Friday, February 28, 2014

Insert Bundles of Fluff Here


The white cat clambered out of the tangle of silken sheets, his emotions still racing but slowly being replaced by bafflement. He peered down, unable to resist the cat urge to wash himself. He then shook, and jumped off the bed and onto the rug.

And then there was a Librarian in the room. Something was wrong; he could feel it. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind and school his breathing to calm.

Then he felt it; an overwhelming pull, as if someone had thrown a rope around his spirit and was yanking him backwards. Almost as soon as he realised it, he was a cat again, the edge of the bed a foot above his head.
The violet eyes blinked, then scowled, and he transformed back. Now he was certain something bad was going on, he turned to the door, but realised two things before he put a hand on the handle.

One, he remembered what he had been doing, and his eyes returned to the bed. There was a scrabbly movement underneath the pile of sheets, and a squeak of alarm; he tugged back the silk, and there lay a beautiful black bicolour cat, with four clear white socks and large round mint-green eyes.

"Meow!" said the cat.


His jaw hanging open, he forgot himself and the world heightened again as he was pulled back to feline form. With a grunt he changed back for the third time, and scooped up the cat on the bed, who purred and rubbed her head on his bare chest.

"Ah…" Adrian thought, remembering the second thing…and just what he had been doing. Going a lovely shade of raspberry he glanced down and realised he was stark naked.

He let the cat jump back onto the bed and pulled on the nearest, cleanest clothes. He tossed a ubiquitous trenchcoat over an arm, picked up the cat again, and headed out of his room.

"Holy…!" He saw a lot more cats as he hurried down the corridors, and more worryingly, piles of clothes…he had a slowly-developing idea of where to go, hoping he was wrong…he stepped over and wove around cats as he went towards the tech labs.

A kind of vague pop tune floated out as he got closer to the labs, reminding Adrian somewhat of Velcro in the sound of it. As he peered round the doorway, he saw the only occupant in the lab obliviously humming along to the song, fiddling with a screwdriver and the back of a Walkie-Talkie.

Usually the tech labs were relatively bustling…he answered the question of where the others were as a tabby nearly tripped him up on his dart from Chevila's bonnet to the door.

There was also a large-ish rectangular machine on a trolley with its case off and smoking a little.

"Emily…" he ventured.

"Waa!" The young girl jumped about a foot and dropped her screwdriver. "Oh, Adrian! Sorry. I was jus' rewiring the talkie…"

"Yeah…" he turned to the rather sorry-looking machine, remembering what it was…

"I was gonna say but I forgot. The Anthropomorphiser kinda broke and started spitting sparks so I had to use the fire extinguisher on it. I went into it to fix it, so it's okay now."

Her voice beamed with confidence. "How did it break?" he asked warily, with the cat in his arms scrabbling onto his chest to rest her head on his shoulder.

"I was wanting to test it. You know, I think it has too many controls, it's like it Blue Screened on me."

This machine, a very new prototype invention of the techies, was designed to assist getting non-shapeshifting agents into anthropomorphic fandoms, from anything between Thundercats to The Jungle Book, hence the rather long name. Different levels between a hundred and zero controlled the amount of anthropomorphism created. Becoming alarmed, he approached it and wiped the soot away from its screen…

"Please don't be completely animal… please!"

It was on level two… the only thing missing was the mating instincts…

He sighed; at least that was better than he feared. He lost it again and was suddenly looking up at the Anthropomorphiser with the black cat on top of him; lights were still on within it, and machinery was still whirring.

He changed back; Emily hadn't noticed as she retrieved her screwdriver. He plonked the black cat onto the tabletop.

"Awww! Cute kitty!" Emily squeaked immediately. "Hello! Where'd you come from?"

"Emily… the Anthropomorphiser is still on…"

"Yeah I know. It'll reboot itself after it's cooled down and then it'll be working again."

"It's still emitting the transforming wave…"

"Oh it's okay, it hasn't been tested yet."

"Emily… that's Tash…"

She paused, looking up at him.

"You've made it work – but too well, and now it's broken…" he said, the truth dawning. "You've turned everyone in the Library apart from yourself into a cat!"


It had taken them two long, scratch-filled hours but at last every cat in the Library had been rounded up and placed in the same room, which had been piled up with cushions and boxes that were expendable if the cats decided to shred them. They had counted twenty-seven in total; Adrian had sent word to all those who were still out on missions or on holiday, and thus unaffected, to hole up somewhere in the fandom they were in and avoid returning to the Library until they had this issue sorted.

Emily longed to be in that room to play with the cats. Adrian had noted that every tail shot vertically into the air when they saw her; the cats also very interested in snuggling with and sitting upon the girl when they could get the chance. However he had sent her back off to the tech labs to sort out the problem with the machine – she had gone only through protest and Adrian's promise she could return later with cat toys and a camera.

Grouping the cats into one room kept them within view, but Adrian had a feeling that he needed to keep them distracted or there might be trouble, especially amongst the men. He was trying to think of a way of sectioning off the corridors that a nimble feline couldn't jump over or crawl through. They seemed to be more interested in him being in the room however, so he took the opportunity to figure which cat was who. He had a packet of markers and a long roll of white elasticated ribbon to tie round each cat's neck.

