Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Land of My Fathers

The Agents of M.E.O.W. moved their mobile command from Lille to Lyon when Wales advanced from the Quarterfinals to the Semifinals. The crowds got bigger and more exuberant. The cats were needed more than ever as a rise in pickpockets came with the excited crowds. Drunk excited fans were the perfect hunting grounds for the pickpockets and others who would steal from the careless so the local law enforcement needed all the help they could get. The few commanders who knew about the cats were skeptical but willing to have the help. Rhys and Myfi were excited both for their work and because their beloved Wales Football Club had advanced further than ever before. They were proud they could be there for the historic moment and help keep their countrymen safe.

Angus walked down the streets of Lyon, keeping his eye out for trouble, with Rhys at his heels. The fans bedecked in Welsh red shirts and Daffodil hats were everywhere singing, laughing and drinking. It was a party the likes of which hadn't been seen before. The singing, which could be heard coming out of every pub and bar, was a mixture of French and Welsh bar songs with an occasional song having English lyrics.

The four days between games became a party and the Agents of M.E.O.W. were the private security. They arrested several thieves, a few drunken fans who just needed to sleep it off, and a few who had let bar debates become shoving matches but no threats to the game itself had manifested. It was rapidly becoming one of the easiest test assignments ever. Just enough real world experience to count but nothing like what the class of August of 1996 had to deal with in Atlanta. That had included crowd control of a panicked crowd after explosives had gone off. That class was a M.E.O.W. legend.

At last Wednesday dawned. The Agents of M.E.O.W. moved to the stadium to make sure no one was bringing in contraband. The cats were doing the sniffing and then coughing up hairballs on the suspect's feet routine, and it had become routine. A few pickpockets, people trying to bring illicit substances but no extremists doing dastardly things. The cat patrol moved into the stadium.

The game started and the excitement grew. Rhys and Myfi, as the only Welsh cats, kept one eye on the game and one on their job. When the play drew to a close and Wales was down two points to none, they joined their fellow countrymen in signing their national anthem. Chatter on their ear pieces told them that after the end of “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, they needed to get back to keeping the peace.

The celebrations on both sides continued the next day. The cats were assigned to keep the Welsh players safe. The Portuguese security could take care of their own players. Thus it was that the cats flew back to Cardiff in style, on the Welsh team plane. The players, coaches and a few family members, human M.E.O.W. agents, and the dozen cats made for an interesting flight.

Rhys was walking back from the cat carrier that held the litter box when little Alba Bale, the three year old daughter of Gareth Bale, reached out and picked him up. She settled into the seat and petted Rhys. Rhys had lived on the street long enough to be pleased when someone petted him. He settled down and purred.

“Here, Daddy,” little Alba said as she dumped the cat on her father's lap. Her mother escorted her to one of the lavatories.

Rhys looked up into the startled eyes of the Welsh football star. The footballer shrugged and petted the cat. Clearly being handed a security cat wasn't the strangest thing his daughter had handed him. The cat settled in and purred.

Ten minutes before the plane landed, Angus and the other M.E.O.W. humans rounded up the cats and placed them by twos into cat crates. Everyone on the plane knew who they were but the people in the airport and at passport control didn't. The cats only worked as spies if their existence wasn't common knowledge.

Nala and Rhys were placed in the same carrier. They talked all the way through the airport and passport control and as they were loaded on to the bus for the victory parade.

“You look dazed,” Nala started as they were loaded onto the trolley to exit the plane.

“Gareth Bale petted me,” Rhys said dreamily. “I'm never washing my fur again.”

“Really?” Nala asked. “You'd be less stealthy if your targets could smell you coming.”

“Spoil sport,” Rhys said. “I'll wash before I get that bad, I promise.”

They were silent as Angus handed over their paperwork. The passport agent was slightly surprised when he scanned the papers and it gave him instructions to let the cats through without being quarantined. The decision came from high up. On their heads be it if these cats brought some weird disease into the country.

“How would you feel if that Sam fellow from that Outlander show petted you?” Rhys asked once they were out in the airport concourses again.

“I only watch that show because it is better than the horror movies or sportsball options that are available in sick bay,” Nala said primly.

“Really?” Rhys asked. “Then why do you and Liz have a date to watch the season finale on Sunday?”

“How do you know about that?” Nala asked surprised. Rhys gave her a look that said 'Spy cat, remember?' “Right. Liz likes watching the show because that Sam guy reminds her of Angus.”

“Angus has blonder hair but I can see it,” Rhys agreed.

They were loaded on the bus to wait for everyone else and their luggage.

“So tell me why this team gets a hero's welcome when they lost,” Nala said.

“Because no Welsh team has ever made it past the quarter finals in a major international competition. This team made it to the semi finals and we're exceedingly proud,” Rhys answered. “To us they are heroes.”

“Oh,” Nala said. The bus started up for the trip to Cardiff proper. Angus released the cats from the carriers and the dozen felines took their stations to exit the bus and walk beside it in the parade. The cats would look like strays from the neighborhood and keep an eye on the crowd. Once parade duty was done they'd return to headquarters and their next adventure.

2 comments:

  1. All caught up again! The stories continue to delight. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you still like he stories. =)

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