The Agents of Clouder Number Nine, all five of the regular felines, the two temporary feline agents, and their human, gathered in the conference room at SPA Headquarters. They were joined by MEOW's Chief Veterinarian and Lady Gwenllian, the Head of MEOW. This wasn't a conference but a celebration to watch the news coverage as the fruits of their last secret mission were finally realized. Two weeks ago, the Clouder had stopped part of London from being blown up and today MI5 was making the last arrest of the conspirators. The news coverage was playing on the projection screen.
“Are you sorry they didn't succeed?” Liz MacDougal, the Chief Veterinarian, asked her husband, Angus, the Clouder's human.
“No,” Angus replied. “Why would I?”
“Because you want an independent Scotland,” she said.
“Aye, I want a free Scotland,” Angus replied. “But that was no the way to go about it. Scotland should be free when all the Scots agree to be a free country. It should be done by law and order not by murder and terror.”
“I'm relieved to hear you say that,” Lady Gwen said as she came up to the couple.
“Why?” Angus said. “Were you worried about my loyalty?”
“I was not,” assured the commanding feline. “The Minister had reservations, at first, about your clouder being the one assigned to the mission. I assured him of your loyalty.”
“And when did he believe ye?” Angus asked.
“About the time you were reported to be disassembling the bomb,” Lady Gwen said as she walked away.
Angus let out a string of Gaelic profanity that was as impressive in its creativity as it was in its length. Liz laughed and put her hand on her husband's arm. His tirade slowed and stopped altogether. He had a thought of how would she know what the Minister was saying and when he quit saying it, seeing as she was in the tunnel with him at the time.
“How would ye know?” Angus asked. “Ye were with me at the time, my Lady.”
“Do you think that the Clouder's comm is the only one I have in my ear?” Lady Gwen said cryptically as she strolled away.
“Well, she told you,” laughed Liz, as she and Angus watched the fluffy white cat walk away with her head and tail held high.
“She sure did,” agreed Angus. “I keep thinking of her as a cat and forgetting that she runs MEOW. She can multi-task better than some people I know.”
Nala walked over to them and rubbed against Angus's leg, wrapping her tail around his bare knee. He bent down and scritched her behind the ear. She walked away, wobbly on her feet.
Nala was halfway across the room when she fell over. She tried to get up but couldn't.
Liz rushed to the cat's side and examined her. She pulled out her phone and pressed the emergency speed dial.
“Molly,” Liz said as she scooped the Russian Blue feline up. “Prep the IV. Nala's jaundiced.”
Angus opened the door for his wife and her feline burden. Liz nodded her thanks as she walked swiftly from the room.
Angus turned to the other cats. Beru and Rhys had noticed something was wrong and came to twine between his feet. He squatted down and petted them.
“Liz will take care of her,” Angus reassured the two cats.
“Who is Liz taking care of?” asked the computer voice of Lady Gwen.
“Nala,” Angus answered. “She just collapsed and Liz called for emergency preparations.”
“Keep me posted,” Lady Gwen said. “I was going to keep this til later, but with the wrap up of this mission done, Clouder Number Nine has earned some down time. Barring emergencies that the other Clouders can't handle, Number Nine has a month of leave. Starting today. Except the new recruit,” she stared at Rhys.
“Yes, my Lady?” Rhys's Welsh accented computer voice answered.
“You start training tomorrow,” she answered. “Try to keep up with the kittens.”
“I'll make you proud,” Rhys answered.
Lady Gwen nodded at him. He may have been a street cat but he'd be a good, if older recruit than normal. She was sure he'd do as he said and she looked forward to him showing up the kittens. She walked out of the room.
“So anyone have plans for their leave?” asked Beru.
“Not until after we find out about Nala,” returned the Irish woman's voice of Fiona.
“Of course,” Beru said. “I have to return home but I'll delay it by a few days. But my service is anxious for me to get back.”
“Of course they are,” Angus said. “Whatever is wrong with Nala, Liz and her team will take care of it and there is not much any of us can do that they canna.”
The debriefing/ party ended and the Clouder and their human went to their quarters to wait for news of their compatriot. Angus sat on the couch and soon found himself covered in concerned cats. Rhys on his lap. Beru snuggled up to his right leg and Erik on his left. Alex draped himself over Angus's left shoulder and Fiona lay on the back of the couch with her chin resting on his right. Phoebe, returning to behavior not seen since she was a kitten, draped herself across his head. Angus didn't mind, he liked having his clouder close but this was a little ridiculous though he understood.
The conference screen in the Clouder's quarters blinked on. Liz, on the other end of the video feed had to repress the urge to laugh. It was not a sight seen often, her strong husband covered in cats. They all appeared to be napping. She hated to wake them but she had news. She hit the button for the chime to alert them to her presence on the screen.
The cats awoke at the sound and shifted to more dignified positions. The shifting of clawed creatures woke Angus and he looked at the screen.
“What news?” he asked. The cats all came to attention, waiting anxiously for what Liz would say.
“Nala is extremely jaundiced and we need to MRI her liver,” Liz said. “Right now she's on an IV to stabilize and then after the MRI, if it shows what I think it will, we'll need put in a feeding tube. She'll need round the clock care here for a couple weeks and then some at home, with us, Angus.”
“Aye, she'll convalesce with us,” agreed the big Scot.
“But she should get better,” Liz assured the clouder. Relieved purring came from all around Angus at that news. “My understanding is that you all have been aloud some leave, when you get back Nala should be fine.”
The screen blinked off. The cats scattered to make their preparations for their various other destinations. Angus was left on the couch with Rhys, who had no preparations to make.
“Weel, then,” Angus said. “We should get you to the training dormitory.”
Rhys rubbed his head against Angus's jaw and purred. Rhys could train knowing his only feline friend would be alright. He's train and be good enough to earn his spot on Clouder Number Nine by the time she was fully operational.
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