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Winston stared at the ground, not meeting my eyes.
“What aren’t mew telling me Winston?” I asked.
Parsley, Smooch and Amber stared at him waiting fur an answer.
Tears welled up in his eyes and he began to tremble. “They... they... they didn’t make it Basil.... the mind invasion... it... it... it... k.... k... killed them,” he stammered and wrapped his arms around Effrun fur comfort.
“Oh jeez!” I murmured. “What about the rest of my old team, did they make it?”
But before he could answer a disembodied paw appeared through the wall. Blinking several times, I stared at the spot on the wall again and the paw began to wave. “What the fluff is that?” I blurted.
Parsley followed my line of sight as he raised his weapon, flicking the safety off. “Jumping juniper berries, is that a paw sticking out of the wall?”
“Holy moly!” breathed Smooch. “I think it’s Pandora’s paw, look how hairy it is, she has sasquatch paws... it’s got to be her!”
“Pandora, is that mew?” I called.
Her head suddenly appeared and she said in her odd, little foreign accent.
“Fur cods sake vhat does a kitty ‘ave to do around ‘ere to get noticed!”
“Sticking your head out of a wall will wurk!” Amber smirked.
“Pandora?!” I said. “What the fluff is going on?”
“Mew need to come inside the vall,” she beckoned. “And I don’t ‘ave sasquatch paws Smooch!”
I stared at my team and inquired. “Guys, are we going into the wall?”
* * *
Posie and Snowie ranto the elevator and were amazed to find it was still waiting on level 14. “Well that’s a turn up!” Posie said as they hopped inside and she pushed the button fur level 8.
The elevator doors pinged shut and the robot–voice said. “Going up, level 1.”
Posie pressed the button again and said. “Tin can, we want level 8!”
They watched as the buttons on the console panel pinged as they passed each floor and the elevator announced in a far too cheery-way each floor number.
Posie stretched out her paw to smack the ‘all stop’ button when Snowie suddenly pulled her back. “Don’t touch that!” she whispered.
“Why not?” Posie shot back.
Snowie gave her a look and they both fell silent until finally the elevator announced with a cheery ping. “Welcome to level one, you may now disembark and thank you for using Essential Elevators, the only elevators to take you where you didn’t know you wanted to go!”
Posie was furst out of the doors and when they’d shut again, she turned to Snowie. “Do mew want to tell me what all that was about?”
Snowie headed towards the control room and beckoned fur Posie to follow.
Once inside, Snowie closed the automatic doors and turned off all interior comms. “I think the A.I. in the elevator is acting really odd.”
“Mew don’t say!” Posie replied.
“Posie, pay attention, when has the elevator effur been like that?” Snowie said with a sigh. “What did it say when we reached level one?”
Essential Elevators, the only elevators to take you where you didn’t know you wanted to go!
Posie pondered this fur a moment and finally the proverbial penny dropped and said. “Ohhhhhhh, mew mean what we’re looking fur is up here and not with Horice?”
“Exactly!” Snowie sighed. “Let’s go to Basil’s private office, and see if we can find any clues.”
“And why have mew turned internal comms off?” Posie inquired.
“Because as Basil would say, mew can neffur be too careful and walls have ears!” Snowiesaid with a tight-smile as she opened the doors and headed along the corridor with Posie following.
Flicking on the light switch in Basil’s office they looked around. The walls were oak-panelled and housed built-in floor to ceiling bookcases, his oak desk faced the door and the leather swivel captains chair behind the desk was facing the rear wall. They stepped onto the plush Furrsian rug and Posie said. “Why is Basil’s chair facing the wrong way?”
Snowie gave her sisfur a one shouldered-shrug and said. “It could be a clue or it could be Basil was in a rush and the chair facing that way means nothing!”
As they walked to the back of the office, they carefully scrutinized all the paintings, the wurld map and various other artifacts on display. Infact it was a treasure trove of antiquities, which Basil had obviously collected offur the years.
“I really like how Basil’s decorated his office,” Snowiemewsed as she lifted a gilt-framed oil painting of a pirate ship away from the wall and peered behind it. “It’s propurr old-school.”
