"Well," she began rather excitedly. "While Humphrey was following the five P.IT.H.-heads here, I stayed behind to watch the remaining three and OMC, I just don't know where to begin."
"Calm down, take a moment and tell us what mew saw," I said gently.
She gave us a furtive glance and continued. "At their base camp, the remaining three squirrels wheeled out a trailer covered in camo-netting, and anyhoo when they pulled the net off I saw a WMD!"
We all turned to face him and said as one. "A weapon of mass destruction!"
He looked at us blankly, and I said. "A huge freakin' bomb!"
"Oh, that be rather unfriendly," Horice commented.
"Guys, mew've got to do something," Posie said urgently. "They've hitched the trailer to a hummer and are ready to move out asap!"
* * *
Meanwhile, at the P.I.T.H. base camp deep in the forest, the three remaining P.I.T.H.-heads heard the fire-fight erupt in the distance and scrambled.
"Pre-Arm the WMD boys," ordered the one wearing the red beret as he dashed from the tent, his accent slow and rather melodic.
"On it, Colonel," came the obedient response of the two remaining squirrels.
They wheeled out a small trailer from the tent with the WMD hidden beneath a thick layer of camo-netting; and carefully removing the net, the two squirrels set to work pre-arming the device with meticulous precision, taking utmost care in their task.
"Is it ready Gunner?" the Colonel asked after a few minutes.
"A couple more minutes Colonel," Gunner answered in his twangy country accent. "Just waiting on Dyno to finish the last part o' the wiring Sir."
"Any news from Snitch?" the Colonel asked.
"No Sir, his comms have been out since the fire strike began," Gunner replied. "No word from Ace, Scooter or the Bazooka Brothers either."
"And what's happened to Gnosher?" the Colonel asked irately, remembering the ninth but mostly useless member of his elite team, and the member that they kept under wraps, letting the outside world think they were only a team of eight. He thought to himself. 'I can't believe my sister spawned such a sorry-ass-excuse for a nephew, I should have wiped him out too but now I'm stuck with him!'
"Gnosher was last heard from as he followed the black pussy in stealth into a secret tunnel, since then his comms have been out," Gunner said.
The Colonel paced with acute agitation as the sound of war headed his way.
* * *
"Posie stay calm, which way were they headed?" I asked her when I heard a rather distinctive click behind me.
"Don't any of mew muther freakin' pussy's move!" a voice drawled. "And if anypawdy reaches for any weapons, it'll be my pleasure to dispatch mew all to the netherworld purrmanently."
"What did he just say?" Amber asked. "I didn't understand a word of it."
I shook my head and said. "Paws up dudes and lady-cats please." I raised my paws real slow, so as not to incite our captor into doing something reckless as I could just tell he was itching for any excuse to start something.
Parsley, Smooch, Humphrey, Amber and Snowie raised their paws in a controlled manner. Horice lifted his trunk skywards and Posie floated just out of view next to him.
"I'm sorry," I said most politely. "I don't think we've had the purrleasure of meeting before, I'm..."
"I knows who you is," drawled the squirrel as hit spat out a lump of chewing tobacco on the floor. "Mew're that evil pussy that put my Uncle Cletus away all them years ago." He pointed his AK47 at my chest, dead centre.
"Uncle Cletus?" I asked, trying hard not to smirk at the rather unusual name. There was another barrage of missile attacks in the distance as I waited for a reply.
"Colonel Cletus Virgil Hayes of the P.I.T.H.," he answered his twang getting a little irate. "Don't mew even know the names of the innocent's mew put away?"
"Oh Colonel Hayes, of course I remember him," I answered flatly and then added with so much sarcasm mew could have spread it on a sandwich and fed a family of six. "A really nice purrson who was helping a large criminal organisation illegally trade in exotic anipals around the wurld for profit; that slime-ball Colonel Hayes who turned his back on law and order for money."
I saw the squirrel's paw twitch on the trigger, and I continued. "The evil Colonel Hayes who exterminated anypawdy that got in his way or in the way of his criminal furiends, he put them down like they were vermin without a second thought; I lost a lot of good buddies during his reign of terror, is that the Colonel Hayes that mew're talking about?"
"He never did no wrong to his family, he tried to protect them from mew, but mew came in the dead of night and wiped them all out, he told me mew did!" the squirrel spat, his accent becoming even more yokel.
"Your beloved Uncle Cletus killed all of his family, except for mew," I answered coldly. "Mew are his one surviving relative, who just happened to be staying with furiends that evening when he ambushed them, and I can prove he did it if mew give me the chance."
