"Mister Solo, Mister Kuryakin come in please? Waverly beckoned them with a wave of his hand into the Conference room.
What drew their immediate attention was not their boss, but the fact that two cats were sitting side by side at the table, one large tabby and the other a white cat with black markings.
"Be seated gentlemen, and don't worry they won't bite," Waverly chuckled.
Napoleon looked down to his new double-breasted blue suit. "But do they shed sir?"
"Don't be ridiculous Mr. Solo of course they don't shed."
"Cats that don't shed sir?" Napoleon's frown gave away his puzzlement.
"Napoleon those cats are not real," Illya said. "Surely you could see that?"
Solo cleared his throat. "Ahem, yes...why of course I saw that immediately."
As they sat at the table Mr. Waverly explained the situation.
"Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet the latest creation of Research and Development. They are robotic cats, and were made under great secrecy using the technology we obtained from THRUSH's attempt to create their fembot army."
Napoleon gave a shiver as he recalled being stalked by that female robot; it nearly crushed him to death at one point.
"I hope the ummm, kinks have been worked out sir and we don't have a pair of killer robot cats on our hands," Solo remarked.
"Rest assured such behaviors have not been programmed into the Duke and Duchess. At this juncture, R&D wants the them to be better conditioned to human interaction...in other words they need to behave more like cats, though ones that will take orders unlike real life felines."
"And what purpose will the Duke and Duchess serve?" Illya asked. He rose from his seat and approached the tabby, giving it a few scratches behind its ears. It immediately began to purr, which made the Russian smile ever so lightly.
"They have been programmed with basic feline behaviors, but need to be socialized. Their purpose is for that of surveillance, given the agility of cats and their ability to get into the most tight places they will be idea. No one pays attention to a cat in a warehouse or a seemingly abandoned building. Perhaps a Thrushie or two might even adopt one of our feline bots as mascot of sorts for their satrapy. The possibilities are numerous."
"Why the bells?" Sitting in front of each cat was a hotel type service bell." Kuryakin asked.
"Yes, well. R&D programmed to get your attention by ringing them, but that will have to be done away with, as they will have to be trained to meow when they want to call your attention."
"And how do Illya and I feature into this sir?'
"You each are to take one of the cats home with you, get it accustomed to life with a human. Ideally though you will not have to deal with feeding it or the use of a litter box."
Illya wordlessly picked up the tabby into his arms, ready to begin his assignment, leaving Napoleon with the white and black cat.
Napoleon had no recourse but to pick up the cat… Duchess that was.
"Oh and yes Mister Solo," Waverly said after a puff of smoke from his pipe." For the sake of some semblance of believability...they do shed, though not much."
"Peachy," Napoleon mumbled. He looked down at his suit to find it already covered here and there in white fur.