He pulled the white-socked black cat onto his lap first. "I know exactly who you are, catling," he said to kitty-Tash, stroking behind her ears and listening to her contented purr. He cut a length of ribbon and wrote Tash's name on the fabric, letting the ink dry for a moment before offering the un-inked part for her to sniff. He gently eased it under her chin and tied it around her neck, trimming the knot ends so it would be comfortable. The ribbon was stretchy enough to allow the cat to escape if it was caught dangerously and also to not choke them when they were turned back to human form, but he made it just tight enough to not allow them to scrabble it off themselves. He then placed kitty-Tash back on the floor sporting her new accessory, and she rubbed against his legs and curled up beside him.

He then looked around. One cat, an ordinary brown tabby with white patches on its belly and paws, threaded through the milling crowd and meowed loudly at Adrian.

"Hello, who are you?" Adrian said, picking the cat up and setting it on his lap.

"Meow!" said the cat.

"Uh… huh. You're just meowing. Umm, let's see…" He stroked the cat a few times to calm it, then with red cheeks and not believing he was having to do this, tentatively lifted the tail up to check the gender.

"Meow?" The cat blinked in surprise.

"Ah. Yes. Male. Okay. Er…"

"Meow!" The cat headbutted him gently.

"You're trying to alert me… to something wrong. So that means…" Adrian then noticed a smaller, slightly fluffier cat sat at his feet with its round copper eyes on the cat on his lap. "I think you're Michael?"

The cat's ears twitched at the sound of his name.

"Bingo," said Adrian, writing another ribbon and tying it round kitty-Michael's neck. "And that means you…" he said, letting him jump off and picking up the patient cat, double-checking under the tail, " – must be Claire."

Kitty-Claire purred in response, watching him write her ribbon. She was a calico, white separating the blotches of dual colour, but whereas the two other calicos in the room were black and orange with varying levels of white, she was a pale grey and cream. "Aren't you exquisite. There you go."

He picked up the next cat, a fluffy silver-tabby-and-white, who was much lighter than the other examples of grey in the room, which verged into the dark bluish slate colours. This cat meowed and flailed a little in his grip, and when set on his lap, turned and practically leapt onto his chest, licked the underside of his chin and nuzzled.

"Okay, you're Alice, I've never seen a cat who's actually tried to glomp me before," laughed Adrian, writing her ribbon out. The silver tabby was curious, trying to bite the lid of his pen. She sniffed the ribbon, sneezing as she came across the ink, which allowed him to slip it round her neck. "Now don't you go pouncing on everyone, young lady," he said.

"Meow!" kitty-Alice said happily, accepting a tickle on her neck before leaping down. Adrian followed her path, realising that the cats might be grouping together, and scooped up the tortoiseshell that she tried to leap upon.

"Hello there," said Adrian.

The tortoiseshell, a subtle mottling of orange and black with a single white sock, made a small noise and looked up at him. Adrian looked at her – as he discovered when he lifted the bushy tail, much to the cat's chagrin – then noted kitty-Alice's playful jumping from beside him, trying to catch the tail…

"Louise?" he enquired, and the cat's ears twitched and she meowed softly. "Aww. It's all right, catling. Here, have a ribbon."

He placed kitty-Louise back on the floor, whereupon she was immediately jumped upon by the silver tabby. He picked up a grey-and-white bicolour from nearby, the clear white arranged in a 'tuxedo' pattern against the fine steel-coloured coat. The cat crouched on Adrian's lap, his tail lowered; a clear submissive position, and a frightened one at that.

He stroked the cat gently for a while, trying to reassure him. Alice and Louise were at his feet. He knew exactly who this cat was; one who was still somewhat uncomfortable around Adrian at times.

"You must be Robert," he said, watching the twitch of a response. Kitty-Robert meowed quietly and curled up all the more. Trying to write the ribbon with one hand, he kept up the supporting strokes, talking softly and slowly drawing the ribbon around his neck so as not to startle him. He then picked him up and knocked over one of the stacked floor cushions, placing him on it and watching the two girls go to join him.

Adrian then managed to catch a particular annoyance of his – one cat who was forever pretending to be someone else, in her amusement changing her fur pattern every few minutes when he wasn't looking!

"Your eyes are giving you away, girl," he grinned at the cat in his arms, returning to his chair. Kitty-Phoenixia turned herself completely white and rolled onto her back, batting at Adrian's hand; her violet eyes, even more unnatural in cats than it was in humans, were the one unchanging thing, allowing him to spot her easily. She got a ribbon, and was shooed off.

He was getting better at identifying the agents. The cinnamon Van pattern who liked digging in the piles of cushions was Dave; he squirmed like the billy-oh when Adrian checked under his tail, though what really gave him away was the flash of luminous green in the otherwise amber eyes when his current pile of cushions toppled onto him. Kitty-Jess also struggled, quite considerably too, as if he had interrupted her love of tackling things. She was mostly white with a few black spots.

He finally found Valerie, who he noticed was weaving through all the cats and rubbing heads, purring softly and on a few occasions licking ears or necks compassionately. The cat, an Abyssinian-esque ticked tabby in a pale flecked fawn with a few residual brown markings on her head, ears, legs and tail and a white belly, also seemed to be shepherding some of the other cats away from the doors. She responded immediately to the sound of her name, bounding towards Adrian to sniff his hand.

The next cat he labelled he treated with the utmost care, for the fur was very long and silky, hovering around the ankles as it walked and settling into a soft mound when it sat. The tail was long and thick, making it troublesome to check the gender; the cat squirmed and sat down on Adrian's lap.

He took a moment to marvel at the almost ethereal-looking fur, knowing it would lead him to an answer. She was mostly white, but unlike all the other instances of white in the room, which were solid and bright like the colour of fresh milk, this white was tipped with silver so that it shimmered softly as she moved. The effect reminded him of moonlight. What also gave it away were the patches of light blue – actual blue – on the ears, back and tail.


