Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 107,594,495 Issue: 215 | 4th day of Storing, Y7
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The Great Jungle Incident


by varadah

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"Okay, we are definitely lost," said Best.

      "We can't be lost!" his brother AJ insisted. "I remember where we are. See, there's that fallen tree with the split branches. And there's that clump of rocks that looks like a spitting JubJub. And there's... there's..." He trailed off. "There's that clearing we passed four times already." The green Kougra slumped down in defeat. "Okay, you're right. We're lost."

      Best, whose name was short for Best_fly_guy (he was a red Shoyru, you see), sighed exasperatedly. "I told you not to go off into the jungle after that Techo that stole your Tombola prize. But no one ever listens to the older pet."

      "Well, you didn't have to come after me. If you hadn't slowed me down I probably would've caught that jerk."

      "Me, slow *you* down? Remember who's the one with wings here. What was I supposed to do, *let* you get lost? And just because Kougras are native to Mystery Island, that doesn't make it impossible for them to lose their way on it. It's thanks to *you* we can't get back home. Anyway," Best continued, "I'm going to fly up and see if I can spot our house. You stay RIGHT HERE, got it?"

      AJ nodded.

      "Good," the Shoyru said. "I'll be right back." And up he went.

      But just as he did, AJ thought he saw the flash of a Techo tail. Eager to capture the thief and recover his Pickled Olives, the young Neopet scampered off.

      Meanwhile, Best looked around for his Tiki Tack Street house, but in vain; all he saw were trees and more trees. "No luck," he announced as he lowered himself back to the ground. "We're too deep in the jung--AJ?"

      Realizing his brother was nowhere in sight, Best swooped back up above the trees, hovering in the air and searching for him anxiously. But the foliage beneath him was just too dense. And if he tried to look for AJ on foot, he'd just get lost again. Worriedly, he began flying in the direction he judged by the setting sun to be south, hoping to eventually find civilization and help.

      ***

     AJ ran for a while, following the tail that kept just in his field of vision--unknowingly going farther and farther into the jungle.

      After a while he began to tire, but plain stubbornness kept him going. Finally, AJ just couldn't run anymore, and collapsed, exhausted, to the earth. Panting heavily, he watched the tail scurry off and disappear into some tall ferns.

      "Uh, Best?" he called once he had regained his breath enough. "You can come back now."

      Shakily, AJ climbed to his feet.

     "You don't want to leave me here all alone, do you?" He noticed it was getting darker. What time was it?

      AJ leaped onto the nearest tree trunk and scaled it to the top. From there he'd hoped to see Best, but no luck. He did see that the sun was quite low on the horizon. It had been late afternoon already when he'd dashed into the jungle.

      He then dropped from the tree. But it was higher than he'd thought, and the fall knocked the wind out of him.

      "Ooof!" AJ lay there, bruised and tired, thinking, *Now what?*

      ***

     Best, too, was tiring, although only slightly--legs wear out faster than wings. He was starting to wonder if the vast expanse of green below him would ever end, when suddenly he saw sea.

      "Yes!" He zoomed down to the beach, and alighted on the sand, then ran up to the closest house and pounded on the door.

      ***

     AJ still didn't know what time it was, but he knew it was past sundown. It was dark either way, of course, but with the canopy of tree leaves blocking out the sky, it was way darker down here.

      AJ knew he had to get out of the forest right away, recalling his owner's warning: Don't go into the jungle after dark. Now he couldn't even see more than three feet ahead of him.

      The best thing to do for now, AJ decided, was to climb a tree and sleep there until morning, when there'd be light to see potential paths by. So that's what he did--well, the climbing the tree part, anyway. He stretched out on a limb and probably would've slept eventually, but just then he saw five pairs of eyes, staring intently at him.

      Before he could say a word, he realized who they were: one of the dangerous island tribes!

      And before he could think twice, he was surrounded...

