were sent down here to foil. Which was good news. Only one group of radicals to deal with.
Three o'clock came and Marley found another suspicious farmer with a back pack hanging around the gunsmith's shop. It was dealt with like the others and was determined to be modeling clay as well. The cats got more and more nervous with each dummy bomb found. Were they a test or a distraction? Either way the next could be real.
At half past four, Phoebe rounded the armory and found an abandoned back pack. No human in sight so she called it in. The bomb guys came and she left, to get out of the range of fire should it go up. It was policy that only those needed to deal with the bomb stayed in range. So she quickly went to join the other cats in the end of the day march to the Revolution. Costumed workers playing the part of the Virginia Army recruiting militia members were teaching tourist volunteers to march in formation. Then with the fife and drum corps leading the way lead the volunteers to the parade grounds before Governor's palace. In the week the cats had been there, they had taken to forming a line behind the volunteers and before the Army. Everyone thought it cute that the local cats got in on the parade so they kept doing it.
The parade reached the green and the volunteers were dismissed behind the ropes and the cats left with them. The marching and musket firing drills proceeded as normal. Then they got to the canon drill. The canon fired, but with a louder BOOM than normal.
“That one was real,” Bobby's voice came over the radio again. “The noise was the detonater being exploded in place.”
“So we can see if we can see who set it,” Beru surmised.
“Exactly,” said Tucker over the radio. “Anyone react different then the others?”
“I think I see a guy who keeps looking over at the armory,” Phoebe said. “Everyone else is cheering the end of the demo.”
“Go get that guy,” commanded Tucker.
The cats circled the guy. He was still looking at the armory and not paying attention to the cats. The five felines circled him and at the same time pounced. The combined weight of two Maine Coons, a Norwegian Forest Cat and two others toppled the man. Each cat took a different area on his body and dug their claws in. Dale radioed it in. Tucker arrived in minutes and arrested the man.
The cats' job being done, the retired to the outdoor seating area of the Raleigh Tavern for supper. The management of the Foundation had been informed who the cats were and what they had done to save the place so the cats were fed like the heroes they were. Big bowls of fresh from the cow cream, huge plates of meat, and finally cat mint custard for desert were laid out before the felines and they dined know their job had been done and done well.