It was surprising how elegant Aster looked in cat form, and Adrian was very careful when he tied the ribbon on her neck. It compressed the Persian-esque ruff, and made her look a bit silly. She meowed indignantly at him.

"Sorry, catling," he chuckled, placing her back on the floor.

He then turned his attention to a pair of cats in the corner: the second calico, patched orange and black almost everywhere aside from a white belly and chin. It was playing with a small milk pan and carried a butter knife in its mouth, placing the utensil in the pan and taking it out again. The only thing that could be seen of the second was a pair of teal-green eyes glowing in the shadows; it joined in the game of 'find-the-butter-knife'.

Adrian picked up the calico, pretty certain of who it was. A quick check under the tail – and a shocked hiss from the cat – confirmed it.

"Hello, Rhia," he said, carrying her to his chair to make her a ribbon. She pawed at him playfully, tempting the second cat from the corner; she leapt down newly-ribboned, and Adrian swooped upon her partner, trying to slip away.

Adrian was nearly scratched as he checked under the tail. The slender cat was a jet black self, reflecting grey in the light and with no sign of rusting at all.

"Even as a cat, Cristoph, you're still a ninja…" said Adrian. Kitty-Cristoph struggled as he tried to tie the white ribbon round his neck. "Yes I am making you more noticeable. I know." He set the cat, who was more long squirming legs than body, down next to kitty-Rhia, who purred and rubbed against him, their tails entwining.

Harriet was easy to detect, as she was the grey marbled tabby playing with a cricket ball. Tom, also a grey but a ticked tabby similar to Valerie, took a little thinking – and more squirms – as he checked the tail, but Adrian realised that most of the archaeologists in the room were enjoying digging their way into (and through!) piles of cushions as if in search of treasure. He also identified the last calico in the room, who bore only a sprinkling of orange and browny-black across her otherwise-white ears and back, as Karissa, simply by the virtue of sneaking round all the other cats before she made herself noticeable by falling over dizzy.

He also realised that the groups were definitely hanging together. He tempted the next two closer by clucking gently – another black-and-white bicolour and a graceful green Oriental colourpoint. The green of the Siamese, from grass-green on the paws, face and tail fading to white on her body, gave her away immediately as Lily. Adrian smiled; not even Prohibition could defeat the base coding of one's phenotype, meaning whatever made Lily green would stick around.

"And that means you…" Adrian picked up the bicolour. It was male, but that was expected. Then he spotted what shape the white formed against the black… a radiation symbol.

"Oh, Ben…" Adrian sighed, collaring them both and shooing kitty-Ben off his lap. Where was Avak, he wondered. Those three generally hung round together. He went on a search, following the pair to what seemed to be a box fort and found a semi-longhair cinnamon smoke cat curled up on top of a pile of books and dozing. Stroking the cat's neck made it jump, but the green Siamese kept leaping up in a game of 'catch the fluffy tail'. Identifying the cinnamon as Avak, relieved he had not gotten lost, Adrian managed to slip a label around his neck.

A rather nasal meow from an orange tabby sounded, breaking his reverie, followed by a few headbutts on his leg. The ginger was followed by what had to be the biggest cat in the room, built sturdily as if for cold weather and with a thick chocolate coat with tufts on the ears. Adrian recognised the nasally meow as Gareth, especially after he followed the cat's path and saw the mess made of the nearest clock…

That meant that the brown cat had to be his fiancé, Red. She was not yet a member though she had expressed an interest in joining, and as yet another of these WARG people she had been roped into it by Tash, though there was some ankle-chewing, fish-stealing, and hair-dyeing involved in her introduction. Adrian merely shrugged, remembering her as the red kitten from before, and gave her a ribbon too. His hands came away covered in shed fur and a few nips.

"Speaking of big balls of fluff, hello Miri," he said and he picked up the third bundle of fur in the room, and the second Persian-esque cat. This time the cat was white with random patches of bright, tabbied orange, which as it matched her hair gave her away.

One cat proved very hard to catch, and even more difficult to hang onto. The semi-longhair chocolate bicolour edged further and further away as Adrian approached, hissing with fury, and when he finally managed to grab the cat after a long moment's pause, scratched him on the arm in an attempt to escape. It was hard to check the gender – the cat did not like that one bit – and even harder to tie the ribbon on, as Adrian was almost bitten. This aversion to touch identified the bicolour as Kyle, and he let him go as soon as the knot was secure, kitty-Kyle racing away and leaping over other cats to curl up on a high box and watch everyone, calming down and beginning to purr again soon after.

There were only two pairs left to identify. A second black cat slunk around the edge of the room, shining a rusty Marmite colour in the light, while a small cat in a pretty grey colourpoint ran after it and pounced every so often. The black would often turn to bat the young grey off, but then they would bump heads and continue. The colourpoint was certainly the smallest cat in the room…so therefore the youngest agent…

Adrian walked over and scooped kitty-Inara into his arms. Her tail rose with interest and she meowed, echoed by the rusty-black self now sat at his feet. He wrestled a ribbon round her neck, then crouched down to the cat who had to be Willie, as he and her had been training together for a little while.

The other pair were two tabbies, one blue and one orange though both with white. The orange tabby was chasing a very sorry-looking squad of moving green plastic soldiers…

The Little Plastic Marine Corps shouted their rather tinny thanks to the Librarian as they made a dash for the nearest under-the-door exit after Adrian picked Jared up. He squirmed, wanting to get down; Chloe, the blue tabby, decided to join the fun and leap onto his lap also. He managed to get them both collared, though he had a sinking feeling that he had muddled up their names and was unable to catch either of them to check.

