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Agent 5764’s Soured Mission
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Jeremy was believed to be in so deep in that no one, not even 5765, could find him. Turns out we were mistaken. Jeremy proved to be a turncoat hedgehog of the worst sort. He was working for the international cadre of felines!

“Chief, Code Blue. Willy, Wally, Sally, and Tali slipped from position. We’re in trouble. Over.”

“5764, I read you. Over.”

“Alley cats sighted. Over.” Moggies seem to be more effective in neutralizing agents than falling acorns, pinecones projectiles, or visiting dignitaries. In 2010, a clowder deactivated Koningbed. Whereas one of his littermates assumed his station, an accident, involving a hungry Irish Setter, took her out.

“Code Bluish Grey. The cats found Willy, Wally, Sally and Tali. Over.”

“5764, deny all knowledge. If captured, you’re obliged to bite that pill. Instant death. Over.”

Bunnies and gophers! If I hadn’t been delayed by jock itch, we’d still have a prickle of retainers. I didn’t want to die. I couldn’t; someone had to make sure that Tali’s family received his pension. He had worked for the Service for half of his life.  

I loathed Jeremy. I loathed the clime’s heat, I was, from the get go, distracted by fungus sprouting on my personal parts.              

“5764, do you read? Over.”

“I read. Over.”

This process, which Big Fur is chaperoning, of making peace between Hola Valley Spore and Jordanian Dust Mites, is getting expensive in agents’ deaths.

“5764, stay out of sight. Over.”

I ought to have read the briefing paper prior to boarding Big Fur’s aircraft. Instead, I had my snoot on the bulletins about dirty bombs. While the locals seemed to favor IWI Tavors, the rebels prefer Molotovs crammed with nails and stones.

Ten prickles’ worth of soldiers, plus additional squadrons of field-savvy fighters, allegedly, had secured the streets. My team was to provide backup and to secure select sidewalks.

Intentionally, we sacrificed a few parakeets to the cause. Those second class citizens hadn’t observed any cats. It was an insurgent rock hyrax did them in. Critter must have had rabies to try to eat hedgehogs.

Inhaling, I evaluate the goings on. Enemy special forces are in cohorts with Jeremy’s league. There is no other explanation for the demise of Willy, Wally, Sally, and Tali. Those operatives had had the best, most reliable intelligence.

What’s more, half of an hour ago, when Big Fur’s motorcade started, Sammy and Pammy had been parked in front of a hospital. They, too, failed to sight the dumpster cats. They, too, had been switched off.

Sammy and Pammy remained wormy while standing guard. A nasty parasite, found only in lands situated between the Mesopotamia River and the Nile, had been bothering them before the mission. Forensics thinks it hitched a ride with the Egyptian storks. Nicks, though, told me that he thought the sudden infestation was no accident. To Sammy and Pammy, he had handed generous pawfuls of luminal drugs.

“5764, do you read? Over.”

“I read. Over.”

Sammy and Pammy’s discomfort had been more of a misery than an itch; it’s impossible to scratch when standing at parade rest. At least, upon getting eaten, they ceased to suffer.

Although it’s awful to see a mate getting mauled, it’s far worse to listen to that sort of mangling over a headset. Once the Big Fur’s proxy vehicle passed, I temporarily changed the channel on my receiver.

I wagered that our head Erinaceomorpha had snuck into the crowd using sunglasses and a baseball hat. The proxy car’s passage meant he was secure. In balance, maybe Big Fur didn’t pose as a sports nut and mingle with onlookers.

Sometimes, the Service disguises him as a senior citizen and rushes him to wherever he has to be. Alternatively, maybe the proxy vehicle was a double decoy and he was actually aboard.

I regard my screen, again, but see no trace of Sammy and Pammy’s viscera. I only spot several bedraggled-looking critters sniffing around the scene of their murder. I know that those disheveled sorts are not homeless, but are some of our agents.

I scroll down another screen. Bless these SIG Sauer P229s. That’s one exploded street cat. Cover’s blown, though.

“5764, get out. Over.”

I get out, but Daniella gets caught. Shucks! There was another puss lurking.

Her family will not cope well, even with college stipends getting locked into an account for her latest litter. Cancel that; payout to dependents was cut by Big Fur last year. Blasted whispers and whiskers! Her family will receive a lump sum, which will likely be spent long before those juveniles need their education.

More cats converging. I see why this place spooks our leader. Whereas China deals with organized mosquitos and Mozambique puts down crocodiles with attitude, those beasts can’t compare to furry terrorists with both claws and incisors.

I wish I were home, where the fiercest combatants I face are neighborhood moles that lay claim, annually, to my carrots and radishes. As it is, I’m waiting for 5765 to guide me in.

“5764, it’s 5765. Over.”

“I read. Over.”

“Shadow Boss Coon. He’s leaving from the elementary school in five, four, three, two, one. Over.”

“I read. Over.”

Big Fur’s cranky. I hate being his babysitter. At least his guards have JARs and KAC SR-25/Mk11 Mod 0s. I’ll get out alive.

We stuff Big Fur back onto his plane. Only an arrogant dude would consent to being disguised as a large, black masked, ring-tailed mammal. We grunts are proud of being furze-pigs.

Titus eyeballs me. Like me, he detests special ops. It’s a pity he couldn’t kill that traitor, Jeremy.

The Chief’s plane lifts. Soon, we’re in international air space. I don’t envy 5765 his job.

A tear rolls down my snout. Sammy and Pammy were skilled hedgehogs and great bridge players. They will be missed.

Titus slides over to my seat, his gear still in place, one of his nasty guns still in his paws. He punches me in the shoulder and nods in my direction.

I look up.

He gestures with his head, but puts a paw to his face in the universal expression for “say nothing.”

Big Fur is slouched over his juice cup and is snoring like a badger.

I look at Titus, and he looks at me. We won’t be able to sell our smartphone pictures, but we’ll still enjoy taking them.




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