Pinky the Brave: Part One
"What have we got here? This has got to be the biggest runt
of the lot!" the huge, hulking Lupe snarled, lifting Emakoke's arms and squeezing
them between his massive paws as if searching for any trace of muscle. As indignant
as Emakoke was, however, she could not deny that his harsh words were true. She
was a runt. There she stood, latched onto the end of a line of strong, able-bodied
young pets; Lupes, Grundos, Wockies, Grarrls--and nearly all of them boys. Then
there was her, a scrawny pink Aisha, who you could barely see beneath the bulging
rucksack strapped onto her back and the layers of thick camp uniform that were
far too big for her. She heard sniggers and comments passing down the line of
"What is that little girly doing here?"
"Looks like she belongs in the grooming parlour!"
"Shut it, you hooligans!" roared Commander Lupus,
dropping Emakoke's arm back to her side. He went back to pacing up and down
the line again, and Ema let out a deep sigh of relief.
After Emakoke lost several consecutive Battledome
fights, her owner had sent her away to an army camp in the middle of the Lost
Desert. Needless to say, Ema was not exactly ecstatic about it--in fact, she
had to be dragged there kicking and screaming. Here there was no resting, no
talking and no fun, only hours of trudging through the desert in unbearable
heat, trying to put on a brave face but secretly wishing every second of every
day that your owner would come and rescue you. Some said being sent to camp
was worse than being sent to the pound. Ema knew exactly what they meant as
she stood in the line, sweat pouring down her back and making her usually gorgeous
pink fur sticky and matted. Every part of her body was already sunburnt and
aching all over, and she had only been there an hour.
"Stand up straight, Pinky!" the commander snapped
at Ema, thumping her on the back with his cane and immediately snapping her
straight out of her daydream. She heard snorts and mutters of 'Pinky' arising
from pets down the line. Pinky. She knew that name was going to stick.
Lupus ordered them to march. Trying to squint
against the glaring sunlight, Emakoke blindly followed the Aisha in front of
her. The scorching hot sand seeped into her boots as she plodded along, and
she could already feel blisters appearing on her feet. She found herself tripping
over bumps and rocks and crashing into the girl in front of her.
"Watch it, Pinky," the girl scowled under her
Eventually they got to a clearing, where several
tents lay dismantled on the sand.
"Set up, then stand by your bunks ready for inspection!"
the commander barked. The other pets jumped into action and began scurrying
around, setting up their tents without speaking a word. Emakoke stood uselessly,
not having a clue what to do. The commander came up behind her. "You'll be in
that tent, with Cicadasan and Zhenja," he said, pointing over to where the Aisha
who had marched in front of her and a hefty looking Cybunny, the only other
girls, stood shielding their eyes from the sun with their paws and glaring at
"How... how do I set up my bedding?" she stammered,
watching all the other pets rolling out their bedding from their rucksacks as
if it were the easiest thing on Neopia.
"You can work it out for yourself," the commander
replied bluntly, before giving her a shove and sending her stumbling over to
where the other two girls were finishing setting up the tent. They glowered
at her as she approached, then went inside the tent and started rolling out
their bedding. Ema followed and tried to copy them, but she ended up with a
shambolic pile of crumpled sheets, blankets and mats, as if a mini sandstorm
had whirled through her section of the tent and nowhere else. Frowning, she
attempted to smooth out the creases and rearrange the sheets, but it still looked
an absolute mess whatever she did.
"Um, how do I do this?" she asked in a timid
voice, once she'd plucked up the courage. The two girls shot her spiteful glances,
but did not answer; there was no talking allowed. Eventually Ema gave up and
just stuffed all the messy corners haphazardly under her mattress, hoping the
fearsome Lupus wouldn't notice. Just as she'd finished and was about to collapse,
a horn blew and once again everyone had to get up and stand in a line in front
of their tents while the commander came round for inspection.
"This is a mess! You've got sand everywhere!"
Lupus bellowed at the boys in the first tent. Ema thought this was ridiculous;
it was a desert. There was sand everywhere. "Fifty sit-ups!"
The officious Lupe moved onto the next tent,
tutting and shaking his head.
"How many times have I told you not to put your
beds that close together? Fifty sit-ups!"
He came striding over to the girls' tent. Ema
hung her head, her stomach churning, waiting for the embarrassment that was
inevitable. A disgusted gasp came from inside the tent.
"What do you call this, Pinky? This is a camp,
not a slumber party! This is a disgrace, and being new is NO excuse! Now, get
down and give me one hundred sit ups!"