Oh well. So that was every cat named, apart from himself. He made himself one and looped it around the base of his tail. Interestingly he noted that the British and American agents could be told apart simply by their cat body shapes. The Brits had very dense, plush coats, round and widely-set eyes, and sturdy, almost cobby bodies. The Yanks were slightly leaner, tails more pointed and smooth and eyes with much sharper features. The only ones who were unlike either of these were Lily and Cristoph, who were both the slender and narrow-eyed of the Oriental cat; Avak, who was somewhere in between; and Aster, Miriku and Red being bundles of fluff hiding their shape beneath. Robert had taken on a similar shape to the British cats, and Adrian guessed it was because of the historical parallels of his homeland.

He turned into a cat himself, and jumped off his chair to mingle.


"Here kitty! Here kitty! Go chase the ball!"

At last, Adrian had allowed Emily a break from trying to fix the Anthropomorphiser, and had taken over himself, letting the young girl mind the cats to her heart's content. The machine, still broken but still on at the same time, had been moved to a space in the hall, and Adrian prodded the machinery from beneath while lying on a wheeled board for ease of access. It was being a stubborn thing, refusing to respond much to either of their skills.

Emily threw a bouncy ball over the cats' heads, and several leapt up for it at once. A few, like kitty-Lily and kitty-Claire, had learned that more excitement could be had if they returned the ball to be thrown again, adding to the fun of the game. Several cats had gathered around her, either joining in or curling up next to her and nuzzling close. Most of the other cats basked on cushions or high places and watched lazily.

The soundtrack from The Aristocats was playing in the background, with kitty-Phoenixia glaring at the hi-fi and trying (and failing) to bat the buttons enough to change the sound. Every attempt she made saw her furry coat change to a new pattern each time. She only succeeded in turning the volume up and hitting the 'Repeat' button to make Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat play over and over again. Eventually, she did the butt-waggle-jump and leapt to the top of the music player, changing to a lilac lynx point and curling up to purr.

Beneath the machine, Adrian sighed, and not only because the song was beginning to get on his nerves. His knowledge of the very intricate and difficult machine was lacking, having had no hand in its planning or prototyping. He wished a techie was around, but the resident mechanic was currently a ginger tabby and Charis and Pete had gone on holiday somewhere. But he was learning slowly about the machine, interested in finding that it only controlled selection of the wanted species; any colour and pattern combination that resulted came from the individual's genes, and nothing else. He was relieved that there had been a single failsafe built in; that the person who pressed the big green button was spared from being affected by the shapeshifting rays, explaining why Emily hadn't noticed her mistake…he was thankful that he had her to help, though, and she had made some good progress.

No, his major annoyance at the present moment came in the form of a little grey colourpoint…kitty-Inara was determined to chomp on his tail, and every time he would try and move it out of the way she would follow.

Before long Emily was to be found flat on her back, her arms and legs spread-eagled, with at least four cats draped over each limb. Kitty-Aster was curled up on her chest and purring like a lawnmower, enjoying the rise-and-fall movement. Kitty-Harriet lay on Emily's hair and was licking her forehead like a mother cat to her kitten.

The young girl had been giggling, the bouncy ball long forgotten, which initiated almost every cat to purr in response. "Adriaaaaan!" she wailed eventually through her laughter.

"Mmm?" he replied from underneath the machine.


"Why's that then?" He could not keep the mirth from his voice.

"The cats won't move! Hati's licking my face!"

"That's nice, dear!"


There was then a 'click!' and Emily managed to twist her head enough to see the Librarian with a camera. She gasped indignantly; he just cackled and took some more.

"Please help?"

"All right," he chortled, bending down to shoo the cats off her arms and let Emily sit up and shuffle to the nearest wall so they couldn't lie on her and knock her over again. The cats, becoming lazier by the moment, simply rolled off when nudged and lay close to the warm friendly Emily, or sat on one of the closest bookshelves, all continuing the chorus of purring. The large Norwegian Forest Cat that was Red clambered into Emily's lap like a queen, her large brush-like tail seeing off all others who wanted that prestigious position. Emily found a soft-bristled brush, and began gently sweeping it from head to tail tip.

"I was thinking, she piped up eventually, "if this is how powerful the Anthropomorphiser is, as well as helping us for missions, maybe we could really use it as a weapon?"

"A weapon?" he replied, peering out from under the machine. There was a smudge of dirt on his nose.

"Yeah. Turn 'em all in'ta cats instead."

Adrian snorted with amusement, his face creasing up as he suddenly had images of a very pissed-off black cat with emerald eyes. "Oh dear, Emily…"

"Maybe we could distract them with tuna!" she chirped with a silly grin on her face. "Or maybe tuna laced with dynamite!"

Adrian facepalmed. These kids and their imaginations…

Then a wisp of chocolate-coloured fur drifted past and ticked his nose, causing him to sneeze and carefully-balanced part of the machine's interior to dislodge. He only just caught himself from swearing. He glanced over, seeing that the entire floor now had a new carpet of the stuff.

"You had to go and brush Red, didn't you?"


Adrian had already sent word to the many missions which were currently extant, telling them to hole up in a safe place, or rent a hotel room, until the issue was sorted. The first call back to the Library had come from Stephen, and Adrian answered with a cat in his arms, a couple of others curled up on the desk.

