Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Hideout at Sea

Natalia looked over the moonlight on the blue green water and admired the view. It was pretty to look at but she wasn't tempted in the slightest to venture into it. The sea would get her fur wet and salty. As a cat, she had an aversion to being wet and the salt was a pain in the tail to clean. Not to mention, it tasted funny. Even though she didn't want to swim in the Mediterranean Sea that surrounded the latest of her hideouts. Though the term hideout conjures the image of a shack deep in the woods and this was more of a luxury villa on its own island in the French Riviera, but it still served that function. Though hideout wasn't exactly what it was either. It was more like a trap. A trap designed to capture the secret agent cats that M.E.O.W. would send after her.

Natalia might be a former M.E.O.W. agent with no current contacts in the Ministry, but some of her contacts had contacts. So what if the news was second or third hand, it was still news. The latest was all about the mission in Turkey that went sideways. It was bad luck that by keeping her rivals close that she and her followers had been next to where three cats and two M.E.O.W. handlers had died. Natalia knew Lady Gwen and Angus well enough to know they'd be after those responsible and then Natalia and her культ кошки. Hence the retreat to the island.

The island was very nearly cat invasion proof. Natalia and a half dozen cats resided on the island with a similar number of humans. The rest of the культ кошкиhad founded a commune in the hills of the Western United States where they could live in relative peace until it was time to rise up and take out M.E.O.W. once and for all. No cat could get on the island because a boat would be seen from miles away. M.E.O.W. cats might parachute in, but the element of surprise would be lost because the island was not on the regular flight route of planes capable of deploying parachuters and the noise from such a plane would be a dead give away of the plan. The drop from far enough away not to be noticed would be too far for a small cat to make. But if it was tried and a cat made it to shore, there were other anti-cat measures. Empty cardboard boxes, arranged in concentric circles on the ground, would be the first such measure. The boxes would only delay cats as highly trained as M.E.O.W. agents were, but even a delay could be helpful. After the boxes came patches of cat nip. Again, a M.E.O.W. agent wouldn't be stopped, they were trained to work through the high, whether they went manically nuts or became stoned. It would further delay the invasion until Natalia could escape. After the cat nip came the balls of yarns and the feathers on sticks. A delayed cat could be captured and interrogated. That was what the humans were for.

One would think with all the cat traps, the resident felines would succumb to the traps themselves, but they knew where the traps were located and could avoid them. They used the easy paved paths around the island. If the sneaking agents used those paths they would be easily spotted and taken out.

The moonlight had given way to the beautiful yellows, oranges, and blues of dawn. Natalia yawned. It might be early morning but it was late for a cat. She took one last circuit of the island and made sure her traps were ready. Once she was sure no strange cat would breach the island's defenses, she headed into the house.

Natalia made her way to the kitchen, where the cook had made a bedtime meal of chicken tidbits and warm milk waiting for her. After consuming her repast. Natalia visited the necessary box. The litter was fresh and at the perfect depth, so she had bit of fun playing in the stuff. She may have made a bit more of a mess than necessary but that would give the humans something to do later. After shaking the last of the litter from her paws, she padded up stairs to her room.

The room was a corner room with big windows in the South and East walls. Natalia made her way over to the large, soft, velvet cushion positioned in the space where the light from both windows fell. She climbed onto the cushion where the sunlight fell and turned around three times and settled with her head on her crossed paws. After a moment she realized she had forgotten part of her bedtime ritual. She stood up, hopped off the cushion and cleaned her nether regions. Once she had all the last litter bits removed, she returned to her spot in the sun, turned around three times and settled in for her sleep. Sometimes it was very good to be the head of a villainous conglomerate.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cat Cult

Colonel Angus MacDougal led an unprecedented strike force of M.E.O.W. agents. Never in M.E.O.W.'s history had so many agents been deployed together. Sure, during the World Wars, all of M.E.O.W. worked on intelligence but the various clouders were all on unique assignments. This was a strike force of clouders One through Seven, Nine through Seventeen, and Twenty-One. That was seventy cats and forty- two humans. Forty – three humans since Dr. Liz MacDougal insisted on coming along. She wanted to be close in case of injury and with that size of clouder, injury was almost certain. The Turkish Government was warned about the size of the force and had agreed to allow it if the humans blended in.

Angus was dressed like a tourist in cargo shorts and tee shirt with a camera around his neck. Liz was playing the vacationing wife. They were posing for pictures with interesting backgrounds. Some were typical tourist photos at the Grand Bazaar but others were at the scene of the explosion with the zoom on max over Liz's shoulder. They found where the explosives had come from, exactly. It was indeed a rival gang. One with Russian ties and a cat cult religion.

A Russian cat cult sounded strange since before Communism, Russia had been Christian but there were people who had given up on both Communism and Christianity. Those people were looking for something and there was a gang with a seeming feline leader, one who was strong, ruthless, and efficient. The cat cult, 'культ кошки', had attracted a couple dozen former military men and women. The took their security seriously and thus the concussion bombs. Their compound was next to the original target.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Something that was reported that the cat leader Natalia had said, when they had taken over the compound. So культ кошки moved next door to their rivals and started booby trapping the approach. And because their leader was supposedly a cat they planned for attacking forces with cats.

Angus looked closer and saw that while cats had been planned for a force such as he had assembled could defeat the counter measures. It would take most of the humans and half the cats working simultaneously to disable the traps. They would be back tomorrow with the dawn so they had as much time as needed. Now it was time to rendezvous and share intel.

Clouders Number One and Two took off to deal with the intel about the original target while there rest dealt with the культ кошки because an enemy that prepared for an army of cats was the bigger threat. The remaining humans and cats went right to disarming the booby traps. It had to be done simultaneously or they would all go off and kill everyone.

A few hours later, the trap was disarmed and the cats were exploring the compound. Once again it was abandoned but it had been left in a hurry. It took the rest of the day but the compound was searched and the other assets of культ кошки were revealed as well as the next base location. When the majority of the compound had been searched, Clouders Number Three and Four went and joined One and Two in securing the original target.

All the members of the original target gang were rounded up and left to the Turkish authorities. The original mission was completed in the original time frame and the clouders involved went home to other missions. Shortly after their departure, Angus determined that Clouders Number Five, Six, and Seven were better used back at headquarters and on their other missions, as were Clouders Number Fifteen, Sixteen, and Seventeen. This left him with six clouders – twenty- four cats and eighteen humans- a large enough force to face anything that культ кошки could have in store for them.

Angus, Liz, the other humans and the remaining cats packed up for a three and half hour flight to the airport at Nice, France. The humans settled the felines in for a nice nap with easy access to covered water and food bowls and litter boxes should they wake mid flight. Twenty-four cats on a plane was a very interesting proposition. Once the feline agents were settled, the humans found their seats for the flight and tried to get a little rest. There might not be another chance as good for a nap, for either feline or human agents, for a couple days so everyone took advantage of the opportunity.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Not In Vain

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.