Posie was wurking her way along the back wall and stopped when she came to a tapestry. “Is this new?” she asked. “Only I don’t remember seeing it before.”
The two cats stood back and stared at the colourful new addition. It was a depiction of the tree of life and sitting among the branches were the entire B Team each holding an item, although Humphrey and Pandora's images were a little faded compared to the others.
“That’s interesting, what are mew holding in the tapestry Posie?” Snowie asked as she inspected the art more closely.
“It seems to be an orb, what are mew holding?”
Snowie looked closer and replied. “It looks like the box Bob gave us.”
“Humphrey is holding a sword, Amber is holding a book, Pandora has a wand, Smooch has a heart, Parsley is holding a gilded wing, Fudge has a Pawsaand Basil has a...” Posie peered closer. “Basil has... what is he holding?”
Snowie tapped the tapestry thoughtfully and said. “He’s holding a set of scales and what appears to be the infinity sign... what did mew say Fudge is holding?”
Posie nodded, “Well it’s the Hamsasymbol but instead of a hand it’s depicted as a paw, it’s the symbol of protection against eveel forces.”
“Let’s hope it’s wurking fur him right now!” Snowie sighed sadly. “But we’re still no closer to finding the box or the orb are we, and now Pandora and Humphrey are missing...”
“Snowie!” Posieinterrupted. “Look at Basil.”
The two cats stared as Basil’s picture began to fade from the tapestry, followed by effuryone else except Fudge and themselves.
“What the fluffing fluff does that mean?” Snowie gulped.
“Oh my cod, that can’t be good!” Posie murmured.
“They're all gone, why aren’t they here, what the fluff just happened?” Snowie cried in dismay.
* * *
The Old One blocked the only way out and Fudge gritted his teeth. Lifting up the spear he said. “Get the fluff outta my way dude!”
The Old One laughed maniacally as effurything shook around them.
The little pom pomcreatures mewled in fright and gripped onto Fudge even tighter.
“Youfleabags aren’t going anywhere!” The Old One snarled as he loomed offur the escapees.
The Announcers had shuffled behind Fudge, trying to huddle out of sight with the other creatures. Fudge narrowed his eyes, straightened up and growled. “Get out of my way clown-mouth!”
The Siamese cat edged towards Fudge and gently whispered. “OK genius now what?”
Fudge gave her a quick glance and said, “Miss, if mew haven’t got anything constructive to say purrlease keep quiet I’m trying to think.”
“Clown-mouth, what is a clown-mouth?” The Old One bellowed.
Fudge grinned and jabbed a paw towards The Old One. “Mew’re a clown-mouth dude, I mean come on what kind of costume is that? Seriously a kitten could come up with something scarier!”
“Are mew mad?” muttered the Siamese. “Mew are going to seriously hiss him off and that won’t be purrettty!”
Fudge turned to the Siamese, “Miss, if mew don’t mind I’m busy!” And he stepped forward spear pointed directly at The Old One and said again. “I’mgonna say this once more clown-mouth... Get the fluff outta my way dude!”
The Old One took an involuntary step backwards, and Fudge took another step towards him, jabbing the spear menacingly.
* * *
Humphrey quickly shrunk all the ATV’s and aftur a brief discussion Effrun was shrunk too and placed carefully into another jar. Smooch said eagerly. “I’ll take him!” But Winston was too quick and slid the jar into his own pocket.
“Are we good to go?” I asked the team as we stood before the wall.
“Amber, mew can go furst,” Parsley smirked.
Without missing a step, Amber swung around caught Parsley’s paw and launched him towards the wall saying. “Parsley mew can go furst!”
As he connected with the wall, he just vanished like he was sucked inside and at that point we all dived forward.
It was the strangest sensation, like being yanked through a waterfall but without getting wet, and in the next moment we were stood in huge, long room; but the dimensions felt off, in actual fact if we were inside the walls the room would have been about 3 feet wide and this room was way, way, way bigger than that. There’s some weird time space continuin-nom-nom-nom happening here, I thought and felt right at home as the TTTB has the same weird phenoma-nom happening too.