"Hey, what's going on? Everything here's sorted, Sue and all," he said through the screen in the Monitor Room. The Sue in question could be seen in the background, tied to a chair.

"That's good news. No, it's probably best you stay there for a while; I'll call you when it's safe to return," replied Adrian.

Stephen's voice turned urgent. "What's happened?"

"Nothing dangerous per se, just an annoyance…"

"Ohh…" Stephen had spotted the calico prowling Adrian's lap. "Did Rhia bring her cats into the Library again?"

"Stephen…" Adrian scooped up the cat and held her in the air. "This IS Rhia."

There was a moment of pause as he digested the news, and tried not to burst out laughing. "Seriously? Oh man, that's awesome."

"Heh. Yeah, it was a machine that malfunctioned in the tech labs. Thing is the machine's area effect is still very active – we're trying to fix it, but the pull for me to be a cat is very strong – " and at that moment, Adrian lost his hold and turned into a white cat, whom the calico leapt upon before jumping to the floor. The white cat sighed and turned back, shaking his head to Stephen's laughter. "See what I mean? Trust me, it's best you stay out there for the moment."

"All right, will do. Take pictures!"




"Uhhh Adrian?"



"I think the cats are hungry…"

"All right, hold on…"

Adrian followed Emily away from the cats, of at least half were yowling for attention. By some miracle they managed to get into the kitchen without any of them entering too.

"Thank God we don't have Tyler around, I think he'd be trying to eat everything in the room by now…" He went to clean the oil and dirt off his hands, and Emily looked around for cat food. This was Kitchen One, which was much more now the generic pantry than anything else; Kitchen Two was Rhia's kitchen, where most people went to and at least three times bigger than this; Kitchen Three was the place of dusty and mouldy horror that nobody dared to enter. There was apparently a Kitchen Four somewhere, but that was more a Medieval roasting pit than anything else and hadn't been seen by the Society at all.

"What are we going to give the cats?" asked Emily, searching the cupboards.

"Protein, preferably," he said, drying his hands and joining the search. "Cats aren't like dogs, being able to eat anything, Emily; they're what's known as 'obligate carnivores'. They have to eat meat or similar."

"Robert mentioned to me once that he gave cats scrambled egg?" she said, pulling out a quarter-empty box of twenty-four eggs.

Adrian smirked. "He was brought up on a farm where they have a large colony of mousers. That's what you'd feed a sick cat or an elder kitten. This lot need something more substantial."

"Aha!" said Emily, finding what she'd been looking for and pulling out the huge sack of kibble. "I knew Rhia had left some of this here…"

She hauled it out and dumped it next to the table. She then scooped out a handful of the dry cat food, and placed it on a plate. Adrian eyed it with a sudden sense of suspicion.

"Will this do?"


"Try it."

"You try it."

"Nuh-uh. I'm not a cat."


Adrian vanished and was replaced by the white self, the ribbon on his tail beginning to slip off. Emily seized it, and him, and wrestled the ribbon around his neck loosely. He wriggled, but settled down in front of the plate.

Slowly he sniffed the dry food. He recoiled.

"Go on, kitty…" she said, stroking the top of his head.

He pawed one piece out, and after a long hesitation, ate it.


The cat let out a squeak, and leapt off the table as if he had been electrocuted. There was a retching sound, and the table shuddered with a 'boink' from below as Adrian transformed back and hit his head on the underside. He crawled out, stood up, and tripped over a chair.

"Bleecchh! Eee-yuk!"

"No good then?"

He dived for the sink. "That stuff… tastes like barf, and soap, and mouldy fishskins, and gone-off custard…" He lifted from the tap, the lower half of his face dripping. "It's better used as a weapon than food!"

Emily was howling with laughter. "Okay, that's a no."

"Tuna. No cat knows how to refuse tuna."

Emily raised an eyebrow. "I only saw three tins in the cupboard," she said, retrieving them.

"Hmm. We might need to dig around in the freezer and cook some…"

"But what?"

"I think I have a plan," he said, pulling a few frying pans from yet another cupboard. "Go and fetch the two fussiest Agents, would you?"

Emily ventured down the corridors, spotting cats here and there curled up on bookshelves. Several had found one of the desks Adrian worked at and had made a nice home on top of his paperwork. Most of them, however, had remained in the room with the cushions and boxes. Most of them were also napping.

She tiptoed around the cats, some of whom half-woke enough to headbutt her foot or wrap a tail around her
ankle. She reached the large floor cushion where three cats slept, and took in the cute scene. Kitty-Louise was curled into a tight ball, nestled in one corner; kitty-Alice sprawled out on the dark starry fabric, with kitty-Robert snuggled up against her with one paw over her protectively.

Emily pulled out her camera and snapped a picture, before bending down and tickling the silver tabby. She woke up, disturbing kitty-Robert with her; Emily slid her arm under the cat and picked her up. Kitty-Robert sat up and meowed plaintively.

Kitty-Valerie lay comfortably on her side in a box, purring softly. Emily clucked at her from above, and she woke and rolled onto her back.

"Come on kitty," she said gently, watching the lightly-striped tail lift as the cat sprang gracefully out of the box. Kitty-Alice scrabbled in Emily's arms, slid free and jumped upon the ticked tabby; the two tussled for a moment, but purred and bumped heads.

Emily giggled, taking more pictures. She then withdrew a toy mouse on a string from her pocket, and dangled it in front of the two before running out the door. The two cats followed excitedly, and then the smell of food attracted them further. It was a miracle that none of the others followed, but Emily did hear a few meows and scratches from behind her.