Being new IS an excuse, she ranted to
herself as she got down onto the sand and slowly began her sit-ups. She groaned
and winced as she pushed herself up and down, the hot sand scorching her fur.
She was going so slowly, all the other pets started to look down at her and
titter, mimicking her excruciating expression as she screwed up her face. After
what seemed like hours, she finally reached one hundred and stood up, groaning.
"Finally. Now, everyone round the camp three
times!" Lupus ordered as he finished his last inspection. Everyone started to
run. Ema panted and gasped, still not recovered from her sit-ups. She really
couldn't take it anymore. As the other pets began to lap her, with cool, composed
expressions on their faces as if it were nothing, Ema gave up and fell in a
crumpled heap of pink fur onto the sand.
"You give up, Pinky, and I'll give up handing
out your rations tonight!" a voice hollered from the other side of the camp.
For a moment Ema considered giving up her rations, as long as she didn't have
to carry on this unbearable run, but her stomach was growling and limbs felt
so weak; she needed food. She picked herself up and slogged her way along the
rest of the run. Of course, she was the last to finish.
When the rations were handed out, Ema went and
sat next to Cicadasan on one of the uncomfortable benches. Cicadasan looked
down at her disdainfully, then carried on eating, raising her nose in the air.
Ema picked up her own rations; cold sphinx links with a tiny scrap of bread,
and began to eat. It was disgustingly stale and chewy. She swallowed the bite
she had with a sickened expression, then pushed her plate away from her and
"Doesn't this place stink?" she found herself
blurting out. Cicadasan looked shocked at Ema's outburst, almost spitting out
the food in her mouth.
"I wouldn't say stuff like that if I were you,
"Well, how are we supposed to improve when all
he's doing is torturing us?" Ema fumed, banging her paw on the table. Cicadasan
screwed up her eyes and glanced down at the ranting Aisha.
"Only because you can't hack it," she replied
with a smirk.
"No. I just need to get used to it," Ema said,
even though she knew it wasn't true. She would never get used to this horrible
place. She looked all around her cautiously, and then when she was sure the
commander was nowhere near, lowered her voice. "Hasn't anyone ever tried to
Cicadasan widened her eyes and looked at Ema,
stunned. Ema continued, knowing she'd hit a nerve. "Haven't you ever wanted
"Just... just shut it, Pinky. You don't want
the sit up incident repeating itself," Cicadasan stammered after she had recovered
from the shock. She then snatched her empty plate off the table and stalked
After the meal, if you could call it that, the
poor Neopets returned to the camp to see their tents had been completely taken
apart and their bedding strewn all over the surrounding sand.
"Tidy it up, then!" ordered Lupus, a smug grin
plastered all over his face. "And you'd better not mess up this time, Pinky,"
he growled at Ema as she shuffled by, looking down at her feet. She glanced
up at him, thinking about how full of himself he was, and found anger boiling
up inside of her. She was tempted to lash out at him, but she knew better than
to satisfy this urge. Of course she would never succeed in even scratching him,
or causing him to break a sweat. Instead she just replied, "yes, sir" in a submissive
voice and went off to where her tent was lying, crumpled on the sand.
As they worked, Cicadasan was being even more
callous towards her than ever, and Tiggazin followed the snobbish Aisha's lead.
While Ema pondered over her bedding - laying it, folding it, and refolding it
with visible exasperation - they didn't ignore her, but sat on the edge of their
pristine beds and laughed at her. She tried to pay no heed to them but found
her cheeks glowing with shots of crimson.
"Ooooh... Pinky's looking even more pink than
usual!" Cicadasan remarked, smirking and raising her eyebrow.
"What's the matter, Pinky?" Tiggazin said sarcastically.
"Having a spot of trouble? Here, let me help you!" The massive Kougra got up,
stamped a foot down on the edge of Ema's blanket and pulled it back so the bed
was completely ruined. Ema groaned. "Whoops! Sorry, Pinky!" And with that both
girls rolled over onto their beds laughing.
After much inconvenience, Ema managed to get
her bedding looking decent enough, and sprawled herself all over it, sighing.
"Awww. Is Pinky feeling a bit blue?" said Cicadasan
in a babyish voice. "Or should I say pink!"
"That was... low," Ema muttered of Cicadasan's
cheap joke, shaking her head and pretending she wasn't bothered by the insults
raining down upon her head.
"What--low enough to skim the top of your head?"
With that, the horn sounded and the two girls
went out of the tent, giggling hysterically.
I can't stand this place, Ema decided,
throwing her saggy cushion down onto her bed as she left the tent. I hate
it, I hate it, I hate it.
To be continued...