Tuesday, November 29, 2016

St. Andrew's Day

Colonel Angus MacDougal, an SAS officer, proud Scot, and chief cat herder for the Ministry of Espionage, Observation, and Whiskers, strolled into the gym at headquarters humming “Flower of Scotland”. His kilt of the day wasn't the usual utility kilt made out of ripstop cotton. It was a traditional wool short kilt in the MacDougal Clan Tartan. His usual outfit had cargo pockets instead of the sporran he wore today.

“What's the occasion?” asked the computer voice of the old white Persian cat currently doing pull ups on the cat sized TRX machine.

“It is November 30th,” the tall man replied.

“Ah,” Lady Gwenllian, the cat, said as she dropped to the ground. “Scotland's National Holiday.”

“Aye,” Angus said as he stepped up onto the treadmill to begin his morning workout. That was the thing about being back at base – regular hours and a schedule. The schedule meant he could get in a proper workout rather than just a run and some stretches.

“I'll allow the unusual clothing choice today,” Lady Gwen said. “But see that you are in uniform tomorrow.”

“I will, ma'am,” Angus said.

Lady Gwen nodded at Angus as she walked by and eyed his knees. She resisted the urge to wrap her tail around his leg and left the gym. She was headed to the showers to wash her fur.
Angus completed his workout, ending with twenty tire flips to celebrate the workout. He took his own shower and started his work day. He did performance reviews of the secretarial staff at headquarters, set up interviews of the new class of feline computer geek agents for Clowder Number Nine, and filled out the requisition forms for some new types of litter. This litter was supposed to feel nice under the paw and lock in odors so it smells fresh every time. Angus would believe it when the cats had thoroughly tested it.

Lunch came and Angus went to go take the meal with Nala, Alex, and Phoebe. After he set his tray down at the table and the meals had been served for the cats, Angus noticed what the cook had prepared - Cullen Sink, a traditional Scottish stew made with smoked haddock. He took a deep inhale of the smell of home. If it tasted as good as it smelled, when he got back to his office he'd upgrade his evaluation on the cooks from great to truly excellent. He tasted it and he could have sworn it was just like his Grandma used to make. Clearly he had some evaluations to redo.

“Colonel MacDougal,” Nala's computer voice interrupted his enjoyment of his meal.

“Yes, Nala,” Angus said as he swallowed his food.

“Have you found any candidates for our tech feline?” Phoebe asked.

“A few of the new class might work,” Angus said. “But they are awfully young.”

“Meow,” said Alex. He hadn't turned on the voice interpretation feature of his collar.

“Not all kittens are that young,” Angus said. “You did just fine but the question is do you all want another kitten or a more experienced cat?”

“I don't think we are particularly picky about the age of our tech cat,” Nala said. “Just so long as the new cat fits in with the rest of us.”

“Aye, that is important,” Angus agreed. “We'll take our time and find the right cat.”

After that they all dug into their meal. Angus ruminated on just what qualities a cat would need to fit in. The feline would need to be good at computers, that was a given. They would also need to be able to put up with the Fifis and their mysterious ways. And Nala's aristocratic bearing and Alex's kittenish ways. The cat would have to be very good at their job, almost instinctual reactions, and that usually came with experience. They'd try the kittens and then work their way through the more experienced cats and see if any wanted a transfer to Clowder Number Nine. Most cats liked the clowder they were with but occasionally a cat wouldn't fit so well and would welcome the opportunity to transfer clowders.

Angus was the last to finish his meal, so he left the empty table. After busing his dishes and those of his feline companions, he noticed the time. Almost one. He had a few minutes to make it Lady Gwen's office.

He arrived right on time. Lady Gwen bid him to enter when he knocked. He entered and sat in the human chair that faced the large desk. The was a large crimson velvet cushion with gold piping and tassels. The surface of the desk was scattered with papers and a monitor was on the other end. A key board with larger than usual keys sat next to the cushion so the white fluffy Persian cat can use the keyboard and look at the monitor.

“Colonel MacDougal,” the slight Welsh accented computer voice of the cat said. “You asked for this meeting. So what can I do for you?”

“My Lady,” Angus began. “We have talked about the fraternization rules before.”

“We have,” agreed Lady Gwen. “In regards to Rhys Llewelyn and Nala Grey.”

“That's who I want to talk about,” agreed Angus.

“I'm prepared to look the other way whilst they are courting, here at headquarters but not out in the field on missions or during field training,” Lady Gwen said.

“That's fair,” Angus said.

“But I'm not prepared to let them be on the same clowder,” Lady Gwen declared.

“Neither wants to leave their current assignments,” Angus said.

“Good,” Lady Gwen said. “But we've already been over all of this, so why this meeting?”

“I wanted to know what your position would be, if they went beyond dating?” asked Angus.

“Do you know it will become more serious?” Lady Gwen inquired. “Did Mr. Llewelyn ask you to ask me about my position before he asked Nala? I would have thought he would have the courage to ask me himself.”

“He doesn't know I'm asking,” Angus assured her. “I'm asking because I know the cats that work for me and Rhys will ask me before he asks Nala and I wanted an answer when he does.”

“Well then,” Lady Gwen said. “I will treat their engagement and marriage in the same manner as their courtship.”

“I will tell Rhys when he asks,” said Angus.

“Anything else, Colonel?” Lady Gwen said as she turned her attention to the computer monitor.

“No mum,” Angus said as he rose.

“Then you're dismissed,” Lady Gwen said as she got involved in the information on the computer.

Angus stood up, saluted, and left the office. As soon as the door closed, he broke into a smile. He was looking forward to the marriage of the two cats. He knew that was where their relationship was going. It was a matter of time. He needed to get Clowder Number Nine fully staffed, so that when the inevitable honeymoon happened, they could do without Nala for a time. Clowder Number Nine could use the happy news.

Angus went on his way. Today was a good day. Hopefully the next few weeks would have more good days than bad.

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