The cats and the young girl entered the kitchen, and Adrian had prepared by placing several covered plates on the table. "Got them?" he asked. "Good. Sit them on the table, would you? It's time to test a few things."

Emily placed kitty-Alice, then kitty-Valerie on the table, and they sniffed some of the closest plates curiously.

The two that were still human grinned at each other, and presented the two fusspots with the first plates. On each was a small handful of kibble.

The effect was immediate. Neither cat would go near it; kitty-Valerie actually leapt off, and kitty-Alice hissed and batted both plates off the table before following.

A few moments had to be spent to catch both tabbies and to clean up the smashed china with a dustpan and brush. They then presented the second plates to the two cats: both contained a little tuna.

And of course, being fussy, both of them were struggling with their new cat instincts. Kitty-Valerie shrank away, but kitty-Alice sniffed around it and crouched down low.

"God, they're fussy," said Emily, before she realised she was talking to no-one in particular.

Adrian had vanished again, and the white cat padded across the table, eyes fixed intently on the lovely fish. The two girls looked at him, twitching lightly as if they wanted to defend their food; but they allowed him to steal a chunk before he jumped off the table.

"Hungry?" quipped Emily.

"Mmph. Sorry," he said with his mouth full.

"So the three cans will be empty pretty soon. Next?"

The third plates contained a small amount of white fish, lightly cooked. Kitty-Alice sniffed, licked, and ate a little chunk warily, before finishing it off. Kitty-Valerie, still fighting the cat instincts, only managed to get to the licking stage before she backed off. Emily ticked the back of her neck.

"Fair enough," said Adrian. "That's another good one. Just means a lot of light frying and tinfoil…we have to feed all the cats at the same time, so I'll need your help, Ems."

"Okay," she replied. "What about the last plates?"

"The control…" he said, lifting the lids and presenting the small amount of steaming chicken fillet to the two cats, who snapped them up quite happily.

The mission to get the cats fed was quite something, sourcing out almost every bit of chicken and fish in the fridge, the freezer and in other cold stores in the entire Library, cooking it gently and briefly and using one of those big wheeled multi-level portable trays to stack the numerous plates on.

As Adrian returned from another foray into a secret freezer, he passed the door to the basement. A muffled yowl distracted him, and pressing his ear to the locked door he could hear the mews and scratches of the Sues below. He sighed, having forgotten the Anthropomorphiser would have affected them too, and the steel cross-barred walls had grid holes big enough for a cat to jump through and escape their cells. Not that he blamed them, really, with the situation. He mentally counted how many were down there and added the number to how many more chunks of food he needed to warm up. He'd bring them dinner later.

Wheeling the full trays into the room with the cats stirred most of them into a loud frenzy. The pair worked quickly, hovering each plate over a cat who always moved beneath it when they tried to set it down, so quickly they learnt to dodge the plate to the side and slip it onto the floor. They had made sure there was plenty for all; the tuna was almost fought over but vanished before it got to scratches. The sound of quiet little 'chomp-chomp-chomps' replaced the loud meowing.

Adrian piled the last of the plates on a tray and began to head off to the basement. "Ems, get yourself something to eat too, then get back to that machine… 'kay?"

She sighed. "All right…"

When she returned with her sandwiches, the cats had eaten their fill and had dozed off again quite contentedly. All that is except for kitty-Louise, who was going round every single plate on the floor and hoovering up every leftover there might be, and licking them all clean afterwards.

"Silly kitty," said Emily, sitting on a chair to watch.


It all started so suddenly.

Emily had been underneath the machine, having finally stopped the transforming ray that for half an hour had stopped even Adrian from keeping a human form for more than ten seconds. She swore she was on the verge of getting the thing fixed…

But then, the happy meows had turned – almost in a single moment – to annoyed hisses and yowls. Then there was an almighty 'THUMP' as something collided with the side of the machine.

"Eeek!" Emily squeaked, scrabbling to roll out from under the machine, and ending up in the middle of a fight.

A large bunch of no less than five cats were facing off in the centre of the room. With a ferocious whack, the orange tabby scored a hit on a black self's nose and sent him spinning into the corner, before facing the other four and growling with his back arched. The wild tabby met his challenge.

Emily gasped, recognising the dazed cat as Willie… the brown tabby as Michael and the ginger as Gareth…

Kitty-Willie stood up, shook himself off, and jumped to stand in front of kitty-Inara. Kitty-Robert had already been ejected from the battle – which now was seeing two tabbies tussling with each other – with a bloody score mark down his nose, and had limped back over to the two girls on the floor cushion.

Emily dodged the main group, leapt over a black-and-white and a cinnamon smoke having a face-off, and went to shriek for Adrian.

"Emily? What's happened? Is the roof on fire? What?"

"They're fighting – "

And at that moment, kitty-Avak barrelled into Adrian's shins, and used his legs as a ladder. Kitty-Ben slunk away to a dark corner, that battle having ended in stalemate.

Adrian blinked in shock for just a moment. "Oh b – " he nearly swore. He struggled to remember which of the girls may have been that-time-of-the-month grouchy the day before. "They're all intact males aren't they! They're fighting over what they see as theirs…"

"But – they're not – ?"

"Two levels above being animal…we've got to stop this now!" Thrusting the cat into Emily's arms, Adrian transformed and plunged into the room himself.

