Pinky the Brave: Part Two
"0600 hours, everybody up!" yelled Commander Lupus, accompanied
by the grating hum of several horns. Emakoke groaned as she slowly opened her
eyes, felt the searing heat and the sand in her bed, and remembered where she
was. She had been having a wonderful dream where she was back at her Neohome,
curled up and sinking into the soft folds of a huge, velvety cushion, right
before the horns and the shouting voices blared in her ear, sending her plunging
right back to the harsh reality. She moaned again and turned over, pulling the
blankets around her.
"Get a move on, Pinky!" snapped Cicadasan, kicking
the side of her bed. Ema rubbed her eyes and squinted up at the yellow Aisha,
who was already hastily pulling on her uniform.
"What time is it?" she muttered in a slurred
"Just get dressed, Pinky! You don't want to be
doing more sit ups," Tiggazin cut in. Reluctantly, Ema dragged herself out of
bed and began tugging on her filthy overalls. Then she rolled up her bedding,
still yawning with fatigue, and stuffed it into her backpack. It wouldn't fit
and was bulging out everywhere--so much that one of the zips suddenly gave in
and broke, leaving one of the flaps hanging down behind her uselessly like a
tail. She could feel her water flask digging into her back as she pulled the
bulky rucksack onto her back. She was the last to emerge from her tent, yawning
and fumbling with the buttons on her heavy jacket. Lupus was waiting for her.
"Please, no sit-ups, Sir," Ema begged, looking
up at him with tired, puffy eyes.
"No, no sit-ups," Lupus replied, sneering. "Press-ups!"
"But, sir..." Ema protested.
When Ema had finally finished her press-ups,
which she found even more unbearable than the sit-ups, Lupus was shouting orders
"Everyone sprint to the obstacle course! Last
one to get there gets a special treat!" he shouted, a huge, toothy grin spreading
across his face as he said the last part. All the other pets shot across the
sand, running as fast as they could. Ema stood looking confused for a second,
and some of the pets looked round at her and laughed as they set off.
They think I'm going to get the punishment,
don't they? she thought. Well, I won't. I won't. She felt a burst
of energy and sprinted along the sand, following the other pets. A blue Wocky
in front of her stumbled over a rock, and his huge body weight sent him crashing
down into a heap on the floor. That was the good thing about being a 'runt'
- you were light and nimble. Ema hopped over the Wocky and carried on running.
The other pets turned a corner and she followed. She could see a huge obstacle
course with ropes, tires and nets looming up above her. She could feel the Wocky
coming up behind her, his huge feet thumping against the sand. I won't lose,
she chanted in her head. A last rush of energy and she almost crashed into the
huge wooden structure of the obstacle course. She fell onto her knees, waving
her paws in the air in a silent cheer. The other pets started to shoot her odd
"So, the runt didn't come last?" growled commander
Lupus, appearing behind her. "Well, seeing as you've never had my special
treat before, I'll let you have it this time."
He grinned and picked up a huge rock at his feet.
He dropped in into Ema's arms as she stood gaping, and she fell to the ground
with a thump under its weight.
"This... this isn't fair!" she gasped.
"Don't ever talk back to me! Now you have to
go around the course twice, with the rock!"
Ema had no choice. Wincing with pain, she lifted
up the heavy rock and started to plod towards the assault course.
"Ahhh. Well, at least Pinky's made one friend!"
giggled Tiggazin as she bounded past Ema and scampered up the net nimbly.
"You'd never survive an hour alone in the desert,
runt," scowled Cicadasan as she followed, and scaled the net effortlessly.
It took Ema over an hour to plod around the course,
climbing, swinging and crawling, falling to the ground and dropping the rock
several times as she lumbered along. By the time she had finished twice, the
others had lapped her several times. They clambered up the poles, swung across
the turbid water and scuttled under the nets, hooting with laughter every time
they passed her. When she finally reached the end for the second time and fell
flat on the floor, dripping with sweat and gasping for air, everyone clapped
and cheered sarcastically. As she lay sprawled on the floor Ema felt tears welling
up in her eyes, but she gulped and held them back.