The squirrel looked at me and I couldn't determine if he was going to shoot me or if he believed me. Seconds ticked by as I watched the squirrel intently, he seemed to have an internal battle waging in his mind and it was then I knew that deep down he'd always doubted his uncle's story.
I said softly, like I was treading on eggshells. "I don't know your name, but if mew're willing to put your gun down I can prove to mew that your uncle murdered your family and I can promise mew I will bring him to justice. Mew are safe here, we won't hurt mew, just let me show mew the evidence."
The squirrel slowly lowered his weapon, dropping it to the floor; and in that one brief moment, it was like his whole world had just disintegrated around him. Parsley and Humphrey launched and had him pinned before I could blink and I said quickly. "Dudes, let him go, he isn't our enemy." They released him and I continued. "Parsley, Smooch and Humphrey, go with Posie and take the Saracen APC... go find the WMD and disarm it... Snowie on comms... Horice and Amber mew stay here and keep us apprised as I need to show our guest something, then I'll join mew guys for the final take-down."
* * *
FYI just in case mew were wundering:
The fly-boys were hammering the freakin' fluff out of the retreating P.I.T.H. with their air-strike as they continued to fire at will, unleashing their own brand of hell.
I held out my paw and replied. "It's very nice to meet mew Gnosher, I'm Basil but mew already knew that."
He nodded as he shook my paw, then I indicated for him to sit down while I opened one of the filing cabinets. Shuffling through a few files I finally found the one I was looking for. I quickly checked the contents and then handed it to Gnosher. His paws were trembling as he took it from me and placed it on his lap. His paws were shaking so much he could barely open it and I turned away giving him a modicum of privacy while he read the contents and looked at the pictures. I heard several gasps and sharp intakes of breath as he perused the contents and a few minutes later I heard the file snap shut.
I gave him a slight shrug and said. "Gnosher, sometimes it's easier to believe a lie than to face the truth, and now mew know the truth, what are mew going to do about it?"
"Basil," he said my name like I was some strange herb. "Basil, if it's ok with mew, I wanna join your team and take that evil, lying sack of putrid excrement down."
"Come on then, we've got a WMD to disarm and a whole bushel of escaped convicts to deal with," I said as I began to run out of my office and headed for the garage on level four with Gnosher at my heels.
"Down that track," she said urgently, her irritation was palpable.
Humphrey snatched the steering wheel and the Saracen slid sideways around the sharp turn and bumped along the roughly, rutted track and headed deeper into the trees.
Smooch was relaying the directions back to Control as Parsley checked their weapons and placed more ammo clips into his rucksack.
* * *
Gnosher was sat behind me on the ATV, gripping on for grim death as we careened along the same country road. Neither of us was wearing crash helmets, stupid I know but we didn't have time as we weaponed up and headed out posthaste.
We were only a few minutes behind the Team and soon caught them up as our lighter more agile mode of transport could traverse the rutted track at much higher speeds than theirs.
I pulled alongside them and saw Posie jabbing her paw in a forward motion. The fighter jets were closer and the airstrike was coming towards us quicker than I anticipated.
I knew that we had the P.I.T.H. virtually boxed in as I gunned the engine and sped off taking the lead. The track narrowed in places and brambles caught my for with their sharp thorns as we continued at brake-neck pace. Suddenly Gnosher gripped my shoulder and I slammed on the brakes, the ATV skidding sideways on the soft, slippery earth.
"Down there," he said pointing to my left. "Base camp is that way, and this is the only way in or out."
I nodded as I heard the Saracen thundering up behind us and pointed left disappearing down an even narrower and less used track.
The booming sound of the missiles exploding as they pounded the forest got louder and louder, and I knew we didn't have much time.
Snowie's voice sounded over my comms unit. "Basil C.J. is on your six, I repeat C.J. is on your six."
"Copy that Control and get a message to the fly-boys that we're approaching the enemy base camp, and we've got the P.I.T.H. sandwiched," I shouted into my comms to be heard above the noisy engine.
"Already done it," Snowie replied. "They're going to start using tracer rounds to flush the P.I.T.H. directly into your path."
I smiled, but that was short-lived as I rounded the next corner and nearly crashed into a hummer headed straight towards me. I swerved hard and the ATV launched into a huge rhododendron bush and we crashed, Gnosher was hurled forward and landed hard on the unforgiving ground. I could see he was ok just winded, as the hummer cruised past us with the trailer carrying the WMD.
Howeffur the P.I.T.H. hadn't realised that Humphrey was right behind us on the blind bend, and while their attention was on me watching me crash, filled with manic delight at my plight, Humphrey had speeded up and rammed the freakin' fluff out of them.