Glancing around I saw that the entire team was there, including Humphrey and Pandora which purrleased me immensely now the team was all together. Antique lanterns were filled with glow-bugs, and hung on rusted nails sticking out of the walls at random heights, creating an almost festive lighting effect. There was a large inglenook fireplace and a lit stove with cooking pots bubbling away on top and when I inhaled that cooking aroma my mouth began to water; it really got the taste buds going. A fairy with electric-blue hair and the palest skin I’d effur seen was hovering next to the stove gently stirring one of the pots, she turned and smiled at me and began to ladle the contents into a tin bowl, which she offured to me.
I smiled at her and took the bowl, and that’s when I noticed the calligraphy engraving on the side, it said: EAT ME! “Thank mew furry kindly,” I said to the fairy, her beating wings glimmering like a thousand aquamarine jewels in the soft light.
“Sit, eat and let the worry go,” she said in a lyrical tone, and then returned to filling more bowls and handing them to the team.
“Basil!” Humphrey called. “Dude mew’ve got to see this!”
Curiosity getting the better of me, I headed straight towards him carrying my steaming bowl. “What’s up dude, are mew ok? What just happened?”
Humphrey grinned and stepped aside, and standing behind him was the F.I.B. Agent we’d seen in the video that C.J. sent.
“Holy moly!” I exclaimed nearly dropping my bowl, which would have been an absolute travesty. “Mew’re the agent that we were just watching at BB HQ, the last agent to enter this place, how the flip did mew survive all this time?”
“Basil this is Agent Milo Digger,” Humphrey said turning the agent. “Tell Basil your story.”
“Commander Basil, it is an honour to meet mew sir,” Milo said saluting. “And purrlease call me Diggs sir.”
I saluted and smiled at the young cat. “Diggs, the purrleasure is all mine, and mew don’t know how happy I am to see mew alive and well, aftur watching that video we thought mew were toast fur sure!”
“Thank mew sir,” replied Diggs. “Though I nearly didn’t make it, if it wasn'tfur the Nisse I’d have been a gonnerfur sure.”
“Nisse?” I queried looking at Diggs.
He gestured to the fairy. “Camomile is a Nisse, they are a type of fairy.”
I nodded and gestured fur him to continue. “Well the last thing I remember was a blue mist filled with electrical-bolts, like mini-lightning flashes rolling towards me, I hid but it just rolled right into me and then I don’t remember anything until I woke up and saw Camomile... she was tending the multiple burns I sustained while the mist attacked me...”
It was then I noticed that his fur was covered in singed patches and gently patted him on the shoulder. “Thank cod she was there to rescue mew,” I said softly.
Suddenly I heard laughter and turned to see my team sat at wooden refectory table, eating, drinking and generally being merry, even Winston seemed to be in good spirits as Pandora gave him a second helping of broth.
“Go on,” I urged Diggs.
“Well Commander there’s not much to tell apart from I’ve been in hiding here with Camomile,” Diggs answered. “She’s also hiding aftur being captured a long, long time ago with her clan but sadly offur time her clan slowly disappeared one by one and as far as she knows, she is the last remaining Nisse in the labyrinth.”
I didn't want to disturb Winston as fur the furst time since we’d found him he actually seemed quite relaxed but I had no choice. “Winston, do mew have a minute?”
The Maine Coon got up, lifted his bowl and slurped the contents on his approach. “What's up Basil?” he asked wiping his mouth with his paw. “Jeez that was some good tucker!”
I gave him my bowl and said. “Dude, mew need to eat this too, we need to get mew fattened up.” He took it from me and smiled appreciatively. “Now Winston, mew mentioned that magical creatures lived under the maze.”
Winston nodded and pointed towards Camomile, “Yes I did, and though I neffur actually met any of them,I’m guessing that the fairy offur there is one of them?”
“She is the last of them,” I said quietly.
He looked at me in shock. “But the rumour was there were hundreds of them!”
“Apparently not!” I shook my head sadly.
Camomile was suddenly fluttering next to my shoulder and she said. “The battle is afoot and I need to take you to save your friend... time is running out, but first you need to eat this!” She thrust another bowl at me and said firmly, "EAT!"
OH MY COD!
See Mew Next Tuesday Fur The Next Thrilling Chapter