           ***

      The occupants of the house were a young girl and her four pets. The girl, however, happened to be out at the time, and wasn't due back until morning. After Best had explained the situation, the pets set to figuring out how to help.

      Trey, who was a green Hissi and also the oldest, thought maybe AJ could signal them in some way as to where he was. "Does your brother have any special abilities?" he asked Best. "Has he ever been blessed by a faerie? A Light Faerie, perhaps?"

      "He does have Smoke Screen," Best replied. He brightened at this, but then his face fell again. "Except we probably couldn't see it now that it's so dark out."

      "No problem," said Sabrina, a blue Uni and the second oldest. "I have Night Vision."

      Fuega, the youngest of the family, flexed her red Eyrie wings. "I'm good at navigating. I'll stay up above and tell you guys where to go. And if I see AJ or if there's danger, I'll scream."

      "Trust me," Sabrina said. "*Anyone* can hear her scream."

      "You better know what it sounds like, so you can recognize it," Fuega told Best as an afterthought. She opened her beak wide. "Here, I'll show you--"

      "NO!" everyone yelled at once.

      "Okay, okay, I'll save it for later. Jeez."

           ***

     The five pets flew over the jungle--okay, the *four* pets flew over the jungle. The fifth, Bob, a yellow Kiko, rode on Sabrina's back. Bob had been adopted from the pound after Fuega was born, though he was a little older than her. He didn't speak much, but the upside to this was that when he did, you knew he was saying something important.

      They were a ways out when Bob started tugging on Sabrina's mane. "Hey, I hear something," he whispered in her ear.

      Sabrina stopped, and hovered where she was. The others followed suit.

      "Are you sure, Bob?" she asked. "Because I didn't hear anything, and I don't see anything down there either."

      Bob nodded firmly.

      Trey spoke up. "Sabrina and Bob, go down and look around. I will stay up here with Fuega." In his coils he held a compass, but Fuega didn't seem to want it. Trey then turned to Best. "You can stay here, or go with them; whichever you wish."

      "I'm going," Best affirmed.

      ***

     AJ panicked. Later he wouldn't remember doing it, but suddenly a huge cloud of smoke filled the air.

      ***

     Best, Sabrina, and Bob tromped through the jungle; but even with Sabrina leading the way, it was slow going. That was because Bob kept stopping, tilting his head to listen, looking around intently, and then starting up again.

      "Wrong way! You're going south again!" they heard above them. Looking up, they saw Trey just at tree level, eying his compass.

      Fuega came up next to him. "No, you're wobbling that thing. Look at the stars. They're going the right way."

      Best looked at Sabrina. "If Fuega says we're going the right way," she said with a shrug, "then we are."

      A little while later, Bob stopped them to look at a tree. There were vertical slashes along the bark. "Kougra claws!" exclaimed Best. They hurried along now.

      Just then, a smoke cloud appeared! "AJ!" Best cried, running forward. But then, before it cleared, all sound barriers broke.

      ***

          Ever heard an Eyrie scream? Ever heard Fuega scream? Let me tell you, there's a big difference.

      Fuega's scream was long, loud, and incredibly high-pitched (this is the understatement of the week). Everyone present (and within an eighth of a mile) ended up with sore eardrums. Best's own ears (yes, of course Shoyrus have ears; you just can't see them) were ringing for the rest of the night.

      Of course, the members of the tribe heard it, too.

      "The gods have come to punish us!" they cried. Or something like that; they were all yelling different things. The point is, before you could say "Man, that was loud," they had all scuttled into the brush and out of sight.

      "Best!" AJ cried happily. He was still up in the tree, tired, sore and with ears that now hurt--but otherwise fine. He leapt to the ground--this time landing on his feet--and the brothers embraced.

      "AJ, I hope you've learned a lesson from all of this."

      "Yeah," replied AJ. "When you go into the jungle, bring earplugs."

The End

Author's Note: First time in the Neopian Times!!! :D Oh, and thanks to idarav for letting me use AJ and Best in the story.

 
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