The Saracen, a fully armoured vehicle that had 6x6 wheel drive began to push the crumpled hummer backwards, I could see the Colonel screaming in shock and anger that his escape had been thwarted by my team.
Parsley and Smooch were out of their vehicle in under a second, with their weapons armed and ready as they launched at the hummer.
Gunner and Dyno drew automatic weapons and began to fire, but it was too late as Parsley unleashed his own brand of hell, he went full Pantherene Purradator mode on those suckers and they never knew what hit them; in less time than it took to say 'HOOAH' they were pinned and Smooch had guns pointed at both of them as they cowered in terror on the ground, while Parsley was grinning like a wildcat as his unholy, metal-esque claws* glinted in the soft dappled sunlight. [*how Parsley got those claws is the story before this one, which we'll share with mew at some point.]
"That ain't natural," squeaked Gunner as he took in the claws, six inches of shiny, silver death that protruded from Parsley's front paws.
"That be the devils wurk!" Dyno simpered in his slow drawl.
"Stay down scum!" Smooch growled menacingly, jabbing them both hard with the barrel of his AK47.
The Colonel had managed to get loose from the wreckage and began to run in my direction. Just as I leapt from the top of the ATV a furry brown blur darted beneath me and hit the Colonel from the side taking him down hard.
Gnosher had the Colonel by the neck and for want of a better phrase, was beating the crap out of him. And to be honest, who was I to stop this youngling from expressing years of pent-up rage and who-knew-what kind of repressed emotions resulting from the slaughter of his family at the paws of this evil monster.
Humphrey and Posie were standing next to me as we watched Gnoshers brutal onslaught, with a diatribe cuss-wurds that would make your claws curl and fur quiver.
Obviously, we can't repeat what Gnosher was screaming but we can give mew an idea;
"Mew bleeping bleep bleep bleeping bleep bleep bleep!" Gnosher cussed loudly as he reigned the Colonel with blows that would make mew whimper in terror. He truly was a sight to behold when unleashed.
Suddenly, I could hear the tracer rounds being fired; sounding like high powered buzz-saws on full revs, relentless and non-stop as the bullets cut a deadly swathe through the dense forest and it was at that moment Snowie said. "Basil, are mew still on comms?"
"Yes, go ahead control," I answered turning my back on the fight.
"C.J. should be with mew any second, the remaining P.I.T.H.are half a click away and closing fast on your local," she said. "They are still armed and dangerous, ambush is advised."
"Copy that," I replied, then said. "Dudes we've got trouble coming fast and we've still got disarm that WMD..."
Humphrey spoke. "Basil, I'll disarm the bomb with Posie's help, mew take Parsley and Smooch to take down the others."
I nodded and turned to see that the Colonel was barely moving as Gnosher stood above him, a self-satisfied grimace on his face as though he'd shed years pent-up of grief and anger offur the loss of his pawrents.
"I'm coming with mew," he drawled. "The P.I.T.H. have emergency ammo stores all offur this forest and from what little I know there's enough explosives to burn this place to the ground."
I nodded. "OK, Gnosher mew're with me, Parsley and Smooch take the right and keep low we need to ambush those scum before they can armour up."
C.J. appeared from behind the crumpled hummer and looked at the scene before he said. "OMC there's a WMD!"
Smooch proffered him a gun, but he declined revealing his own and grinning, then he waved several zip-strips in his other paw and made our captors tie their ankles, then he tied their paws together really tight and checked their ankle restraints, tightening them more. He moved to the Colonel and had him trussed in seconds.
"Move out!" I said as I headed into the forest with Gnosher at my side.
* * *
Humphrey eyed the WMD, then returned to the Saracen and pulled out his bomb disposal kit.
"There's a lot of wires," Posie said as she inspected the device more closely. "Too many wires, I bet it's booby-trapped."
C.J. gave the device a furtive glance and nodded. "Oh, it's definitely booby-trapped." He turned his attention to the P.I.T.H. "Do any of mew want to tell us how to disarm this for a more lenient sentence? Don't wait too long to answer."
Gunner and Dyno shook their heads and glared at C.J. "Not a chance in hell would we ever help mew!" Dyno spat angrily.
The Colonel started to wake up and C.J. casually bopped him on the side of the head with his gun-butt knocking him out cold. "Humphrey I hope your bomb disarming skills are good."
Humphrey grinned at him, wire cutters at the ready and said. "C.J. dude this is just like a normal Sunday afternoon for me."