"We'll let Pinky here recover for a second,"
Commander Lupus said with a note of humour mixed into his gruff voice, "then
we will march in order to the pyramids where we will practise our climbing."
He grabbed Ema by the paw and pulled her to her
feet. She stumbled and blinked, feeling slightly woozy.
"Okay, she's recovered. March!" demanded Lupus.
The pets obediently got into order, and they began to march through the desert.
Ema was staggering left and right, dizzy and unable to see against the brilliance
of the midday sun. Her head was pounding and her mouth was parched. For what
seemed like the millionth time in just two days, she wished she were somewhere
else. She looked down at her feet and just watched them as she moved along the
sand--left, right, left, right. She fell into another daydream and before she
knew it she was stirred from it by a shadow falling over her face. She looked
up to see a grand pyramid towering above her. It was completely dilapidated
and blocks were crumbling and jutting out of the sides. Ema gasped. Surely they
weren't going to climb that?
They stopped and lined up again, Ema stuck onto
the end as always, this time facing the pyramid. Ema looked over the fragmented
surface and bit her lip. It was far too dangerous to climb, but Lupus didn't
seem to care.
"Climb!" he said. "First one to reach the top
gets... well, you won't get anything, but at least you won't suffer the same
penalty as Pinky over there."
All eyes drifted to Ema. She blushed, but because
of the sunburn you could hardly tell.
Everyone threw their rucksacks to the ground,
rushed towards the pyramid and started to climb. No one wanted to be last.
"Good luck, Pinky," Cicadasan, who was next to
her, snorted cynically. She was already scrambling up the edge, dust and bits
of rock rolling down the slope behind her. She placed a foot on a jutting out
block, which suddenly fell out of place, sending her rolling back down the side.
Ema, who was still standing at the bottom, laughed. Cicadasan returned her an
Ema's thoughts wandered elsewhere as she looked
around her at everyone else clambering up the pyramid deftly. She sighed--she
really didn't have the energy to climb. Her eyes flickered to the wall in front
Suddenly an idea flashed through her mind. She
was situated right at the end of the pyramid. All she needed to do was slip
around the corner, and no one would notice. She could be out of there in five
minutes. She looked at the edge, pondering. If she were caught, she would be
in massive trouble. And it was likely she would be caught. She turned around
to look at Commander Lupus. He was shouting irately at a Mynci who had pushed
another boy off the slope; not paying attention at all. Danger blazed in her
eyes and before she knew it she had darted around the corner, her back pressed
up against the wall. No one had seen her - at least, she thought so.
"What are you doing?" a voice called frantically.
"Are you crazy?"
Ema's heart lurched as she spun around, ready
to plead for forgiveness. Cicadasan was poking her head around the corner, her
eyes as wide as saucers.
"I'm getting out of here," Ema replied boldly.
She saw Cicadasan smile slightly. "If you dare snitch on me..."
Cicadasan's smile developed into a malicious,
ear-to-ear grin. In a moment of urgency, Ema rushed forward and grabbed her
paw, yanking the startled Aisha around the corner before she could go anywhere
or tell anyone. Cicadasan yelped, then slapped her paw over her mouth, realising
she could now be in trouble too.
"Pinky, you idiot!" she hissed. Suddenly they
Cicadasan hesitated, but on comprehending she
had no other choice, ran after Ema. They darted down the other side of the pyramid
and round another corner.
"I... can't... believe you've... got us
into this!" Cicadasan panted as she backed up against the wall. Emakoke indicated
for her to be quiet, and they listened. It turned out they didn't need to be
silent to hear anything.
"CICADASAN! EMAKOKE!" The bellowing voice of
Lupus echoed through the air, and they heard running footsteps. They looked
at each other frenetically, and then sprinted off into the open desert, sand
flying out behind their pounding feet.
To be continued...