Lady Gwenllian, Directress of Ministry of Espionage Observation and Whiskers, really hated this part of her job. The interviewing of the kitten recruits was exhausting (she hadn't been a kitten in a couple decades so keeping up was a challenge), the pinning on of badges to the graduating kittens was rewarding, and seeing cats succeed where human intelligence agents failed was satisfying. But seeing small coffins draped with the Union Jack was the part that made her reconsider her job. Maybe it was time to retire. After all she was approaching the dreaded 2-0. Not many cats, even pampered pets, made it to twenty. She had been extremely lucky in her career to have no major injuries and to have avoided serious illness. It also didn't hurt to have the best feline veterinarian on staff. But there were things that even Dr. Elizabeth MacDougal couldn't fix and that was why she was in the chapel of MEOW Headquarters staring at three flag-draped cat coffins. There were also two human sized coffins with flags over them in another chapel waiting another service.
The humans of Clouder Number Eight would have their service tomorrow at the Birmingham base that was their recorded duty assignment. The humans of MEOW would attend both services, but Lady Gwenllian would only attend this one. She would be there if she could but it would be strange to have a cat attend the service of two SAS officers killed in the line of duty. She would have to rely on Colonel MacDougal to represent her and MEOW.
Clouder Number Eight had gone on what was supposed to be simple recon mission. But the first rule, as always quoted to new recruits, is “What looks simple, never, ever is.” The mission went sideways from the moment the Clouder landed in Istanbul.
Major John Kincade had reported their arrival and that the customs agent was approaching the plane. The next thing anyone had heard was two days later when Snowball had called in the distress call that three cats were down as well as the two humans. Send help now.
Clouders Number Ten and Twenty-One had gone in and returned – a little battered and a little worse for wear, but alive. They rescued the remaining cats and returned with the bodies. The rescue clouders tried to determine what had gone wrong but it wasn't exactly clear. Near as they could make out was that Clouder Number Eight had gotten caught up in turf war between their surveillance target group and a rival.
The original target was thought too extreme by the rival. The rival thought to stop them by blowing them up. The cats had managed to identify the threat and defuse the explosives. Except there had been a smaller explosive triggered by the disarmament. It was a concussive blast that would have only knocked out a human but cats are much smaller. Major Kincade and Lieutenant Jones each worked on the explosive device with help of Sparkles and Bane, respectively. The secondary explosion went off. Sparkles and Bane were killed and the humans were injured. The Major and Lieutenant survived to get the cats back to the rendezvous point and went back out with Fluffy.
Fluffy had gone into the rival's camp and brought back good intel. Unfortunately one of the sentries followed her and saw the humans. A fight broke out and while normally one man against two SAS commandos would end badly for the one man, the two SAS men were injured. Fluffy got in the way and now the re injured Major got her out as the more hurt Lieutenant took care of the sentry. Both men made it back to the rendezvous point before succumbing to their injuries. Fluffy hadn't made it either. Snowball, Rexxy, and Sushi had various cuts, scrapes, and Sushi had a broken leg, but they made it back.
Lady Gwen looked at the coffins again. She made a silent promise, to the dead, that M.E.O.W. would get the bastards that did this.
“We'll get those bastards,” Colonel Angus MacDougal said as he entered the chapel. He was in his dress uniform, not the usual utility kilt.
“I was just promising that same thing,” said Lady Gwen's computer voice. “It is M.E.O.W.'s number one mission – bring down both organizations.”
Angus was about to speak up.
“Of course the continued tracking of Natalia will be mission number two,” Lady Gwen continued. “I have a feeling that mission one will lead to two. That rival gang seemed to be on the look out for cats.”
“Very good, mum,” Angus replied as the door to the chapel opened and the Vicar and the other mourners filed in. Soon the first of two funerals, Angus would attend in as many days, began. Then he would take his clouder and others to make sure that these funerals weren't in vain.