* * *
We slunk through the forest on silent paws, I could see the tracers rounds like a non-stop barrage of angry neon-green fireflies moving at light speed. The smell of gun smoke and cordite filled the air and in that moment I had the strangest thought and made a mental note to get some more trees planted after this battle was finished, to replace the ones that were damaged or destroyed.
Snowie's voice crackled in my ear suddenly snapping me out of my reverie. "Basil, mew are almost on top of them."
I lifted my paw signalling an all stop and listened intently, muting the sound of gunfire in my mind and concentrating my hearing on the other sounds, sounds of prey moving quickly and with purpose, and that's when I heard them. I pointed right and we moved like a team of deadly ninjas.
A minute later we were in position as a fat squirrel with a rather bizarre camo scarf barreled past us.
Parsley dove on him from a tree branch and splatted him on the leafy ground with a soft oomph, fatty was hogtied in less than four seconds and tossed behind a large tree trunk. Two more P.I.T.H.-heads emerged and I leapt at both of them knocking them to the side, they tried to pull weapons on me, but I was faster and headbutted one while my right paw sucker-punched the other. They were down and out.
A moment later two more appeared, they were wearing helmets and did look quite formidable carrying their bazookas and more guns than mew could imagine, they already had weapons ready and began to fire in my direction, I threw myself behind the nearest tree as the trunk splintered and was shredded with the automatic gunfire.
In the next breath, the automatic weapons fire stopped so abruptly I wondered what had happened.
"Dudes, talk to me!" I yelled as a nervous apprehension slid uneasily down my spine.
"Stay down mew muther freakin' pile of trash!" Smooch growled, his tone so menacing it made my blood run cold, but in that moment I knew he was fine.
"All OK Basil," Parsley shouted.
"Gnosher are mew ok?" I said looking around fur him.
I heard a weak grunt to my left and turned to see Gnosher laying on the ground, a slick red puddle spreading around him.
"Oh no," I winced as I saw him.
The tracer rounds were nearly upon us and I hit my comms and said. "Snowie, cease-fire now!"
The tracer rounds stopped a few seconds later and I heard the fighter jets fly directly above us, low and steady.
"We need a medic stat, Gnoshers got GSW to the..." I looked at his multiple wounds and in that brief glance, I knew that no amount of medics were going to save him.
Kneeling at his side, I gently took his paw in mine and said softly. "Mew were my brofur in arms today dude and I want mew to know that it was an honour to have mew on my team."
Gnosher blinked in pain, tears rolling down his blood-splattered face and he drawled weakly. "I knew when I got hit I wasn't gonna make it Basil, but mew have shown me more kindness in the last hour than I've had in a lifetime..." he began to cough and a red trickle oozed from the corner of his mouth. "Basil I can be at peace now and be with my family forever, thank mew for that...."
And he was gone, just gone, just like that. Like a candle snuffed out and it made me so mad, rage boiled in me like I'd never felt before. I gently closed his eyelids and stood up rounding on the P.I.T.H. and said.
"Mew have no idea what I'm going to do with mew," my tone was ice cold as my eyes narrowed to slits and my teeth bared. "Mew cannot imagine in twenty lifetimes what fate I have in store for all of mew."
Parsley had hogtied them while Smooch trained his guns on our captives and I had to walk away for fear, not of them but what I wanted to do to them for taking an innocent life, Gnosher's life.
* * *
Two days later.
I was sitting in my private office when a knock sounded on the door. "Come in," I said.
C.J. entered and sat in the comfy chair in front of my desk.
"Did mew do it?" I asked, cold and resolute.
C.J. nodded solemnly. "Yes Basil, they are now residing in the Pit of Hell with no chance of escape or parole."
The Pit of Hell was the F.I.B.'s most heinous prison, and where no-pawdy ever sees the light of day again or comes out alive.
"Good," I answered flatly. "And Humphrey disarmed the WMD, so mew now have that stashed at HQ in the warehouse and mew've also cleared the forest of all other weapons."
He nodded again.
"And what about Gnosher?" I asked as a whole host of emotions bubbled up inside me again at the unnecessary loss of his life.
"He will be given a soldiers funeral with full honours, he will be remembered as a hero," C.J. said.
"Thank mew," was all I managed to say.
"Basil before I go, I need to thank mew for capturing the P.I.T.H. and I know how hard it is for mew to lose someone..." C.J. paused and took a breath. "Also I need to tell mew this, we've been picking up strange energy anomalies, the like of which we have never experienced before, they open up as small wormholes to somewhere, we have tried to send probes in but they just get spat out and are fried to a crisp." He paused again looking straight at me. "Basil we need your help."
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