He almost wished Val's team weren't busy at the time, as she was making a good attempt to break up the fighting, but to little avail. He noted three singletons, the Van pattern that was Dave and the blue ticked that was Tom, join kitty-Kyle up high on the bookshelves safe from the tussle below. He marched straight to the fight and hissed enough to swing their attention onto him… but this was a bad idea, for as he glanced round, he saw no less than four girl cats in his wake…

The white self vanished under a mess of black selfs, the ferocious orange tabby that was Gareth, a ginger-and-white and the boisterous wild tabby. But Emily returned just at that moment with a smaller version of her Supersoaker, filled with nothing but cold water; the first squirt caught kitty-Gareth full in the face, and he rolled backwards to be caught by the chocolate Red.


He transformed back, sporting several nasty scratches down his cheeks. "Ow… ow."

"You okay?"

"Fine. Good idea. We need to separate that fight, and I know how," he said, scooping up kitty-Rhia and holding her out of reach. The cats had already scattered at a large human suddenly appearing beneath them, but now the slim black kitty-Cristoph yowled and bounded forwards – only for Adrian to run to a room, dump the calico on a chair, make sure the cat had followed and pull the door to.

Emily caught on quick, picking up a random girl and lobbing them into a room like bait. Sometimes it failed, but most of the time the man whose cat mind demanded possession ran in after their female – or females; in several cases a cat sought to defend more than one girl, and would not go in unless their other was found, including kitty-Robert (with both Alice and Louise) and kitty-Michael (Claire and Miri). But most proudly, or most embarrassingly of all, was Adrian's 'harem' of four – Aster, Tash, Valerie and Phoenixia. They let those four remain in the hall with the three singletons. The doors were open enough to allow egress once they had all calmed down.

And at the thought of calming down, Adrian sank onto the starry floor cushion. The carpet of Red fur floated around the place and covered every surface. "Urrfff…I feel like Alice has been glomping me non-stop for an hour…"

"I can get you a drink?" said Emily, smiling.

"Oh you're a sweetheart. That'd be lovely…"

He caught her intention just a second too late, as she pumped the last of her Supersoaker water onto his face and ran off, cackling.


"Library? Library, come in."


"Bugger…" mumbled Ingrid to herself, before trying again. "Library?"

Her line was picked up at last, and she took in a deep breath to share her report, until she noticed the Monitor Room was empty.

Mental alarm bells started going off.

"Library! Anyone! I – "

She cut off as she noticed something strange. There at the bottom of the screen was a waving fluffy tail, silver with black stripes and a white tip…


A slightly higher-pitched voice caught the attention of the owner of that tail, and suddenly, making Ingrid jump, a cat leapt up and pressed both front paws onto the screen.

Ingrid's mouth fell open as the silver tabby filled her communicator's screen. "Uh – the f…?"

"Meow!" Pleased by the noise, the cat continued pawing the screen. There were beeps and clicks from below as she stepped on the controls.

"Uhhh… hello, kitty," said Ingrid. The cat meowed in response, licking the screen where she could see Ingrid's nose. Ingrid smiled despite herself. "Here kitty kitty kitty, now what's going on?"

The tabby's head turned, ears twitching towards different sounds, and Ingrid caught sight of the name written on the ribbon round the cat's neck.


Kitty-Alice glanced back to the screen at the sound of her name, pawing at the friendly shape she could see. "Miow?"

Ingrid could see more cats in the room beyond…

And then, just as Adrian burst through the doors – kitty-Alice stepped on controls enough to cut the feed all together.

"Oh bollocks!" Adrian cursed. He went over to the control panel, shooing the tabby off – not that she got very far, sliding into the nearest chair – and tried to get the feed back, but Ingrid tried a different tactic and sent a text message instead, updating him on her current progress. He sent a reply, reaffirming his warning to not return yet. He then turned, and scooped kitty-Alice into his arms.

"Right you, you've volunteered to be our guinea-pig," he said, carrying the silver tabby out of the Monitor Room.

Adrian met up with Emily back in the tech labs, where she was finally reattaching the control panel to the Anthropomorphiser. She smiled at him – he reciprocated the gesture, understanding that despite her overconfident mistake this morning, she had mostly been a great help to him in fixing the problem – and he approached, setting Alice down on a table.

"I think it's fixed! Should we test it now? Should I turn on the Change-back mode?"

"Emily, we can't just turn on the area-effect…"

"Oh, why?"

"Because…" Adrian nudged a pile of clothes on the floor with his foot. "…if you haven't noticed, Shapeshifter Baggage is ignored below Anthropomorphic level fifty-five. If we turn them all back in one fell swoop, they're all going to be stark naked, and they're not going to forgive me for it!"

"They're not going to forgive you anyway for having to look at their balls!"

Emily watched Adrian's mind change gear without the clutch and stall.

"Baaaaww… EMILY!"

"What?" she grinned, enjoying the nice shade of puce that his face was going. "S'true!"

"That's not – I had to – You shouldn't – you shouldn't know things like that, young lady!"

"You give me too little credit. I'm insulted." She crossed her arms and turned away, but her giggles let him know she wasn't serious.

"All right…" he sighed, going to tap the controls of the Anthropomorphiser and turning a dial to a low setting. "We're going to do it individually, starting with this one."

Kitty-Alice padded over and Emily tickled her white belly, the cat rolling over on the worktop. "Why not Tash?"

"Ummm." The blush returned to his cheeks.

"It is safe, yannow!"

"I think she'd, um, prefer it if we change her back elsewhere."

Emily grinned at him, but scooped up the tabby and set her on the floor. Adrian threw a couple of large blankets over the cat, then nodded to Emily and dodged out of the way.

At the thump of a big green button, a pink and yellow ray emanated from a slot in the side of the machine and hit the struggling bundle on the floor. For a moment nothing happened; but then there was a very human yelp and the small bundle became a large one.


"It works!"

There was a muffled 'eek!" from within the blankets, and Alice's head popped out. She was holding the rest of the blankets tightly around her.

"Alice!" said Adrian. "Long story. Are you all right?"

"I'm naked!" she blurted. "I was a cat!"

"You remember? That's interesting. Look – uhh…"

Alice regained her senses a little more, glancing up at the two around her and her situation. She eased up to her feet, clutching her blankets to save her dignity. "I feel fine. Whoa, everything looks different…" Becoming slightly dizzy, she stumbled, and Adrian caught her.

"Careful." He sat her down on a bench. As Alice watched, Adrian showed her what they were doing by picking up the next nearest cat, the wild-colour tabby, and soon had the second cat under a jumble of blankets. Alice's eyes bugged as they turned on the ray again, and proved the machine had been fixed as a very red-faced Michael emerged from his bundle.


"Michael? How're you doing?" Adrian asked.

"I… I feel fine, mostly… why am I starkers?"

"Sorry about that, but…" Adrian explained swiftly.

Alice and Michael glanced at each other, small embarrassed grins coming to their faces as they heard the story.

"If you two run and get dressed, we could use your help in turning back everyone else…"

"But why were we cats in the first place?" Alice asked.

Adrian glanced pointedly to Emily, and Alice and Michael's gazes followed…



Some hours later, most of the agents who had been cats not too long ago had gathered in the Mod Sofa Lounge. The set of modular blue sofas had been rearranged at least twice, suiting the current conversation groups. Many were debating the events of the day, or giggling over what they could remember. Others had decided it was time for tea and had made sandwiches. Some were simply relaxing, bathing in the ambient light-heartedness.

Those who had missed the 'fun' had returned the moment Adrian had sent the all-clear, somewhat disappointed that they had missed all the bundles of fluff.

There was an exchange of Litwicks going on in one corner; the numbers of the little candle Pokémon had ballooned over the past few weeks, and Alice was happy to give her surplus to others who thought they were adorable. Inara, who had otherwise been devouring an entire bowl of fruit to forget the knowledge that her cat self had happily eaten a fish earlier in the day, squeaked when hers was placed in her hands; he cocked his head on one side and made immediately for Inara's sleeve, purple flame and all. Tash had two, one perched happily on her head. Louise was examining hers, and happy with her, placed her on the back of her chunk of sofa. Asuka glared closely at one set on the floor, not entirely sure what to make of the small creature.

Everyone stopped, however when Adrian opened the door to the Mod Sofa Lounge and let a young cat out.

Slinking round his legs, she sniffed her surroundings, her thin feathered tail lifting with interest, before padding lightly into the room. All eyes in the room, paused in mid-conversation, were upon her.

"Hey, look who's here!" cheered Harriet, kneeling with her arms outstretched. The kitten, recognising her, scurried towards her happily and was scooped up.

"Who on earth…?" began Louise, baffled. Her Litwick cheeped behind her. They had all been turned back to human for several hours now; the Anthropomorphiser had been fixed, surely?

The cat, with the appearance and playfulness of a yearling kitten, was a truly beautiful creature; a silver torbie point Balinese, or a longhair Siamese cat. She had stripes of black and silver with orange patches clear on her face, tail and legs, all fading to a pale ivory over the rest of her body. She gave a sweet little meow, high and melodious, wriggled out of Harriet's arms and leapt over to Louise, nuzzling round and round her legs. Almost instinctively, she bent down and stroked the cat's neck.

"Is this… Emily?"

"Yes, it is," said Tash. "Ain't she gorgeous?"

"How… what… what? Why is she a cat?"

"We've turned her into one for the day."

Louise's hand froze. "What?"

"This is discipline!" said Harriet, pointing into the air. "She has to learn that there are consequences to her actions, and that playing with the machines in the tech labs even if she's certain about them could be extremely dangerous. So for today and tonight, same length of time we had, she's gonna be a cat."

"But – you can't just go turning her into things!"

"This isn't Harry Potter, Lou," said Alice, clucking to the cat with a mousey-on-a-stick. Kitty-Emily seemed to have springs built into her legs, bounding over and furiously attempting to bat at the toy.

"She's just a child!"

"Oh Lou, this isn't anything bad, surely?" said Tash, attempting to explain. Kitty-Emily snagged the mouse and rolled around on the floor with it. "She's twelve years old, and we can't let her go fiddling with stuff willy-nilly and to hell with the consequences. She may be brilliant with our machines but her overconfidence in being able to fix anything could have been dangerous, so we need tempering there. It's just a small lesson, like what you have to do with kids to tell them where they've gone wrong."

"Yeah," said Alice, "remember my car crash last year served to make me a much more cautious driver, Lou?"

Kitty-Emily wove her way past the few hands which were petting her and returned to Louise, looking plaintively up at her and her meow the only sound in the room. Slowly her hand reached to the kitten's neck and tickled, her head moving into the touch. At a nudge, kitty-Emily leapt into Louise's lap and snuggled down, beginning to purr.

"It's okay, little one," she murmured.

"Lou… she seems to be enjoying your lap… we had to do something, otherwise she won't have learned. I was half-expecting her to ask me to use the Anthropomorphiser on her anyway," said Adrian.

"I'm just saying that there are other ways to discipline a child… I don't like it. Find a more orthodox way next time, guys."

Kitty-Emily yawned, wriggled, and settled down for a nap.

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